Jerusalem (TPS) – Shurat Hadin has sent United States Vice President Joe Biden a letter ahead of his upcoming visit to Turkey urging him to press for the extradition of Saleh Al-Arouri to the United States for his role in killing two US citizens.
Shurat Hadin, or the Israel Law Center, is a legal organization dedicated to helping terror victims. The letter is the latest in a series of moves Shurat Hadin has taken against Turkey for its protection of Al-Arouri. Shurat Hadin voraciously opposed the reconciliation deal between Israel and Turkey and petitioned the High Court of Justice in July in a failed effort to halt the deal until Turkey ceased sheltering Al-Arouri.
Shurat Hadin filed a petition “on behalf of the families of American terror victims Naftali Fraenkel and Eitam Henkin” with the demand “that the US government use its upcoming meeting with Turkish officials to raise the issue of Al-Arouri’s presence in Turkey and to seek the extradition of Saleh Al-Arouri from Turkey to the United States for his heinous crimes.”
Saleh Al-Arouri is a founding member of the Hamas military wing and is thought to be the mastermind of the abduction and murder of Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaer, and Eyal Ifrach in 2014 as well as the 2015 killing of Eitam and Naama Henkin, who were gunned down while driving near the community of Elon Moreh in Samaria. Al-Arouri is currently residing in Turkey after fleeing Damascus in 2012.
“Turkey is obligated under the Treaty On Extradition and Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters to grant extradition of requested individuals to the United States if the suspect committed a criminal act that would be punishable had the crime been committed within Turkish jurisdiction,” said Shurat Hadin in a statement. “The kidnapping and murder of US citizen Naftali Fraenkel and the murder of US citizen Rabbi Eitam Henkin clearly fulfill this requirement.”
Vice President Biden is to lead a Justice Department delegation to Turkey that is scheduled to land in Ankara on Wednesday. The delegation is expected to discuss Turkey’s demand to extradite Fethullah Gulen to Turkey as Turkey has accused the 75-year-old cleric of masterminding the July coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a charge which Gulen denies.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Russia is not demanding to land its planes in the İncirlik air base in southern Turkey, as several Russian news services have claimed. “Russia had no demands to use İncirlik air base, those reports are not true,” Yildirim told foreign correspondents in Istanbul on Saturday, according to Hurriyet Daily News. However, the prime minister did agree that should Russia wish to use the base for its operations against ISIS, it would be welcome to do so. Still, Yildirim added, “Russia doesn’t need to use the base. They have bases in Syria.”
Yildirim’s statement concluded an anxiety-filled few days in which Russian news sources were announcing that Russia has been demanding that Turkey give its air force access to the NATO air base in İncirlik, which is where US and coalition air forces take off on their strikes in Syria. Located some 65 miles from the Syrian border, Incirlik is also where an estimated 50 US B-61 nuclear warheads (think 100 Hiroshimas times 50) are kept.
According to Izvestia, a Russian lawmaker named Igor Morozov said it was only a matter of time before Turkish president Erdogan hands over the NATO base at Incirlik to the Russians, to intensify the war against ISIS. “You’ll see, the next base will be İncirlik,” Morozov told Izvestia, shortly after the Kremlin had revealed that Russian bombers have been using an Iranian airbase for their attack on Syria. He predicted İncirlik would be “one more victory for Putin.”
Those statements came against the background of a report by EurActiv, a Belgian foundation focusing on European Union policies, that the US has begun to transfer its nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey to Romania, for fear of the worsening relations between Washington and Ankara.
EurActiv cites a Stimson issue paper from August 2016, suggesting that during the July failed coup in Turkey, the Incirlik base power was cut, and US planes were not allowed to fly in or out of the base. As the coup was being suppressed, the base commander was arrested. Another source told EurActiv that US-Turkey relations have so deteriorated after the coup that Washington no longer trusted Ankara with the nuclear weapons, and so the warheads are being moved to the Deveselu air base in Romania.
Foreign Policy on Friday debunked the story, quoting a tweet from nuclear weapons expert Jeffrey Lewis, the director of non-proliferation studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, that said Romania does not have the special WS3 vaults needed to store the weapons safely. Also, the Romanian Defense Ministry released a statement saying “so far there have not been any plans or discussions on this topic.”
