Friday, February 6, 2015

While The Jihadists Make Headlines, Fundamentalist Iran is Making Major Gains - Prof. Hillel Frisch

by Prof. Hillel Frisch

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 287
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The United States’ policy in response to both Iran and the Islamic state is confusing and contradictory. While the US appeases Iran, it is driving other states in the region to ally with the same jihadists the US is attacking. Washington must reexamine the Iranian threat by confronting it, rather than appeasing its leaders.

646px-P_icon_Iran_svg The Islamic State’s beheadings not only make for gruesome headlines, they also influence emotionally the leaders of important states where reason rather than emotion should prevail. To counter the jihadists for their beheadings, the United States and its allies, as they wage an aerial bombing campaign against the Islamic State (formerly ISIS), are equally busy appeasing Iran, which they believe erroneously is on their side against the Sunni Jihadist movements.

This is unfortunate for while the jihadists have effectively been contained, as the IS withdrawal from Kobani, the Syrian Kurdish town on the Turkish-Syrian border demonstrates after nearly five months of trying to overrun the town, Iran has been scoring major regional gains. It does so through its proxies, the Shiite Ansar al-Islam, better known as the Huthis, in Yemen and through Hizballah in Lebanon.  Both these movements are no less fanatical and brutal than their jihadist rivals. The Huthis’ official slogan is “Death to America, Death to the Jews.”

In Yemen, the Huthis after taking over San’a, the capital and most of the country, imposed a three week siege on the presidential palace which forced the elected President’s abdication. They have now given political parties a three day moratorium to meet their demands without making any concessions of their own. A blood bath is in the offing after which Iran’s reach will include not only the Hormuz straits but Bal al-Mandab, the narrow straits between Yemen and east Africa through which 14 per cent of the world’s energy flows and a major international artery of trade to the Suez canal.

In Lebanon, Hizballah is extending its reach deep into the Lebanese army as the latter becomes increasingly embroiled in the fight against the Jihadist groups, mainly Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qa’ida affiliate. The growing alliance between the militia and the army under the Iranian mantle, which has included high-ranking and high profile visits of leading Iranian politicians, diplomats and military advisors to Lebanon and its army over the past several months, has emboldened Hizballah to explore the possibilities of opening a second Shiite front against Israel from Syrian controlled Golan Heights. Its leader Nasrallah threatens to strike against Israel that would include an attempt to wrest territory in the Galilee in the north of Israel.

Nasrallah has hardly contained his threats to the Israeli front. In another speech, he threatened the small Gulf Kingdom of Bahrain that lethal squads could infiltrate the country and create extensive havoc if its suppression of the Shiite majority and arrest of  Shiite political leaders continue. 

Bahrain’s Sunni Kingdom has faced a strong, often violent Shiite opposition since the outbreak of the Arab Spring four years ago, which it has suppressed with the help of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, all of which are Sunni. Nasrallah, following in the footsteps of several Iranian leaders, has also accused the beleaguered Kingdom of naturalizing Sunni Pakistanis and Afghanis, many of whom are members of its security forces, in a bid to transform the Sunni minority that rules the country into a majority.

These gains, the takeover of Yemen, which from the vantage point of Saudi Arabia and most of the Gulf States, is the second Arab state after Iraq to fall under Iran’s control, and its increasing hold on Lebanon, would not have been possible had Iran not been emboldened itself by the feeling that its expansion on both the military nuclear program as well as its increasing regional reach is being met by a West which appeases Iran rather than confronts it.

Instead of pressuring Iran, President Obama has vociferously objected to attempts in the Congress to increase sanctions in anticipation of the June deadline in coming to an agreement over the nuclear issue and Department of State Secretary Cary has had several high-profile meetings with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Zarif characterized as fruitful and cordial.

What else then could Iranian leaders think after endless negotiations with Iran during which Iran develops its military nuclear capabilities? How could it think otherwise as the United States continues its drone attacks against al-Qa’ida and allying Sunni tribes in Yemen?

