Department of Homeland Security whistleblower Philip Haney gave an extensive interview to Breitbart News Daily on Friday morning, in which he discussed an investigation that might have stopped the San Bernardino jihad attack… but was scuttled by Homeland Security brass for politically-correct reasons.
“Civil Rights and Civil Liberties shut the case down because we were focusing on individuals who belong to Tablighi Jamaat,” Haney says, well-aware of how explosive this charge is.
Haney was a founding member of the Passenger Analysis Unit, or PAU, under Customs and Border Protection. Established as a stand-alone agency in 2003, the PAU is charged with “vetting, investigating, finding addresses, making connections, and putting the dots together” on persons entering the United States who might be security threats.
“We cross-checked all kinds of information. You name it. Visas, passports, travel patterns, family connections… anything to do within the universe of individuals coming in,” said Haney. Any information suggesting possible terrorist activity was entered into a sophisticated database, for real-time reference by DHS personnel across the country.
The high quality of Haney’s work brought him to the National Targeting Center, which he described as “a place where all the different agencies in the United States that have to do with law enforcement – related to travel, possible terrorism, and those kind of things – consolidate in one agency. It’s just like in the movies. There are big screens, 24/7 news, each of us sit at a kiosk with four large monitors, running maybe 15 programs at once.”
At the NTC, Haney’s experience at the PAU, his time in the Middle East, his understanding of the Koran and Islamic culture, his training in Islamist terrorist strategy, and even his background in entymology – the study of insects and their hives – made him a “subject matter expert.” He compared the position to being a specialized mechanic or technician, or a place kicker on a football team, using his particular skills to analyze one specific aspect of America’s national security threat.
He continued the football analogy by comparing his job analyzing terrorist networks with an effort to break the entire NFL down into divisions and teams, to understand exactly where each player fits into the overall scheme. He also compared it to the task faced by the FBI when they try to assemble a portrait of crime organizations, like the mixture of mob operations and legitimate business fronts depicted in the TV series “The Sopranos.”
“It’s the same with structures of mosques, structures of organizations like the Islamic Society of North America, the Islamic Circle of North America – any structure that you happen to be looking at,” Haney explained. “The Muslim Brotherhood network in America is a structure, highly organized, with leadership and places – actual offices. And then you’ve got your Web, your communications, your cyber stuff. You put it all together, and you see patterns – people coming, people going. Why are they going to this place?”
But wait – isn’t the Muslim Brotherhood a largely innocuous and “secular” organization, according to the Obama Administration – a trusted political partner that rose to duly elected power in Egypt after the “Arab Spring,” only to be deposed by a military coup? How can mosques be part of the terrorist NFL, when Hillary Clinton insists Islam has nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism? The picture taking shape as Haney assembled these dots was very politically incorrect… and he says he paid a price for it.
As an entymologist might follow the trail of insects to divine the location of their hive, Haney began investigating a Salafist Muslim fundamentalist group called Tablighi Jamaat, whose name means “the Party of the Promoters.” He believes this group, which has about 50 million members worldwide, should be much better known to Americans concerned about radicalization and terrorist infiltration.
Haney noted that people with a superficial knowledge of Islam think “Salafi” Islam is synonymous with “radical,” but that’s not true. “It means ‘original,'” he said. “They’re going back to the original version of Islam, that existed in the time of Mohammed. They are not ‘radicals,’ they are going back to the original. That is what ‘Salafi’ means. Wahhabi Islam, the Saudi Arabian version with the women in black – that is a Salafi movement.”
He suggested envisioning the Tablighi Jamaat as the Eastern Division of the Salafist National Football League, which is more properly known as the Deoband, named after a city in north-central India where a Muslim pushback against Hinduism began in British Imperial times. Finding themselves compatible with the Wahhabi Islam of Saudi Arabia, they formed an alliance, which is why so much Saudi money goes into building fundamentalist mosques and Deobandi schools.
Haney discovered a large number of Tablighi Jamaat members were entering the United States on the visa waiver program (well-known to American news consumers at the moment because President Obama falsely characterized San Bernardino jihadi Tashfeen Malik as a visa waiver client during his prime-time address last Sunday.) He was concerned that these Tablighi Jamaat members were not receiving proper scrutiny when the entered the United States… and they were proceeding to locations known to be part of the extremist networks Haney had been piecing together.
“Tablighi Jamaat members under the organization structure of the Deoband movement – a Salafi Islamic group – were coming to America, going to mosques all over the country, at the invitation of imams and leaders who where already known to be linked to terrorism,” said Haney, succinctly stating the situation that led to the investigation he believes might have picked up on Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik before they opened fire in San Bernardino.
Haney’s initiative to monitor the Tablighi Jamaat network on a global scale had the support of his superiors, after a bit of initial resistance because it cast doubt on the politically untouchable visa waiver program. How did so many members of this disturbing radical network waltz past U.S. screening so easily? Simple: they had British passports, allowing them to obtain visa waiver consideration by doing little more than filling out an online form.
