December 09/14

Bible Quotation For Today/Thanksgiving and Prayer
Colossians 04/"Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven. Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.  Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here. My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him. Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.  Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea. Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.”I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on December 08-09/14
After alleged Israeli strike, the ball is now in Assad's court/Alex Fishman/Ynetnews/December 09/14
Islam: Built on the Blood of (Christian) Martyrs/Raymond Ibrahim/December 08/14
The Attack on Abu Dhabi/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed /Asharq AlAwsat/December 08/14
Every society has its own problems—and solutions/Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Alawsat/December09/14
Does Qassem Suleimani’s media exposure benefit Iran/Camelia Entekhabi-Fard /Al Arabiya/December 08/14

Lebanese Related News published on  December 08-09/14
Salam: Lebanon Needs more Help to Tackle Jihadist Threat
Hamadeh Resumes STL Testimony: Syrian Officials Seized Files in My Assassination Attempt to Muzzle Investigation
Report: Jihadist Recruiter Arrested in Northern Lebanon
French Envoy Discusses Presidential Crisis with Lebanese Officials
Lebanese Army Narrows Down on Insurgents in Arsal, Cuts Supply
Israel on Alert on Lebanon Border as Minister Stresses 'Policy' to Stop Arms Transfers to Hizbullah
Bomb Rips Through Car in Arsal, Several Injured
The covert war against Hezbollah’s arms program
Lebanon’s hostage Dilemma: A crisis cell in crisis
Bazzal’s widow tearfully recalls husband
Qatar ends mediation of Lebanon’s hostage crisis
Special Tribunal for Lebanon/Rafic Hariri killers used cell phones to lay false trail to Tripoli
Ahmad Hariri mobilizes Future Movement in Bekaa Valley
Citizen, municipal collaboration needed: minister
Palestinian Cubs and Roses resume after a decade
Lebanese women underrepresented in the workplace
Syrian child killed, camp torched in Lebanon
Berri: Israel Started Stealing Lebanon's Gas

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on December 08-09/14
U.S. Says Coalition to Send 1,500 Security Personnel to Iraq
Israeli Parliament Dissolved ahead of March Election
Iraq PM Vows to Fight Graft Even at Risk of Own Life
U.N. Envoy Talks Aleppo Ceasefire Plan with Syria Rebels
Reports: Hamas Team in Iran for Talks on Ties
GCC leaders to back Egypt’s counter-terrorism efforts: official
Saudi Names New Minister to Fight MERS as Part of Govt. Reshuffle
Saudi Interior Ministry announces arrest of 135 terror suspects
EU Counts on Intelligence Sharing to Stem Foreign Fighters' Flow to Syria
Egypt Arrests 33 Men for Alleged 'Debauchery'
Egypt to Try 71 Azhar Students for Joining Brotherhood
Tunisian presidential run-off set for December 21
Yemeni insurgents storm Hudaydah governor’s office: source
US: Iran buying parts for heavy-water reactor'
US says Iran upholding interim deal, but no comment on complaints
Mother sues France over underage son’s Syria trip
Muslims denounce convert who threatened Canada
Canada joins U.K. in closing Cairo embassy

Jihad Watch Site Posts For Sunday
Muslim US naval engineer allegedly gave agent info on how to sink carrier

Muslim preacher accused of blasphemy flees Pakistan, no plans to return
Waging jihad against the West…is beyond a shadow of the doubt a religious obligation binding upon every Muslim”
FBI adds Texas Muslim honor murderer to Ten Most Wanted list
Denmark: Muslim gangs enforcing Sharia in residential areas
Nigeria: Islamic jihadists abduct over 20 girls, kill elderly men and women
UK Labour Party: “UKIP has evil money grabbing jews in their party”
Pakistan says Muslim charged in NY subway jihad plot killed in army raid
Hamas-linked CAIR claims businessman who died in 1965 refuted Robert Spencer
Moderate Muslim Mubin Shaikh to foes of jihad: “I am your ENEMY…Prepare yourselves accordingly.”
Egypt and Syria have long ties to Nazi Germany”
Sweden: Firebombs thrown at police in Muslim area of Stockholm

Hamadeh Resumes STL Testimony: Syrian Officials Seized Files in My Assassination Attempt to Muzzle Investigation
Naharnet/MP Marwan Hamadeh resumed on Monday his testimony before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon by recounting the developments in the country following the extension of President Emile Lahoud's term and detailing the assassination attempt against him in October 2004. He said before the Trial Chamber: “A brief investigation was launched in my assassination attempt before Syrian officials took away the files and transported them to the headquarters of Syrian intelligence in Anjar.”“Then Interior Minister Elias al-Murr can attest to my claims,” he declared before the court.
“Head of Syrian Intelligence in Lebanon Rustom Ghazaleh had reportedly said of my assassination attempt that either Israel was behind it or that I had done it to myself,” he added. Hamadeh had kicked off the testimony by describing the role of the fledgling opposition in Lebanon against Syrian influence that led to the formation of the Bristol gathering. The gathering included the Democratic Gathering, Democratic Renewal Movement, Democratic Left Movement, Qornet Shehwan gathering, and various MPs loyal to Hariri.
Its members held regular meetings that tackled ways to confront Syria's growing power in the wake of the extension of Lahoud's term on September 3, 2004. “Hariri was hoping that a moderate national unity cabinet would help sway the power balance in Lebanon's favor against Syria,” said Hamadeh, He revealed that a deal was proposed to the premier where his bloc would vote for the parliamentary amendment, which would lead to the extension, in exchange for allowing him to form a cabinet.
Hariri was making efforts to form this cabinet, explained the MP, but Syrian officials kept hindering his attempts and opposing names of potential ministers. The MP said that he and Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat had repeatedly urged the premier to resign and leave Lebanon due to security dangers and pressure exerted by Syria against him.
The Syrian obstacles and media stories that suggested that his cabinet lineup would be rejected forced Hariri to resign in October, he continued. “He was informed on October 20, 2004 that forming a cabinet was no longer viable and that he must resign,” added Hamadeh.
“Hariri submitted his resignation to Lahoud and later issued a statement that was interpreted as a farewell to Lebanon,” commented the lawmaker. The testimony then moved to the assassination attempt against Hamadeh on October 1, 2004. He said that a roadside bomb attack targeted his vehicle shortly after he left his Beirut residence for parliament. “My companion was immediately killed, while my driver and I were severely wounded,” he remarked. He explained that he was not riding in an armored car and did not take security precautions, “because it had never occurred to us that an assassination would take place.”“The attempt against my life was aimed at killing me and also served as a message to Hariri and Jumblat,” he said.
A day before Hariri's assassination on February 14, 2005, the MP revealed that he discussed, during a Bristol Gathering meeting, threats against the former premier. “Hariri took the threats against him seriously, but not seriously enough. He believed that they would not dare kill him and that he was probably immune to an assassination because of his high standing,” he remarked.
Asked about the investigation in his murder attempt, Hamadeh recalled: “The only investigation in my attack was limited to a policeman taking my statement, in a meeting that did not last more than five minutes.”
The real investigation started with the arrival of United Nations investigator Peter Fitzgerald to Lebanon to tackle Hariri's assassination in February 2005. The STL Defense then objected to the extensive discussion of the attempt against Hamadeh's life, saying it is not the main issue at hand.Hamadeh continued: “With the exception of the brief investigation in the assassination of Kamal Jumblat in 1977, no investigations were held in the assassinations of public figures in Lebanon.”
“Murr informed me that the files on my assassination attempt were stolen ten days after the attack,” he revealed. “Police chief of the Internal Security Forces at the time Marwan al-Zein informed me that Ghazaleh had told him that Israel was behind the attack or that I had done it myself,” he continued. Hamadeh noted: “Ghazaleh was trying to make the ISF disregard the investigation in my assassination attempt.”
Zein was later removed from his post after the formation of PM Omar Karami's government in November 2004 and appointed as Lebanon's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said the MP.
“Following his resignation in October, all of Syria's allies in Lebanon launched a campaign against Hariri and a large number of his state-appointed security entourage was removed,” remarked Hamadeh.
“The campaign against Hariri started in parallel with all the contradictions in Syria's manner towards him in 2003 and reached its peak in 2004 and 2005,” he explained.
“The campaign became so stifling that days before his assassination pro-Syrian officials even criticized him for purchasing oil to distribute to the poor,” the lawmaker noted. “Syrian pressure against Hariri was aimed at deterring him from running in the elections or at least forcing him to ally himself with pro-Syrian figures,” he stated.
“Despite all of the pressure and threats against him, Hariri maintained his calm. He was looking forward to the 2005 parliamentary elections in order to thwart Syria's ambitions in Lebanon,” he recounted.
“Hariri had repeatedly told me during that period that we will be victorious in the elections regardless of what law is adopted,” Hamadeh said of parliamentary sessions in February 2005 that were tackling the issue of the electoral law.
Commenting on United Nations Security Council resolution 1559, Hamadeh stated: “Syrian officials had always accused Hariri of leaning towards the West and being behind the resolution.”
U.N. Special Envoy for the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559 Terje Roed-Larsen had met with Syrian President Bashar Assad three days prior to Hariri's assassination and he explained that he was “very angry” with the slain premier, revealed Hamadeh to the court.“The year 2000 was a critical for in Lebanese-Syrian ties. It witnessed the withdrawal of Israel from the South, but maintained its occupation of the Shebaa Farms, whose identity is disputed between Lebanon and Syria,” he explained.
“The dispute over the identity of the Farms is at the heart of the ongoing armament of Hizbullah. Had this issue been resolved, the party would not have had its excuse to maintain its weapons,” he said.
The STL session will resume hearing the testimony of Hamadeh on Tuesday. It is also expected to make a ruling over the possibility of summoning Jumblat to make his testimony as a witness before the court, announced presiding Judge David Re.

