Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Arab Bank found liable over Hamas attacks, US jury says

by Yonah Jeremy Bob, Frank G. Runyeon

In a historic verdict, an 11 member jury on Monday found Arab Bank liable for knowingly providing financial services to Hamas - the first time a financial institution has ever been held civilly liable for supporting terrorism.

The Arab Bank trial took place in a federal court in Brooklyn for the last five weeks and revisited some of Hamas' worst terror attacks, including the August 2001 Sbarro suicide bombing in Jerusalem killing or wounding 130 and a range of 24 horrid terror attacks during the Second Intifada.

297 plaintiffs who were injured or are family members of those murdered in the 24 terror attacks from 1998-2004 financed via Saudi Arabia and Hezbollah’s al-Shahid Foundation sued the bank in 2004 for allowing itself to be used as a conduit for the terror funds.

The 10 year history of intense legal battles, included trying to get the bank's "secret" client documents located in Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinian areas.

The US Supreme Court has already weighed in once pretrial and may be asked to weigh in again post-trial, while the US State, Justice and Treasury Departments fought over whether the US government should accede to Jordan's requests to for intervening in the case.

Jordan told the US Supreme Court that Arab Bank is so crucial, that a billions dollar judgment that tanks the bank could lead to economic and political instability and devastation, possibly damaging crucial US-Jordan counter-terror cooperation.

Commentators have written that if Arab Bank was held liable for being a conduit for funds which eventually reached terrorists, the precedent could shake the international banking system to its foundations as many major banks may use their size and looking the other way to dabble in such transactions.

The central question was whether the 11 member jury would find that Arab Bank knew or should have known that its account holders were using it to transfer "blood money" to Hamas for terror operations - or whether it checked for suspicious transactions as best it could, and simply imperfectly missed them.

 On Thursday, during closing arguments, Plaintiffs’ attorney C. Tab Turner told the jury they were in a very special situation: “a situation that no jury in the history of this country has ever been in."

He continued, "Never has anyone sat on a case of finance terrorism, with issues like you have to decide in this case."

“You have more power today to change the way that this world operates, the world of banking operates, than anyone else on the face of the earth,” said Turner.

Gary M. Osen, another plaintiffs' attorney responded, saying, "The jury has found Arab Bank responsible for knowingly supporting terrorism. It found Arab Bank complicit in the deaths and grievous injuries inflicted on dozens of Americans."

He added, "Every bank, every company and every government in the world now has to decide whether it is willing to continue doing business with an institution proven to have knowingly supported terrorism and proven to have helped murder Americans.”

Responding, Arab Bank said that it had "predicted that any proceeding conducted under the district court’s improper sanctions, which the US government found to be ‘erroneous,’ would be nothing more than a show trial."

It added that, "Once the Court eliminated the Bank’s defenses, permitted weeks of inadmissible and inflammatory testimony of plaintiffs’ witnesses, and rejected the Supreme Court’s binding causation standard, the verdict against the Bank was inevitable." 

Further, the bank said, “Taken together, the Court’s rulings excluded nearly all evidence about banking and put Hamas on trial, but as Judge Weinstein found in dismissing the related Gill case, ‘Hamas is not the defendant; the Bank is.’"

The bank continued that it “believes it will ultimately prevail in this case. The trial was infected by scores of errors, and the Bank has very strong grounds for appeal" and will appeal to the US federal appeals court.

During a trial lasting nearly six weeks, the jury was presented with evidence showing that Arab Bank held accounts for multiple senior Hamas leaders, including Hamas founder and spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and current Hamas leaders Osama Hamdan and Ismail Haniyeh.

The jury was also presented with evidence that Arab Bank transferred more than $30 million dollars to Hamas-controlled institutions in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, such as al-Mujama al-Islami (The Islamic Center of Gaza) and al-Jam'iya al-Islamiya (The Islamic Society of Gaza).

Furthermore, the Plaintiffs presented evidence that Arab Bank served as the conduit between the Saudi Committee in Support of the Intifada Al Quds, a Saudi charity established in October 2000, and the families of Hamas suicide bombers, martyrs and prisoners.

According to an unclassified U.S. State Department memorandum released after the jury began deliberations, “In 2003, the United States provided evidence to Saudi authorities that the Saudi al Quds Intifadah Committee (“Committee”) founded in October 2000, was forwarding millions of dollars in funds to the families of Palestinians engaged in terrorist activities, including those of suicide bombers.”

“The timing of the State Department’s disclosure raises deeply troubling questions,” said Plaintiffs’ trial counsel Michael Elsner, who requested the records. “Obviously, the jury reached the same conclusion about the Saudi payments in finding Arab Bank guilty for its support of Hamas, but this last minute disclosure of this evidence six years after we requested it and hours after the jury began its deliberations is telling."

"We don’t expect the State Department to take sides in a civil case, but by withholding critical evidence until the jury began its deliberations, the State Department continues its unfortunate pattern of siding with foreign interests against American victims of terrorism," said Elsner. 

Yonah Jeremy Bob, Frank G. Runyeon


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

Majid Rafizadeh: The Folly of Inviting Iran to Fight ISIS

by Majid Rafizadeh


There has been considerable pressure from the leftists and Democrats to include the Islamic Republic of Iran in the core coalition of Western allies that have joined to fight the Islamic State. The core coalition consists of Britain, France, Australia, Canada, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark. Turkey, which is led by the Islamic Justice and Development Party of Recep Erdogan, has been notably less cooperative than expected.

