LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation For Today/The
Fulfillment of the Law, Murder, Adultery
Matthew 05/17-30: "“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’[d] is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.".
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on February
Kobani: They resisted and won...no Taef, no Doha/Walid Phares/February 01/15
Let Hezbollah and Islamic State destroy one another/Guy Bechor/Ynetnews/February02/15
No rules of engagement mean no more red lines with Israel/Samya Kullab/The Daily Star/February 02/15
The hidden US message to Israel behind the leaked reports of the Mughniyeh assassination/By YOSSI MELMAN/J.Post/February 01/15
Iran’s human rights failure/BENJAMIN WEINTHAL/J.Post/February 01/15
Imad Mughniyeh and Hezbollah's Shadow War: A Washington Institute Backgrounder/Matthew Levitt/February 01/15
Egypt's turning on Hamas won't solve Israel's Gaza problem/Zvi Bar'el/Haaretz/February 01/15
Lebanese Related News published on February 01-02/15
9 Dead, 20 Hurt in Bombing of Bus Carrying Lebanese Pilgrims in Damascus
French Envoy, Girault Returns to Beirut Monday with Low Expectations on Ending Presidential Impasse
Future officials slam Nasrallah’s speech
Fiery Speech of Hezbollah fallout to spare Future-Hezbollah talks
Shadi Mawlawi still in Ain al-Hilweh: report
Report: Salam Hopes to Boroujerdi that Iran's Ties to Lebanon 'Would Serve all Lebanese'
Corruption the cause of Lebanon’s misery: Rai
Report: March 14 Camp to Announce Political Roadmap on 10th Anniversary of its Inception
Sacked Lebanon Casino staff reject new committee to end standoff
Suspected Defected Syrian Soldier Arrested in Akkar
ISF explosives unit kept busy in times of turmoil
UNRWA facing greater challenges as funds dry up
Future officials slam Nasrallah’s speech
Speech fallout to spare Future-Hezbollah talks
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
Mosul deteriorates under IS occupation
Israeli Foreign Minister: Third Lebanon war inevitable
Serbia grants citizenship to Dahlan
ISIS in full swing under ex-Iraqi general: 70 deaths in a month, on the march in 10 countries
Sisi: "Egypt faces long, tough battle against militants"
Egypt releases and deports Australian Al Jazeera journalist
ISIS executes second Japanese hostage
Two wounded in car explosion south of Tel Aviv: media
Airstrikes hit 76 ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria
U.N.: Iraq Violence Killed 1,375 in January
Kurdish forces free oil workers in Kirkuk
Two U.S. Defense Contractors Wounded in Saudi Shooting
ISIS claims beheading of Iraqi security personnel
British mosques hold open day after Paris attacks
Fraud, organized crime costing Africa billions per year: study
Tunisia’s Islamist party agrees to join coalition government
Suicide bombing in Nigeria kills 7: police, witnesses
Saudi Beheads Murderer, 5th Execution under New King
Jordan vows to save life of ISIS-held pilot
Houthis set deadline to unravel Yemen crisis
Jihad Watch Site Latest Reports
Obama: “Overwhelming majority of Muslims reject” jihadists’ view of Islam
Charlie Hebdo editor criticizes hypocrisy of “I Am Charlie” world leaders
Saudis free woman jailed for “insulting Islam”
Japanese PM “infuriated” by Islamic State’s murder of Japanese hostage
Marvel Comics Muslima superhero on a jihad against free speech
The whole city is in fear”: Boko Haram jihadis attack Nigerian city
Dalai Lama: Unfair to associate terrorism with Islam
Islamic State destroying all books other than Islamic texts
Human Rights Act has helped 28 jihad terrorists stay in UK
Kyrgyztsan: 1,000 Muslims rally: “I am not Charlie, I love my Prophet.”
Kobani: They resisted and won...no
Taef, no Doha...
In past decades it was said that: had it not been for Taef or for Doha (where deals were cut favoring Syria and Hezbollah's roles in exchange of few seats for politicians in the central Government), free Lebanon in 1990 and the Cedars Revolution in 2008 would have perished. Wrong indeed. Look at the Kurds of Kobani celebrating their victory, even partial, even momentarily, in dances. The Lebanese people produced dozens of Kobanis in the 1980s and produced the first popular revolution in the Middle East in 2005, but their politicians didn't go to the end of the popular energy. They stopped the ship before it reaches destination. "We have no international cover" they said. Since when resistance movements waited for the international cover. Resistance movements stand up, and international backing comes after, not the other way around. Kobani's Kurds were surrounded from all fronts, including from Turkey yet they fought with all what they've got. It is only after and because they fought, that Coalition warplanes bombed ISIS around the city. It was only because the city fought. The Pentagon declared Kobani lost for days, but the Kurds fought on, retaining only 30 percent of the city. It is only when the young men and women showed the world that there will be no surrender, that public opinion moved and air strikes intensified. No resistance, no support. The courage displayed by the young men, and especially young women, wasn't unique to that part of Syria and the Middle East. It was seen in Zahle, Ashrafieh and Qnat in the 1980s against the Assad armies but the resistance was terminated by the so-called Taef agreement of 1989. Decades later, the Lebanese rose again in West Beirut, Aley and the Chouf in 2008 against Hezbollah's aggression, and again politicians ran to Doha, crying that there is no international support, ignoring their own popular resistance. In Syria, a a small city of Kobani won without a Taef agreement or a Doha deal. Why? Because their politicians were on the front lines leading the fight. That is the lesson for the third generation of Lebanese today. The rest is arguments consumed and re-consumed again, unable to convince us of otherwise...
The hidden US message to Israel behind
the leaked reports of the Mughniyeh assassination
By YOSSI MELMAN/J.Post
Besides the message for the people of Israel and for Netanyahu, the media reports of the joint Mossad-CIA mission also serve Israeli security interests.
It is hard to believe that the timing was coincidental.
Whoever leaked the details of the 2008 joint Mossad-CIA assassination of Hezbollah operational chief Imad Mughniyeh to two US newspapers, and certainly to a paper like The Washington Post, (the second one was Newsweek), did not do so capriciously. Most likely someone wanted to send the following message to the people of Israel and also to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: You need us. Look at the extent of the cooperation between our intelligence communities, which risks being damaged due to the discordant policies of your prime minister. This was the nature of the hidden message behind the leaked assassination operation.
The leak is surprising because the US usually only confirms its clandestine operations if it takes responsibility for them. In the case of Mughniyeh, neither the US nor Israel claimed responsibility. And there remains room for denial because the source of the leak was an anonymous US official and not an official government statement. The actual details of the leak are less important, and we shall see that some of them are lacking in accuracy.
The impression given from the leaked details is that someone wanted the US to take the lion’s share of the credit for the Mughniyeh assassination. According to the media reports, in the joint operation that killed Hezbollah’s “defense minister,” the Mossad played second fiddle to the CIA who was the senior more central partner. It’s possible that this is a great exaggeration, the truth was entirely different and in fact the Mossad was the dominant player in the operation.
The impression of the Mossad’s primary role rises from the leaked details themselves. It was reported that it was the Mossad who provided the intelligence on Mughniyeh’s movements in Damascus where he had a secret residence. Also, according to the reports, the idea to assassinate Mughniyeh was the brainchild of the head of the Mossad at the time, Meir Dagan. It was noted that the US military and intelligence officials also raised the possibility of assassinating the Hezbollah figure with whom they had an open account for having the blood of hundreds of Americans on his hands.
But for Israel, which followed Mughniyeh’s movements for many years, he was a more important target than he was for the US. According to the report, even though the explosive device in the operation was tested and built in the US, the detonation device was in the hands of the Israelis in Tel Aviv.
A tone of American pride could be heard in the report over the fact that the CIA agents were present in Damascus during the mission. It can be assumed that if the Mossad was a partner in the operation members of its Kidon unit also had a significant on-site presence, as has been published in foreign publications, including in my book co-authored with the American journalist Dan Raviv, Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel’s Secret Wars.
Usually, in highly sensitive assassination operations, the Mossad prefers "blue and white" solo executions, meaning working alone, without partners. Only in rare cases, when the two countries have mutual interests in eliminating the target and they can keep it as a secret without any legal or international implications, or when Israeli intelligence fails to have access, would they then turn to a partner. But, this does not mean that there is no sharing of information and intelligence on targets, without cooperation in fulfilling the ultimate goal.