Lebanese Army Narrows Down on Insurgents in Arsal, Cuts Supply
Routes/Naharnet /The Lebanese army tightened its grip in the past two days on the militants in the northeastern town of Arsal, blocking several roads particularly after the militants targeted the army in Ras Baalbek on Tuesday. The Turkish Anadolu Agency quoted a military source on Monday as saying that “the Lebanese army blocked all the roads between the border town of Arsal and the areas surrounding it where militants from al-Nusra Front and the Islamist State seek hiding.”MTV confirmed that “the army has narrowed down on insurgents in the outskirts of Arsal preventing them from any contact with the refugee camps and cutting all supply routes." The Lebanese army lost six of its members on Tuesday in an ambush carried out by armed groups that spread from neighboring al-Qalamun close to Arsal outskirts reaching to Brital. LBCI said that the army closed two days ago the roads linking Arsal to al-Hosn area and the Wadi Ata. They informed everyone that any movement would be considered hostile. The sources added that the decision to block the roads came after a number of roadside bombs were planted on the trail that the army usually takes. Al-Qaida affiliate al-Nusra Front and the Islamist State still hold 27 soldiers as hostages since the clashes that erupted in Arsal in August. Four soldiers have been executed so far.

Report: Jihadist Recruiter Arrested in Northern Lebanon
Naharnet/Lebanese security forces have arrested a Lebanese man in the North on suspicion of recruiting scores of fighters and sending to Syria via Turkey, pan-Arab daily al-Hayat reported on Monday. The daily quoted political sources as saying that the man has admitted to contacting several fighters via Twitter and sending them to Turkey through Tripoli's port. The fighters would then move to Syria to fight alongside the Islamic State extremist group, the sources said. The report came a few days after after highly-informed security officials said around 20 Lebanese fighters from Tripoli and other areas in the North have lately traveled to Syria to join the IS. The officials, who were not identified, told As Safir newspaper that the fighters headed to Syria via Turkey in the past weeks. The majority of the young men, whose ages range between 19 and 22, are students and traveled to Turkey under the excuse of going there for tourism, the officials said. According to al-Hayat, the Lebanese man, who is now in custody, has been able to recruit around 100 fighters, against whom search and arrest warrants heave been issued. The newspaper also said that security forces have recently arrested a telecommunications engineer at Rafik Hariri International Airport who was traveling with his family to Turkey to join IS.