Some national and international outlets, along with policy analysts, are beating the drum that without the Islamic Republic defeating the Islamic State is impossible. As one pro-Iranian outlet asserted, “If Obama thinks he can fight the Islamic State group without Iran’s help, he’s mistaken.” 

This academic, naïve and immature argument – that the assistance of the Islamic Republic is needed to counteract the rise of an Islamic terrorist group –  has been resurfacing repeatedly for almost a decade. This view falls right into the hands and interests of the Iranian regime. This argument comes from two camps: the first camp  consist of those who desire to project the Islamic Republic’s power to be more than it actually is. The second camp of individuals present and reflect their minimal understanding and naïveté in comprehending the power structure of the Middle East, the power of the Islamic Republic, and its role in the Middle East.

First of all, Iran’s military power in comparison to that of European countries and the core coalition is minimal. Exaggerating about the military power of the Islamic Republic and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps falls right into the hand of the Iranian regime and the mullahs.

By doing so, the Islamic Republic has managed to project itself as the only option,  regional power, and more fundamentally, partner of the West (specifically the United States) in defeating ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Secondly, the security threat posed by ISIS has shifted the attention from Iran’s nuclear program, and this is what the Iranian regime is searching for. While Iran’s nuclear defiance used to command more attention in the Obama administration’s foreign policy agenda (and other members of the P5+1) when it comes to Iran, the geopolitical and security threat of ISIS has shifted priorities.

More fundamentally, the Islamic Republic was the major reason behind the emergence and creation of the terrorist group the Islamic State. Iran’s military, financial, intelligence, advisory, and security support of the Assad government have been instrumental in keeping the Alawites in power. However, the Islamic Republic’s assistance has also caused the uprising to spiral into a full-fledged civil war and sectarian conflict. Iran’s support contributed further to the instability in the country.

The Iranian and Syrian governments’ use of brutal force further radicalized and militarized the conflict. The Islamic Republic’s (and its proxy Hezbollah’s) involvement in the Syrian conflict ratcheted up the sectarian language as well, pitting the Sunnis, the Shias and Alawites against each other.

This particular milieu provided the platform for Al-Qaeda affiliates and groups such as ISIS to develop, organize, recruit more members, and coordinate more efficiently.

It goes without saying that from the beginning the Islamic Republic’s line for the Syrian uprising has been that Assad has been attacked by terrorists, Takfiris, or radical Sunni Islamist groups. The Syrian regime employed the same argument to legitimize its use of hard power and prevent foreign intervention as well.

The Syrian regime, with the assistance of Iranian advisors, released several ISIS members and Salafists from prison in late 2011 and early 2012 in order to strengthen Damascus and Tehran’s argument that Assad has been a target of radical terrorist groups rather than a popular uprising.  The ISIS recruitment significantly intensified during this time.

At the beginning, the rise of such radical groups fell right into the interests of the Iranian and Syrian regime. The Islamic Republic and Syria were strategically successful at sending the West, and particularly the United States, a robust message that there is no alternative to Assad, and any military or foreign intervention would exacerbate the conflict.

In addition, the elite Quds Forces, a branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, has gained significant power in Iraq and Syria since the rise of ISIS. The Iranian government no longer sees a need to hide their involvement of its troops on the ground in these countries. The growing role of the IRGC and Quds Forces is being justified by Iran’s claim that it is fighting ISIS. In addition, the United States sees no other option other than to turn a blind eye on the increasing role of Iranian forces.

Militarily speaking, there is no need for the Islamic Republic to defeat the Islamic State. Ideologically and religiously speaking, the Iranian regime’s policies are not that different from the Islamic State when it comes to executions, amputations, stoning, suppressing women, persecuting minorities, destabilizing the region, among others. Nevertheless, the Islamic Republic does these acts in a more systematic way, and they are legalized under its Islamist and Shari’a law-based legislative, judiciary and executive systems.

By requesting that the Islamic Republic assist in defeating the Islamic State, we will be playing right into their hands. The Iranian regime will project itself as the sole power in the Middle East and continue more assertively to pursue its regional hegemonic ambitions and nuclear objectives. Secondly, the West would be legitimizing and emboldening the authoritarian and Islamist regime of the mullahs. Third, the Iranian leaders will use the partnership with the West as well as the West’s request to join them as leverage in obtaining more concessions from the United States when it comes to nuclear talks. The Iranian regime will use this as a platform to maneuver more in the nuclear negotiations and paint the picture that it is an indispensable regional power.

Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a senior fellow at the Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington, DC and is a member of the Gulf project at Columbia University. He can be reached at Follow Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.


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

Ed Lasky: The Plot to Create a Permanent Democratic Majority

by Ed Lasky

President Obama and his fellow Democrats are scheming to use immigration and housing policy to fulfill their dream to fundamentally transform America forever.

Over a decade ago, two liberals-John Judis and  Rus Teixeira-wrote a book, The Emerging Democratic Majority, that predicted demographic changes would inevitably lead to a Democratic lock on Congress and the White House. Their argument since has been updated by both of them and by others. Back in 2009, Teixeira wrote that “that demographic and geographic "trends should take America down a very different road than has been traveled in the last eight years. A new progressive America is on the rise."

