February 20/15

Bible Quotation For Today/ ‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Bible Quota/06/25-34/"‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, "What will we eat?" or "What will we drink?" or "What will we wear?"For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. ‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

First Letter to Timothy 06/06-12. 
Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on February 19-20/15
Living and Dying by the Sword of Jihad/Raymond Ibrahim/PJ Media/February 19/15
The Lebanonization of Libya: Is partition next/Joyce Karam/Al Arabiya/February 19/15
Syrian “friendly fire” kills scores of Iranian, Hizballah soldiers on way to Golan/DEBKAfile/February 19/15
Christian Slaughter in Libya/Raymond Ibrahim/FrontPage Magazine/February 19/15

Lebanese Related News published on February 19-20/15
Lebanon in Grip of Storm 'Windy' as Snow Hits Areas at 500 Meters
General Jean Qahwaji : Aoun's Presidential Battle Not with Me
Suleiman Says 'Attacks' on Him a 'Message to Any New President'
Czech Ivana Hrdličková Succeeds Baragwanath as STL President
The Controversial & derailed Maronite Patriarch Beshara Lauds Geagea-Aoun Talks, Says Vatican Pushing for Election of President
Hariri: Cabinet to Convene Soon, Anti-Terror Strategy Can Only Rely on Army
Army, Police Arrest Suspected Terrorists in Bekaa, North
Qatar FM Accuses Hizbullah of Killing, Displacing Syrians
Report: Qatar Could Renew Mediation on Arsal Hostages
Qahwaji in Riyadh to Participate in U.S.-led Coalition Meeting
Salam More Lenient as Cabinet Likely to Convene Next Week over Mechanism
Lebanon's International Support Group Mulling to Meet in Beirut
Syrian Children Die in Tent Fire in Akkar

Michel Samaha may appear before Hariri court: Lebanon justice minister
Lebanon PM on 3-day private visit to Rome
More arrests in east Lebanon security plan Dead sea turtle washes up on polluted Lebanon coast 3 Syrian refugee children killed in north Lebanon camp fire
Khalil: Web of corruption at Customs department UNIFIL: Israel deliberately killed peacekeeper Future, Hezbollah open anti-terror talks

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on February 19-20/1
Zarif, Kerry to hold nuclear talks in Geneva
US identifies 1,200 potential fighters for Syria training
Yemen’s Houthi movement sack top military official: sources
GCC backs Qatar in row with Egypt over Libya
Musketeers of empty talk
Qatar recalls envoy from Egypt over Libya strikes
Aleppo clashes rage after U.N. envoy’s offer
Top IDF lawyer says war crimes probe not a concern
US: Israel 'cherry-picking' on Iran nuclear
Top IDF lawyer says war crimes probe not a concern
ISIS approaches Europe, reportedly planning attacks in Turkey and Bulgaria
U.S. accuses Israel of inaccurate leaks over Iran
Clash of civilizations" mindset is real in Muslim world, Obama says
Denmark to beef up fight against terrorism US acknowledges withholding information from Israel on Iran talks
France demands EU backing for Africa fight Riyadh talks seek stronger Iraqi army
'Germany rejects Greece debt proposal

Jihad Watch Site Latest Reports
Obama appoints Muslim Brotherhood-linked Muslim to head “Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications”
Obama: “We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”
Kyrgyzstan: Imam arrested for urging Muslims to fight for Islamic State
Raymond Ibrahim: Living and Dying by the Sword of Jihad
Islamic supremacist Linda Sarsour on MSNBC: Muslim “kids being executed” in the U.S.
DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson: “We in the administration and the government should give voice to the plight of Muslims”

Controversial Maronite Patriarch Beshara Al Raei is Back in Lebanon
Elias Bejjani
February 19.15
Today, late in the afternoon, the Controversial Maronite Patriarch Beshara Al Raei returned Back to Lebanon from the Vatican where he has been for the last three weeks for mere personal and unjustified reasons. It is not any more a secret to all the Lebanese in both Lebanon and Diaspora that this Maronite clergymen is political unstable, moody, conceited, hostile and does not recognize or welcome any criticism in regards to his derailed anti Lebanese alliances, political stances or even his questionable administrative styles, procedures and processes.  In summary, politically and patriotically, he is seen by the majority of the Maronites as totally anti Lebanese and anti-Maronite.
His most dangerous derailment lies in the practical fact that he is against the Maronite historical convictions that completely and fiercely honors Lebanon's freedom, democracy, independence, sovereignty, multi-culturalism, common living and neutrality.
Since his election almost three years ago he has been spending most of his time touring many countries in a bid to advocate for the Syrian-Iranian Axes Of Evil.
In all his world-wide tours that included the USA, Canada, Australia, some Arab states, and numerous European countries he has been campaigning and promoting boldly and openly to the Syrian-Iran Axis of evil.
In Lebanon, He is an ally to the terrorist Hezbollah, and regionally he sees in the Syrian Butcher Bachar Al Assad a guardian for the minorities in the middle east and a role model in democracy.
Tomorrow he is expected to chair the Maronite Bishops' monthly meeting that routinely issues a release addressing both ecclesial and national issues. Some observers are predicting that tomorrows release will be somewhat different from previous blurred and superficial ones. Naharnet web site posted today this below piece of news addressing  his return to Lebanon:.
"Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Raei revealed Thursday that the Vatican is exerting major efforts to end the presidential vacuum in Lebanon, as he hailed the recent rapprochement between Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.“The Vatican spares no chance or effort with all countries for the sake of the election of a new president in Lebanon,” al-Raei said at Beirut's airport upon his return from Rome.
Media reports said in recent days that the patriarch's return will give a new impetus to talks on the presidential crisis, noting that he will try to launch a dynamism that may take the form of a broad Christian meeting or an invitation for the four Maronite leaders to meet once again in Bkirki.The presidential seat, the country's top Christian post, has been vacant since Michel Suleiman's term ended on May 25, 2014. Parliament failed to secure the needed quorum to elect a new president despite having held 19 sessions to that end, with the Aoun-Geagea electoral rivalry one of the main reasons. Asked about the recent rapprochement between the two leaders and the ongoing talks between their two parties, al-Raei said Aoun and Geagea had always talked to each other in Bkirki since he assumed his post three years ago. On Wednesday, Geagea wished Aoun a happy birthday, hoping that tensions would be eased between the two sides.He tweeted: “I hope that we would have reached a complete political agreement before your birthday next year.”Aoun in turn thanked Geagea for the wishes, hoping their "agreement" will be achieved "by the end of Lent."

