LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Bible Quotation For
Today/The Sign of Immanuel
Isaiah 07/01-25: "1When Ahaz son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, was king of Judah, King Rezin of Aram and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel marched up to fight against Jerusalem, but they could not overpower it. Now the house of David was told, “Aram has allied itself with Ephraim”; so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind. Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out, you and your son Shear-Jashub, to meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Launderer’s Field. Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood—because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah. Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah’s son have plotted your ruin, saying, “Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it.” Yet this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “‘It will not take place, it will not happen, for the head of Aram is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is only Rezin.Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be too shattered to be a people. The head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is only Remaliah’s son. If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.’” Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.” Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste. The Lord will bring on you and on your people and on the house of your father a time unlike any since Ephraim broke away from Judah—he will bring the king of Assyria.”In that day the Lord will whistle for flies from the Nile delta in Egypt and for bees from the land of Assyria. They will all come and settle in the steep ravines and in the crevices in the rocks, on all the thornbushes and at all the water holes. 20 In that day the Lord will use a razor hired from beyond the Euphrates River—the king of Assyria—to shave your head and private parts, and to cut off your beard also. In that day, a person will keep alive a young cow and two goats. And because of the abundance of the milk they give, there will be curds to eat. All who remain in the land will eat curds and honey. In that day, in every place where there were a thousand vines worth a thousand silver shekels, there will be only briers and thorns. Hunters will go there with bow and arrow, for the land will be covered with briers and thorns. As for all the hills once cultivated by the hoe, you will no longer go there for fear of the briers and thorns; they will become places where cattle are turned loose and where sheep run.".
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on February
When Moderate Muslims Speak, They're Ignored/Tarek Fatah/The Toronto Sun/February 04/15
Should Israel favor containment or war/Efraim Halevy/Efraim Halevy is a former Mossad chief/Ynetnews/January 04/15
Hamas fast rebuilding guerrilla-terrorist forces in Gaza/By YAAKOV LAPPIN/J.Post/January 04/15
Lebanese Related News published on February 04-05/15
Horror stories of corruption at Casino du Liban
Ibrahim Comforts Families of Arsal Hostages who Back Down on Escalation
Amin Gemayel Proposes Presidential Initiative after Meeting Girault
Picture of Would-Be Arsal Suicide Bomber Circulated as Army Continues Shelling Militants
Hezbollah condemns killing of Jordanian pilot
Army rounds up four terror suspects in east Lebanon
Lebanese fashion school finds talent among refugees
Cabinet Fails to Tackle Controversial Civil Marriage Issue
Girault Continues Tour on Lebanese Officials
Berri Says Hizbullah-Mustaqbal Dialogue's Path is 'Safe'
Jumblat Fears Lebanese No Longer Concerned with Presidential Crisis, Urges Accord on 3rd Candidate
Hamas Leader Calls for Lebanon, Syria Branches to Attack Israel
Govt. Refers Jabal Mohsen Blasts to Judicial Council, Gives Army 'Full Cover' in Terror Fight
Salam Dismisses Claims on Climate to Embrace Terrorism, Calls for Reviewing Cabinet Mechanism
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
Obama decries ‘cowardice, depravity’ of ISIS
At Least 25 Dead as Taiwan Plane Plunges into River
US, Iran discussing nuclear talks compromise over uranium enrichment
Iran admits to exporting arms to Hezbollah, Palestinians
Rebel leader promises Damascus rocket storm
Jordan vows earth-shaking revenge against ISIS
Revenge sought in killing of Jordanian pilot
Egypt to issue new “terrorist entities” law: sources
Al-Azhar denounces burning alive of pilot
Jordan says to intensify role against ISIS
Saudi king: Pilot's killing 'heinous' violation of Islam
UN experts urge Bahrain to release jailed opposition chief
UAE withdrew from air war after pilot capture: US officials
70 civilians, six troops 'killed in Boko Haram rampage in Cameroon'
UN: Systematic violence against children in Iraq
Jihad Watch Site Latest Reports
Jordan’s Abdullah: Islamic State “does not resemble our religion in any way”
Al-Azhar Sheikh: Killers of pilot should be “crucified or…have their limbs amputated”
AFDI to Condemn Islamic State’s “Unspeakable” Brutality in Killing of Jordanian Pilot
Islamic State video showing Jordanian pilot burned alive titled with Qur’an quote
UAE halted air attacks on Islamic State after pilot capture
Saudi King: Killing of pilot a “heinous crime which contradicts the tolerance of our noble religion”
UK: Hundreds more Muslim rape gang cases discovered; authorities still hiding them for fear of “racism” charges
Canada: Police arrest member of Islamic State recruiting cell
Jordan executes would-be jihad murderer in response to murder of pilot
Former prof, Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader, to be deported Wednesday
GWU Panel Surprisingly Acknowledges Resurgent Jihadism
Paul Weston: The Multicultural Madness of Theresa May
Comforts Families of Arsal Hostages who Back Down on Escalation
Naharnet/The families of the so-called Arsal captives retracted on Wednesday their threats to escalate their measures, stressing that negotiations with the Islamist gunmen are on the right track. “Not receiving any new threats indicates the serious manner of negotiations,” the relatives told reporters after meeting with General Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim. The families expressed optimism after talks with Ibrahim, warning that any negligence by the state will compel them to escalate. “We postponed our escalation,” they announced, a day after threatening to step up endeavors within 24 hours to press the state to “seriously” deal with the case of their sons, who were taken hostage by Islamist militants seven months ago. “Even people will be targeted with our measures... we will not only close roads,” the relatives warned. Negotiations with the al-Qaida-affiliate al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group became discrete after the government urged the families to remain mum about the mediation in the case to ensure the release of their sons. The families met on Tuesday with Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat, who failed to soothe their fears. The policemen and soldiers were abducted by the Islamist gunmen in the wake of battles in the eastern border town of Arsal in August. A few of them have since been released, four were executed, while the rest are still being held. The hostage-takers had warned several times the Lebanese authorities that they would kill more captives if they did not meet their demands. Among their demands is the release of Islamist prisoners in Lebanon.
