January 13/15

Bible Quotation for today/The Temptation of Jesus
Matthew 04/ 01-11: "Then the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the Devil.  After spending forty days and nights without food, Jesus was hungry.  Then the Devil came to him and said, “If you are God's Son, order these stones to turn into bread.” But Jesus answered, “The scripture says, ‘Human beings cannot live on bread alone, but need every word that God speaks.’” Then the Devil took Jesus to Jerusalem, the Holy City, set him on the highest point of the Temple,  and said to him, “If you are God's Son, throw yourself down, for the scripture says,‘God will give orders to his angels about you; they will hold you up with their hands, so that not even your feet will be hurt on the stones.’”  Jesus answered, “But the scripture also says, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Then the Devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in all their greatness.  “All this I will give you,” the Devil said, “if you kneel down and worship me.” Then Jesus answered, “Go away, Satan! The scripture says, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him!’” Then the Devil left Jesus; and angels came and helped him."

Latest analysis, editorials from miscellaneous sources published on January 12-13/15
Lebanese Christians remember former glory/Author Viviane Akiki/January 12/15
Murdoch: Muslims bear responsibility for terrorism/Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya/January 12/15
Qatar Seeks Reconciliation with Saudi-Egypt Axis/Jonathan Spyer/The Jerusalem Post/January 12/15
Don't Celebrate New Year, but You Can Marry Child Girls/Burak Bekdil/Hürriyet Daily News/ January 12/15
Iran’s economy needs a speedy nuclear deal/Camelia Entekhabi-Fard /Al Arabiya/January 12/15

Lebanese Related News published on January 12-13/15
Nusra threatens to kill Lebanese captives after prison raid
Lebanese Families of Servicemen Vow Escalation after al-Nusra Execution Threats
Police sweep notorious  Roumieh Prison after Tripoli suicide attack
Unity eases Tripoli pain
ISIS behind Tripoli attacks: Lebanon interior minister
LebanonSuicide Attackers to Target Army as Lebanese Fighters Return to Carry Out Terror Scheme
Judicial Council to Deal with Jabal Mohsen Attack as Bombers Linked to Top Fugitive Terrorists
France condemns Tripoli suicide attack
New garbage proposal 'great achievement': Amine Gemayel
Salam Says Lebanon’s Front Concrete, Describes Border Measures 'Humanitarian'
Arab League delegation vows support for Lebanon
Aouni al-Kaaki list wins Lebanon Press Federation vote
Freezing weather kills Tripoli resident
Abu Faour reminds food shops of deadlines
Kataeb Warns against 'Playing with Fire, Violating National Pact' in Govt. Work
Syria Denies Report on Building 'Nuclear Plant' on Lebanon Border
Bassil to Arab Delegation: Our Role is to Encourage Dialogue among Arabs, Not Meddle in Their Affairs
Jumblat Mocks Paris Demo Spearheaded by 'No. 1 Terrorist': Targeting Alawites Serves Assad
Woman Killed after Man Denied Entry to Kaslik Nightclub
Berri Lauds Jabal Mohsen Residents after Deadly Suicide Bombing

Miscellaneous Reports And News published on January 12-13/15
Canada Arrests Third Terror Suspect in as Many Days
Taliban counters French-led Western unity demo with pledge of allegiance to ISIS chief Al Baghdadi
Charlie Hebdo to Feature Mohammed Cartoons, 50 Anti-Muslim Incidents in France since Attack
US: New sanctions could torpedo Iran nuclear deal
Obama will sign terrorism risk insurance bill: White House
White House: should have sent higher profile leader to Paris march
Qaida in Maghreb Warns France of More Attacks
Erdogan blasts Netanyahu for 'daring' to attend Paris rally
Turkey rejects blame for Paris suspect entering Syria
Pro-IS hackers seize US Centcom social media accounts
Attacks boost Hollande's image, but maybe not for long
Paris gunman told Yemeni he lived with 'underwear bomber'
US: Anti-Muslim attackers in Myanmar unpunished
Israel closes Muslim charities for alleged Hamas ties
German anti-Islam rally draws big crowds in Dresden
Merkel says Islam "belongs to Germany" ahead of Dresden rally
Diplomats meet to try and save Ukraine peace summit
More U.S. ‘boots on ground’ needed to fight ISIS: McCain
Cameroon army kills 143 Boko Haram fighters: government
Saudi cleric says snowmen are anti-Islamic
Ex-government minister freed pending court hearing in Kuwait
Anti-Islamist movement surfaces in Switzerland
Video: Hayat Boumeddiene arriving in Turkey
Father of Boumeddiene ‘shocked’ at daughter’s links to Paris attack
Sisi to meet Ethiopia’s patriarch, church delegation
Libyan ISIS affiliate claims kidnap of 21 Christians

Mayor of Philadelphia to wed Israeli diplomat in same-sex marriage ceremony

Jihad Watch Site Latest Posts
Islamic State of Tripoli announces kidnap of 21 Christian “Crusaders”
Ex-Muslim’s Open Letter to America: “What else has to happen so you wake up?”
Hamas-linked terror org CAIR demands that Fox drop those who speak the truth about the jihad threat
Obama watched the NFL Playoffs instead of attending the Paris march for victims of jihad
Video: Robert Spencer on Hannity, January 10, 2015, on Obama’s denial of the jihad threat and the jihad against free speech
Video: Manfred Gerstenfeld on the alarming trend to demonize Israel and the Jews
Islamic State hacks CENTCOM Twitter feed as Obama addresses nation on cyber security
Video: Robert Spencer on Hannity, January 9, 2015 on Sharia No-Go Zones as incubators of jihad
Islam Under the Spotlight
White House announces Summit on Countering Violent Extremism
Charlie Hebdo jihad mass murderer and underwear jihad bomber were friends, went to mosque together

Canada Arrests Third Terror Suspect in as Many Days
Naharnet/Canadian federal police announced Monday the arrest of a third Ottawa man on terrorism-related charges in as many days. Suliman Mohamed, 21, faces charges of participating in the activities of a terrorist group, and conspiring to participate in terrorism with 24-year-old twin brothers who were arrested on Friday. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Chief Superintendent Jennifer Strachan said the arrests underscore that there are Canadians "who have become radicalized to a violent ideology, and who are willing to act upon it."Strachan in a statement linked the latest arrest with the arrests on Friday of Ashton Carleton Larmond and Carlos Larmond.  Carlos was apprehended at Montreal's international airport just before departing to "travel overseas for terrorist purposes", the police said. Ashton was charged with "facilitating terrorist activity" and participating in a terrorist group. The arrests come after Islamist attacks in France killed 17 people, including 12 people at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. In October, two soldiers were killed in separate attacks in Canada. In one, a soldier was fatally shot while standing watch at the War Memorial in Ottawa. His attacker, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, then stormed into parliament and exchanged fire with police before being shot dead. Agence France Presse.