Lebanon in Grip of Storm 'Windy' as Snow Hits Areas at 500 Meters
Naharnet /Fierce winter storm “Windy” tightened its grip Thursday on Lebanon, causing a significant drop in temperatures and heavy rains on the coast as snow blanketed mountains and reached areas only 500 meters above sea level. The vehement weather prompted Education Minister Elias Bou Saab to order a closure of private and public schools on Friday and Saturday. Health Minister Wael Abou Faour for his part announced that nurseries will close on Friday. So far, the northern regions are the ones mostly battered by the storm. In Akkar, temperatures hit -8 degrees Celsius in the town of Halba, which lies 150 meters above sea level. Snow started falling in the afternoon on areas 700 meters above sea level, especially in the al-Dreib region.
Also in the north, snow reached a thickness of 25 centimeters in Tannourine al-Fawqa as bulldozers struggled to reopen the main roads that were blocked. Dense fog covered the mountainous regions in Zgharta as heavy hail lashed areas 300 meters above sea level in the afternoon. Meanwhile snow covered the town of Kfarfou, 500 meters above sea level, changing the scenery from green to white. In the higher Ehden, the thickness of the snow was at around 50 centimeters. As for the Upper Metn region in Mount Lebanon, the storm brought chilly winds and frost as most roads were cut off. Schools suspended classes in all villages and towns lying 800 meters and more above sea level as snow reached most areas in Jurd Aley and Shahar. The collapse of a wall and a tree meanwhile caused a severe traffic jam in the town of Ain Alaq. And as in every fierce storm, snow and fog forced the closure of the vital Dahr al-Baydar road, which links Mount Lebanon to the Bekaa Valley. In the south, the Shebaa region wore a white dress for the third time this year, with snow reaching a thickness of 15 centimeters on the roads in the afternoon. The snow also cut off Lebanese army and UNIFIL posts located on the hills in Shebaa and Kfarshouba as temperatures plummeted to very low levels. In the coastal city of Sidon, the storm forced a suspension of activity at the port due to high waves. Further south, the storm lashed the Jal al-Bahr Palestinian refugee camp in the coastal city of Tyre, damaging dozens of houses due to strong winds and giant waves that invaded the houses. “Windy” also forced the closure of the city's commercial port as fishermen avoided the sea for a third consecutive day. A number of boats were damaged at the fishermen's harbor. The Meteorological Department at the Beirut Rafik Hariri International Airport said the storm originated in the North Pole, forecasting further heavy rains and a drop in temperatures on Friday.

Al-Rahi Lauds Geagea-Aoun Talks, Says Vatican Pushing for Election of President
Naharnet/19.02.15/Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi revealed Thursday that the Vatican is exerting major efforts to end the presidential vacuum in Lebanon, as he hailed the recent rapprochement between Free Patriotic Movement chief MP Michel Aoun and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea. “The Vatican spares no chance or effort with all countries for the sake of the election of a new president in Lebanon,” al-Rahi said at Beirut's airport upon his return from Rome. Media reports said in recent days that the patriarch's return will give a new impetus to talks on the presidential crisis, noting that he will try to launch a dynamism that may take the form of a broad Christian meeting or an invitation for the four Maronite leaders to meet once again in Bkirki. The presidential seat, the country's top Christian post, has been vacant since Michel Suleiman's term ended on May 25, 2014. Parliament failed to secure the needed quorum to elect a new president despite having held 19 sessions to that end, with the Aoun-Geagea electoral rivalry one of the main reasons. Asked about the recent rapprochement between the two leaders and the ongoing talks between their two parties, al-Rahi said Aoun and Geagea had always talked to each other in Bkirki since he assumed his post three years ago. On Wednesday, Geagea wished Aoun a happy birthday, hoping that tensions would be eased between the two sides. He tweeted: “I hope that we would have reached a complete political agreement before your birthday next year.”Aoun in turn thanked Geagea for the wishes, hoping their "agreement" will be achieved "by the end of Lent."

General Jean Qahwaji : Aoun's Presidential Battle Not with Me
Naharnet /Military Commander General Jean Qahwaji criticized on Thursday Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, stressing that any possible extension for his term is “legitimate and legal according to article 55 of the law defense.” “Some have a problem with others but are addressing me. They chose the wrong address for their battle,” Qahwaji's visitors quoted him as saying in comments published in As Safir newspaper. The Army commander addressed Aoun saying: “I am not obstructing your path to reach the presidency.”
“Some Lebanese sides don't support him... It's not my responsibility.” He pointed out that the military chief becomes “automatically a presidential candidate despite his opinion... but I am not seeking to increase my shares and I avoid discussing the matter when I meet with diplomatic and political figures.”“I challenge anyone to say otherwise,” Qahwaji remarked. Lebanon has been without a president since the end of President Michel Suleiman's tenure in May over a sharp debate between the March 14 and 8 coalitions on his successor.
On Tuesday, Defense Minister Samir Moqbel was at loggerheads with the FPM after Aoun decided to withdraw confidence from him over the extension of the term of the head of the Higher Defense Council, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khair.
The tenure of Khair expires on February 22. The military positions in Lebanon are suffering as the result of the months-long presidential vacuum in light of the parliament's failure to elect a successor for Suleiman. The vacuum also threatens the position of Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous who is set to retire in June. The tenure of Qahwaji is also set to end in September. His term was extended for two years in September 2013. Sources close to the FPM told al-Akhbar newspaper that Moqbel intends to extend the term of more than 20 officers in different posts, however, the term of Commando Regiment chief Brig. Gen. Chamel Roukoz, who is Aoun's son-in-law, is not included. Roukoz's tenure ends in October 2015. The FPM describes Moqbel's extension decision as “illegal,” arguing that the defense minister's jurisdiction state that he can extend the terms under the authority of a president. The newspaper said that efforts exerted to gather Qahwaji and Aoun on dinner at Roukoz's residence during the past two weeks failed. Sources told al-Akhbar that Aoun aims at pushing Roukoz to head the army if he failed to reach the Baabda Palace.

Hariri: Cabinet to Convene Soon, Anti-Terror Strategy Can Only Rely on Army
Naharnet/Al-Mustaqbal movement leader ex-PM Saad Hariri revealed Thursday that the cabinet will resume its meetings “soon”, stressing that any anti-terror strategy can only be implemented “through the army and legitimate security forces.”
“The government will resume its work soon, in light of the contacts I made with Prime Minister Tammam Salam,” Hariri said during a Center House meeting with Arab ambassadors to Lebanon. Disputes over the mechanism of cabinet's work amid a presidential vacuum have led to a suspension of its sessions. The government assumed presidential powers after Michel Suleiman left the Baabda Palace on May 25, and decrees were being passed through the signatures of all 24 ministers. Separately, Hariri announced that “any strategy to combat terrorism can only be implemented through the Lebanese army and legitimate security and military forces, which are competently shouldering their responsibilities across Lebanon.” On Wednesday, Hariri's al-Mustaqbal movement and Hizbullah announced after their sixth dialogue session that they explored means to find a “national anti-terror strategy,” amid a continued dispute between them over the state's role in such a plan of action. Hariri explained to his Arab guests that the dialogue is aimed at “defusing Sunni-Shiite tensions” and “alleviating the repercussions of Hizbullah's participation in the Syrian war.” He then hoped to reach an “agreement” with the party over the election of a new president, noting that “the right gateway to devising a serious national strategy should be through the election of a president for the republic as soon as possible.”Separately, Hariri lauded Saudi Arabia's “generous” $4 billion donation to the Lebanese army and security forces. He called for reaching “a comprehensive Arab strategy to combat the phenomenon of terrorism that is proliferating in many countries and threatening the entire world,” without forgetting to warn of “the continuous Israeli threats against Lebanon and its sovereignty.” Hariri also cautioned of “the threats of Iranian interference in the domestic situations of Arab countries, especially in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.”

Qatar FM Accuses Hizbullah of Killing, Displacing Syrians
Naharnet /Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah lashed out at Hizbullah on Thursday, stressing that the Gulf state is in a rift with the party. “Hizbullah went back to the Syrians who welcomed it (in July 2006 war with Israel) to kill and displace them,” al-Attiyah said in an interview with the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat. The Foreign Minister ruled out any aid offered by Qatar to Hizbullah, saying: “We disagree with the party.” Al-Attiyah pointed out that Hizbullah was a “party of resistance until it changed its direction and headed to Syria.”“We were surprised that Hizbullah (supported the regime of President Bashar Assad) at the beginning of the Syrian revolution and rewarded those who welcomed it with slaughtering and displacing them,” he added. “This is the core of our differences,” al-Attiyah stressed. In July, the Gulf Cooperation Council — which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the UAE — has said the bloc would crack down on Hizbullah members as part of a joint effort to limit the group's "financial and business transactions."
In September, undersecretaries of the GCC's interior ministries discussed possible measures against suspected Hizbullah members living in the Gulf. The GCC's measures come in response to Hizbullah's intervention in the Syrian war alongside Assad's forces. The majority of Gulf countries back the rebels who are trying to topple the Syrian leader. There are more than half a million Lebanese working in the Gulf states, including tens of thousands in Saudi Arabia. Many are Shiites.

