Friday, May 6, 2016

Veteran Hamas terrorist captured, reveals terror tunnel network - Ari Soffer



by Ari Soffer

Canteens, recreational rooms, even showers - tunnel-building terrorist reveals Hamas's vast tunnel network, in major intel coup for Israel.


It has been cleared for publication that a veteran Hamas terrorist who was involved in the terror group's tunnel-building efforts has been captured by Israel.

Under interrogation the terrorist has revealed a wealth of information about Hamas's network of attack tunnels into Israel, as well as its massive network of tunnels inside Gaza, in preparation for any future war with Israel.

The news comes on the same day as IDF forces announced yet another breakthrough in the battle against Hamas's terror tunnels, unearthing the second attack tunnel into Israel in a matter of weeks.

Mahmoud Atouna, 29, hails from Jabaliyah in Gaza, and is a 10-year veteran of the Islamist terror group.

He was arrested at the beginning of April, after breaching the Gaza-Israel border armed with two knives, and admitted to security forces that he had planned to kill any Israeli soldiers or civilians he encountered.

Atouna was a member of Hamas's "military wing", the Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades, and was extensively involved in the group's terrorist activity, including the planting of explosives targeting IDF forces near Gaza.

Over the past several years, however, most of Atouna's work had been focused on Hamas's terror tunnel network.

He revealed to interrogators a boon of detailed information on the tunnel network within and from northern Gaza, including Hamas's tunnel-building techniques, their locations - including within private civilian homes and public institutions - their uses, and more. He even provided a detailed account of the materials Hamas uses to construct the vast, expensive and in some cases highly-sophisticated tunnels.

He traced the routes and excavation sites of the tunnel network, well as the hidden attack shafts from where Hamas's elite fighters would emerge to stage attacks against IDF forces in the case of any future war with Israel.

Far from the rudimentary, the tunnel networks - meant to shuttle weapons, equipment and fighters throughout Gaza during wartime - even included recreation rooms, bathrooms with showers, and canteens.

Atouna also handed over a long list of names of Hamas operatives who worked together with him in Hamas's northeastern battalion, and pinpointed the locations of multiple weapons storage facilities and other key strategic Hamas sites.

Atouna is one of a number of Gazan Hamas terrorists currently in the custody of Israel's Shin Bet security agency, whose interrogations form an important part of Israel's extensive efforts to locate Hamas infiltration tunnels into Israeli territory.

He was recently indicted on multiple terrorism charges at Beersheva District Court.


Ari Soffer

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/211825#.VyuWBXqzdds

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

We are not Moving from the Golan Part 1 - Pazit Rabina



by Pazit Rabina

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav
There is a new threat to Israel hidden in Netanyahu’s visit to the Golan and the meeting with Putin. From drafts of documents on negotiations between the sides in Syria, a joint demand from the rival sides emerges: to regain control of the Golan, under the auspices of the Russia as patron.  In Jerusalem it is understood that now is not the time for passivity.



The end of the war in Syria is not yet on the horizon. Or perhaps it actually is? For two months already, discussions have been held in Geneva between the Syrian regime and representatives of the opposition, led by the UN’s special envoy to Syria, Staffan De-Mistura. Tracking the progress of the peace talks between the Syrian regime and the opposition factions is a fairly tiring business. On the surface it seems as if the talks are going in endless circles. Geneva 1, Geneva 2, and soon, Geneva 3.


But this time, there is an impression that something is different. On the 24th of March, Emissary De-Mistura published a position paper entitled “The United Nations’ Special Emissary’s document on Points of Agreement”. The subtitle is “The Basic Principles for a political solution in Syria”. In the preface, the writer explains that in the course of the talks between the Syrian regime and the rebels, he has identified “entry points” between the sides. He has instructed negotiating teams to bring out these points, and to create a document that the next round of talks will be based on. And this is where the disturbing part begins.


The first clause deals with an agreement for the sides “to respect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria”. On the face of it, you might say, this is the right way to begin. However, in the last line of the first clause this text appears: “The Syrian people remain committed to return, by peaceful means, sovereignty to the occupied Golan Heights”. Of all the relevant agreements regarding the political solution for war-torn and fractured Syria, the first thing that arises, surprisingly, is a unity between the government and the rebels in their stand against Israel.