The reports also mentioned the involvement of Jordanian intelligence. This is also unsurprising for those familiar with the intimate ties between the states.
In contrast to what was written in the report, Mughniyeh was not killed shortly after finishing dinner at a Damascus restaurant, but rather after meeting with his mistress.
Israel’s role in the mission was likely larger than the US role, but there is no battle over credit in this joint operation. Even with the hidden message to the people of Israel and to Netanyahu with the leaking of the details at this time, the report can serve Israel’s security interests as well. The report presents a challenge to Hezbollah and sends it, and Iran, a difficult message: Your conflict is not only with Israel it is also with the US.
**Yossi Melman is an Israeli journalist and writer who specializes in security and intelligence affairs. He is co-author of "Spies Against Armageddon: inside Israel's Secret Wars.
Visit Yossi Melman's blog: www.israelspy.com
Translation by Nathan Wise
No rules of engagement mean no more
red lines with Israel
Samya Kullab/The Daily Star/Feb. 02, 2015
BEIRUT: Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah addressed his supporters on Feb. 17, 2010, in a televised speech to commemorate the killing of both his predecessor Abbas Mousawi, who died during an Israeli air raid in 1992, and Hezbollah’s top military commander Imad Mughniyeh, killed in a car bomb attack in 2008. Their deaths, he promised, would be avenged “in the right time and place, and circumstances.” By threatening to respond to Israeli attacks proportionately – “If you bomb the Rafic Hariri Airport in Beirut, we will bomb Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion,” he told the cheering crowd – Nasrallah gave to observers a frame with which to understand Hezbollah’s confrontation with its enemy.
Five years later the scene would repeat itself, and the promise of revenge was renewed, this time at a ceremony to honor the deaths of six Hezbollah fighters killed in an Israeli airstrike in Syria’s Qunaitra. Among the dead was the son of the late military commander, 25-year-old Jihad Mughniyeh. But on this occasion Narsallah’s vow included a game-changing qualifier.
“We have the right to respond in any place, at any time and in the way we deem appropriate,” he said, signaling that the tacit rules of combat underlying Hezbollah’s war of deterrence with Israel had changed. But how this “new equation,” as Hezbollah deputy commander Naim Qassem referred to the shift, would affect future battles between the warring entities remains to be seen. In the past, the rules of the game were simpler, recalled Timur Goksel, former spokesperson for UNIFIL and professor at the American University of Beirut, who witnessed the gradual evolution of Hezbollah during the ’90s. The first instance in which Hezbollah and Israel agreed to respect red lines was in the Israeli-Lebanese Ceasefire Understanding of April 1996, which concluded Israel’s Operation Grapes of Wrath. In it both sides agreed to avoid attacks on civilians and to use populated villages to launch attacks. The dynamics changed after Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000, after which clashes centered around the still-occupied Shebaa Farms.
“In between, before the 2006 [July War] the rules of the game were not to attack any place beyond Shebaa, the reason being there are no civilians there, it’s a completely militarized zone,” Goksel said.
But in 2006, the equation drastically changed when Israel launched a wide-ranging war in response to a cross-border raid by Hezbollah to kidnap two Israeli soldiers with the hope of exchanging them for captives held by Israel.
“Because the area where Hezbollah carried out the operations was not in Shebaa, everyone said they broke the rules of the game.”
Both the number of casualties and the nature of the target often determined the question of escalation, Goksel explained. Other than civilian deaths, the number of military casualties was also a factor that could determine the severity of counterattack. For instance, had the Hezbollah ambush of an Israeli convoy in Shebaa, in retaliation for the Qunaitra attack, killed 10 and not two soldiers, Goksel believes the blowback would have been far more drawn out.
Qassem Qassir, an expert in Islamic movements, interpreted Nasrallah’s public rejection of the rules of the game to mean attacks could be waged on a wider stage, well beyond the confines of Shebaa. “Now the world is an open field for Hezbollah and Israel to launch attacks,” he said, expecting the Golan Heights to see more military operations in the coming months. “Right now we are in a transitional phase, we need to wait until the dust has settled to see what is going to happen in the region,” he added, predicting that warming U.S.-Iranian relations, as well as developments in Syria, would weigh on military calculations from both sides. “Hezbollah has made it clear that there are no red lines,” he said. “The conflict is open.”
Former Lebanese Army Gen. Elias Hanna disagreed that Nasrallah had done away with rules of engagement. “Nature opposes a void,” he told The Daily Star. “Nasrallah said there are no more rules to the game, but that by itself constitutes a rule of the game.”
The principle of proportionality was never a set standard, he argued, but a strategic calculation considering regional and domestic circumstances in Lebanon and Israel. “If you hit me, I will hit back, this dynamic will create an understanding, an unspoken agreement that everyone comprehends,” he said. “But sometimes there can be miscalculations, this can lead to war.” If one side feels it is in their interest to shift the status quo, which might have provoked Israel’s attack in Qunaitra for instance, each subsequent strike would rewrite the rules, he said.
“The purpose of this is psychological: to create an atmosphere of ambiguity and anxiety that the stakes are rising,” he explained.
“It’s clear no one wants a war now – the situation today is that Israel killed seven and Hezbollah retaliated, everyone is happy – but if we go to war, it will be because it benefits the parties.”
Future officials slam Nasrallah’s
The Daily Star/Feb. 02, 2015
BEIRUT: Former premier Fouad Siniora denounced over the weekend Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s latest speech, describing it as impetuous and dangerous. Speaking during a seminar at the AmericanUniversity of Beirut to commemorate the assassination of former Minister Mohammad Chatah, Siniora slammed Nasrallah’s comments with respect to changing the rules of engagement with Israel.
Nasrallah delivered his speech Friday during a ceremony to honor six Hezbollah fighters killed during the Jan. 18, Israeli airstrike in Syria’s Qunaitra, in which he announced that the rules of engagement between the resistance and Israel had ended.
“Following the Qunaitra operation and the response in the Shebaa Farms, I want to be clear: We in the Islamic Resistance [Hezbollah] in Lebanon are no longer concerned with any such thing as the rules of engagement. We don’t recognize the rules of engagement that have ended,” Nasrallah said in his speech.
Hezbollah retaliated to the Qunaitra attack Wednesday – two days prior to the speech – in an ambush operation that killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded seven in the occupied Shebaa Farms.
Siniora said Nasrallah’s remarks were “unilateral and hasty and eliminate the will of the Lebanese people who are committed to [U.N] Resolution 1701,” which ended the July 2006 War.
Speaker Nabih Berri slammed those criticizing Nasrallah’s speech, saying that the Hezbollah attack on the Israeli military convoy in Shebaa did not breach U.N. Resolution 1701 and was “a clean operation carried out on occupied Lebanese territory.
Ahmad Hariri, Future Movement’s secretary-general, said Saturday that the Lebanese were united against the idea of being dragged into a new war with Israel, “amid living through the ravages of Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria.”
Hariri also denounced the heavy gunfire that accompanied Nasrallah’s speech in areas where Hezbollah enjoys broad support, saying it was a danger to citizens.
As the fifth Hezbollah-Future Movement dialogue session is set to take place this week, Tripoli MP Mohammad Kabbara questioned Sunday the rationale behind Nasrallah’s move.
He echoed Hariri remarks with respect to celebratory gunfire, asking: “Is this how Hezbollah respects the security plan, which is a key theme in its dialogue with Future?”
Kabbara said he believes that Nasrallah’s speech only aimed to lift the spirits of Hezbollah supporters, as the party’s military wing was suffering great “losses” in its military operations in Syria.
Other politicians hailed Hezbollah’s response to Israel’s strike in Qunaitra and Nasrallah’s speech.
Among those singing Nasrallah’s praises was Sheikh Mohammad Yazbek, representative of Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Lebanon and a high-ranking Hezbollah official.
“The speech imposed an equation that will protect Lebanon from future violations by the Israeli enemy,” Yazbek said during a ceremony marking the one-week anniversary of the death of 1st Lt. Ahmad Mahmoud Tabikh, who was killed with seven others during the Jan. 23 clashes in Ras Baalbek’s Tallet al-Hamra sparked by an ISIS ambush.
