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September 1, 2014 / 6 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘weapons’

Al Qaeda Quickly Constructing Main Mideast Base in Syria

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

Originally published at Gatestone Institute.

Al Qaeda is quickly constructing its main regional Middle East base in Syria, from where it plans to export terrorism and Islamic radicalism to neighboring states, then to the West, a new report released by an Israeli security research institute warned.

The jihadis later aspire, according to the report, to turn “Greater Syria” — an old geographic term encompassing Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories — into an Islamic caliphate.

The exhaustive study took a year to compile, according to researchers at the Tel Aviv-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, which released it.

The Center itself is a part of the Israeli Intelligence and Heritage Commemoration Center, founded in the 1980s by leading members of the Israeli intelligence community.

The report identified the Al Nusra Front as Al Qaeda’s official arm in Syria; they added that the organization is quickly entrenching itself in the north and east of Syria, where the Assad regime’s rule has collapsed.

According to Dr. Reuven Erlich, the head of the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, the Al Nusra Front is entrenching itself in Syria at a rate several times faster than the time it took Al Qaeda in Afghanistan to become a serious international terrorist presence.

Erlich, who served in several posts in IDF Military Intelligence, also cautioned that Syria’s location in the heart of the Middle East, its proximity to Europe, and its border with Israel mean that geopolitically, the jihadi threat from Syria is more central than the one from Afghanistan or Pakistan.

He compared Al Nusra’s activities in Syria today to the incubation period of a virus, before it begins spreading and infecting other hosts. Later, Erlich warned, the plague of jihad will spread outwards from Syria to the region, then go on to threaten global security.

The researchers who composed the report assessed the chances of Al Nusra realizing its goal of building a caliphate as low, due to Syria’s diverse sectarian, ethnic, and religious population, and strong tradition of secular Arab nationalism.

Nevertheless, they said, the group is on course to become one of the most prominent rebel entities, and will play a key role in shaping a post-Assad Syria, while using its growing presence as a springboard to launch international terrorist attacks.

At the moment, Al Nusra’s most urgent goal is toppling President Assad; its members are therefore not yet focusing on enforcing Shari’a law in Syria. They show a pragmatic willingness to work with other rebel organizations, including the main Free Syrian Army. But once the Assad regime falls, a violent campaign by jihadis might begin to cement their control over any new government formed by rebels in Damascus.

A second jihadi organization operates in Syria, the researchers said, called the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, formed by Al-Qaeda in Iraq, though Al Nusra is the only one to have received official recognition by Al Qaeda’s central leader, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, in June this year.

“The two branches together have an estimated 6,000 to 7,000 operatives in our assessment, and the number is growing,” the report stated.

Erlich said the influence of the group is out of proportion to its numbers, due its operational capabilities and influence on the population.

The Al Nusra Front is led Abu Muhammad al-Julani, who possibly hails from the Syrian Golan, and rules over a network of fighters and local subordinates in Syria’s districts.

He is a veteran of jihadist battles against US forces in Iraq, and a former follower of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who set up Al Qaeda in Iraq in the previous decade.

Rank and file members of the group are a mix of Syrians and foreign volunteers from the Arab and Muslim world, the report said, adding that foreign volunteers number in the thousands. Additionally, between 500 and 600 European Muslim volunteers are in the organization, mainly hailing from the UK and France. They are expected, after returning from the battlefields, to spread jihad in their home countries, the report said.

The Al Nusra Front’s most senior body is called the Consulting Council of Jihad Fighters. Its leadership is made up of staff dealing with military operations, fundraising, weapons acquisitions and smuggling, religious affairs and public relations. Fighting units are usually called battalions or companies.

The report mapped out the Al Nusra Front’s presence in Syria, noting that it was strongest in the north and east, where the Assad regime has collapsed. In these areas, called “liberated zones” by the jihadis, Al Nusra and affiliated groups provide public services, maintain health, legal, and policing systems, and distribute food, clothing and blankets.