Is this the sentence that caused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to react so vigorously, declaring that “The Golan Heights must remain a part of Israel”? The implicit meaning of this clause in the document is that in Geneva they are dealing with issues connected to Israel, and Israel is not there. She has observer status. Looking ahead, this clause has the potential to become in the not too distant future a source of political pressure on the State of Israel, when, in the framework of a comprehensive settlement in Syria, she may be expected to return the Golan Heights.


And if Netanyahu attempted to transmit the message to the international community that after fifty years it should “recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory in every way”, why, the US and Germany immediately made it clear that from their point of view “the Golan is occupied territory whose future will be determined in negotiations”. Russia indeed did not publish any declaration on the matter, but the sour expression on Putin’s face was obvious when Netanyahu said in front of the camera that “we will not return to the days when they shot at our communities and at our children from the heights of the Golan. With or without a peace agreement, the Golan Heights will remain under Israeli sovereignty”.


There has been somewhat of a flowering of Israeli-Russian relations these days, especially regarding security coordination in Syria. In June, the two countries will celebrate 25 years of renewed diplomatic relations between them. In the meeting between Netanyahu and Putin Netanyahu succeeded to insert a few sentences on an agreement with Russia regarding payment of pensions to immigrants from the former Soviet Union. This is a painful subject that may perhaps bring a partial solution to the difficult situation of the immigrants from the Soviet Union, especially the elderly among them who now live in elder-hostels. Here, Putin is willing to extend a hand to Netanyahu to grant him an electoral achievement.


But regarding the Golan Heights, the Russians have very different interests from those of the State of Israel. Therefore it is not really surprising to see Russian fingerprints on the document of the UN emissary to Syria. A week before De-Mistura’s document was published, an interview with Bashar al-Jaafari, head of the Syrian delegation  to the Geneva talks, appeared in the Russian Information Agency, which is known as the Kremlin’s mouthpiece. In that interview, Jaafari reported that the delegation presented to  De-Mistura their proposals for the document on the conference. For some reason, the interview was dedicated to only one clause in the list of proposals – liberating the occupied Golan Heights. “We propose that the Syrian government’s delegation and the delegation representing the opposition commit themselves clearly and sharply as a razor to liberate the occupied Golan Heights together and a return to the ’67 borders”, Jaafari explained. 


And this is not the only case during that week when Russia got involved in an act hostile to Israel.


Next installment: Part 2 - Talking about Israel Behind her Back



Pazit Rabina

Source: Makor Rishon, Yoman Section, issue 977. Pg. 12-13.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Abbas confirms PMW findings that the PA is still paying salaries to terrorists - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik



by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik


Abbas confirms main charge of PMW's new report- that the PA is still paying salaries to terrorists - in meeting today with Norwegian Foreign Minister