US policy of appeasing Iran and its allies makes no sense. In Iraq and Syria it may be attacking the Islamic State, but in appeasing Iran, it is driving moderate Sunni states and tribes in Iraq and Yemen to ally with same Jihadists they are attacking.

This policy of appeasement towards Iran is seemingly justified by a wider doctrine that the US has to retrench from overextending military engagements that characterized the previous decade by balancing “offshore” between Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel, the major regional players in the area, irrespective of the degree of friendship these actors display towards the US. The promoters of this doctrine argue that these actors will constrain each other to produce a modicum of stability at little to no expense to US blood or treasure.

The doctrine might have theoretical appeal, but it is hardly realistic, principally because two of the actors, Iran and Turkey have imperial ambitions based on imperial pasts and a radical theocratic outlook. This is especially true of Iran.

Iran’s eventual nuclear breakout and its growing regional reach through vicious proxies can only destabilize the region through nuclear proliferation. The propensity for existing oil states to bandwagon with Iran, may enable Iran to  control most of the world’s oil resources – to the detriment of vital United States and European interests. Moreover, there is a danger that a state like Saudi Arabia going nuclear could fall under the Jihadists.

United States policy should change course in two significant ways. First, give primacy to meeting the Iranian threat by confronting it rather than appeasing its leaders. Second, let Iran confront the Jihadist problem rather than free-ride at the United States’ expense. Despite the beheadings, Western interests would be better served if the Jihadists in Iraq and Syria turned into Iran’s Vietnam, the costs of which would force the Iranians to abandon its nuclear military program and bring an end to its bid for regional hegemony that would only spread mayhem in the region.

Click here for a PDF version of this article
(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Prof. Hillel Frisch, a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, is a professor of political science and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University.


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

The Genocidal Nature of Jew-Hatred at UC Davis - Richard L. Cravatts

by Richard L. Cravatts

Evidently, there has been a profound moral blindness on the part of pro-Palestinian activists in not recognizing that the foundational document by which Hamas was established—the 1988 Hamas Charter—is animated with genocidal Jew-hatred, replete with a global strategy to extirpate Israel and murder Jews, wherever they may live, based on millennial dreams of apocalyptic jihad.

ikIn a morally coherent world, the chilling statement “Hamas & Sharia law have taken over UC Davis” would not have been spoken publicly, and certainly not by an elected student leader at an American public university.

But in California, the veritable epicenter of academic anti-Israelism and its attendant stealth jihad, this statement, spoken last week by student leader Azka Fayyaz during a divestment resolution debate at the University of California, Davis, is par for the course, and indicative of how debased the conversation about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has actually become.

Thus, while members of the UC Davis chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine and others who supported this noxious vote purport to care solely about the malevolence of Israel and punishing the Jewish state for its political misbehavior and human rights abuses, at least some part of that campaign is clearly to embrace terrorism, as well as the rigid, oppressive precepts of a seventh-century theology comprising the tenets of Islam.

Are those absurd pronouncements by Ms. Fayyaz—that Sharia law and the invidious ideology of Hamas now define, and represent, the university—beliefs that are widely embraced on this American campus? What does Sharia law even have to do with UC Davis in the first place, or for that matter a resolution urging the school to divest from companies that contribute to the defense of Israel? Does being a supporter of Palestinian self-determination mean that the genocidal Islamist group Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the United States and other nations, is now considered an appropriate group worthy of support and adulation?

What this vote, and Ms. Fayyaz’s perverse utterances, do make clear is that the cognitive war against Israel, both on campuses and in the streets of Europe and the United States, is not just a campaign targeting the Jewish state; it is, in fact, as many observers have been warning about for some time, a broader assault to dismantle Western-style values in the name of a creeping ideological jihad, a cognitive war—with Israel the primary smokescreen with which the human rights activists and others in the hate-Israel movement mask their fundamental revulsion for everything that Western democracies hold dear.

