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March 29, 2015 / 9 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘terror’

Cheat Sheet on Who’s Doing What to Whom in the Middle East

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan (and a few quiet others) have been urging U.S. President Barack Obama to climb down from his tree and listen to Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. There’s a reason for that.

A new radical Islamic axis is forming, one that is cuddling up to the Muslim Brotherhood. The once-scattered Iranian-backed terror groups dedicated to annihilating the State of Israel are coalescing into a second axis while threatening to form an alliance with Daesh, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria also known as ISIS, as well as Al Qaeda and other global jihad organizations.

Because part-time pundits don’t have time to study the fine details of where things are happening on the political chessboard of the Middle East, here’s a cheat sheet to help you keep score on the latest realities in the region.

For a lot of Western political analysts, the Arab Spring was confusing and a real pain in the neck — but that was a walk in the park compared to the nightmare now facing foreign affairs policy makers trying to stay abreast on current terrorist ties and the tangled web they are spinning in the ‘hood.

U.S. President Barack Obama is looking for a way to nurse his salty wounds over having to spend his final tenure swallowing bile while chatting civilly, if not with good manners, during phone calls with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

But here’s what’s happening right now — and what the leader of the greatest country on earth has to grapple with — while he continues to search for ways to pick a fight with Israel’s most popular leader since the Israel was founded by its first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion.

In Africa:
Two terror organizations in Nigeria and Somalia, Boko Haram and Al Shaba’ab respectively, have both pledged allegiance to Daesh, also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. Both groups have slaughtered thousands and wounded more, committed numerous atrocities and are continuing to carry out murderous terror attacks to prove their mettle as “jihadists,” or holy warriors for Islam.

The moderate Arab nation of Tunisia suffered its first public terrorist attack by ISIS this weekend in a massacre that left 20 dead and dozens of others wounded in the iconic Bardo museum in Tunis, including many foreign tourists. At least 3,000 Tunisians have flown to Syria to join the ISIS terror organization; it’s no surprise those chickens are beginning to come home to roost in North Africa.

Tunisia is one of the few Arab nations left that can claim to be home to one of the most ancient Jewish communities in Africa, and which has enjoyed a healthy international tourism trade. It now faces severe damage to its tourist industry, which was just beginning to recover from the ravages of the Arab Spring. Ominously, the threat level facing Tunisia’s Jewish community on the country’s island of Djerba is also not clear.

Libya, which borders Tunisia — and where an American Ambassador and three U.S. diplomats were murdered in an Al Qaeda attack in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 — has been entirely swallowed by Al Qaeda and allied terrorist groups. ISIS has also joined the party, spreading cells throughout the country as well. Earlier this month, ISIS made its “debut” appearance in the oil-rich nation with a public seaside beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian laborers taken captive by the terror organization.

In the Middle East:
Egypt is facing one of the toughest fights of its life in the Sinai Peninsula as it battles a budding invasion by ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Iranian proxy groups. Homegrown terror cells and disgruntled Bedouin tribes are aiding and abetting this effort, having always looked for greener pastures and a better deal regardless of who’s in power in Cairo.

Gaza has been controlled since 2007 by Iran‘s proxies who include Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and in a consultant position, Hezbollah. All maintain contentious but cooperative relationships with the Salafi, global jihad Army of Islam terror group which is linked to Al Qaeda. ISIS is also now represented in the region as well.

Jordan is facing an existential threat on its borders with Iraq and Syria due to ISIS having captured border crossings on both, and the presence of Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guards along the border with Syria. So far, its only remaining friendly borders are with Israel, and with Egypt. In addition, the Palestinian citizens within Jordan are not as friendly to the Hashemite regime as one might believe; moreover, they are wont to align with the Muslim Brotherhood which also operates within the kingdom and which can be seen as a fifth column.

Lebanon has been swallowed by ISIS, Palestinian Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades linked to Fatah, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, all of whom vie for power in the nation. Hezbollah holds the lion’s share of the political clout in the government since the terrorist group long ago expanded to include parliament members and actual ministers in the government cabinet as well.

Iraq was the first to fall to ISIS; its border crossings with Syria and Jordan were easy prey for the terror group. Iran easily persuaded the government that its was better off allowing its Islamic neighbor to “help” it fight off the Sunni threat than to place its trust in the American administration that had abandoned its ally when it was still to weak to fend off terrorist and tribal challenges to the power of the central government. So now Iran has now entered the picture there as well, to “assist” Iraqi forces in fighting ISIS, which Iran perceives as a threat to its own interests, for the time being at least.

