LCCC ENGLISH DAILY
Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on January
Syrian rebels: Iranian officers spotted near site of reported nuclear facility/Roi Kais/Ynetnews/January 11/15
The Kouachi Brothers’ Journey to Terror/Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat/January 11/15
Je Suis Ahmed/Salman Aldossary/Asharq Al Awsat/January 11/15
Royal Roulette/Simon Henderson/Foreign Policy/ January 11/15
Lebanese Related News published on January 11-12/15
Solidarity in Lebanon after brutal attack
Mashnouq Warns of Further Security Deterioration, Accuses ISIL of Tripoli Attack
Nusra to Hizbullah, Jabal Mohsen: We'll Strike You in Your Heartlands
Suicide attack at Lebanese cafe kills at least seven
LebanonThree Detained in Links to Jabal Mohsen Twin Suicide Attack
Lebanon army identifies Tripoli suicide bombers
Bahrain Summons Lebanon Envoy, Urges 'Clear Condemnation' of Nasrallah Remarks
Arabi Strongly Slams Jabal Mohsen Blasts, Arab Delegation to Show 'Solidarity with Lebanon'
U.S. 'Strongly Condemns' Deadly Jabal Mohsen Bombing
Beirut Holds Solidarity Sit-in as Bassil Joins Paris Anti-Terror March
Three Detained in Links to Jabal Mohsen Twin Suicide Attack
Al-Rahi Reiterates Calls for Election of President: We Want Politicians who Believe in State
Nazarian: Exploration of Offshore Wealth Requires Political Decision
Jreij Says Waste Treatment Crisis to Reach a Breakthrough, Cabinet to Endorse Bill Monday
Deal reached over waste treatment in Lebanon
Lebanon ski slopes open
Father of 7 died for his neighbors in Lebanon
Miscellaneous Reports And News published on
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Connecting the dots on Paris and Yemen
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Warns of Further Security Deterioration, Accuses ISIL of Tripoli Attack
Naharnet/11.01.15/Interior Minister al-Mashnouq warned on Sunday that the security situation will deteriorate in Lebanon during the upcoming stage due to the ongoing war in neighboring country Syria, accusing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant of standing behind Tripoli's attack. “Coordination is strong between security agencies to encounter the upcoming stage,” Mashnouq told reporters after a meeting for the northern city of Tripoli's sub-Security Council a day after a double suicide bombing that targeted Jabal Mohsen neighborhood.
The minister stressed that the Lebanese can only combat terrorism if they were united. Two suicide bombers killed nine people and wounded 37 others in an attack on a cafe in the flashpoint Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen. Al-Qaida-affilliate al-Nusra Front claimed responsibility for the blasts via Twitter. “A cafe belonging to the (Alawite Arab) Democratic Party in Jabal Mohsen was targeted with a double martyrdom attack, to avenge the Sunnis in Syria and Lebanon," read the tweet. Panicked survivors tried to flee the scene of the attack when a second suicide attacker arrived, and blew himself up too. However, Mashnouq said that preliminary reports indicate that ISIL is behind the attack.
"The security agencies are capable and will continue to carry out their duties to combat terrorism." Lebanese security forces believe the bombers lived in Mankubeen, a majority Sunni neighborhood just 500 meters away from Jabal Mohsen. They were identified as Taha Samir al-Khayyal and Bilal Mohammed al-Meraayan. The Arab Democratic Party is the main group representing the Alawite minority in Lebanon. Mashnouq also pointed out that former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is the head of the Sunni al-Mustaqbal Movement, will compensate the residents of Jabal Mohsen. “The Hariri foundation will reconstruct all the damage.”Earlier on Sunday, Mashnouq described the twin suicide bombings as “brutal,” vowing to confront terrorism with all possible means.
“The cruel attacks in Jabal Mohsen target all the Lebanese,” Mashnouq said in comments published in al-Mustaqbal newspaper. He urged the Lebanese to remain united to avert all terrorist schemes. Later on the minister inspected the site of the double suicide bombings.
The country's second city Tripoli has seen frequent violence pitting gunmen in the Alawite district of Jabal Mohsen against neighboring Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh. Fighting between the two districts in recent years has killed scores of people, many of them civilians caught in the crossfire. Though the tensions have their roots in the 1975-1990 Lebanese civil war, sectarian hatred has spiraled ever since the outbreak of a revolt in neighboring Syria. Residents of Jabal Mohsen support Syria's President Bashar Assad, who belongs to an Alawite clan, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, that has ruled the war-torn country for more than 40 years. People in Bab al-Tabbaneh support the rebels, who like the Syrian population are mostly Sunni. Since October, the army has deployed heavily in Tripoli, detaining hundreds of people in an attempt to stem the violence. On August 23, 2013, bomb attacks struck two mosques in Tripoli, killing and wounding dozens of people. Some of those suspected of involvement in the attacks were from Jabal Mohsen.
Nusra to Hizbullah, Jabal Mohsen:
We'll Strike You in Your Heartlands
Naharnet/The Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front on Sunday threatened the residents of Jabal Mohsen and Hizbullah with new attacks, a day after it claimed responsibility for a twin suicide bombing that killed nine and wounded more than 37 others in the Tripoli neighborhood.
