April 16/14


Bible Quotation for today/So from that day on they planned to put him to death.

John 11,47-54/: "So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, ‘What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.’ But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.’ He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to put him to death. Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples.

Pope Francis's Tweet For Today
Each encounter with Jesus changes our life.
Pape François
Chaque rencontre avec Jésus nous change la vie


Latest analysis, editorials, studies, reports, letters & Releases from miscellaneous sources For April 16/14

Lebanon failed to learn from its bloody civil war/By: Octavia Nasr/Al Arabiyia/Al Arabiyia/April 16/14

Labor enslavement and the application of law in Saudi Arabia/By: Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiyia/April 16/14


Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources For April 16/14
Lebanese Related News

SCC Calls for General Strike on Wednesday as Discussion on Wage Scale Draft Extended for 2 Weeks
Hezbollah members arrested in Thailand: report

Reports: Gemayel, Saniora Agree on March 14 Coordination to Choose Single Presidential Candidate
Sheikh Attacked in Ain el-Hilweh Succumbs to Injuries

Teenage Syrian refugee killed by alleged attempted rapist

Hundreds bid farewell to slain Al-Manar reporter

Three Al-Manar staff killed in Syria

Grief and Pride as Sea of Mourners Bids Farewell to Slain al-Manar Reporter
Killing of Al-Manar crew draws condemnation

Economical Lebanese Crisis/Adding insult to injury

Wage hike can spark inflation, experts warn

Gharib slams 'money whales' ahead of wage debate

Dialogue ongoing between Hezbollah, Egypt

Abu Faour refers malpractice case to judiciary

Mashnouq: Syrians 27% of Lebanon Population, Govt. Can't Cope with Influx

Property Owners Call for Sit-In Near National Museum

Lebanese Suspect Arrested as Dominican Agents Break Up Drug Lab

Beirut to Host Conference for Lebanese Diplomats to Unify Speech

Mustaqbal: Draft Wage Scale a Blatant Violation of Constitution 

Miscellaneous Reports And News

Iran's Foreign Minister Holds Talks in UAE

Jordan ambassador to Libya kidnapped

Riyadh renews call for 'stern' world action on Syria
U.S.: neither side holds upper hand in Syria

Security Council to view photos of Syrian dead
Syria: US, Israel, Turkey to blame for past, future chemical attacks

Syrian army retakes Qalamoun village
Obama warns Russia in tense call with Putin over Ukraine
Baghdad buttresses defenses ready for wholesale Al Qaeda assault on city

Israeli security forces continue search for perpetrator of fatal West Bank shooting

Israeli killed, 2 wounded in suspected terrorist attack near Hebron
Iraq Kurds dig trench on Syria border