It is likely that when the power struggle ends, one way or the other, Iran will be the force to divide the spoils and cut a deal with ISIS in order to ultimately divide up the region between the two emerging empires. However, Iran will ultimately be the one to rule because ISIS does not have the self-discipline, nor the structural underpinnings necessary to create and maintain an administration to rule an empire. This is quite separate and apart from Iran’s booming weapons production industry, not to mention its galloping race to develop nuclear arms.

Watch it happen – you read it here first on Jewish Press.com.

Syria was the little ticking time bomb that appeared to have set off this entire conflagration – but if one looks closely, it is clear that ISIS does not attack the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. Nor does Assad bother much with the ISIS terrorists. Both have bigger fish to fry.

Assad is an Alawite — a sect that is linked to Shia, hence his close ties with Shiite Iran and that nation’s support of his struggle. Iran sent Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps units and Hezbollah guerrillas to fight alongside his troops. Russia also supplemented Assad for quite some time — right up to the point that Assad began to lose and Russian citizens were endangered. Then Russian “consultants” were evacuated, funding slowed down to a crawl but weapons shipments continued to arrive.

ISIS meanwhile wants to expand its reach throughout the entire Middle East — and that’s just for starters. Its ultimate stated goal is simply to establish a worldwide caliphate — an “Islamic State” — and nothing less. Think ‘Hitler’ with a 21st century media team and you’re headed in the right direction.

In any case, Syria is no longer really Syria; it is now divided up into cantons, each of which is governed separately by various emirs and such. Many report to ISIS already. Some report to Al Qaeda. Others still are loyal to the “moderate” Syrian National Council and its Free Syrian Army. A few are hanging on to Syria’s government, or what’s left of it – mostly around Damascus.

And now there’s Yemen, bits of it left currently on the chopping block and most already nearly to the mop-up stage by Al Qaeda, ISIS and their Houthi opponents, soon probably to be allies as well. Of course, Al Qaeda had laid the groundwork for the takeover of the country to a great extent, having infiltrated and permeated the territory over the past several years. Al Qaeda promotes the image of being at odds with ISIS, although the latter began as a freak offshoot of the terror mothership, but it is more likely all a bluff. We will yet see the day the two will re-unite as one, or return as allies.

In the meantime, Saudi Arabia is starting to move its military forces towards the border with Yemen. The last time Saudi Arabia did that was in March 2011, when it “helped” its neighbor Bahrain fend off a surreptitious move by Iran to foment unrest in the Sunni-ruled country (which has a Shia majority) under cover of the Arab Spring.  It took one day for 1,000 Saudi troops and 500 troops from United Arab Emirates to clear protesters from around the iconic Pearl Roundabout in Manama, and then to destroy the statue on what became known locally as “Bloody Thursday.”

The U.S. Embassy in Yemen has been closed due to the escalating attacks. Embassy staff and families of diplomats were evacuated from the country, just in time. The last group of 100 American special forces who were there to consult and help the Yemen military fight off the takeover in the first place were evacuated from the country last weekend due to the ‘rising danger.’

Houthi rebels seized the airport and control of the entire city of Taiz as well as the surrounding province over the weekend as well – about 240 miles south of the Yemeni capital of Sana’a — according to Taiz provincial government officials who spoke with international media.

As early as January, Yemen’s president and his cabinet resigned after the Houthis surrounded the presidential palace, and in fact the entire capital city of Sana’a was captured by the Houthi rebels. Last week ISIS suicide terrorists arrived in Sana’a and bombed two mosques, killing 137 Yemenis and wounding hundreds more, making it clear that supremacy over the city is still up for grabs.

The United Nations Security Council met Sunday (March 22, 2015) to discuss Yemen’s deteriorating situation, with its UN envoy to Yemen reporting the country is “at the edge of civil war.” Meanwhile, Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi remains in exile in the southern port city of Aden, maintaining that he is still the nation’s leader. Last week, the Houthi war against Hadi pursued him all the way south to Aden, with an air strike aimed at the palace where he is housed. That day, Houthi rebels on the ground battled Hadi loyalists in Aden leaving 13 dead.

Finally, there is Turkey.

It’s odd how few actually discuss what’s happening in Turkey, a NATO member who has provided free passage to literally every single terrorist group that has requested safe passage through its country, even into Syria to reach the ISIS capital of Raqqa. If you travel through Istanbul airport on an average day, it becomes amazingly clear that whoever wishes to, can travel through Istanbul from Iran, Russia, or anywhere else.

Turkey is the ultimate Casablanca of today’s Middle East.

Muslim Brotherhood officials are warmly greeted by their supporters there. Hamas has a new international headquarters in the country, Fatah and other Palestinian officials are always welcome, and ISIS operatives move across the border to bring imports (brides and other ‘items’) to Raqqa with no trouble at all. Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps members – you name it, and you can make that meeting happen in Turkey, if you know the right buttons to push. Even United States officials are welcome.