French Envoy Discusses Presidential Crisis with Lebanese Officials
Naharnet /The director of the department of the Middle East and North Africa at the French Foreign Ministry kicked off his meetings with Lebanese officials on Monday to resolve the presidential deadlock. Jean-François Girault, who arrived in Beirut on Sunday, first met with Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil at Bustros Palace. He then headed to the Grand Serail for talks with Prime Minister Tammam Salam. “France does not have a candidate and does not veto anyone,” said Girault. Paris “backs the state … It is up to the Lebanese to choose a head of state without foreign intervention,” he added. Later on Monday, Girault held talks with Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea in Maarab, in the presence of French Ambassador to Lebanon Patrice Paoli and the LF's foreign relations officer Pierre Abou Assi.
“The meeting tackled the regional issues, especially Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, and the French guest expressed France's commitment to Lebanon's sovereignty, independence and freedom... and to helping the country in all fields,” Geagea's press office said in a statement.
Girault reassured Geagea that Paris has pressed on with the issue of delivering the Saudi-purchased arms to the Lebanese army, noting that “only a few logistic steps remain.” He also told the LF leader that “the Lebanese presidency is a domestic Lebanese affair” and that “France will do everything in its capacity to facilitate this juncture, without interfering in the names and candidates.”Girault later held talks with Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat in Clemenceau. The meeting was attended by Ambassador Paoli, Jumblat's son Taimur and MPs Henri Helou and Ghazi Aridi. Talks tackled “the current political developments in Lebanon and the region,” state-run National News Agency said. Jumblat later threw a dinner banquet in honor of the French guests, NNA added. The envoy's mission is to persuade the rival Lebanese officials to swiftly elect a president. His visit will include talks with Lebanese officials from across the political spectrum, including a Hizbullah representative. Lebanon has been without a head of state since President Michel Suleiman's six-year term ended in May. The rival MPs have been unable to elect a successor over their differences on a compromise candidate. Another top European envoy, Federica Mogherini, is expected to visit Beirut on Tuesday. Mogherini serves as High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Salam: Lebanon Needs more Help to Tackle Jihadist Threat
Naharnet/Lebanon needs more international help to fight jihadist forces that have launched a series of attacks against the army and kidnapped troops and policemen, Prime Minister Tammam Salam said in an interview with Agence France-Presse.
Salam, speaking ahead of a visit to France this week, welcomed French arms deliveries due "in the coming weeks," but said the Lebanese army needed more. The army, which has around 70,000 troops and is recruiting 10,000 more, "has showed respectable defense capacity," Salam said. But "we need a lot more aid for it," he said. Salam said Lebanon was not in danger of falling to jihadists from the Islamic State group or al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate, al-Nusra Front.
He dismissed the possibility of "an Islamic caliphate in Lebanon" such as that declared by IS in parts of Syria and Iraq. "The danger is that they will try to weaken Lebanon," he said. Last December, Saudi Arabia pledged $3 billion to fund the purchase of French weapons to bolster Lebanon's military against jihadists. Implementation of the deal has taken longer than expected, but Salam said the first arms deliveries were now expected within weeks. "Things are moving -- I'm very confident," he said, speaking from his office at the Grand Serail residence in downtown Beirut."All the deals have been signed... We're in agreement on 90 percent of the types of weapons. The delivery should begin in the coming weeks." Salam said the deliveries would include "helicopters and the weapons necessary to help the army properly defend against incursions and attack from abroad, particularly those by terrorists."
- Hostage negotiations stalled -
Salam said Britain was also helping to bolster Lebanon's defenses, with a series of observation posts erected by British officers along part of the border with Syria.The border posts went up several weeks ago near the northeastern town of Arsal, which was briefly overrun in August by IS and al-Nusra jihadists. After days of clashes with Lebanese troops, the jihadists withdrew into the mountains along the border following a truce negotiated by Lebanese Sunni clerics. But they took with them around 30 security personnel as hostages. Four have been executed and a fifth died of wounds sustained during the clashes. The fourth execution, of policeman Ali al-Bazzal, was announced on Friday. Qatari mediators have announced they are ending their efforts, local media said Monday. "On this hostage affair, I've never said I was optimistic," Salam said, speaking a day after Bazzal's death was announced. "It's a very difficult situation that requires a lot of effort by all the political factions, the people, the hostages' families, the security services and the media," he said.
Salam said 16 police and soldiers were still being held by al-Nusra, with another nine held by IS. The jihadists "act in a savage manner, they kill whenever... they are imposing this terrorism on the Lebanese and it's difficult to know in advance what they will do," he added.
"We have tried to negotiate with them... but things are very difficult."
- Deal for new president needed -
Salam said efforts involving Turkey and Qatar had failed to yield results, and that negotiating directly with the kidnappers through Lebanon's security services was equally fruitless. He also denied that authorities had arrested two women linked to jihadist leaders for use as "bargaining chips." Last week, Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq confirmed the arrest of an ex-wife of IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the wife of another Islamist commander, Abu Ali al-Shishani. But Salam said "they were being followed for some time" because of their ties to "networks of terrorist cells." Salam said his three-day trip to France, which begins on Wednesday, would also involve talks about Lebanon's failure to pick a new president. The post has been empty since May 25, when former president Michel Suleiman's term ended. Regional divisions and political stalemate in the country's parliament have left lawmakers unable to agree on a replacement. "The presidential vote in Lebanon is traditionally influenced from outside," Salam acknowledged, noting the formation of his own government "was facilitated by a regional and international deal." "Why not have another deal to facilitate presidential elections?" he said. Agence France Presse

Israel on Alert on Lebanon Border as Minister Stresses 'Policy' to Stop Arms Transfers to Hizbullah
Naharnet/Israeli troops on Monday went on alert along the border with Lebanon over fears of a military operation as a cabinet minister stressed that the Jewish State has a policy of preventing arms transfers to Hizbullah. The state-run National News Agency said Israeli soldiers were on alert mainly in the area of the Shabaa Farms. They carried out patrols in the areas of Wazzani and Kfarshouba hills as drones and helicopters flew overhead, the agency said. The members of the patrols used goggles to monitor Lebanese territories, it added. Israeli warplanes on Sunday struck near Damascus' international airport as well as outside a town close to the Lebanese border, the Syrian military said. Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights quoted “trusted sources” as saying that the hangars that were bombed in the Dimas area near Damascus were “arms depots, most of which containing weapons for Lebanon's Hizbullah.”“At least one of them contained missiles,” the sources said. Citing reports, the Observatory said “several Hizbullah members” were killed in the strikes. The raid on the Damascus airport targeted “supplies and equipment for regime forces and a small quantity of arms,” the Observatory said. Since Syria's conflict began in March 2011, Israel has carried out several airstrikes in Syria that have targeted sophisticated weapons systems, including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles, believed to be destined for Hizbullah. Israel has never confirmed the strikes, and on Sunday the Israeli military said it does not comment on "foreign reports."
The Syrian armed forces' general command said Sunday's "flagrant attack" caused material damage, but did not provide any details on what was hit near the airport or in the town of Dimas, which is northwest of Damascus along the main highway from the capital to the Lebanese frontier. "This aggression demonstrates Israel's direct involvement in supporting terrorism in Syria along with well-known regional and Western countries to raise the morale of terrorist groups, mainly the Nusra Front," the military said in a statement carried by SANA. Israel's Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz refused to comment directly on Sunday's incident. "We have a firm policy of preventing all possible transfers of sophisticated weapons to terrorist organisations," Steinitz told public radio on Monday in response to a question about the strikes, and apparently referring to Hizbullah. Associated Press.

Bomb Rips Through Car in Arsal, Several Injured
Naharnet /An explosive device ripped through a car in the northeastern border town of Arsal on Monday, leaving the owner and several people wounded. “The car exploded near the old municipality building and the Grand Mosque inside the town of Arsal,” state-run National News Agency reported. “The bomb was placed under the driver's seat of a GMC Yukon SUV owned by Hassan Ezzeddine, aka al-Mukahal,” NNA added. The blast “severed Ezzeddine's feet and he was rushed to hospital in an ambulance,” the agency said.
An army statement confirmed that the bomb went off inside the car, noting that “investigations are underway to unveil the incident's circumstances.”Future TV said the blast went off in the al-Bustan neighborhood. Arsal deputy municipal chief Mohammed al-Fleiti told the TV network that the area is inhabited by members of the Ezzeddine family. Several TV networks said “personal motives” were behind the incident. Meanwhile, al-Jadeed television said Ezzeddine is “a member of the armed groups,” in an apparent reference to the extremist al-Nusra Front and Islamic State groups which have positions in the town's outskirts and in the nearby Syrian towns. “He had been detained in the past on charges of attacking the (Lebanese) army,” al-Jadeed added. A soldier was killed and two others were wounded last week when a bomb went off as they were approaching it to defuse it on the outskirts of Arsal. In recent months, the army repelled several infiltration attempts by Islamist militants who tried to advance into the town. Jihadists from al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra and the IS group are entrenched on the outskirts of Arsal on the porous Syrian-Lebanese border. They engaged in a bloody fighting with the Lebanese army in August and took with them hostages from the military and police.