Egypt Court Bans Brotherhood Members from Polls


SCC Calls for General Strike on Wednesday as Discussion on Wage Scale Draft Extended for 2 Weeks
Naharnet/A majority of MPs on Tuesday evening voted to form a parliamentary panel to study the new wage scale draft once again, prompting the Syndicate Coordination Committee to call for a general strike on Wednesday. "The parliament voted in favor of a suggestion to form a committee tasked with studying the draft wage scale another time in the coming 15 days,” the state-run National News Agency said, noting that Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan was the legislator who came forward with this proposal. Al-Jadeed television reported that 65 MPs voted in favor of forming the new panel, while 27 voted against this option. “As much as we are keen on the rights of public sector employees, we are also keen on the financial stability in Lebanon,” Adwan said after the afternoon parliamentary session.
He explained: “We want to study the consequences of expenses on the economy as a whole. We need to listen to the opinions of the Central Bank chief, the Civil Service Council, and of the ministers of finance, economy, administrative reform and education.”“Then, the committee's decision will be based on scientific data,” he noted. Adwan vowed to “commit fully to the 15-day period.” Al-Mustaqbal bloc MP Ahmed Fatfat noted after the parliamentary session that the draft's numbers “need more examination to reach a balance between revenues and expenses.”“Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said some articles in the draft's revenues section, which are worth 750 billion Lebanese pounds, are questionable,” Fatfat told reporters. “Therefore, we have asked for postponing the discussion on the new wage scale until we have reliable numbers in hand,” he added. Fatfat elaborated: “The objective of the new committee is to cross check the resources of the revenues, without violating any of the demanded rights. We are serious in granting people their rights but we should not cause harm to the value of the Lebanese pound like what happened in the 1990s. We are doing a favor to Syndicate members, to military personnel, and to all employees.” Change and Reform bloc MP Alain Aoun assured that the new wage scale draft will “not serve people if it was approved and at the same time introduced more taxes.”
“This extra time is not meant to avoid dealing with (the new wage scale), but this is a major issue that should not be treated with recklessness,” he said.
Forming the panel, however, was met with the rejection of Speaker Nabih Berri. "We hope that this would not be a 'black day' in the parliament's history,” Berri said before the MPs' vote.
Delaying the adoption of the new wage scale draft prompted the SCC to call for a general strike on Wednesday in all public institutions, as well as in private schools. "We will not stay silent over this procrastination,” SCC chief Hanna Gharib said at a press conference after the Committee's meeting, slamming the parliament's step as “coup.” “We announce a general strike on Wednesday in all public institutions, without any exception, and in all private schools.” Gharib added that protests will take place near all municipalities, and that a main sit-in will be held in front of the Ministry of Education in Beirut.
He also warned of "escalatory measures."“We have a plan for escalation until we reach an open-ended strike and boycott the correction of official exams as of April 29 if the wage scale draft was not adopted,” he stated. Head of the private schools teachers association Nehme Mahfoud called on non-governmental education institutions to take part in Wednesday's strike.
“A revolution in all private schools should take place tomorrow after the salaries of teachers have been dealt with lightly,” he said.
Mahfoud continued: “I address headmasters and tell them that we are acting under the law. It is not acceptable that threats are used in dealing with teachers. This approach ruins educational institutions."
“Tomorrow will be a starting point in SCC's protests, and private school teachers must play a main role in the committee's efforts,” he stressed. Earlier in the day, the SCC held a protest in downtown Beirut while the parliament was discussing the controversial wage scale draft-law. Gharib said during the protest at Riad al-Solh Square that MPs would be opening a battle front with the public sector if the parliament did not approve the scale or decided to make the payment in installments. The pay raise could have been funded had there not been corruption and embezzlement of public funds, he said in a speech. Mahfoud told demonstrators that the education minister would be held responsible if the teachers were not given their rights. "There will be a revolution tomorrow if the pay hike was not approved today," he warned. The demonstration was accompanied by a nationwide strike by public sector employees. Before the protest, an SCC delegation met with Finance Minister Khalil and MP Ali Bazzi in parliament, handing them a list of their demands. Several officials and the Economic Committees, a grouping of businessmen and owners of major firms, have expressed their concern over the wage scale, warning that it would put further burdens on Lebanon's economy.

Reports: Gemayel, Saniora Agree on March 14 Coordination to Choose Single Presidential Candidate

Naharnet /Kataeb leader Amin Gemayel and the head of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc Fouad Saniora agreed on the importance of coordination between the March 14 alliance's members before backing any presidential candidate, sources said Tuesday. Saniora visited Gemayel on Monday after talks with al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri in Riyadh. A terse statement issued by the Kataeb chief's press office said discussions focused on the presidential elections and the need to hold them on time. But sources told several local dailies that Gemayel and Saniora stressed the unity of March 14, the importance of coordination to have a single candidate, and coming up with a mechanism to choose the person who is most capable to garner the support of MPs from outside the alliance, mainly centrists. The vote of lawmakers from the coalition is not enough to guarantee the election of a March 14 figure, they said. After his talks with Gemayel, Saniora met with the March 14 camp's independent figures and briefed them on the results of his discussions with Hariri in Riyadh. The adviser of the Mustaqbal movement chief, Nader Hariri, who was in Riyadh with Saniora, met with Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat, a centrist, at his residence in Clemenceau. Also Monday, Gemayel held talks with President Michel Suleiman's adviser, former Minister Khalil Hrawi. Sources said that Gemayel was coming under pressure by party members and his allies in March 14 to officially announce his candidacy for the presidency. Suleiman's six-year term ends in May but the Constitutional deadline for the election of a new head of state started on March 25. Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea was the first to announce he was running for the presidency, leaving his March 14 allies in confusion.
Other presidential hopefuls are Gemayel, MPs Boutros Harb and Robert Ghanem, who are like Geagea members of March 14. Potential candidates from the March 8 alliance are Hizbullah allies Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun and Marada Movement chief MP Suleiman Franjieh. Lebanese presidents are always chosen from the Maronite sect in accordance with the 1943 National Pact.