Czech Ivana Hrdličková Succeeds Baragwanath as STL President
Naharnet /Judge Ivana Hrdličková of the Czech Republic has been elected President of the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon that is probing ex-PM Rafik Hariri's assassination, the STL announced on Wednesday. She succeeds Judge David Baragwanath of New Zealand. "Judge Ralph Riachy of Lebanon has been re-elected as Vice-President," the court added in a statement. "The Judges of the Appeals Chamber, who met today, elected Judge Hrdličková and Judge Riachy for a period of 18 months, starting from 1 March 2015," the STL said. Hrdličková began her career as a Judge in 1990 and has presided over both civil and criminal cases. She holds a PhD from the law faculty of Charles University in Prague in Islamic Shari'a law and speaks Arabic. She was appointed an Appeals Chamber Judge in November 2012. The President of the tribunal has a wide range of responsibilities including "oversight of the effective functioning of the Tribunal" and "the good administration of justice, as well as representing the STL in relations with States, the United Nations and other entities." Baragwanath, who remains an Appeals Chamber Judge, has served as President of the Tribunal since October 2011. "For more than three years it has been my privilege to be able to serve Lebanon and its people as President of the Tribunal,” said Baragwanath.
“As a judge of the Appeals Chamber I now look forward to supporting my very able and competent successor, Judge Hrdličková, as she assumes her new role and responsibilities at the beginning of a new mandate for the STL," he added. Hariri was assassinated in a massive bombing that targeted his convoy in central Beirut on February 14, 2005. The U.N.-backed STL is trying five Hizbullah members in absentia over their alleged involvement in the murder. The trial opened in The Hague in January 2014. Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has dismissed the court as a U.S.-Israeli scheme and vowed that the accused will never be found.

Michel Samaha may appear before Hariri court: Lebanon justice minister
The Daily Star/Feb. 19, 2015/BEIRUT: Arrangements are being made for terror suspect Michel Samaha to appear before the international tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Lebanon's justice minister said. “Samaha knows a lot of things which he did not confess to over fear from the Syrian regime," Ashraf Rifi said in remarks published in Saudi newspaper Al-Watan Thursday. “Arrangements are being made to bring Samaha before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL),” he added. He lamented the delay of Samaha’s trial by a Lebanese military court, saying “some military judges are still afraid of this trial and intend to slow down.” Earlier this week, Rifi said a decision to move Samaha from his prison cell to a hospital had been cancelled due to a threat to assassinate him over information he possessed about the role of the Syrian regime in alleged terror plots. Samaha's family, however, cast doubt over Rifi's claims, saying his remarks were a "political intervention to pressure the military court not to release [Samaha] after spending two-and-a-half years without trial." Military Investigative Judge Riad Abu Ghayda last year recommended the death penalty for Samaha as well as a Syrian general and another individual holding the rank of colonel over the alleged terror plot to destabilize Lebanon.
The indictment charged the three men with orchestrating a plot to assassinate Syrian opposition figures and arms traffickers entering Syria from Lebanon.

Future, Hezbollah open talks on anti-terror strategy
Hussein Dakroub/The Daily Star/Feb. 19, 2015
BEIRUT: The Future Movement and Hezbollah have begun discussing a joint national strategy to fight terrorism, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said Wednesday night, reflecting the two parties’ concern over growing security threats posed by Islamist militants entrenched in areas near the border with Syria. Machnouk’s remarks came as the Future Movement and Hezbollah ended a new round of talks Wednesday night focusing on defusing sectarian tensions and ways to prevent the threat of ISIS and the Nusra Front from destabilizing the country. “The dialogue [between the Future and Hezbollah] is based on finding a constitutional mechanism to implement this [anti-terror] strategy. We are fighting a new kind of war different from wars that we were accustomed to in the past,” Machnouk said in an interview with Future TV. Machnouk, one of three senior Future officials representing the movement in the dialogue with Hezbollah, said the issue of fighting terrorism was discussed Wednesday for about three hours, but no conclusive results were reached as further talks were needed.
“We need to find a national common ground to fight terrorism with the participation of everyone. We discussed this issue for three hours today without reaching any result,” he said, “but we have outlined our position based on [former premier Saad] Hariri’s speech. The party’s [Hezbollah’s] leaders have also outlined some stances and asked for time to continue discussion of this point.”But Machnouk stressed that any anti-terror strategy should be handled by the state alone, rather than by political parties. “The only cover capable of finding common ground [for an anti-terror strategy] is the state,” he added.
He said the fire of the 4-year-old war in Syria had spread to Lebanon. “Takfiri groups exist on Lebanese territories. The Army and security forces know this,” he added. “There are terrorist organizations along all the outskirts adjacent to the Syrian border. These organizations have tools to do things that we do not want to happen,” he added. Machnouk said the dialogue with Hezbollah which began in late December was serious and would continue, stressing that its success depended on shrouding it in secrecy.
Wednesday’s sixth round of dialogue between the Future Movement and Hezbollah, held at Speaker Nabih Berri’s residence in Ain al-Tineh, came against the backdrop of fiery speeches by Hariri and Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah.
Addressing a Future rally at the BIEL complex last Saturday to mark the 10th anniversary of the assassination of his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Saad Hariri lambasted Hezbollah’s military intervention in Syria, calling it an act of madness. He renewed Future’s calls on Hezbollah to quit Syria. Hariri also called on Lebanese parties, especially Hezbollah, to work on a national strategy to fight terrorism.
Responding to Hariri’s speech, Nasrallah, in a televised speech two days later, rejected calls by his rivals for the party to withdraw its fighters from Syria and invited them instead to join Hezbollah’s battle against extremists in Syria and Iraq. However, he supported Hariri’s call for a national anti-terror strategy. Machnouk said there was one thing in common between Hariri’s and Nasrallah’s speeches: Finding a Lebanese strategy in which all the Lebanese would participate to fight terrorism. He ruled out any key appointments in the military and security agencies before the election of a new president. He said the term of Army commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi and Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous would be extended. The Future Movement and Hezbollah said in a statement after Wednesday’s meeting that they continued their dialogue in “a serious spirit on the issues under discussion. They positively assessed the security plan in the Bekaa and the steps taken to remove [political] flags and pictures in various areas and serious commitment to it.”
The participants called on “political parties and leaders to help in halting the phenomenon of gunfire on occasions whatever the reason is,” the terse statement said. It added that the two parties addressed mutual calls for reaching a national strategy to fight terrorism. “Discussion was opened on its mechanism,” the statement.
In addition to senior Future and Hezbollah officials, the meeting was also attended by Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, a political aide to Berri. It was not immediately clear whether the 9-month-old presidential deadlock was discussed during the meeting.
The two rival influential parties have voiced support for a government security plan being implemented by the Lebanese Army and security forces in the northern Bekaa Valley region to crack down on kidnappings for ransom, vendettas, drug smuggling and car thefts.
Separately, Hariri hosted a dinner for MP Michel Aoun at his Downtown Beirut residence Wednesday. Aoun, accompanied by his son-in-law, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, met Hariri, with whom he discussed the political situation in Lebanon and the latest regional developments, according to a statement released by Hariri’s media office.
Bassil attended last week’s Future rally to mark the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Hariri’s father. Aoun last year launched a dialogue with the Future Movement in an attempt to win Hariri’s support for his bid for the presidency.Meanwhile, Parliament failed Wednesday to elect a new president over a lack of quorum, prompting Berri to postpone the session until March 11. It was the 19th abortive attempt by Parliament since April to end the vacuum in the country’s top Christian post as the rival political factions remain divided over who should be chosen as a successor to former President Michel Sleiman. The repeated failure to elect a president has paralyzed Parliament’s legislation and is threatening to cripple the government’s work.