U.S. Says Coalition to Send 1,500 Security Personnel to Iraq
Naharnet/Members of a U.S.-led coalition are ready to send roughly 1,500 security personnel to Iraq to help the Baghdad government in its fight against Islamic State group, the American commander of the war effort said Monday. Coalition partners meeting last week in the region made initial pledges that would bring "close" to 1,500 troops to Iraq to train and assist local forces, in addition to the U.S. forces already mobilized, Lieutenant General James Terry told reporters in Kuwait.He did not indicate which countries from the coalition would provide the security personnel or give a breakdown of how many of them would be in uniform or otherwise. Agence France Presse

Muslims denounce convert who threatened Canada
AFP, Ottawa/ Monday, 8 December 2014
Canadian Muslims denounced a convert’s call for more lone-wolf attacks in this country Monday, just weeks after two soldiers were recently killed in the first jihadist attacks on Canadian soil. The National Council of Canadian Muslims condemned a video message from Canadian jihadist fighter from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group as “abhorrent and un-Islamic.” “The attempt to justify attacks against innocent people is deeply misguided and unsupported by Islamic principles,” echoed Imam Sikander Hashmi, spokesman for the Canadian Council of Imams. In the video, John Maguire, originally from Ottawa, warns Canada it faces retaliation for participating in U.S.-led airstrikes against ISIS. Calling himself Abu Anwar al-Canadi, Maguire urged Muslims to follow the example of a driver in a hit-and-run killing of a soldier near Montreal and of a gunman who killed an unarmed soldier in Ottawa. Or, he said, Canadian Muslims should travel to Syria to join ISIS. The six-minute video was distributed on jihadist websites and Twitter, according to the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militants’ online communications. Maguire reportedly left Canada to join the ISIS group in January 2013. “This young man is definitely John Douglas... but not the John Douglas that we knew, loved and remember,” a family member told public broadcaster CBC. Canada’s public safety minister, Steven Blaney, urged citizens to be vigilant “against this terrorist scourge.” Muhammad Robert Heft, a Toronto Muslim leader and outspoken critic of extremism, told the daily Toronto Star the call to arms is unlikely to inspire fresh attacks in Canada. “He’s so delusional and so arrogant that he actually thinks his message is resonating with Muslims in Canada and worldwide,” Heft told the newspaper. “He says he is supporting Syrians, but isn’t he killing the Syrians if they don’t submit to their group?” said Heft. “It’s not difficult to deconstruct his theology.”

Every society has its own problems—and solutions
Tariq Alhomayed/Asharq Alawsat
Monday, 8 Dec, 2014
How do we frame protests in New York and other American cities against excessive police violence towards the African-American community, and particularly the youth, in light of the unrest and deteriorating security situation that is taking place in our own region?
We have seen countless protests in our region against violence and oppression, calling for dignity, respect and social justice. We have also seen countless US presidential spokesmen and members of congress come out to lecture us in the media on social issues. Now Americans are taking to the streets to demand justice in the US itself, calling on the authorities to respect the lives of African-American youth. So, how are we in the Middle East supposed to understand this situation? For those who don’t know, these protests in American cities are taking place over the deaths of two African-Americans at the hands of police officers. First, there were protests over the killing of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black youth in Ferguson, Missouri, by a white police officer last August. Protests escalated after the grand jury in the case decided not to bring charges against the police officer who shot him. Just nine days later, a New York grand jury also decided not to bring charges against a white police officer who placed a black suspect in a chokehold, a suspect who subsequently died. The policeman’s use of an illegal chokehold was captured on video. Very well, so how can all of this happen in the world’s greatest superpower, which also claims to be the world’s greatest democracy? A country that believes that it’s divine mandate is to export freedom and democracy, not to mention all the other empty slogans that we have heard from successive US administrations? Therefore, if the story in the US is one of racism, and it is, despite the fact that there is an African-American president in the White House, then the other lesson that we can draw from this is that every country and society has its own specific circumstances and issues. More importantly, this is something that applies regardless of however much a country has developed or advanced, or wants to. This point of view may be provocative, but this is a reality that we can see with our own eyes, particularly in the US, which, despite all its progress, continues to suffer from issues surrounding race.
This means that every society’s problems, whatever they are, must be dealt with specifically in line with that society’s own special circumstances. All these issues are affected by geographical, cultural and other factors, and so we must bear these in mind when trying to reach a solution. It is not important whether you agree or disagree with the extent or origin of these problems, or whether you view them as being important or not, what is important is to understand that every society has its own circumstances, and a society’s problems must be addressed according to these same circumstances. While it is true that the wise everywhere support reform and want more openness with the outside world, particularly as this is the natural way that states’ advance and make progress, unfortunately there are no magic cures or easy answers. The most important thing is to help each community or society understand the gravity of the problems that it is facing, and work hard to solve these according to the capabilities of that society itself.
Let me also clarify here that I am talking about things generally, I am not talking about how to deal with Iran’s expansionist ambitions in the region or the criminal Bashar Al-Assad regime, rather I am talking generally about social issues that require patience and perseverance in order to resolve.  In the United States of America, for example, a grand jury is made up of ordinary citizens, not government employees or the like. While we cannot compare the crimes of Iran or Assad, for example, to the decisions of grand juries in Ferguson and New York, the latter clarify the depth of the racial crisis in American society.

The Attack on Abu Dhabi
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed /Asharq AlAwsat
Tuesday, 9 Dec, 2014
The recent attack in Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahsa province, which killed eight citizens, was a carefully selected crime with political motives. In killing Saudi Shi’ites, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was attempting to stir turmoil in the region. ISIS committed another terrorist act last week, this time killing an American woman in the UAE’s capital, also for political motives. ISIS itself is just a part of the larger movement—an ambiguous organization with links to regional regimes—but it does not branch out far from the mother organization: Al-Qaeda. We already knew that Al-Qaeda targeted specific countries, the same countries it targets today: Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and others. These countries should not settle for a strategy of confronting organized violence by dismantling the largest possible number of terrorist groups, which use citizens from different nationalities. The security-based approach has proven effective against terrorism and minimizing losses to it, but the parties supporting and facilitating terrorism need to be dealt with as well, which requires wide-ranging regional political cooperation. It is normal to be skeptical about the countries accused of hosting or helping these terrorist groups by turning a blind eye to their financial activities, but we cannot plainly accuse them, at least not now.
The terrorist’s decision to target countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, will require a new degree of coordination and political activity that does not tolerate any entity, whether a state or a group, which facilitates terrorism, either ideologically or with material support. Terrorism is not a new phenomenon for the governments of the region; a number of serious attacks over the pas decade have given security services experience in combating its, and in cooperation both regionally and internationally.
If incidents like the murder of the American teacher in Abu Dhabi and the attack on a Husseiniya (Shiite religious gathering) in Saudi Arabia were the opening salvo of a war, we should take extra measures and prepare for worse to come. However, if they are just isolated incidents, remaining firm and resolute will deliver a strong message to others. Today, the situation in the region is more complex and serious than seen during the past decade of terrorism. War is ongoing in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and partly in Egypt. As battles rage in some countries, it is only to be expected for some parties within the region will try to turn this to their advantage, perhaps even by dragging their battles to the borders of more stable countries. Confronting these actions and the brainwashed minds that facilitate them will be much easier if the parties behind them are identified.