Picture of Would-Be Arsal Suicide Bomber Circulated as Army Continues Shelling Militants
Naharnet /Security reports Wednesday unveiled that a suicide bomber from the northeastern border town of Arsal will blow himself up against “civilian or military gatherings,” as the army continued to target jihadist gunmen positioned in the town's outskirts. The state-run National News Agency stated that security forces have obtained information about “Mahmoud Abdul Karim Hmayyed's intention to carry out a suicide operation.”Hmayyed is 21 years old and his mother's name is Nafisa Hmayyed, according to the security memo that was published by NNA. The agency said that the would-be suicide bomber's target is “civilian or military gatherings.”After posting his picture, the NNA published a request from the authorities calling on “everyone who identifies Hmayyed or knows where he is to quickly inform any security department.”The Lebanese army has been battling the Syria-based Islamist militants who are entrenched on the porous border between Lebanon and Syria since several months. In August, they overran Arsal and engaged in deadly fighting with the army. Around 20 troops were killed while at least 35 soldiers and policemen were taken hostage by the retreating militants. Meanwhile, the NNA reported Wednesday that “the army shelled the militants' positions along the Eastern Mountain Belt as a rocket landed between the towns of al-Fakiha and al-Labweh.”However, al-Labweh municipal chief Ramez Amhaz denied reports that a rocket had landed between al-Lawbeh and al-Fakiha.
Gemayel Proposes Presidential Initiative after Meeting Girault
Naharnet/Kataeb Party chief Amin Gemayel Wednesday suggested an initiative to resolve the presidential void crisis in which he demanded supporting one of the top four Maronite leaders in order to elect a “strong and capable president.”
After meeting the Director of the Department of the Middle East and North Africa at the French Foreign Ministry Jean-François Girault, Gemayel said that he “proposed an initiative based on consensus among all leaders over electing a strong and capable president.”
“I made sure that the initiative combines between the identity of a capable president while respecting the parliamentary rules,” he added. The Kataeb chief said that “the initiative calls for nominating the four Maronite leaders for the presidency before supporting only one of them, without closing the door in the face of the other candidates in order to respect the democratic game and allow it to take its normal course.” Girault arrived in Beirut on Monday and has since visited several political leaders without commenting about the presidential issue, even though it is his top priority according to media reports. The country has been without a president since the term of Michel Suleiman ended on May 25, 2014. Gemayel, who has not officially nominated himself for the presidential post, has hinted more than once that March 14 might adopt his candidacy if Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea withdraws in his favor. On Wednesday, Gemayel also urged Paris to “mobilize the international community to resolve the presidential void issue without ignoring the main political responsibility which falls on the Lebanese parties.” During the meeting with his French visitor, Gemayel said he mentioned “the existential dangers which threaten the uncontrolled Lebanese borders due to linking Lebanon to foreign axes, and that expose the country's sovereignty and existence to major threats.”Gemayel also urged the international community to “address the threats facing the Lebanese entity and territory.”Based on that, he requested an international investigation committee “to observe the situation in Lebanon and submit its report to the (U.N.) Security Council in order for it to take the right position according to the report.”
At Least 25 Dead as Taiwan Plane Plunges into River
Naharnet/At least 25 people were killed Wednesday when a passenger plane operated by TransAsia Airways clipped an overpass soon after take-off and plunged into a river in Taiwan, the airline's second crash in seven months. As the rescue operation continued into the night, a crane lifted the rear and central sections of the plane from the water, with one body retrieved from inside. The front part, where 17 people are believed to be trapped, was still in the water. TransAsia said 16 survivors had been pulled out of the wreckage after the turboprop plane crashed with 58 people on board. Many of the passengers were mainland Chinese tourists. Cold weather, poor visibility and rising water levels were hampering the rescue, officials said, admitting they were now "not optimistic" about finding survivors.
Dramatic amateur video footage showed the TransAsia ATR 72-600 hit an elevated road as it banked sidelong towards the Keelung River, leaving a trail of debris including a smashed taxi. "I saw a taxi, probably just meters ahead of me, being hit by one wing of the plane. The plane was huge and really close to me. I'm still trembling," one witness told TVBS news channel. An AFP reporter at the scene said he had seen bodies being pulled from the wreckage into the early evening. Desperate crew shouted "Mayday! Mayday! Engine flame out!" as the plane plunged out of the sky, according to a recording thought to be the final message from the cockpit to the control tower played on local television. Aviation officials said they had not released the cockpit recording, suggesting it may have come from amateurs monitoring the radio. "An engine flame out refers to the engine shutting down in flight," said Daniel Tsang, founder of Hong Kong-based aviation consultancy Aspire Aviation.
"The engine stops producing thrust and the combustion process fails and no longer generates any forward propulsion to the aeroplane."But Tsang told AFP that pilots were "very well trained" to deal with the failure of one engine and the causes of the accident were likely to be more complex. It was the second fatal crash involving a TransAsia Airways plane within a few months. A flight operated by the domestic airline crashed in July during a storm, killing 48 people. Wednesday's accident happened just before 11:00 am (0300 GMT), shortly after Flight GE235 left Songshan airport in northern Taipei en route to the island of Kinmen with 53 passengers and five crew on board. Six airline officials, including chief executive Peter Chen, bowed in apology at a televised press conference.
