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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Jabhat al-Nusra’

UN Commander Says ‘Raise the White Flag’ as Syrian Rebels Take UN Peacekeepers Hostage, Attack Others

Monday, September 1st, 2014

The chief of Philippine armed forces says it will ask for an investigation of the commander of United Nations peacekeeping troops in the Golan Heights who asked his troops to lay down their arms and ‘raise the white flag’ under fire. Two groups of United Nations peacekeepers — both of them Filipino — managed to elude capture by Syrian rebels in the Syrian side of the Golan Heights during the past 24 hours.

The head of the Philippine armed forces, General Gregorio Pio Catapang, told journalists in Manila that a group of 32 kidnapped Philippine peacekeepers trapped by the rebels in the Syrian side of the Golan Heights had been rescued.

“We may call it the greatest escape,” he said.

“Everyone is in a safe position,” UNDOF Philippine commander Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala, said, according to the BBC. “We left our [former] position but we brought all our arms.” In addition, a second group of 40 UNDOF peacekeepers – apparently also from Philippines – managed to escape a seven-hour siege by the rebels after returning fire in self-defense.

The Philippine government has announced it will recall its force of 331 troops in October due to the deterioration of security in the Golan Heights.

A third group of 44 Fijian UN peacekeepers was kidnapped last Wednesday near Quneitra by the Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al Nusra terror group (Al Nusra Front). The terror organization said in a statement posted on the internet that the captives were “in a safe place, and they are in good health, and that we have given them what they need of food and treatment.”

Jabhat al Nusra seized control of the Quneitra crossing with Israel — the only border crossing with Syria — last week. The group claimed it had carried out the abductions because the UN ignored “the daily shedding of the Muslims’ blood in Syria.”

The Philippine military is planning to demand a probe of the commander of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on allegations of endangering the safety of Filipino peacekeepers on active duty. (UNDOF was established May 31 1974, the day Syria and Israel signed a disengagement agreement to end the 1973 Yom Kippur War.)

Gen. Catapang told the BBC that Lt. Gen. Iqbal Singh Singha, of India, ordered Philippine UN peacekeepers to lay down their arms to ensure the safety of the Fijian peacekeepers abducted by the Syrian rebels. In addition to laying down their firearms, the general said the Filipino troops were also ordered by Singha to ‘raise the white flag,’ according to the BBC.

“He (Singha) said that if we were attacked we should raise the white flag. I said no way. That means our soldiers will also be held hostage,” said Catapang. The troops defied Singha and informed AFP Peacekeeping Operations Center chief Col. Roberto Ancan instead.

UNDOF is comprised of 1,223 peacekeeper troops from six nations — but it is not clear who will replace the Philippine troops in October.

Shelling on the Golan Heights: Syria Testing Israel’s Resolve?

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Although an open-ended cease-fire is in force with Gaza, two people were wounded in northern Israel on Wednesday in the course of three shelling attacks from Syria.

At around 10 pm, Syrian forces fired two mortar shells from across the Golan Heights, both exploding in open areas north of the Quneitra valley. It was the third attack in a single day, the most intensive shelling from Syria in months. No one was physically injured and no property damage was reported in the attack.

Earlier in the evening, a 52-year-old kosher supervisor at a winery on the Golan Heights was lightly wounded by Syrian tank fire aimed at an Israeli kibbutz along the border. The victim was evacuated to Ziv Medical Center in Tzfat (Safed). A local vineyard and a gas pipeline were both damaged in the attack.

Hours earlier, in the morning, an IDF officer was moderately wounded and two Israeli vehicles were damaged in a similar attack. A barrage of Syrian mortar shells was fired from across the border  – again, from the Quneitra area. The officer, who sustained shrapnel wounds to the chest, was airlifted to Rambam Medical Center.

The IDF attacked two Syrian positions in response to the mortar fire. IDF officials said Jerusalem holds the Syrian army responsible for maintaining order on the Syrian side of the border.