Does Qassem Suleimani’s media exposure benefit Iran?
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard /Al Arabiya
Monday, 8 December 2014
Iranian Commander Qassem Suleimani of the Quds Force is a fascinating character. Much talked about in political and media circles, Suleimani does not need an introduction. He is said to be a powerful man who is close to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and is thought to be a master at guerilla warfare.This year, a photo surfaced on the Internet, seeming to show the commander standing with Iraqi Kurds in Amerli. The authenticity of the photo was speculated upon but the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, of which the Quds Force is an arm, has not denied nor confirmed the authenticity of the photo. “During this transitional phase, the nuclear issue is the main problem for Iran but the country’s military activities in the region are also important”
Then, more photos were published purportedly showing Suleimani praying, surrounded by jubilant Kurds. The shadowy commander was even featured on the cover of News Week magazine in November. What’s next? A line of Qassem Suleimani action figurines?
On Friday December 5, a senior official with the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) said the country’s enemies have waged a psychological war against Iran by spotlighting IRGC Quds Force Commander Major General Qassem Suleimani to downgrade this mythic figure.
Allowing himself to be photographed and published wildly around the world couldn’t be Suleimani’s private decision. It must be an attempt to change his status to suit the current regional circumstances.The Islamic Republic of Iran has been transformed due to the new generation of politicians pursuing different approaches to the world, especially toward the United States. Once Qassem Suleimani was a wanted figure, now the acceptance of Iran’s fight against ISIS has validated this man. During this transitional phase, the nuclear issue is the main problem for Iran but the country’s military activities in the region are also important. Using Suleimani’s image to present a new face of Iran is a positive move and has justified Iran’s presence in its neighbors. The next step is to create a new definition of regional militant groups such as Hezbollah, which has been thought of as Iran’s collaborator. Dismantling Hezbollah or the Quds Force is not an easy task and may not even be possible but absorbing them into the bigger body of the country’s forces is possible.
Long term strategy
Maybe this is a long term strategy but at least this strategy could make such militants seem less threatening and could see them being accepted by international public opinion. Being influential and powerful doesn’t necessarily equate to being frightening, actually this could amount to gaining admiration and respect from the public.
During the recent visit by Lebanon’s defense minister to Tehran, Iran’s head of national security stated that Iran would provide military equipment and assistance to the Lebanese army which highlights a shift in the Republic’s foreign policy.
In my opinion the changing role of Iran’s army has already become apparent, especially with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s remark that “I think it’s self-evident that if Iran is taking on ISIS in some particular place and it’s confined to taking on ISIS and it has an impact … the net effect is positive.” Secretary of State John Kerry was asked if he was aware of any Iranian airstrikes in Iraq and whether he thought they were helpful in the fight against the militants. Kerry went a step further, saying Iranian airstrikes wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. Certainly this is a new phenomenon in the relations between Iran and the Unites States since the revolution, thanks to the new generation of Iranian diplomats who are educated, skilled and have the supreme leader’s trust to improve Iran’s images.
The U.S.’s seeming approval of Iran’s reported actions on the ground seem to show their approval of Suleimani’s role and all this should be made more public once the nuclear deal is sealed.This article was first published in al-Hayat on December 8, 2014.

After alleged Israeli strike, the ball is now in Assad's court
Alex Fishman/Ynetnews/Published: 12.09.14/ Israel Opinion
Analysis: Is it feasible that someone has come up with the idea of trying to heat things up along the northern border in an effort to create a political agenda for the upcoming elections? We've finally placed the decision concerning the agenda of the upcoming elections in the hands of a "serious man" – Bashar Assad. The manner in which the Syrians respond to what they say were Israel Air Force strikes on two targets in the area of Damascus will dictate the headlines and public discourse over the weeks and months ahead.
We've finally placed the decision concerning the agenda of the upcoming elections in the hands of a "serious man" – Bashar Assad. The manner in which the Syrians respond to what they say were Israel Air Force strikes on two targets in the area of Damascus will dictate the headlines and public discourse over the weeks and months ahead. It's safe to assume that if Assad does choose to respond, it won't be in the form of rocket and missile fire at Israel; he'll go instead for a more low-profile model of terror attacks along the border or other targets that will make Israel think twice in the future. Damascus is already furious about what it defines as "the daily assistance" Israel is providing to the Syrian rebels.
The Syrians' linking of the air strike to the assistance Israel is giving the rebels in their war against Assad's regime was not coincidental. Will the latest attack be the straw that breaks the Syrian camel's back and heats things up along the border? It's safe to assume, too, that prior to the air strike – if Israel was indeed behind it – the military experts assessed that Assad would prefer to refrain from igniting the border, knowing he would pay a heavy price for such a move. In general, however, when it comes to the workings of the minds of Arab leaders, the intelligence assessments have a 50-percent hit rate – maybe or maybe not. It's safe to assume that if Assad does choose to respond, it won't be in the form of rocket and missile fire at Israel; he'll go instead for a more low-profile model of terror attacks along the border or other targets that will make Israel think twice in the future. Damascus is already furious about what it defines as "the daily assistance" Israel is providing to the Syrian rebels.
The Syrians' linking of the air strike to the assistance Israel is giving the rebels in their war against Assad's regime was not coincidental. Will the latest attack be the straw that breaks the Syrian camel's back and heats things up along the border? It's safe to assume, too, that prior to the air strike – if Israel was indeed behind it – the military experts assessed that Assad would prefer to refrain from igniting the border, knowing he would pay a heavy price for such a move. In general, however, when it comes to the workings of the minds of Arab leaders, the intelligence assessments have a 50-percent hit rate – maybe or maybe not.
What could stave off a Syrian response is the fact that the Syrians know all too well what was attacked on Sunday in their territory, and they are also well aware of Israel's red lines. Behind-the-scenes messages on the matter have been relayed to them in the past; and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has also listed them in public – the violation of Israeli sovereignty, the transfer of chemical weapons to Lebanon, and the transfer to Hezbollah of quality arms that could undermine Israel's "operational supremacy."
Sunday's air strike, attributed to Israel, seems to have been prompted by a red-lines transgression in the high-quality arms category. Transferring such arms to Hezbollah is a four-stage process, with the first being the delivery of the weapons to Lebanon. Every week, a Russian vessel docks in the port city of Tartus with an arms shipment for the Syrian Army, some of which ends up in the hands of Hezbollah. The Iranians also send weapons to Hezbollah on regularly scheduled flights to the airport in Damascus. For political reasons, Israel refrains from taking any action at this stage of the process. The seven reportedly Israeli strikes on Syrian soil were carried out in the other three stages of the process – the weapons training that Hezbollah members undergo on Syrian soil, storage of the arms in Syria, and the stage at which the arms are transported from Syria to Lebanon. One of the most fortified places in Syria today is the Damascus airport. It’s the Assad regime's Stalingrad – it'll be the last place to fall; and that's why a significant number of Hezbollah's arms dumps are located within the airport perimeter. Sunday's air strike targeted such arms dumps. Hezbollah has a tendency to try to smuggle weapons in the winter, under the cover of stormy weather, which, the organization believes, could hamper efforts to locate the convoy. Furthermore, in light of the recent successes notched up by the rebels in their assaults on Syrian military installations, coupled with concerns that the rebels could lay their hands on the Hezbollah arms warehouses too, Hezbollah is under more pressure than ever before to transfer the equipment from Syria to Lebanon. Is it feasible that someone has come up with the idea of trying to heat things up along the northern border in an effort to create a political agenda for the upcoming elections? It's certainly not Defense Minister Ya'alon's style, and one would be hard pressed to find a military official who'd be willing to lend a hand to such a move. Moreover, one cannot completely rule out the possibility that an operation of this kind was approved in principle prior to the announcement about early elections. The army is usually the one to present objectives, threats and concrete plans; and the political echelon, including the cabinet, either approves or rejects them. The execution date is dictated in keeping with intelligence developments and operational capabilities.
The current cabinet is a neutered one. Three of its members – Tzipi Livni, Yair Lapid and Yaakov Peri (who was an observer) – have left, and it remains very unbalanced and comprised primarily of hawks: Benjamin Netanyahu, Ya'alon, Avigdor Lieberman, Naftali Bennett, Gilad Erden, Yitzhak Aharonovich, and Yuval Steinitz as an observer. This is a group that needs to show restraint when it comes to making decisions these days. Ya'alon is obliged to remain particularly vigilant – and not allow anyone to make irresponsible use of the defense establishment.