Yazbek’s comments were directed at “those annoyed by the resistance’s response in the Shebaa Farms.”
He said Hezbollah had retaliated in a manner that would restore the dignity of the Lebanese.
Israel has been defeated, said Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan, describing Hezbollah’s response as “heroic.”
“The conflict with the Zionist enemy is once again a priority to people in the Arab world,” Hasan added, speaking during a ceremony to commemorate the death of Army recruit Mujtaba Amhaz in Ras Baalbek.
Information Minister Ramzi Joreige said that fears of escalation following Hezbollah’s retaliatory attack had eased.
He told Radio Liban Libre Saturday that Hezbollah gave considerable thought to the manner in which its responded to the Qunaitra attack.
Fiery Speech of Hezbollah fallout to spare Future-Hezbollah talks
The Daily Star/Feb. 02, 2015
BEIRUT: The Future Movement and Hezbollah will meet for a fifth round of talks Tuesday, the first time they convene after the resistance party chief said the Israeli airstrike in Qunaitra last month has shattered the rules of engagement with Israel.
But it appears that the Future-Hezbollah dialogue will not be affected by the negative impact the fiery speech of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has left within Future Movement circles, Speaker Nabih Berri told his visitors Sunday.
He said dialogue between the two rival groups would carry on undeterred as it was agreed “from day one that problematic issues such as Hezbollah’s arsenal, its intervention in Syria and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will not be tackled.”
According to March 8 sources, Tuesday’s session to be held at Berri’s residence in Ain al-Tineh will pursue discussions on defusing Sunni-Shiite tensions – the main item on the dialogue agenda which also includes finding a mechanism to allow the election of a president, boosting efforts to combat terrorism, promoting a new electoral law and energizing stagnant state institutions.
Berri promised that the Lebanese would see their capital free of any political signage for the Amal Movement, Hezbollah and the Future Movement so as to contribute in minimizing tensions. Berri said the Interior Ministry would carry out the task of removing the signage.
As for reports that the issue of celebratory gunfire in Beirut fired by Hezbollah supporters during Nasrallah’s highly anticipated speech Friday will figure high up on the agenda of talks, one March 8 source that the issue was “problematic for Hezbollah maybe more than the Future Movement.” “The issue is certainly not an item on the agenda but might be tackled as part of the broader topic of defusing Sunni-Shiite tensions,” the source told The Daily Star, adding that Nasrallah has long pleaded with his supporters to refrain from resorting to celebratory gunfire during his appearances. The criticism leveled against Nasrallah’s speech the head of the Future parliamentary bloc MP Fouad Siniora was also unlikely to deter the talks.
Siniora condemned over the weekend what he described as brash remarks made by Nasrallah, saying comments concerning the shattered rules of engagement with Israel “are unilateral and hasty and eliminate the will of the Lebanese people who are committed to Resolution 1701.”“The criticism will not affect dialogue one bit,” the source said. “Siniora is one of the politicians who are bothered by the ongoing dialogue between Hezbollah and the Future Movement.”
Over the weekend, Future Movement MP Ghazi Youssef said that for the benefit of the Lebanese, dialogue with Hezbollah would not stop after the party targeted an Israeli military convoy in the occupied Shebaa Farms. “This dialogue builds for calm amid all the turmoil the region is witnessing,” he added. The dialogue between Hezbollah and the Future Movement, whose strained ties have heightened sectarian and political tensions and sometimes put the country on edge, has won support from rival politicians, as well as from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, the U.S. and the European Union.
Let Hezbollah and Islamic State
destroy one another
Guy Bechor/Ynetnews/ Published: 02.02.15/Israel Opinion
Op-ed: In light of the fast changing situation on the borders, Israel should have a channel of dialogue with Hezbollah in order to convey calming messages – including quiet non-aggression agreements.
While the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra organization is taking over almost all the territory facing our Golan Heights, and the Islamic State is breaking into Lebanese territory from the north – and after it declared last week that it was "launching the war to liberate the Lebanon region and add it to the Islamic State" – the last thing Hezbollah needs right now is a conflict with .
Its two existential enemies, Sunni organizations al-Qaeda and Islamic State, are outflanking it from the east and from the south, and it is deeply engaged in that area. The definers of the Middle East have changed, and they are no longer Arabs against Israel, but Sunnis against Shiites.
That's why Hezbollah was so shocked when its senior members were killed on January 18 in Mazraat al-Amal, in the area of Syrian President Bashar Assad's 90th Brigade. That area is the last one which has remained in the hands of the Syrian regime, and that is where Hezbollah has set up its headquarters and gathered its fighters.
What are they doing there? They have decided to defend that area at all costs, because if Jabhat al-Nusra crosses it, it will be able to continue northward to the Shiite and Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon's Beqaa Valley, turn westward to the Shiite areas of southern Lebanon, or turn eastward towards Damascus.
We were stressed out by the fact that hundreds of Hezbollah fighters were gathering next to our border in the Golan, a place they haven't been present in before, but neither have Jabhat al-Nusra fighters. Hezbollah thought that we understood its existential distress, and the fact that it basically gave us years of calm, and that created the misunderstanding. Mazraat al-Amal is located opposite our Hermon post, and Hezbollah wasn't even trying to conceal its actions.
In other words, the war of the ethnic groups is more important, as far as these terror organizations are concerned, than Israel. And as far as both the Sunnis and the Shiites are concerned, we are the less threatening enemy.
So why did Hezbollah retaliate on Mount Dov last week? Because it became a subject of ridicule in the Arab world in the past week for threatening but not responding. If Hezbollah hadn't retaliated in some way, it would have served as proof that the organization has sunk so deep into the Syrian mud that it has abandoned the Israeli issue.
In light of the fast-changing situation on the borders, we should have a channel of dialogue with Hezbollah in order to convey calming messages – including quiet non-aggression agreements. That doesn't turn us into Hezbollah supporters, of course, just like we are not supporters of al-Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra. Hezbollah already suspects that we have a quiet non-aggression agreement with the latter.
We must make it clear to all sides that we have no interest in the world wars between them – after all, we are neither Sunnis nor Shiites – and that if they want to kill one another, it is none of Israel's business and it will not intervene in favor of any of them.
Therefore, Israel should not intervene in regards to Hezbollah's fighting zone in the 90th Brigade area either. That's the Sunnis and Shiites' fate, as long as none of them dares violate our sovereignty.
So why are we disturbing them? As Napoleon used to say, never interfere with an enemy when he's in the process of destroying himself.
9 Dead, 20 Hurt in Bombing of Bus
Carrying Lebanese Pilgrims in Damascus
A blast ripped through a bus carrying Lebanese Shiite pilgrims in Damascus on Sunday, killing at least nine people, a monitor said, in an attack claimed by al-Qaida's Syrian branch. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 20 people were wounded in the explosion near Souq al-Hamadiyeh district, and that six of the dead were Lebanese citizens. In Beirut, the Oshaq al-Hussein pilgrimage agency that organized the trip said all the passengers on the bus were Lebanese, identifying the dead as Mohammed Ahmed Meqdad, Mahdi Youssef Meqdad, Qassem Hatoum, Ali Abbas Ballouq, Shadi Houmani and Mohammed Hassan Ayyoub. "They set out from Beirut at 5:30 am (0330 GMT) this morning," agency employee Fadi Khaireddin told Agence France-Presse, adding that the bus had space for 52 pilgrims, as well as the driver and trip administrator. "The bus is usually full," he added, though he could not confirm how many people were on the trip this weekend.
He said the bus had made its first stop at the Sayyida Roqaya shrine and was heading to the revered Sayyida Zeinab shrine in southeast Damascus when the attack occurred. Khaireddin said the group had been making regular trips throughout the Syrian conflict, with groups leaving each weekend for a day-long visit to shrines revered by Shiite Muslims across the border. Al-Nusra Front, the affiliate of al-Qaida in war-ravaged Syria, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted online. Syrian state media, which reported a toll of six dead and 19 wounded, said the blast was caused by an explosive device rather than a suicide bomber. State news agency SANA said officials had found and defused a second bomb that had been placed inside the bus before it detonated.
Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said the bus had a Lebanese license plate and was carrying Shiite Muslim pilgrims visiting religious sites in Damascus. Syrian state television showed footage from the scene of the blast, with men in military uniforms picking through the wreckage of the bus. Its front half was mostly blown off, leaving only the metal frame, and bags of belongings were strewn across the remaining seats.