Originally security sources said the attacks were due to “errant fire” due to the conflict taking place between government troops and opposition forces in Syria.

Fierce fighting is reportedly taking place between the forces fighting on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad, and rebel fighters. It is not known which opposition forces are involved in this battle, nor whether some or all of the factions have banded together to fight Assad’s army.

The Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing has fallen into rebel hands, only 200 meters (219 yards) from the border with Israel. But whose?

At least two of the three opposition factions involved in the war have vowed to dedicate themselves to Israel’s destruction when they have ‘completed their task’ in Syria. One of those is the Islamic State, or ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.)

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards have been assisting Assad since the start of the civil war in March 2011, as have the Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah guerrilla terrorists. Other mercernary fighters have joined the effort as well.

Opposing them are three major, separate streams of rebels: the Western-backed ‘moderate’ secular and Muslim factions led by the Syrian National Coalition and its Free Syrian Army, the Islamic Front which is headed by the Al Qaeda-linked Al Nusra Front (Jabhat al Nusra) along with the Ahrar el-Sham, and which includes some 13 rebel brigades, all rejecting the Syrian National Coalition; and the ISIS  ‘Army of Islam’ comprised of 43 Salafi Muslim factions was formed last year in Syria, led by Sheikh Mohammed Zahran.

Last year Al Nusra also clashed with Kurdish militias over control of local gas resources and over the institution of Shari’a Islamic law in Kurdish areas. The same Al Nusra recently handed over long-missing American journalist Peter Theo Curtis, kidnapped by the group and held hostage since October 2012, to U.S. authorities via the Quneitra crossing, into Israel.

The IDF has ordered farmers and civilians to stay away from the border and part of the area has been closed to civilians as a precaution.

America’s First Home-Grown Al Qaeda Suicide Bomber in Syria

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

For the first time, the United States has become involved in the Syrian civil war in a close-up, personal, intimate way. An American citizen-turned-suicide bomber for Al Qaeda attacked a Syrian government complex on Sunday in the northern Idlib region.

News of the attack was posted on radical Islamic websites by the Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra( Al Nusra Front) terrorist organization. It was also tweeted around the English-speaking world on Tuesday via the Twitter social networking site.

“Abu Hurayra al-Amriki” performed a martyrdom operation in Idlim, Jabal al-Arba’een. May Allah accept him,” the post read.

Recently Al Qaeda had promised an attack from an “American,” according to CBS News. The words “al-Amriki” mean, “the American” in Arabic. U.S. officials have identified the terrorist’s legal name although they refuse to release that information to the public. He is believed to be the first American suicide bomber to strike in Syria.

American Al Qaeda suicide bomber Abu Hurayra al-Amriki dressed for his final operation in Syria, May 25, 2014.

American Al Qaeda suicide bomber Abu Hurayra al-Amriki dressed for his final operation in Syria, May 25, 2014.

The FBI told media that several dozen other Americans have also gone to Syria to join in the fighting.

Numerous photos have been posted on Twitter from various sources — most are re-posts from Jabhat al Nusra, actually — showing the aforementioned young bearded man all dressed up in his go-to-bombing suit, complete with explosives vest. There’s a shot of the huge bomb-laden truck he allegedly drove to his destination.

The saddest and most ironic is the one with him holding a half-grown kitten standing in front of a black and white sign written in flowing Arabic script that reads, “There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is His Prophet,” – the rallying cry of all radical Islamist groups. That one is attached to the photos that show the subsequent results of his handiwork.

Syrian Christians Caught between Rock and Hard Place

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Caught between the larger Sunni-Shi’a battles for supremacy in Syria, Christians are forced to contemplate an uncertain future as Western powers debate action against the government of Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian Christians are faced with a difficult situation due to the Syrian civil war. Many Christians support Assad out of fear that if he is overthrown and replaced by Islamists, they will face greater persecution, especially from al-Qaeda-linked Sunni Muslim rebel groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, who have attacked Christians. At the same time, Assad and his government are supported by Iran and its Lebanese terror proxy, Hezbollah, and have used chemical weapons against the Syrian people.