So when pro-Palestinian activists and critics of Israel repeat the claim that Palestinians somehow have an internationally-recognized legal “right” to resist occupation through violent means, Hamas’s very reason for being, they are both legitimizing that terror and helping to insure that its lethal use by Israel’s enemies will continue unabated. Those who lend their moral support to terrorism, and who continually see the existence of “grievance-based violence” as a justifiable tool of the oppressed, have helped introduce a sick moral relativism into discussions about radical Islam and Palestinianism, not to mention Israel’s right to protect its citizens from being slaughtered.

The fact that so many activists feel comfortable with openly supporting a terrorist group with the single purpose of murdering Jews, that they publicly wish for and proclaim, as Ms. Fayyaz just did, that “Israel shall fall inshaAllah,” indicates quite dramatically how acceptable genocidal Jew-hatred has become, both in the streets and on campuses in America and Europe. This is clearly not, as it is frequently and disingenuously asserted, merely “criticism” of the Israeli government’s policies; this is what many define as a new permutation of anti-Semitism—an irrational, seething animus against the Jew of nations, Israel, the wish for Jews to be murdered as part of “resistance,” and for Israel itself to be destroyed, all muddled in a disingenuous brew of human rights rhetoric and Western self-hatred.

The fact that a student leader can proudly and publicly proclaim allegiance to and alignment with the aspirations of Hamas, a thugocracy of genocidal murderers who could care less about a distinct Palestinian state, let alone an Arab sovereign entity living “side by side in peace” with Israel, is frightening. Evidently, there has been a profound moral blindness on the part of pro-Palestinian activists in not recognizing that the foundational document by which Hamas was established—the 1988 Hamas Charter—is animated with genocidal Jew-hatred, replete with a global strategy to extirpate Israel and murder Jews, wherever they may live, based on millennial dreams of apocalyptic jihad.

While Israel’s campus enemies at UC Davis and elsewhere feel free to speak against it in the most destructive and venomous way possible, as occurred last week, at the same time, pro-Israel, anti-terrorism voices are marginalized, disregarded, shouted down, or denounced as hate speech, unworthy of being part of an ongoing, vigorous debate, and deserving only of being punished and silenced by those who want only one side of the debate to be heard in what should be a vigorous, thoughtful debate in the ‘marketplace of ideas.’

That clearly was the very motivation for the 2013 resolution passed by the ASUCD Senate, Senate Resolution 21, which sought to condemn and identify what supporters term “Islamophobic” speech at UC Davis. The resolution, which was passed after a controversial Ayn Rand Society event on radical Islam, “Islamists Rising,” was held, defined Islamophobia as “the irrational fear of Islam, Muslims or anything related to the Islamic or Arab cultures and traditions.” The authors of the resolution wished to use the resolution to suppress speech by critics of radical Islam, and were successful in categorizing any view about Islam with which they did not agree to be outside the bounds of acceptable speech; in fact, it was henceforth categorized as “hate speech” and unwelcomed on campus. Presumably, criticizing the genocidal charter of Islamic Hamas, or condemning the group’s unending attacks on Israeli civilians for the purpose of murdering Jews, could thereby be considered a type of hate speech, Islamophobic, or contrary to the accepted values of the UC Davis campus.

Obviously, last week’s successful resolution vote signaled to many pro-Palestinian students that not only did they no longer have to apologize for Islamic terror, they could proudly, and publicly, swear allegiance to Hamas while screaming “Allah Akbar” at Jewish students during the divestment vote (a phrase which, among others, the 9/11 hijackers screamed moments before their jets crashed into the twin towers).

The toxic situation at UC Davis has been simmering for some time now, with anti-Israel activists increasingly taking steps to promote their own noxious agenda while simultaneously attempting to suppress or neutralize the speech of other pro-Israel individuals on campus. During a 2012 event at UC Davis, for example, two Israelis –a Jewish man and a Druze woman—were scheduled to speak but their appearance was effectively shut down by members of Students for Justice in Palestine and others who had decided, in advance, that “Events like these are not welcome on our campus anymore.”