Syrian “friendly fire” kills scores of Iranian, Hizballah soldiers on way to Golan
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 18, 2015
The Syrian army’s 9th Division mistakenly directed artillery and missile fire on Iranian, Hizballah and its own forces Wednesday, Feb. 18 during their push from southern Syria towards the Golan. This is reported by debkafile’s military and intelligence sources. A Syrian general was also among those killed by the “friendly fire,” which military experts attribute to faulty coordination among the assorted forces taking part in the drive towards Quneitra.
Their operation has so far claimed an estimated 200 Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah lives.
It was this incident which greeted Iranian Al Qods Brigades commander, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, shortly after he arrived this week at the Iranian command center west of Damascus, to take command of the South Syrian warfront with Syrian President Bashar Assad’s assent.
This was the first time in the four years of the Syrian conflict that Assad has agreed to relinquish control of any of his army’s war sectors and pass it in full to an Iranian commander.
This action has four ominous military and intelligence connotations for Israel:
1. The earlier surmise that Tehran’s motive in the combined push for control of the Golan was to entrench Hizballah forces on the Golan opposite Israeli lines, has now been updated: The Iranian goal is broader and more dangerous; it is to deploy radical Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) units right up against Israel’s northeastern border with Syria and face to face with the IDF.
2. And that is not all, The Iranians aim to drive the Syrian rebels off the Golan and occupy Quneitra as a major military outpost and the seat of their forward command. This would be the first time that an Iranian command post has reached to within sight and firing range of Israeli military forces.
The large number of IRGC and Al Qods Brigades officers attached to this offensive form the future nucleus of the new Iranian command center in Quneitra.
It must be presumed that, just as Tehran has transferred forces from Iraq and other parts of the Shiite world to Syria for its Quneitra operation, it will also bring over from Iraq short-range cannon, various types of missiles and T-72 tanks that are suitable for a potential contest with the Israeli military at very close quarters. The equipment will not be consigned via Damascus or subject to Syrian military control, but transferred straight to the new Iranian base on the Golan – that is if their combined force is able to pull itself together after the friendly fire episode and capture Quneitra.
3. Gen. Soleimani has set the Iranian commanders their first objective. It is to wrest from Syrian rebels the loftyTel al-Hara mountain, which was formerly a Syrian fortress with tens of square kilometers of bunkers, funnels and defensive positions. Also perched there were advanced Russian radar stations, which kept track of Israel military and air force movements across the border. These stations were connected to the Middle East intelligence networks of the IRGC and kept Tehran abreast of Israeli military movements and deployments.
Should the Iranian-led Syria-Hizballah force succeed in overwhelming the Syrian rebel defenders and capturing this strategic mountaintop, they will be able to restore these facilities and go back to spying on northern Israel.
Soleimani’s plan is to connect this station to the forward command center he is aiming to establish in Quenitra.
4. Tel al-Hara (roughly 3,500 ft alt) is the tallest peak in the Golan region, overlooking Israel’s outposts including Tel Hazaka. Its fall would award Iranian forces a commanding position over IDF positions.

Christian Slaughter in Libya
Raymond Ibrahim/FrontPage Magazine
February 19, 2015
The disputed fate of the 21 Coptic Christians abducted in Sirte, Libya is now clear and visible for all to see on video: while holding them down, Islamic State members shove their fingers in the Christians' eyes, crane their heads back, and slice away at their throats with knives—all in the name of Allah and Islam, all as the slaughtered call out on the "Lord Jesus Christ."
Earlier, the BBC had falsely reported that 13 of these now slaughtered Copts were "released." (Such downplaying of Muslim persecution of Christians is, of course, standard for the BBC.)
In the video, the lead executioner waves his dagger at the camera whileboasting of the Islamic State's savagery:
Oh people, recently you have seen us on the hills of as-Sham and Dabiq's plain [Syrian regions], chopping off the heads that have been carrying the cross for a long time. And today, we are on the south of Rome, on the land of Islam, Libya, sending another message.
He adds: "We will fight you until Christ descends, breaks the cross and kills the pig" (all eschatological actions ascribed to the Muslim "Christ," Isa).
As opposed to the Obama administration's reactions to Islamic State beheadings of Americans and others—namely, strong assertions that such actions are not Islamic—Egyptian President Sisi responded to the slaughter of Egyptian citizens by immediately sending fighter jets to bomb Islamic State targets in Libya.
The Islamic State is calling on Muslims to find and slaughter more Coptic Christians.
What did these Coptic Christians—or, as the Islamic State refers to them, "The Humiliated Followers of the Coptic Church"—do to deserve such treatment? According to Catholic Pope Francis, "They were killed simply for the fact that they were Christians. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians!"Far from being satisfied with the slaughter of these 21 Christians, the Islamic State is calling on Muslims to find and slaughter more Coptic Christians. (Copts make for the majority of Christians in Libya, having migrated there from neighboring Egypt to find work during the reign of Moammar Gaddafi; most of them are desperate to return but need aid from the Egyptian government to cross the Libyan desert.)
In its online English magazine Dabiq, after justifying the slaughter of the 21, the Islamic State concludes that "it is important for Muslims everywhere to know that there is no doubt in the great reward to be found on Judgment Day for those who spill the blood of these Coptic crusaders wherever they may be found."And indeed, spilling Coptic Christian blood in Libya—and being rewarded for it—has been ongoing for some time now. This most recent beheading, which received a decent amount of media attention, is only the latest in a long line of Muslim persecution of Christians in Libya.A few days before the 21 Christians were abducted (in two separate incidents), a Christian father, mother, and young daughter were slaughtered in the same region, Sirte. On December 23, Islamic militants raided the Christian household, killing the father and mother (a doctor and pharmacist, respectively) and kidnapping 13-year-old Katherine. Days later, the girl's body was found in the Libyan desert—shot three times, twice in the head, once in the back (graphic images here).
Anti-Christian atrocities were unheard of under Moammar Gaddafi's authoritarian rule.
Nothing was stolen from the household, even though money and jewelry were out in the open. According to the girl's uncle, the motive was that "they are a Christian family—persecuted."
In short, as I wrote nearly a year ago, it continues to be "open season on Christians in Libya." Last February 2014, after Ansar al-Sharia—the "Supporters of Islamic Law," now an Islamic State branch—offered a reward to any Benghazi resident who helped round up and execute the nation's Coptic residents, seven Christians were forcibly seized from their homes by "unknown gunmen," marched out into the desert and shot execution style 20 miles west of Benghazi (graphic pictures appear here).
Days later, another 24-year-old Coptic Christian was shot in the head by "unknown gunmen" while unloading food in front of his grocery stand in Benghazi. On the next day a corpse was found, believed to be that of yet another Copt—due to the small cross tattooed on his wrist traditionally worn by Egyptian Christians. This is to say nothing of the churches attacked, of Christian cemeteries desecrated, and of 100 Christians—including Western ones—arrested, tortured (some dying) for possessing Christian "paraphernalia" (like Bibles and crosses) in the post "Arab Spring" Libya the Obama administration and its allies helped create. Needless to say, such atrocities were unheard of under Gaddafi's "authoritarian" rule (just as they were unheard of in Saddam Hussein's Iraq, just as they were unheard of in Syrian regions formerly under Bashar Assad, etc.).Muslim slaughter of Christians is the litmus test of how "radical" an Islamic society has become. In every single Mideast nation where the U.S. and its Western allies have interfered—Iraq, Egypt (under Morsi), Libya, and ongoing Syria—the slaughter of Christians there is a reflection of the empowerment of forces hostile to everything Western civilization once stood for.
It also means that the barbarous Islamic State—far from waning and being limited to portions of Iraq and Syria—is growing stronger, now well entrenched in Libya too.
**Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a CBN News contributor. He is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam's New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007).