The channel also showed images from inside a hospital where the wounded were being treated, including a woman whose black robes had been lifted up, revealing a bloodsoaked undershirt.
Meanwhile, Hizbullah, which has sent scores of fighters to aid the Syrian regime against the Islamist-led uprising, issued a statement denouncing the attack.This "is part of the series of explosions that targets pilgrims in Syria, civilians in Iraq, believers in Pakistan" and "proves the barbarity of the terrorists," it said in a statement. “Those who carried out the Damascus bombing are serving the interests of the Zionist entity and the scheme seeking to fragment the region,” the party added. Parts of Damascus have remained relatively unscathed by the fighting raging across much of Syria since an uprising erupted in March 2011. But rebels regularly fire rockets into the capital from rear bases in the surrounding countryside, and the city has also been hit by bombings. Despite the conflict, the road from the Lebanese border to Damascus remains relatively safe, and Lebanese Shiite pilgrims have continued to visit religious sites in Syria. More than 200,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict started, and around half of the country's population has been displaced. Agence France Presse.
Report: Mawlawi still in Ain el-Hilweh,
Visited by his Wife
Naharnet/Fugitive Islamist Shadi al-Mawlawi is still hiding in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh in southern Lebanon, reported the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat on Sunday. Judicial sources told the daily that his wife visited him on Friday with their four-year-old son Adam. Her movement was monitored by security forces. She was stopped at al-Madfoun checkpoint on her return trip to the northern city of Tripoli through Beirut. She was released after her testimony was taken. Mawlawi's wife admitted that he was still in the refugee camp. On Wednesday, the fugitive had declared via Twitter that he had left the camp “to avoid the shed of Muslim blood.”Mawlawi disappeared from Tripoli following gunbattles between his followers and the Lebanese army in October. Media reports said last week that he fled the camp disguised in women's clothing and using fake identification papers, the same way he entered it in November. His location was a dilemma despite a confirmation by Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq that the most-wanted suspect fled to the northeastern border town of Arsal and joined al-Nusra Front ranks. Arsal municipal chief Ali al-Hujeiri rejected the minister's claims, saying that he only based them on “assumptions and baseless analyses,” reported the Kuwaiti daily al-Anba on Sunday. He admitted ti the daily that he does not have any information on whether the fugitive was in the town, stressing that its residents “will not hesitate in informing the army or intelligence agencies if they have any information on him.”“Arsal and its locals refuse to serve as a conduit for fugitives, especially since the municipality is working on avoiding subjecting the town to any security tensions,” stressed Hujeiri.
Mosul deteriorates under IS occupation
BAGHDAD — Basma’s phone is always in her pocket. She used to throw it around the house, but things have changed. She is waiting for a phone call from her father, who lives in Mosul and was not able to leave with his wife and children for a safer city.
Summary⎙ Print Mosul has become an impoverished, broken city whose residents face great risks when they try to contact their loved ones in other Iraqi cities, fearing their Islamic State occupiers' retaliation.
She got married in Baghdad several years ago and has a close relationship with her father. She would visit him every month or he would come to the capital to see her. But the situation changed; the young employee who works at the Iraqi Ministry of Construction and Housing has not seen her father since June, i.e., since the dramatic fall of Mosul at the hands of the Islamic State (IS).
Mosul, a Sunni-majority city, has been completely isolated from its surroundings for more than a month now; IS cut the Internet and mobile phone networks and the city's residents became prisoners of the extremist organization that unreasonably imposes its brutal laws.
Basma’s father, 55, a physician, crosses about 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) to the mountains near the province of Dahuk in the Kurdistan region to secure coverage for his mobile phone to call his daughter in Baghdad.
The physician told Al-Monitor over the phone that IS prosecutes anyone who tries to get network coverage on his mobile phone. “IS wants to fully isolate us from our surroundings,” he said. His weekly attempts to call his daughter may expose him to flogging or even the death penalty for violating IS’ rules.
“I am very cautious,” he said. “I hope I don’t get caught. All I can do is hope.”
It seems that IS has a strong intelligence apparatus: People in Mosul refused to reveal their names when talking to the media. This is why the physician, Basma’s father, did not disclose his name.
In light of IS’ powerful intelligence services, social networking activists were forced about a month ago to close down their sites for fear of being prosecuted in case IS members succeeded in locating their websites.
The physician said, “IS is similar to the Baath Party in this aspect. … It knows every little detail.”
Witnesses from Mosul told Al-Monitor by phone that men in Mosul mostly fear compulsory recruitment by the extremist organization, given the shortage in the number of its members.
The physician said that many of the men from Mosul who joined IS when it first entered the city have changed their minds and left it. This cost many of them their lives when they were caught and executed on the roads and in public squares.
News circulated that IS imposed compulsory recruitment in the district of Hit, in Anbar province, to fight in the front rows of IS against government forces. News reports also indicated that whoever refused to join IS ranks faced the death penalty.
A young man from Mosul told Al-Monitor over the phone, “We currently dread recruitment the most, as we see the number of IS members decreasing on the streets, which may lead IS to resort to recruitment.”
According to the young man, “Most young men are confined within their homes since IS has made everything forbidden and haram. It even intervenes in the way we dress and prohibits us from watching soccer games. Its members search our phones to find out our political and social orientations.”
The economic situation is also deteriorating in Mosul. Vegetables were brought in by IS from Syria after agricultural lands were destroyed. Household funds have been exhausted.
Basma’s father, who works in a government hospital, said he has not received his salary for two months.
Talib Abdul Karim, a member of parliament for Ninevah province, communicates with Mosul’s residents via mobile phones as well. “The only way to communicate is to walk to the borders of the provinces of the Kurdistan region to get network coverage” he said. “Mosul is now at its worst. All sectors are paralyzed."
Abdul Karim told Al-Monitor, “All services are suspended. Garbage is filling the city, the health sector sustained great damage and medical staff fled.”
“The city’s residents are refusing IS’ [occupation], given its oppression against them. Armed groups are being spontaneously formed to carry out operations against this terrorist organization,” he said.
Sacked Lebanon Casino staff reject new committee to end standoff
Feb. 01, 2015/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: A group of sacked Casino du Liban employees rejected Sunday a decision by the board of directors to form a committee to find a solution to a five-day standoff over their dismissal, after two board members revoked their earlier resignation over the issue.
George Nakhle and Hicham Naser quit their positions Friday night following a board meeting that failed to propose any tangible solution to the dispute, but Saturday went back on their decision. They are now joining a new committee formed to reconcile the administration and some 191 employees who were sacked as part of sweeping reforms at the iconic entertainment venue and are now protesting within the building, forcing it to temporarily close. The committee is expected to propose compensations for some of the sacked employees and an early retirement deal for others, according to media reports. However, the employees have rejected the idea of the committee, and sent a delegation to discuss the issue Sunday morning with Bishop Boulos Sayyah, representing Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai.
Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi announced Sunday in an interview with Al-Jadeed that he had not been informed in advance of the Casino administration’s decision. He stressed that while reform was necessary for the Casino and all other public institutions, any solution reached should be fair to the employees too. “The Central Bank’s Gorvernor [Riad Salameh] is indirectly intervening in the Casino file to protect the rights of everyone and the reputation of the Casino,” Azzi said. Political intervention at the Casino has been the norm since it opened in 1959. Many of the employees at Casino du Liban have been hired by influential political groups in Kesrouan, where the venue is located. Azzi visited the employee’s protest site in the Casino Friday and suggested that they resume work temporarily for 15 days until a fair deal was reached. This too has been rejected by the employees. The minister called on the representatives of both sides to meet Tuesday at the Labor Ministry to discuss the fate of the workers, but the striking employees insisted that they would not call off the strike and reopen the casino until the management reinstates all the fired workers.Casino Chairman Hamid Kreidi has said the decision to sack them was based on the recommendation of an international auditing firm hired to cut waste and boost revenues.