What type of events would no longer be allowed? Presumably, any event which offered a platform for defending Israel or offers an alternative view of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict offered by pro-Palestinian activists. And, clearly, this 2012 event did not pass the ideological litmus test: during the presentation, a protestor used the “heckler’s veto” to silence the speakers, standing up and screaming to the podium that Israel has “turned the land of Pales­tine into a land of pros­ti­tutes and rapists and child moles­ters,” and ask­ing the speaker, “How many women have you raped? How many chil­dren have you raped? You are a child moles­ter.”

And pro-Palestinian activists on the Davis campus obviously were not concerned about civility when three Jewish students tried to speak on behalf of Israel at UC Davis at a November 2012 protest against Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense. The Jewish students were first shouted down with chants of “Leave our space!” “Shame on you!” “F**k Israel,” and “Long live the Intifada!” and then forced against a wall of windows while angry protestors threatened them with closed fists and physical aggression. When pro-Palestinian activists shout “Long live the intifada,” it is, of course, a grotesque and murderous reference to the Second Intifada, during which Arab terrorists murdered some 1000 Israelis and wounded more than 14,000 others, so the fact that this is what passes as intellectual debate about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict on campus is clear evidence that any hope of rational discourse or productive discussion has vanished. Civility has devolved into acrimony, and one can reasonably wonder, based on their language, what the true intentions are of those who defame, demean, and libel Israel in their effort to promote Palestinian self-affirmation.

There is no other explanation for why educated and well-intentioned individuals, experiencing paroxysms of moral self-righteousness in which they are compelled to speak out for the perennial victim, can loudly and publicly advocate for the murder of Jews—who already have created and live in a viable sovereign state—on behalf a group of genocidal enemies of Israel whose tragic condition may well be their own doing, and, at any rate, is the not the sole fault of Israel’s. That these activists are willing, and ready, to sacrifice the Jewish state, and Jewish lives, in the name of social justice and a specious campaign of self-determination by Palestinian Arabs, shows how morally corrupt and deadly the conversation about human rights has become—both on campuses and outside the ivy walls.

“The whole problem with the world,” observed philosopher Bertrand Russell, “is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.” On the UC Davis campus, fools and fanatics may have prevailed in the current vote, but, in doing so, seem to have revealed the true nature of their genocidal, anti-Semitic hatred.

And its lethal nature and intent should frighten us all.

Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., author of “Genocidal Liberalism: The University’s Jihad Against Israel & Jews,” is president of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.


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

'Al-Quds Al-Arabi': The New U.S.-Iran Alliance – A Threat To Arab Countries - MEMRI


In its February 2, 2015 editorial, the London-based Qatari daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi stated that the gradual Houthi takeover of Yemen reflects the emergence of a new and unprecedented alliance between the U.S. and Iran, which is expressed in Washington's consent to the Houthis' moves in Yemen and even in intelligence cooperation between them. The daily warned of erosion in the power and status of the Arab states and of their becoming mere pawns in the new American-Iranian world order.
The following are excerpts from the editorial:  

 Houthi fighters in downtown Sanaa (image:, August 20, 2014)

"The [Houthi] Yemeni organization Ansar Allah, which is supported by Iran, intends to impose [the formation of] a presidential council to rule the country. This is a bold move intended to directly seize control of Yemen... It means that, having seized control of the country's military and security centers, the Houthis now seek to impose a political framework [to legitimize] their violent takeover of the regime. Their call on political forces that are not subordinate to them to join them [in this move] is an attempt to put a pretty face on the reality that they have imposed. The true message [of this call] is: either you take part in this charade, or we appoint whoever we wish from among our supporters.