"We would like to convey our apologies to the families (of the victims) and we'd also like to voice huge thanks to rescuers who have been racing against time," said Chen. In a statement later Wednesday, the airline said that 25 were confirmed dead, with 16 survivors.
Those missing are thought to be trapped inside the submerged front section of the plane. "As it has been a while and the weather is cold, things are not optimistic, but rescuers will do everything to find and rescue the remaining missing people," said Lin Kuan-cheng from the National Fire Agency. "Rising water levels and poor visibility underwater has made the work very difficult," added senior rescue official Wu Chun-hung. There has been no official comment on the cause of the crash, but the black boxes have been retrieved. Several former pilots told local media that the plane's sideways flip while in the air could have been caused by the failure of one of the engines. Rescue boats remained in the water late Wednesday, where the remaining front section of the plane is completely submerged.
Rescuers with flashlights scoured through the rear and central parts of the plane after they were brought to shore by crane. Earlier in the day survivors had been ferried to safety in dinghies as rescuers tried to pull people out with ropes.
China's Xiamen Daily said on its social media account that the 31 mainlanders on board were part of two tour groups from the eastern Chinese city. One tour guide now confirmed dead, named as Wang Qinghuo, had been due to marry on Sunday, it added.
Xiamen is in Fujian province, across the Taiwan Strait from the island. An employee of one of the tour agencies, surnamed Wen, told AFP that it had 15 clients onboard, including three children under 10. The rest of the passengers and crew were Taiwanese, according to the airline. Aviation officials said the plane crashed minutes after taking off from Songshan airport, after losing contact with the control tower. Lin Chih-ming, head of Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration, said the ATR 72-600 was less than a year old and was last serviced just over a week ago. The pilot had 14,000 flying hours and the co-pilot 4,000 hours, Lin said. The airline said it had received the plane in April last year and it was the newest model of the ATR. In last July's crash, the 48 people were killed when another domestic TransAsia flight crashed onto houses during a storm on the Taiwanese island of Penghu.
Jordan executes Sajida al-Rishawi after pilot murder
Al Arabiya News, Agencies/Wednesday, 4 February 2015
Jordan has executed by hanging a jailed Iraqi woman militant whose release had been demanded by ISIS that burnt a captured Jordanian pilot to death, a security source said on Wednesday. Responding to the killing of pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, whose death was announced on Tuesday, the Jordanian authorities also executed another senior al-Qaeda prisoner sentenced to death for plots to wage attacks against the pro-Western kingdom in the last decade. Sajida al-Rishawi, the Iraqi woman militant, was sentenced to death for her role in a 2005 suicide bomb attack that killed 60 people. Ziyad Karboli, an Iraqi al-Qaeda operative, who was convicted in 2008 for killing a Jordanian, was also executed at dawn, the source said. Rishawi, the would-be bomber, was condemned to death for her participation in deadly attacks in Amman in 2005, and ISIS had offered to spare the life of the Jordanian fighter pilot, Lieutenant Moaz al-Kassasbeh, if she were released. “The death sentence will be carried out on a group of jihadists, starting with Rishawi, as well as Iraqi al-Qaeda operative Ziad Karbuli and others who attacked Jordan's interests,” a security source said Tuesday night. “Jordan's response will be earth-shattering,” Information Minister Mohammed Momani said earlier on television, while the army and government vowed to avenge the pilot's murder.
“Whoever doubted the unity of the Jordanian people, we will prove them wrong,” said Momani, who is also government spokesman. “The pilot did not belong to a specific tribe or come from a specific governorate, he was the son of all Jordanians, who stand united,” he said.
ISIS video shows purported Jordan pilot inside a cage. Al Arabiya cannot confirm its authenticity. State television also reported that King Abdullah II of Jordan would cut short a visit to Washington and return home in the wake of the pilot's murder.
The king had held talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington on Tuesday before going into a meeting with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill. One of America's most stalwart allies in the Middle East, Jordan is taking part in U.S.-led air strikes against ISIS group in Syria along with several other Arab countries.
Horror stories of corruption at Casino du Liban
The Daily Star/Feb. 04, 2015
The sad saga of Casino du Liban is a textbook case of corruption in Lebanon, and one that should be used to expose similar cases of rampant waste and fraud at many other institutions that are run or supervised by the state. Employees threatened with dismissal from the casino have been in the media spotlight recently, but what really deserves attention is the outrageous behavior of politicians and officials who have used the establishment for years as their personal fiefdom. It’s a small country, meaning that it’s difficult to hide forever the outrageous tales of fake employment. Certain casino employees receive their jobs courtesy of politicians and officials, and many receive their lucrative salaries in exchange for doing absolutely nothing. The only time that some of these “employees” set foot in the casino is to receive their salaries, while some who have emigrated continue to receive their checks abroad. In some cases, the salaries that these people receive are higher than those of top state officials, while the public is hearing about severance packages that might amount to several hundred thousand dollars, for people who didn’t put in a day’s work to begin with. The only path to correcting the situation is through radical reform, the kind that covers both the casino and the many other public or quasi-public sector bodies where these kinds of abuses have been tolerated for far too long. The sordid mess at the casino is only the tip of the iceberg. As easy as it is for Lebanese to come up with similar stories at other institutions, it’s just as difficult to come up with politicians who are willing to tackle these horror stories.