Sheikh Attacked in Ain el-Hilweh Succumbs to Injuries

Naharnet/The head of the Association of Islamic Charitable Projects succumbed on Tuesday to his injuries after being shot last week in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh. Sheikh Orsan Suleiman died at Hammoud hospital, the state-run National News Agency said. He was shot last Wednesday as he was leaving a memorial service for an aid worker who died during clashes at the Mieh Mieh refugee camp near the southern city of Sidon. Around eight people were killed and ten others wounded last Monday in the fierce clashes at the camp. The gunfight erupted between supporters of Jamal Suleiman's Ansar Ullah group, a close ally to Hizbullah, and others loyal to Ahmed Rashid's the Return Martyrs' Brigades.


Economical Lebanese Crisis/Adding insult to injury
April 15, 2014/The Daily Star
No one who has the misfortune to work in Downtown Beirut, or has any reason to pass through it, could fail to notice that Parliament has once again decided to meet, with the closure of the capital’s center rendering everyone’s journey or day even more difficult than usual. With the closures exacerbating an already dire traffic situation, for many commuters it will be easier to forego a day of work. Businesses, already suffering after years of stagnation, are also affected, with cafes and restaurants emptier on Parliament days than ever before. The pretext for shutting down all roads around the Parliament is that the lives of the MPs are allegedly in danger and that their security must be protected at all costs. But, realistically speaking, the lives of all Lebanese citizens are in danger, be it from car bombs, cross-border shelling, random sniper fire, road traffic accidents or inadequate health care. Should the lives of these 128 MPs be valued so highly above everyone else? Or are there no alternatives to such disruptive measures? Wouldn’t it be easier for them to meet after midnight or on holidays? Or perhaps they should move Parliament out of Beirut entirely, somewhere it is less likely to interrupt so many people’s lives. It is the responsibility, the raison d’etre, of a government to make life as good as it can be for citizens, to regulate society in such a way as to make life comfortable, while also offering at least a certain degree of security. The only steps that Parliament seems to be taking make a mockery of this theory and reveal it to have the lowest degree of respect for the population at large.


Grief and Pride as Sea of Mourners Bids Farewell to Slain al-Manar Reporter
Naharnet /The northern Bekaa town of Shaath, al-Manar TV and Hizbullah bid farewell Tuesday to slain reporter Hamza al-Hajj Hassan, in an emotional funeral that was attended by thousands of mourners.
The reporter's coffin, draped in a yellow Hizbullah flag, moved slowly from the Dar al-Hikma Hospital in Baalbek to the cemetery of the town. Some mourners fired their machineguns in the air, despite calls to the contrary from organizers and the journalist's uncle. Simultaneously, Hajj Hassan's relatives, friends and a number of Hizbullah supporters were gathering in Shaath to bid him the last goodbye.
As the marchers moved forward slowly, women and the reporter's mother and sister broke in tears and loud speakers played Hizbullah chants and religious hymns.
The mourners shouted defiant slogans, vowing to continue the path of “resistance and jihad.” The 27-year-old Hajj Hassan, who joined al-Manar's staff in 2009, was killed Monday along with cameraman Mohammed Mantash and technician Halim Allaw when their TV convoy came under gunfire in the Syrian Christian town of Maalula. They were covering the Syrian army's recapture of the historic town from rebel hands. After head of Hizbullah's politburo Sayyed Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyed prayed over his body, Hajj Hassan was laid to rest at Shaath's graveyard. Meanwhile, the southern town of Kfarsir organized a funeral for cameraman Mohammed Mantash, while the technician Halim Allaw will be buried on Wednesday. Al-Manar, which is owned by Hizbullah, said that the cars of its team were clearly marked with press signs, blaming “armed groups” for the attack. The instrumental assistance of Hizbullah -- which has sent thousands of fighters into Syria -- has helped Syrian forces recapture most towns in the Qalamoun and Qusayr regions near the border with Lebanon.