Of course, this entire brouhaha is borne by Erdogan’s obsession with his former ally and current enemy Fetullah Gulen, whose extradition from the US the Turks have been demanding since the failing of the coup (which Gulen’s supporters may or may not been responsible for). As long as the US insists on following the rule of law on the Gulen extradition, the Turks will persist in these shenanigans, until someone gets seriously hurt.
So far, as that Moscow parliamentarian has put it so aptly, one more victory for Putin.
Jerusalem (TPS) – An Israeli-Arab resident of Jerusalem has been arrested and indicted in court for receiving tens of thousands of US dollars from a Hamas operative in Turkey. He allegedly intended to send the money to families of Hamas terrorists, with the intention of encouraging terror attacks against Israelis.
Israel has frequently accused the Palestinian Authority leadership of paying stipends to the families of perpetrators of terror attacks against Israelis, as a way of encouraging such attacks.
The indictment was filed on Friday at the Jerusalem District Court against 39-year-old Seif Al-Din Abdel-Nabi on charges of contacting a foreign agent and illegal funding of terrorism.
According to the indictment, Abdel-Nabi had known Hamas operative Zakariah Najib for years before giving Najib the money. Najib has served time in Israeli prison for involvement in the abduction and murder of IDF soldier Nachshon Wachsman in 1994. He was released in a prisoner swap in 2011 when abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was released in exchange for over 1,000 terrorists.
Abdel-Nabi met Najib in Turkey during a business trip to a clothing shop he owns in Istanbul, the indictment elaborated. Najib knew that the defendant lived in Jerusalem and asked him to send the money to Israel, where he would be ordered to transfer the funds to families of terrorists who were either killed or serving time in prison. The money transfer was meant to be a remuneration by Hamas for the terror attacks.
During several trips to Turkey, the defendant allegedly received a total of USD 25,000 from Najib. He used various techniques to hide the money when traveling to Israel, such as having attempted to disguise the money transfers by using different mobile phones and coordinating them in public places.
“By committing the above actions, the defendant knowingly maintained contact with a foreign agent without sufficient explanation in order to promote or fund acts of terrorism or to provide a reward for terror attacks,” read a statement by the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office, which has requested that Abdel-Nabi remain in custody until the end of court proceedings against him.
The Jerusalem Police on Sunday morning also arrested six residents of the Arab neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber who are suspected of joining and supporting a terror organization.
The evidence was obtained through the interrogation of Soufian Abdou, who was arrested on Friday for supporting a terror group just several days after completing a 14-year prison term for attempting to poison Israelis at a coffee shop in Jerusalem. Abdou’s remand has been extended until Monday.
The Turkish parliament on Friday night approved a deal for Israel to pay $20 million to the families of Turkish participants who were killed in the 2010 Gaza flotilla flagship Mavi Marmara incident, Anadolu reported. The deal ushers in the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries after a six-year break.
The money will be transferred in a lump sum deposit to a bank account opened by Turkey and shared through diplomatic channels, and the transaction will be completed within 25 business days of the bilateral agreement taking effect.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said earlier this month that Jerusalem had met all of Ankara’s preconditions for normalizing ties, which were degraded in 2010 after Israeli commandos were attacked on the high seas when they were trying to take over control of the Gaza-bound Turkish ship in international waters. Nine Turkish activists who attacked the Israeli soldiers were killed and 30 injured, one of whom later died of his injuries.
Turkey demanded an official apology from Israel, compensation for the families of the dead activists and the lifting of Israel’s Gaza blockade. But Ankara settled for two out of three: in 2013 Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed regret over the incident to Turkey’s then-prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The approval of the deal had been delayed on account of the failed coup in Turkey. The deal was actually signed a month and a half ago in Jerusalem by Israel’s Foreign Ministry Director Dore Gold and in Ankara by Turkish outgoing Deputy Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlolo. The Netanyahu security cabinet approved the deal by a vote of six to three, with Ministers Liberman, Bennett and Shaked voting against.