However, for a man who boasted of his plans to “fundamentally transform America” and change its “trajectory” and has used Martin Luther King’s declaration of the “fierce urgency of now” as a rallying cry, these changes are too glacial.  After all, when Treasury Secretary Geithner praised Barack Obama for a legacy of having prevented the second Great Depression (sycophancy works with Obama) Obama replied “That’s not enough for me”.  For a man declared to something akin to a God, what greater legacy can there be then changing the demographics of America? His legacy will last long after he left the office. Demography is destiny.

There has been much coverage of how the changing composition of the American electorate is boosting the prospects for Democrats, but the policies adopted by President Obama and supported by Harry Reid’s Senate are acting, as arsonists would say, as accelerants.

There are clues to this plan in the lax enforcement of our immigration laws, the targeting of states and law-enforcement officials that are trying to enforce those very laws, and  the abuse of “prosecutorial discretion” to hand out get-out-of-jail-free cards, as well as tax dollars, to lawbreakers. One of his more potent and controversial actions was President Obama’s use of “executive authority” in 2012 to enact the Dream Act by fiat -- despite his profession just the year before that he had no power to circumvent Congress in that way (for once, he was right about the law). His order gave lawful permanent residency status and work authorization to anyone who arrived in America illegally as a minor, has been in this country for at least five years, has been in America for at least five years, was in school or has graduated from high school, or served in the military and was not yet 35 years old. This was a Dream Act alright for Obama’s dream is to “punish his enemies” and crush the Republican Party.

Since then, of course, his Open Borders policy has led to the much publicized children’s crusade crossing America’s southern border, with very little done to stop this invasion despite risks to our fiscal health (exemplified by what immigration waves has done to California finances); our medical health and our safety and our lives (as ISIS and other Islamists groups see the virtual Bienvenidos Mat at America’s borders; the head of the immigration workers union recently warned of this dangerous terror threat -- despite White House efforts to hide this danger.

U.S. Border Patrol agents have apprehended at least 474 aliens from terrorism-linked countries attempting to sneak into the country illegally this year alone, according to a leaked document obtained by Breitbart Texas.  As Barack Obama has made clear, he plans to declare amnesty by executive order once those annoying distractions known as elections are over in November. Democrats have recently voted to protect his likely post-election amnesty order.  Also on the docket before Obama leaves office will be the granting of asylum for hundreds of thousands of Muslims displaced by his own disastrous policies (Obama already loosened the rules for asylum seekers who have terror connections, despite the fact that others granted asylum have killed Americans). That policy has worked out so well for Europe, after all.  Minneapolis has seen Somalis granted asylum become ISIS terrorists.

This is not what most Americans want and a president, a decent one anyway, would consider the views of his fellow Americans on such an important matter.  But as we have seen on climate change and Obamacare, for example, Democrats don’t care to consult with the hoi polloi .

This will be one giant leap to transform the electoral map of America.

Despite claims made by some activists that immigrants are “natural Republicans,” this has been disproved by numerous studies. Illegal immigrants (surprise!) vastly favor Democrats over Republicans.   The second generation becomes natural Democrats in overwhelming numbers (see Why Hispanics Don’t Vote Republican by the estimable Heather MacDonald). They favor Big Government policies -- nationalized medical care, welfare and the other entitlement programs -- by which Democrats create dependents and dependable Democrats. Thus, fast-tracking them onto the path of citizenship and the right to vote is a high priority for Democrats.

First comes the immigration, legal and illegal; then comes amnesty; then comes citizenship; and then comes immortal Democratic control. Call it the Tinkers-to Evers-to Chance plan to control the destiny of America. As Mark Krikorian has repeatedly warned, Obama is transforming America through immigration. There is an even more calculated policy being followed. To see the impact look at a map:

(The colors in the  map of the states represent the split of senators
in those states, not political leaning.  Colorado is more purple than
Nevada at this point but has two Dem senators, Nevada 1 of each.)

The influx into the south is changing the political alignment in southern states. The South has been a bastion for Republicans for years but that has made it a target and it is under assault. Sheryl Gay Stolberg of the New York Times recently wrote a column reporting how immigration (“Latinos in Georgia, as in much of the country, are the fastest growing minority”) is shifting the state towards the blue spectrum (the GOP has a good shot of retaining a Republican Senatorial seat in this cycle as but as the cliché goes, past performance is no guarantee of future performance).

Attorney General Eric Holder has been targeting southern states for years to loosen voter identification and other anti-voter fraud measures. Democrats are actively working to turn Texas blue (after Obama’s re-election, Jeremy Bird, Obama’s campaign national field director, started Battleground Texas, a grass-roots political organization to make Texas competitive, a long-term effort to take root perhaps by the 2020 presidential election, wrote Amy Chozick in the New York Times). Skeptics may scoff but California was once solidly Republican and now has Jerry Brown as governor and Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer as senators. Hence, as Stolberg wrote about Georgia, the Democratic Party is enjoying a “revival.” It may be slow but it is inexorable.