Lebanon’s hostage Dilemma: A crisis cell in crisis
Dec. 08, 2014The Daily Star
The Lebanese government’s ongoing saga with the captors of 26 military and security personnel took a tragic turn late Friday when the Nusra Front executed a captive, Ali Bazzal. The media spent much of the weekend covering reactions to the killing – both by distraught family members of the captives and angry residents of their hometowns – but the government’s reaction deserves the most attention. Bazzal’s killing was preceded by the latest visit to Lebanon by a Qatari mediator, but his arrival was aimed at securing the release of a female Qatari national from Syria, and not ending the hostage standoff, according to media reports. The government’s performance has been so mired in confusion that the hostages’ families have given up on seeing officials do anything useful – it’s time for a new, unambiguous course of action. Officials should dispense with the services of non-Lebanese negotiators and middle-men, whether they’re from Qatar, Turkey or elsewhere. They should open a direct channel to the captors, but before this is done, a clear road map should be produced. Officials have stressed the need for secrecy in the negotiations, but there are times when certain things should be made public. Officials should identify who is and who is not eligible to be traded; ideally, anyone suspected of involvement of violent acts against Lebanese nationals should be removed from a prospective swap list. Practically the entire public is now aware that the so-called “crisis cell” managing the hostage issue is in crisis itself – it’s time for people to hear the government speak with one voice, and not one that merely repeats reassuring rhetoric that proves later to be tragically false.

Qatar ends mediation of Lebanon’s hostage crisis
Dec. 08, 2014 | 12:40 AM
The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Qatar ended its mediation of Lebanon’s hostage crisis Sunday after the killing of Lebanese policeman Ali Bazzal, as the Lebanese government struggled to contain the fallout of the murder and anger mounted among the families of the 25 remaining captives.
Qatar’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it had launched the mediation efforts upon the request of Lebanon, and for strictly humanitarian reasons. But it said it was putting an end to its mediation after its effort to resolve the crisis failed. Qatar said it regreted the killing of Bazzal and it renewed its commitment to exert all diplomatic efforts to save lives. During condolences in the eastern village of Bazzalieh – Bazzal’s hometown – members of the families made speeches accusing the Lebanese government of inaction and negligence.
The “sluggish” performance of the committee – made up of ministers and security officials – tasked with overseeing the hostages file, also drew the criticism of Speaker Nabih Berri Sunday. Berri told his visitors that the involvement of multiple intermediaries at once made the issue even more complicated and he called on the appointment of a single security figure to take charge of the file.
“They [the government] need to agree on one security figure [and task him] with overseeing the file in coordination with the government. A specialized [security] expert needs to deal with that file,” Berri said. “We have a lot of strong [bargaining chips] that we have yet to use.”A concise statement, issued after an emergency meeting of the crisis cell Saturday evening, said the committee took “necessary decisions” and reiterated that the government and the Lebanese were united in the fight to release the abducted servicemen and safeguard Lebanon’s security.The Nusra Front announced that it had executed Bazzal late Friday in a tweet with a picture of a man said to be of the captive with a machine gun firing shots at his head. “Our revenge will not be [taken] against Arsal,” one of the parents said during a news conference from Bazzalieh, in reference to the northeastern border village from where the captives were abducted by jihadis in August.
“Our revenge will be taken against the Grand Serail,” he added, in reference to the headquarters of the Lebanese government. “You have never known courage,” one parent said, addressing Prime Minister Tammam Salam, calling on him to act quickly to free the 25 remaining captives. Some of the families in north Lebanon blocked for a second day the Qalamoun road in north Lebanon linking Tripoli to Beirut, but they reopened it Sunday evening. The families had closed the Qalamoun road and the highway linking Downtown Beirut to the capital’s port – a main artery – after news emerged of Bazzal’s killing late Friday, bringing traffic to a standstill across the capital. The families have been camped outside the Grand Serail in Downtown Beirut over the last two months to pressure the government to negotiate the release of the servicemen.
More than 30 policemen and soldiers were abducted by militants from ISIS and the Nusra Front during a five-day battle with the Army in Arsal in August. Four have since been executed, and seven released. Residents of the village of Bazzalieh also issued a warning overnight Saturday to all Syrians residing in areas surrounding the town, calling on refugees to immediately evacuate the area. Tensions between refugees and Lebanese host communities heightened after the Bazzalieh residents vowed to prevent aid from reaching Syrian refugees.Bazzal’s family described Syrians living in Arsal, in the northeastern region bordering Syria, as “a bunch of terrorists, takfiris and not refugees, and that was evident when they attacked the Army in Arsal.”
“We will not allow any international or local organization to transport aid to these terrorists ... and anyone who blocks a road in solidarity with them will be supporting terrorists.” Hours after the Nusra Front announced in a tweet that it had executed Bazzal, residents of Bazzalieh kidnapped three men near the town. The kidnappers shot and wounded a Syrian man who accompanied the three. He was transferred to a Baalbek hospital. The three have since been released, thanks to efforts by Speaker Berri, he revealed to his visitors. “I have contributed to the release of the three men, but the [kidnappers] have yet to deliver to us the bodies of any of the servicemen they killed,” he said. Assailants set fire to Syrian refugee tents in northern Lebanon Sunday, hours after gunmen shot dead a Syrian child and wounded a man in the northeast.
Early Sunday, unidentified gunmen opened fire on Syrian refugee tents in the northeastern town of Ras Baalbek, a security source said. He said one Syrian child was killed and a Syrian man wounded in the attack. Syrian refugee tents were also burned in the village of Mashha in Akkar early Saturday, after a statement was issued by local residents demanding Syrians leave the village. No casualties were registered. In a statement issued on its Twitter account, the Nusra Front vowed to kill more servicemen if Lebanese authorities fail to release the women and children it had arrested on suspicion of links with jihadi groups. Saja al-Dulaimi, the ex-wife of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and their daughter and two sons are being detained by Lebanese authorities. Also in custody are Ola Mithqal al-Oqaily, the wife of ISIS commander Anas Sharkas and her two children, a 4-year-old and a 6-month-old. The Muslim Scholars Committee, a gathering of Salafist sheikhs, issued a proposal over the weekend, titled “The Dignity and Safety Initiative.” It calls for the release of the detained women in return for the freeing of the 25 servicemen. The sheikhs also called on the government to approve a swap deal.“Swapping the captives for the detained is a necessity just like the extension of [Parliament’s] mandate was a necessity and the dialogue [between the Future Movement and Hezbollah] was [portrayed to be] a necessity.”The killing of Bazzal drew condemnations from across the political spectrum, including the Future Movement and Hezbollah.

