The Trump administration recently received criticism for not immediately moving the embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel to the Jerusalem,
the capital of Israel. I am in favor of the move, but not just yet. Moving the embassy would be an acknowledgement that Jerusalem is the capital city of Israel. No U.S. administration has ever officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital for fear of diplomatic reprisals by other Arab nations.
Moving the embassy would have more kinetic reprisal from the Islamic street. The embassy in Jerusalem would more than likely be the safest embassy in the world, the Israelis would ensure nothing would happen to that embassy. But other U.S. embassies and consulates around the world, will not be so lucky.
The administration is also under pressure to list the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). The Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamist organization founded by Hassan al-Banna in 1928. The Brotherhood spread branches to over 70 countries around the world. The organization has had ties to just about every Sunni terrorist group – including Hamas, Jamaat al-Islamiyya, al-Qaeda, and ISIS. The leader of al-Qaeda is a former Brotherhood member, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The 2008 Holyland Terror funding trial opened the eyes of many in the Western world towards the Brotherhood. Documents obtained during searches, and entered into evidence, showed the Brotherhood’s strategic goals. One particular document stated, “Enablement of Islam in North America, meaning: establishing an effective and a stable Islamic Movement led by the Muslim Brotherhood which adopts Muslims’ causes domestically and globally, and which works to expand the observant Muslim base, aims at unifying and directing Muslims’ efforts, presents Islam as a civilization alternative, and supports the global Islamic State wherever it is.”
The American people and the administration must acknowledge the danger that comes with designating the Muslim Brotherhood an FTO, which it is, and moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which it should.
On September 11, 2012 terrorists launched an assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The fighters would set the consulate on fire and two American citizens would be killed, Ambassador Chris Stevens, and Information Management Officer Sean Smith. Two CIA contractors, Glenn Doherty and Tyrone Woods, would later lose their life several hours later, as terrorists launched a mortar attack on the CIA compound, about one mile from the consulate.
The Benghazi attack raised many questions. For myself, having served as a U.S. Embassy Guard in the Marine Corps and having protected diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan as a contractor, my question was, where was the backup? We would later learn the backup was in bureaucratic and logistics hell.
Marines were forced to change clothes multiple times for fear of what it might look like if they were seen. There was a Special Forces team in Croatia at the time, but various sources claim that they either could not have gotten there in time, or were not ready. F-16s from U.S. bases in Italy could have gotten there quickly at max speed and buzzed the terrorists, but the lack of refueling tankers shut down that plan.
Taking both the actions above will inflame the Islamic world. Embassies and consulates from West Africa to Indonesia will face higher threats. The Brotherhood can put together massive “spontaneous” protests quickly. Moving the embassy will do the same, but on a grander scale. A few terrorists inside a group of tens of thousands of protesters outside an embassy, with a shaky host country, is begging for another Benghazi.
The US military has the capability to rescue several embassy and consulate staffs on different continents simultaneously, but do they have the capacity? The drastic military cuts, the draw down, and sequestration have put our military at readiness levels not seen since before WWII.
The U.S. Navy currently has less combatant (warships) ships (204) than they did during Benghazi (222). Most of these ships are not going to be useful in an embassy seizure situation. During a seizure scenario, you need a carrier or one of the amphibious ships assigned to a Marine Expeditionary Unit. These ships have the capability of putting dozens of Marines on the ground. Destroyers, submarines, and other ships do not have the ability to put boots on the ground to protect the Americans in danger. Do we have enough ships to put troops on the ground at embassies on three continents at one time?
The Air Force is also feeling the strain. They are short on pilots. There is a shortage of over 1,000 pilots between fighter pilots and air mobility pilots. The pilots that are flying, are flying planes almost double their age. The KC-135 Stratotanker, a refueler, was developed in the 1950s. The KC-10 Extender, another refueler, is almost 40 years old. Both tankers are currently being flown in the skies above Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Let’s forget the equipment aspect for one minute. Bureaucracy played a role in Benghazi. Has that been fixed? Is there now a system in place that provides immediate assistance to embassies and consulates? When an Ambassador or Deputy Chief of Mission hits the panic button, is the military on the way immediately? Or, do we sit around worried about what the Marines are wearing, while asking permission from the country that failed to protect the embassy for permission to rescue our people? These problems need to be addressed before either the US embassy in Israel is moved to Jerusalem or the Muslim Brotherhood is declared to be a terrorist organization.