In some places, residents have complained about a strict code of Shari’a-based conduct being enforced.

According to the report, the group is weakest on the Mediterranean coast, where the minority Alawite population — of which the ruling Assad regime is mostly composed — is located.

Most of Al Nusra’s attacks are focused on greater Damascus and on northern and eastern Syria, in places such as Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Idlib and Deir al-Zor. Its actions are guerrilla-terrorist campaigns against the regime’s bases, facilities and individuals.

Tactics include suicide car bombings, roadside bombs, suicide bombers on foot, and firing on bases and airfields with light arms and mortars. Security checkpoints are a frequent target.

“Suicide bombings are a signature brand” of Al Nusra and are operationally effective, but have resulted in negative public relations among other Syrian rebels, said the report.

The Al Nusra Front plans to attack Israel from the Syrian Golan, according to an assessment that appeared in the report. It “can be expected to establish an operative terrorist infrastructure in the Golan Heights, a continuation of military infrastructure it is currently constructing in Deraa,” the southwestern city where the anti-Assad uprising began in 2011.

“In our assessment, Hezbollah and Palestinian terrorist organizations may integrate themselves into terrorist attacks from the Golan Heights despite the fundamental ideological differences between them,” it added.

Al Nusra can also be expected to link up with fellow jihadis who follow Al Qaeda’s ideology in neighboring Lebanon, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Gaza Strip.

Pro-Western Arab states are on the target list too, the report said, adding that Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, all of which support the rebels, might be targeted by Al Nusra in the form of subversive, radical Islamists entering them and setting up terrorist cells.

In northern Syria, Al Nusra and its allies have seized key national resources such as oil and gas fields, oil pipelines, dams, power plants and grain silos.

These sites are now operated by jihadis, who sometimes sell oil and gas to the Assad regime for profit, enabling the organization to pay its operatives a monthly salary, purchase more weapons, and run assistance programs in “liberated areas.”

As Al Nusra fighters raid Syrian weapons depots, the fear remains, the report stated, that “in the absence of the considerations of restraint that influence other terrorist organizations, such as Hezbollah and the Palestinian terrorist organizations,” they could obtain chemical and biological weapons, and use them in terrorist attacks.

UN Report to Confirm Chemical Use, But Won’t Point Finger at Assad

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

According to Foreign Policy Magazine, UN weapons inspectors intend to accuse Syrian president Bashar al-Assad of responsibility for the gas attack that killed some 1,400 civilians in August. The drawback is that they can only offer circumstantial evidence on the case, according to insiders.

Western officials are saying the UN team has collected a “wealth” of evidence confirming that nerve agents were used in the attack on the al Ghouta suburb of Damascus. So we know it wasn’t a faked event, as the Syrians and the Iranians have been saying initially. But will the experts be able to trace the chemicals back to Assad’s henchmen?

The Iranians and the Russians, most notably President Vladimir Putin in a NY Times op-ed today (A Plea for Caution From Russia), still insist on blaming the rebels for the attack.

Putin writes: “No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria. But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with the fundamentalists. Reports that militants are preparing another attack — this time against Israel — cannot be ignored.”

The highly anticipated report on the inspectors findings will be presented to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Monday. But UN diplomats are saying the report will not directly accuse Assad.

It will, however, present a strong circumstantial case that the Assad regime was responsible, based on analysis of rocket shells, ammunition and tests on soil, blood and urine from the attack.

“I know they have gotten very rich samples — biomedical and environmental — and they have interviewed victims, doctors and nurses," said the Western official. It seems they are very happy with the wealth of evidence they got,” a UN official told Foreign magazine. But the team could not identify the specific agents detected by the inspector team, but said, “You can conclude from the type of evidence the [identity of the] author.”

Syria and Russia have highlighted several other alleged chemical weapons attacks against Syrian government forces. The Syrians initially requested that the UN inspectors investigate an alleged March 19 sarin attack in the town of Khan al Assal, near Aleppo. Syria’s UN ambassador Bashar al Jaafari also requested that the team inspect three other cases of alleged chemical weapons use in late August against Syrian forces. On their final day in Damascus, the team visited a military hospital in Damascus to examine alleged victims of rebel chemical weapons attacks.