Obama decries ‘cowardice, depravity’ of ISIS
By AFP | Washington
Wednesday, 4 February 2015
U.S. President Barack Obama decried the “cowardice and depravity” of the Islamic State on Tuesday, saying the apparent burning alive of a Jordanian pilot would only strengthen international resolve to destroy the extremists. Obama said First Lieutenant Maaz al-Kassasbeh’s “dedication, courage and service to his country” represented “universal human values that stand in opposition to the cowardice and depravity of ISIL.” “Today, we join the people of Jordan in grieving the loss of one of their own,” the president added, as his administration reaffirmed its intention to give Jordan $3 billion in security aid over the next three years. “As we grieve together, we must stand united, respectful of his sacrifice to defeat this scourge,” Obama said after the latest in a wave of grizzly filmed murders. Obama also offered his condolences to King Abdullah II, who is currently in Washington and who met Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry. Kassasbeh was captured in December when his F-16 jet crashed over northern Syria, a mission that was part of the US-led coalition campaign against the jihadists. On Tuesday a slickly produced 22-minute video surfaced online showing a man who appeared to be the pilot engulfed in flames inside a metal cage. The White House would not speculate on whether the video was released to coincide with King Abdullah’s visit to Washington. Jordanian state television said that Kassasbeh was killed on January 3. The slaying would redouble international commitment to ensure the Islamic State group “are degraded and ultimately defeated,” said Obama.
The extremists seized swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria last year, declaring an Islamic “caliphate” and committing a wave of atrocities. Countries as diverse as the United States, Saudi Arabia and Jordan responded with “Operation Inherent Resolve,” an air-led campaign to pummel the jihadist group. US Central Command meanwhile admitted that the Islamic State still had the ability “to conduct small-scale operations,” despite months of air strikes. But, it said, “their capacity to do so is degraded and their momentum is stalling.”Attacks have hit the group’s “ability to command and control forces; recruit, train and retain fighters, produce revenue from oil sales, and maintain morale.” Islamic State had offered to spare Kassasbeh’s life and free a Japanese journalist in return for the release of a female would-be suicide bomber on death row in Jordan. Jordanian officials announced the female bomber and other jihadists would be executed on Wednesday.
Iran admits to exporting arms to Hezbollah, Palestinians
Ynetnews/Published:02.03.15/ Israel News
'Islamic Republic of Iran has helped Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Lebanon’s Hezbollah by exporting technology needed for production of missiles and other equipment,' top Iranian general says.
Iran has admitted it exported its arms production know-how to Hezbollah and Palestinian groups, a top Iranian general said, in a bid to give them the skills they need to create their own arms.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran has helped Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Lebanon’s Hezbollah by exporting the technology that it has for the production of missiles and other equipment,” Revolutionary Guard Air Force commander Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh told Fars News Agency on Monday.
"They can now stand against the Zionist regime, (ISIS) and other takfiri (infidel) groups and cripple them.”
Hajizadeh stressed Iran's self-sufficiency in building radar systems and drones, and said that the country has also exported its drone technology and products to other countries.
According to the news agency, Tehran launched an arms development program during the 80s as part of its war with Iraq and after the US weapons embargo following the 1979 Islamic revolution in the country. The report further claimed that since 1992, Iran has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles and fighter planes.
Iran frequently makes unconfirmed claims regarding its military strength and developments, however Monday's comments come amid heightened tensions between the Islamic republic and Israel after a January attack in Syria attributed to Israel saw anIranian general killed alongside Hezbollah fighters.
For example, the Iranian website "Mashark" threatened Wednesday to eliminate three Israeli army officers, providing names and photos - the head of the Home Front Command Major General Eyal Eisenberg; Golani Brigade Commander Colonel Ghassan Alian and Colonel Yaniv Asor, who has been tapped to command the Bashan Division.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which spotted the threatening post, notes that the site is considered close to Iran's security circles. It is not clear if the site is a mouthpiece for the Revolutionary Guards or the Defense Ministry in Tehran, but it is clear that the site states the positions of the Iranian defense establishment.
In the immediate aftermath of the killing of seven senior Hezbollah and Iranian officials in Quneitra two weeks ago, an act attributed to Israel, the site threatened that Hezbollah would assassinate the sons of Israeli politicians such as Ehud Olmert, Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as the children of IDF commanders.
The site's most recent post includes details - some wrong – about the three IDF officers who are the current targets for revenge.
**Alex Fishman contributed to this report
When Moderate Muslims Speak, They're Ignored
Tarek Fatah/The Toronto Sun
February 3, 2015
Kenji Goto, a fellow journalist, died Saturday.
Another innocent man beheaded by those among my co-religionists who wish to rule the world and to annihilate all non-Muslims. This in order to pave the way for an end-of-times apocalypse.
Many Muslim heads hung in shame as Goto's head rolled into a barren desert ditch, while western politicians and media refused to call the Islamic State jihad what it is - a jihad.
Similarly, the now-familiar masked man who kills for the camera and who beheaded Goto, was referred to by most media not as a "jihadi terrorist of the Islamic State" (which is who and what he is), but rather as "a militant with a British accent".
At the official level, the Obama White House announced it will host a Feb. 18 "summit" to counter what it referred to as "violent extremism." Note the choice of words again. Not "jihadi terrorism," but the much more vague "violent extremism."
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, head of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and a former U.S. Navy Lt. Commander, told me by not naming "jihadi terrorism" and "Islamism" for what they are, the White House has paid heed to Islamists within the administration who still exert influence over it.
In a January 11 New York Times ad, several prominent moderate Muslim leaders denounced Islamism.
In contrast to those who refuse to call jihadi terrorism what it is, over 20 Muslim leaders recently took out a remarkable full-page advertisement in the New York Times to denounce ISIS and Islamism.
In the ad, headlined: What Can Muslims Do To Reclaim Their 'Beautiful Religion'? they wrote: "Neither jihadism nor Islamism permit the equality of all humans irrespective of their race or religion and should therefore be rejected. Our denial and our relative silence must stop."