French Envoy, Girault Returns to
Beirut Monday with Low Expectations on Ending Presidential Impasse
Naharnet/Director of the Department of the Middle East and North Africa at the French Foreign Ministry Jean-François Girault is expected to return to Beirut on Monday to continue his efforts to achieve a breakthrough in the ongoing deadlock over the presidential elections, reported the daily An Nahar on Sunday. Observers ruled out the possibility that the French official would be able to create a breakthrough in his talks with local figures. They explained that foreign capitals are “not prepared to abandon the presidential card to France that is facing a series of failures in its Middle Eastern policies.”“Iran, should it choose to cooperate to end the impasse, would rather work directly with the American administration, not mediators, especially not French ones,” they added. Lebanon has been without a president since May when the term of Michel Suleiman ended without the election of his successor. Ongoing disputes between the rival March 8 and 14 camps have thwarted the elections. Girault's visit on Monday comes in light of his recent talks in Riyadh, Tehran, Washington and the Vatican over the presidential crisis. He also met with Mustaqbal Movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri in Saudi Arabia. Media reports said last week that the French official decided to suspend his endeavors to reach a breakthrough regarding the presidential stalemate in Lebanon unless new developments occur. Girault last visited Lebanon in December, where he met during his two-day trip prominent Lebanese officials. The French diplomat was tasked by French President Francois Hollande to try to reach a breakthrough over the presidential elections in Lebanon.
Corruption the cause of Lebanon’s misery: Rai
The Daily Star/Feb. 01, 2015
BEIRUT: Corruption and a lack of transparency have made Lebanon what it is today, Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai said Sunday, calling for better protection of public money and respect of workers’ rights. “Our Lebanese society is passing through this miserable reality today because of the lack of transparency, the underestimation of public money waste, the violation of laws in contracts, the prioritization of private interests ... ignoring the employees’ demands and turning a deaf ear to their voices,” Rai said during in his Sunday mass speech at Bkirki’s Cathedral. “It is time to break the corruption cycle, to safeguard the state’s treasury and to create jobs for youths.” Rai’s comments came in light of an ongoing protest by 191 former employees of Casino du Liban who were sacked suddenly last week. The Casino has been shut down by the employees for five days in order to pressure the administration to reconsider its decision. Representing the patriarch, Bishop Boulos Sayyah met with a delegation of the sacked employees after the Sunday mass and heard their point of view on the issue.
The dispute has been further complicated by the intervention of political parties, each of whom has a number of affiliated employees inside the Casino’s bodies. Since its creation in 1959, most of the Casino’s jobs have been filled according to partition deals between the major parties in Kesrouan, the district in which it is located
Shadi Mawlawi still in Ain al-Hilweh: report
Feb. 01, 2015/The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Fugitive terror suspect Shadi Mawlawi is still in Ain al-Hilweh camp despite reports to the contrary, according to his recently detained wife, Al-Hayat newspaper said Sunday. The pan-Arab daily said the Lebanese security forces caught Mawlawi’s wife and her four-year-old son while they were on their way back to Tripoli from Sidon’s Palestinian refugee camp, the country's largest. Al-Hayat quoted “judicial sources” as saying the woman confirmed that Mawlawi has remained inside the camp, contradicting statements last week about him having fled to avoid an Army crackdown. Last month, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk claimed Mawlawi had joined militants in the outskirts of Arsal. The Islamist himself later confirmed the news via his Twitter account, saying he had left Ain al-Hilweh to avoid causing trouble to the camp’s residents. However, Arsal Mayor Ali Hujeiri told Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Anbaa in comments published Sunday that the rumors about Mawlawi’s escape to Arsal or its outskirts were not based on any strong evidence.
“Arsal refuses to be a pathway or residence for fugitives,” Hujeiri said. The mayor argued that the Army’s strong presence in the town - both in terms of troops and intelligence agents - made it impossible for such infiltrations to happen, especially given Mawlawi is one of the country's most wanted men. Mawlawi is believed to have been hiding in Ain al-Hilweh since he fled the northern city of Tripoli when the Army launched a security crackdown on Islamist militants last year. Lebanon’s judiciary has charged him with operating a terrorist group with his partner-in-crime Osama Mansour. He is wanted for his alleged links to the perpetrators of a Jan. 10 double suicide bombing in Jabal Mohsen districtthat killed at least nine people and wounded more than 30, and also over his connection to a series of suicide bombing plots last year that were foiled by the Army.
Israeli Foreign Minister: Third Lebanon war inevitable
The Daily Star/Feb. 01, 2015/BEIRUT: A third war with Lebanon has become inevitable, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday, adding that Hezbollah’s recent attack on the state has changed the rules of the game. "A fourth operation in the Gaza Strip is inevitable, just as a third Lebanon war is inevitable," Lieberman told Ynet news, the English-language website of Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, in an interview. "There's no doubt the rules of the game have been changed, what Hezbollah forced upon us. We don't respond, but rather decide to contain this incident. I think that's completely unreasonable,” Lieberman said. “Hezbollah is bolder, more determined, more provocative.”Lieberman called for a “harsh and disproportionate” response after Hezbollah attacked an Israeli patrol in the occupied Shebaa Farms last week, killing two soldiers and wounding seven others. The blast was revenge for an Israeli strike on a convoy in the Syrian town of Qunaitra in the Golan Heights last month, in which six Hezbollah members and an Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander were killed. Israel responded to the Shebaa Farms attack by shelling villages in south Lebanon, causing no casualties for Hezbollah but killing a Spanish UNIFIL peacekeeper. The Soviet-born Israeli politician also insisted that another war on Gaza was on the horizon, saying Hamas was already rebuilding its military capacities. "Don't let them tell us stories about how Hamas is begging and they're on their knees. We saw 10 rockets being fired at the sea last week. We see every week how they're rebuilding [their arsenal]," he said.
ISIS in full swing under ex-Iraqi general: 70 deaths in a month, on the march in 10 countries
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis February 1, 2015
Saturday night, March 31, the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant capped a month of atrocities by beheading its second Japanese hostage, Kenjo Goto, a 47-year old journalist. Jordan vows to do everything its power to save the Jordanian pilot Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh, but it may be too late.
In March alone, the Islamists are known to have killed at least 70 people in 10 targeted European and Middle East countries. This is a modest estimate since exact figures are not available everywhere - like in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. ISIS terrorists trailed their horror that month through France, Spain, Belgium, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Libya.
US President Barack Obama, who heads a 20-state coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq, strongly condemned the Goto murder. Secretary of State John Kerry, trying to sound positive, commended the recovery of the Syrian town of Kobani by Kurdish forces as “a big deal.”
ISIS was indeed forced to concede defeat in battle under US air strikes. But Kerry forgot to mention that the battle is far from over: the Islamists pulled back from Kobani’s districts, but are still pressing hard on the walls of the town and heavy fighting for its control continues.
If Kobani is the only military gain achieved by US-backed forces in months of coalition effort, who will be able to stop the brutal ISIS offensive going forward in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East?
The British government keeps on warning that an Islamist attack is coming soon. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Sunday that this was a “generational struggle that must be fought in other parts of the world in addition to the Middle East.”
It was obvious from these lame comments that the West is totally at a loss for ways to pre-empt the thrusting danger.
Some Western intelligence agencies have sought cold comfort by pointing to the Islamists’ willingness to negotiate the release of the Jordanian pilot held hostage since his capture in Syria in December as a symptom of weakness, signaling its readiness to part with its murderous image. Others judged the latest video clips unprofessional and a sign that ISIS leadership was in disarray.
Neither of these judgments is supported by the facts.
debkafile’s counter-terrorism and intelligence sources report that the high command of the Islamic State functions at present with machinelike efficiency in pursuit of its goals. The name of Abu Baqr al-Baghdadi has been circulated widely as ruler of the Islamic “caliphate” he founded in parts of Syria and Iraq. But behind the scenes, he is assisted by a tight inner group of 12-15 former high officers from the Baath army which served the Saddam Hussein up until the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Members of this group ranged in rank from lieutenant-colonel to general.
Ex-Maj. Gen. Abu Ali al-Anbari, its outstanding figure, acts as Al Baghdadi senior lieutenant.
He also appears to be the brain that has charted ISIS’s current military strategy which, our sources learn, focuses on three major thrusts: the activation of sleeper cells in Europe for coordinated terrorist operations: multiple, synchronized attacks in the Middle East along a line running from Tripoli, Libya, through Egyptian Suez Canal cities and encompassing the Sinai Peninsula; and the full-dress Iraqi-Syrian warfront, with the accent currently on the major offensive launched Thursday, March 29, to capture the big Iraq oil town of Kirkuk.
debkafile was first to report the arrival in Sinai during the first week of December of a group of ISIS officers from Iraq to take command of their latest convert, Ansar Beit Al-Miqdas.
