US Army Reservist Tewfik Boulenouar was looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction in Baghdad in 2003. What he and the MET-Alpha task force found instead was evidence of the mass destruction of Iraq’s 2700-year-old Jewish community. He shares his life-changing experience in a raw interview with Eve Harow, The sacred and profane met in the basement of Saddam Hussein’s Mukhabarat.The Land of Israel
Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’
The oldest Christian monastery in Iraq, a place of worship for 1,400 years – used even by U.S. troops – has been reduced to rubble by Da’esh (ISIS).
The destruction was confirmed by satellite photos obtained by the Associated Press from the imagery firm DigitalGlobe, and compared with earlier images from the same site, AP wrote Wednesday in an exclusive report.
Built in 590, St. Elijah’s Monastery – called “Dair Mar Elia” in Syriac – stood on a hill above the city of Mosul, Iraq: a 27,000-square-foot stone and mortar fortress with a roof that was partly missing.
It was a place where in 1743 some 150 Christian monks stood firm and gave their lives, rather than bend to the will of Persian leader Tahmaz Nadir Shah who demanded their forcible conversion to Islam.
The building was huge, with 26 rooms, a chapel and a sanctuary.
But no more.
Catholic World Report quoted a post from June 12, 2014 that Christians were being driven out completely from Mosul by the Islamist hordes. The city had just been taken over by ISIS.
For the first time in 1,600 years, no Mass was celebrated in Mosul on Sunday June 15, 2014.
“The Catholic Archbishop of the city, Amil Shamaaoun Nona, corroborated this while speaking with the worldwide Catholic relief service, Aid to the Church in Need. ‘All the faithful have left the city. Who knows whether they will ever be able to return,’ Abp. Nona said.”
In 2003, there were still 35,000 Christians living in Mosul, according to that report. By 2014, there were only 3,000.
“The city of Mosul, with its population of three million, was already mentioned in the Bible as Nineveh, and for thousands of years it has been a place of Christian civilization,” the publication lamented.
U.S. Army chaplain Jeffrey Whorton, a Roman Catholic priest, also celebrated Mass on the monastery’s altar while deployed in Iraq.
Da’esh destroys any and all edifices the group considers to be related to idolatry, in its twisted interpretation of Islam.
More than 100 such sites have been leveled so far, among them the remains of the ancient city of Palmyra, in Syria. Monuments in the cities of Nineveh and Hatra are also ruined. Countless other treasures have been crushed – or stolen and sold to finance Da’esh terrorist attacks.Hana Levi Julian
Iraqi counter terrorism forces raised the Iraqi flag Monday over the city of Ramadi, a day after liberating its residents from Da’esh (ISIS) terrorists, a military spokesperson said.
Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar Province, was seized by Da’esh in May.
“Yes, the city of Ramadi has been liberated,” said joint operations spokesperson Brigadier-General Yahya Rasool in a statement broadcast on state-run television.
“The Iraqi counter terrorism forces have raised the Iraqi flag over the government complex in Anbar.”
Rasool added that tribal fighters in the region would be expected now to hold the city that finally had been liberated.
“We have trained hundreds of tribal fighters; their role will be holding the ground,” he told Reuters. “Seeing their own tribes responsible for security will be a relief for the civilians,” he added.
Sabah al-Numani, a spokesperson for the Iraqi counter terrorism unit told Reuters, “By controlling the complex this means that they [Da’esh] have been defeated in Ramadi.”
The offensive had been supported by U.S.-led coalition air strikes, but Iran-backed Shi’ite militias were barred from participating in the operation by the Iraqi government in order to avoid sectarian violence. Anbar Province is primarily populated by Sunni Muslims.
The anti-terrorist units are still involved in mop-up operations, al-Numani stressed.
[They] are “working day and night on the disposal of improvised explosive devices and car bombs left by ISIS militants in central Ramadi who have escaped in the direction of Al-Khaldiya,” Lt.-Gen. Abdul-Ghani Asadi told the Sputnik news agency.Hana Levi Julian
The Islamic State (ISIS) is armed with biological and chemical weapons but Europeans don’t take the existential threat seriously, according to a European Union parliament document.
Israeli experts last week also said ISIS is armed with weapons forbidden by the Geneva Convention and that it is a state in every sense of the word, with its own currency, a university and even license plates.
The London Express reported that the parliamentary report states that ISIS “may be planning to try to use internationally banned weapons of mass destruction in future attacks.” The document was prepared by the Parliament’s political analyst following the ISIS massacres in Paris last month.
ISIS has been trafficking in chemical weapons and also is able to manufacture them by putting together a team of experts with degrees in chemistry and physics.
The EU report, quoted by the Express, states:\
Chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear substances (CBRN) have been carried undetected into the European Union. Interpol’s monthly CBRN intelligence reports show numerous examples of attempts to acquire, smuggle or use CBRN materials.
At present, European citizens are not seriously contemplating the possibility that extremist groups might use chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) materials during attacks in Europe. Under these circumstances, the impact of such an attack, should it occur, would be even more destabilizing.
Experts at an Israeli conference said that ISIS is a genuine state even if it not recognized by others, Globes reported.
It controls approximately one-third of Syria’s land, nearly 10 million people and earns approximately $300 million in day from the sale of oil it has confiscated in Iraq and Syria.
Besides its well-publicized black flag and army of barbaric terrorists, ISIS runs courts, schools, welfare agencies and even issues license plates. One of the experts said, “There is no precedent for anything like this in the past 100 years.”