Lebanon failed to learn from its bloody civil war
Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Octavia Nasr/Al Arabiyia/Al Arabiyia
The Lebanese landmark war of fifteen years (1975 - 1990) fed books and articles, inspired slogans and headlines and was the focus of world media. To this day, the Lebanese are recognized the world over primarily for their war, cuisine and successful immigrants. Beirut became a universal synonym for division. That’s what the world sees, but if you lived through the war, what was it to you? Was it a daily seesaw of life or death? Or was it the smell of blood that you could never shake off? The sight of bullet-ridden walls in half-standing, windowless buildings; or the stink of humidity and death in shelters where people gathered and made the best out of their worst nightmare? Maybe it’s the fleeing trips to the unknown with nothing but your tired sleepless body. Where did you hide from the indiscriminate bombing, sniper bullets, or militia intimidations? Was it your kitchen, the dining room or that space in the back of the house that gave you the false feeling of safety just because it was dark? Who did you hug when you were scared? Did you observe the palpitation of your heart for the various sounds: the news flash on the radio, the shelling as it departs, its whizzing overhead and its landing. Do you remember the landing that brought down entire buildings nearby? The screams that ensued, the dust, the sadness, the inability to move as the skies rained on you more shells and more deafening noises of death, hate and destruction. Did your heart ever rejoice at the possibility that you could be next to get the hit so you too can get a taste of the finality of it all? Did you feel guilty or lucky that others died but not you?
At the end of those bloody fifteen years no one won and Lebanon was completely broken
What do you remember of the war? Is it how life was interrupted on a regular basis but you still carried on with classes, exams, jobs and entertainment? Or is it the time you were kidnapped and beaten unconscious because your accent did not sit well with the airheaded youth manning a checkpoint? Is it when dozens of men you know were massacred as they attended a funeral for no reason other than blinding hatred and total fog of war? Death does not distinguish among sects, nor is a massacre more justified than another. Loss is painful and life is precious for all. At the end of those bloody fifteen years no one won and Lebanon was completely broken. While everyone rushed to live, no one paused to reflect on what had happened and the war simply hid in old archaic mentalities. Today, we witness the same hatred, divisions, and ignorance. No matter what we think we learned from the war, it seems we have not learned anything at all!
**This article was first published in al-Nahar on April 14, 2014.


U.S.: neither side holds upper hand in Syria
Soldiers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad hold a Syrian national flag with a picture of Assad, at Maloula village, northeast of Damascus on April 14, 2014. (Reuters)
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News/Tuesday, 15 April 2014
The United States on Monday took issue with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s analysis that he has the upper hand in the three-year long Syrian conflict and that the war is turning in his favor.
“Our analysis remains what it has been, that this is a war of attrition and neither side has been able to deliver or hold onto significant gains,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, in statements carried by Agence France-Presse. Psaki said she was not “going to give ground game updates. Certainly our efforts to engage with the opposition continue.” Assad, quoted by the state news agency SANA, said Sunday that his troops were gaining the upper hand in the three-year war that has left more than 150,000 people dead. He made the statements in an address at Damascus University. “This is a turning point in the crisis, both militarily in terms of the army’s achievements in the war against terror, and socially in terms of national reconciliation processes and growing awareness of the truth behind the (attacks) targeting the country,” SANA quoted Assad as saying. Psaki said that Assad would “naturally” make such a statement. “I don’t think that’s a particularly surprising comment from him, that he’s winning,” she added. But she said it would be wrong to assume that the war would eventually swing in his favor. “There is broad concern and there has been for some time about his actions. The international community is focused on this, and I don’t think we’re going to make a prediction of the outcome here,” Psaki added. (With AFP)