US acknowledges withholding information from Israel on Iran talks
Accusing Israeli officials of “selective sharing of information” and “cherry picking” in their public complaints over the diplomatic effort, US spokesmen said they are continuing “routine and frequent” contact with the Israelis.
But “not everything you’re hearing from the Israeli government is an accurate depiction of the talks,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. And for that reason, “classified negotiating details stay behind closed doors.”
se comments from the Obama administration came on the same day The New York Times ran a report alleging Washington had warned its European partners in the P5+1 not to be too open with Israel, “because whatever we say may be used in a selective way.” The P5+1 is made up of the US, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain. One Israeli official responded by echoing an earlier comment by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that if the deal being negotiated was a good one, why was there a need to hide details.
The Times report dovetailed with one earlier in the week in The Washington Post, which said US officials are angry about alleged Israeli leaks that, in the negotiations, the US had increased the number of centrifuges it would allow Iran to retain from some 1,500 to more than 6,000. Yet Psaki and her colleague at the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest, said their decision to withhold information from Israel is not new.
“Obviously, we work to protect sensitive information in the negotiations,” Psaki continued. Asked pointedly whether the US is withholding information from inside the talks from the Israelis, she said, “Correct.”
Washington’s acknowledgment of a gap in its briefings to Israel highlights growing space between the allies on the emerging agreement with Iran, aggressively sought by US President Barack Obama and opposed with equal vigor by Netanyahu.
Yet, despite the revelation, Israel still knows the details of the emerging deal, the prime minister said earlier on Wednesday. “While Islamic State butchers the innocent, the Islamic Republic of Iran is relentlessly pursuing nuclear weapons with the express purpose of destroying the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said at the outset of a meeting with freshman Republican Sen. David Perdue of Georgia. Netanyahu repeated Israel’s position that the world powers’ latest proposals to the Iranians would not halt their nuclear march.
“The Iranians, of course, know the details of that proposal, and Israel does, too,” he said. “So when we say that the current proposal would lead to a bad deal, a dangerous deal, we know what we’re talking about, senator. I’m open to hearing the positions and arguments of those who think differently, and I would hope that they would be open to hear the arguments of Israel as well.”The Times and Washington Post reports both hinted at a certain disingenuousness of the supposed leaks, which on the surface would indicate that the Iranians would be able to retain a large portion of their nuclear infrastructure.
For instance, the Times quoted an American official as saying the number of centrifuges only tells part of the story. “What they don’t tell you is that we only let them have that many centrifuges if they ship most of their fuel out of the country,” the official said.
One Israeli official responded to the charge that Israel was “cherry- picking” the information, by saying that “we see no way that 6,000 or 7,000 centrifuges can be okay, irrespective of other elements in the package.”The official, phrasing his comments very carefully, said that “in the past we understood from our interlocutors from the P5+1 that the goal of the negotiation was that Iran would be kept years away from a breakout capacity.”
Then, he said, that time period was change to “more than a year.”“What we understand now is that today they are talking about a year,” he said. “If true, that is a very problematic dynamic.”Asked how Israel could know the details of the accord if it is not been  given all the information, the official said, “We cover Iran very closely.” He did not elaborate. Up until Wednesday, both US and Israeli officials on the record have denied that there has been any reduction in the cooperation and coordination between the two sides.
With that, though, high-level officials on both sides have acknowledged concern that the exchange of information will not be as good as in the past, for fear that the information shared might be used by the other side to pursue its own political agenda: with Israel using the information it gets from the negotiators to lobby against the deal, and the US using intelligence information provided by Israel to push the agreement forward. Nevertheless, the high-level meetings between the US and Israeli officials on Iran continue, with National Security Council head Yossi Cohen currently in Washington for planned meetings with his White House counterpart, Susan Rice, and the State Department’s top Iranian negotiator, Wendy Sherman. US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said on Tuesday that Israel and the US continue to have shared interests in preventing Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. “The US is determined to prevent it, and will,” he said during a speech in Tel Aviv. “Our cooperation and consultation with Israel on this shared goal continues, even at moments when we may disagree on one or another aspect of this approach.”In a related development, two polls published in the US media showed widely disparate positions on whether the US public was for or against Netanyahu speaking next month in Congress against the Iranian nuclear threat.While the headline on CNN’s website of a poll it conducted on this matter read, “Majority of Americans oppose Netanyahu invite,” Bloomberg headlined its story on a poll commissioned by The Israel Project with the following: “Poll Shows Americans Want Netanyahu to Speak.”The CNN/ORC poll asked whether congressional leaders did the right or wrong thing inviting the prime minister, and found that 33 percent said they did the right thing, and 63% the wrong thing. The Israel Project poll – conducted by Paragon Insights – found, on the other hand, that 43% agreed with the statement that Netanyahu, as one of the world’s most knowledgeable leaders on the Middle East, should address Congress, and 25% agreed that it was inappropriate for him to give the speech only two weeks before the Israeli election.

Clash of civilizations" mindset is real in Muslim world, Obama says
By MICHAEL WILNER/J.Post/02/19/2015
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama is defending his policy against tying Islam to the scourge of terror gripping the Middle East. Speaking to a summit on countering violent extremism at the White House, Obama said that the United States is not fighting the Islamic faith, but rather finds itself at war "with the people who have perverted Islam." “Religion is not responsible for violence and terrorism," he told the conference. "People are responsible for violence and terrorism.” At the annual National Prayer Breakfast earlier this month, Obama raised eyebrows comparing the specter of the Crusades, slavery and Jim Crow to the twisted ideology of Islamic State, or ISIL, a group "desperate for legitimacy," he explained on Wednesday. "They propagate the notion that America, and the West generally, is at war with Islam," Obama said, explaining the policy. "That’s how they recruit. That’s how they try to radicalize young people."At the same time, Obama acknowledged a "narrative" that he says is all too real across the Muslim world, often perpetuated by its leadership: "The notion that our nations are at odds with Islam, that there’s an inevitable clash of civilizations.”"Just as those of us outside Muslim communities need to reject the terrorist narrative that the West and Islam are in conflict, or modern life and Islam are in conflict, I also believe that Muslim communities have a responsibility as well," Obama said. "There’s a strain of thought that doesn’t embrace ISIL’s tactics, doesn’t embrace violence, but does buy into the notion that the Muslim world has suffered historical grievances— sometimes that's accurate— does buy into the belief that so many of the ills in the Middle East flow from a history of colonialism or conspiracy."The president called on leaders across the Arab world to "discredit" that narrative, in which "historic grievances" against the West manifest, sometimes, in radicalization.
The summit, hosted by the US and attended by delegations from over 60 nations, continues tomorrow at the ministerial level at the Department of State. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, among other world leaders, will attend. The event included break-out sessions and events with Vice President Joe Biden, US Secretary of State John Kerry and the rest of the president's national security team. In his keynote, the president acknowledged a significant military element would be required in a global fight against al Qaeda and Islamic State. But much of the fight will also be waged online, he said.Explaining his view on the roots of such extremist tendencies, Obama blamed a host of factors that contribute to a "void" in the lives of youth. "When there are no outlets where people can express their grievances, resentments fester,” he said, but adding: "Poverty alone does not cause someone to become a terrorist, any more than poverty causes someone to become a criminal."

