Michael Flynn has been named Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor and there’s been a lot written about why he’s a dangerous choice. Mostly overlooked is his relationship with Lebanese-born Brigitte Gabriel, a designated “terrorist expert” for many news networks and politicians.
Gabriel is the founder of ACT For America, a group that calls itself the “NRA of national security and says, “We don’t just support the protection of America’s national security – we’re fighting for it.” She has written a number of books, including her 2006 autobiography, Because They Hate: A survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America. She has referred to Arabs as “barbarians” and claims to be one of the first people to have warned America about the threat of radical Islam.
Flynn is on Act For America’s board of advisors and gave a speech for one of the group’s events in Dallas during which he told the audience that he viewed Islam as a political ideology posing as a religion and called it a “cancer.”
Meanwhile, Gabriel’s self-described background is quite murky and her qualifications as a terrorism expert highly dubious — by her own account, her educational background is limited to a high school education and completing a one-year business administration course at a YWCA — being based largely on her autobiography. It tells the harrowing tale of 10-year-old Gabriel as she faces civil war in Lebanon in the mid-1970s.
Her account is especially horrible and extraordinary; indeed, perhaps a little too extraordinary. For instance, Gabriel describes how her Maronite Christian family was forced to live in an underground bunker for seven harrowing years.
This seems rather curious because a few days of research and factchecking, including a review of the war’s timeline, appears to show that no family or individual needed to live underground for seven years. The war was intermittent and people stayed in their homes and near their towns in between battles. Periodically intense battles would rage for days or weeks and families would go to underground shelters for brief periods.
Her account of the conflict — which she offers as “certifiable” proof of the need for a war on Islam — is highly skewed, to put it mildly. “For my first ten years I lived a charmed and privileged life,” she writes. “All that came to an end when a religious war, declared by the Muslims against the Christians, tore my country and my life apart. It was a war that the world did not understand.”
Clearly it was a war Gabriel didn’t understand either, and which she deliberately distorts. The Lebanese Civil War is complicated — here’s one interesting item about it — but it involved various political and religious factions and a lot of outside interference from Western powers as well as Syria and Israel.
Gabriel herself “appears to be the scion of a South Lebanon Army (SLA) family, the SLA being the mercenary force set up by Israel in southern Lebanon,” according to Hussein Ibish. He describes her as “a vicious and probably deranged Islamophobe.”
But for Gabriel “radical Islam” was to blame for the Lebanese civil war and she’s been milking the topic for political prominence and big bucks ever since. And why not? In post 9/11 America, fear sells.
Gabriel charges $30,000 a pop for speeches, which are designed to whip her audience into a panic about the Islamic threat to “Western civilization.” Radical Islam is a threat. Terror porn and labeling all Muslims as radicals is not the answer.
American foreign policy in the Middle East is a disaster and the region is a powder keg. Flynn’s nomination and the fact that he views the loopy, un-credentialed Gabriel as a “terrorist expert” suggests things could, somehow, get worse.