Jordan ambassador to Libya kidnapped

Jordanian ambassador Fawaz Aytan is believed to have been kidnapped as was leaving his house. (File photo:
Staff writer, Al Arabiya News
Tuesday, 15 April 2014
The Jordanian ambassador to Libya has been kidnapped Tuesday morning after masked gunmen attacked his car and shot his driver, a spokesman for Libya's foreign ministry said. It is the latest incident in which Libyan leaders and foreign diplomats have been targeted in the increasingly lawless North African country, three years after NATO-backed rebels ousted autocratic leader Muammer Qaddafi. "The Jordanian ambassador was kidnapped this morning. His convoy was attacked by a group of hooded men on board two civilian cars," ministry spokesman Said Lassoued told Agence France-Presse. The driver survived the attack and was in hospital, Lassoued said. He suffered gunshot wounds during the kidnapping. The government in Amman confirmed the kidnapping. "Jordan has initial information that the Jordanian ambassador in Libya, Fawaz Aytan, was kidnapped," foreign ministry spokeswoman Sabah Rafie said, adding that it was investigating.
The abduction comes two days after Libya's prime minister Abdullah al-Thani stepped down, saying he and his family had been the victims of a "traitorous" armed attack the previous day.
(With Reuters and AFP)

Labor enslavement and the application of law in Saudi Arabia
Tuesday, 15 April 2014/Abdulrahman al-Rashed/Al Arabiyia
We did not take into account foreign accusations that human enslavement was taking place among us until we heard stories about the use of laborers and maids without granting them their rights. Two years ago, there was a strange story about an Indian shepherd who arrived at a police station in a town in the north of Saudi Arabia saying he had been detained in a stockyard in the middle of the desert for 18 years. All we know so far is that the poor shepherd arrived in Saudi Arabia on a contract with the stockyard’s owner who only paid the former around $300 of his wages, prevented him from traveling to see his family and did not even allow him to call them. The Indian worker could not escape because the stockyard was in the middle of the an-Nafud desert and he was afraid he would get lost and die if he tried to escape. This story which shocked people somehow ended. We know that the stockyard’s owner paid the Indian worker the rest of his wages, which only amounted to around $50,000. But was the Indian man compensated for being held for almost 20 years and for being forced into slavery? Was the wrongdoer punished? We don’t know, but since we haven’t read anything on the topic, the issue is worth following up on.
Criminalizing such hideous acts
I asked lawyer Abdulrahman al-Lahham if there is something in the system that criminalizes such hideous acts in the Saudi kingdom. He said that legislation “fighting human trafficking crimes” was issued and that it applies to this case. The legislation was approved by the cabinet six years ago and it punishes the wrongdoer by sentencing him to jail for 15 years or by fining him one million riyals, or both. The logical question now is: was the Indian laborer’s case forgotten the minute he traveled to his family? In this case, the governmental apparatuses which are tasked with implementing the law, but which haven’t, are not only the perpetrators and must be punished. Such crimes are still being committed as a result of a lack of awareness and leniency in implementing punishments
The reason I brought up an issue that is two years old and that people have forgotten about is that such crimes are still being committed as a result of a lack of awareness and leniency in implementing punishments. The system on fighting human trafficking may apply to those who don’t pay their workers and their maids. The law does not protect ignorant people or people with excuses, whatever the excuses are. Riyadh police once forced a Saudi diplomat to return to the country to pay his domestic worker her wages which he said he had forgotten to pay. It’s expected that such crimes will occur and are ongoing, especially since there are more than 10 million foreign workers in Saudi Arabia, and one cannot count on people’s morals and humanitarian sense to stop slavery. The story of the wife who sympathized with the domestic help against the former’s husband and accompanied her to the police station to file a complaint because he hadn’t paid her in two years does not happen often. It’s the National Society for Human Rights’ responsibility to urge workers to report acts exploitation and to protect them, and it’s also the responsibility of social institutions and of those responsible for the society.
**This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on April 15, 2014.