“We will spare no effort to strike you in your heartlands and you will pay the price of your continuous crimes against the Sunni community and your attacks against their holy sites in the land of Sham (Syria and Lebanon),” the Front said in a statement published on the Twitter account of its Qalamun branch, addressing its threat to Lebanon's Alawites, Hizbullah and “their allies.”Two suicide bombers who hail from the northern city of Tripoli carried out Saturday's attack on a packed cafe in Jabal Mohsen, a Lebanese district that is largely loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad. Al-Nusra Front swiftly claimed the deadly twin bombing, although Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq has announced that the Islamic State group is involved in the attack, citing “preliminary” information. The Front said the operation was in retaliation to “the attack by Jabal Mohsen's Nusayris (Alawites) on the mosques of the Sunni community in Tripoli.” It was referring to the August 23, 2013 twin bombings that targeted Tripoli's al-Salam and al-Taqwa mosques and left 45 people dead and over 500 wounded.
The Lebanese judiciary has issued an arrest warrant in the case for Arab Democratic Party leader ex-MP Ali Eid, who failed to show up at a hearing on Saturday. “Lebanon's government has turned a blind eye to these crimes by allowing the escape of the criminals who carried out the vicious act, in total disregard for the sentiments of the Sunni community in Lebanon,” al-Nusra added in its statement
Solidarity in Lebanon after brutal
Misbah al-Ali/Antoine Amrieh/The Daily Star/Jan. 12, 2015
TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Rival Lebanese leaders teamed up Sunday in a show of solidarity to foil plans to incite sectarian strife by the two suicide bombers who struck in Tripoli, killing at least nine people, in the most serious breach of a government security plan that restored law and order to the violence-ravaged northern city. Saturday night’s twin suicide bombings in the predominantly Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen in Tripoli, claimed by the Nusra Front, Syria’s Al-Qaeda affiliate, have raised fears of Lebanon getting drawn further into the nearly 4-year-old war in Syria.
Nusra Front issued a statement on social media Sunday evening saying the attacks came in response to the Lebanese government’s negligence in punishing those behind the bombings of the Al-Taqwa and As-Salam mosques in Tripoli last summer. More than 30 people were also wounded in the blasts that posed a new challenge to the Lebanese Army, which crushed Islamist militants in Tripoli in October as part of its open battle against terrorism. The Army has often clashed with ISIS and Nusra Front militants who are still holding 25 soldiers and policemen hostage on the outskirts of the northeastern town of Arsal.
A military investigation has been launched to determine where the two Lebanese suicide bombers came from, who sent them and who provided them with explosives belts to blow themselves up in a crowded cafe in the Jabal Mohsen district, which in the past few years had fought deadly battles with the predominantly Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood over the conflict raging in Syria. The Lebanese Army identified the two suicide bombers as Taha Samir al-Khayal, 21, and Bilal Mohammad al-Mariyan, 29. Both were Lebanese.
Residents and witnesses said a suicide bomber detonated his vest just outside the cafe in Jabal Mohsen and after people rushed to the scene five minutes later, another man walking toward the crowd shouting “Allahu akbar” blew himself up. Security sources said, Khayal, who hails from Tripoli’s Mankoubeen neighborhood, had returned to the area over a week ago after being absent since the October 2014 clashes in the city.
The Army Sunday arrested three suspects who were regularly seen in Tripoli with Khayal during the week before the attack. An Army statement said the explosives belts worn by the two attackers contained about 4 kilograms of TNT. In addition to an Army force that sealed off the targeted area, a number of military experts examined the site of the bombing to determine the circumstances of the attack, it said. In condemning the bombings, Lebanese leaders also called for national unity to prevent a new outbreak of sectarian strife in the country.
“Terrorism will not stop, neither in Lebanon nor elsewhere. Confronting it calls on us to be united,” Prime Minister Tammam Salam told visitors at his Moseitbeh residence. “The goal of the bombings is to [incite] strife among the Lebanese. But their goal will not be achieved because Lebanon will not be a safe haven for such operations.”In another statement, Salam called on the Lebanese to stand behind the Army and security forces against terrorism. “We tell those sick minds that this crime will not terrorize the Lebanese or the Tripolitans and will not weaken the state’s determination to fight terrorism and terrorists,” he said.
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri strongly condemned the terrorist “crime,” saying it was aimed at rekindling strife and destabilizing Tripoli after the Army and security forces succeeded in halting the cycle of violence in the northern city, confronting terrorist organizations and reinforcing security.“This heinous terrorist crime requires combined efforts by all Lebanese, who should strongly support the Lebanese Army and security forces in taking the required measures to preserve security, arrest the perpetrators and all those behind them and bring them to justice,” Hariri said in a statement.
The Nusra Front claimed responsibility for the attack that targeted the cafe in Jabal Mohsen. “A suicide operation targeted a cafe [belonging to] the Alawite Arab Democratic Party in revenge for the Sunnis in Syria and Lebanon,” the Nusra Front said on its Twitter account. It added that the two attackers had been trained in Syria’s Qalamoun region near the border with Lebanon and sent to Tripoli to carry out the twin attacks.
However, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk told a news conference that preliminary information suggested that ISIS was behind the attack. “These operations are neither separate nor discontinuous and the suicide bombers are members of [ISIS],” he said after chairing a security meeting in Tripoli. Recurring violence in Tripoli took on an increasingly sectarian nature with the beginning of the war in Syria nearly four years ago. The ADP is an ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Bab al-Tabbaneh’s residents largely support the rebels fighting to oust him.