ISIS approaches Europe, reportedly planning attacks in Turkey and Bulgaria
By REUTERS/02/19/2015
ISTANBUL - Islamic State militants have entered Turkey and are plotting to attack diplomatic missions in Ankara and Istanbul, Turkish media on Thursday quoted the national intelligence agency (MIT) as saying. Around 3,000 militants from the ultra-radical group in Syria and Iraq are looking to enter Turkey through its southern border after failing to take the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, the Hurriyet newspaper reported the internal MIT note as saying. Some militants, including senior commanders who are planning the attacks, are thought to have already entered Turkey and are in safe houses, the note said, without saying how many entered. "Militants expert in suicide and bomb attacks are preparing ... attacks on the Istanbul and Ankara missions of coalition forces which intervened in Syria," it said.
Some militants with Syrian and Palestinian nationality were also planning to cross into Bulgaria to carry out attacks in European Union countries, it added. Turkish police declined to comment on the issue and MIT was not available for comment.
Syrian Kurdish forces drove Islamic State (IS) fighters from the Syrian town of Kobani last month in a major defeat for the militants who control a 20,000-square-mile (50,000-square-km) arc of Syria and Iraq. Intense airstrikes by a US-led coalition involving European countries as well as Arab allies helped the Kurdish forces. Turkey has been hit by several bomb attacks this year, most recently last Friday near the border town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, where a bomb hidden under a car blew up near a police checkpoint.
There was no claim of responsibility, but the proximity to Syria suggested it could be related to the conflict. Following the attack, the Sanliurfa governorate said it had created an almost 100-km.-long closed military zone north of the Syrian towns of Jarablus and Tel Abyad, both under IS control. Turkey has in the past drawn criticism from Western allies for failing to stop the flow of jihadists across its border to join the Sunni insurgents in Syria. Some critics said it even aided the militants, an accusation that Ankara denies.

GCC backs Qatar in row with Egypt over Libya

Staff writer, Al Arabiya News
Thursday, 19 February 2015
Gulf Arab states voiced support for Qatar Thursday in its row with Egypt, which accused Doha of supporting “terrorism” during discussions about Cairo’s air strikes on jihadist targets in Libya, Agence France-Presse reported. Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani “rejects accusations by Egypt’s permanent envoy at the Arab League that Qatar supports terrorism,” a statement said. Zayani said the accusations are “unfounded, contradict reality, and ignore the sincere efforts by Qatar as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council and Arab states in combatting terrorism and extremism at all levels.” Qatar has recalled its ambassador to Egypt over the spat. In a related story, Tunisia on Wednesday said it was against any military intervention in Libya and considers that a political solution is the most appropriate. Tunisia’s Prime Minister Habib Essid said what is happening in Libya was the result of military intervention, adding “Tunisia has always stood equidistant from all parties in Libya,” the country’s official news agency (TAP) quoted him as saying.
On March 21, 2011, a NATO-led multinational coalition forces intervened with the aim to protect civilians against attacks by the government’s forces. On Tuesday, Egyptian F-16s bombed militant bases in the eastern Libyan city of Derna, after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group released a gruesome video showing the beheadings of a group of Egyptian Coptic Christians who had gone to the North African country seeking work. Egypt’s statements “do not help in strengthening Arab solidarity at a time when our countries are facing major challenges threatening their security, stability, and sovereignty,” Zayani added.(With AFP)

The Lebanonization of Libya: Is partition next?
Joyce Karam/Al Arabiya
Thursday, 19 February 2015
The state of chaos in Libya cracking the country between East and West and inviting the specter of both ISIS and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, puts the country at a very critical juncture, threatening its unity and reigniting the debate on the value of the 2011 NATO military intervention which helped topple the Muammar Qaddafi regime.
With two parliaments, two governments, many militias and two camps with entirely separate visions for governance, Libya has the recipe for partition absent of an imminent political solution.
Revisiting the 2011 intervention
The blood of 21 Egyptian Copts slaughtered on the Libyan coast by ISIS was yet another alarming sign that the military intervention hailed as a “model” in 2011, has not achieved the desired outcome of transitioning Libya to an inclusive and open democracy. However, it would be an oversimplification to direct sole blame at the NATO intervention for Libya’s woes today, especially given the level of internal polarization inside the country and a proxy civil war fueled by regional actors, and jeopardizing the country’s unity.
The Lebanonization of Libya is also evident in the outside meddling in the country
Ben Fishman, a consulting senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, describes the situation in Libya as “a state of civil war between two loosely aligned coalitions.” The first supports the elected House of Representative based in Tobruk and its government and is accepted by the International community and “the other refuses to recognize the results of the July 2014 elections and is based in Tripoli, with support from Misrata” and is mostly made of Islamist parties.
Fishman who served for four years on the National Security Staff at the White House and addressed the situation in Libya until late 2013, says in an interview that it is “too early to judge the 2011 intervention.” Intervening in Libya was primarily prompted by the by the humanitarian principle known as the responsibility to protect (R2P) and not as a nation-building project, he adds and it helped rid the country “of a tyrant who oppressed Libyans for four decades.” The argument in defense of the intervention also juxtaposes Qaddafi’s playbook with Syria’s Assad as evidence that Libya might not have been in a better shape if his regime was still in power.
However, Libya’s slide into civil war is forcing a reexamination of the 2011 intervention, that could strip the Barack Obama Presidency from what was once a successful foreign policy legacy. After all, the summer of 2012 marked Libya’s first democratic elections in 40 years and brought to office secular and moderate leaders. This did not last long as Islamists rejected the new form of governance, and militias sprouted across the country.
It is unclear, says Fishman, whether the Obama administration could have done more at the early stages of the post-intervention period: “Maybe we should have been more forceful with our Libyan friends and demanded progress on the transition and particularly demobilizing the militias”. But the history of Libya’s colonization was always in the background, says the former U.S. official, describing the Libyan people as “fiercely independent.” At the end of the day “it was decisions the Libyans made - and the paralysis of their interim governments - that sabotaged the political process” he concludes.
Lebanonized war in proxy
The civil war in Libya is also fueled by the regional polarization and the clientele militia mindset inside the country. When I interviewed the Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni last August he drew lessons from the 15-year-long civil war in Lebanon. His warning was clear, the longer that Libya goes without political reconciliation, the more likely it will slide into a long and intensified war.
The Lebanonization of Libya is also evident in the outside meddling in the country. Today, many Arab countries are trading accusations of instilling chaos in Africa’s leading oil producer nation. The accusations include arming, funding militias and allowing foreign fighters into Libya. While this picture parallels with 1975 Lebanon, in the age of ISIS and proliferating terrorism, Libya cannot afford a repeat of Beirut’s long agony.
“The one saving grace of the gruesome ISIS actions is that it may drive opposing Libyan factions to come together” says Fishman. Such an outcome however, has to involve outside regional actors agreeing to a political process in Libya. U.N. Special Envoy Bernardino León was urgent in his plea this week, telling the New York Times that “Libya is falling apart. Politically, financially, the economic situation is disastrous...I don’t think the country can bear a process of months.”
In the midst of all this chaos, the Libyan leaders are under no illusion that their country is at an existential juncture. Al-Thinni told me last August that if no political pact is reached soon, the country will most likely divide between East and West. Such an outcome should set off alarm bells in Europe and the United States and must force a policy debate in those capitals beyond the partisan haggling over the 2011 intervention.