There are other actions taken by the White House and its Democratic allies in Congress to further control the destiny of America. For decades, Democrats have bemoaned that Republicans have an advantage in the House of Representatives since districts are based primarily on geography. Since individual districts are spread out across states, more conservative suburban, ex-urban and rural voters have more sway in deciding the composition of the House.  The Democrats have done their best to redraw these lines when they have controlled state governments to favor Democrats. Gerrymandering allows politicians to choose their voters rather than the democracy is supposed to work.  Be that as it may, these electoral puzzle pieces often look strange for a reason (conspiracies can be complex). Illinois, Obama’s home state naturally enough-provides an illustration of how far-fetched gerrymandering can become

My street is a microcosm of what happened when Democrats took control of state government in 2010 and redrew the map. I live in the 10th district of Illinois, once held by Republicans Mark Kirk and his successor (once Kirk was elected to the Senate) Bob Dold.  After 2010, the seat was won – barely -- by a Democrat.  I was talking with a neighbor from across the street about the upcoming midterm election in the district, one of the most competitive in the nation (Bob Dold is running to retake the seat). I was surprised when he said he was not in the 10th anymore (he finds himself, horror of horrors, represented by a left-wing Democrat  who has a solid core of support in other carefully drawn areas of her district, the 9th). When I did a deep dive to drill down on the map, I not only discovered that I escaped the same fate by just a few yards  but that neighbors on the same side of the street just a few houses up were also in a different district.  If only Democrats would focus such attention on fiscal and security concerns rather than their campaigns and themselves.

However, redrawing congressional district maps is only the most obvious strategy (and one, that in all fairness, has also been practiced by Republicans). Could there be a stealth plan to move Democrats into Republican-held House districts to turn them blue or at least purple?

Westchester County in New York can be used as another microcosm to reveal changes that are afoot across America that have somehow escaped the media’s attention. 

George Picard of American Thinker wrote years ago about events transpiring in that well-off community:
The Obama team also has sent social engineers to Westchester County, New York, to pressure the community to settle a lawsuit brought by liberal activists over "affordable" housing. The deal requires Westchester County to spend $50 million dollars to build hundreds of affordable units and market them aggressively to minorities. As the Wall Street Journal noted, "the lawsuit was clearly a solution in search of a problem."
The Housing and Urban Development agency went on war footing. Deputy Secretary Ron Sims declared that "there was a significant amount of racial segregation" in Westchester. This is false. The county's population of minorities already mirrors that of the nation's population as a whole. Minorities do cluster in certain communities and are relatively absent in the higher-income areas, such as Scarsdale. This replicates the history of social migration in America, whether by Jews, Italians, or African-Americans themselves. As incomes increase, people move to nicer areas. In fact, even in the wealthier areas of Westchester, African-Americans are only slightly underrepresented. Regardless, the county settled to avoid the enormous costs of tangling in court with the Obama administration.
HUD has made its goals clear. Any community that accepts federal funds for housing development will have to toe the line regarding minority housing. "They are now on notice," said HUD Deputy Secretary Ron Sims. "That means in suburban areas, we're going to ask that they provide that opportunity for choice so people are able to enjoy what I call the fruits and benefits of an established neighborhood." The Westchester case could provide a new tool for fair-housing advocates fighting what they allege are discriminatory policies by cities and suburbs nationwide. The settlement marked a significant shift in federal efforts to enforce fair-housing law, particularly in suburban areas.
Indeed, Sims has said that the Westchester settlement "can serve as a model for building strong, inclusive sustainable communities in suburban areas across the United States."  
Incidentally, Attorney General Holder's also criticized America for being "voluntarily segregated." So will we now be involuntarily integrated?
A Wall Street Journal editorial ("Color-Coding the Suburbs") points out a peril of this brow-beating approach:
The bigger concern, however, is the Obama Administration's intention to promote housing policies that have a history of dividing communities and creating racial tension. Integrated neighborhoods are an admirable goal, but how you get there matters.
Social engineering has long been a dream of what Jonah Goldberg would call “Liberal Fascists” and they are having a field day in Obama’s America.

The Democrats are masters at using Big Data (accumulated by means fair and foul, but mostly the latter) to accumulate the very information needed to move likely Democratic voters into districts where they can have the most impact on behalf of the Democratic Party. There were good reasons one of the first steps Barack Obama took upon becoming President was trying to bring the Census Department under White House control (“it’s called politics” as this Wall Street Journal column by John Fund depicted the ploy; the Census combined with the IRS would be powerful political tools for Democrats -- paid for by taxpayers).

The problem with these “surplus voters” is that their votes are wasted in reliably Democratic districts. Moving them into districts where they can tip the balance and the district into the Democratic column would be a masterstroke. This population transfer (dictators have a fetish for this type of social engineering, by the way) would be done -- is being done -- under the guise of “social justice,” “affordable housing,” and “redressing past racial wrongs.” Those tactics and terms intimidate protesters and stifle free speech.

Controlling both Houses of Congress is the grand plan.

Change is coming to America, district by district, state by state.

Ed Lasky


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

Eli Hazan: Rehabilitation for demilitarization

by Eli Hazan

Just ahead of Rosh Hashana, negotiating teams were to meet in Cairo on Tuesday, marking the beginning of indirect talks between Israel and Hamas on a long-term truce in the Gaza Strip. This comes after the U.S. Senate passed legislation last week that upgraded Israel's status to "major strategic partner," a move that will enhance cooperation between the two countries on regional issues.

This week, the Israeli government approved a special NIS 1.3 billion ($360 million) aid package for southern communities near the Gaza border. At the same time, Israel is implementing a number of economic relief measures meant to ease the lives of civilians in Gaza. It is no wonder that this is being done, as Israel clearly distinguishes between Gaza's civilian population and Hamas terrorist forces. This was demonstrated during Operation Protective Edge, when Israel avoided, as much as possible, harming innocent Palestinians civilians, while Hamas continuously tried, without much success, to harm innocent Israeli civilians. This has been the pattern of behavior by both sides ever since Hamas established itself as a dominant terrorist organization.

