The Twitter social networking site says it has suspended 360,000 accounts for terror-related violations of terms of service in the past 12 months, a large percentage related to Da’esh (ISIS).
The terror group uses Twitter to communicate with members, recruit new operatives, post photos, videos and send out propaganda.
The rate of daily suspensions rose by 80 percent since last year, the San Francisco-based site reported, according to the Fox News network and a report by the Associated Press.
The company said suspensions spike in the aftermath of terrorist attacks, adding that it has made some progress in preventing suspended users from returning immediately to the site with different names.
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday gave a foreign policy speech in Youngstown, Ohio, outlining his plan to fight terrorism. Addressing the large crowd (as usual), Trump opened, “Today we begin a conversation about how to Make America Safe Again. In the 20th Century, the United States defeated Fascism, Nazism, and Communism. Now, a different threat challenges our world: Radical Islamic Terrorism.”
The candidate cited a very long list of terrorist attacks against individual Western targets (Paris, Brussels, Orlando), as well as a more generalized but no less forceful depiction of attacks on Muslims: “Overseas, ISIS has carried out one unthinkable atrocity after another. … We cannot let this evil continue.”
Trump promised, “We will defeat Radical Islamic Terrorism, just as we have defeated every threat we have faced in every age before.” He then threw a jab at both president Obama and Democratic presidential Candidate Clinton, saying, “Anyone who cannot name our enemy, is not fit to lead this country.”
This led to a Trump analysis of how President Obama and his Secretary of State Clinton are to blame for the current alarming state of events. He blamed them for policies that led to the creation of ISIS, saying, “It all began in 2009 with what has become known as President Obama’s global ‘Apology Tour.’”
Remarkably, Trump omitted eight whole years in which the US was attacked by a different group of Islamic radicals, and the fact that then President GW Bush retaliated by invading a country that had nothing to do with that attack, inflicting chaos on Iraq and taking out the one fierce regional enemy of Iran, Saddam Hussein. According to Trump, none of those eight bloody years of a Bush war had anything to do with the creation of ISIS (which took place in 2004) — it all began with “a series of speeches,” in which “President Obama described America as ‘arrogant,’ ‘dismissive,’ ‘derisive,’ and a ‘colonial power.'”
“Perhaps no speech was more misguided than President Obama’s speech to the Muslim World delivered in Cairo, Egypt, in 2009,” Trump said Monday night. Of course, the Obama Al Azhar University speech did launch a bizarre foreign policy that punished America’s friends and rewarded its enemies. Even if one were not pro-Israel, one would have to wonder what drove that disastrous foreign policy. But the Obama speech did not instigate the catastrophic failure of US policy in the Middle East, it only picked up Obama’s predecessor’s very bad situation and made it worse.
Trump believes that “the failure to establish a new Status of Forces Agreement in Iraq, and the election-driven timetable for withdrawal, surrendered our gains in that country and led directly to the rise of ISIS.” But in eight miserable years, having spent trillions of borrowed dollars our grandchildren and their grandchildren after them will continue to pay for, there were no US gains in Iraq — which is why when Obama honored the Bush agreement with the Iraqi government and withdrew some of the US forces, the whole thing came tumbling down.
Trump blames Hillary Clinton for destabilizing Libya, a claim supported by many, including President Obama and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He also added a jab at the Clintons, saying, “Yet, as she threw the Middle East into violent turmoil, things turned out well for her. The Clintons made almost $60 million in gross income while she was Secretary of State.” It’s factually true, but the implied moral outrage is hard to accept with a straight face, seeing as it came from a man who prided himself on turning homeowners’ misery into a hefty profit for himself during the housing crisis of 2008.
After much more of the candidate’s unique view on US foreign policy and the causes for rise of terrorism, Trump finally cut to the chase.
“If I become President, the era of nation-building will be ended,” he said. “Our new approach, which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas, and by our friends in the Middle East, must be to halt the spread of Radical Islam. … As President, I will call for an international conference focused on this goal. We will work side-by-side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel. We will partner with King Abdullah of Jordan, and President [Al] Sisi of Egypt, and all others who recognize this ideology of death that must be extinguished.”
Trump added to the list of his envisioned coalition partners the NATO countries, explaining that although he “had previously said that NATO was obsolete because it failed to deal adequately with terrorism; since my comments they have changed their policy and now have a new division focused on terror threats.”
He also wants Russia to participate, clearly despite its dubious new alliance with both Iran and Turkey that threatens the very presence of US troops in that part of the region.