Sellström’s team is planning to return to Damascus at a later date to complete its investigations into the other incidents, including the March incident at Khan al Assal.

Under the terms of its Security Council mandate, the UN inspectors are only authorized to conclude whether chemical weapons have been used in Syria, and they may not assign responsibility for said use.

On Tuesday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem admitted in a statement that his country operated a clandestine chemical weapons program, and promised to make them available to international inspectors, as part of the Russian sponsored deal whereby the Syrians would hand over their chemical stash in exchange to not being bombed by the U.S. Moallem said: “We are ready to reveal the locations of the chemical weapon sites and to stop producing chemical weapons and make these sites available for inspection by representatives of Russia, other countries and the United Nations.”

And while U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are planning to meet in Geneva to try and reach an agreement on a plan to collect and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, American talking heads have been debating whether this was a win or a loss to the Obama team. It appears the right, on Fox News, thinks this has been the most abysmal failure since Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer inspected Sitting Bull in Little Bighorn. The left, everywhere else on Television, thinks the best thing about it so far is the fact that it’s been bloodless. Well, bloodless if you’re an American.

According to Israel Radio, sources close to the Syrian president are saying they expect a deal would be reached in October, should the two foreign ministers agree on it today, in Geneva. Meanwhile, the rebels, who feel a little abandoned, understandably, are warning the Syrians will take advantage of the lull in the pressure on them, and move their chemical stash to Iraq.

Oh, Iraqis and chemical weapons… don’t get me started…

Obama Tosses Syrian Hot Potato into Republicans’ Laps

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Originally published at The American Thinker.

Since first being elected, President Obama has made much of his determination to “go it alone” when he can’t get his way from Congress. This has resulted in an endless chain of unprecedented, unconstitutional and illegal actions to advance his self-serving political agenda. At every turn, Obama has sought to make Congress irrelevant. Unfortunately the gutless GOP political leadership aided and abetted him, at the very least by doing nothing, and sometimes even colluding in his efforts. Marco Rubio’s disgraceful illegal alien “reform” plan comes immediately to mind, but so do the countless “showdowns” with the President, in which Republicans have repeatedly blinked.

But either through sheer stupidity, or likely, some much more malevolent, calculated strategy, Obama has painted himself into an impossible corner by pronouncing a very specific “red line” that, if crossed by our enemies, promised military action. So now when forced by his own words to deliver the goods, what does he do? Something he has never done before: he decides to “consult” Congress.

What cheek!

Do you see what has happened here? By giving the issue to Congress, he evades sole responsibility and makes himself look “principled” for pretending to follow the Constitution by acknowledging Congress’s responsibility to “declare war” — never mind that the contemplated actions don’t rise to the level of a war declaration. Because our national media conspires with Obama on a daily basis, no matter what Congress decides, Republicans will take the blame, and you can be sure it will be used as a 2014 campaign issue against them. Finally, this whole controversy has taken the country’s mind off Obama’s many politically damaging scandals.

Obama has demonstrated repeatedly just how reckless his foreign policy is. Early on, he announced his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan in 2014, while simultaneously dramatically tightening our military rules of engagement. Telegraphing our intentions to the Taliban while tying our war fighters’ hands had a predictable result. The Taliban dramatically increased its terrorism, use of IED’s, and “insider attacks” by Afghan soldiers, making our continued presence that much more unpalatable and demoralizing, while creating mounting pressure to abandon what has become a completely futile effort under this administration .

U.S. casualties in Afghanistan under President Obama have skyrocketed: 1,639 killed during Obama’s four-and-a-half years versus 630 in the eight years under George W. Bush. Coalition IED deaths have topped 1,068 during the Obama years compared with 310 during Bush’s term. Between 2007 and March of 2013, there were a total of 92 U.S. personnel killed in insider attacks and another 132 wounded, according to a Pentagon report. Approximately 25 percent of these attacks are estimated to be from Taliban infiltrators. Most of the insider attacks have occurred since Obama took office.