Machnouk also inspected the bombing site, saying residents of Tripoli and the north were united against “extremism and takfirism.” Asked about fears of a return to bombings, he said: “As long as the fire rages on in Syria, the escalation will get worse. But with our conscientiousness, unity and the capability of security institutions, above all the Army, [we] will be able to resist [terror].”According to Machnouk, the suicide bombers “might” have been tied to Monzer al-Hasan – a militant suspected of links to other suicide bombings in the country. Hasan was killed when security forces raided his apartment in the posh City Complex building in Tripoli last July.
Security forces had intelligence that Hasan provided explosives belts and materiel to a terrorist cell that was planning to carry out major attacks in Lebanon. Hasan was also suspected of being the main supplier of a Saudi suicide bomber who blew himself up in Beirut’s Duroy Hotel in June. Machnouk said that he was contacted by Hariri, who pledged to pay for the rehabilitation of the area damaged in the explosions. In condemning the bombings, Hezbollah said takfiri groups were the source of all evil. “Takfiri ideology targets all of us indiscriminately,” the party said, adding that the attack on the cafe denoted that “takfiri” groups were “bothered” by the ongoing dialogue between Hezbollah and the Future Movement.
Washington condemned the Tripoli attack. “The United States strongly condemns yesterday’s suicide bombing at the Omran Café in the Jabal Mohsen neighborhood of Tripoli, Lebanon,” the State Department said in a statement. The U.S. will continue its “strong support for the Lebanese security forces as they protect the Lebanese people, combat violent extremists, and preserve Lebanon’s stability, sovereignty and security,” it added. Iran also denounced the attack. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said the perpetrators of the “ominous act” have targeted Lebanon’s unity, solidarity and stability.
Father of seven who died for his
Kareem Shaheen/The Daily Star/Jan. 12, 2015
TRIPOLI, Lebanon: A stream of men embrace Khoder Issa Khaddour, kissing his head as his father’s coffin rests on his shoulders. Khoder smiles through the ordeal, urging all to congratulate him on his father’s martyrdom, not mourn his demise. “We are proud of him, and he is the martyr of all of Jabal Mohsen and Lebanon,” he told The Daily Star outside his house, a short walk away from the site of a twin suicide bombing that struck the majority-Alawite neighborhood in Tripoli Saturday night. “This terrorism targets all of Lebanon and not just Jabal Mohsen. He is the martyr of Lebanon.”“Tell me mabrook, he is a martyr of the nation,” he added. “He did this to save his family of Jabal Mohsen.” Residents and eyewitnesses told The Daily Star that Khoder’s father, “Abu Ali” Issa Khaddour, 60, immediately rushed to the scene of the first suicide bombing after hearing the explosion from his house. His father was often impulsive, Khoder said. There, Abu Ali noticed a man walking to the gathering crowd and the nearby, large Omran cafe, shouting “Allahu akbar.”Residents and witnesses said Abu Ali rushed to the man and tackled him before the suicide bomber detonated his vest. The action prevented a larger massacre, locals said. “I was very happy,” Khoder said, when asked how he reacted to the news. “Our traditions and our faith tell us to give martyrs, and my father was a hero and a martyr.”“He died a hero and a martyr.” Abu Ali was father to three sons and four daughters. But Khoder said the tightly knit community of Jabal Mohsen was all one family, and his father died to save them. But so are the rest of the people of Tripoli, he said, who are innocent of the actions of the men who killed his father. “His parting is a shock to us, but we are proud of him,” he said. “God protect all of the Lebanese people from terrorism.”
Bahrain Summons Lebanon Envoy, Urges
'Clear Condemnation' of Nasrallah Remarks
Naharnet 1.01.15/Bahrain has summoned the Lebanese embassy's charge d'affaires to demand a “clear condemnation” of recent remarks about the Gulf kingdom by Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. “The foreign ministry has summoned Mr. Ibrahim Elias Assaf, the Lebanese republic's charge d'affaires in the kingdom, following the latest hostile remarks by Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of the terrorist Hizbullah,” said a statement carried by Bahrain's news agency BNA. Bahrain, which blacklists Hizbullah as a “terrorist” organization, has always deplored Nasrallah's statements that voice support for the kingdom's Shiite-led opposition. On Friday, Nasrallah noted that top Bahraini dissident Sheikh Ali Salman, who was jailed recently by authorities, “has never called for toppling the regime and he did not incite to violence.” “The reason behind the peaceful approach is not the inability to send weapons or fighters to Bahrain, but rather the fact that the clerics, political leaders and people in Bahrain are preventing that and seeking a peaceful solution,” Hizbullah’s leader added. He also alleged the presence of a “Zionist-like naturalization scheme” in the kingdom, saying “people are flocking to it from all over the world.” During the meeting with the Lebanese charge d'affaires, Bahraini foreign ministry undersecretary Abdullah Abdullah called for “a clear condemnation of these statements,” urging “deterring and decisive measures against such remarks.”Abdullah called Nasrallah's stances “an unacceptable interference in the Bahraini and Gulf affairs that involved a blatant incitement to violence and terrorism.”
Bahrain “cannot accept any meddling in its affairs by any side and it will take all the necessary measures to strengthen its security and stability,” he added.
Syrian rebels: Iranian officers
spotted near site of reported nuclear facility
Roi Kais/Ynetnews/Published: 01.11.15/ Israel News
Senior Free Syrian Army official says suspicious Syrian, Iranian movement noted in Qusayr, where plant is said to be, enhanced by 'unprecedented' Hezbollah security.