The agreement to normalize ties between Turkey and Israel was formally submitted Wednesday (Aug. 17) to the Turkish Parliament in Ankara for review and a final vote of approval, or not, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Tourism has taken a serious hit as a result of the coup and the ongoing purges, with numerous countries issuing advisories to its citizens against traveling to Istanbul, further damaging an already compromised economy. For this and other reasons, it is becoming more urgent than ever for Turkey to complete its agreement with Israel and improve its ties with Russia — which it is working on — as well as with others in the region.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said during a televised interview a week ago (Aug. 11) that the deal would be completed and signed before September, finalized by the Turkish Parliament “as soon as possible.”
Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News quoted Cavusoglu as saying during a joint news conference following a meeting with Palestinian Authority Minister Riyad al-Maliki in Ankara that Turkey is ‘eager to contribute to the Palestinian issue and the Middle East process.’ Cavusoglu added that Turkey had always ‘advocated a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue and would continue to contribute to permanent peace in the region.
“Now we have started a normalization process with Israel,” he said, according to Hurriyet. “According to our latest agreement, the two countries will mutually appoint ambassadors. After this step we will continue to support the Palestinian issue and the Middle East peace process.”
Upon ratification of the agreement by the Turkish Parliament, the two nations will exchange ambassadors to fully restore diplomatic ties. Turkey reportedly plans to build a hospital in Gaza and ratchet up efforts to build an industrial zone project in Jenin.
The deal to restore ties between the two countries was signed on June 28 after numerous repeated attempts to heal the wounds of a breach after a 2010 illegal flotilla that included a Turkish ship attempted to break the marine blockade on Gaza. Israeli commandos boarded the ship to redirect the vessel to Ashdod port, and a clash with armed “activists” ensued, leaving 10 Turks dead and numerous IDF commandos wounded.
Israeli and Turkish delegates spent the better part of 2015 and 2016 working on an agreement to renew the ties between their two nations.
At the end, Israel agreed to pay Turkey $20 million (17.8 million euros) within 25 days, in compensation to the families of those who died in the 2010 clash.
The legal case in Turkish court, targeting the Israeli commandos who boarded the Mavi Marmara flotilla vessel, will also be dropped, according to Anadolu news agency. In addition, individual Israeli nations will not be held criminally or financially liable for the incident.
A confidential German Interior Ministry report accusing the Turkish government of supporting terrorism across the Middle East was leaked to the German broadcaster ARD Tuesday. According to the document, the Erdogan regime supports Hamas, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and several Islamist rebel groups in Syria. The document was originally provided by the Bundestag to the leftwing party Die Linke.
ARD cited the document as saying that “the many expressions of solidarity and support actions by the ruling AKP and President Erdogan for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and groups of armed Islamist opposition in Syria emphasize their ideological affinity with the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Founded in 1928 and inspired by the fascistic ideology of the time, the Muslim Brotherhood has been the largest, best-organized, and most disciplined Suni opposition force in Egypt and in other countries — to the point where, for a brief moment in 2011-12, it captured the Egyptian presidency. In 2006, Hamas, an offshoot of the MB, captured the Gaza Strip where it remains the sole sovereign.
The leaked German report says Ankara has deepened its ties with the MB, Hamas and the Syrian groups and is serving as their “platform for action” in the region.
“As a result of the step-by-step Islamization of its foreign and domestic policy since 2011, Turkey has become the central platform for action by Islamist groups in the Middle East,” ARD cited from the document.
MP Sevim Dagdalen of the Linke party told ARD “the German government cannot publicly designate the godfather of terrorism Erdogan as a partner, while internally warning about Turkey as a hub for terrorism.”
The German government has so far declined comment on the leaked document. But earlier Germany’s European affairs minister Michael Roth said Germany plans to continue raising its concerns about President Erdogan’s Detention of tens of thousands of people as part of his crackdown on suspected coup supporters.
On Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned that Turkey might abandon its promise to retain on its soil the millions of migrants and refugees pushing to get to Europe if the EU not grant Turkish travelers visa-free entry. This despite the €3 billion Turkey has received in grants to care for this population.
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.