The American signatories, led by Dr. Jasser, also had the support of former Danish MP Naser Khedar; former Pakistan ambassador to the U.S. Hussain Haqqani, now a professor at Boston University; Toronto Sun columnist Farzana Hassan; Canadian Muslims Raheel Raza and Munir Pervaiz and Britain's leading Muslim warrior against Islamism, Majed Nawaz.
They declared, "It is the duty of ... Muslims to actively and vigorously affirm and promote universal human rights, including gender equality and freedom of conscience. If Islam is a religion that stands for justice and peaceful coexistence, then the quest for an Islamic state cannot be justified as sanctioned by a just and merciful Creator."
In a stirring challenge to ordinary Muslims, their New York Times ad went on to say: "We must also recognize and loudly proclaim that the quest for any and all 'Islamic State(s)' has no place in modern times. Theocracy, particularly Islamism, is a proven failure. The path to justice and reform is through liberty."
Instead of engaging with these progressive Muslims and supporting their call for reform, not only did the White House ignore them, but every media outlet I saw other than Fox News did as well.
As if to reinforce the blindfold the Obama administration wears on these matters, we also learned from Eric Schultz, the White House deputy press secretary, that the the U.S. government no longer considers the Taliban as a "jihadi terrorist" group, but rather as an "armed insurgency".
If this is how America fights its war against the Islamic State, ISIS will win, but not before many more innocents like Kenji Goto die.
**Tarek Fatah is a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, a columnist at the Toronto Sun, host of a Sunday afternoon talk show on Toronto's NewsTalk1010 AM Radio, and a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum. He is the author of two award-winning books: Chasing a Mirage: The Tragic Illusion of an Islamic State and The Jew is Not My Enemy: Unveiling the Myths that Fuel Muslim Anti-Semitism.
US, Iran discussing nuclear talks compromise over uranium enrichment
Ynetnews/Published: 02.03.15/Israel News
Experts warn that any reduction in centrifuge efficiency is reversible more quickly than a straight decrease in the number of machines
With time for negotiations running short, the USand Iran are discussing a compromise that would let Iran keep much of its uranium-enriching technology but reduce its potential to make nuclear weapons, two diplomats tell The Associated Press.
Such a compromise could break the decade-long deadlock on attempts to limit Iranian activities that could be used to make nuclear weapons: Tehran refuses to meet US-led demands for deep cuts in the number of centrifuges it uses to enrich uranium, a process that can create material for anything from chemotherapy to the core of an atomic bomb.
Experts warn that any reduction in centrifuge efficiency is reversible more quickly than a straight decrease in the number of machines, an argument that could be seized upon by powerful critics of the talks in the US Congress.
The diplomats are familiar with the talks but spoke only on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss them. Ahead of a new round of negotiations this week, they said there is no guarantee that the proposal can be finessed into an agreement.
According to the diplomats, the proposal could leave most of Iran's nearly 10,000 centrifuges in place but reconfigure them to reduce the amount of enriched uranium they produce.
One of the diplomats said the deal could include other limitations to ensure that Tehran's program is kept in check.
For one, Iran would be allowed to store only a specific amount of uranium gas, which is fed into centrifuges for enrichment. The amount of gas would depend on the number of centrifuges it keeps.
Second, Iran would commit to shipping out most of the enriched uranium it produces, leaving it without enough to make a bomb. Iran denies any interest in nuclear weapons and says its program is for peaceful uses such as nuclear power and medical technology.
Iran offered last year to reduce the output of its centrifuges if it could keep most of them going. That was rejected back then by the US and its five negotiating partners. But both sides are under increasing pressure ahead of two deadlines: to agree on main points by late March, and to reach a comprehensive deal by June 30.
The latest negotiations have been extended twice, strengthening skepticism from both hardliners in Iran and critics in US Congress.
Failure this time could result in a push for new sanctions by influential U.S. legislators, a move that some Iranian officials warn would scuttle any future diplomatic attempts to end the standoff.
The talks increasingly have become a dialogue between Washington and Tehran. Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany are also at the table but recognize that the U.S and Iran stand to gain - or lose - the most.
Iran now has withstood a decade of diplomatic and economic pressure aimed at reducing its program. Washington demanded a year ago that Tehran reduce the number of operating centrifuges from nearly 10,000 to fewer than 2,000. That would increase the time it would need to make enough weapons-grade uranium from a few months to a year or more.
By November, when the talks were extended, diplomats said the U.S. and its partners were ready to accept as many as 4,500 but Iran had not significantly budged.
The possible compromise was revealed ahead of the next negotiating round on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference that starts Friday.
Centrifuges are set up in series - called cascades - to spin uranium gas to increasingly higher concentrations of enriched uranium. The diplomats said one possibility being discussed is changing their configuration to reduce the amount of enriched uranium produced at the tail end of each cascade. Iran could try to re-pipe the cascades into their original setup. But that could take months, and such attempts would be quickly reported by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, which would monitor Iran's compliance with any deal.