“A lot of these people, they’re from the Commonwealth, the British Empire, which included Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, a lot of other places in the world,” Haney explained. “That’s why you see so many immigrants from that part of the world living in the U.K., because they have Commonwealth rights. And here’s the key to the whole thing: a lot of them have two passports. So they would use their E.U. – U.K. passport to qualify for visa waiver, and very likely they would have, let’s say, a Pakistani, or an Indian, or some other country’s passport. And once they travel east to their home region, they don’t use their E.U. passport, they use their home country passport, so they’re traveling under two almost completely different identities.”
His position in Atlanta, watching one of the busiest international airports in the world, gave Haney an exceptional opportunity to notice small groups of Tablighi Jamaat members entering the United States and proceeding to terrorist network locations of interest. He interviewed many of these arrivals personally, and detect the sort of trend he has been trained to recognize. His entries into the National Targeting Center database drew the attention of other analysts as well.
“This case actually took six years to develop,” he said. “It started in 2006, and it gradually gained momentum over time. By 2008, I was interviewing twenty, thirty people a month sometimes.”
Once the Advanced Targeting Team at the NTC became involved, the initiative broadened until it encompassed over 1,200 law-enforcement actions related to the case – including revocations of visas and visa waivers, preventing individuals from entering the country, and deportations. Haney described it as an “unprecedented” and “high-powered case,” the law-enforcement equivalent of slamming a sledgehammer down on a Test Your Strength game at a carnival and ringing the bell.
“It was exactly what DHS was created to do,” he said. “We were doing what we took our oath of office to do. We were well-trained, capable subject matter experts, focused like a laser beam on a trend that was putting our country at threat. We had the full endorsement of the entire management structure of our agency. We were given ‘Go, do it,’ and that’s what we did.”
Haney and his fellow investigators found links from the Tablighi Jamaat network to “Hamas, al-Qaeda, global terrorist funding… I mean, every version of however you define terrorism was included in the initiative. Financial, direct support, overseas affiliation… you know, every color of the spectrum was in the case. It wasn’t just focusing on people coming on airplanes into a port in America. It was the whole complex, from A to Z, top to bottom.”
This complex included “a global network of schools, meaning madrassas, where people learn, study Koran, study Islamic law… memorize the Koran, study what are called hadiths, the sayings and the teachings of Mohammed… they’re like colleges, and they’re all over the world,” Haney noted.
“The world global headquarters of the Deobandi movement is now in Dewsbury, in the United Kingdom,” he continued. “They have a very strong network in South Africa – there are madrassas there that American kids go to, to become imams. They teach in English – it’s a seven year program – and then they come back, and they become imams in the area where they grew up. It’s a whole process. They start when they’re young kids, they take them out of school, they put them in this parallel madrassa system, they teach the Koran – that’s all they actually learn. And when they’re about 16, 17, 18-years old, about the age most people graduate from high school, they go the madrassa program over in South Africa, and then they come back.”
This Deobandi network had a branch in San Bernardino, which rang bells with Haney the moment he saw news reports about a terrorist attack there.
I found that individuals who were in the case, from three years ago, had come to that mosque. So, if I had still been active duty, working on the case, and everything had been going as it was, I would have linked that mosque to the initiative, simply because people that were already in the database were going there. Therefore, either Syed would have been put on the no-fly list, because of his close affiliation with it, or his pending fiancee would not have been given a visa, because she was affiliated with somebody who was tied to that mosque.
But he wasn’t on the case any more… because his initiative was deemed politically incorrect and shut down by the Department of Homeland Security’s Civil Rights and Civil Liberties division.
“They came into the National Targeting Center, either physically or through emails and correspondence, and said that we could not develop cases based on association with Tablighi Jamaat, and/or any Islamic group,” Haney revealed.
He charged this decision, which runs counter to the very purpose of the Department of Homeland Security and its charter to demolish the wall of separation between law enforcement agencies, was made because “this Administration is more concerned about the civil rights and civil liberties of foreign Islamic groups and foreign nationals than securing the freedom and security of the American public.”
He pointed to documents uncovered by a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act request tied to his whistleblower case as further support. “NTC was getting ‘pushback’ from CRCL, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and DOS [the State Department] because of our focus on this group called Tablighi Jamaat,” he repeated, inviting listeners to study the nature of this Islamist group and understand why the Administration might feel pursuing it aggressively was unacceptably insensitive to Muslims.
Haney said his superiors actually erased some of his files pertinent to the case, because they insisted the initiative had “gone in a different direction” and he was no longer authorized to add his data.
He concluded by saying his purpose in coming forward was to fix a broken intelligence system. “This isn’t about hurting anybody. This is about fixing it. We could fix it. We can fix it. That’s my focus.”