Israel, in my opinion, won the recent round of fighting with Hamas. Some commentators are trying to propagate a misleading impression that Israel lost because it did not decisively defeat Hamas. But this was not so. It is enough to look at the pictures -- entire neighborhoods of Gaza were razed to the ground. Around 2,200 Gazans were killed and many more were wounded. The disappearance of Hamas leaders to underground bunkers during the fighting was symbolic. 

Israel, therefore, enters the long-term truce takes with a huge advantage over the other side and it must fully push for the following equation: "rehabilitation for demilitarization" -- that is to say, the demilitarization of Gaza must be a condition for any agreement, easement or reconstruction sought by Hamas. Palestinian declarations of refusal to disarm will not be accepted this time. Israel's demand for the demilitarization of Gaza has received international support. The U.S. and Europe are watching the Islamic State group with horror, and they understand that Israel's demand is justified.

Moreover, European nations, including Germany, Britain and France, have offered to set up a force that would supervise the reconstruction and demilitarization of Gaza. It should also be noted that, unlike during the Muslim Brotherhood era in Egypt, when Mohammed Morsi's government expressed solidarity with Hamas, Egypt is now ruled by Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who is revolted by Hamas and its leaders. And the Saudi royal regime feels the same way. On the other side stands Qatar, which will send millions of dollars to Gaza for reconstruction, no matter what.

We should not fear proposing creative solutions, such as Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz's idea for a complete separation from Gaza and the creation of an artificial island off the coast of Gaza on which an airport and seaport would be built for the Palestinians. At the same time, we must insist on protecting our interests. Residents of southern Israel know this better than anyone, but all Israelis must come to understand it. This will require a united Israeli front on the need for the demilitarization of Gaza. Unfortunately, not everyone understands this now, and some are trying to delegitimize the concept. Either way, if needed, we will again fight a war in Gaza.

Thus, we are now being tested, and we will all bear the results, whatever they may be.

Eli Hazan


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

Iran - Still in the Axis of Evil

by Gill Gillespie and Shabnam Assadollahi

The aim of the current Iranian regime is clearly to acquire a nuclear weapons capability and to retain as much territory in Iraq as possible under Shia Islamist rule, whatever the human cost. Those aims are also the reason Iran's regime is now trying to intervene in Iraq.
Iran will doubtless be demanding that any cooperation with the West be compensated for by "concessions" permitting its nuclear weapons program.
Involving Iran in Iraq at this point will merely alienate any Sunni allies whose assistance is much needed to defeat IS.
Many people inside Iran have alerted the U.S. Administration for over two years about other industrial facilities being secretly built in Iran and not declared to the International Atomic Energy. So far, all intelligence from within Iran has been willfully ignored by the Obama Administration.

As Hassan Rouhani, the supposed "moderate" Iran President, is soon to visit New York to continue nuclear negotiations with the G5 + 1, it is important to remember that the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran continues to be among the largest funders and promoters of terrorism worldwide, and remember as well the continuing human rights atrocities that the regime has committed against its people since it came into power in 1979.

The West should not accept any compromise on shutting down Iran's nuclear-weapons program or allow Iran any opportunity to blackmail the West into a compromise on it on the pretext of its "helping" to fight the Islamic State [IS].

Iran's interference in Iraq has always been, and will always be, negative. In the same way as IS, Iran's human rights atrocities against its own people should, by themselves, disqualify the regime from any part in negotiations either on Iraq or nuclear weapons capability.

If Iran's regime, with its unvarying track record of duplicity, continues to be appeased by the Obama Administration and the G5 + 1, any "deal" will only destabilize the Middle East -- and beyond -- even further, as well as strengthening the very terrorist jihadist groups the West is trying to counter.

The responsibility for disastrous results from any negotiation will lie firmly at the feet of the G5 + 1, and particularly at the feet of President Barack Obama personally, as another nail in the coffin of his until-now failed foreign-policy legacy.

Iran's Involvement in Iraq

The "cooperation" of Iran's Shia regime in Iraq has resulted in large swathes of the country being controlled by Iranian forces, especially near their common border in Iraq's south. Many towns and cities, and several provinces, such as Maysan Province, are under the total control of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC] and Quds Force. They intimidate the legitimate refugees from Iran, approved by UNHCR, and illegally force many back to Iran, where some have been executed purely on the basis of their ethnicity. The poet Hashem Shaabani, 32, for example, was executed after being forced back to Iran, and a teacher, Mohammad Ali Amouri, has now received a life sentence there. These men are both ethnic minorities from the Ahwazi Arab community, persecuted solely because of their origins. The situation in Iraq is so serious and lawless that even UNHCR workers have been threatened and have fled. (The authors of this article have the complete list of the names of the workers; they are, of course, frightened to have them publicized.)

The problems in Iraq, which have recently led to the rise of the Islamic State, began with the increasing Shia extremism, implemented by Iraq's former President, Nouri al-Maliki, supported by the Iran. Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the IRGC has been a key player in Iraq since 2000, propping up the Iraqi Shia governments, as he has also done for President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. He is described as "the Iranian general 'secretly running' Iraq."