Just be wary if you’re Jewish, or Israeli, of course.

Only a U.S. reject deported back home via Cairo to make a good showing to the Americans was turned back. Turkish authorities didn’t bother with that performance when it came to ignoring three young Muslim school girls from the UK whose frantic parents begged the Ankara government to block them from crossing the border into ISIS Land.

One wonders how Turkey is able to square its relationship with NATO with all that going on.

But managing delicate, intricate relationships are a peerless skill practiced by Turks since ancient times. There are few who can match a Turkish diplomat in anything, let alone the multi-lateral negotiations involving events so complex that one would need a nuclear microscope just to see past the surface, let alone begin to address it.

No wonder President Obama feels so disgruntled, so out of sorts, so … over his head.

This is not his neighborhood. He doesn’t know the language, diplomatically, behaviorally, gramatically or culturally. Nor has he yet learned the basic regional sport of bargaining in the souk. Worse, he probably would never enjoy it. You have to really love it to survive it.

But if you don’t live in the neighborhood, or you never come to visit, how on earth can you work out a two-state “solution” — let alone PEACE? More to the point, if you really dislike it so much why bother?

Mr. President, at least relax a little before you really hurt someone, and let those who actually like the region deal with it and with the Israelis too.

By the way – just as for your information — you may not realize it, but in Israel the appliance stores are still doing a really brisk business selling those terrific home appliances that are made in Turkey. Now, how do you suppose that could be, given all that hostile anti-Israel ranting from Ankara?

Egypt Cites ‘Existential Threat’ from ISIS, ‘Terror Groups’

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Egyptian Interior Minister Magdi Abdel Ghaffer warned in a speech Wednesday that his nation is facing an “existential war” in its battle against “terrorist groups.”

Speaking to a meeting of Arab interior ministers in Algeria, Ghaffar urged Arab nations to use all their resources to counter the imminent danger. The terrorist organizations, he said, “not only aim to come to power but also to divide Arabic countries and destroy their military and security capabilities…”

The danger posed by fighters from Daesh, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has escalated after local-area terror groups pledged allegiance to the organization, the state-run MENA news agency reported.

The Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and similar local groups in Libya are now linked to Daesh, with Ansar having since changed name to “Sinai Province.”

Egypt proposed creating a joint Arab force to preserve Arab national security. The proposal is to be presented again at the Arab Summit, slated to take place later this month.

NYPD Increases Patrols Around Brooklyn Synagogues, Jewish Sites

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

New York City police have increased patrols around Brooklyn synagogues in the wake of a disturbing incident this past Saturday that was later deemed “a false alarm.”

Two “Middle Eastern-looking” men were seen walking up to the entrance of the Beth Torah synagogue on Ocean Parkway in Midwood,local news media reported.

They appeared to examine the video camera and then photograph the front of the building before a security guard on patrol outside the synagogue showed up. After recording their vehicle information and license plate number (they were driving a blue Honda Accord) he told them to leave.)

Both were seen again an hour later, this time in front of another synagogue a short distance away, according to reports. Both houses of worship serve the neighbor’s Syrian Jewish community.

According to New York City’s Channel 7 Eyewitness News, NYPD later determined the men were “no threat” and the incident was “a false alarm.”

Recently three Brooklyn men of Uzbekistani descent were arrested in connection with suspicion of providing support to Daesh, also known as ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria terror organization. One of the men was arrested at JFK International Airport just prior to boarding a flight, allegedly to join the terrorist organization in Syria. A second was arrested in Brooklyn. The third was taken into custody in Florida and was transferred back to New York for arraignment on the charges.

As a result, demand for security guards at Jewish community events, particularly in the Sephardic community, has grown in Brooklyn. Terror attacks on Jewish sites abroad have also raised tensions in the community and sparked a rise in demand for security at synagogues and general events.

Rabbi Uziel Admoni of Congregation Bnai Yosef has launched a new initiate to arrange security teams to serve synagogues, schools, banquet halls, and private events held at homes or elsewhere in Brooklyn’s large Sephardic community, according to Community Magazine.

European Parliament Members Urge EU Freeze on PA Funding

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

Eleven members of the European Parliament are calling on the European Union to fight terrorist by freezing funds to the Palestinian Authority.

The group has sent a written declaration to the EU, urging the European body to cut its financing to organizations actively involved in promoting terror “as the best way to fight terrorism.”

German Liberal member of the European Parliament, Michael Theurer, is one of the signatories to the declaration.

The European Jewish Press reported this weekend the group has found that the Palestinian Authority and countries such as Pakistan have been financing terror via Hamas and Al Qaeda, among other groups.