Last week, during a debate in Norwegian parliament about the implications of Palestinian Media Watch's report "The PA's Billion Dollar Fraud," the Norwegian Foreign Minister promised to put pressure on Mahmoud Abbas at their meeting this week to stop paying salaries to terrorists. PMW's report shows that despite assurances that it had stopped paying salaries to terrorists, the PA continues to pay them, just by a circuitous route via the PLO.
In the Norwegian minister's meeting with Abbas today, according to the Norwegian daily Dagen, when Abbas was confronted with PMW's charge that the PA was still paying salaries to terrorists in prison, Abbas did not deny that the PA still funds salary payments to prisoners. Rather he confirmed that the salaries are still being paid, when he assured the Norwegian Foreign Minister that these salaries are just not paid with Norwegian money.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Brende:
"'In the meeting, I emphasized that this support program in which financial payments are increased the [longer] the prisoners serve time [in prison], is unacceptable and should be abolished. I emphasized that with the political and economic challenges that Palestinians now face, it is in their own best interest to abolish this program,' says [FM] Brende.
Abbas responded by repeating assurances that Norwegian funds are not going to finance the program."
[Dagen (Norway), May 4, 2016]
PMW's new report exposes that the PA has been lying to donor countries since 2014 when they claimed that the PLO took over paying terrorists' salaries with money that did not come from the donor-supported PA budget. Today's confirmation by Abbas that the salaries continue to be paid - just not with Norwegian money - is a confirmation of PMW's main charge in the report that Abbas created the PLO Commission of Prisoners' Affairs solely for the purpose of deceiving the donor countries, and that the salaries are still financed by the PA. Were it not so, Abbas would simply have denied that the PA is connected in any way to the terrorist salaries.
The following is today's story in the Norwegian daily Dagen:
Headline: "The support program for prisoners is unacceptable"
By Kenneth Fjell Rasmussen
"Terror salaries
In a meeting with [PA President] Mahmoud Abbas, Norway's Foreign Minister Børge Brende stressed that the current support program for prisoners should be abolished.
Foreign Minister Brende (Conservatives) is on a new tour of the Middle East. Tuesday afternoon and evening, he had meetings first with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and then with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
On the agenda for the meeting with Abbas included the extensive support programs for imprisoned Palestinian Arabs. For years, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has paid salaries to Palestinians convicted of terror offenses, and the worse the deed, the more money they get.
Hans Olav Syversen (Christian Democratic Party) brought this problem up during last week's question and answer session [in Norwegian Parliament], and Brende promised to put further pressure on Abbas at the next opportunity. Brende now confirms to Dagen that the prisoners' salaries were discussed during the meeting in Ramallah.
Should be abolished
'In the meeting, I emphasized that this support program in which financial payments are increased the [longer] the prisoners serve time [in prison], is unacceptable and should be abolished. I emphasized that with the political and economic challenges that Palestinians now face, it is in their own best interest to abolish this program,' says Brende. Abbas responded by repeating assurances that Norwegian funds are not going to finance the program. This is something Brende too continues to emphasize.
'Norwegian support to Palestine goes to state building and institutional development, which everyone is interested in continuing. This is also stressed by the Israeli authorities,' said the Foreign Minister to Dagen.
Budget support
According to recent statistics on aid from Norad, rendered in Bistandsaktuelt, last year the Palestinians received 630 million Norwegian kroner in aid. Divided among the approximately 4.5 million residents, that comes to around 140 Norwegian kroner per person. This makes the Palestinian Arabs the obvious aid winners.
Norwegian support goes mainly to rebuilding Gaza after the war, budget support for the Palestinian Authority and education.
It is the budget support which in particular has received criticism from individuals and organizations that fight against the flow of money to the terrorists.
Last week, Israeli Arnold Roth said to Dagen that Norwegian authorities must understand that [when they] indirectly contribute to the PA's salaries to imprisoned terrorists, [they are] helping to maintain a Palestinian culture that supports terror as a political instrument.
'Of course it is impossible to distinguish between Norwegian money and other money in one pot,' stated the man who in 2001 lost his daughter in one of the largest terrorist attacks that ever hit Jerusalem. Since then, many of those involved in the attack have been paid salaries from the Palestinian Authority."


Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

Source: http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=157&doc_id=17880

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Should the U.S. Build an "ISIS Wall"? - Raymond Ibrahim



by Raymond Ibrahim

Securing the U.S.-Mexico border — with an electronic fence, which has worked so effectively in Israel — is more urgent than we think.

  • "If you really want to protect Americans from ISIS, you secure the southern border. It's that simple." — Rep. Duncan Hunter.
  • The Department of Homeland Security denied Hunter's claims, called them "categorically false" and added that "no credible intelligence to suggest terrorist organizations are actively plotting to cross the southwest border." Days later, however, it was confirmed that "4 ISIS Terrorists" were arrested crossing the border into Texas.
  • Under Obama's presidency alone, 2.5 million illegals have crossed the border. And those are just the ones we know about. How many of these are ISIS operatives, sympathizers or facilitators?

Of all the reasons a majority of Americans support the plan of businessman and U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump to "build a wall" along the U.S.-Mexico border, perhaps the most critical is to avoid letting terrorists into the country. Drugs enter, the victims of traffickers enter, but the most imminent danger comes from operatives of the Islamic State (ISIS) and like-minded groups that are trying to use this porous border as a way to smuggle weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) into the United States and launch terror attacks that could make 9/11 seem like a morning in May.