On this point, the Trump vision looks an awful lot like the current Administration’s policy on fighting ISIS: “My Administration will aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cutoff their funding, expanded intelligence sharing, and cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable their propaganda and recruiting. We cannot allow the Internet to be used as a recruiting tool, and for other purposes, by our enemy – we must shut down their access to this form of communication, and we must do so immediately.”
So far so good, but then Trump suggested “we must use ideological warfare as well. Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of Radical Islam.”
Trump then depicted his opponent as contributing to the repression of Muslim gays and women, promising his “Administration will speak out against the oppression of women, gays and people of different faith. Our Administration will be a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, and will amplify their voices.”
At which point one must ask if the candidate is relying on expert advise on the Middle East. Because while he is absolutely right in condemning the cruelty and repression that have been the reality in Muslim countries from Pakistan to Morocco, his idea of promoting an American foreign policy of “speaking out against the horrible practice of honor killings” and against the myriad other acts of unimaginable violence against women, his ideas that to defeat Islamic terrorism, the US must “speak out forcefully against a hateful ideology that provides the breeding ground for violence and terrorism to grow” is shockingly sophomoric. Surely Trump knows that these attempts are a recipe for a far worse disaster than the one brought on by the Obama Al Azhar speech.
At this point, Trump turned to an area with which he is more familiar, the need for a new immigration policy. “A Trump Administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: we should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people,” the candidate declared, adding that “the time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today.”
“In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles – or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law,” Trump said, explaining that “those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country. Only those who we expect to flourish in our country – and to embrace a tolerant American society – should be issued visas.”
Easier said than done, of course, because it’s naturally difficult to discern what lurks inside the mind of any person, immigrants included. Trump’s solution is, to “temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism.”
“As soon as I take office, I will ask the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to identify a list of regions where adequate screening cannot take place. We will stop processing visas from those areas until such time as it is deemed safe to resume based on new circumstances or new procedures.” It should be interesting to gauge the response of, say, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, to the news that no more cash-laden Arab oil sheiks would be allowed to visit Vegas under a Trump Administration.
“Finally, we will need to restore common sense to our security procedures,” Trump declared, listing several notorious murders committed by Muslims on US soil, noting that in each case there had been warning signs that were overlooked by the authorities.
“These warning signs were ignored because political correctness has replaced common sense in our society,” Trump stated flatly, adding, “That is why one of my first acts as President will be to establish a Commission on Radical Islam. … The goal of the commission will be to identify and explain to the American public the core convictions and beliefs of Radical Islam, to identify the warning signs of radicalization, and to expose the networks in our society that support radicalization.”
“This commission will be used to develop new protocols for local police officers, federal investigators, and immigration screeners,” Trump said, essentially suggesting legitimizing the police profiling that has been so vilified in the media and by many politicians. He also promised to keep Guantanamo Bay prison open (although Obama has just released fifteen of its inmates). He wants additional staff to Intelligence agencies and will keep drone strikes against terrorist leaders as part of his options. He also wants military trials for foreign enemy combatants.
In conclusion, there was absolutely no new policy idea in the Trump speech on foreign policy Monday night, but there was an implied, if mostly unspoken promise, to encourage all levels of law enforcement to be less restrained in pursuing their targets. In fact, across the board, what Trump was offering Monday night were not so much new ideas as the promise of taking existing ideas to a new level of dedication in their execution. It could mean a wider loss of individual civil rights, and serious economic hardship for US industries that cater to any aspect of immigration, and it could also end up with the alienation of both European and Mid-Eastern countries who would not take kindly to Trump’s promised level of fierceness, and would retaliate.
It should be noted in that context, that after having spoken bluntly about extreme security measures that could harm specific ethnic and religious groups, Trump attempted to soften his own tone with a final paragraph that promised: “As your President … I will fight to ensure that every American is treated equally, protected equally, and honored equally. We will reject bigotry and oppression in all its forms, and seek a new future built on our common culture and values as one American people. — Only this way, will we make America Great Again and Safe Again – For Everyone.”
Like him or hate him, Donald Trump remains the champion of cognitive dissonance.
Tuesday’s meeting in St. Petersburg between the two former feuding foes Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan “drew considerable attention,” government-run news agency TASS reported, noting that the Russian-Turkish rapprochement is coming while Russia has been expanding its relations with Iran and Ankara and Tehran have also been bridging the gaps between them, born by almost four decades of a volatile Islamic Republic on Turkey’s border. In fact, right after the failed coup last month, Erdogan announced, “We are determined to cooperate with Iran and Russia to address regional problems side by side and to step up our efforts considerably to restore peace and stability to the region.”