Nusra threatens to kill Lebanese captives after prison raid
The Daily Star/Jan. 12, 2015/BEIRUT: The Nusra Front Monday issued a new threat against the captive soldiers and policemen being held on Lebanon’s northeastern border after police raided a notorious prison packed with Islamists earlier in the day.
In response, the families of the captives blocked a major Beirut road, in the first protest of its kind since they removed barriers from a street in the capital’s downtown district on Dec. 23. In a statement issued Monday, the families said that their “issue is with the government and not with the captors,” claiming that the government was responsible for disrupting the release of the captive servicemen. The statement warned that the families would escalate protests if the threat against the hostages is carried out. The families response came after a bone-chilling photo posted to a Nusra-affiliated Twitter page showed 12 captives with their hands bound and lined up in a single row laying face down in the snow as five black-clad masked gunmen stood behind them with their rifles pointed at the hostages. “Who will pay the price?” read the caption. The same slogan had been used to threaten the hostages before killing two on previous occasions since they were abducted in August. In a follow-up post the Nusra Front displayed six close-up photos of gruesome bullet wounds. The caption alleged that “Roumieh prisoners sustained dangerous wounds” after the Lebanese Army opened fire on some of the inmates during a surprise raid Monday. Lebanese police raided Roumieh Prison Monday, emptying out its notorious Bloc B after intercepting calls between Islamist prisoners and members of the cell behind Saturday's suicide bombings in Tripoli. Roumieh’s Block B, which holds around 900 prisoners, including more than 300 who are labeled as terrorists by security forces, boasts a collection of dangerous individuals accused of belonging to extreme Islamist movements such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda and its Syrian affiliate the Nusra Front, and Fatah al-Islam, among others. Following the raid, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said that the operation was carried out in a "clean and professional manner," noting that no inmates were injured in the process.  Hours earlier, the jihadi group published a less explicit threat to resume killing the captives in response to the police raid on Roumieh Prison.

Lebanese Families of Servicemen Vow Escalation after al-Nusra Execution Threats
Naharnet /The families of the kidnapped servicemen on Monday blocked Riad al-Solh road in Beirut's downtown and promised escalation, after al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front renewed its threats to kill one of the hostages who are in its custody. “The families of the servicemen resumed their sit-in in Riad al-Solh after al-Nusra published pictures reminding them of the captives file,” MTV reported. The relatives had suspended the sit-in for several weeks to give the government a chance to hold confidential negotiations with the captors.
LBCI TV and al-Jadeed television also confirmed that members of the families blocked the road in Riad al-Solh. Al-Nusra Front published Monday on its Twitter accounts pictures showing the kidnapped servicemen thrown on the snow with five guns aimed at their heads.
The phrase “Who will pay the price?” was written on the pictures. This line had been used in the past each time the Front sought to threaten the execution of one of the captives. Al-Nusra took Monday's unprecedented operation by security forces in Roumieh prison as an excuse to threaten killing one of the hostages. “As a result of the security deterioration in Lebanon, you will hear about surprises regarding the fate of the prisoners of war, so wait for us,” the Front threatened on Twitter. It also published a picture in the afternoon, claiming that it is for injured Islamist prisoners in Roumieh during the the security operation. “Who among our sons will pay the price, I ask the interior minister, who chose today's date for the Roumieh raids,” Hussein Youssef, a spokesman for the families, asked. “The minister could have delayed the raid,” Youssef said from Riad al-Solh, calling on the kidnappers to “spare the servicemen because they have nothing to do with the raid.” “If we notice that the situation is deteriorating, we will escalate our protests and we will let those who are putting obstacles pay the price, not us.”Meanwhile, one the the captives' relatives stated that they have been “showing patience since six months.” “Our problem is with the state, Prime Minister (Tammam) Salam and the 24 ministers. A brave stance must be taken because they are dealing with souls, not garbage,” he added, referring to the garbage crisis that was being discussed by cabinet during the same press conference. “Our sons are suffering in the snow and no one is feeling our pain. We are dying and we cannot take it anymore,” he lamented.
The Lebanese policemen and soldiers were taken hostage during deadly clashes in and around Arsal in early August with al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State group. Sixteen policemen and soldiers are still being held by al-Nusra while nine are in the captivity of the IS.
Four hostages have been executed until the moment and the two groups have threatened further killings if Lebanese authorities do not fulfill their demands.

Police sweep notorious  Roumieh Prison after Tripoli suicide attack
The Daily Star/Jan. 12, 2015
BEIRUT: Lebanese police entered Roumieh Prison in force Monday, emptying out the prison's notorious Bloc B after intercepting calls between Islamist prisoners and members of the cell behind Saturday's suicide bombings in Tripoli, a security source told The Daily Star.
“We just ended the legend of Roumieh Prison,” Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said in a press conference Monday, noting that a large part of the Jabal Mohsen attack was managed from the Bloc B building.
Investigations probing Saturday’s Tripoli bombing led security forces to intercept calls between Islamist inmates in Bloc B and the two suicide bombers who carried out the twin attack which killed at least nine people and wounded more than 30, Machnouk said.
He also reiterated that preliminary investigations indicate the two suicide bombers were affiliated to ISIS, despite the Nusra Front's claim of responsibility in which it named the bombers before their identities were publicly revealed.
The Internal Security Forces had announced that the plan was to move some prisoners out of the bloc, but The Daily Star’s security source said a decision was made to clear all cells after witnessing the great damage to the prison’s infrastructure.
Bloc B is well-known for holding many suspected and convicted Islamist militants who manage to operate with relative impunity from inside the prison.
Machnouk said the nine-hour operation which was planned three months in advance, was carried out “at the right time.” Monday’s sudden raid came as result of a “political decision,” he added.
The ISF started its operation at 7 a.m., and a security perimeter has been imposed around Roumieh, the security source said. As the operation got underway, Lebanese Army helicopters hovered at low altitudes above the overcrowded complex.
The source stressed that the operation’s purpose was first to separate prisoners in well-monitored cells and to end the previous chaos, where they had illicit access to mobile phones and the Internet.
"Security forces have seized all phones," Machnouk said, adding that the move served to “stop a process of communication that was facilitating terrorism.”
Prisoners who had created paths between cells and destroyed prison doors were moved to the newly rehabilitated Bloc D, the source said, adding that a group of the prisoners was also transferred to the ISF's main headquarters in the Beirut district of Ashrafieh.
The ISF said some of the prisoners burned their mattresses in protest but no casualties were recorded.
"This operation is going as planned, very calmly," the ISF said. "The Internal Security Forces assures the families of the prisoners that they are all fine.”
Machnouk and the ISF said some prisoners had links to the twin suicide bombing which targeted a majority Alawite neighborhood in Tripoli.
The Nusra Front, which along with ISIS is holding 25 Lebanese servicemen captive near the border with Syria, threatened to resume killing the captives in response to the Roumieh raid.
"Due to the deterioration of the security situation in Lebanon, you will hear some surprises about the destiny of our war captives, so wait for it," an account affiliated with the Nusra Front in Qalamoun tweeted late Monday morning.
In the afternoon, the same account showed a picture of a dozen captives laying face down in the snow and five gunmen standing behind them with a caption that read: "Who will pay the price?"
Machnouk downplayed the Nusra Front’s threat to harm the 25 Lebanese captives, saying that “Nusra wouldn’t hurt the servicemen because security forces didn’t mistreat the prisoners.”
The Muslim Scholars Committee meanwhile called for "mediation" between the prisoners and the government to ease tensions after the raid.
Committee spokesman Sheikh Adnan Amamma told The Daily Star that the salafist body urges Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt to appoint Health Minister Wael Abu Faour to mediate between the inmates and the Interior Ministry.
Amamma said the committee opposed the government treating all Islamist inmates as if they were affiliated to the Nusra Front or ISIS “when many are innocent of any terrorist crime.”
In light of news of the crackdown in Roumieh, some relatives of Islamist prisoners attempted to block roads at Tripoli's Abu Ali roundabout but the Lebanese Army quickly intervened to disperse the crowd and open the roads, the source said.
A grenade blast was later heard in Bab al-Tabbaneh area in Tripoli around 10 a.m., while people riding a Renault Rapid car were stopped by the Army for using a loudspeaker to call for protests and road closures while driving through the area.
In the north Lebanon region of Minnieh, a group of men blocked the main highway near the residence of Future Movement MP Kazem al-Khair to protest the Roumieh raid.
Machnouk, who represents the Future Movement in the Cabinet, has been overseeing the operation from inside the prison.
Roumieh’s Block B holds around 900 prisoners, including more than 300 who are labeled as terrorists by security forces.
Excluding Lebanese prisoners, most inmates in Block B are Syrians and Palestinians – though other Arab and non-Arab nationals are also present. The block also boasts a collection of dangerous individuals accused of belonging to extreme Islamist movements such as ISIS; Al-Qaeda and its Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front; and Fatah al-Islam, among others. These operatives have been arrested in raids carried out by security sources and following armed confrontations with the Lebanese Army.