Following reports Syrian President Bashar Assad was building an underground nuclear facility, a senior Syrian rebel official told Saudi paper Okaz on Sunday that the Free Syrian Army has noted suspicious Syrian and Iranian movements in the town of Qusayr on the outskirts of Homs, where the facility is said to be. According to the official, Abu Muhammad al-Bitar, the Free Syrian Army noted the presence of Iranian officers and "unprecedented" Hezbollah security in the area. Al-Bitar said the Friday report on Der Spiegel has been discussed at length in command meetings of rebel factions in the Kalamoon area. He went on to say that "what can be confirmed is that what's going on there is happening under direct Iranian supervision and the Syrian regime is only a cover-up for this."
Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif. rejected the Der Spiegel report on Sunday as "ridiculous," saying "the magazine's allegation is one of the attempts made by those circles whose life has been based on violence and fear to cloud the international community with illusion and create imaginary concerns about the Islamic Republic," according to the FARS news agency.
Citing information made available by unidentified intelligence sources, Der Spiegel said the plant was in an inaccessible mountain region in the west of the war-ravaged country, two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the Lebanese border.
It is deep underground, near the town of Qusayr and has access to electricity and water supplies, the magazine said. It said it had had access to “exclusive documents,” satellite photographs and intercepted conversations thanks to intelligence sources.
According to the report, the most recent satellite images show six structures which conceal entrances to the reported facility, said to be below ground. The site was also reported to have special access to Syria's power grid, connected to the nearby city of Blosah.
According to the report, a particularly suspicious detail is a deep well which connects the facility with a local lake: "Such a connection is unnecessary for a conventional weapons cache, but it is essential for a nuclear facility," the report said.
However, the clearest proof the report cited was an intercepted communication by radio traffic recently intercepted local spies, in which the voice identified as belonging to a high-ranking Hezbollah official can be heard calling the place an "atomic factory" specifically naming Qusayr as the area.
More importantly, the Hezbollah official frequently updated Ibrahim Othman, the head of the Syrian Atomic Energy Commission. The Syrian regime has transferred 8,000 fuel rods to the plant that had been planned for a facility at Al-Kibar, it added.
Western experts suspect, based on the documents, that a reactor or an enrichment plant could be the aim of the project, whose codename is “Zamzam,” Der Spiegel said. The report said North Korean and Iranian experts are thought to be part of the “Zamzam” project.
If true, the paper claimed that the facility serves as was proof that the Syrian regime has not forgone its desire to attain nuclear arms, despite a 2007 attack attributed to Israel on what was reportedly to be a heavy water reactor secretly built in Syria.
In 2007, a bombing raid on an undeclared Syrian nuclear facility at al-Kibar was widely understood to have been an Israeli strike, but it was never acknowledged by the Jewish state.
In a 2009 interview with Spiegel, Assad claimed to "want a nuclear-free Middle East, Israel included." But a later IAEA investigation from 2011 found that "the destroyed building was very likely a nuclear reactor."
AFP contributed to this report.
Je Suis Ahmed
Salman Aldossary/Asharq Al Awsat
Monday, 12 Jan, 2015
Ahmed Merabet was one of the French police officers killed at the offices of French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, and whose death the whole world saw in pictures beamed across the globe. He was lying on the side of the road injured after being shot by the men who carried out the attack as they were about to enter the offices. One of the gunmen returned to him once again as they were fleeing the scene, pointed his gun at Merabet’s head, and then shot him again—this time fatally—in the head. As the gunmen sped off in their vehicle they were heard to shout: “We have avenged the Prophet!”
Here we have a case where the killers—Cherif and Said Kouachi, the brothers who carried out the attack—were Muslim, where the person slain was a Muslim, but where the place the killing took place was France. Who, I wonder, is the Muslim among these three, and who is not?
It is no longer enough to simply condemn. It is not enough to say that Islam has nothing to do with these events, and that the terrorists do not represent Islam. In every one of these operations we will be able to say that 10, 20 or even 100 of these people do not represent Islam. But the reality is there are tens of thousands of them among us. And this is a bitter reality we must face, even if it angers or upsets us. These terrorist operations will continue, and we will no doubt continue to condemn them—but until when? God only knows. How can we convince French citizens, say, that these people are terrorists and don’t represent Muslims, when they continually use Islamic slogans such as “Allahu Akbar” (God is great)? And how can we then convince them if some of us then accuse them of being opposed to Islam and being involved in conspiracies against it while at the same time asking, “Why don’t they see the real Islam?” There are around 5 million Muslims in France, out of 45 million in the whole of Europe; it is they who have the most to lose from this, and not those craven fools who sit behind their computers making excuses for the killers and inciting violence and hatred.
We are lying to ourselves if we think ideologies and political ideas condoning violence are not going to spread among our societies. The fight against terrorism is not the job of security forces or the education system alone. The West realized this early on during its fight against groups such as the IRA, the Basque separatist group ETA, or the Red Brigades in Italy. It was not just these efforts which helped these groups eventually disappear or disintegrate. No, it was actually the European societies themselves, who chose to reject violence and embrace tolerance as general principles, agreeing that there is little or even no difference between the members of these violent organizations and those who offer their support to them from the sidelines. It is public opinion that prevents the spread of these groups within society. So, do we continue to bury our head in the sand and ignore Muslims who thought the attacks were an appropriate response to the insults to the Prophet Muhammad, or others who condemned the attack but followed this with a “but . . . ” which inadvertently provides an indirect excuse for the terrorists? If this is not considered as excusing such acts, then what on earth can be?