Another former Iraqi army officer was entrusted with coordinating ISIS operations between the East Libyan Islamist contingent and the Sinai movement. Their mission is to topple the rule of President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi.
The imported Iraqi command made its presence felt in Libya Tuesday, Jan. 27 with the seizure of the luxury Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli and execution of the foreigners taken there, including an American and a British man. Two days later, ISIS terrorists fanned out across Sinai for their most devastating attack ever on Egyptian military and security forces. They launched simultaneous attacks in five towns, Rafah on the border of the Gaza Strip, El Arish and Sheikh Suweid in the north and the Suez Canal cities of Port Said and Suez to the west – killing some 50 Egyptian personnel and injuring more than double that figure.
ISIS strategists, not content with these "successes," are still in full thrust and believed to be planning to expand their operations and hit Israel – whether from the south or the north.
At least 6 dead in Lebanese pilgrim bus blast in Damascus
The Daily Star/Feb. 01, 2015/BEIRUT: A blast on a Lebanese bus carrying Shiite pilgrims in a central district of the Syrian capital killed at least six people and wounded up to 20 Sunday, media reports said. A Twitter account associated with the Nusra Front claimed responsibility for the blast, saying one of the group's members blew himself up inside the bus. However, Al-Manar is reporting that the bus was not struck by a suicide attack but by an explosive device planted towards the front end of the bus. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that seven were killed and 20 wounded in the attack, which took place in the Souq al-Hamadiyeh neighbourhood of Damascus. Skynews Arabia confirmed the Lebanese media reports saying the bus was Lebanese and carried Lebanese Shiite visitors.
The explosion was also reported by Syrian state media, with the official SANA news agency saying at least four people had been killed and 19 wounded. Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said the bus was reportedly carrying Shiite Muslim pilgrims visiting religious sites in the capital. Parts of Damascus have remained relatively unscathed by the fighting raging in much of Syria since an uprising erupted in March 2011 But rebels regularly fire rockets into the capital from rear bases in the surrounding countryside and the city has also been hit by bombings. More than 200,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict started, and around half of the country's population has been displaced.
Imad Mughniyeh and Hezbollah's Shadow
War: A Washington Institute Backgrounder
Matthew Levitt/Washington Institute
January 30, 2015
In January 2015, an airstrike in Syria – reported to have been carried out by Israel – killed several Hezbollah operatives, including Jihad Mughniyeh, son of the Lebanese terror group's late operational mastermind, Imad Mughniyeh. The elder Mughniyeh played a crucial role in Hezbollah's terrorist strategy, tactics, and tradecraft, as well as its outreach to Iran and to Palestinian terror organizations, from Hezbollah's founding until his own death in a Damascus bombing in 2008. At the time, Hezbollah leaders promised to avenge Mughniyeh's death, but the failure of initial attempts to carry out vengeance attacks helped draw Hezbollah even closer to Iran's Qods Force - a relationship that helped set the stage for the Lebanese group's deepening involvement in the Syrian conflict. As Hezbollah leaders again promise retribution for the death of a Mughniyeh, here is a collection of key background documents tracing Imad Mughniyeh's influence on Hezbollah in both life and death.
Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God
In the definitive study of Hezbollah's history and operations, Matthew Levitt details Imad Mughniyeh's pivotal role in establishing and refining the group's terrorist strategy, tactics, and tradecraft, from bombings and kidnappings in 1980s Beirut to operations around the world in the 2000s. Read more.
The Origins of Hezbollah
When Hezbollah operatives killed 241 American servicemen with a truck bomb in Beirut in 1983, Imad Mughniyeh coordinated the attack and was watching through binoculars from a nearby building. Read more.
Who Was Imad Mughniyeh? with David Schenker
Born in 1962, Imad Mughniyeh became a sniper in Yasser Arafat's forces in 1976 and has been implicated in some of the most spectacular terrorist attacks of the 1980s and 1990s, earning him a place on the FBI and EU's most wanted lists. He served as special operations chief for Hizballah's international operations and as the group's primary liaison to Iran's security and intelligence services. Read more.
Imad Mughniyeh's Legacy Six Years On
Today, Hezbollah blames Israel for the Damascus bombing that killed Imad Mughniyeh. But at the time, even as Hezbollah publicly charged that Israel was to blame for the attack -- both Hezbollah and Iran privately suspected that the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad may have played a role in Mughniyeh's death. Read more.
Israel vs. Hezbollah, Spy vs. Spy
In the ongoing intelligence war between Israel and Hezbollah, financial information gained in U.S. undercover operations may be playing a key role. Read more.
Hizballah and the Qods Force in Iran's Shadow War with the West
Hezbollah's early efforts to avenge Imad Mughniyeh's death with retalliatory terror attacks floundered, leading the group's leadership and their Iranian partners to reassess how they would prosecute, both separately and together, a three-tiered shadow war targeting Israeli, Jewish, American, smetimes even British interests worldwide. Read more.
Hezbollah’s Strategic Shift: A Global Terrorist Threat
As recently as 2013, Hezbollah terror operations in Europe and the Middle East were tied to the group's campaign to avenge Imad Mughniyeh's death. Read more.
Iranian Doublespeak on the Anniversary of the AMIA Bombing
When senior Iranian leaders decided in 1993 to attack a Jewish center in Argentina, Tehran's intelligence chief Ali Fallahian turned to Hezbollah's Imad Mughniyeh to execute the attack. The bombing, which took place in July 1994, killed 85 and wounded more than 300 in Buenos Aires. Read more.
Iran’s Support for Terrorism in the Middle East
A shared desire for revenge – for the death of Imad Mughniyeh and for attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists – has strenghthened Hezbollah and Tehran's longstanding and intimate relationship, making their combined operational capabilities that much more dangerous. Read more.
Hezbollah's West Bank Terror Network
When violence broke out in the West Bank in 2000, Iran turned to Hezbollah to bolster the operational capabilities of Palestinian militant groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Imad Mughniyeh's "Unit 1800" was the linghpin of that effort. Read more.
Iran’s human rights failure
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL/J.Post/02/01/2015
HRW report details Rouhani’s lack of progress, broken promises
The Islamic Republic of Iran’s human rights record remained atrocious under the so-called moderate President Hassan Rouhani, according to a newly released Human Rights Watch report on Wednesday.
The New York-based HRW described the conditions as “dire” in Iran and wrote that the country’s intelligence and judiciary “carried out serious rights abuses throughout 2014.”
The report’s finding are a far cry from Rouhani’s 2013 pre-election campaign promise that “all ethnicities, all religions, even religious minorities, must feel justice.”
The US and Europe have been reluctant to criticize Iran’s widespread human rights violations in order to not disturb, from the West’s perspective, the delicate negotiations to end Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program.
HRW wrote, “Executions, especially for drug-related offenses, continued at a high rate.
Security and intelligence forces arrested journalists, bloggers and social media activists, and revolutionary courts handed down heavy sentences against them.”
Iranian media sources said at least 200 prisoners were killed by October 2014 “but opposition sources said they carried out another 400 unannounced executions. Some executions were public.”
Iran’s regime imposes the death penalty for offenses including, “insulting the Prophet,” apostasy, same-sex relations and adultery.
The report noted that “Officials apparently stepped up their crackdown on dissent through the Internet.” One infamous cased involved the May arrest of four men and three women showing them dancing to the song “Happy,” which was posted on YouTube. Iran’s said the young people were involved in “illicit relations.”
Rouhani has not made any effort to stop the violent repression of labor unions. According to HRW, “the judiciary continued to target independent and unregistered trade unions. On May 1, police attacked and arrested at least 25 workers who were protesting poor wages and labor conditions outside the Labor Ministry and a Tehran bus terminal. Police took the workers to Evin Prison before releasing them. Several of them face charges related to illegal gathering.”
Misogynistic laws and policies remain the norm in Iran. HRW wrote, “In 2014, authorities announced or implemented discriminatory policies, including restricting the employment of women in coffee shops, certain restaurants and other public spaces and limiting access to family planning as part of official measures to boost Iran’s population.”
Iranian women face disparate treatment in marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody.