"It goes without saying that for political forces to take part in sanctioning the Houthi takeover [of Yemen] will be a gross political mistake, for it will legitimize their armed coup against the Yemeni regime and provide constitutional justification for a historic change whose first victim will be the Republic of Yemen. Moreover, it will not be long before these [political] forces are themselves removed, by political or military means, having sanctioned their own elimination.

"It is clear to all that the pact made by the Houthis with supporters of former president  'Ali 'Abdallah Saleh, and their growing control over the army, security and state apparatuses, have transformed them into the major and most influential force in Yemen today. However, what makes this matter even more dangerous is the formation of a new [and] unprecedented regional and global alliance between Iran and the U.S., [an alliance] that is expressed by U.S. consent to the Houthis' moves… and extends even to intelligence cooperation between [the Houthis] and Washington.

"The cover that Iran and the U.S. are providing to the Houthis and their allies places their local political opponents in a difficult situation, and helps to weaken and divide them. This applies to senior regime officials in Yemen who oppose the Houthi takeover, and also to supporters of the [separatist] Southern Movement, who are definitely unable – politically and militarily – to confront the Yemeni army and the Houthis simultaneously.

"The bizarre Washington–Tehran–Houthi axis that is taking shape reflects the patent distress of the Gulf states and of the Arab [world] in general. This continued erosion in the Arabs' [ability to] play a role in Yemen reveals a comprehensive [Arab] crisis. The continued retreat before the Iranian onslaught – which has already managed to take over four Arab capitals… [namely] Sana'a, Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut – reveals the Arabs' shame. 

"Had the matter been confined to Yemen, it would have been meaningless. But the long shadow of this U.S.–Iran alliance, [formed] under the slogan of war on the Islamic State and on the Al-Qaeda organizations, [including Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen], Ansar Al-Shari'a, along with the unconditional support lent by some Arab countries to this American agenda, creates historic circumstances [that allow] an unprecedented Iranian takeover of the region. As part of this takeover, the crumbling Sykes-Picot agreement will be replaced by protocols that will divide influence between Tehran, Israel and the U.S., while the Arab regimes, which are busy carrying out the plan of their enemies, will become the weak pieces in the chess game of the world's nations, who will use them as pawns that cannot refuse to be moved [from place to place]…"



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Killing Qaddafi: Hillary’s Secret Role - Matthew Vadum

by Matthew Vadum

But getting Qaddafi out of the way was long a part of President Obama’s plan to help the Islamist movement in Northern Africa and the Middle East.

Qaddafi was viewed as unsympathetic to the resurgent jihadists in his region and so he had to be eliminated.

102412hillary_512x288To justify an illegal ouster of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi, Hillary Clinton falsely claimed the Libyan leader was planning genocidal attacks against his domestic enemies, an investigative report in the Washington Times suggests.

Documents and audio recordings examined by the newspaper suggest the former U.S. secretary of state had no clear plan for how to deal with the Libyan crisis she created and whether the lawlessness and chaos she spawned in that country led to the deadly Muslim terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.

Clinton was secretary of state on that terrible day. Despite her disastrous tenure at Foggy Bottom which saw Muslim irredentist movements gain ground in North Africa and the Middle East, she continues to be the early frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination. She resigned as secretary of state in early 2013, paving the way for the utterly undistinguished then-Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to take over as chief public cheerleader for the Obama administration’s pro-Islamist campaign.

When that fateful 3 a.m. telephone call her 2008 TV ads warned about finally came, Mrs. Clinton snoozed on through it, allowing a comedy of errors consisting in part of incompetence and arrogance to dictate the U.S. government’s bungled response to Benghazi. Clinton and her fellow Obama White House officials lied over and over again about the catalyst for the attack, refusing for weeks even to call it a terrorist attack.