It is impossible for any security apparatus in the world to completely contain the phenomenon of terrorism and its perpetrators. There are certainly those who have been convicted of terrorist-related offences and they are currently languishing in jail. But there are others, who are free but certainly suspicious and dangerous, who remain at large among us because they are yet to commit a crime. It was the same for the Kouachi brothers. Authorities had been watching them but could not arrest them because there was no way to charge them with anything —in other words, they were known to be ticking time bombs, but no one knew when or where they would explode. We had the same situation with the border attacks in Arar in Saudi Arabia recently. One of the perpetrators had previously taken part in rallies calling for the release of convicted terrorists from prison. Saudi authorities regarded him as suspicious, but there was no evidence that he had committed a crime, so he went about freely. Security experts say that every suspicious person the authorities are tracking requires constant surveillance by around 25 individuals, who will all attempt to prevent them from carrying out a terrorist plot—something it is surely almost impossible to prevent all the time.
But let us return to Ahmed Merabet, who certainly represents Muslims. Ahmed emigrated to France with his family, integrated into its society, and died defending its security and values. Many expressed sympathy for him on social media and used the hashtag “#JeSuisAhmed” to express their solidarity. But sadly, when all is said and done, it will not be his name that will be remembered around the globe as an example of Islam, but those of Cherif and Said Kouachi, two men who represent an extremely small minority of Muslims. It is their names who will be remembered, at least until the next terrorist operation when new names will take their place, ones who will no doubt be given their excuses by the apologists and the “but . . . ” crowd.
The Kouachi Brothers’ Journey to
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed/Asharq Alawsat
Monday, 12 Jan, 2015
.The brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, who carried out the attack against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and claimed to be directed by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), have a lot in common with other terrorists who joined extremist groups. What they share is a similar path through school, mosque, and prison. The Kouachi brothers, like many young immigrants in France, held menial jobs including delivering pizzas. They later began to attend Dawaa mosque, in a Paris suburb, where they fell under the influence of an extremist preacher.
Cherif went to jail after getting involved with an extremist group. He completed his education in extremism in prison where cells of prisoners are tasked with teaching and overseeing others on their journeys into extremism. Cherif therefore left prison a terrorist. His brother Said traveled to Yemen where he attended Al-Iman university, overseen by fundamentalist preacher Abdul Majeed Al-Zindani, and subsequently joined AQAP.
The school, the mosque, and prison were therefore stages in the journey of these terrorists, including the man believed to be the leader of the Paris cell who carried out the attack. Djamel Beghal was also a former convict. He was imprisoned for 10 years and was recruited and trained in a French prison, and this is where Cherif met him. Terrorist Mohammad Merah, who killed seven people Toulouse in 2012, had been imprisoned for two years after he was found guilty in an armed robbery. It was also in prison that Merah met extremists who recruited him. In France, there are around 40,000 Muslims in prisons that have been infiltrated by terrorist organizations and where extremism has spread.
This is not a problem exclusive to the Muslims of the West, as prisons are a better place to recruit extremists than schools, mosques and households. Despite attempts to reform them, extremists may remain dangerous even after serving their sentences. One of the Saudis who carried out the terrorist attack on the Saudi border crossing with Iraq around two weeks ago had also served a prison sentence, and one of the perpetrators involved in the attack on a Husseiniya, or Shi’ite meeting house, in the eastern city of Al-Ahsa in November last year was a former convict. There are around 3,000 prisoners in the same kind of facility as the one he was held in. This is a huge number by itself, and a lot more than 3,000 have been released during the past few years, either because of lack of evidence or because they served their sentences. These thousands of potential extremists are a serious source of concern. Their number is increasing and prisons may no longer accommodate them at some point, while the courts will be tied up dealing with them, and they will thus become the security forces’ first concern. All this will leads us back to the ultimate solution to this problem, which is an intellectual one. Confronting extremists requires an alternative project: moderate Islam. This can be achieved via marketing the culture of moderate and modern Islam—a culture which hasn’t made it to our mosques and universities yet.
Simon Henderson/Foreign Policy
January 11, 2015
With King Abdullah in the hospital, the West should be bracing for a stormy succession battle in the House of Saud.
The latest news from Saudi Arabia is that 90-year-old King Abdullah is, in the words of the crown prince, "recovering from [his] illness." That could be about right: The king went into a hospital in Riyadh on Dec. 31 and it takes about a week for antibiotics -- the standard way to treat pneumonia, his declared ailment -- to take effect.
But this is hardly a time to relax. The kingdom is a key member of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State, whose fighters are testing its defenses, as a Jan. 5 attack along the Saudi-Iraqi border, which killed three Saudi border guards, showed. Also, Saudi Arabia should be a key player in the collapsing oil market, but is currently a powerless one, unable to stop the plunging price of oil but consoling itself that U.S. shale producers, as well as Russia and Iran, are probably finding the process even more painful.
Even if Abdullah suffers no health setbacks, the king is probably going to be out of the picture for a few weeks, dealing with the aftereffects of pneumonia. That is a big enough challenge. Until now he has been the top decision-maker, playing a personal role in sorting out the diplomatic squabble with neighboring Qatar, holding a summit with Jordan's King Abdullah, and replacing six ministers in a cabinet reshuffle last month.