Jordan vows earth-shaking revenge against ISIS
Reuters/Feb. 04, 2015
AMMAN: Jordan vowed Tuesday to avenge the death of Lt. Moaz Kassasbeh at the hands of ISIS after the militants released a grisly video showing the pilot’s being burned alive in a cage. A government official said the authorities would respond by executing several Islamist militants jailed in Jordan, including an Iraqi woman who Amman had sought to swap for the pilot taken captive after his plane crashed in Syria in December. The video, which showed a man resembling Kassasbeh standing in a black cage before being set ablaze, could not be independently verified but the reaction of the Jordanian authorities made clear they treated it as genuine. Jordan, which has been mounting air raids in Syria as part of the U.S.-led alliance against ISIS insurgents, would deliver a “strong, earth-shaking and decisive” response, a government spokesman said. “The revenge will be as big as the calamity that has hit Jordan,” army spokesman Col. Mamdouh al-Ameri said in a televised statement confirming the death of the pilot, who was seized by ISIS in December. The fate of Kassasbeh, a member of a large tribe that forms the backbone of support for the Hashemite monarchy, has gripped Jordan for weeks and provoked rare protests against King Abdullah over the government’s handling of the crisis. The king cut short a visit to the U.S. to return home following word of Kassasbeh’s death. In a televised statement, he said the pilot’s killing was an act of “cowardly terror” by a deviant group that has no relation to Islam. Jordan had sought to swap the pilot for Sajida al-Rishawi, who was sentenced to death for her role in a 2005 suicide bombing in Amman that killed 60 people. ISIS had demanded her release in exchange for the life of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto. The beheading of Goto, a veteran war reporter, was shown in a video released by the group Saturday. The Jordanian security source said Rishawi would now be executed “within hours.”
The Jordanian military might also escalate attacks on ISIS, said retired air force Gen. Mamoun Abu Nowar. “We might even see in a couple of days the rate of sorties increased dramatically. We might have some special operations against their leadership too.”
In the video, Kassasbeh is interviewed, describing the mission he was due to carry out before his jet crashed. It also showed footage of the aftermath of airstrikes, with people trying to remove civilians from debris.
Kassasbeh is shown inside the cage with his clothes dampened, apparently with flammable liquid, and one of the masked fighters holds a torch, setting alight a line of fuel which leads into the cage.
The man is set ablaze and kneels to the ground. Fighters then pour debris, including broken masonry, over the cage which a bulldozer then flattens, with the body still inside. The video showed a desert setting similar to previous videos of killings.
In the pilot’s hometown of Karak in southern Jordan, people demanded revenge. “I want to see Sajida body’s burnt and all the other terrorists in Jordanian prisons. ... Only then will my thirst for revenge be satisfied,” said Abdullah al-Majali, a government employee among dozens of demonstrators.
Witnesses said anti-government protests briefly broke out in the town when the death was announced as angry relatives blamed the authorities for failing to save the pilot’s life. Jordanian state television also announced that he had been killed a month ago, on Jan. 3, fueling speculation that ISIS’ bid to secure Rishawi’s release in exchange for the pilot was insincere. The White House said the intelligence community was studying when the video was recorded and that President Barack Obama had ordered his team to devote all resources to locate other hostages held by ISIS. Obama praised Kassasbeh for his bravery and said he was “in the vanguard of the effort to degrade and defeat the threat” posed by militants from ISIS.
“Today, the coalition fights for everyone who has suffered from ISIL’s inhumanity. It is their memory that invests us and our coalition partners with the undeterred resolve to see ISIL and its hateful ideology banished to the recesses of history,” Obama said in a statement.
In the video, the burned man wore orange clothes similar to those worn by other foreign captives who have been killed since the U.S.-led coalition started bombing the militants in July.
Separately, Washington announced plans to increase annual aid to Jordan to $1 billion from $660 million to help it pay for the cost of housing refugees from Iraq and Syria and fighting ISIS. A deal on the aid that is subject to Congress approval, was signed before the release of the video of the execution. In a brief statement, the U.S. State Department said it planned to provide $1 billion per year to Jordan for each of the U.S. fiscal years for 2015, 2016 and 2017. The U.S. fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.
Revenge sought in killing of Jordanian pilot
King Abdullah calls killing of pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh by Islamic State act of 'cowardly terror,' as Jordan announces it will execute Iraqi prisoner 'within hours.'
Published: 02.04.15/ Israel News
The Jordanian authorities will execute "within hours" an Iraqi woman the government had sought to exchange for slain pilot al-Kasaesbeh a Jordanian security source said on Tuesday. The announcement came shortly after the images of the pilot's brutal killing spread on the internet.Jordan's King Abdullah said on Tuesday the killing of pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh by Islamic State militants was an act of cowardly terror by a group that had nothing to do with Islam. "This (is) cowardly terror by a criminal group that has no relation to Islam ... It's the duty of all citizens to stand together," he said in a short televised appearance. The king cut short a visit to Washington after the news of the pilot's death. "His Majesty the King, the supreme commander of the armed forces, has cut his visit to the United States after the news of the martyrdom of the hero pilot," state television said. After the images of al-Kasaesbeh's brutal killing spread on the internet, Jordan announced that the incident took place a month ago, on January 3. The 22-minute shows the pilot with a bruise around one of his eyes, which many took as a sign that he was beaten during his captivity. Al-Kasaesbeh's family received the news of his death with cries of despair – some of his family and close friends shared their criticism of King Abdullah, while other family members cried in the background.
At al-Kasaesbeh's hometown in southern Jordan, residents demanded revenge. "I want to see the body of Sajida (failed Iraqi suicide bomber Islamic State group had wanted to swap for al-Kasaesbeh) light up in flames and likewise the rest of the terrorists in Jordanian prisons. Only then will my thirst for revenge be fulfilled," said Abdullah al-Majali, a government worker who lives in the pilot's hometown. Islamic State released a video on Tuesday that purported to show the pilot being burned to death. The video's authenticity could not immediately be confirmed. Sajida al-Rishawi, the Iraqi woman, was sentenced to death for her role in a 2005 suicide bomb attack that killed 60 people in Amman. The authorities will also execute three men previously sentenced for militancy, the source said.