“Regardless of her age, a woman cannot marry without the approval of her male guardian, and women generally cannot pass on their Iranian nationality to a foreign-born spouse or to their children. Child marriage, though not the norm, continues, as the law allows girls to marry at 13 and boys at age 15, and at younger ages if authorized by a judge,” wrote HRW.
Non-Muslim minorities face extreme repression.
HRW wrote Iran’s regime “denies freedom of religion to Baha’is…and discriminates against them. At least 136 Baha’is were held in Iran’s prisons as of May 2014. State authorities also desecrated Baha’i cemeteries, including one in Shiraz, which the authorities began excavating in April.
Security and intelligence forces also continued to target Christian converts from Islam, Persian-speaking Protestant and evangelical congregations, and members of the home church movement. Many faced charges such as ‘acting against the national security’ and ‘propaganda against the state.’” The ongoing severe violation of human rights and Rouhani’s pre-election promises reflect a regime that is neither serious about honoring its basic human rights norms and statements that it will not build a nuclear weapons device.
**Benjamin Weinthal reports on European affairs for The Jerusalem Post and is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Sisi: "Egypt faces long, tough battle against militants"
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Saturday that Egypt faces a long, hard battle against militancy, days after one of the bloodiest attacks on security forces in years.
"This battle will be difficult, strong, evil and will take a long time," he said in comments broadcast on state television after meeting Egypt's top military officers.
On Thursday night, four separate attacks on security forces in North Sinai were among the worst in the country in years. Islamic State's Egyptian wing, Sinai Province, claimed the killing of at least 30 soldiers and police officers. Sisi said Egypt was confronting the "strongest secret organisation in the world", a reference to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.
Then army chief, Sisi removed Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi from the presidency in July of 2013 after mass protests against Morsi's rule. The military takeover was followed by a fierce crackdown on the movement, which says it is committed to peaceful activism. Egyptian officials make no distinction between the Brotherhood, Islamic State, al-Qaida and Sinai Province, previously called Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, arguing the groups pose a major threat because they share the same ideology. The Brotherhood, which accuses Sisi of staging a coup and robbing Morsi of power, said in a statement from its office in Britain that it was appalled by the killings in Sinai. It accused the army of displacing people in Sinai and burning and destroying cities. "There is no solution to this situation, except by returning the army to its barracks," it said.
Islamist militants based in Egypt's Sinai region, which has a border with Gaza, have killed hundreds of police and soldiers since Morsi's political demise. The insurgency has spread to other parts of Egypt, the most populous Arab country Hours before Sisi's comments, an Egyptian court banned the armed wing of the Palestinian group Hamas - an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood - and listed it as a terrorist organization.
ISIS executes second Japanese hostage
By REUTERS \
Islamic State militants said on Saturday they had beheaded a second Japanese hostage, journalist Kenji Goto, after the failure of international efforts to secure his release through a prisoner swap.
The hardline Islamist group, which controls large parts of Syria and Iraq, released a video which seemed to show the beheaded body of Goto and threatened further attacks on Japanese targets. Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said the video appeared to be genuine.
Islamic State had said Goto, 47, was held along with a Jordanian pilot. Efforts to win their release had focused on the possible release of an Iraqi would-be suicide bomber jailed in Jordan 10 years ago. The video did not mention the pilot.
Japan condemned the actions of the militants and said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet would meet in response to the video, which showed a hooded man standing over Goto with a knife to his throat, followed by footage of a head put on the back of a human body.
The video was released exactly a week after footage appearing to show the beheaded body of another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa.
"I feel strong indignation at this inhumane and contemptible act of terrorism," a grim-faced Abe said in brief remarks to reporters in Japan. "I will never forgive these terrorists."
"Japan will work with the international community to bring those responsible for this crime to justice," Abe added, reiterating that Japan would not give in to terrorism.
President Barack Obama said the United States condemned the "heinous murder" and would continue to work with allies to destroy the hardline Islamist group.
Britain also condemned the killing.
Islamic State's threats to kill the group's Japanese hostages were issued after Abe announced earlier this month $200 million in non-military aid for countries contending with Islamic State.
Addressing Abe, the militant in the video said: "Because of your reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war, this knife will not only slaughter Kenji, but will also carry on and cause carnage wherever your people are found. So let the nightmare for Japan begin."
NO WORD ON PILOT
The militant had the same British accent as the man featured in previous Islamic State videos showing beheadings. Goto wore an orange jumpsuit like Islamic State captives in past footage.
The landscape in the video showed a hill and land covered in scrub, and appeared different to the desert setting of previous videos.
Abe's government had put high priority on seeking the release of Goto, a veteran war correspondent captured by the militants in late October when he went to Syria seeking Yukawa's release. Yukawa, 42, was seized by militants in August after going to Syria to launch a security company.
Goto's mother Junko Ishido, who earlier had appealed for his safe release, said, "I am too upset to find the words to express myself. My son's last act was to go to Syria to help a fellow Japanese (Yukawa). So I want people to understand my son's kindness and courage."
Goto's older brother, Junichi Goto, said, "I had hoped to give thanks for his return alive. But, as his brother, this outcome is very regrettable."Islamic State, an offshoot of al Qaeda, has beheaded a number of Western journalists and aid workers, saying they were paying the price for their governments' fight against the group.
It has also killed many local people, through beheadings, stonings and shootings, accusing them of violating their hardline interpretation of Islamic law.
There was no mention in the one-minute video of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh who was seized by Islamic State after his jet crashed in northeast Syria in December during a bombing mission against the militants.
An audio message that appeared to be from Goto earlier this week said Kasaesbeh would be killed if Jordan did not free Iraqi Sajida al-Rishawi, in jail for her role in a 2005 suicide bomb attack that killed 60 people in the Jordanian capital Amman.
Goto began working as a full-time war correspondent in 1996 and had established a reputation as a careful and reliable operator for Japanese broadcasters, including NHK.
In October, Goto's wife had a baby, the couple's second child. He had an older daughter from a previous marriage, people who know the family said.
Yukawa was captured in August outside the Syrian city of Aleppo. Friends say Goto travelled from Tokyo to Istanbul and from there to Syria, sending a message on Oct. 25 that he had crossed the border and was safe.
"Whatever happens, this is my responsibility," Goto said on a video recorded shortly before he set out for Raqqa. That was the last time he was seen before an Islamic State video released on Jan. 20 appearing to show both Japanese men and threatening to kill them unless the group received $200 million in ransom.
Question: "Why do the four Gospels seem to present a different message of salvation than the rest of the New Testament?"
Answer: We must keep in mind that the Bible is intended to be taken as a whole. The books preceding the Four Gospels are anticipatory, and the books which follow are explanatory. Throughout the whole Bible, what God requires is faith—Genesis 15:6; Psalm 2:12; Habakkuk 2:4; Matthew 9:28; John 20:27; Ephesians 2:8; Hebrews 10:39. Salvation comes not by our own works but by trusting what God does on our behalf.
Each of the Gospels has its own emphasis on the ministry of Christ. Matthew, writing to a Jewish audience, emphasizes Jesus’ fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, proving that He is the long-awaited Messiah. Mark writes a fast-paced, condensed account, recording Jesus’ miraculous deeds and not recording His long discourses. Luke portrays Jesus as the remedy of the world’s ills, emphasizing His perfect humanity and humane concern for the weak, the suffering, and the outcast. John emphasizes Jesus’ deity by selecting many conversations and sayings of Jesus on the subject and also including “signs” that prove He is the Son of God.
The Four Gospels work together to provide a complete testimony of Jesus, a beautiful portrait of the God-Man. Although the Gospels differ slightly in theme, the central Subject is the same. All present Jesus as the One who died to save sinners. All record His resurrection. Whether the writers presented Jesus as the King, the Servant, the Son of Man, or the Son of God, they had the common goal—that people believe in Him.
We’ll delve into the theology of the Gospels now. John includes many statements of faith and commands to believe. These inclusions fit his stated purpose, “that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name” (20:31). The other Gospels (the Synoptics) are no less concerned that we trust in Christ. Their appeals to faith are less overt but are just as genuine.
Jesus proclaims the need for righteousness, and He warns of the penalty of sin, which is hell. However, Jesus always presents God as the standard of righteousness and Himself as the means of righteousness—without Christ, righteousness is unattainable and hell is inevitable. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is a case in point:
- Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount with a description of the blessed life (5:1-12). The Beatitudes are not telling us “how to” be righteous, but are simply describing righteousness.