Will Abdullah allow Crown Prince Salman (age 78) to take over that role in his absence? Probably not. There are questions about whether Salman, despite his frenetic schedule of meetings and public events, is capable. As former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel wrote almost two years ago, the crown prince "has been reported to be increasingly ill...and often not up to the job." A BBC analysis also noted unconfirmed reports that Salman "suffers health problems."
A key question is the extent to which Abdullah will have a role in the palace politics over his successor, which are gathering pace. The prevailing view of commentators writing about the kingdom has been that, this time around, succession to the Saudi throne should be "smooth." The caveats are about the future -- concerns about the time after next that the desert kingdom has to choose a leader, rather than about how it will choose Abdullah's successor.
It's high time that conventional wisdom came under greater scrutiny. In fact, Saudi Arabia's coming transition is unlikely to be smooth -- although this is certainly the way the House of Saud will want it to appear.
The kingdom's leadership is arguably actually at a crossroads, with two royal factions vying for preeminence. The outcome could produce a whole range of new faces in positions of power in Riyadh. This could emerge as a problem for Washington, as experienced hands could be replaced with merely ambitious ones. In these circumstances, King Abdullah's likely legacy of a slightly cranky approach to progress -- allowing for some marginalization of the more obscurantist clerics but always retaining a foot on the proverbial brake -- could become a distant memory.
To understand why the coming succession battle will be so thorny, it's important to understand the succession system that has operated in Saudi Arabia since its founding. All the main characters -- King Abdullah himself, as well as Crown Prince Salman and Deputy Crown Prince Muqrin -- are sons of the kingdom's founder, King Abdulaziz, also known as Ibn Saud. When he died in 1953, Ibn Saud left a system in which the throne passed from son to younger son, rather than from father to son. All but a few of the original 35 sons of Ibn Saud who were still alive in 1953 have since died. Of those remaining -- other than Abdullah himself, Salman, and Muqrin -- all have been passed over for the throne. At 71 years old, Muqrin, the son of a Yemeni slave girl, is the youngest surviving son.
In essence, the struggle pits the Sudairis, the largest single group of full brothers among Ibn Saud's sons, against the rest. Originally seven strong, the Sudairis all were born to the same mother, who came from the Sudairi tribe -- hence their moniker, "the Sudairi Seven." The group included some of Ibn Saudi's most ambitious sons, and has dominated the House of Saud since the 1960s. King Fahd (died 2005), Crown Prince Sultan (died 2011), and Crown Prince Nayef (died 2012) were Sudairis, and older brothers of Crown Prince Salman. The remaining brothers are former Vice Minister of Defense Prince Abdulrahman, black sheep Prince Turki, and former Vice Minister of Interior Prince Ahmed.
The rise to prominence of King Abdullah -- who was younger than Fahd, whom he succeeded, but older than Sultan -- was achieved despite the best efforts of the Sudairis to thwart him. But since becoming king in 2005, Abdullah has had to accept three Sudairis as his crown prince: Sultan, then Nayef, and now Salman. With no full brothers of his own, he made alliances with other non-Sudairi princes to cement his authority. And crucially, he was also commander of the Saudi Arabian National Guard, the kingdom's largest fighting force.
From a Western perspective, the way forward is for Abdullah to abdicate, Salman to be sidelined (there is a mechanism to declare the king or crown prince medically unfit), and for Muqrin to become king. From a Saudi point of view, however, this wouldn't work. Within the royal family, there is tremendous respect for ancestry, history, and the orderly transfer of power. Even though Salman might not be up to the job, it's politically very hard to for Saudi royals to push him aside: The princes hate any suggestion of dissension, which would then be visible to the wider world. The House of Saud was enormously embarrassed in the 1960s when Ibn Saud's successor, King Saud, had to be pushed aside for demonstrable incompetence. Mere fecklessness is easier to paper over.
So, given Abdullah's incapacity, Salman's continuing ambition (or what instead may be his sons' lust for power), and Muqrin's apparent reluctance to raise his own profile to project leadership potential, it is easy to understand that many Saudis seem to think that the accession of Salman is inevitable. This logic would suggest that -- again, not wanting to rock the boat too much -- Salman would anoint Muqrin as his own crown prince.
But that's not necessarily how Salman's accession to the throne would play out. As king, he would be entitled to appoint his own crown prince. Yes, Abdullah created the job description of "deputy crown prince" and put Muqrin in the role -- but that doesn't guarantee Muqrin would be promoted. Abdullah's attempt to secure Muqrin an advance oath of allegiance from other senior princes was not unanimous. Salman could reverse Abdullah's plans once he becomes king, perhaps appointing his previously passed-over full brother, Ahmed, as crown prince. However, that concentration of power may be more than the non-Sudairi princes would tolerate.
This still leaves open the question of where the throne goes after Muqrin: Once all of Ibn Saud's sons are dead or incapacitated, which grandson of Ibn Saud will inherit the title of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques? And given Saudi Arabia's central role in the current challenges of the Middle East, is it enough that the succession be smooth -- or should Washington and other Western capitals encourage the House of Saud to allow the prince with the greatest experience and leadership qualities to emerge on top?
There is at least one argument that should trump the institutional conservatism in the palaces of Riyadh: Given the regional threats in the Middle East, making a muddled decision on a leader now could threaten the future of the royal house itself.
**Simon Henderson is the Baker Fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute
Was the French police hunt for Boumediene genuine or a rigged show?
DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis January 11, 2015
French intelligence failures over the Charlie Hebdo terror attack will not be upstaged by the Unity March of millions that President Francois Hollande leads in Paris Sunday, Jan. 11, to dramatize the free world’s protest against Islamist terror. The case of Hayat Boumeddiene, the 26-year old wife of the terrorist Amedy Coulibaly who murdered four Jews in cold blood at the kosher supermarket, stands out.
Friday, Jan. 9, after the police assault on the store, French security sources reported she had escaped with a stream of rescued hostages and reached Syria via Spain and Istanbul.
In fact, she never was in the Paris store.
The female terrorist had skipped France and arrived in Syria on Jan. 1-2, more than a week before the wave of terror first struck Paris at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
This could have been discovered simply by examining the records at French, Spanish and Turkish border posts.
So did French security authorities plant a cock-and-bull story with deliberate intent? Or did they miss another cue after omitting to crack down on the three men with known jihadist connections before they struck?
Western security sources have been playing up the three terrorists’ connection to the Yemeni headquarters of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). That is because, if ISIS was able to pull the strings for multiple terror in the heart of Europe, the air campaign that the US-led coalition of 20 countries including France is conducting in Iraq and Syria would look pretty tame. And its leader Abu Baqr al-Baghdad would be laughing.
But was it really ISIS or AQAP which set up the three attacks which claimed 17 lives in three days?
That is the big question.
Said and Cherif Kouachi told French television shortly before they were shot dead that they belonged to Yemen Al Qaeda, whereas Coulibaly claimed he was acting for ISIS.
This apparent contradiction raises the scary suggestion that the two murderous Islamic groups may have collaborated for the first time to hit France. That scenario assumes an even more ominous dimension in the light of the chatter picked up Sunday by US intelligence indicating that all Al Qaeda’s branches are preparing to follow up the Paris operations with a major campaign of terror in Europe.
Boumediene’s arrival in Syria ahead of the Paris attacks appears to part of a comprehensive plan for setting up a command and control center for this campaign or, possibly, to prepare safe asylum for the gunmen who manage to get away. If that is so, then the center of this campaign would be situated on ISIS - not AQAP – turf.
The sight of many thousands of gendarmes and security officers rushing around in combat gear to chase the female terrorist may have helped reassure a frightened population, who were not to know the guardians of security were on a fool’s errand.
But the truth was that France’s external security service (DGSE), anti-terror police branches and border authorities, who were supposed to operate in concert, fell down on the job and revealed their weakness to the enemy. Homegrown and foreign jihadis were shown to have established safe exit routes for reaching the Islamic battlegrounds of the Middle East and returning home - well trained, heavily armed and filled with hatred for the societies which bred them.
Underground jihadist networks spent months undiscovered by the internal security service (DGSI) in the setting up of complicated multi-site operations, like the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the Jewish supermarket.
And the Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (GIGN) took too long to run them to earth and eliminate them.
After murdering the top journalists and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo, the two Kouachi brothers emerged from the building packing two submachine guns, but none of the dozens of armed police outside was able to cut them down.
And finally, thousands of French police and soldiers from various units put to siege the print works outside Dammartin-en-Goele, where Said and Cherif Kouachi were holed up for hours, with nearly 100,000 security officers mobilized across France. Still, they hesitated to break in.
All this provides fodder for the trainers to inspire the next generation of jihadi terrorists for action that is guaranteed to win them prime time on all the world’s television screens.
Netanyahu at Paris memorial: 'Radical
Islam is an enemy to us all'
Ynet, AFP /01.11.15/ Israel News
After marching with 1.5 million in Paris, Netanyahu, Hollande attend service at Synagogue de la Victoire in Paris in memory of Yoav Hattab, Yohan Cohen, Philippe Braham, Francois-Michel Saada.
"Radical Islam is an enemy to us all," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday night at a memorial service held in Paris for the four victims of an attack on a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris on Friday - Yoav Hattab, Yohan Cohen, Philippe Braham and Francois-Michel Saada.
"Today we bow our heads in memory of the victims, as the representatives of a proud nation we stand tall facing evil," Netanyahu said, choosing to speak in Hebrew, as his address was simultaneously translated into French.
"But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad," he said, quoting from Exodus 1:12, "because justice and truth are with us."
"Here's the truth: Radical Islam is an enemy to us all. This enemy has many names – Islamic State, Hamas, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, al-Shabaab, Hezbollah - but they're all branches of the same poisonous tree," he added.
"Even though the factions of radical Islam are fighting amongst themselves, they all want to impose a dark tyranny on the world, to take humanity 1,000 years back. They murder anyone who disagrees with them, especially their Muslim brothers, but their greatest hatred is for Western culture that reveres freedom," Netanyahu continued.
Netanyahu warned that "those who slaughtered the Jews in the synagogue in Jerusalem and those who slaughtered Jews and journalists in Paris belong to the same murderous terror organization."
Despite that, he said, "we're on our way to victory. I promise you - Israel will continue fighting terrorism. Israel will continue defending itself. And we know that when we are defending ourselves, we're defending the entire cultural world."
He thanked Lassana Bathily, a Muslim worker at the Hyper Cacher supermarket who saved the lives of six people by hiding them in the store's walk-in freezer.
The prime minister also hailed France's "firm position" against "new anti-Semitism" and terrorism.