Montreal imam, Ali Sbeiti, has passport revoked; was once named as ‘subject of interest’ in probe

Stewart Bell | February 11, 2015
National Post
Federal officials have revoked the passport of an Iranian-trained Montreal imam once described by the RCMP’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team as a “subject of interest in an ongoing investigation.”
Ali Sbeiti, who was born in Iraq but has been a Canadian citizen since 1991, was notified in a Nov. 19 letter that his passport had been “invalidated” and that Passport Canada was reviewing his “eligibility for passport services.”
The four-page letter from Citizenship and Immigration Canada advised Mr. Sbeiti he could no longer use his passport and that he had to return it immediately. While it cited federal regulations, the letter did not explain why the action was taken.
But internal government documents show that the Mounties have expressed interest in Mr. Sbeiti since 2009. He was also flagged by the Passport Canada security bureau after he altered his passport by trying to remove a sticker from one of the pages in 2007.
Mr. Sbeiti could not be reached for comment. His lawyer Mitchell Goldberg said he could not comment on the specifics of the case but that anyone advocating hatred or violence, or supporting terrorism, should be criminally charged. “None of us would want our passports to be revoked without even the right to know what allegations are being made against us, and the basic opportunity to give our side of the story,” he said, adding that fundamental rights included “the right to hold unpopular views.”
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander’s spokesman, Kevin Menard, said he could not comment on specific cases but that the government “will not hesitate to take action to protect Canadians from the threat posed by jihadi terrorists.”
The case is spelled out in documents filed last week in the Federal Court of Canada, where Mr. Goldberg is arguing the government “erred in law” by revoking the cleric’s passport “and denying him passport services for an unspecified time.”
In his application, Mr. Goldberg claimed the decision violated Mr. Sbeiti’s mobility rights and was based on “erroneous findings of fact it made in a perverse and capricious manner.” Passport Canada also failed to observe procedural fairness, he said.
The case is the latest test of federal regulations that allow the government to revoke or refuse passports on several grounds, including if it is deemed “necessary for reasons of the national security of Canada or another country.”
A 46-year-old Shi’ite cleric, Mr. Sbeiti was born in Najaf, Iraq, and studied religion in Lebanon and Iran, according to the Centre Communautaire Musulman de Montreal website, which identifies him as its imam, although a person who answered the centre’s phone said he no longer worked there.
“He immigrated to Montreal, Canada, in 1988 and went back to Qom, Iran, to continue his religious studies. Few years after he came back to Canada to serve the community,” it said. He founded “associations and community centres all across Canada,” including in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Windsor, Edmonton and Vancouver, the CCMM biography said, adding he was an “active member of several committees and bodies involved in the community and religious activities across North America.”
According to Quebec corporate records, Mr. Sbeiti is president of the Association El-Hidaya, a Montreal non-profit group founded in 1997. The association’s address, according to provincial records, is the same as that of the CCMM.
In 2006, he told a self-styled “People’s Committee on Immigration Security Measures” about “his personal and community experiences of harassment” by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Quebec activist group wrote in its report.
“He has been interviewed tens of times by CSIS (starting well before 11 September 2001), often for hours at a time,” and people who arrive in the country are regularly asked about him and whether they plan to attend his prayers; they are made to feel as though he is dangerous,” the committee’s report said.
Mr. Sbeiti “began having problems at airports” and complained about delays getting his boarding passes and being “asked to stand aside and wait while others were processed,” it said. “Eventually, he found out that he had been placed on the no fly list in the United States and that this was affecting him even when he was flying in Canada.”
When he tried to enter the United States, he was “arrested, handcuffed and put in a cell for six or seven hours” before being sent back to Canada, it said. “Next he was told by his bank that Canadian authorities wanted to make inquiries into his finances.”
‘He has been interviewed tens of times by CSIS (starting well before 11 September 2001), often for hours at a time’
.His “Security Case History Sheet” at Passport Canada shows that in 2007 his passport was damaged when he tried to remove “a sticker.” He said it had happened in Saudi Arabia and denied he had attempted to remove a visa from his passport, which was later seized at Montreal’s Trudeau airport on the grounds it had been altered.
Two years later, on Aug. 31, 2009, the RCMP INSET in Montreal asked the passport office to “flag” Mr. Sbeiti since he was “of interest” to the section. The passport he used at that time had several entry and exit stamps from Lebanon, as well as an Iranian visa and indicates he had travelled to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.
When Mr. Sbeiti applied for a new passport in 2012, INSET again told Passport Canada it was interested in him. “As previously discussed, we would like to obtain a copy of the subject’s passport application and any other information you have concerning his application. He is a subject of interest in an ongoing investigation,” Samuel Mikhail of the Montreal INSET wrote in a Sept. 5, 2012 email.
Despite the RCMP’s query, Passport Canada received “no response from law enforcement” and issued a new passport to Mr. Sbeiti two weeks later, allowing him to travel to Lebanon via Paris. An internal email said he was not to be told he was a subject of police interest.
Seven pages of Mr. Sbeiti’s Passport Canada file were blacked out before being placed in the court record. The government said it intended to challenge the disclosure of the information under the Canada Evidence Act.
National Post

Obama appoints Muslim Brotherhood-linked Muslim to head “Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications”
February 19, 2015
By Robert Spencer
Rashad HussainRashad Hussain was previously the Obama administration’s special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the thuggish international organization that is engaged in a full-scale campaign to intimidate Western governments into adopting hate speech codes that will effectively quash criticism of Islam – including jihad violence perpetrated in its name. Rashad Hussain is an apposite choice for this position, since several years ago he defended a notorious U.S.-based leader of a jihad terrorist group.
But someone doesn’t want you to know that, and made a clumsy attempt to cover it up.
In 2004, Rashad Hussain, then a Yale law student, declared that the investigation and prosecution of University of South Florida professor Sami al-Arian, who ultimately pled guilty to charges involving his activities as a leader of the terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad and was recently deported, was a “politically motivated persecution” designed “to squash dissent.”
Hussain’s remarks in support of Al-Arian were published in the jihad-enabling Washington Report on Middle East Affairs in November 2004. But now all that has gone down the memory hole. The Washington Report’s archived version of this November 2004 article lacks two paragraphs that were included in the original version: the ones quoting Rashad Hussain. Otherwise the article is unchanged.
The Washington Report editors, caught red-handed, decided to brazen it out, and blame their accusers – a tried-and-true tactic that is also frequently employed by jihadists in the West. They insist that there was no cover-up, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a venomous Islamophobe: according to CNS News, “WRMEA news editor and executive director Delinda Hanley denied there was a ‘cover-up,’ and implied that anti-Muslim discrimination was behind the fact this was now being raised.”
Sure. It’s just “anti-Muslim discrimination” to be concerned about Rashad Hussain’s support for Al-Arian, a vicious suicide-bombing supporter who chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” and clearly meant it. When two Islamic Jihad suicide bombers killed eighteen people in Israel in 1995, Al-Arian called them “two mujahidin martyred for the sake of God.”
But there was no cover-up! It was all a mistake, you see: according to the Washington Report now, Sami Al-Arian’s daughter, Laila Al-Arian, actually said the words that were attributed to Rashad Hussain.
But this explanation doesn’t make sense, since the article was altered just to remove the quotes, not to change the name of the person quoted. Also, the author of the original story, Shereen Kandil, contradicts the Washington Report’s explanation, telling Patrick Goodenough of CNS:“
“When I worked as a reporter at WRMEA, I understood how important it was to quote the right person, and accurately. I have never mixed my sources and wouldn’t have quoted Rashad Hussain if it came from Laila al-Arian. If the editors from WRMEA felt they wanted to remove Rashad Hussain from the article, my assumption is that they did it for reasons other than what you’re saying. They never once contacted me about an ‘error’ they claim I made.’”
Was the Washington Report covering for Rashad Hussain at its own discretion, or at the behest of someone else? Did Barack Obama himself know about this cover-up? Did someone in the White House or the State Department find out about Hussain’s defense of Al-Arian, and act to cover for the bright young special envoy before this defense was discovered and he became known as a terror apologist? We will probably never know. And now Rashad Hussain heads up a key center supposedly devoted
to “countering violent extremism.” What could possibly go wrong?