Should Israel be concerned? Apparently, the Russian news organ is eager to spread a message of calm regarding the new developments in the northern part of the region. And so an unsigned article this week polled experts who were skeptical regarding a developing strategic triangle of those three powers. According to the TASS experts, the most that will come out of the current statements are tactical political interaction and an upturn in economic cooperation. But even if it were true, and Russia, Turkey and Iran were to forge a strategic alliance, TASS continues its calming message, it would be for the best, because “these three countries can play a positive role, for instance, in overcoming the Syrian crisis.”
It isn’t clear who is panicking more at the moment—Jerusalem or Washington—over the possibility that Turkey, a NATO member, would switch sides and coalesce with Russia and Iran. Clearly, the US has a whole lot more to lose from such an emerging outcome. US Middle East policy traditionally relied on the “three-legged stool” comprised of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey. As long as those three major local powers were in the Western camp, Soviet manipulations elsewhere could be mitigated. When Iran was lost under President Jimmy Carter in 1979, the US attempted for the longest time to substitute Iraq for the missing stool leg, but the Iraqi regime never provided the stability the US enjoyed with the Shah. This is why the US is so determined to keep Turkey in the Western camp, because without a Western-allied Turkey, the US presence in the region would be severely downgraded.
Hence the need for the TASS calming story. It interviewed senior research fellow Vladimir Sazhin, of the Oriental Studies Institute under the Russian Academy of Sciences, who reassured the Western readers “there will be no trilateral union, of course. It should be ruled out for many reasons. At best one can expect some tactical alliance. This is so because Iran, Turkey and Russia have certain problems in their relations with the West and with the United States.” That’s code for Turkey would be punished severely, economically and otherwise, if it ever jumped ship.
Sazhin continued, “If one takes a look at the economic interests they share, it should be remembered that Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan … are countries that produce and export hydrocarbons. They have a great deal to discuss in view of the current strained situation on the world market. As for Turkey, its role in delivering hydrocarbons to the West may be significant. But I don’t think that this triangle will be of strategic importance.”
Sazhin sees no fundamentally new geopolitical aspects in sight. “It’s about getting back to where we had been all the time. Arabs constitute an overwhelming majority of the population in the Middle East. Non-Arab countries are few – Israel, Turkey and Iran. They had very close relations up to [the emergence of] the Islamic revolution in Iran.”
“In Iran, with its 80-million population, Turks and Azerbaijanis, who are ethnically very close to Turkey, constitute an estimated 18 to 25 million,” Sazhin said. “Bilateral relations existed not only at the Tehran-Ankara level. There were very strong people-to-people bonds. Plus the long-standing economic ties. But in politics post-revolution Iran and NATO member Turkey have drifted apart, of course.”
Research fellow Irina Zvyagelskaya, of the Arab and Islamic Research Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Oriental Studies Institute told TASS, “I don’t believe in the emergence of new political triangles. I don’t think some strategic changes will follow overnight to bring about changes to the configuration of alliances. A number of steps we’ve seen our friends and partners and those we are not on very friendly terms with us take are tactical. They stem from the current situation.”
Zvyagelskaya believes that to a large extent this is true of Turkey. “It is to be remembered that Erdogan’s wish to have closer relations is a result of certain internal political events, on the one hand, and soaring tensions in his country’s relations with the United States and the European Union, on the other. These steps by Erdogan are purely pragmatic and we should treat them accordingly. As far as I understand, nobody has any illusions on that score.”
Jerusalem (TPS) – The State of Israel is engaged in clandestine efforts to obtain restitution for the lost or stolen property of Jews who fled Arab countries after the State of Israel was founded. This was revealed in a discussion of the Knesset’s Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs on Wednesday morning.
“The expatriates from Arab countries fled, leaving their property behind,” said MK Avraham Neguise, the committee chairman. “We want to do historical justice by making sure that this property is finally restored to its owners.”
Hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Arab countries and the Middle East already faced persecution on the eve of Israel’s establishment in 1948. Once Israel declared its independence, they had to flee.
According to Avi Cohen, director general of the Social Equality Ministry, which helps funnel support to the poorer sectors in Israeli society, Israel has already been acting clandestinely to restore some of the property that belonged to hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees, investing millions of shekels to do so.
“Classified work is currently underway, in conjunction with the Foreign Ministry, in which we will invest millions to restore the property of Arab and Iranian Jewry,” Cohen said. “The work will come to fruition within four to six weeks. I cannot say more than that.”
Although Iran’s Jewish community did not face the same repercussions as Jews in Arab countries did in 1948, tens of thousands of Iranian Jews fled Iran following the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
The officials at the meeting made other suggestions regarding restitution. Opposition leader and Zionist Union chairman MK Isaac Herzog hinted that a regional agreement would give Israel an opportunity to make the issue a top priority.