Freezing weather kills Tripoli resident
Antoine Amrieh| The Daily Star/Jan. 12, 2015
TRIPOLI, Lebanon: A man was found dead on a sidewalk in the northern city of Tripoli Monday after he passed away due to cold overnight weather. Identified as Adib Saber, the man is the latest victim of a powerful snowstorm whose intensity peaked last Tuesday, bringing freezing temperatures across the country. Three Syrian refugees, including two children, and one Palestinian man froze to death last week in southeast Lebanon. The refugees collapsed during a blizzard after crossing into Lebanon. The snowstorm, dubbed Zina, which was the strongest of its kind to hit Lebanon in years, has largely subsided but cold temperatures and light snowfall continued to persist, especially in mountainous areas.

Unity eases Tripoli pain
The Daily Star/Jan. 12, 2015 /Saturday’s cowardly attack on a busy cafe in Tripoli which killed at least nine was clearly an attempt to sow discord in a city slowly recovering from years of strife, but it appears it was in vain. The first major terrorist attack in the city since the Army finally managed to successfully implement its security plan in April 2014, the twin suicide attack, while carried out by two Lebanese, was the work of external forces. It occurred in an area of Jabal Mohsen that has previously seen heavy fighting and the deaths of dozens of civilians over the last few years, and was likely intended to catalyze revenge attacks in Bab al-Tabbaneh, the neighboring area which, unlike the Jabal, is generally supportive of the Syrian uprising. But it appears that all sides have, for a variety of reasons, grown tired of the fighting and disinterested in resuming such wanton and pointless bloodshed. All parties and sects were unanimous in condemning the attack, and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri – himself often the target of vitriol originating from Jabal Mohsen over the years – has vowed to totally fund the reconstruction of the incident site. And Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk made a visit to the site, which was much appreciated by the area’s residents. Unlike previous rounds of fighting, the attack was not met with celebration in other areas of the city. It was universally condemned and met with sadness. Although this was a tragic event which resulted in the unnecessary loss of civilian life, if a silver lining is to be taken from it, it is that there seems to be growing unity and a desire for peace in areas where there once was gunfire and bloodshed.

Aouni al-Kaaki list wins Lebanon Press Federation vote
The Daily Star/Jan. 12, 2015/BEIRUT: The Press Federation elected Monday a new board headed by owner and editor-in-chief of daily Ash-Sharq newspaper, Aouni al-Kaaki, who will likely succeed the body's veteran chief Mohammad Baalbaki who has served in the post for over three decades. Kaaki's list won the vote, defeating a rival list led by Salah Salam, the editor-in-chief of Al-Liwaa newspaper. The board is comprised of 18 members, who are expected to vote in Kaaki as head of the federation Thursday.
Twelve of the members represent daily political publications, five represent weekly or monthly political publications, and one represents nonpolitical publications and news agencies. The 17 board members representing political publications were elected by owners or representatives of political publications who have paid their annual subscriptions to the federation. The remaining board member representing nonpolitical publications and news agencies will be elected by around 100 voters who have paid their annual subscriptions. The election of this remaining board member is held separately from the vote for representatives of political publications. In an earlier interview with The Daily Star, Kaaki said that securing funds to guarantee the continuous functioning of newspapers and taking care of his colleagues would be the main goals he would work to achieve if he is elected to head the Press Federation.

Lebanese Christians remember former glory
Author Viviane Akiki/January 11, 2015 /Annahar
The Christians of the Orient have always been considered the people of the dhimma (a term meaning protected people, referring to non-Muslim citizens in an Islamic state) in their home countries, except for the Christians of Lebanon, who have distinguished themselves from their surroundings and obtained power. At first, they shared power with the Druze in Mount Lebanon, only to realize their ambitions by establishing Greater Lebanon, which they ruled in accordance with other Lebanese components until 1975. This year marked the renewal and expansion of sectarian clashes, which came to an end in 1990 when the Taif Accords came into effect. With this, Lebanese Christians lost their privileges as they failed to remain steadfast in light of their historical divisions, which today are reflected in the dispute between Gen. Michel Aoun and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.
The dispute broke out during the last two years of the Lebanese civil war. Geagea and Aoun suffered the brunt of this 25-year dispute, during which Christians have lost much. They emigrated and their numbers decreased; their forces scattered. They became divided and the rifts in the ranks grew only deeper until the two men decided to meet and hold dialogue. This decision was made amid existential threats to the Christians of the Orient and the strategic danger posed to their Lebanese peers.
Optimism versus doubt
Joseph, like many other citizens, pinned great hope on the anticipated meeting between the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces. He saw it as an opportunity for Christians, who are now scattered between the Future Movement and Hezbollah, to unify their ranks and put the past behind them, so as to restore the interest of Christians, who have lost greatly after the war, especially now in light of the threats that beset the region.
Jad, for his part, believes that the dialogue would be futile, as it is a last resort for the two men when all other doors to the presidency — for which they have been competing since their return to the political arena — have closed in their faces. Thus, their meeting is likely to serve their own interests rather than the interests of the Lebanese Christian community.
What will this dialogue bring to Christians? Will it restore something of what they lost following the Taif Accords? Will they regain the powers that were taken away from them or the roles that they have largely lost? Will they regain their lost privileges? Or have they entered a tunnel from which it is almost impossible to get out? Is it the case that all they can do now is pick themselves up in an attempt to take on a new role in the Orient, which has entered a dark tunnel and no one knows when it might see the light again?
The church: We all lost
What are the church's aspirations for this dialogue? How does it view it? According to Bishop Samir Mazloum, who spoke to An-Nahar, "The church encourages every dialogue, understanding, rapprochement and cooperation between Lebanese [in general], let alone if it such dialogue were to be held between two Christian components whose past and present differences have caused great trouble for the Christian community. This is not to mention that they have adversely affected the Lebanese state and were one of the reasons that led to a vacuum in the presidency. The church is looking forward to this meeting and hopes that it will yield positive results and be successful."
How would this meeting be reflected in the Christian presence, which has declined? Will it contribute to reuniting Christians instead of splitting them among other sects, which would violate the political equation? Mazloum said: "This is what we are hoping for. A unified stance on a certain subject or a certain policy would enhance their role and therefore the situation of the state. The Lebanese civil war that erupted in 1975 and the ongoing differences have undermined the roles of all Lebanese, causing deep rifts among them, and led to an almost entire paralysis in the Lebanese state. Today, we have all lost as long as the state does not assume its responsibility toward its citizens in a clear scientific and democratic manner."
A unity that is not provocative
How would this rapprochement be reflected by the Christians? How would it affect their role and interests? A political analyst at An-Nahar, Sarkis Naoum, answers: "The unity of any sect would lead to dictatorship within it. However, as long as there is more than one party, leader or cleric among Christians, there is no fear of their unity with regard to freedom and democracy within their sect. Thus, their unity is possible without any merging, which is not feasible due to their differences. They could set a cap and stick to it on the subject of the presidency, the powers or the relations with Hezbollah or the implementation the Taif Accords, provided that each side keeps their current stance on the present Lebanese lineups. However, the unity that Christians might reach ought not to be provocative to others, but rather be a wise, right and fair position."
Would they be able to reach a level in their relationship where the preservation of the Christians' interest is not separate from the national interest as a whole? Naoum said: "The only initiative marked by the mutual withdrawal of lawsuits among journalists from the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces is a good step and relieves the tension among Christians. However, Geagea and Aoun have yet to agree on bigger issues. I personally rule out the possibility that they would be able to limit the presidential candidacy to the two of them and convince the MPs to vote to elect one of them as president. The dialogue would only alleviate tension among Christians, rather than yielding serious results."
Return to glory?
Is there any hope that Christians would regain their weighty role in the Lebanese arena and return to the glory of the past, or are the rifts in their ranks that have undermined their role and interest greater than this, and thus, would they have to adapt to the current situation?
Naoum said: "One should not pin any hope on any dialogue. For instance, the dialogue between Hezbollah and the Future Movement remains — despite the great publicity it has received — a preliminary dialogue aimed at easing tension and calming the media. As for the essential matters, they would not be addressed.
"As for the Christian dialogue, in the event it reaches a solution on the presidential issue, it will create a new role for Christians and ease their fear, facilitating the dialogue between Shiites and Sunnis, and easing the tension of the general situation. It will not lead to any crucial results, but will undoubtedly reassure the Christians that they are still here and they still can make decisions.
"Christians are not a minority in Lebanon. If they were wise enough, they could serve as a bridge between Shiites and Sunnis, creating a new balance that would allow them to have a new niche. There is nothing that would restore their former role, but their case is not as hopeless as the situation of the Christians in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Yemen. Christians of Lebanon are first-class citizens, despite their loss after the war."