Christian villagers in Wadi al-Nassara (Valley of Christians) in western Syria, home to around 50,000 Christians, have formed “popular defense committees” with the blessing of the Syrian government, according to AFP.

These “popular defense committees” are militias armed and trained by the Syrian government to supplement the Syrian army and protect their own neighborhoods or villages from attacks by rebels. Many of these militias are comprised of Syrian minority groups such as the Christians, Druze and Alawites.

Christian leaders in Syria have faced growing danger from rebels. In April, two Syrian bishops, Yohanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, were kidnapped at gunpoint at a rebel checkpoint near Aleppo. Their whereabouts are still unknown. In early July, a video posted on LiveLeak.com apparently showed Syrian Catholic priest Father Francois Murad being beheaded by the Al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebels, Jabhat al-Nusra, in front of a cheering crowd. While there are conflicting reports over whether Murad was depicted in the video, the Vatican has confirmed that Murad, along with two others, were taken from a monastery in northern Syria and killed. In late July, an al-Qaeda linked group abducted Italian Jesuit Priest Paolo Dall’Oglio.

The Next Bloodbath : Lebanon

Thursday, August 1st, 2013

During the past two years we have become accustomed to the seemingly endless bloodbath in Syria, which has become a boxing ring for the many forces that are tearing it apart, while tearing its citizens apart in the process as well. But now the flames of the Arab Spring are threatening its western neighbor, Lebanon, the most democratic Arab or Muslim state in the modern Middle East. The Lebanese political system, which is built on a delicate balance among many sects and political bodies, has been directly influenced in the past two years by the events in Syria, because several Lebanese bodies are deeply involved in the Syrian tragedy.

Many have written about Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria, and one may assume that this involvement – together with the terror attack in Burgas, Bulgaria – was the basis for the EU’s decision to declare the military arm of Hezbollah as a terror organization. Hezbollah is the target of harsh criticism these days, both by Sunni groups that identify with the rebels against Asad in Syria, and by the Shi’ites who fear that the Syrian Sunnis will bring its revenge to Lebanon. However, Nasrallah does not listen to his opposition and continues to carry out Teheran’s instructions to help Asad survive at any price, even at the price of the lives of hundreds of Hezbollah fighters.

The Sunnis do their part too, by trying to attack Hezbollah in it’s own domain, in Lebanon. To date we have seen missile strikes on Dahiya, the southern suburb of Beirut, which is the Hezbollah stronghold, as well as a car bomb that exploded there in mid-June. Supporters of Syria are also targets of Hezbollah’s opposition: In the beginning of the week of July 21, a Syrian journalist of Kurdish extraction named Mohammed Dhirar Jammu, a supporter of the Asad regime, was murdered in the Lebanese city of Sarafand.

But lately reports have begun to appear in the Arabic media that a new Sunni front, the Lebanese branch of the Syrian group Jabhat al-Nusra, is steadily strengthening and consolidating in Lebanon. Jabhat al-Nusra, which also has branches in Iraq, is part of the global system of al-Qaeda-inspired organizations that translate into practical terms the teachings of bin Laden, which are based on the ideology of his mentor, Palestinian Sheikh Abdullah Azzam.

First of all, the full, official name of the organization is “Jabhat al-Nusra li-Ahal al-Sham” – “The Defensive Front for the People of Greater Syria.” The term “Greater Syria” expresses the organization’s rejection of the division of the modern Middle East into modern states – Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel – because they were founded by Christian-European colonialism in order to serve its own interests. The “al-Sham” region includes West Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the Land of Israel, which the Arabs call “Filastin”. Therefore, Israel must keep a watchful eye on this organization because it is theoretically possible that the Muslims in Israel will want to open branches of the organization in Israel as well. And this actually almost happened, but then was blocked when Sheikh Nazem Abu Islim of Nazareth was arrested, tried and imprisoned.