To the Jews of France he said, "I'm telling you what I say to our Jewish brothers in all countries: You have every right to live in safety and in peace as citizens with equal rights anywhere you choose, including here in France. But Jews today have been blessed with another right, a right that didn't exist for previous generations: The right to join their Jewish brothers in our historic homeland - the land of Israel."
Netanyahu and French President Francois Hollande received an ovation as they entered the Great Synagogue of Paris (Synagogue de la Victoire).
The French president and the prime minister were sitting side by side, surrounded by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and the President of the Central Consistory of France Israelite, Joel Mergui. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman sat a row behind them.
World Leaders Join Over a Million
Demonstrators in Historic Paris Anti-Terror Rally
More than a million people thronged the streets of Paris Sunday in the biggest rally in French history, led by dozens of world leaders walking arm-in-arm as cries of "Freedom" and "Charlie" rang out across the country.
The interior ministry said 3.7 million people took to the streets nationwide, with Paris alone seeing an "unprecedented" 1.5 million demonstrators.
In the capital, President Francois Hollande linked arms with world leaders, including the Israeli prime minister and the Palestinian president, in an historic display of unity.
A sea of humanity flowed through Paris' iconic streets to mourn the victims of the three days of terror that began with a slaughter at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and ended with 17 dead.
The vast crowd chanted "Charlie, Charlie", in honor of the cartoonists and journalists killed at Charlie Hebdo over its lampooning of the Prophet Mohammed.
Emotions ran high in the grieving City of Light, with many of those marching in tears as they came together under the banner of freedom of speech after France's worst terrorist bloodbath in half a century.
The crowd brandished banners saying: "I'm French and I'm not scared" and, in tribute to the murdered cartoonists, "Make fun, not war" and "Ink should flow, not blood."
Isabelle Dahmani, a French Christian married to a Muslim, Mohamed, brought the couple's three young children to show them there is nothing to fear.
Their nine-year-old daughter had burst into tears watching TV pictures of heavily armed brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi attacking the magazine's offices, Isabelle said, recalling she had asked if "the bad men are coming to our house?"
The mourning families of those who died in the shootings led the march, alongside the representatives of around 50 countries.
Patrick Pelloux, a Charlie Hebdo columnist, fell sobbing into the arms of Hollande in an emotional embrace.
With dozens of world leaders present, security in the jittery French capital was beefed up, with police snipers stationed on rooftops and plain-clothes officers among the crowd in a city still reeling from the Islamist attacks.
"Today, Paris is the capital of the world," Hollande said. "The entire country will rise up."
Hundreds of thousands of people turned out in other French cities and marches were held in several European capitals, including Berlin, Brussels and Madrid.
The crowd in Paris was also mourning four Jews killed when an Islamist gunman stormed a kosher supermarket, after earlier gunning down a policewoman.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined Hollande at Paris' main synagogue after the march to honor the victims.
- 'We will win' -
British Prime Minister David Cameron predicted Europe would face the threat of extremism "for many years to come", but his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi pledged that Europe "will win the challenge against terrorism."
Earlier Renzi had tweeted using the hashtag #jesuischarlie (I am Charlie), which has been used more than five million times.
Before the march, interior and security ministers met to discuss Islamic extremism.
They urged a strengthening of the EU external borders to limit the movement of extremists between Europe and the Middle East and said there was an "urgent need" to share air passenger information.
All three of the gunmen in the attacks had a history of extremism and were known previously to French intelligence.
Hollande has warned his traumatized country not to drop its guard in the face of possible new assaults.
He met representatives from the Jewish community who said authorities had agreed to deploy soldiers to protect Jewish schools and synagogues in France "if necessary."
The rampage by the gunmen who claimed to be members of the Al-Qaida and Islamic State extremist groups was followed by a chilling new threat from the Yemen-based Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula that France faced more attacks.
- Burials in Israel -
France's three days of terror started Wednesday when the Kouachi brothers burst into Charlie Hebdo's offices in central Paris and sprayed bullets into the editorial meeting, killing some of France's best-known cartoonists.
They then slaughtered a Muslim policeman as he lay helpless on the ground before fleeing in a car, sparking a manhunt that lasted more than 48 hours.
A day later, a third gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, shot dead a policewoman in a Paris suburb.
In a video posted online Sunday, a man who appeared to be Coulibaly said the gunmen had coordinated their efforts.
The massive hunt for the attackers culminated in twin hostage dramas that gripped the world.
Coulibaly stormed into a Jewish supermarket in eastern Paris and seized terrified shoppers.
The two brothers took one person hostage in a printing firm northeast of Paris. After a tense stand-off police shot them dead as they charged out of the building all guns blazing.
Moments later, security forces stormed the kosher supermarket in eastern Paris, killing Coulibaly but making the grisly discovery that four innocent Jews had died during the hostage-taking.
ill be buried in Israel on Tuesday.
Investigators have been trying to hunt down Coulibaly's partner, 26-year-old Hayat Boumeddiene, but a security source in Turkey told Agence France-Presse she arrived there on January 2, before the attacks, and has probably traveled on to Syria.
- 'Clear failings' -
The attacks have raised mounting questions about how the gunmen could have slipped through the net of the intelligence services.
Coulibaly's mother and sisters condemned his actions.
"We absolutely do not share these extreme ideas. We hope there will not be any confusion between these odious acts and the Muslim religion," they said.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls admitted there had been "clear failings" in intelligence after it emerged that the brothers had been on a U.S. terror watch list "for years."
Source/Agence France Presse