Just last week, "One of the American men accused in Minnesota of trying to join the Islamic State group wanted to open up routes from Syria to the U.S. through Mexico... Guled Ali Omar told the ISIS members about the route so that it could be used to send members to America to carry out terrorist attacks, prosecutors alleged in a document."

ISIS, however, did not need to be "told" by Ali "about the route." Nearly a year earlier, ISIS explored options on how it could smuggle a WMD "into the U.S. through Mexico by using existing trafficking networks in Latin America."


The Islamic State's magazine Dabiq last May (issue #9) published the following scenario:
Let me throw a hypothetical operation onto the table. The Islamic State has billions of dollars in the bank, so they call on their wilāyah [province] in Pakistan to purchase a nuclear device through weapons dealers with links to corrupt officials in the region. ... The weapon is then transported over land until it makes it to Libya, where the mujāhidīn [jihadis] move it south to Nigeria. Drug shipments from Columbia bound for Europe pass through West Africa, so moving other types of contraband from East to West is just as possible. The nuke and accompanying mujāhidīn arrive on the shorelines of South America and are transported through the porous borders of Central America before arriving in Mexico and up to the border with the United States. From there it's just a quick hop through a smuggling tunnel and hey presto, they're mingling with another 12 million 'illegal' aliens in America with a nuclear bomb in the trunk of their car.
The ISIS publication added that if not a nuke, "a few thousand tons of ammonium nitrate explosive," which is easily manufactured, could be smuggled.

Such thinking is hardly new. Back in 2009, a Kuwaiti cleric explained how easy it would be to murder countless Americans by crossing through the Mexican border:
Four pounds of anthrax — in a suitcase this big — carried by a fighter through tunnels from Mexico into the U.S. are guaranteed to kill 330,000 Americans within a single hour if it is properly spread in population centers there. What a horrifying idea; 9/11 will be small change in comparison. Am I right? There is no need for airplanes, conspiracies, timings and so on. One person, with the courage to carry 4 pounds of anthrax, will go to the White House lawn, and will spread this 'confetti' all over them, and then we'll do these cries of joy. It will turn into a real celebration.
Plans aside, ISIS and other Islamic terrorists are based in and coming from Mexico. The evidence is piling up. In August 2014, Judicial Watch reported that ISIS was "operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle borne improvised explosive devices." Months later in April 2015, ISIS was exposed operating in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua — eight miles from the U.S.

In October 2014, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif) said, "I know that at least 10 ISIS fighters have been caught coming across the Mexican border in Texas." The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) emphatically denied Hunter's claims, called them "categorically false" and added that "no credible intelligence to suggest terrorist organizations are actively plotting to cross the southwest border." Days later, however, it was confirmed that "4 ISIS Terrorists" were arrested crossing the border into Texas.

On September 20, 2015, "U.S. Border Patrol nabbed two Pakistani men with ties to terrorism at the U.S.-Mexico border. ... Both men ... took advantage of smuggling networks or other routes increasingly used by Central American illegal immigrants to sneak into the U.S."

This is uncomfortably reminiscent of the scenario outlined in the ISIS magazine: after naming Pakistan as the nation from which to acquire nukes — the two men arrested for "ties to terrorism" were from Pakistan — the Dabiq excerpt explained: "The nuke and accompanying mujāhidīn... are transported through the porous borders of Central America before arriving in Mexico and up to the border with the United States. From there it's just a quick hop through a smuggling tunnel."

On December 2, 2015, "A Middle Eastern woman was caught surveilling a U.S. port of entry on the Mexican border holding a sketchbook with Arabic writing and drawings of the facility and its security system." Around the same time, "five young Middle Eastern men were apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol in Amado, an Arizona town situated about 30 miles from the Mexican border. Two of the men were carrying stainless steel cylinders in backpacks..."

These arrests clearly indicate that Islamic terrorists are crossing the border into the U.S. For every illegal person caught, how many are not? One estimate says that at best only half of those illegally crossing the border are ever apprehended. Under Obama's presidency alone, 2.5 million illegals have crossed the border. And those are just the ones we know about. How many of these are ISIS operatives, sympathizers or facilitators? Border guards cannot even be "especially alert" for terrorists: many easily blend in with native Mexicans.