- He presents Himself as the fulfillment of the Old Testament law (5:17-18). This is a key verse because, to earn our own righteousness, we must fulfill the law; here, Jesus says that He will do it for us.
- He says that no amount of our own good works will gain us entrance to heaven (5:20). This is another important statement in the sermon. The Pharisees were the most religious people of the day, but Jesus says even they are not good enough to enter heaven. Jesus will go on to say that it’s not a religious system that saves, but He Himself.
- He “raises the bar” for righteousness according to God’s standard, instead of man’s interpretation of the law (5:21-48). He explains God’s intent behind seven Old Testament laws. The bar is raised so high as to make everyone, even the most dedicated religious practitioner, guilty before God.
- He describes three popular religious activities—almsgiving, prayer, and fasting—as hypocritical when practiced by the outwardly religious (6:1-18). Jesus’ focus, as with the seven laws He just mentioned, is the heart condition of man, not the works we can see.
- He warns that there will be “many” in the day of judgment who will have performed great works for God yet will be turned away from heaven (7:21-23). The reason given is that Jesus never “knew” them. There was no familial relationship, only “good” works, which is not enough.
- Jesus concludes the Sermon on the Mount with the audacious statement that He alone is the foundation for building one’s religious life (7:24-27). It is an appeal to trust “these sayings of Mine” enough to abandon all other foundations.
To summarize, in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus meticulously deconstructs the pharisaical religion of good works, points to a holiness greater than our own, and offers Himself as the sole basis of religion. Accepting what Jesus says in this sermon requires faith in His Person.
Matthew’s Gospel goes on to emphasize faith in the following verses: 8:10, 13, 26; 9:2, 22, 28-29; 12:21; 13:58; 14:31; 15:28; 16:8; 17:17; and 18:6. Also, Matthew includes a very clear presentation of Jesus as the Son of God in this exchange: “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’” (Matthew 16:15-17).
Mark’s Gospel contains the following references to faith in Christ: 1:15; 2:5; 4:40; 5:34, 36; 6:6; 9:19, 23, 42; 10:52; 11:23; and 16:14. In Luke’s Gospel we see these verses promoting faith in Christ: 1:1; 5:20; 7:9, 50; 8:12, 25, 48, 50; 9:41; 12:28, 46; 17:19; 18:8, 42; and 24:25. As we continue to see scripture as a unified whole, we will see that there is only one message of salvation, and the Four Gospels provide the basis for that message.
The Epistles which follow the Gospels elaborate upon the same theme: salvation by faith in Christ. The overarching theme of Romans is the righteousness that comes through God and the doctrine of justification by grace through faith. The central theme of Galatians and Colossians is the same. The book of Hebrews stresses the pre-eminence and perfection of Christ, the “author and perfecter of our faith.” First and Second Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, the pastoral epistles of Timothy and Titus, Philemon, James, 1 and 2 Peter, all describe the holy living, both personally and corporately within the church, and the hope for the future which should be the natural result of life in Christ. The three epistles of John reiterate the basics of the faith and warn against those who would call them into question, also the main theme of Jude. Revelation, the final book of the New Testament, presents the last act of God’s plan for mankind and the fate of those who hold onto the same faith expounded in the entirety of the New Testament—faith in Christ alone.
Egypt's turning on Hamas won't solve Israel's Gaza problem
By Zvi Bar'el/Haaretz/ Feb. 01, 2015
For the first time, an Arab leader is challenging the view that 'resistance' organizations fighting Israel necessarily serve Arab interests.
“A war is being waged against Egypt,” Egypt's President Abdel al-Fattah al-Sissi declared before returning from this weekend’s African Union summit in Ethiopia. “The army will set the rules and the principles the country will live by, and it is prepared to pay the price.” A heavy price: Last week, at least 30 military personnel and civilians were killed in one of the worst terror attacks ever on the army in Sinai. Two days later, a bomb exploded on an Egyptian train.
Terror has hit Cairo and Alexandria as well, and also the Libya border area. The army has had some success in this war of attrition, whose broad dispersal makes it difficult to defeat. The army has cleared a one-kilometer swath along the border with Gaza, leveling over 1,200 homes, and destroyed tunnels under the border. It launches frequent attacks on terrorist strongholds in Sinai, staffs area roadblocks and has carried out numerous arrests. But that has not stopped the terror cells, which depend in part on weapons smuggled from Libya and supporters who do not live in Sinai.
The alleged enemy is well-defined: The Muslim Brotherhood and its progeny, such as Hamas, have become the “usual suspects” — even when Ansar Beit Almaqdis (“champions of Jerusalem”), which has shifted its allegiance from Al-Qaida to Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) claims responsibility for attacks. The Muslim Brotherhood has been declared an illegal terror organization, and on Saturday an Egyptian court also declared the military wing of Hamas a terrorist movement.
That decision, which came a year after the court declared Hamas an organization that supports terrorism and barred it from operating in Egypt, will not provide a turning point in how terrorism is fought. Even in the past, Egypt had no problem in arresting Hamas activists or putting them on trial. And the prosecution of deposed President Mohammed Morsi is based in part on the assistance that he received from Hamas when he fled imprisonment in January 2011. Even without a judicial decision, Egypt has long sketched out its aims around Gaza and the Hamas regime. The closure of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt is an inseparable part of this fight, as is the ongoing deferral of the convening of a conference on the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.
But the political aspects of this decision are no less important that the military ones. For the first time, an Arab leader is challenging the common view that “resistance” organizations that are fighting Israel necessarily serve Arab interests. The “sanctity” of the struggle against Israel is no longer justification for the existence of an organization that turns its arms against Egypt. Here Sissi is making it clear, without mincing words, that the Palestinian issue is important in his view only to extent that it doesn’t threaten Egypt. Any Arab or Muslim country that wishes to provide aid to the Gaza Strip or Hamas now faces a dilemma in that Egypt would now consider such assistance to be support for a terrorist organization.
Israel can indeed be satisfied with the fact that Egypt is the only Arab country that has declared Hamas as a terrorist movement. (The Muslim Brotherhood is considered a terrorist movement in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, in addition to Egypt). But the Egyptian designation will not solve Israel’s own problems with Hamas. In Israel, apparently more than in Egypt, it is clear that economic pressure on the Gaza Strip, the continued blockade and delays in reconstruction in the territory could reignite the strip and even lead to another round of violence on top of last summer’s war. Not only are Hamas spokesmen warning over such a prospect; so are senior officials in the Israeli defense establishment.
Hamas ready to cooperate with Iran 'to
destroy Israeli occupation'
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH/J.Post
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar on Sunday called on Iran to provide his movement with additional funds and weapons to enable it to “destroy Israeli occupation.”Zahar told the Hezbollah TV station Al-Manar that Hamas was prepared to cooperate with Iran “for the sake of Palestine.”Zahar’s remarks came amid reports that Hamas and Iran have agreed to restore their relations, which were strained following the Islamist movement’s refusal to support the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Sources close to Hamas said that the movement’s Doha-based leader, Khaled Mashaal, is expected to visit Tehran in the coming weeks as part of the rapprochement between the two sides.The sources confirmed that Iran has agreed to resume financial aid to Hamas in the aftermath of last summer’s Operation Protective Edge.
In recent weeks, two Hamas delegations visited Tehran and held talks with senior Iranian government officials for the first time since the beginning of the civil war in Syria. Hamas has also been working to mend fences with Hezbollah. Last weekend, representatives of Hamas and Hezbollah met in Beirut to discuss cooperation between the two parties. The Hamas delegation was headed by Ahmed Abdel Hadi, while the Hezbollah team was led by Hasan Huballah, according to reports in the Lebanese media.
According to the reports, the two sides “affirmed the need for consolidating cooperation and preventing tensions (between the two sides).” Hamas leaders recently sent letters of condolences to Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrallah over the killing of some senior Hezbollah operatives in the Syrian part of the Golan Heights. In their letters, the Hamas leaders stressed the importance of cooperation with Hezbollah in the fight against Israel. Zahar, in the interview with the Hezbollah TV station, called on Nasrallah to coordinate with Hamas with regards to attacks against Israel from the Lebanese border.