New sanctions could torpedo Iran nuclear deal: US envoy to UN
Louis Charbonneau/Reuters/Jan. 12, 2015 |
NEW YORK: It is still possible to reach a nuclear deal with Iran, but new U.S. congressional sanctions could seriously undermine prospects for an agreement and end up isolating Washington instead of Tehran, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations said Monday.
The remarks from Ambassador Samantha Power were in a speech at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville. Among those attending was the center's co-founder, Senator Mitch McConnell, the new U.S. Senate majority leader.
In her address, which was broadcast live on the Internet, Power called for greater cooperation between Republicans and President Barack Obama's Democrats on key foreign policy and security issues, including Iran, Cuba and the fight against terrorism.
"If we pull the trigger on new nuclear-related sanctions now, we will go from isolating Iran to potentially isolating ourselves," she said.
Earlier on Monday U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that he and his Iranian counterpart would seek to push forward negotiations between major world powers and Tehran on its nuclear program.
Kerry meets Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Geneva Wednesday to renew the push for an elusive nuclear accord after negotiators failed for the second time in November to meet a self-imposed deadline. The agreement would gradually end sanctions in exchange for curbs on Iranian atomic work.
"Some members of Congress believe that the time has come to ratchet up sanctions on Iran," she said. "They argue that this is the most effective way to achieve the goal of getting Iran to give up its nuclear program."
"We in the administration believe that, at this time, increasing sanctions would dramatically undermine our efforts to reach this shared goal," she added.
Despite tremendous differences between Iran and the international community on issues like the future scope of Tehran's uranium enrichment program and the duration of any restrictions on Iranian atomic activity, Power said a long-term accord was still possible.
"We are still at the negotiating table for one reason, and one reason alone," she said. "We assess that we still have a credible chance of reaching the agreement we want."
The moment the Obama administration decides it is not possible to reach a deal with Tehran, she noted, it will join Congress in pushing for new sanctions.
"We have not reached that point yet," Power said.
Senior foreign ministry officials from Iran and six world powers - the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China - resume nuclear talks on Sunday to hammer out an agreement by their new June 30 deadline.

Charlie Hebdo to Feature Mohammed Cartoons, 50 Anti-Muslim Incidents in France since Attack
Naharnet /This week's edition of Charlie Hebdo, put together by survivors of last week's newsroom massacre in Paris by Islamist gunmen, will defiantly feature caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, its lawyer said Monday. The special issue, to come out on Wednesday, will also be offered "in 16 languages" for readers around the world, one of its columnists, Patrick Pelloux, said. Charlie Hebdo's lawyer, Richard Malka, told French radio the upcoming publication will "obviously" lampoon Mohammed -- among other figures -- to show staff will "cede nothing" to extremists seeking to silence them. The two gunmen who slaughtered 12 people in their attack on Charlie Hebdo's offices last Wednesday, including five of its top cartoonists and three other staff members, claimed as they left the scene that they had "avenged the Prophet Mohammed". That was a reference to the fury expressed in some Muslim countries over past Mohammed cartoons which Charlie Hebdo had printed. The gunmen, brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, claimed to belong to the jihadist group al-Qaida in Yemen.
They were killed on Friday, as was an accomplice claiming affiliation to the rival Islamic State group, Amedy Coulibaly, in separate but coordinated French commando raids on sites in and near Paris where they had taken hostages.
In all 17 people and the three Islamist attackers were killed in three days of violence. Charlie Hebdo's offices were firebombed without casualty in 2011 when it published cartoons lampooning Mohammed.  Its staff has been receiving death threats from radical Muslims since 2006, when it reprinted Mohammed cartoons by a Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten in the name of freedom of expression. The surviving Charlie Hebdo staff have since Friday been working out of the offices of another French newspaper, Liberation, with equipment loaned by other media organizations. Their own blood-soaked offices remain sealed by police, with the entrance covered with flowers, pencils and candles in tribute to the dead. The 44-year-old newspaper has always sought to break taboos with its provocative cartoons on all religions, current events and prominent personalities. It had been sliding towards bankruptcy before the attack against it. It used to typically sell only half of the 60,000 copies it printed weekly.  But since gaining worldwide notoriety in the past few days, it has earned pledges of support from the French government and media groups. One million copies of this week's special "survivors' issue" are to printed, with many of them to be made available outside of France. It will be created "only by people from Charlie Hebdo," its financial director, Eric Portheault, told AFP. Offered contributions, notably from cartoonists in France and other countries, were declined. There have been more than 50 anti-Muslim incidents in France since last week's shootings by gunmen claiming to represent Islamist groups, the country's Muslim community said on Monday. The incidents included 21 reports of shooting at Islamic buildings and the throwing of some form of grenades, and 33 threats, a spokesman for the monitoring body at the Central Council of Muslims in France said.
Source/Agence France Presse