"The decision has been taken to implement the death sentence against the Iraqi convict and others," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Islamic State had demanded Rishawi's release in return for the life of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto. The beheading of Goto, a veteran war reporter, was shown in a video released by the group on Saturday. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday condemned the murder of al-Kasaesbeh by Islamic State militants, saying the apparent burning of the Jordanian air force pilot alive was an appalling act. "The Secretary-General condemns the killing of ... Kasaesbeh by Daesh (Islamic State), a terrorist organization with no regard for human life," Ban's press office said in a statement. It added that Ban "urges all governments to strengthen their efforts to combat the scourge of terrorism and extremism within the bounds of their human rights obligations." *Reuters, The Associated Press, and AFP contributed to this report.
Should Israel favor containment or war?
Efraim Halevy/Efraim Halevy is a former Mossad chief.
Analysis: Former Mossad chief says military conflict between Israel and Iran on Syrian soil will start off with favorable conditions for Israel. But Israel will also have to take Russia's stance into account and will require serious security and diplomatic American backing. There is a striking resemblance between the way Israel's leaders and its enemies' leaders on the northern front express themselves, both in terms of the nature of the conflict and in some of the techniques used by the sides as they go along. Both Israel and Hezbollah engaged last month in attempts to shape the "rules of the game" along the line separating between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights, as well in narrative changes which both sides needed.
Several days before the incident which left Jihad Mughniyeh and an Iranian general dead, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah stated that his organization was no present in the Golan Heights. When six Hezbollah members were killed in the incident, the organization failed to deny that its people were active there. What Hezbollah was trying to conceal had been exposed. Hezbollah and the Iranians responded to the operation separately, each promising revenge.
Israel's conduct was more complicated in the first stages. Israel did not claim responsibility for the assassination, although the conditions of its execution in broad daylight made it difficult to conceal the operators' identity. It seemed that Israel had originally aspired to "contain" the incident by denying its involvement, apparently hoping to prevent an additional deterioration that way. But this is where two goals became more complicated: The first goal was to "contain" the incident vis-à-vis Hezbollah and the Iranians, and the second goal was to encourage the Israeli public. At first, a senior Israeli official was quoted as saying that Israel was unaware of the Iranian's presence at the site, but several days later the defense minister ruled that the general's assassination was essential.
And then came the Mount Dov incident which left two Givati fighters dead. This incident prompted Nasrallah to deliver an elaborate speech in which he created an analogy between the Golan Heights and Mount Dov incidents: They both occurred in broad daylight, they both achieved goals, and therefore the two fronts – the Golan Heights and southern Lebanon – are one.
He also declared that he was not eager to go to war at this time, but that if a war would be forced on Hezbollah, he was prepared for it and believed he would win. Nasrallah basically sought to declare that Israel and Lebanon are currently in a state of mutual deterrence.
At this stage, Israel allegedly adopted a different tactic. It declared that would not accept Nasrallah's formula that southern Lebanon and the Golan Heights share the same fate, and that it would therefore continue its work to prevent Hezbollah and the Iranians from taking hold of the Golan. This was joined, however, by two additional moves, which are likely the significant moves as far as Jerusalem is concerned: The government spokespeople made sure to stress last week that the leaders of Syria and Lebanon were responsible for everything taking place on the other side, while the prime minister and defense minister ruled over the weekend that the main generator of the latest round was Iran, as part of the escalating comprehensive conflict between Jerusalem and Tehran. The rest were not even mentioned.
The Iranian government's senior ranks, which are analyzing the events of the recent weeks and the clear statements in Israel, may be concluding that Israel has decided to challenge Iran. The definition given to the assassination of the Iranian general cannot be interpreted in any other way. Indeed, the Iranians are saying that they have an open account with Israel and plan to settle the score. I am not certain that there was a "look before you leap" consideration in Jerusalem, but this is the outcome right now. A military conflict between Israel and Iran on Syrian soil, if it indeed happens, will start off with favorable conditions for Israel. Iran is inferior to Israel in many strategic aspects, and a crushing defeat in Syria may critically affect its regional and international status. But Israel will also have to take Russia's stance regarding such a war into account, as Russia is involved in the Syrian crisis through a massive supply of weapons and extensive presence on the ground. Serious security and diplomatic American backing will be more crucial than ever for the Israeli government. These considerations may cause Israel to favor the "containment" of the recent conflict, which Nasrallah is interested in too. But "containment" is always a temporary cure.
Efraim Halevy is a former Mossad chief.
Hamas fast rebuilding guerrilla-terrorist forces in Gaza
By YAAKOV LAPPIN/02/04/2015/J.Post
Terrorism and Intelligence Center: Hamas looking to recover and broaden military infrastructure; Israel will encounter these capabilities in the next round. Hamas and allied terrorist organizations in Gaza have spent recent months intensively rebuilding their guerrilla terrorist capabilities, which sustained significant damage during Operation Protective Edge last summer. “Their aim is to recover the military infrastructure that was damaged and return it to full capabilities and broaden it,” according to a recent report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center in Tel Aviv, which is a part of the Israeli Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center, founded by leading members of the Israeli intelligence community. To that end, Hamas has allocated the necessary funds, personnel, and equipment, despite the shortages suffered by the civilian sector in the Strip, the study found. Its domestic security bodies are part of the effort. “This stands out especially against the background of the ongoing delay in the civilian recovery of the Gaza Strip,” the report said, adding that it “illustrates well that, as in the past, Hamas’s priorities clearly lie in rebuilding military capabilities at the expense of civilian needs.”Dr. Reuven Erlich, head of the Terrorism and Intelligence Center, told The Jerusalem Post, “We see that when it comes to military programs, resources flow without a problem. This is no coincidence. If their priority was in civilian reconstruction, would they allocate their few resources to offensive military programs? The Western world, in the depth of its heart, knows that the Palestinians have money for military programs.