The covert war against Hezbollah’s arms program
By YAAKOV LAPPIN \ 12/08/2014/J.Post
Israel strikes against Syria may be linked to Iranian...
Every once in a while, the covert war against the Hezbollah- Syrian-Iranian arms smuggling network seems to break out into the public sphere. It is safe to assume this can occur when Israel’s defense establishment detects an imminent attempt by that network to transfer advanced weapons to the terrorist organization in Lebanon, thereby violating Israel’s redline against such smuggling. Hardly a week passes without Israel blocking – in one way or another – an Iranian arms smuggling attempt, though most such actions remain covert, far from the public eye. These efforts possibly involve close cooperation between Military Intelligence, the Mossad and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency). The Assad regime, despite its dwindling control of Syria, remains Hezbollah’s main weapons depot, from where both Syrian-made and Iranian-produced arms often pass through en route to Hezbollah storage facilities in Lebanon. When this happens, Israel’s choice is to either intervene, or watch closely and map out the location of the arms once they are stored in Lebanese apartment buildings and bunkers. Despite its heavy and ongoing involvement in the Syrian civil war, Hezbollah has never ceased its massive build-up of projectiles, which is estimated to number more than 100,000.
Nearly all are earmarked for future use against Israel. The fact that Israel may be forced to choose to act this year against Iran’s nuclear program, which would lead Iran to activate its proxy, Hezbollah, for retaliation, raises the stakes in this covert struggle.
According to IDF assessments, Hezbollah ranks fifth in the world in terms of the of firepower it can deploy. While most of this arsenal is made up of unguided short-range rockets, Hezbollah has been placing an increased emphasis on acquiring guided longrange rockets and missiles, which pose a greater threat to strategic sites within the Israeli home front and assets like offshore natural gas rigs. According to foreign media reports, past unconfirmed Israeli air strikes in Syria, targeted guided Iranian Fateh- 110 missiles, Yakhont surface-to-sea missiles and advanced air defense systems, on their way to Hezbollah. There have been at least five such reported strikes in 2013, and an additional alleged strike on a Hezbollah base in eastern Lebanon this year. The latter strike prompted Hezbollah to plant two bombs in the Har Dov region on the Israeli-Lebanese border, wounding two IDF paratroopers in October, and signaling a new readiness by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah to respond openly to supposed Israeli strikes. At the heart of the arms network is Iran’s Quds Force and its commander, often described as a skilled mastermind, Kassem Soleimani. The Quds Force, a part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, was the unit behind an attempt to ship Syrian-made M-302 heavy rockets to Gaza – a smuggling run that Israel uncovered and intercepted this year, to Iran’s disappointment. If Sunday’s reports of fresh Israeli air strikes on targets near Damascus are true, Iran, Hezbollah and Syria will likely be trying to figure out whether – and how – to respond. Their decision will be heavily influenced by their perception of Israel’s deterrence, and their ongoing war against a myriad of Sunni rebels in Syria.

Special Tribunal for Lebanon/Rafic Hariri killers used cell phones to lay false trail to Tripoli
Kareem Shaheen| The Daily Star/Dec. 08, 2014
BEIRUT: A new court document has shed fresh light on a mysterious network of telephones used by a team of assassins who allegedly killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and their efforts to implicate the city of Tripoli in the crime.
Late last week, prosecutors at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon asked the trial chamber to admit the testimony of eight witnesses whose IDs were used to fraudulently buy SIM cards used by the assassination squad to carry out the Hariri assassination plan on Feb. 14, 2005 – the so-called “red network” of telephones. “All of the statements pertain to residents of Tripoli, whose names were listed as the subscribers of the Red Network phones but whose identification documents were used without their knowledge,” the prosecution said in a court filing. “The prosecution further alleges that the Red Network SIM cards were purchased and topped up with credit in Tripoli for the purpose of laying a false trail of responsibility for the attack, by suggesting that the perpetrators were based in Tripoli,” prosecutors added.
The “red network” has long been a key mystery and stumbling block for investigators. The telephones were identified as early as 2005, and their users are believed by prosecutors to have been the individuals who tracked Hariri on the day of the attack and carried out the bombing. Red network phones were operated from Jan 4, 2005, and all of them ceased working two minutes before the assassination. But almost none of the individuals who used those telephones have been identified – the only one who has is the alleged leader of the assassination squad, a man identified as Salim Jamil Ayyash. Ayyash, who prosecutors say is a supporter of Hezbollah, is related by marriage to Mustafa Badreddine, a Hezbollah commander accused of complicity in the attack and who is related to the party’s assassinated military chief Imad Mughniyeh. In addition to Badreddine and Ayyash, the STL indicted three other Hezbollah members in connection with the attack. Their trial in absentia is ongoing in The Hague.
All of the red network telephones were activated in Tripoli and purchased using forged IDs of city residents, suggesting that the assassins believed the SIM cards would eventually be tracked by investigators, and sought to misdirect them toward the Sunni-majority northern city. In their statements, all of the witnesses who were registered as the owners of the red network telephones said they were not the actual users of the phones. They had all purchased new mobile phones or handsets from shops in Tripoli before the attack, and the ID cards they used at the time were used later to fraudulently buy the telephones for the assassins.
The mobile phone dealer who sold the red network telephones is a witness who is expected to testify before the court. The alleged assassins also purchased the Mitsubishi Canter van used in the attack from a shop in the Tripoli suburb of Beddawi, prosecutors claim.
This supposedly false trail to Tripoli is not the only element of the case that prosecutors say is faked: another is the televised confession of a man called Ahmad Abu Adass, who took credit for the attack on behalf of a fictional group of Sunni militants.
Abu Adass had disappeared from his home days before the assassination with one of the suspects during a supposed trip to Tripoli. The suspect later called Abu Adass’ family and told them their son had decided to go to Iraq to fight the American occupation.
But a video aired on Al-Jazeera on the same day as the Hariri assassination featured Abu Adass claiming responsibility on behalf of a group called Nusra and Jihad in Greater Syria. Prosecutors say the confession was coerced and part of a broader plot to mislead the investigation. The mystery of the missing assassins has fed into alternative theories in the Hariri case. Some argue only Ayyash was a member of the assassination team, and the other suspects, all supporters of Hezbollah, may have simply been conducting routine surveillance or were unaware of a broader plot to assassinate Lebanon’s former premier. “Right now there is nothing that reveals the content of these telephone conversations between the accused,” defense lawyer Antoine Korkmaz said at the start of the trial in January. “These telephone conversations do not necessarily mean there is a plot to kill someone.”
It also raises serious questions about the failure of the investigation to identify the individuals on the ground who supposedly carried out the attack, as well as the possibility that those individuals were drawn from extremist groups who have so far not been implicated in the case.Some defense lawyers have raised the possibility that the attack was in fact carried out by fundamentalists, pointing to the confessions of a cell of 13 individuals who were arrested by the Lebanese authorities after the attack and who admitted to complicity in the Hariri assassination but later recanted their testimony.
Prosecutors are seeking to admit the testimony on the red network telephones as they launch into the second phase of the trial, which will look at the political context of Hariri’s killing and the breakdown of relations with Syria and President Bashar Assad in the run-up to the attack, as well as the raft of telecommunications evidence that allegedly implicates the suspects in the surveillance and killing of the charismatic Prime Minister. MP Marwan Hamade is expected to resume his testimony on the tense relations between Hariri and Assad Monday, before being cross-examined by defense lawyers.

Ahmad Hariri mobilizes Future Movement in Bekaa Valley
The Daily Star/Dec. 08, 2014 /CHTAURA, Lebanon: A top Future Movement official launched an internal dialogue over the weekend with the party’s base in the Bekaa Valley, hoping to roll back Hezbollah’s influence in the region and to promote an anticipated dialogue with the party.The Future Movement’s Secretary-General Ahmad Hariri met with Bekaa Valley officials at Chtaura’s Park Hotel during a two-day visit in which he discussed the upcoming dialogue with Hezbollah and its necessity amid the ongoing problems facing the country.Officials hope the anticipated dialogue will reduce sectarian tensions in the region, which have been exacerbated by the ongoing captivity and killing of Lebanese servicemen by ISIS and the Nusra Front.
Hariri’s meetings focused on the need to mobilize the Future Movement in the Bekaa in order to rebuild the party’s influence in light of the rise of extremist movements. Hariri stressed the need to support the Lebanese Army in the face of allegations that the military is discriminating against Sunnis, and heard concerns from local officials about Future’s decline in the region. “Our political sacrifices ... pale in comparison to the great sacrifices of the Lebanese Army,” Hariri said at a dinner during his tour. “What is happening to the Lebanese Army in the form of terrorist attacks has nothing to with political differences, but is linked to the insanity of Hezbollah’s complicity in Syria which opened hell on Lebanon and the Lebanese.”
Hariri told visitors of the need for dialogue but also stressed that the Future Movement does not trust Hezbollah, and that the dialogue may eventually reach a stalemate. But he said the dialogue would not confer legitimacy to Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria or its opposition to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is trying five members of the party for their alleged complicity in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Attendees at Hariri’s meetings stressed the need for the Future Movement to launch new projects in the Bekaa Valley that would provide new jobs for citizens and boost the party’s support.
Hariri lamented the killing of policeman Ali Bazzal, who was killed Friday by Nusra while in captivity. But he said the killing should not lead to sectarian tensions and the militants ought to be combatted by promoting coexistence.