Qatar Seeks Reconciliation with Saudi-Egypt Axis
Jonathan Spyer/The Jerusalem Post
January 12, 2015
Originally published under the title, "Amid rumors of Mashaal's expulsion, Doha trying to regain alliance with Egypt, Saudi Arabia."
Under its previous emir, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, Qatar strutted the world stage.
It is still not clear whether reports in Turkish newspaper Aydinlik concerning the expulsion by Qatar of Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal are accurate. Hamas officials have indignantly denied that their leader is shortly set to quit his Doha home.
But certainly, Mashaal's expulsion would fit with the broader pattern of recent events.
Recent months have witnessed a number of acts by Qatar suggesting it is seeking to repair relations with its fellow Gulf monarchies, and with Egypt. Hamas, the enemy of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the Saudis, can have no part in this.
The expulsion of Mashaal, if it takes place, will be the latest concession by Doha to the wishes of Cairo and Riyadh.
Qatar's latest moves are the fruit of partial defeat for Doha in its regional agenda; Saudi Arabia and Egypt are the winners. Lets take a look.
Qatar's latest moves are the fruit of partial defeat for Doha in its regional agenda.
Qatar, in the first two years of the regional upheaval that began in 2011, appeared to be riding high. The tiny emirate backed the Muslim Brotherhood movement; its enormously influential Al Jazeera channel pumped out propaganda on behalf of the movement and against its enemies. In late 2012, at what was evidently its high-water mark, the Qatar-Brotherhood alliance appeared to be forming a new power bloc in the Middle East.
The Brotherhood had achieved power in the most populous Arab state – Egypt. It Tunisian iteration, al-Nahda, won elections there.
Militias associated with a Brotherhood-type outlook and financed by Qatar, such as the Tawhid Brigade of Aleppo, were playing a key role in the Syrian war – and victory looked within reach. Turkey, under the rule of the Brotherhood-influenced AK Party, had drawn close to Qatar and saw itself playing a key role in the emergent Sunni Islamist alliance.
Doha had antagonized its fellow Gulf monarchies to distraction, in the service of a new power bloc that apparently is not going to come into existence after all.
Two years on, nearly all of this is in ruins.
Most importantly, the army is back in power in Egypt and is engaged in an attempt to crush the Brotherhood. In Tunisia, Nahda lost elections in 2014 and has ceded power to its non-Islamist rivals. In Syria, a regionwide mobilization by Iran of its allies and proxies, and the determined support of Russia as well as rebel confusion and disunity, have saved Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.
This has left both Qatar and Hamas somewhat beached. Doha had antagonized its fellow Gulf monarchies to distraction, in the service of a new power bloc that apparently is not going to come into existence after all.
Hamas, meanwhile, had also placed its bets on this emergent Sunni Islamist bloc.
The Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood had removed itself from Damascus, rejected the Iranian attempt to exhort it to declare its support for Assad, and suffered a major loss in Iranian funding as a result.
RECENT MONTHS have seen both Qatar and Hamas seeking to adjust themselves to this new reality, but in different directions.
In mid-September, Doha ordered several prominent members of the Egyptian Brotherhood to leave the emirate. They had been offered asylum after fleeing their country following the military coup in July 2013.
The first indication of improved relations with other Gulf states came after a surprise summit of Gulf Cooperation Council countries on November 16, 2014. As a result of this meeting, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates agreed to return their ambassadors to Qatar after an absence of eight months. In the days after, Saudi King Abdullah II received a phone call from Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
The GCC summit in Bahrain in early December saw further Qatari concessions on Libya and Egypt, where Doha's position had run in direct contradiction to that of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Doha gave its full support to Sisi and his "road map" for Egypt at the summit; afterward, Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid Bin Mohammed al-Attiya pledged Doha's support for Sisi, and spoke of the importance of Egypt's regional role.
Then, on December 20, Sisi met with an envoy of the Qatari emir, in a meeting brokered by Riyadh.
Thus, the Mashaal departure, if indeed it takes place, will be the latest in a string of concessions offered by Doha to the Cairo-Riyadh alliance – which is emerging as the key power arrangement among the Sunnis at present.
Qatar is of course enormously wealthy, but it is also a flimsy state, lacking hard power of any kind. For its economic and business activities to continue to flourish, it cannot afford to stray too far from existing power alliances, which will inevitably be dominated by states other than itself.
For a while, the Qataris thought they were set to be the financiers and cheerleaders of a new, Egypt-centered bloc – yet that bloc was stillborn. The Qataris are now accommodating themselves to this reality.
Hamas, too, must make its own new arrangements, and indications are that the movement is leaning in the direction of renewed rapprochement with Iran. The year 2014 saw a gradual thaw in relations between Hamas and Tehran, though all suspicion is unlikely to have dispelled.
Hamas's needs are different from those of Qatar. And of course, Hamas has no way to align with the Cairo-Riyadh alliance – which regards it as an element of the Brotherhood they are seeking to defeat.
Qatar is enormously wealthy, but it is also a flimsy state, lacking hard power of any kind.
This leaves Tehran or Ankara as possible backers – or more likely, a hedging and a combination of the two.
Of course, one should not assume that Qatar will entirely end its support for Islamist movements. Doha has not fallen in love with Riyadh; it is repositioning out of necessity and through clenched teeth. The more extravagant Egyptian demands – such as that Doha expel prominent Brotherhood preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi – are unlikely to be fulfilled; Qaradawi has lived in the emirate since 1961.
Ultimately, what the Qatari concessions indicate is the burgeoning strength of the Cairo-Riyadh alliance, which has forced a Qatari realignment while appearing to offer no, or hardly any, gestures in return.
This new alliance (which has good, if largely silent, relations with Israel), is perhaps the most important diplomatic development in the region since 2011.
As of now, with the US seeking rapprochement with Iran, the main blocs facing one another in the region are the Iranians and their allies against the Saudis and their own.
The Brotherhood and the Salafists are a factor, to be sure, but for the moment a weaker one.
In sum, the travails and maneuvering of Qatar and Hamas reflect the disarray of the Sunni Islamist camp.
**Jonathan Spyer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