“They are rebuilding their capabilities. It will take time. Israel will encounter these in the next round of fighting,” he said. Hamas in Gaza is using mass media to safeguard and strengthen support among the Gazan public for its military wing and to propagate the idea of “armed resistance,” while indoctrinating children and teenagers, the report’s authors said. The center reported observing in recent months a large recruitment program of teenagers aged 15 to 21 and their deployment to training camps opened by Hamas’s Izzadin Kassam Brigades.
More than 17,000 youths trained in the camps, according to the report, undergoing basic military training, and then advanced training in kidnapping soldiers and tunnel warfare. They also underwent religious indoctrination.
The program is aimed at both replenishing the military wing’s ranks and support for Hamas among the Gazan population, which is suffering extreme hardship in the aftermath of the summer conflict with Israel. Additionally, Hamas has begun building what it calls “a people’s army,” and exhibited the first battalion of this force in November 2014. The battalion has 2,500 new operatives, and is aimed at acting as an assistance force for the Izzadin Kassam Brigades during a clash with Israel.
“We believe Hamas would like to set up an additional battalion of the ‘people’s army,’” the report’s authors said. “Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees set up new military frameworks as well, which they claim are battalion- sized,” they added.
The document drew attention to intensive training programs simulating raids on IDF posts that dot the Gaza border and kidnapping soldiers. Hamas viewed such raids carried out during the summer war as being especially successful, causing many losses to Israel.
Gaza’s domestic security bodies completed two officers’ courses in December 2014, involving a total of 1060 members. End-of-course drills included mock raids on Israeli army posts at an Izzadin Kassam training camp. Gazan domestic security bodies are controlled by Hamas, which views them as a vital component in enforcing its rule over the Strip, and providing support to the military wing. Hamas has begun to reconstruct its network of tunnels within Gaza, and Israel is watching out for any signs of cross-border attack tunnels as well, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said in December. Hamas’s domestic rocket production is rapidly replenishing the Islamist regime’s arsenal of projectiles.
Egypt and Hamas
Ali Ibrahim/Asharq Al awsat
Wednesday, 4 Feb, 2015
It is worth reexamining the reaction of Hamas and some of its allies to an Egyptian court’s decision last week to designate the Islamist group’s military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, as a terrorist organization. Ultimately, this is simply a legal decision; the case is subject to retrial or appeal like any other. It also came as a result of an individual claim against the group and not through any executive or political authority. And, moreover, Egypt must respect the decisions of its judiciary.
In reality, it is unlikely that this decision will affect either Hamas or Al-Qassam on the ground, or that they will commence a lengthy legal battle in Egypt in order to reverse it. The Al-Qassam Brigades is, after all, a secret organization whose members only seem able to appear in public hooded, one which parent organization Hamas even sometimes denies any links with, especially if Al-Qassam has been involved in bombing attacks or attacks against civilians.
But many countries around the world have already designated Al-Qassam and Hamas as terrorist organizations, though they may still conduct dealings with these “terrorists” under the table.
So, then, what was it that made Hamas so irate about the court’s decision? The answer here is that it was a bitter blow for the group, with the decision coming from a court in the Arab country considered the foremost champion of the Palestinian cause (and not just historically, or on paper, but in fact). As I mentioned above, the case was opened as a result of a claim made by an individual and not through the efforts of any official or governmental channel, a fact which has both political and social implications.
It is no secret the authorities in Egypt have been at odds with Hamas over the last couple of decades due to the division it has caused in the Palestinian political scene, and the harm its actions have caused to Palestinian interests. This was especially the case when late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was attempting to negotiate with former Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin, and the Israeli prime ministers who came after him, under the direct auspices of the United States. At the time, Hamas and Al-Qassam were carrying out regular suicide bombing campaigns, though most of the targets of these attacks—cafes, restaurants, buses and other public facilities—had no military value whatsoever.
However, the frosty Egyptian stance toward Hamas has always been tempered by its commitment to the just cause of the Palestinian people—to end the occupation of their lands and establish their own state. Even when, towards the end of the era of former president Hosni Mubarak, Hamas encouraged tens of thousands of people to illegally cross the Egyptian border for a period lasting a number of days—as if the Palestinian problem could only be solved by compromising Egyptian territory—the reaction from Cairo was measured, despite the dangerous intentions declared by Hamas at the time. Cairo has also looked the other way when it comes to the issue of the tunnels that run underneath the border and into Egyptian territory, despite the obvious way these tunnels endanger Egypt’s security, especially given the regular traffic of weapons that go through them.
What was clear then, and even clearer during the short-lived rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, was that Hamas was seeking in Sinai what Hezbollah had achieved in southern Lebanon: the occupation of a self-contained strip of land in another country, from where it could move freely—and, importantly, one far away from the tiny strip of land it occupies in Gaza, where it has been effectively cornered by the Israelis. That is, it sought, at the expense of Egypt, a place where it could more effectively exercise its efforts against the Palestinian leadership. But this scheme was always a long shot. There is nothing in Egyptian law or even among the popular consciousness in the country that would allow Egypt to cede the sovereignty and authority of the state, including its authority to control the movement and use of arms, to anyone else, even partially. So it was inevitable a conflict between Hamas and Egypt would emerge here, especially after the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood from power in July 2013, when Hamas naturally took a stance supportive of its parent organization.
The real problem here isn’t the Al-Qassam Brigades or the court’s decision against it; the problem is Hamas itself, its ideology, and its presence in Gaza. Not only is the group a security risk, its existence and actions are a serious impediment to the Palestinian cause. If this isn’t the case, then why does Hamas not allow the Palestinian unity government to work in Gaza? Why does it prevent the Palestinian Authority from overseeing control of the tunnels, including the movement of people and goods? And why does it always seek outside help, and thereby end up a pa