Further, since the increasing extremism of the Shias led to the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in the first place, it is unlikely that the continuing interference of Iran will be perceived as positive by those, mostly Sunnis, fighting IS. For the U.S. to advocate Iran's involvement will also be seen, as pointed out by Mark Dubowitz, as a weakness by IS as well as by Khamenei's regime.

Islamic State in Syria and Iraq

For three years, Syrian civilians have been subjected to daily slaughter and starvation by their own government under President Bashar al-Assad, with firepower far superior to the resources of opposition groups such as the Free Syrian Army [FSA], which had only rudimentary weapons to defend their villages.

In 2009 the Iranian Shia regime acted with brutality, torture and murder against millions of its own citizens went out into the streets to demand democracy and an end to repression.

The Obama administration should have learned from its errors of judgement, including, in Syria, ignoring its own "red line," even when evidence of the use of chemical weapons by Assad was clear and incontrovertible. Evidently it did not.

The aim of the current Iranian regime is clearly to acquire a nuclear capability, and to retain as much territory in Iraq as possible under Shia Islamist rule, whatever the human cost. That aim is reason it has been supporting Assad with weapons and troops on the ground since the beginning of the conflict in Syria.

Those aims are also the reason Iran's regime is now trying to intervene in Iraq. The Iran regime is, of course, hoping that the smokescreen it has cast -- to portray its leaders as "moderate" under President Hassan Rouhani -- will persuade the West to believe, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently stated, that they have a "positive role to play" in any fight against the Islamic State.

For the U.S. Administration or anyone Western leaders actually to believe such claims would be a grave mistake. Many Iranians are stupefied by such statements. The Iranian regime has only a self-interested role. It will doubtless be demanding that any cooperation with the West be compensated by "concessions" permitting its nuclear weapons program.

Aid and arms should immediately be immediately given to the Free Syrian Army in Syria and the Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq; they must not be diverted to the Iranian regime, which has murdered, raped and tortured all who ask for democracy and human rights. Both IS and the Iranian regime persecute religious minorities such as Christians, Bahai's and Yazidis. They both commit atrocities such as amputations, floggings, and forcing women to cover and convert, or face rape.

The West should not forget this barbarity. Not only will compromises by the Obama Administration be regarded with contempt by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the real leader of Iran; worse, involving Iran further in Iraq at this point will merely alienate any Sunni allies whose assistance is much needed to defeat IS.

Attempts to Portray a New "Moderate" Iran

The Iranian propaganda machine, which went into overdrive when Hassan Rouhani replaced Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president in 2013, would now like the West to believe that its country is ruled by more "moderate" leaders. Sadly this is not true. Not only have the promises made by Rouhani to the UNHCR never been kept, but executions, persecution and human rights violations have significantly increased. Even those who report on these violations are increasingly in danger of the growing reach of Iran's regime: Seyed Jamal Hosseini, a UNHCR-registered refugee in Turkey, and one of the founders of the human rights NGO, HRANA, was murdered in 2014.

The smiling mask of Iran's regime: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (right) meets with European Council President Herman Von Rompuy and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security policy, Catherine Ashton at the United Nations in New York, September 26 , 2013. (Image source: European Union)

The Iranian regime and its lobbyists, such as the National Iranian American Council [NIAC] in the U.S., continue their attempts to influence the Obama Administration on sanctions relief and nuclear concessions. Time and again negotiations have been delayed, foiled and extended by Iran, and concessions have been made by the G5 + 1, including billions of dollars in sanctions relief -- for what?

Of course, to Khamenei, this burlesque just makes Obama and his administration look weaker and weaker; further concessions will only reinforce that perception.

Even more disturbing is that many people inside Iran have alerted the U.S. Administration for more than two years about other industrial facilities being secretly built in Iran, which have not been declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA]. So far, all of the intelligence provided from within Iran has been wilfully ignored by the Obama Administration. At this point, it is not possible to believe that this information is being ignored out of ignorance. That leaves, as other possibilities, either the successful influence of Iran's lobbyists or perhaps also commercial interests exerted by individuals or companies eager to reap millions from doing business with Iran.

It is also revealing to note the presence of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Obama Administration. Its presence may provide at least some explanation as to why Obama and others consistently seem to apologize for Islam, even after three recent beheadings, and the threats publicly to behead "random" Australians.

In a similar fashion, Iran's human rights atrocities are ignored by the Obama administration, in favor of sitting down at the negotiating table with the perpetrators, presumably to hand them the nuclear weapons capability they are determined to acquire. Ex-CIA agent Clare Lopez has written extensively about this issue.

Given that Iran currently holds in its prisons American citizens such as U.S. Marine veteran Amir Hekmati, Christian Pastor Saeed Abedini, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and former FBI agent Robert Levinson, as well thousands of innocent political prisoners, it is noteworthy that the Obama administration has deliberately separated all human rights issues from its nuclear negotiations.

This situation remains, despite the determined attempts of many members of Congress, including Representatives Ed Royce and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, as well as Senators Ted Cruz and Mark Kirk.

All calls by international human rights organizations and non-governmental organizations for negotiations to be dependent the cessation of all nuclear enrichment activity -- and on Iranian assurances to release innocent political, religious and ethnic minority prisoners -- have been ignored by both the G5 + 1 and Obama.

Instead, John Kerry on September 20, 2014 cordially invited Iran to play a role in arresting the momentum of IS in Iraq and Syria: "There is a role for nearly every country in the world in turning back the militants and debunking their ideology, including Iran".
The invitation is like asking the cat to guard the milk.