"Don't Celebrate New Year, but You Can Marry Child Girls!"
Burak Bekdil/Hürriyet Daily News
January 12, 2015
Muhittin Hamdi Yıldırım believes that Turks should not celebrate the New Year because they might find themselves making friends with Christians.
Turkey's leaders have the habit of chasing conspirators who they claim add fuel to Islamophobia in Europe. Those who ridicule the Islamic faith may not be the ones who conspire against Islam in faraway lands.
The final week of the year featured the usual scenes in Turkey: A man dressed as a janissary chasing another dressed as Santa Claus in order to give him a good beating… Provincial education directors warning pupils against "Christmas and New Year celebrations"...
Meanwhile, an apparently more creative man, Muhittin Hamdi Yıldırım, the chairman of an association of religious officials, called on Turks to celebrate the 1384th anniversary of the conquest of Mecca instead of celebrating New Year's Eve.
He has an explanation for why Turks should not celebrate the New Year: "[A verse in the sura] Maida tells Muslims not to make friends with Jews and Christians. This [commandment] also means that Muslims should not adopt their traditions." The logic is simple: If a Muslim celebrates the New Year s/he will have adopted a Christian tradition and will have made friends with Christians and therefore have sinned. (Don't tell President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that the Turks still have Sunday as the week's official holiday!)
All the same, despite their restless efforts, the Turks still lag far behind the Saudis in ridiculing Islam. As Raymond Ibrahim at the Middle East Forum notes, Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti, the country's highest religious authority, recently said "There is nothing wrong with girls below 15 getting married."
Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti insists that Islam provides for the right to marry young girls.
In an earlier speech, the Saudi Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz, had called for the destruction of all Christian churches on the Arabian Peninsula. "The consistency makes perfect sense," wrote Mr. Ibrahim.
He also reminded that in 2011, Salih bin Fawzan, a prominent cleric and member of Saudi Arabia's highest religious council, issued a fatwa asserting there is no minimum age for marriage and that girls can be married "even if they are in the cradle."
Mr. Ibrahim wrote: "The grand point of the Saudi fatwa, however, is not that girls as young as nine can be married … but rather that there is no age limit whatsoever. The only question open to consideration is whether the girl is physically capable of handling her 'husband.'"
The Saudi clergy (and shariah) is very consistent in defying – not just modernity – but simple reason. In 2009, Saudi courts declined to nullify a marriage between a six-year-old girl and a 58-year-old man.
One in three marriages in Turkey involve at least one party under the age of 18. Later, Sheikh Abdul Aziz insisted that girls are ready for marriage by the ages of "10 or 12." "Good upbringing," the Grand Mufti reasoned, "makes a girl ready to perform all marital duties." So, the Saudi intellectual challenge is between two ideas for the suitable age for female marriage: The cradle, or "10 or 12."
Apparently, the Turks are increasingly embracing Saudi Arabia's learned men. In 2013, a Turkish scholar, Erhan Tunç from Gaziantep University, found that one in three marriages in Turkey involved at least one party under the age of 18. His research also found that only 18 percent of child brides in Turkey are literate.
According to the International Strategic Research Organization, underage marriages in Turkey account for 14 percent of all marriages. Professor Nazan Moroğlu, president of the Turkish Federation of University Women, found that there has been an increase of 94.2 percent in applications to courts by families to get marriage permits for underage marriages.
The official account may be slightly brighter but it is not much different. According to the Family and Social Policies Ministry, more than 500,000 girls under the age of 17 have been married in the past decade or so.
More importantly, all of these numbers exclude "unofficial [religious]" marriages, which most probably outnumber official ones, especially in rural Turkey. The learned men of Saudi Arabia tell the Muslims that men can marry "women" in the cradle. Fortunately, the learned men of Turkey do not recommend that – yet. They are busy running after people dressed as Santa Claus to beat them up and make sure Muslims do not celebrate the New Year.
**Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a columnist for the Turkish daily Hürriyet and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

Murdoch: Muslims bear responsibility for terrorism
Monday, 12 January 2015
Abdulrahman al-Rashed /Al Arabiya
Protests against recent terrorist attacks in France should have been held in Muslim capitals and not in Paris because Muslims stand accused in this case; embroiled in this crisis and expected to declare their innocence. The tale of extremism began in Muslim societies and it’s with their support and silence that extremism grew into terrorism which is harming people across the world. It’s of no value for the French people, who are the victims here, to take to the streets to condemn the recent crimes. What’s required here is for Muslim communities to disown the Paris crime and Islamic extremism in general.
“Politicians do not act as they are afraid of angering the few extremists in their societies and because they don’t care if the world beyond their borders burns as a result of their negligence”
Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch said on Twitter on Friday: “Maybe most Moslems [are] peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible.” In another tweet, he added: “Big jihadist danger looming everywhere from Philippines to Africa to Europe to US. Political correctness makes for denial and hypocrisy.”
Harsh words
Murdoch’s harsh words echo the statements of many leaders who are tired of often-repeated excuses as terrorism-related crimes increase in frequency. Let’s keep in mind that France was the last Western fort to defend and sympathize with Arab causes. France was the only Western country to vote in support of establishing a Palestinian state a few weeks ago at the U.N. Security Council. France also stood against the regime of Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah when former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was killed. Also it is one of the only countries to support the Syrian revolution. There’s no justification for some Arab media figures’ allegations excusing extremists’ crimes. As a matter of fact, by justifying these crimes some Arab journalists and intellectuals become no less criminal than the perpetrators of those attacks.
We must be aware of the gravity of equivocation and silence over extremism. Europeans were widely and locally admired in the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century. However, when the Germans became extremist, adopting the Nazi mentality, the Europeans destroyed Europe and more than 40 million people were killed in the ensuing war. What we see today is also fascism dressed in Muslim garb, fascism which is wreaking havoc across the world and threatening it and it will lead the world to clashing point. At this point, the few respectful people who defend Islam and Muslims will fall silent and the voice of the majority demanding to discipline Muslims, including governments, organizations and individuals, will increase. The world is running out of patience as it watches people being slaughtered in the name of Islam and as it sees children being kidnapped in Nigeria in the name of Islam and as women are raped in northern Iraq also in the name of Islam. While these crimes do not concern them much, because are happening in Muslim countries, Western nations will not keep silent over extremist Muslims and those who support them when they commit crimes in Paris, New York, London and Moscow. The global public opinion now hates Muslims and does not distinguish between an extremist Muslim and a peaceful Muslim. This will push politicians towards confrontation and I expect the current French president to pay the price of his sympathy towards Arabs and he may be succeeded by the most radical of politicians who oppose Islam and Muslims.
At this stage the responsibility does not fall on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), or on Abu Mohammed al-Golani, leader of the al-Nusra Front, or on a bunch of extremist preachers and mobs of journalists justifying crimes of terror. Political regimes bear responsibility here because they are the ones who are legally and intellectually responsible. In this case we are referring to the terrorist mentality which until this day grows and is funded in most Islamic countries. This happens because politicians do not act as they are afraid of angering the few extremists in their societies and because they don’t care if the world beyond their borders burns as a result of their negligence. The Charlie Hebdo incident, and before that the murder of 3,000 people in the Sept. 11 twin attacks, are only pit stops on the road to a large-scale confrontation.