Three facts are undisputed: 1) ISIS and other terrorist groups see Mexico as a launching pad for terrorist acts in the U.S.; 2) ISIS and other terrorist groups have bases of operations in Mexico; 3) Members of ISIS and other terrorist groups have been caught trying to enter through the border.

In other words, it is just a matter of time. As Rep. Duncan Hunter once put it:
If you really want to protect Americans from ISIS, you secure the southern border. It's that simple. ISIS doesn't have a navy, they don't have an air force, they don't have nuclear weapons. The only way that ISIS is going to harm Americans is by coming in through the southern border — which they already have.
Just as before 9/11 — when U.S. leadership had received ample warnings of a spectacular terrorist attack targeting the U.S. — this problem may well be ignored until a spectacular attack occurs: San Bernardino was apparently too small, it did not count. Then, it will be more of the usual from the comatose media and many politicians: "shock," handwringing, and appeals against "Islamophobia."


Securing the U.S.-Mexico border — with an electronic fence, which has worked so effectively in Israel — is more urgent than we think.

The Israeli-built border fence between Israel and Egypt, completed in December 2013, put a complete stop to illegal infiltration from Egypt into Israel. Before the fence was built, many terrorists, traffickers, and drug smugglers crossed the border each year. (Image source: Idobi/Wikimedia Commons)

Raymond Ibrahim

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/7987/isis-mexico-border-wall

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Forecast: A very hot summer in Gaza - Yoav Limor



by Yoav Limor


On the surface, this mutual restraint testifies to a lack of interest for both sides to expand the scope of hostilities. Beneath the surface, however, the situation is far more combustible.

The current escalation in Gaza was written on the wall, as the cliche says. The IDF prepared for it, Hamas prepared for it, both without either side truly wanting it. How and to what degree it develops is now dependent on a number of factors, which will determine whether we find ourselves mired in the next version of Operation Protective Edge. 

The events of the past 24 hours are particularly noteworthy because of the relative calm of the past two years. Fewer than 40 rockets have been fired at Israel since Protective Edge, and the number of Israeli casualties has been the lowest it has ever been. Gaza border area residents also enjoyed tranquility during this period: The border area communities absorbed dozens of new families, farmers worked every last inch of their fields, and tourists filled the bread and breakfast lodges. 

Below the surface of this idyllic situation, however, Hamas was busy digging its tunnels. The terrorist group's insights from Protective Edge were clear: While Hamas failed on land and in the air, Israel did not have an answer to the challenge Hamas posed underground. The tunnel project was given ultimate priority; the number of diggers was significantly increased, along with the budget. The goal: to finish digging dozens of attack tunnels stretching into Israeli territory, and hundreds off additional defensive tunnels inside Gaza to hide in during the fighting.

This concerted effort did not go unnoticed by Israel, which treated the tunnels as the primary threat facing the country this year. The intelligence gathering campaign (spearheaded by Military Intelligence and the Shin Bet security agency) was put into high gear, as was the push to develop the proper technology. This was clearly a race against time: Detect the tunnels before Hamas put them to use.

Last month, the first tunnel was discovered crossing into Israel from southern Gaza. Hamas, for its own reasons, chose not to fight for it. As a result of this discovery, efforts to find more were intensified even further. We can assume this provided the pretext for the exchange of fire over the past day: The IDF is digging to locate more tunnels, Hamas is shooting to disrupt these efforts and to warn Israel. 

For now, this skirmish is confined to a very limited "field of play." Hamas is shooting only at military targets, as it says the IDF is crossing the security fence and entering Gaza. Israel, in turn, is limiting its response to hitting Hamas military targets while ensuring that the number of casualties remains small to nonexistent, to minimize the possibility of a tit-for-tat escalation.

On the surface, this mutual restraint testifies to a lack of interest for both sides to expand the scope of hostilities. Beneath the surface, however, the situation is far more combustible. The situation in Gaza now is worse than it was before Hamas decided to go to war two years ago: Unemployment has risen while gross domestic product has dropped; tens of thousands of people are still homeless; electricity runs for only eight hours a day and the water is salty; hundreds of thousands rely on aid organizations for food and medicine; and worse of all, Gaza is under siege, people cannot enter or exit, and an Egyptian decision to open the Rafah crossing does not appear to be on the horizon. 