Dr. Ronen Yitzchak, head of the Middle East Dept. at the Western Galilee College, said that the Western coalition has succeeded in seriously damaging the infrastructure of ISIS and in limiting its expansion. However, he added:
Despite weaknesses in the organization, it will not disappear and will continue to be present for many years. The Islamic State is not a temporary episode. It will continue to present a danger to the West and the entire world.
Terror will worsen in Europe, whether it is because of terrorists who are there now or because of those who be recruited in the future.
ISIS has succeeded in recruiting cells in dozens of countries, “something that has never been seen in terror groups,” Yitzchak said.
ISIS has its own currency, has minted gold and silver coins and soon will introduce bronze coins.
Its radical Islamic school system forbids studies in music, arts and Western subjects such as psychology.
The expert panel also revealed that every family is required to “contribute” one male adult to fight in the ISIS army, which comprises estimated 35,000-50,000 men.
Carmit Valensi, a research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies, said that ISIS has to be fought on several fronts and that active involvement of Middle East Muslim countries would create an alternative for the local population so they won’t feel totally dependent on ISIS.Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu
(JNi.media) For the first time in several years, when Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office this week, it won’t be to push the two-state solution or to project calm over the Iran nuclear deal. There’s a different, bigger concern on American and Western minds: what to do about Da’esh, an Arabic acronym that stands for al-Dula al-Islamia fi al-Araq wa-al-Sham, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/Levant. News reports this weekend suggest two disheartening things about the ability of the West to correctly appraise the capacity and the success of ISIS:
1. US reports about the astonishing spread of ISIS in Iraq have been diminished or deleted, because they conflicted with the overall narrative of an independent Iraq that was ready to carry its own weight.
2. The flood of millions of migrants into Europe has created an intelligence void, making it impossible for the West to assess the scope of the ISIS threat on European soil.
At this point, the only Western intelligence service which is in possession of vast, current, reliable information on ISIS is in Israel. And Israel is just as worried as anyone else.
“The ISIS activity is getting close to Israel,” a senior Israeli official told NRG following the events of recent weeks. “The organization posted a video in Hebrew, then in the span of two weeks it brought down a plane in the Sinai, detonated suicide bombers in Beirut and carried out the attack in Paris. It shows its abilities and its aspirations.” In addition, the Israeli source cited the proliferation of ISIS cells which are now being discovered in Israel’s Arab sector, which indicate the strategic intent of the Islamic caliphate to harm Israel. “The situation is very dangerous,” said the senior official.
The official added that Israel maintains close cooperation with intelligence agencies in Europe to assist them in the early detection of foreign fighters — European passport holders who have participated in the fighting in Syria or Iraq and returned to the continent to establish terrorist cells. He noted, however, that the waves of refugees that flooded Europe through its open borders created enormous challenges to intelligence services.
He explained that when it was only a few hundreds of known foreign fighters who entered and left through recognized border crossings, it was possible to keep track of their movements and follow their activities. But the flood of millions of refugees who come in using unconventional and unsupervised means have created an intelligence void which intelligence agencies are struggling to fill. The second problem is that even when there is intelligence information, the freedom of movement between EU members and the vast distances make it very difficult to thwart an attack that is already underway.
“We learned this lesson on our own flesh in the second intifada, that in order to stop an ongoing attack, the alert has to reach the soldier at the checkpoint,” the official told NRG. “Because if the perpetrator has passed the checkpoint, we would never get to him. The Europeans have no checkpoints and certainly no soldiers, so even when there is specific information it is not sufficient to stop the attack in time.”
Meanwhile, the NY Times reported Saturday that “when Islamic State fighters overran a string of Iraqi cities last year, analysts at United States Central Command wrote classified assessments for military intelligence officials and policy makers that documented the humiliating retreat of the Iraqi Army. But before the assessments were final, former intelligence officials said, the analysts’ superiors made significant changes.” And “in the revised documents, the Iraqi Army had not retreated at all. The soldiers had simply ‘redeployed.’”JNi.Media
ISIS (Da’esh) vowed in a new video released Monday to strike the United States in an attack on Washington DC similar to Friday’s massacre in Paris.
The video is entitled “And Fight All Polytheists,” and was released by a “Wilayat Kirkuk” (State of Kirkuk) ISIS cell featuring jihadists speaking in Arabic.
The translations below are provided courtesy of The Daily Mail.
“We say to the states that take part in the Crusader campaign that, by God, you will have a day God willing, like France’s and by God, as we struck France in the center of its abode in Paris, then we swear that we will strike America at its center in Washington.”
The featured narrator, “Al Gharib the Algerian,” promised more attacks in Europe as well.
“I say to the European countries that we are coming, coming with booby traps and explosives, coming with explosive belts and [gun] silencers and you will be unable to stop us because today we are much stronger than before.”Hana Levi Julian
A rescue force comprised of Kurdish and American forces stormed a compound in northern Iraq where ISIS was holding prisoner members of Iraqi security forces, Army and police.
American helicopters and American and Kurdish special operations forces were reportedly successful in freeing 70 prisoners. Fox News reported that at least 10 ISIS hostage takers were killed during the operation, and at least five were themselves taken hostage.
The Iraqi prisoners were being held near the town of Hawija, an ISIS outpost in northern Iraq. American airstrikes bombed roads leading to the ISIS prison just before the special forces commando teams landed.
“People were chained to walls,” a military source told Fox News. Another senior defense source said that a “mass atrocity was averted.”
According to the Pentagon, rescuers “deliberately planned” the operation, and moved in when it was apparent that ISIS hostage takers were planning to kill the hostages.
This was the first known American commando operation in Iraq in the fight against ISIS. The soldier was the first American fatality in Iraq since the U.S. withdrew from that nation in 2011.Lori Lowenthal Marcus