Obama warns Russia in tense call with Putin over Ukraine
By Jeff Mason and Arshad Mohammed | Reuters –
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a tense phone call on Monday that Moscow would face further costs for its actions in Ukraine and should use its influence to get separatists in the country to stand down.
Armed pro-Russian separatists seized more buildings in eastern Ukraine earlier in the day, expanding their control after the government failed to follow through on a threatened military crackdown.
In a call that the White House said Moscow requested, Obama told Putin that those forces were threatening to undermine and destabilize the government in Kiev.
"The president emphasized that all irregular forces in the country need to lay down their arms, and he urged President Putin to use his influence with these armed, pro-Russian groups to convince them to depart the buildings they have seized," the White House said in a statement.
Obama said Russian troops needed to withdraw from Ukraine's border to defuse tensions and made a point of praising Kiev for its "remarkable restraint" and efforts to unify the country with elections, constitutional reform and proposals to decentralize power to local governments.
"The president noted Russia's growing political and economic isolation as a result of its actions in Ukraine and made clear that the costs Russia already has incurred will increase if those actions persist," the White House said. "(He) said that while he continues to believe that a diplomatic solution is still possible, it cannot succeed in an environment of Russian military intimidation on Ukraine's borders, armed provocation within Ukraine, and escalatory rhetoric by Kremlin officials."
The Kremlin said Putin told Obama during the call that Russia was not interfering in Ukraine and urged Washington to use its influence to prevent bloodshed.
Earlier, U.S. officials stopped short of announcing a new set of sanctions against Russia but said they were in consultations with European partners about the prospect.
The European Union agreed on Monday to step up sanctions against Moscow by expanding a list of people subjected to asset freezes and visa bans.
A senior administration official described the call between Obama and Putin as "frank and direct," a diplomatic construction that usually means tense.
The next round of U.S. sanctions, which would be the fourth imposed since the Ukraine crisis began, is likely to target Russians close to Putin as well as Russian entities, three sources familiar with the discussions said on Sunday., U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki noted that the United States was prepared to impose sanctions on individuals and entities in the financial services, energy, metals, mining, engineering and defense sectors. The sanctions have been the most visible sign of U.S. anger at Russia's annexation of the Crimea region in southern Ukraine last month, reflecting the deepest plunge in U.S.-Russian relations since the Cold War. U.S. officials declined to identify a timeline on Monday for further sanctions. "I can assure you that Russia's provocations - further transgressions and provocations will come with a cost. And I'm not here to specify what cost will come from which specific action, but there have already been costs imposed on Russia; there will be further costs imposed on Russia," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters. Obama spoke to French President Francois Hollande about the crisis on Monday and, as he did later with Putin, praised Ukraine's government for showing restraint, a sign Washington hopes Kiev will hold that course. Carney also confirmed that the director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, had been in Kiev over the weekend and decried what he called "false claims" leveled at the CIA by Russian authorities. "U.S. and Russian intelligence officials have met over the years. To imply that U.S. officials meeting with their counterparts (in Kiev) is anything other than in the same spirit is absurd," he said. According to media reports, Russia had urged Washington to explain what Brennan was doing in Ukraine.
(Additional reporting by Jim Loney; Editing by Ken Wills)