“The topic was mentioned explicitly in our elections platform,” Herzog said. “If there should be movement toward a regional agreement, the topic must definitely be placed on the agenda.”
Ze’ev Ben Yosef, a member of the World Likud executive committee, was skeptical of Herzog’s idea.
“It’s problematic to link the issue of restitution to a political agreement because the other side is in no hurry to reach such an agreement,” he said.
Others who were present argued that the issue of the lost or stolen property belonging to Jews who fled Arab and Muslim countries should gain more international recognition, especially since the UN gave refugee status to Palestinians and their descendants who fled their homes during Israel’s War of Independence.
“The moment that the UN supports refugees from Arab countries, it must recognize that there are Jewish refugees,” said Eli Gabbay, a former MK of the National Religious Party. “It must be guaranteed, through a political process, that just as the UN grants funds to the Arab refugees, it will make restitution to the Jewish refugees.”
MK Anat Berko (Likud), a descendant of Jewish refugees from Iraq, echoed Gabbay’s statement. “If you want to recognize Arab refugees, you must also recognize Jewish refugees,” she said. “I, too, see myself as a daughter of Iraqi-Jewish refugees.”
Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger’s ex-wife Bianca, 71, was forced to apologize on Tuesday for a tweet she posted “at 4.15 in the morning and didn’t properly read its content,” as she later confessed. The post was a “list of UK Members of Parliament who voted for #Iraqwar,” which Biaca was clearly outraged by, lo so many years hence.
Jagger, a Jeremy Corbyn supporter, called on her Twitter followers to “read [the list] carefully, [and] understand why they want @jeremycorbyn out.”
But Jagger’s source for the list was the white power website Metapedia, whose mission statement is to offer alternative information to what’s available on “strongly biased and hostile ‘researchers’ like Searchlight, Anti-Defamation League, Southern Poverty Law Center, Simon Wiesenthal Centre, and such.” You get the point.
And so, the list of erring MPs included notes next to their names such as “Jew,” “Jewess,” “negro,” and, in the case of MP Chris Bryant (Labour): “Infamous homosexual exhibitionist” followed by all the homosexual exhibitionist things Bryant is apparently enamoured with.
Alastair Campbell, who ran communications for Tony Blair’s Labour government, tweeted Jagger: “Are we to weigh up ‘Jew,’ ‘married to Jew,’ ‘negro,’ ‘openly homosexual,’ in this careful reading/understanding?”
And MP Bryant took time out from his busy schedule of homosexual exhibitionism to tweet Jagger: “You should delete and apologize for this list describing people as ‘Jews’ and ‘homosexuals.'”
Which she did, the poor thing, and deleted the tweet and the Facebook reference, don’t ask. “I’m mortified,” she said in a statement. “I thought it was a list of members of Parliament who voted against the war in Iraq. You all know I am against racism, bigotry. I didn’t carefully read the content of the website, I thought it was a straightforward list, not a racist, homophobic and disgusting list.”
And so, for future reference, next to Bianca Jagger’s name on your lists, make sure to note: “Posts Nazi stuff when tired.”
The death toll is continuing to rise in Tuesday night’s twin suicide bombing at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport.
Turkish officials have now confirmed that at least 41 people were killed in the massacre, including 13 foreign nationals; 239 others were injured in the attack.
Three as yet still unidentified terrorists, including at least one armed with an AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifle, attacked the international departures hall at the busy airport.
The terrorists opened fire at the first security checkpoint at the entrance to the terminal, where baggage undergoes the initial inspection through an X-ray machine, then detonated their explosives vests as police began to return fire.
“The findings … point to the Da’esh organization as the perpetrators of this terror attack,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told journalists in the wee hours of Wednesday morning at the airport.
Ataturk is the third largest airport in Europe and the 11th largest in the world; more than 63.5 million passengers passed through its doors in 2015.
On March 22 two Da’esh terrorists attacked the Zaventem international airport in Brussels, detonating suicide vests and blowing up the departures hall. A third suicide bomber blew himself up at a metro station in Brussels not far from the headquarters of the European Union less than an hour later. At least 32 people were killed in the coordinated attacks and hundreds more were wounded.
No terror group has yet claimed responsibility for the Istanbul airport attack, but Da’esh released an infographic via the group’s Amaq news agency Wednesday claiming to have “covert” units in Turkey. The release marked the two-year anniversary of the so-called establishment of the ISIS “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq.