Other factors are also exacerbating the situation. Arab states, far more occupied with the Islamic State group and Iran, are ignoring Gaza; hostilities between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are ongoing, as is the wave of terrorism in Judea and Samaria; and extremist elements in Gaza continue to pose a weakened yet persistent threat to Hamas rule. All these factors, together with the threat to its tunnel project now posed by Israel, could lead Hamas to conclude that it has nothing to lose.

This likely won't happen tomorrow, but let us not be mistaken: We are enmeshed in a negative dynamic. Suspicions are rising and with them the potential for a harsh escalation. Considering these conditions, you don't need to be a weatherman to forecast a very hot summer in the south this year.


Yoav Limor

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=15989

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Saudi Columnist Following Pulverizing Of Aleppo: Assad Is The No. 1 Terrorist - MEMRI



by MEMRI

Following the massive attack on the city of Aleppo by the Syrian regime and its Russian ally, which included the destruction of a hospital, Saudi columnist Khalaf Al-Harbi penned an article in which he harshly attacked the Syrian regime as well as the leaders of Russia, Iran and Hizbullah.

Writing in the government Saudi daily 'Okaz, he accused these leaders of committing a "genocide" of the Syrian people, and the international community of silent complicity in this crime. He added that this crime was comparable to, if not worse than, the crimes of terrorist organizations such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda.

The following are excerpts from the article:[1]  

 
Khalaf Al-Harbi (image: All4syria.info)

"In disaster-ridden Aleppo, a [Syrian air force] jet dropped barrel bombs on a hospital that was treating victims of previous airstrikes. The wounded [victims], the doctors and [other] patients were killed, and at the same time another jet bombed the rescue teams and civil defense [forces]. All this, of course, under the pretext of combating terrorists! 

"What action can terrorists carry out that is worse than the destruction of a hospital[?] 

"Look at all the terrifying ISIS videos and the barbaric Al-Qaeda statements, and you will see the same [acts], possibly even less severe ones. If ISIS sends a suicide [bomber] to blow up a vegetable market, Bashar [Al-Assad] and Putin's jets, together with Iran and Hizbullah, have already erased an entire city, and strove with all their might to exterminate its peaceful residents.

"What's the difference between Putin and [ISIS leader] Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi? Is it possible that [Iranian Supreme Leader] Khamenei any more humane than [Al-Qaeda Leader] Al-Zawahiri? Did [Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader] Al-Zarqawi commit any crimes that [Hizbullah leader] Hassan Nasrallah has refused to commit? And as for Bashar Al-Assad – he cannot even be compared to the most satanic among people and demons, since he is the number one terrorist butcher, who receives the blessings of the international community, and in most cases has even conspired with it. 

"Moreover, one could say that the case of Al-Baghdadi, Al-Zawahiri, and other terrorist leaders is simpler than that of Putin, Khamenei, Nasrallah, and Bashar, since these terrorist leaders are wanted all over the world, whereas the leaders of the barrel bombs are presidents of UN member-states. The silence regarding the crimes [of these leaders] provides certain legitimacy to the methodical extermination [they carry out in Syria], while we thought that such matters have long ago disappeared from the world.

"If the horrible crimes taking place in Aleppo today are classified as 'combating terrorism,' then we say to the supporters of the barrel bombs – you will surely lose [this] campaign. This, because the child whose good family was destroyed in front of him will not become a peace activist or a human rights activist, but will seek an organization even more barbaric than ISIS to [join, in order to] avenge his family that was wiped off the face of the earth. Shame will continue to hound all those who, for political or sectarian reasons, supported [the dropping of] barrel bombs..."

Endnotes:
[1] 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), May 2, 2016.

MEMRI

Source: http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/9170.htm

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Iran Comes Clean on Banking Problems - Lawrence A. Franklin



by Lawrence A. Franklin

Central Bank of Iran (CBI) governor Seif Valiollah mentioned that Iran has a reputation for not being exactly transparent on countering financial support for terrorist operations

  • Central Bank of Iran (CBI) governor Seif Valiollah mentioned that Iran has a reputation for not being exactly transparent on countering financial support for terrorist operations. He further blamed the regime's willingness to facilitate money-laundering schemes as another factor discouraging investment from abroad, and indirectly criticized the overweening influence of the huge business conglomerates run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the Iranian economy.
  • Nasser Hakimi, another CBI official blamed Iran's own banks for access problems with the Society for Worldwide International Transactions (SWIFT) network.
  • Several of Iran's key banks had not yet purchased or installed the required software and financial identifier codes that would enable SWIFT to become operable in Iran.