For a sitting president to telegraph his specific war plans to the enemy, as Obama did, is insane; unless of course, his goal was to hobble our efforts. In that case, he has been wildly successful. His policies have effectively neutered anything we accomplished in Iraq and Afghanistan and have guaranteed our ultimate failure – all the while racking up American war casualties. As a former U.S. Army Colonel and Afghanistan war veteran recently tweeted:

It’s like we gave control of American foreign policy to a pony-tailed gender studies seminar TA.

Obama should have already faced electoral defeat, impeachment, or even an investigation into possible treason for his travesties in Afghanistan and Libya, and would have if the media did its job. But the media has long since abandoned any shred of objectivity. Indeed, were Obama exposing himself daily on the White House lawn, the media would no doubt laud his courage in “challenging” us to broaden our minds and become more accepting of “alternative” behaviors.

With typically galling arrogance, Obama pronounced that Syria must not be allowed to get away with gassing 1,400 people, and “Mad Uncle Joe” Biden chimed in that there was “no doubt” the Syrians did it. But virtually all evidence points to the rebels. This was a deliberate false-flag operation conducted by the Islamic terrorists at the heart of the rebellion. By specifying explicitly what he would not tolerate, i.e. the use of chemical weapons, Obama virtually guaranteed that someone would find a way to use that to their advantage.

What War with Syria?

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

There’s nothing more dangerous for world peace than a bunch of trigger happy, inexperienced Leftists.

United States President Barack Hussein Obama should never have been elected. It was the most racist elections in the history of the United States. If he had been 100% white, with his experience and qualifications, he never would have been elected. People voted for him because he’s colored. Now he may be causing a very dangerous war in the Middle East by totally overacting in how he wants to “punish” Syria for using chemical weapons.

Obama doesn’t even have the support of the American Military. Listen to this Fox report, which I can’t get the embedded link for. Anyone with a minimum of military/diplomatic experience will easily point out how senseless the threats are. And just like with Bush The First’s Iraq/Gulf War, it will just be an excuse for Israel to be attacked. The Syrians will take out their anger on us, not on the Americans which are spearheading the threats against them.

The internal (within a foreign country) use of chemical weapons is immoral by popular western standards, but it’s certainly no reason to plan on bombing the said/guilty country. How will that show, teach moral superiority?

It’s like beating up a kid because he hit another kid.

“Don’t you ever hit,” smack! “anyone ever” bang! “again!!”

First of all, there should be emergency United Nations Security Council meetings called to condemn Syria and institute a full range of sanctions, including closing all foreign embassies in Syria, sending their diplomats packing, etc. If the point is to punish the Syrian regime, then they are the ones to be punished, not the Syrian citizens. The fallout from an American-led attack would land on Israel, while Bashar al-Assad would be emboldened and strengthened for standing against America.

All foreign aid and NGO programs to Syria must cease. That’s how you use moral superiority against an enemy regime. You don’t use military weapons.

Thankfully, the more other foreign leaders think about the issue, the more sense they are making.

“To see a government in the 21st century gassing its own citizens is an abomination and the world has to move against that, Mulcair said. “That should be done through the institutions of international law, in particularly the United Nations.”

So, G-d willing, we won’t have to search through our attic for the old gas masks and then exchange them for new ones.

Visit Shiloh Musings.

Mr. President, Please Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There!

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Kol Israel on Monday morning quoted Israeli officials in Washington who say an American intervention in Syria—albeit limited—is a forgone conclusion, seeing as the White House has been under so much concentrated attacks from Europe and from inside the U.S. to employ its considerable resources to stop the civil war.

President Obama has been meeting with his national security team to discuss reports of the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons, a White House official said over the weekend, throwing strong hints that an American military strike was on the table.