Instead Clinton blamed the Benghazi attack on an obscure U.S.-based filmmaker who made an anti-Islam movie trailer just about no one saw. Officials told anyone willing to listen that a spontaneous demonstration sparked by Muslim anger over the video had magically materialized in a city blanketed by al-Qaeda flags and that within hours this supposedly organic melee had claimed the lives of four Americans, including J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya. Bowing to Shariah law, Clinton had the filmmaker imprisoned on a flimsy legal pretext, America’s First Amendment be damned.

U.S intelligence did not concur with Clinton’s public rationale for invading Libya, a military action that was never approved by the United States Congress, according to the newspaper report. She had claimed Qaddafi was planning to commit acts of genocide aimed at liquidating his regime’s detractors. But intelligence operatives “had come to the opposite conclusion: that [Qaddafi] would not risk world outrage by killing civilians en  masse even as he tried to crush the rebellion in his country.”

Citing secret Libyan intelligence documents, the Washington Times reports that Libyan officials were worried back in 2011 that weapons were being directed to NATO-supported rebels with ties to al-Qaeda.

“The reports included a 16-page list of weapons that Libyans supposedly tracked to the rebels from Western sources or their allies in the region,” according to the newspaper. “The memos were corroborated by a U.S. intelligence asset familiar with the documents as well as former top [Qaddafi] regime official Mohammed Ismael.”

“NATO has given permission to a number of weapons-loaded aircraft to land at Benghazi airport and some Tunisian airports,” the intelligence report stated. Libyan officials said they were worried that the weapons and training provided to the anti-Qaddafi rebels would spread in the region and find their way to Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city.

A year later, the Benghazi attack took place, leaving four Americans dead. Stevens was tortured before he died and his dead body was dragged around town by Islamist savages. In an increasingly familiar, grim ritual of Islamofascist humiliation, Stevens was reportedly sodomized by his Islamist captors, just as Qaddafi was by his Islamist captors.

More than a year before the Benghazi attack, several U.S. officials so distrusted then-Secretary Clinton’s judgment on the Libyan situation that they opened their own secret diplomatic channels with the Qaddafi regime, leaving the State Department out of the loop.

In mid-2011 Libyan officials and a Pentagon operative informed Ismael that they were thinking about seizing some of Qaddafi’s frozen assets and directing them to the rebels fighting against him. The report further suggests U.S. ally Qatar played a major part in shipping weapons to the Libyan rebels, a role Qatar adamantly denies.

“The Qataris have spent more than $100 million on this, and they have an agreement with the rebels that the moment you rule Libya you pay us back,” Qaddafi’s eldest son, Seif, told then Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) in a conversation recorded in May 2011.

“So, it’s your position that your government has been trying to defend itself against an insurrection brought about by jihadists who were joined by gangsters, terrorists and that there’s basically about 1,000 people who were joined by NATO?” Kucinich asked.

“Yes,” Seif Qaddafi replied.

Some may, quite understandably, wish to take intelligence reports supplied by a sketchy foreign power with a grain of salt, but those who follow Libyan affairs have long known that there was no compelling U.S. national security-related justification in 2011 to remove Qaddafi as Libya’s leader.

Libya didn’t matter anymore. A decade earlier the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 led to an epiphany on Qaddafi’s part. The Libyan strongman saw the writing on the wall as Islamists launched operations on Qaddafi’s home turf and carried out attacks directed at him personally.

With Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein easily overthrown by a U.S.-led coalition, Qaddafi’s allies in the old Soviet bloc consigned to the dustbin of history, and his fair-weather friends in the Arab world unwilling to help him deal with devastating U.S. sanctions, Qaddafi recognized his growing political impotence.

He renounced terrorism and decided to dismantle his weapons of mass destruction program in 2003. Qaddafi even did the unthinkable, signing on –at least nominally– to the U.S.-led Global War on Terror. He promoted his son’s charitable foundation to augment his influence and revamp his reputation outside Libya.

Qaddafi so impressed George W. Bush’s administration that the U.S. government restored full diplomatic relations with the former pariah nation in 2006. As then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said at the time, Libya had provided “excellent cooperation in response to common global threats faced by the civilized world since September 11, 2001.”