Islam: Built on the Blood of (Christian) Martyrs
By Raymond Ibrahim on December 7, 2014 in Muslim Persecution of Christians
FrontPage Magazine
In a recent interview on CBN News, Andrew White, an Anglican priest known as the “Vicar of Baghdad,” tried to recount the horrific atrocities Christians in Iraq are suffering at the hands of the Islamic State. After explaining how Christian minorities fled Baghdad to Ninevah when Islamic militants began terrorizing them and bombing their churches, White said:
Then one day, ISIS, the Islamic State, the Islamic caliphate came [to Ninevah] and they hounded all of them [Christians] out. Not some, all of them. And they killed huge numbers. They chopped their children in half; they chopped their heads off.
It should be noted that the targeting of Christian children in Iraq goes back years before the creation of ISIS. For example, in June 2008, a Canadian parliamentary committee heard about how “militant Muslims” were crucifying Christian children: “Since the war began in 2003, about 12 children, many as young as 10, have been kidnapped and killed, then nailed to makeshift crosses near their homes to terrify and torment their parents.”
During his interview, White offered the following, likely surreal to Western sensibilities, anecdote:
ISIS turned up and they said to the [Christian] children, “You say the words [shehada, convert to Islam], that you will follow Muhammad.” And the children, all under 15, four of them, they said, “No, we love Jesus [Yesua]. We have always loved Jesus. We have always followed Jesus. Jesus has always been with us.” They [ISIS] said, “Say the words!” They [children] said, “No, we can’t.” [White starts sobbing] They chopped all their heads off. How do you respond to that? You just cry. They’re my children. That is what we have been going through. That is what we are going through.
As callous as it is to say, perhaps these faithful children are better off. After all, ISIS members have been known to compel Christians to convert to Islam, and still cruelly hack their heads off—thus damning them twice.
Similarly, in one of his Facebook postings, White wrote:
Today’s Pictures are too awful to show. You know I love to show photos but the photo I was sent today was the most awful I have ever seen. A family of 8 all shot through the face laying in a pool of blood with their Bible open on the couch. They would not convert it cost them their life.
During his CBN interview, White also told of how ISIS members came to a Christian man saying, “Either you convert to Islam or we kill all your children.” The desperate father declared the words, the shehada, that “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah,” thus becoming a Muslim. Contrite at heart, he phoned White crying, “Abouna, abouna [father, father] I said the words! Does that mean Jesus doesn’t love me anymore? I’ve always loved Jesus but I said those words because I couldn’t see my children being killed!”
White responded: “No Elias, Jesus still loves you—he will always love you.”
The two types of anecdotes offered by White—Christians refusing to embrace Islam and dying for it, and Christians embracing Islam under duress—are an integral part of how the “Islamic world,” the majority of which was almost entirely Christian before the Islamic conquests, came into being: a historic fact Western people were once well acquainted with, before the current age of political correctness and alternate realities.
A historic anecdote that combines the twain—forced conversion to Islam followed by Christian remorse—comes from Egypt:
In 1389, a great procession of Copts who had accepted Muhammad under fear of death, marched through Cairo. Repenting of their apostasy, they now wished to atone for it by the inevitable consequence of returning to Christianity. So as they marched, they announced that they believed in Christ and renounced Muhammad. They were seized and all the men were beheaded one after another in an open square before the women. But this did not terrify the women; so they, too, were all martyred (Crucified Again, pgs. 113-114).
First forced to convert and then forced to remain in Islam—both on pain of death: these are two facts of Islam, past and present; facts that, according to top ranking Islamic cleric Sheikh Qaradawi are responsible for the existence of Islam today. Just ask Sudan’s Meriam Ibrahim, Egypt’s Muhammad Hegazy, or Iran’s (rather America’s forsaken) Saeed Abedini.
Aside from the numerous historic accounts of Christians slaughtered for refusing Islam—whether 100,000 Georgian beheaded or burned alive, or a “mere” 813 Italians beheaded—Christians are still being forced to convert to Islam, and not just at the hands of ISIS:
•Palestine, July 2012: Christians in Gaza protested over the “kidnappings and forced conversions of some former believers to Islam.” The ever-dwindling Christian community banged on a church bell while chanting, “With our spirit, with our blood we will sacrifice ourselves for you, Jesus.”
•Pakistan: In 2004, a-two-year old child was raped because her Christian father “refused to convert to Islam.” Another “devoted Christian” was butchered by Muslim men “with multiple axe blows [24 per autopsy] for refusing to convert to Islam.” In April 2014, A Muslim security guard murdered a Christian worker who refused to convert to Islam.
•Uganda, July 2014: After a gang of Muslims brandishing machetes stormed a church during service, hacking one 18-year-old woman to death and leaving three others, including a one-year-old baby, injured, the pastor explained that the attackers belong to a local “group of Muslims” which seeks “to transform [Christian-majority] Uganda into an Islamic nation and would kill anyone who refused to convert.”
•Nigeria, May 2014: A Christian teenage girl told of how Boko Haram came to her household and slaughtered her father and brother because they refused to convert to Islam. After abusing her, they tied her up and left her in a state of shock between the two corpses.
•Bangladesh, October 2013: After shutting down the construction of a church, a local government official threatened Christians with eviction from their village unless they renounced their faith and embraced Islam. Said one of the Christians: “Their threats chilled me to the bone. That is why I pretended to accept Islam, but faith in Christ is the wellspring of my life.” Another said: “The chairman is clipping the wings of our faith. I do not know how long we can grin and bear it. We want religious freedom. We want to practice our religion freely.”
•Russia, 2013: In Tatarstan, a Muslim-majority republic in Russia, seven churches were burned and “increased pressure on Christians to convert to Islam” was widespread.
•Uzbekistan, August 2012: A 26-year-old Christian woman, partially paralyzed from youth, and her elderly mother were violently attacked by invaders who ransacked their home, confiscating “icons, Bibles, religious calendars, and prayer books.” At the police department, the paralyzed woman was “offered to convert to Islam.” She refused and was accordingly fined almost two years’ worth of her wages.
Pakistan, Uganda, Russia, Nigeria, Palestine, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh: these are not “ISIS.” Yet Christians there are experiencing the same intolerance and violence that Christians under ISIS are experiencing.
The lesson? If all around the Muslim world Christian minorities are being forced to embrace Islam, often on pain of death, the very least the non-Muslim world can do is embrace the fact that Islam is inherently hostile—a costly lesson that countless innocents have been paying for nearly 1,400 years.
For if Christianity is built on the blood of Christian martyrs, apparently so is Islam.