The humanitarian group Doctors without Borders said reports it received from hospitals in Damascus indicated that 355 people had died from symptoms consistent with being exposed to a neurotoxic agent.

“We have a range of options available, and we are going to act very deliberately so that we’re making decisions consistent with our national interest as well as our assessment of what can advance our objectives in Syria,” the White House official, speaking on background, said.

Once again it has been proven that it is not a politically wise move to draw red lines. It never ends well. Like all pledges, the pledger ends up being forced to act on notion he or she had in the past, despite all the new information they possess today.

Never mind that this pledge by President Obama, to pin U.S. foreign policy on whether or not Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons, is possibly the least astute of all the lines in the sand.

The man has been bombing civilian neighborhoods in his own cities and towns for two years, with supersonic attack planes diving down on homes and cars and schools and mosques, ripping all of it to shreds with air-to-surface rockets, and that didn’t trigger any red line. But the fact that he did it with an antiquated technology that gave Europe nightmares in World War I – that’s already intolerable. That’s unforgivable. This time he really crossed the line.

I feel like I’m channeling Jacky Mason here. The United States believes that it could actually achieve some good in the tortured Middle East by bombing a whole bunch of places in Syria? Seriously? The Syrians themselves can’t tell any more who is fighting against whom – the rebel forces are split into pro- and anti-Western armies, all of whom hate Israel, and all of whom hate the Shiite Hezbollah even worse than they do the Jews. And the U.S. will start shooting Tomahawks into these wretched battlefields, followed by limited bombing from the air, followed by more intense air raids – and that will help matters?

Let’s look at the record of U.S. interventions in the region over the past decade, shall we? At the cost of a trillion dollars, give or take, and thousands of American lives, we managed to topple the one serious enemy Iran had at its border, the horrible, terrifying, puppy killing Saddam Hussein, to replace him with a Shiite-ruled government and to extend Iran’s Hegemony all the way down the Persian Gulf.

But that was President GW Bush, and what did he know about global strategy, right? So our next commander in chief is spending another trillion dollars to make sure the Taliban will have a firm hold on Afghanistan for centuries, but with a few differences: whereas in the past the Taliban were merely an Afghani phenomenon, now they threaten their entire region, most notably Pakistan, a proud member of the nuclear club.

So now the brilliant boys and girls at the White House want us to intensify the rate of the killing of innocent civilians, weighing in on the side of the “good” rebels. Judging by their record so far, it is virtually certain that the result of our efforts will be a Sunni Al Qaeda state, where all the Allawites, Druze and Christians have been murdered, and Israel’s northern border with Syria—largely dormant since 1973—will come back to life.

And all of it because we think Assad mass murdered his people using chemical weapons instead of tanks and planes.

I yearn for the day when we’ll have a president who understands the value of not intervening in the Middle East. This region is not a Europe with darker complexions. This region is where tribes of all manner of color and dress have been doing war since the time the hunter-gatherers and shepherds ran into the first cultivated wheat fields and everybody got their bats and sticks and sharpened stones and went at each other. And each time European powers land here, they turn the occasional suffering into permanent pain, with ever larger numbers of dead and mutilated.

France Calling for Use of Force in Syria

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius told BFM-TV today that “if it is proven, France’s position is that there must be a reaction, a reaction that could take the form of a reaction with force.”

He added that “there are possibilities for responding,” but refused to elaborate. He did state that if the UN Security Council could not make a decision, one would have to be taken “in other ways.”

Syrian government officials said the claims of an army chemical weapons attack on its own civilians were “totally false” and the news outlets reporting those claims were “implicated in the shedding of Syrian blood and support terrorism.”

Turkey’s deputy prime minister has said only the Syrian government is in possession of the type of chemical weapons the opposition claims were used in the attack. Turkey’s foreign minister said “all red lines” have been crossed by the Assad regime.

But Iran has rejected the claims that its ally, President Bashar Assad, had deployed chemical weapons, saying the rebels would be responsible, if such an attack had really taken place.