Father of Boumeddiene ‘shocked’ at daughter’s links to Paris attack
Staff writer, Al Arabiya News
Monday, 12 January 2015
The father of Hayat Boumeddiene – the common-law wife of one of the Islamist militants involved in the Paris rampage last week – handed himself over to French police when he discovered his daughter’s links to the deadly attacks.
Mohamed Boumeddiene went to the authorities just hours after seeing his daughter's mugshot on television – released after her husband’s attack on a kosher supermarket which killed five.
According to UK newspaper the Daily Mail, the man is stricken with grief. Neighbors say he has since locked himself in his flat, disconnected his phone and has been heard crying and saying: “I don’t know if she is dead or alive.”
When under police question, Boumeddiene, reportedly told police he had no idea of his daughter’s activities – having reportedly been estranged from her - and was ‘shocked’ at the news. He was questioned but not arrested, the Daily Mail reported.
Footage obtained by Al Arabiya's sister channel Al Hadath shows Hayat Boumeddiene arriving in Turkey.
Since last week’s attacks, French authorities have attempted to track her down.
On Monday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told The Anadolu Agency that Hayat, 26, arrived in Istanbul from Madrid on Jan. 2 and crossed into Syria six days later.
The foreign minister said the woman, who became the most wanted person in France, had stayed in an Istanbul hotel.
Boumeddiene's husband, Ahmed Coulibaly (Photo courtesy of Twitter)
Pictures have been circulated of Boumeddiene wearing a skimpy bikini with her arms wrapped around her husband Amedy Coulibaly’s waist before she was radicalized. Other pictures how her wearing the burqa and handling a weapon after she became radical.
According to press reports, she met Coulibaly while working as a cashier in a town south east of Paris – and was later fired after insisting on covering herself at work in a face-covering niqab. Coulibaly was known to the police as a teenager and had been convicted of a offences related to drugs and theft.
Neighbors described the couple as “quiet and normal.”
Coulibaly, who was killed by a stream of gunfire after he emerged from the kosher supermarket with all guns blazing, had links with the attackers on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that date back a decade.
In 2005, Coulibaly and Cherif Kouachi, 32, were jailed together. It later emerged that Cherif's older brother, 34-year-old Said, fought with or was trained by al-Qaeda in Yemen.
Cherif was also convicted in 2008 along with several others of belonging to a network that sent jihadists to fight American forces in Iraq.

Iran’s economy needs a speedy nuclear deal
Monday, 12 January 2015
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard /Al Arabiya
Iran is set to resume nuclear talks on January 14, with a bilateral meeting between Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the U.S. Secretary of the State John Kerry in Geneva.
Kerry and Zarif will outline guidelines to the their negotiating teams who will be taking the reins between January 15-17, followed by a meeting between the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany) on January 18.
Having not been successful in striking the comprehensive nuclear deal, Iran and the Western powers agreed to extend the talks on November 23 in Vienna for another 7 months until July 2015.
“We have seen many hardliners move towards being in favor of finalizing a deal, which shows a level of pragmatism”
Camelia Entekhabi-Fard
Negotiators have said that Iran and the P5+1 aim to reach a political agreement by March and the seven months extension can give them enough time to finalize the technical aspects of the deal.
Iran’s enrichment capacity
Ali Akbar Salehei, head of the IAEO, mentioned that the debate is over Iran’s enrichment capacity and its annual production.
“When the P5+1 raised concerns about the Arak heavy water reactor in Central Iran, the country announced its readiness to redesign the reactor to decrease the annual plutonium production at the facility from 10 kg to 1kg. In other areas of nuclear work like enrichment too Iran has removed the powers.” Fars News Agency quoted Ali Akbar Salehi as saying.
If this is Iran’s scenario for 2015, by then President Rowhani should have hardliners’ support before striking the final agreement.
Thus far, there have been two extensions which are not necessarily favorable to Iran. However, it highlights the serious approach that each side is taking.
Finalizing a deal
We have seen many hardliners move towards being in favor of finalizing a deal, which shows a level of pragmatism. But keeping up with the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s body language is another challenge for the negotiating teams.
Recently, Ayatollah Khamenei showed some disappointment and mocked the negotiators saying: “I am not against the negotiations. Let them negotiate as long as they want!”
Is there a contradiction in this statement? Or is he simply leaving little room to confront the government in case they don’t succeed in striking a good deal.
Perhaps the supreme leader’s disappointment comes from those sanctions which are still in place, some of which were lifted as part of the interim agreement reached in Geneva back in November 2013.
Maybe he is worried that the comprehensive deal will just give the upper hand to Western powers by shattering his country’s comprehensive nuclear program while the sanctions remain in place.
Iran’s economy
Certainly the supreme leader is not against the talks as Iran’s economy saw some signs of life in 2014 thanks to the JPOA agreement that Iranian negotiators reached with the P5+1. President Rowhani is touting the economic gains that have taken place under his watch. But true economic recovery will be possible only when a permanent agreement is reached and that is obvious to all parties in Iran from hardliners to reformers and moderates.
The Iranian economy will improve, leading to greater opportunities for trade and investment, which will lead to a higher quality of life for all Iranians and political stability if the deal is reached. Inflation in Iran over the last six months has already decreased - a positive indicator of what the economic revival could look like if a deal is reached.
For all of the above reasons, it is Iran’s best interest to maintain momentum towards obtaining a final nuclear deal or there is a better deal for them on the table?
Also another scenario could be realized if Iran fails to reach the nuclear deal. The 45 percent plunge in the price of crude oil, combined with renewed sanctions will cripple the Iranian economy. This could lead to renewed political tension and instability inside Iran, similar to the protests we saw after the 2009 presidential elections.

Taliban counters French-led Western unity demo with pledge of allegiance to ISIS chief Al Baghdadi
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report January 12, 2015
High Taliban officers in Pakistan and Afghanistan made a vow of allegiance Sunday, Jan. 12 to the Islamic State’s leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi – initiating concord among key groups of the Islamist terror movement in defiance of the values that brought millions out in a mammoth rally of Western unity against terror that day.
The Taliban cemented this unity pact by demonstratively beheading a Pakistani soldier they held prisoner.
This gesture came in rapid sequence after Amedy Coulibaly, the terrorist who on Jan. 9, broke into a kosher supermarket in Paris and murdered four Jews, avowed his adherence to ISIS.
Abu Bakr’s group this month therefore branched out from its Syrian-Iraqi “caliphate” not only into Europe but also into South Asia and across the Middle East.
In the week that Islamist terrorists carried out bloody atrocities in Paris, his jihad of terror was on the offensive and making strategic gains elsewhere:
1. The Islamic State was directly challenging the United States in new arenas – Europe, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
2. Monday, Jan 5, ISIS sent a force to cross into northern Saudi Arabia from Iraq. Three Saudi border guards including Gen. Odah al-Balawi, commander of the regional guard unit, were killed in the clash which took place in the Suwayf region of the Arar district.
debkafile’s counter-terror sources draw two disturbing conclusions from these bloody incidents:
Like the Paris attack, which saw Frenchmen attacking Frenchmen, the operation against the oil kingdom was carried out by Saudi nationals who had rallied to the Islamic State’s flag.
Abu Bakr has therefore captured an additional foothold in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula.
Secondly, as was also evident in Paris, ISIS, i.e. Al Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant, and AQAP, i.e. Al Qaeda in the Arabia Peninsula, are operating in harness. This was also evident from the claim by the Kouachi brothers who attacked Charlie Hebdo that they acted in the name of AQAP, in contrast to their associate, Coulibaly.
This cross-alliance, now joined by Taliban, represents an ominous escalation and expansion of the global jihad terror movement and the threat it poses to the United States, the West as a whole, the rest of the Middle East and Israel.
3. Abu Bakr al Baghdad, by his multi-branched terror spectaculars, has managed to seize the primacy of world Al Qaeda, pushing its formal leader Ayman al Zuwahri to the sidelines.

Mayor of Philadelphia to wed Israeli diplomat in same-sex marriage ceremony
Elad Strohmyer, deputy consul general of Israel in City of Brotherly Love, will be the first diplomat married in a ceremony conducted by Mayor Michael Nutter at Philadelphia's City Hall.