Jabhat al-Nusra in Lebanon

The Christian writer Luna Khuri describes the structure of the Lebanese branch of Jabhat al-Nusra in the Elaph Internet site. The head of the organization is Muhammad al-Rish from Tripoli, whose brother, Samer abd al-Rahim al-Rish, was one of the leaders of the Jund al-Sham organization (Greater Syrian Army) and was killed last month in the battle of the Crusader fortress Krak des Chevaliers, near Homs. Muhammad al-Rish’s immediate task is to defend the budding development of Jabhat al-Nusra in Lebanon from attacks by the Lebanese military, which are carried out against it by instructions from Hassan Nasrallah.

In mid-June of this year, the Lebanese army eliminated the Sunni Salafi sheikh, Ahmad al-Asir in Sidon, and captured a truck full of military equipment near the town of Arsal, in Lebanon’s  Bekaa Valley. This town is apparently the logistical center of the Jabhat al-Nusra organization in Lebanon, because of its location on the border of Syria and Lebanon. Its local commander in the town was Khaled Hunayd, who was killed by agents of Lebanese military intelligence. The present commander took a lesson from this event, so he now operates incognito, heading a group that includes approximately 200 fighters under the spiritual leadership of Sheikh Mustapha al-Hujairi – called Abu Takia (the turbaned one), who issued a fatwa – a religious legal ruling – that allows killing soldiers of the Lebanese army.

Catholic Priest Murdered by Syrian Rebels, Possibly Beheaded

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Although there are conflicting reports about which act of brutality killed a Syrian Roman Catholic priest late last month – whether, as initial reports, including from Catholic Online claimed, he was beheaded by Syrian rebels, or as has been reported more recently, the priest was shot to death by Syrian rebels who attacked his church, there is no doubt that Father François Murad was killed on June 23 by Syrian rebels at a church in Ghassaniya, northern Syria.

The Custody of the Holy Land, a Franciscan order which is the official custodian of religious sites in the Middle East, issued a statement two days after Father Murad’s death, saying Islamists shot him.

“Islamists attacked the monastery, ransacking it and destroying everything,” it said. “When Father François tried to resist, defending the nuns, rebels shot him.”

Father Francois had started the construction of a monastery dedicated to St. Simon Stylites in the village of Gassanieh after entering the priesthood, but that monastary was bombed during this Syran civil war.  After the bombing, Fr. Murad moved to the convent of the Custody for safety reasons and to give support to the few remaining Catholics in the area.

According to various sources, the Vatican confirmed that Father Murad had been murdered, and initially also stated that he had been beheaded.

The confusion was caused, in part, because there is a video of Syrian rebels beheading two men on June 23, and Father Murad was also murdered on June 23.

Everyone agrees that both the murderers in the video shown beheading two Syrians, and the people who murdered Father Murad were members of the al-Qaeda linked terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra, a Sunni terrorist organization that operates primarily in Iraq and Syria.

The video of the beheadings is posted at Catholic Online. This reporter has not viewed it, but by all indications it provides a clear and graphic view of the acts of beheading.  It also shows fellow terrorists watching the murders and chanting praise to Allah.

When the spokesperson for the U.S. State Department was asked at the daily press briefing on Tuesday, July 2, about the possible beheading of Father Murad by Syrian rebels, Jen Psaki said she had not yet seen the video (using an unfortunate phrase, she said she’d “be happy to take a close look at it”).  Psaki reminded journalists that the U.S. has consistently been scrupulous about making sure that all U.S. military aid goes through the Syrian opposition’s Supreme Military Council, to make sure the aid is going to moderate members of the opposition forces and not to terrorist-linked groups, such as Jabhat al-Nusra.

While most at this point are in agreement that Father Murad was not beheaded, it is believed that one of the people shown being decapitated on the video is a different cleric whose name is not yet known.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/catholic-priest-murdered-by-syrian-rebels-perhaps-beheaded/2013/07/03/

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