“Report: Obama’s New Anti-ISIS Propaganda Head Tied to Muslim Brotherhood,”
by Edwin Mora, Breitbart/ February 17, 2015 (thanks to Pamela Geller):
The Obama administration is revamping its efforts to combat Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) propaganda. ISIS and its supporters produce “as many as 90,000 tweets and other social media responses every day,” reports The New York Times.
An empowered Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, currently a small component of the U.S. State Department, will spearhead the new campaign to fight the ISIS propaganda machine.
Rashad Hussain, a Muslim American with close ties to the White House, will replace Alberto Fernandez, the center’s director, according to The Times.
Hussain, who has reportedly participated in events linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, currently serves as Obama’s special envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. He will take over when Fernandez retires in April.
“Hussain, a devout Muslim, has a history of participating in events connected with the Muslim Brotherhood,” reported Cal Thomas in an article published by Townhall.
Citing Egypt’s Rose El-Youssef magazine, The Investigative Project on Terrorism reported that Hussain “maintained close ties with people and groups that [the magazine] says comprise the Muslim Brotherhood network in America.”
Some critics describe Hussain as a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer. He is not a confirmed member of the group.
An added component called the Information Coordination Cell will be part of the newly revamped center.
It will be “staffed by intelligence and Pentagon analysts among others” and “will be responsible for the broader coordination functions.”
“Skeptics of the new [anti-propaganda] campaign voiced concerns that the program is an attempt by the White House to end a long-simmering turf war with the counterterrorism center’s director, Alberto Fernandez, and exercise more control over the kinds of messages that are produced and coordinated with domestic and international partners,” notes The Times.
“Other officials questioned whether even a newly empowered center at the State Department would be up to the task. Operating the center on a shoestring budget of about $5 million a year, Mr. Fernandez, a respected Middle East specialist and career Foreign Service officer, and his supporters have long complained that neither the State Department nor the White House fully supported or properly financed the center’s activities,” the article adds.
The Obama administration plans “to harness all the existing attempts at counter-messaging by much larger federal departments, including the Pentagon, Homeland Security and intelligence agencies,” explains The Times.
The Times added:
The center would also coordinate and amplify similar messaging by foreign allies and nongovernment agencies, as well as by prominent Muslim academics, community leaders and religious scholars who oppose the Islamic State, also called ISIS or ISIL, and who may have more credibility with ISIS’ target audience of young men and women than the American government.
About 80 people will staff the newly-empowered center.
“We’re getting beaten on volume, so the only way to compete is by aggregating, curating and amplifying existing content,” Richard A. Stengel, the under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, said on Monday, NYT reports.
He admitted that anti-ISIS propaganda efforts by the Obama administration “could have been better coordinated,” adds the article.
In its arsenal, the U.S. government has “more than 350 State Department Twitter accounts, combining embassies, consulates, media hubs, bureaus and individuals, as well as similar accounts operated by the Pentagon, the Homeland Security Department and foreign allies,” points out The Times….
Twitter accounts! I bet the Islamic State jihadis are shivering with fear.

Living and Dying by the Sword of Jihad
By Raymond Ibrahim /PJ Media
February 19, 2015
In a move reminiscent of “ancient history,” Saudi Arabia is building a 600-mile-long “Great Wall”—a combined fence and ditch—to separate itself from the Islamic State to the north in Iraq:
Plans for the 600-mile wall and ditch Saudi Arabia will build with Iraq in an effort to insulate itself from the chaos engulfing its neighbors.
Much of the area on the Iraqi side is now controlled by Isil [the Islamic State], which regards the ultimate capture of Saudi Arabia, home to the “Two Holy Mosques” of Mecca and Medina, as a key goal….
The irony here is that those Muslims that Saudi Arabia is trying to keep out are the very same Muslims most nurtured and influenced by a Saudi — or “Wahabbi,” or “Salafi” — worldview.
Put differently, Saudi Arabia is again appreciating how jihad is a volatile instrument of war that can easily backfire on those who support it. “Holy war” is hardly limited to fighting and subjugating “infidels” — whether the West in general, Israel in particular, or the millions of non-Muslim minorities under Islam — but also justifies fighting “apostates,” that is, Muslims accused of not being Islamic enough.
Indeed, the first grand jihad was against Muslim “apostates” — the Ridda [“apostasy”] Wars. After Muhammad died in 632, many Arab tribes were willing to remain Muslim but without paying zakat (“charity” or extortion) money to the first caliph, Abu Bakr. That was enough to declare jihad on them as apostates; tens of thousands of Arabs were burned, beheaded, dismembered, or crucified, according to Islamic history.
Accordingly, the Islamic State justifies burning people alive, such as the Jordanian pilot, precisely because the first caliph and his Muslim lieutenants burned apostates alive, and is even on record saying that “false Muslims” are its first target, then Israel.
This is the problem all Muslim nations and rulers risk: no one — not even Sharia-advocating Islamist leaders — are immune to the all-accusing sword tip of the jihad. If non-Muslims are, as “infidels,” de facto enemies, any Muslim can be accused of “apostasy,” instantly becoming an enemy of Allah and his prophet.
A saying attributed to the Muslim prophet Muhammad validates this perspective: “This umma [Islamic nation] of mine will split into seventy-three sects; one will be in paradise and seventy-two will be in hell.” When asked which sect was the true one, the prophet replied, “al-jama‘a,” that is, the group which most literally follows the example or “sunna” of Muhammad.
This saying perfectly sums up the history of Islam: to be deemed legitimate, authorities must uphold the teachings of Islam — including jihad; but it is never long before another claimant accuses existing leadership of not being “Islamic enough.”
Enter the Saudi/Islamic State relationship. From the start, the Arabian kingdom has been a supporter of the Islamic State. It was not long, however, before IS made clear that Saudi Arabia was one of its primary targets, calling on its allies and supporters in the kingdom to kill and drive out the Saud tribe.
Nor is this the first time the Saudis see those whom they nurtured — ideologically and logistically — turn on them. Back in the 1980s, the Saudis were chief supporters of the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan and helped create al-Qaeda.
But once the “distant” infidel was subdued, al-Qaeda and its Saudi-born leader Osama bin Laden came home to roost, doing the inevitable: pointing the accusatory finger at the Saudi monarchy for not being Islamic enough, including for its reliance on the great American infidel during the First Gulf War.
Moreover, Saudi Arabia is not only a chief disseminator and supporter of the Salafi ideology most associated with jihad, but the Arabian kingdom itself was forged in large measure by articulating and calling for holy war in the 19th and 20th centuries, including against Turks and fellow Arab tribes (both Muslim).
The Saudi argument then was the very same argument now being made by the Islamic State — that the rulers of Islam’s holiest mosques in Mecca and Medina (in this case, the Ottoman Turks) were not “Islamic” enough.
Such is the double-edged sword of jihad. All Islamic governments, regimes, and kingdoms must always try to direct this potent instrument of war against enemies or neutral targets — preferably ones far away from their borders (Afghanistan, America, etc.). For they know that the longer the jihad waxes in strength and goes uncontained, the more it becomes like an all-consuming fire indiscriminately scorching all in its path.
This also explains why Saudi Arabia is a chief funder and supporter of external jihads: to send its own zealots out of its borders to fight distant infidels (a “better them than me” mentality). It also explains why nations like Saudi Arabia, which were forged by the jihad, continually find themselves threatened by the jihad — or, to paraphrase a young Jewish rabbi: “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.”