Baghdad buttresses defenses ready for wholesale Al Qaeda assault on city
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 15, 2014/The Iraqi army began buttressing its defense lines on April 12 to save parts of the capital city of Baghdad from the approaching danger of falling to al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). Iraqi intelligence reports that terrorist forces have broken through into the city’s western outskirts and preparing to head out to other parts of the city of more than seven million and the Green Zone government headquarters.
In addition to the lethal bombings and shootings which have reduced the country to misery, debkafile’s counter-terrorism sources describe a more insidious ISIS tactic of conquest: Armed al Qaeda fighters in brown military fatigues are going around Baghdad city quarters distributing candy to children. Notes attached to the packets invite their parents to attend “repentance” rites, which are really oaths of adherence to al Qaeda.
Six years ago, the contest between US troops and al Qaeda’s savage Iraqi commander, the Jordanian Mussab Al Zarqawi, ended in his death at American hands and saved Baghdad. Two years ago, President Barack Obama ordered US forces to shake the dust of Iraq off their boots.
Now the Americans are back – only now they are not US soldiers but jihadi fighters of al Qaeda, fighting to overrun Iraq and establish an Islamist state there. They are pushing towards Baghdad after seizing the western province of Anbar, the city of Tikrit and the eastern province of Diyala on the border of Iran.
They show their faces openly, unafraid of Iraq security, in parts of Baghdad as well as in the big Iraqi cities of Falluja, Ramadi, Baquba, Salahudeen and Nineveh.
Al Qaeda’s operational arm in Iraq fields more Western fighters than any other of its branches. They are nationals of the US, Canada, the UK, France, Holland, Belgium and Italy. Many are battle-hardened veterans of Afghanistan and latterly Syria. From mid 2013, most of the Islamists fighting in Syria were scooped up by ISIS for its jihad in Iraq.
Western intelligence watchers have never established who exactly gave the order for an estimated 3,500 al Qaeda fighters to migrate from Syria to Iraq – and so obtain a clue to the movement’s contemporary chain of command.
In a Senate appearance in February, US National Intelligence Director James Clapper called the Syrian civil war an “apocalyptic disaster” and estimated that somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000-26,000 Islamist “extremists” were fighting in that war, including 7,500 from 50 foreign countries. “All are al Qaeda veterans from Afghanistan and Pakistan, who aspire to attack Europe as well as the United States,” he warned.
debkafile’s counterterrorism sources report that most of the 7,500 are currently fighting in Iraq under the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
This group was large and experienced enough in brutal combat to tip the scales of war decisively against the Iraqi army and catapult ISIS to the fore on three major fronts:
1. Al Qaeda has made big advances in its preparations for a leap on Baghdad. It is engaged in cutting off the Iraqi capital’s sources of fresh water and blowing up the main bridges connecting the city to western, eastern and central Iraq.
When Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq visited the water mains Friday, April 11, to see about repairing the system, al Qaeda ambushed his convoy and he barely escaped with his life. His bodyguards were less fortunate.
2. In the town of Falluja north of Baghdad, al Qaeda has embarked on a complex engineering project which would have been beyond the capacity of many Middle East governments, to divert the Euphrates River from its course. Giant earthmoving equipment and trucks are damming the river bed with mud and rocks scooped up from the Iraqi desert region that spills over into Syria and Jordan.
This project has two objectives:
a) To divert the river’s course to the south towards central Iraq and so inundate the Iraqi military positions facing Falluja and the road links from Baghdad to army bases in central Iraq. This tactic will leave the bulk of the Iraq army high and dry by blocking supplies and disrupting its movements towards the capital.
b) To cut the cities south of Baghdad, inhabited by many millions of a predominantly Shiite population, from a major supply of clean water.
3. In Diyala province, al Qaeda is setting up bases along the Iraqi-Iranian border. As the menace edged toward their borders, 6,000 Iranian border patrol troops Sunday launched a four-day war game dubbed “Eqtedar (Might) 3” in Qasr-e Shirin, the westernmost county of Kermanshah province
The al Qaeda push finds an Iraqi army scared of hitting back to contain its rapid advance on Baghdad for fear of being outgunned and beaten by superior fighting strength.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki traveled to Washington last month to appeal for American hardware, especially assault helicopters, to fight the terrorist force. President Barack Obama turned him down.
On Feb. 20, debkafile revealed that the first ISIS detachment from Iraq had been smuggled into Egyptian Sinai just across from the Israeli border and linked up with the local Islamist Ansar Bait al-Maqdis terrorists. With this increment, the Sinai-based Islamists may be expected to show their mettle before long against Egyptian and Israeli targets.