It may be a stretch to describe the post-9/11 Qaddafi as a friend of the United States but it is probably accurate to say that at worst he had become a defanged frenemy of the U.S. Rendered largely irrelevant by the events of the day, the dictator who retained the risibly grandiose official state title of Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution of Libya was humiliated and emasculated.

But getting Qaddafi out of the way was long a part of President Obama’s plan to help the Islamist movement in Northern Africa and the Middle East.

Qaddafi was viewed as unsympathetic to the resurgent jihadists in his region and so he had to be eliminated.

Hillary Clinton carried out the hit and today Libya, with the assistance of the U.S. taxpayer, is well on its way to becoming a member in good standing of the Islamic Caliphate.

Matthew Vadum


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

Islamic State Joins Hamas, PA in Threatening Palestinian Journalists - Khaled Abu Toameh

by Khaled Abu Toameh

This is no longer a "local" issue or internal Palestinian affair. Those who are seeking to silence the Palestinian journalists are also trying to prevent the international media from finding out what is really happening in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Now that Islamic State has come into the picture with its own threats, one should only expect the coverage from the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- largely dependent on information provided by local Palestinian journalists -- to become even more hostile toward Israel and the West.
A recent study by the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms found that 80% of Palestinian journalists practice self-censorship in their writing. A Palestinian journalist is not going to report truthfully when he is daily facing threats from so many parties. What is more disturbing is that many of the international journalists are willing to turn a blind eye to the dangers facing their employees and colleagues.
Freedom of the media exists only when journalists direct their criticism against Israel. Reporting about political or financial corruption in the Palestinian Authority is seen as an act of "treason."
The international media outlets are willing to take almost any story offered to them by Palestinian reporters, especially if it consists of anti-Israel statements. The Palestinian journalists know that at the end of the day, they need to go back to their family in the West Bank and Gaza without having to worry about masked men knocking on their doors at night.

The Islamic State terror group appears to have joined the Palestinian Authority [PA] and Hamas in their campaign to silence Palestinian journalists.

Over the past few days, several Palestinian journalists have received death threats from the "Gaza branch" of Islamic State. The group accused the journalists of publishing "lies" about Islamic State in particular, and Islam in general.

The threats were sent to the journalists through social media and messages to their mobile phones.

"Islamic State warns the journalist and media people against their continued and constant attacks on us," read one of the messages sent to the journalists. "We in Islamic State affirm that we will execute the rule of the sharia [Islamic religious law] against these apostates, who are sowing discord among Muslims."

The last threats have created panic among many Palestinian journalists, who are already being targeted by Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the PA in the West Bank.

Members of Islamic State, in Gaza. (Image source: Islamic State YouTube video)

But the Hamas and PA crackdown, which has included arrests, intimidation and physical assaults, is nothing compared to the threats coming from Islamic State, a bloodthirsty, savage group that has killed journalists, relief workers and thousands of innocent civilians.

Late last year, the terror group issued similar threats against writers, poets and women in the Gaza Strip.

Since then, almost all those who received the threats have been keeping a low profile. Others have gone into hiding, according to sources in the Gaza Strip.

Now the Palestinian journalists are saying that they are taking the Islamic State threats seriously. "Of course we are afraid," said a veteran journalist from Gaza City. "You never know who is hiding behind the mask. It could be someone from Islamic State or Hamas or Islamic Jihad or even Fatah. It is not safe to be a journalist living in the West Bank or Gaza Strip."

The Hamas and Palestinian Authority crackdown against Palestinian journalists -- as well as Islamic State threats -- has made it impossible to express any views in public.

The PA has succeeded in turning the Palestinian media in the West Bank into a mouthpiece for its leaders and government. The three major Palestinian newspapers, Al-Quds, Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda and Al-Ayyam are no different from government-controlled media outlets in Arab dictatorships.