“We have many indications … the Palestinian Authority [funnels] EU money towards terrorist organizations, such as Al Qaeda or Hamas,” Theurer said over the weekend. “With this written declaration we are urging the European Court of Justice and he European External Action service to follow up on these indications and deliver final proof so that funding can be frozen,” he said.

More than 400 Palestinian houses have been illegally built with EU assistance in Area C, the area of Judea and Samaria that was designated under the internationally- recognized Oslo Accords to be under Israeli jurisdiction.

No one has addressed the issue, which has been virtually ignored by the international community until Britain’s Daily Mail publication blasted the issue on its website, complete with incriminating photos and maps.

The EU was a signatory to the Oslo Accords, along with Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in the early 1990s. The document designated Area A to be totally controlled by the Palestinian Authority, Area B to be jointly controlled by the PA and Israel, and Area C to be under the total control of the State of Israel.

Update 11:00 AM: Police Shoot Terrorist in Jerusalem Terror Attack

Friday, March 6th, 2015

A Border Police officer shot and critically wounded an Arab terrorist who tried to run over people near the Shimon HaTzadik light rail train station in Jerusalem shortly before 10 a.m. Friday.

Eight people were wounded, including two policewomen. Magen David Adom ambulances treating the victims before evacuating them to Jerusalem hospitals, whose injuries vary from light to moderate.

The terrorist is from Jerusalem, police said.

The attack occurred near a Border Police base, allowing security forces to respond immediately.

Several terrorist attacks have taken place in the same area the past year, but Israel’s Kol Yisrael (Voice of Israel) radio network insisted for nearly half an hour that it may have been an accident.

Jerusalem is celebrating Shushan Purim on Friday, which brings out tens of thousands of people to the streets and may also encourage Arabs to try to kill Jews.

24 Firebomb and Rock-Throwing Attacks in One Day

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Palestinian Authority and Jerusalem Arabs carried out 24 rock-throwing and Molotov cocktail attacks on Tuesday, according to the 0404 website.

Several victims suffered light wounds, and there was no scarcity of damage to vehicles.

Security forces also foiled a terrorist attack in Samaria when Border Polices in the Jenin area in Samaria spotted a Palestinian Authority Arab who was acting suspiciously.

They searched the 25-year-old man, who turned out to be a terrorist with a knife that he admitted he planned to use to kill a Border Police officer.

Overnight, security forces arrested eight other suspects in the area of Ramallah and Hebron. Two of them were suspected terrorists.

PA, PLO to Appeal US Court Ruling — ‘No Money to Pay’ Damages to Terror Victims

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

The Palestinian Authority says it will appeal a ruling by the U.S. Federal District Court in New York awarding $655.5 million to 10 American families who were victims of terror.

The Court held the PA and PLO civilly and financially responsible for six bombing attacks carried out by Palestinians in Israel between 2002 and 2004. All 10 families were direct victims or related to those who were killed in the attacks.

Responding to the verdict, PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi immediately said the entities would “appeal the ruling.”

According to a translation of the remarks by the Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), Ashrawi said, “We will appeal the ruling, and we wholeheartedly believe that we will win the appeal.” She said the PLO and the PA “had absolutely nothing to do with these actions” and said “We were denied [the status] known as ‘sovereign immunity] to which we are entitled as a sovereign state.” Moreover, she said, “The PA and the PLO lack the funds necessary to pay.”

Lack of funds – given the billions of dollars with which the Palestinian Authority has been blessed by the European Union, the United States, the various Arab nations and even the State of Israel – is a disingenuous claim.

It is particularly silly in light of the millions spent in faithful, generous monthly salaries provided to murderous terrorists incarcerated in Israeli jails. Payments to PA terrorists in Israeli jails are scaled in accordance with the length of their sentences and the amount of damage they wreaked upon their victims.

“The recent ruling of the American court… sets a dangerous precedent that contradicts international law,” claimed Issa Karake, a member of the PA parliament and director of the PA Prisoners’ Affairs Commission. “[It is] forbidden to deal with or appear before these courts, since their objective is to harm the PLO’s standing.” The remark is worthy of one that might have been stated by Iran or Syria.

More reasonable – and more accurate — was a statement by economic expert Dr. Nasser Abd Al-Karim, who warned bluntly, “If the ruling goes into effect after the appeal, it will be final, and it will be obligatory to pay.

“Even if the PA does not pay, it will represent a liability for it and it may encounter difficulties in performing financial transactions and transfers, or in opening bank accounts in the international banking system.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/pa-plo-to-appeal-us-court-ruling-no-money-to-pay-damages-to-terror-victims/2015/03/04/

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