During Tuesday’s debate at the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice committee, five MKs shared their families’ stories about the disappearance or the kidnapping of their relatives, presumably at the hands of public officials. MKs Yoav Ben-Tzur (Shas), Yoseph Yonah (Zionist Camp), Nava Boker (Likud), Rachel Azaria (Kulanu), and Nurit Koren (Likud) and their families have been living with the pain of that cruel separation for more than half a century.
The committee on Tuesday debated public demands to reveal the sealed protocols of the state investigating commission on the kidnapping of Yemenite, Mid-Eastern and Balkan children by government officials in the early years of the State of Israel. The commission’s findings have been sealed until the year 2071 in keeping with the State Archives Law.
The investigation dealt with the disappearance of thousands of babies and children who arrived in Israel from Yemen and other third-world countries in the 1950s, whose families were told that they died even though their bodies or their graves were never presented. Family members of the disappeared and several NGOs have called in the past for the public exposure of the findings of the investigation, but the state has remained firm in its refusal. Now, in response to increased public pressure, Prime Minister Netanyahu assigned Minister Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud) to look into the matter and submit his recommendations.
Hanegbi, son of illustrious underground radio broadcaster and former MK Geula Cohen, is from Yemenite extraction himself.
The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice committee / Courtesy the Knesset
Committee chair MK Nissan Slomiansky (Habayit Hayehudi) opened the debate, saying, “The question is where have we been until now? It’s crazy — everybody knows there are protocols and it’s all locked up. As if these are the nuclear secretes of the State of Israel. It looks completely hallucinatory to me.”
State Archives official Dr. Jacob Lazovic told the committee that the archives possess more than one million pages of the investigating commission’s proceedings. “I personally, and we as an organization would be only to happy to reveal everything, but we are operating within the law, which imposes two limits on exposure: one based on the State Archives Law and the other on the Privacy Law,” he explained.
Dr. Lazovic added that while the government has the authority to order the exposure of said material, it is not authorized to permit the publication of content which relates to private persons. In his expert view, this problem could be resolved in short order by the archives’ staff who could go over the documents and redact the private information with black ink. “There are 3,500 cases,” he said. “My estimate is we’ll need one thousand work days.”
MK Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid) who initiated the debate, called the disappearance of the Yemenite children “a stain, a mark of Cain, a gross tumor on Israeli society. I’m trying to think what would have happened nowadays if a mother would have given birth and the next day was informed that her child had died. This phenomenon is rife with racism.”
MK Yonah told the committee, “I carry with me the story of the family of my uncles who passed away three years ago. They had a child named Tzipora who became sick with jaundice, which is why she was being treated in hospital, and was in progressive recovery. One day before she disappeared or kidnapped her mother still nursed her. When they called her to come get her daughter from the hospital, my aunt arrived, but was told, ‘Your child died.’ She asked, ‘How can it be? Only yesterday they told me about her quick recovery.’ My aunt described in chilling details how she ran through the different rooms looking for her girl. The child was gone.”
Yonah continued, “My uncle arrived at the hospital and was also told his daughter had died. He asked to see the death certificate and then, in complete reversal of the message of the state wishing to be modern, they told him, ‘You think you’re living in Iraq? At this age we don’t issue death certificates.'”
Tragically, according to Yonah, “when Tzipora turned 18, her enlistment order arrived in her family’s home, but she was not there, obviously. She is somewhere out there in the world and her brothers want to know where she is.”
Responding to the archives official’s comment regarding the limits posed by the privacy law, MK Yonah said, “My family members are those private people whose privacy is being damaged. Now, clearly, there is no demand on the part of families of the disappeared children for justice or revenge. But a society that wishes to advance to its future must heal its wounds and we need this for the sake of our own future. To face the inequities, not in order to sink but to face and overcome them.”
MK Boker, who co-sponsored the committee debate with MK Cohen, on Monday shared her own family’s story on her Facebook page, speculating that her older brothers and sisters had been among the kidnapped children. “I wasn’t fortunate enough to know my older brothers and sisters … According to what my mother told me when she was still alive, my older brother died at age one year and a half, but now we know he has two graves, rather than one. As to my sister, as soon as she was born, the doctors told my mother she was dead. My mother never saw the body, didn’t receive a death certificate, and that sister was never buried. The doctors and the medical staff probably took advantage of my mother’s naiveté and took away her daughter.”
“It’s time to expose the truth behind this shocking episode, an episode that is a black stain on the history of the State of Israel,” MK Boker said.
The committee meeting ended with a call on the government to open up the protocols; representatives of NGOs working to expose this episode called on the government to accept responsibility and recognize that this is a case of the mass kidnapping of children.