“If the information concerning the use of chemical weapons is accurate, very definitely they were used by terrorist groups… who have shown they will not hold back from committing any crime,” Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said to the IRNA news, referring to the rebels.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague urged international supporters of the Syrian regime to “wake up to … its murderous and barbaric nature” ahead of the UN meeting, Sky News reported.

But Russia, the traditional supporter of the Assad regime, suggested the attack could be a “premeditated provocation” by opposition forces.

Officials from Russia and China are reported to have blocked a stronger press statement supported by Britain, France, the US and others, Sky News reported.

Earlier, Mr Hague said that if verified, the attack “would mark a shocking escalation in the use of chemical weapons in Syria”.

He added: “Those who order the use of chemical weapons, and those who use them, should be in no doubt that we will work in every way we can to hold them to account.”

Minister Steinitz: Intelligence Says Assad Army Used Chemical Weapons

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Minister of International Relations and Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz told Kol Israel Thursday morning that Israel’s Intelligence service estimates that the Assad army indeed attacked its own civilians using chemical weapons, adding that it was not the first time the Syrian army has done this.

Steinitz said the worldwide condemnation of Assad’s war crimes have been mere lip service, since no concrete steps have so far been taken to stop Assad’s ongoing massacre of his countrymen.

The minister called the UN inspection just begun in Syria “a joke.”

“The UN isn’t inspecting yesterday’s events, but events that took place half a year ago. Moreover, the designation of the investigation, to find out whether or not chemical weapons were used—without investigating who used them—is outright ridiculous,” the minister said.

Last night, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon did call for an investigation of Wednesday’s gas attack in the suburbs of Damascus, where as many as 1,300 people are said to have been killed. It is not clear, however, if his call is heeded by the Security Council.

Labor MK Benjamin Ben Eliezer, who is considered a leading candidate to become the next president of Israel, said that what goes on in Syria is nothing less than a holocaust and a genocide, and the world—which condemns Israel for every tiny misstep—is standing by without doing anything.

Ben Eliezer emphasized that the red line drawn by President Obama has long since been crossed, and that Israel must remain on alert to prevent any of the Syrian chemical weapons from falling into Hezbollah or al-Qaeda hands.

The Syrian government is denying any involvement in the attack, accusing the rebels of staging a propaganda ploy. And Assad’s traditional patron, Russia, is not flinching in its unabashed defense of its man.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Wednesday that a homemade rocket carrying unidentified chemical substances had been launched from an area controlled by the opposition, Reuters reported.

“All this cannot but suggest that once again we are dealing with a pre-planned provocation,” Lukashevich said. “This is supported by the fact that the criminal act was committed near Damascus at the very moment when a mission of UN experts had successfully started their work of investigating allegations of the possible use of chemical weapons there.”

Thirty-five member countries have called for the UN inspection team which has just arrived in Damascus to be allowed to investigate the newest attack.

UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said, “This represents, no matter what the consequences are, a serious escalation with grave humanitarian consequences and human consequences. We very much hope that we will be able to conduct the investigation. Dr. Sellstrom and his team are in place in Damascus. We hope that they will be given access to the area by the government.”

The UN Security Council met in an emergency session over the incident, with protesters demonstrating outside its headquarters. When it ended, Argentina’s UN ambassador, Maria Cristina Perceval, told reporters: “There is a strong concern among council members about the allegations and a general sense that there must be clarity on what happened and the situation must be followed closely after a closed-door emergency meeting of the council.”

Which means the council is not explicitly calling the inspection team to investigate, it only welcomed Ban Ki-moon’s calls for one.

“The members of the Security Council also welcomed the determination of the Secretary-General to ensure a thorough, impartial and prompt investigation,” said Perceval, who is president of the council this month.

In other words, Russia said Nyet, and the new incident will remain outside the purview of the inspectors.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/minister-steinitz-intelligence-says-assad-army-used-chemical-weapons/2013/08/22/

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