Israeli killed, 2 wounded in suspected terrorist attack near Hebron
By JPOST.COM STAFF /04/15/2014 03:23
Shots fired killing man, wounding woman and boy traveling in West Bank on Passover eve; Islamic Jihad laud attack.
Israel police. An Israeli man was killed and two others wounded after a Palestinian fired shots at a family vehicle Monday evening on Route 35 near the Tarkumia checkpoint west of Hebron, police said.
A 40-year-old man was pronounced dead after attempts at resuscitation, while a 28-year-old woman was in moderate condition after suffering injuries to her upper body, according to Magen David Adom. She was taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem for further treatment. A nine-year-old boy suffered light wounds from shrapnel in his chest. He was taken to Hadassah University Medical Center at Ein Kerem.  The victims were in their vehicle at the time of the shooting. The assailant fired at three different vehicles on Route 35, according to MDA.
An initial IDF investigation revealed that at least one armed gunman approached the road on foot, and shot at the first car that passed from only a few meters away.
The shooter then ran to another point on the road and continued to shoot at Israeli vehicles. The shooter then fled the scene. An eyewitness told Channel 2 that a man wearing a helmet on the side of the road all of a sudden opened fire on passing cars with a AK-47 rifle.  IDF officials said there was no military intelligence that hinted at an attack on Jews on the eve of Passover.
MK Orit Struck (Bayit Yehudi) told Army Radio that she has no doubt the attack was "a direct result of releasing [Palestinian] prisoners that help turn the wheels of terror...releasing prisoners leads to terrorist attacks." The Islamic Jihad released a statement commending the attack as "a natural response to Israel's crimes." The terrorist group did not claim responsibility for the attack.
IDF security forces, police, and Border Police were carrying out a search for the shooters.

The Dangers of a Nuclear Iran
Haaretiz/The dangers of a nuclear Iran are clear to most people who are aware of the facts surrounding Iran and their leader’s attitude toward the United States and Israel. These two countries are not the only ones that would be affected by Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons, however. The entire world would be affected. If Iran were to send a nuclear bomb to Israel or to the United States, a third world war could erupt. In a matter of hours, much of the globe could be destroyed, and even peaceful countries that have good relationships with Iran could be destroyed as well.
There are other countries that have nuclear weapons, such as the United States, Russia, China, North Korea, India, and Pakistan. The difference between these countries and Iran is that they are not threatening to destroy other countries. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made it clear that according to his belief and philosophy, the world would be better off without the United States and Israel. The United States could probably not be eradicated with one nuclear attack, but the country could surely be affected if all of their electronic equipment including computers and telecommunications equipment were disabled.
It is clear that Iran is not only threatening with words, but with actions as well. When President Obama threatened to impose new economic sanctions on Iran’s oil exporting business, Iran began to train its military to stop all oil from moving through the Strait of Hormuz. This international strait could be the site of a new Persian War that could cause great damage to this area of the world. The entire Middle East would be affected since they are in the region close to this area. Iran has threatened to use missiles against any country that goes against its wishes to export oil.
Israel is the country that is the most endangered by the possibility of Iran having nuclear weapons. Iran could easily aim nuclear missiles towards Israel and destroy the entire country. The likelihood of the world stepping up to protect Israel is slim, and its greatest ally, the United States, has cooled its relationship with Israel since the election of President Obama. The Israeli army is strong for such a small country, but whether they can stop Iran’s production of nuclear weapons is unknown. One fact that is definite is that Iran has promised to eradicate Israel from the face of the earth.
There is a real possibility of Iran developing and using nuclear weapons. Both Israel and the United States say that they have evidence that these weapons are now being developed in Iran. Despite this fact, Iran continues to deny that they are developing nuclear weapons. The Muslim clerics have issued general bans against any Islamic country developing these weapons, but the passion and determination of Iran to destroy Israel and the United States may overstep the forbidden development of weapons of mass destruction.
The main way that the United States, Great Britain, and other countries have attempted to prevent Iran from developing these weapons is through economic sanctions. These have not worked in stopping other aggressive leaders like Muammar Gaddafi or Saddam Hussein. Many analysts say that the sanctions only cause worse relations and resentment that eventually leads to war. Sanctions against Iran have already been in place for many years, and they have had no effect on the development of nuclear arms by Iran. The time may come when more serious measures, such as destroying Iran’s nuclear weapon production plants, is necessary. The entire world does not want to see the situation come to this because those who have been living for several decades are already tired of the Middle Eastern wars. Hopefully, Iran is more talk than action as some political analysists say it is.