Central Bank of Iran (CBI) officials have admitted that the regime's own financial policies, and not the United States, are responsible for some of the country's banking problems. CBI governor Seif Valiollah admitted recently that Tehran's failure to reap more economic benefits from the JCPOA agreement is, at least in part, Iran's own fault.

These revelations by Iran's top banking officials refute charges by Iranian hardliners that the United States has been orchestrating a toteyeh bozoorg ("grand conspiracy") to deny Iran access to international banking networks.

CBI officials and others have detailed the shortcomings of Iran's own banking system. These CBI statements challenge the skewed comments in the Iranian press that America's refusal to grant foreign banks access to U.S financial services is what is responsible for Iran's bank problems. Some of the negative commentary came from economists disappointed with President Rouhani's management of the economy.


CBI governor Valiollah said that the failure of the country's banks to adhere to standard international reporting practices is at fault. He also blamed the financial policies of former President Ahmadinejad as contributing to the present disorder in Iran's banking network. Valiollah criticized, for instance, Ahmadinejad's populist policies, such as frequent and careless loans, as a waste of finances. Valiollah also specifically mentioned Ahmadinejad's penchant for using non-accredited financial institutions, through which he doled out rewards to political cronies, and addressed the lack of liquidity in Iran's banks as a consequence of the large amount of failed loans. Subsequently, these bad loans necessitated the buy-back by the government of physical assets, such as residential and business properties. Valiollah offered an overall bleak assessment of Iran's tarnished financial image, which he suggested, has discouraged foreign investment.

In a swipe at the hardliners who oppose President Rouhani's economic "opening to the West," Valiollah also mentioned that Iran has a reputation for not being exactly transparent on countering financial support for terrorist operations. He further blamed the regime's willingness to facilitate money-laundering schemes as another factor discouraging investment from abroad, and indirectly criticized the overweening influence of the huge business conglomerates run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the Iranian economy. Valiollah also called for Iran to have a unified and stable exchange rate tied to the market rate, not one subject to manipulation by powerful groups affiliated with the regime.

Nasser Hakimi, another CBI official, blamed Iran's own banks for access problems with the Society for Worldwide International Transactions (SWIFT) network. The SWIFT messaging system enables banks to process financial transactions in a secure and rapid manner. Moreover, one CBI functionary added that several of Iran's key banks had not yet purchased or installed the required software and financial identifier codes that would enable SWIFT to become operable in Iran.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi stated in the press that Iran's banks are determined to improve access to SWIFT, and urged Iranian economists to visit the SWIFT Room of the CBI.

Economists opposed to the Rouhani administration had accused Washington of obstructing banking ties with the European Union and discouraging investment in Iran.[1] One of these economists, Asadollah Asgaroladi, claimed that Iran still can only process transactions with foreign countries through Dubai. One official, affiliated with the Iranian Chamber of Commerce's Industries, Mines, and Agriculture Division, stated that there is limited access to SWIFT, but with Asian nations only, such as China, Japan, and South Korea.

CBI officials realize now that the Obama White House went out of its way to allay the fears of Western banks, especially those from the European Union, that they would risk being fined for conducting normal banking relations with Iran. CBI governor Valiollah even complimented Secretary of State Kerry's assistance in convincing European banks that it is acceptable to deal with their Iranian counterparts. In praising Kerry's effort to facilitate the foreign transactional activity of Iran's banks, "Kerry insisted that foreign banks should cooperate with Iranian banks and that any bank that doubts this, should contact Washington."
Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin was the Iran Desk Officer for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. He also served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve, where he was a Military Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Israel.

[1] Keyhan Newspaper quotes hard-liner Jaffar Bolour re U.S. Bank Conspiracy and exerting pressure on EU banks.


Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin was the Iran Desk Officer for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. He also served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve, where he was a Military Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Israel.

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/7958/iran-bank-problems

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.