Appendix: Iran's Recent Terrorist Activities and Crimes Abroad:

Gill Gillespie is Director of the Iranian Refugees Action Network, and is based in the U.K. Shabnam Assadollahi is a Human Rights activist and freelance journalist from Canada.


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

The Jihadists' Promise: Power over Death

by Louis René Beres

Jihadi violence serves not only to advance the terrorist's delusion of immortality, but also to add, however perversely, an apparent and desperately needed erotic satisfaction, using religion as the justification.
Persuasive promises of immortality -- the desperate hope to live forever -- underlie virtually all major religions.
Washington and Jerusalem should finally address what needs to be done in addition to military remediation -- reinforcing efforts to convince these terrorists that their expected martyrdom is ultimately just an elaborate fiction.

Even after witnessing several beheadings and mass executions, American and Western strategists dealing with Jihadist terror still miss the key point. Whatever the particular terrorist group of the moment -- the Islamic State [IS or ISIS], Hamas, al-Qaeda, or some other kindred terror organization -- the core struggle is never really about territory, geography, or democracy. Always -- in Iraq, Afghanistan Syria, or Gaza -- this enemy seeks something far more important and compelling. In essence, Jihadi violence serves not only to advance the terrorist's delusion of immortality, but also to add, however perversely, an apparent and desperately needed erotic satisfaction, using religion as the justification.

This core point is not difficult to understand. Persuasive promises of immortality -- the desperate hope to live forever -- underlie virtually all major religions. Yet this point remains neglected or misunderstood in Washington, Jerusalem, and all other Western capitals.

The Jihadi terrorist claims to "love death," but in his or her mind, that "suicide" is anything but final. Ironically, these Islamist terrorists aim to conquer mortality by "killing themselves." The would-be killer has been promised that death will represent just a trivial and momentary inconvenience, a minor detour on just one more glorious "martyr's" fiery trajectory toward a life everlasting, in Paradise.

How can one ever hope to counter such a seductive promise? How can any promise compete with the incomparable promise of immortality?

The answer has little or nothing to do with currently envisioned applications of military force, whether as so-called "boots on the ground," or as aerial bombardments.

If the problem of IS and other terrorist groups were just military, the associated threat could be solved by military acts. But as Islamist violence is expected to lead to promised martyrdom, the Jihadist terrorist will not be deterred by any threats of military reprisal.

In both conception and execution, Jihadist terror has little to do with land or politics or strategy. Rather, it is a routinely predictable and repetitive expression of "sacredness through violence" --- taking pleasure in inflicting harm on assorted "unbelievers," and then justifying it as doctrinally-based religious belief. This expanding network of carefully planned and staged homicides represents a current form of religious fervor: religious sacrifice, a grotesque practice that stems from pre-modern Islamic customs, which conveniently link each blessed suicide's "martyrdom" with a selected victim's ritual slaughter.

What about diplomatic solutions? As such sacrificial violence expresses "death for Allah", there can never be any room for meaningful negotiations. For America and the West, there will never be any advantages to concessions or compromises, especially if they are sequential.

There also should never be any expectations of reciprocity. If, for example, Israel were to offer any further territorial surrenders to Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, or Islamic Jihad, there could be no plausible hope for any suitable quid pro quo. The surrenders would be for nothing. In all likelihood, they will only be encouraged and strengthened by repeated and one-sided territorial surrenders and prisoner exchanges, such as the sorts of concessions made regularly (and foolishly) by Israel.

The connection between Islamist sacrifice and political violence has a long history, including links to ancient Greece. There, Plutarch's Sayings of Spartan Mothers revealed the model female parent as one who had reared her sons expressly for civic sacrifice.

The deepest roots of all Jihadist terror -- whether from Iraq, Syria, "Palestine" or elsewhere -- originate, at least in part, from contemporary cultures that enthusiastically embrace similar views of sacrifice.

To us, in the West, these hopes may sound silly. Still, in this particular sphere of world politics, there can be no greater power -- or illusion -- than power over death.

Martyrdom operations, based upon a long-codified Muslim scripture, have been associated with Jihad since the beginnings of Islam. Jubilant, celebratory invocations for this twisted and prohibited-by-international-law species of warfare can be found in the Koran and also in the Hadith, the presumptively authoritative acts and sayings of Muhammad.

For the U.S., Europe, and Israel, the security implications of any doctrine fusing religion, erotic passion, and violence warrant a closer look.

The implications for policy mean that our current and projected wars, including the well-intentioned presidential plan to "degrade" and "destroy" IS, are partially beside the point. Those responses are directed more at the symptoms of a pathology than replacing the underlying disease itself. Regrettably, they are unlikely to make any substantial dent in Jihadist thinking. Any effect on the desire of Jihadists to inflict harm may be only minimal.

A really good strategy needs to begin at the conceptual or psychological level. It is actually the Jihadists' fear of death that leads them to suicide, always in the hope that any short-term "dying" -- the vainglorious fantasy that "martyring" themselves -- will enable them to live forever in Paradise, and as beloved heroes on Earth.

While Washington and Jerusalem seek "peace" -- an end to bloodshed -- as their overriding objective, these faith-driven adversaries appear to see "peace" as merely a pretext. Their real objective is jihadist victory over "unbelievers," on the blessed road to a global caliphate.