Itamar Eichner /Ynetnews /Published: 01.12./ Israel News
Maybe it really is always sunny in Philadelphia – the mayor of the city of brotherly love will marry a high-ranking Israeli diplomat with his partner in a religious-civic ceremony.
Elad Strohmyer, Deputy Consul General of Israel in Philadelphia and his partner Oren Ben-Joseph will be married at the Philadelphia City Hall this week in a ceremony led by Mayor of Philadelphia Michael Nutter and conservative Rabbi Michael Bills.
Gay marriage has been legal in Pennsylvania since May 2014 and is accepted by reform and Conservative Jews.
The ceremony will be held in the official reception hall at Philadelphia's city hall and will be attended by senior leaders of the LGBT community in the city.
"It's a big honor for me to get married in the city that has been my home for the past three years and in which I represent Israel," said Strohmyer. "The fact that the local media and the leadership of the community is expressing great interest and will come to the wedding is really moving and also enables us to expose another facet of Israel that is not usually displayed in world media. Through our wedding that has been awarded with a high media profile we are adding another important element of representing Israel other than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
Strohmyer met his partner during a gay pride event in Tel Aviv last June when he was on vacation in Israel. "We realized very fast that this (was serious) and he joined me in the US," added Strohmyer.
In October, during an Israeli technology conference in Philadelphia that was organized by the Consul General of Israel in the city in conjunction with Chemi Peres – who led a delegation of 15 Israeli technology companies – the two got engaged.
Philadelphia Mayor Nutter had been at the conference and after hearing of the story he immediately offered to marry the two Israelis.
Nutter followed suit with his promise and the event was scheduled for this Thursday. The ceremony will gather 150 guests, including friends and family who will travel to Philadelphia from Israel especially for the wedding.
Local media in Philadelphia will also cover the ceremony as the mayor has only married three same-sex couples since the law enabling LGBT marriage was passed in Pennsylvania – this is the first time Nutter will conduct the matrimonial ceremony for a diplomat.
"It is important for us to represent the pluralistic side of Israel, a liberal country that has progressive legislation on the subject of the rights of the proud community. We hope our wedding will be an example for many additional couples and will help advance civil and same-sex marriages in Israel," added Ben-Joseph. "I have worked in the tech industry for 18 years and in recent years I've held a central position at Microsoft, and I see the difference in the acceptance of LGBT employees from 18 years ago and today. I have full faith that we will continue to move forward until we advance to full equality of rights in Israel."
The Foreign Ministry recognizes same-sex couples and is considered to have a liberal approach on the topic. In the Foreign Ministry itself, spouses of same sex couples are listed as "official" spouses.
Strohmyer has been the Deputy Consul General of Israeli in Philadelphia since the summer of 2012, after serving as the deputy ambassador of Israel in Angola for two years. He also represented Israel at the "Gay Games" in Cleveland in the summer of 2014 and won the gold medal in sailing.

“Ex-Muslim’s Open Letter To America: ‘WHAT ELSE HAS TO HAPPEN SO YOU WAKE UP?!,’
Prissy Holly, Mad World News, January 11, 2015:
Meet Mark Christian, a brave man who has dedicated his life to exposing what Islam truly is all about.
After leaving Islam a decade ago to convert to Christianity, Mark pulls no punches when speaking out about his former religion, frequently calling out the Muslims who choose to murder in the name of their god.
“A god who is insecure enough to be offended by a cartoon, and incompetent to the level that he wants you to avenge for him, is not a god worthy of worship, but a devil who is leading you to your demise.
“When people challenged Jesus, he made them walk on water, raised them from the dead, and healed their sickness to prove ‘who He Is’ … But when people challenged Mohamed, he chopped their heads off to prove his power as a prophet … Well you chop my head off as much as you want. My heart will continue to call on the name of my savior Jesus Christ.
“Where is the American spirit and the American soul? Where are those who destroyed Hitler and brought down the Berlin Wall? When planes flew into your buildings, knifes ran through your fellow citizens’ throats, bombs went off in your Boston streets, Women and kids are screaming in every country around the world. All of this and you are still calling Islam the religion of peace … What else needs to happen for that Giant to wake up, and liberate humanity from the bondage and the fear of Islam???”
The following is an open letter from Mark, not just to Americans, but to those professing to be “peaceful” Muslims. In the light of the recent terror attacks in Paris, this message needs to be heeded and applied before it is too late!
The circumstances we face are dire and we have no coherent way of addressing it until we establish the stark, bright line between Muslims who are willing to respect the religious liberty of others (which must absolutely require the abandonment of vengeance over insults, perceived or real) and those who count us as so many cattle, ripe for slaughter and easily led.
Our society can no longer afford to self-censor when it comes to the “hair trigger” that is Islam. Muslims of the former type I described above may be offended, and for this I am sympathetic; but Muslims of the latter type will become enraged and will reveal to all the depth of their incompatibility with civilized society. This is my aim: to force these Muslims to expose their unacceptable radicalism for all to see, but also to reach a self-realization of the depravity of that radicalism that exists within themselves.
Being offended is uncomfortable for sure, but it is nothing compared to being hunted and subjugated, which is the lot our Christian brothers and sisters in Muslim-dominated lands endure, and as we saw in Paris; and increasingly in our own western democracies. The source of this is a foolish adherence to the idea of “multiculturalism,” enforced by a misguided political correctness. I believe you would heartily agree that there is no verbal insult, nor cartoon that would move you to murder. However, hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide disagree.
Part of the effort of the Global Faith Institute is to expose the reality of these twisted beliefs, not just among the jihadists (who we all know believe this) but more importantly, among the so-called “moderate” Muslims.
The concept of killing over an insult is abhorrent, but is held to be acceptable by a majority of Muslims. Does this mean that a majority of Muslims would kill over a cartoon? Of course not. However it does mean that a majority of Muslims would NOT stop a fellow Muslim from doing so, and might even feel compelled to assist or support them either financially, or through their silence. This concept is the bridge from religion to savagery. If a Muslim accepts insult as justification for violence, then it becomes possible for them to move to the next stage – honor killings, murder of apostates and infidels, etc.
Think of responding to insult with violence as the “gateway drug” to all the evils that animate Islam today. Break that link, and the rest will collapse for lack of support.
We are at the point where the lack of a stark, bright line is enabling death. I must do all I can to draw that line, and force Muslims to choose which side of that line they prefer. This is an essential first step in exposing the radicalism that we both know festers beneath the surface of many Muslims; even some of whom we call friends.
Some of those “peaceful” Muslims are of the opinion that HAMAS is doing nothing wrong by targeting civilians. They say are merely “acting as anyone would toward an oppressor.” Their words, not mine.
We are in a war, declared by Islam against civilization itself. As war is not pretty, sometimes tactics within a battle are difficult as well. I have the greatest love for Muslims, as they are in fact the first victims of Islam, and it is that love that leads me to force them to address their own need for religious reform. When one allows a wayward son to sit at the Thanksgiving table while drunk and on drugs, one is enabling that behavior. Real love tells that son to be sober and clean before entering this house. The son will resist, but only through that conflict can the problem be resolved. So it is with Islam, and those who follow it.
Mark is the founder of Global Faith Institute, whose mission is “To inspire the lost with the hope of Christ; to equip America with knowledge of the truth, greater than the evils of the age; to embrace the role of “Watchmen,” that we might sound an alarm for all who will listen.” Be sure and follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.
If you would like to read the exclusive interview Mark did recently with Mad World News, you can check that out here.