This asymmetric view puts us all at a grievous disadvantage. While our Jihadist foes get ready for Paradise, by the slaughter of "infidels," our own political leaders seem to remain blithely unaware of -- or in denial about -- their enemies' fusion of sacredness with violence.

Among more "normal" conflict scenarios, America, Europe and Israel now need to consider mega-threats of both unconventional war and unconventional terrorism. Faced with determined adversaries -- who are not only willing to die, but who actively seek their own "deaths" in order to live forever -- Washington and Jerusalem should finally address the what needs to be done in addition to military remediation.

Sustained and selective armed force against IS and related Jihadist targets is certainly necessary and appropriate. However, it is also important to remind our leaders that force always needs to be combined with reinforcing efforts to convince these terrorists that their expected martyrdom is ultimately just an elaborate fiction.

Jihadists, in killing Americans, Israelis, and all other "unbelievers," may not even intend to commit evil, so much as to do themselves and Allah good -- and to do so with an absolute purity of heart. In their view, waging Holy War can never be shameful; it can only be heroic.

Going forward, our main task should be to systematically undermine these fantasies and doctrinal "underpinnings." In conjunction with the recommended nuanced persuasions of military firepower, it can be done.

Louis René Beres is a Professor of International Law in the Department of Political Science at Purdue University.

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

Rick Moran: Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria more of a threat to America than ISIS, says government

by Rick Moran

The Al-Nusra Front and their even more violent offshoot, the Khorasan, were struck by US warplanes on Tuesday, expanding the US role in the Syrian civil war by taking on 3 of the most effective forces fighting against the Syrian government.

Russia condemned all of the attacks in Syria, saying that the US should be coordinating its missions with the Syrian government. Bottom line: the two sides don't trust each other, but Russia will likely turn a blind eye to the US bombing campaign in Syria.

Washington Post:
As the United States launches airstrikes against the Islamic State in Syria, Russia is condemning the move, and hedging support for the attacks so long as they proceed without the Syrian government’s consent.
The Kremlin has no trouble with the intended target — like the United States, Russia wants the Islamic State destroyed and thinks it must be defeated in Syria and Iraq.
But as Syria’s unofficial patron and interlocutor in international discussions about how to confront the Islamic State, Russia is insistent that U.S. measures to target militants in Syria lack authority without buy-in from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — a point Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon Tuesday.
President Obama is not directly coordinating strikes that are underway against the Islamic State with Assad, although the Syrian army is fighting the group, too.
In the past, competing allegiances in the Syrian conflict have not blocked all cooperation. Last year, Obama and Putin brokered an agreement to transfer Syria’s chemical weapons to international control, narrowly avoiding U.S. airstrikes. But the near-complete erosion of trust between the two countries since then — and pervasive suspicion about the United States’ motives — complicates the chances of a similar breakthrough.
“There’s quite widespread suspicion here that the U.S. will start to bomb the Islamic State but will end up bombing the Syrian army,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, a Moscow-based analyst and head of an advisory panel to the Kremlin on foreign and defense policy. “Russia is certainly not keen on making the situation in the Middle East more difficult for Americans than it is. But why help them? . . . It doesn’t seem to be in Russia’s interest to get directly involved.”
It would certainly be an unprecedented situation; the US would be bombing both sides of a civil war.

Meanwhile, Nusra Front and Khorasan's plans for a terrorist attack on US interests were apparently disrupted. But who are these guys?
Islamic State militants are seen as primarily focused on taking and holding territory in Iraq and Syria, with attacks on the U.S. representing a secondary goal. It severed its ties with al Qaeda's leadership in Pakistan.
Khorasan, on the other hand, has followed the direction of al Qaeda leadership and made strikes on U.S. targets its prime focus. Khorasan's plotting against airliners to target the U.S. prompted the U.S. to step up airline security over the summer, a U.S. official said.
Khorasan was one of two main groups mentioned in a Wall Street Journal article last week discussing dangers in Syria emanating from groups other than Islamic State.
In addition to attacks on airliners, U.S. officials have said that Khorasan has been setting up training camps in Syria for fighters who hold Western passports. Officials said the intent is to specifically to train militants who can avoid security checks, slip into the U.S. or Europe and mount attacks.
Khorasan's leader, Muhsin al Fadhli, is a longtime al Qaeda operative with long-running ties to the group's leadership in Pakistan. U.S. intelligence reports identify him as being involved with terrorist plotting out of Syria and Turkey that would target European countries, according to a person briefed on the matter.
Officials said that neither Mr. Fadhli nor other militants leaders were directly targeted on Tuesday in the first barrage of airstrikes.
Mr. Fadhli, believed to be in his 30s, is a senior al Qaeda facilitator and financier who has long been sought by the U.S., which in 2012 offered a $7 million reward for information leading to his capture.
According to the State Department, Mr. Fadhli spent years living in Iran, where officials said he helped moved money and operatives for al Qaeda. Mr. Fadhli also has an extensive network of Kuwaiti jihadist donors who have sent money to Syria through Turkey, the State Department says.
Khorasan works closely with al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, known as the Nusra Front, and many U.S. officials draw little distinction between the two, saying both pose a more near-term threat to the U.S. and Europe.
It is believed that Nusra has taken down Syrian aircraft with shoulder-fired SAM's. Their threat to air craft in the region is real and attacking ammunition storage facitlities is a good way to help prevent that nightmare from occurring.

Rick Moran


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