Palestinian journalists, writers, bloggers and political activists who dare to criticize the Palestinian Authority or PA President Mahmoud Abbas often find themselves behind bars or on trial for "extending tongues" against the leadership.

That is why it is hard to find real investigative Palestinian journalists in the West Bank. Freedom of the media exists only when the journalists direct their criticism against Israel. Reporting about financial or political corruption in the PA is seen as an act of "treason."

Under Hamas in the Gaza Strip, it is a waste of time to talk about "freedom of the media." There is no real media left there. The few journalists and freelance "fixers" working with Western media do not feel safe, for example, to report about any story that might reflect negatively on Hamas or any other radical group in the Gaza Strip.

The threats against Palestinian journalists are important because this is no longer a "local" issue or an internal Palestinian affair. Those who are seeking to silence the Palestinian journalists are also trying to prevent the international media from learning about what is really happening in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

A Palestinian journalist working with international news agencies and newspapers is not going to report truthfully and honestly, when he or she is facing daily threats from so many parties. The only stories these journalists are going to offer the international media are ones that depict Israel in a negative manner. The Palestinian journalists know that at the end of the day they need to go back to their families in Ramallah and Gaza without having to worry about masked men knocking on their doors at night.

The threats against Palestinian journalists are worrying, and should be exposed and brought to the attention of human rights groups around the world. More disturbing is that many of the international journalists operating in the region are willing to turn a blind eye to the dangers facing their Palestinian colleagues and employees. The international media outlets and their representatives are prepared to take almost any story offered to them by Palestinian reporters, especially if the story consists of anti-Israel statements.

A recent study by the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms found that 80% of Palestinian journalists practice self-censorship in their writing. This means that the international media is relying on news that has been censored by their Palestinian reporters, who are afraid for their lives.

Palestinian columnist Asmaa Al-Ghoul quoted Fathi Saba, who writes for Al-Hayat, as saying that self-censorship is the name of the game for every Palestinian journalist. "There is a policeman in the mind of every reporter in the West Bank and Gaza," he said.

Now that Islamic State has come into the picture with its own threats, one should only expect the coverage from the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- largely dependent on information provided by Palestinian journalists -- to become even more hostile toward Israel and the West.

Khaled Abu Toameh


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

Hell on Earth - Dr. Mordechai Kedar

by Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Burning alive a human being is a method of eliminating enemies that is well known and documented in early Islamic sources, and based on a deductive legal principle of Sharia law.

Islamic State publicized a horrifying twenty minute video this week, the high point of which was the execution of a Jordanian pilot, Maaz al-Kassasbeh, by burning him alive. The film attempts to justify the punishment by describing Jordan's part in the war against ISIS, using photos of ISIS dead, including women, children, men and mainly those burned to death.

The rest of the film has the pilot describing the involvement of the air forces of Jordan, United Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Morocco and United States and notes that American planes take off from Turkish bases.

The film is edited professionally and includes impressive sound and visual effects that attest to the talents and abilities of its editors. Many minutes are spent showing a silent visit the Jordanian pilot makes to the ruins of a large building, which seems to be the staff headquarters of ISIS that was hit by the coalition's airplanes, possibly even the plane flown by the Jordanian himself.

The entire film is meant to justify the scene that is shown near its end: the burning alive of the Jordanian pilot. The event is carefully staged: the pilot is put in an iron cage so that he has no chance of escaping the fire, and the orange clothes which he wears throughout the film are soaked in gasoline. Even the sand under the cage is full of gasoline and a rivulet of gasoline-soaked sand reaches the spot where a soldier stands carrying a stick to which a gasoline-soaked rag is attached. Another soldier lights the rag, it sets the rivulet on fire, the flames advance towards the cage and set the gasoline under the pilot's feet ablaze and after the pilot dies in excruciating agony, a bulldozer arrives and covers the cage with rocks.

What the film presents is nothing new to anyone who is familiar with Islamic sources, those that tell about how Ali ibn Abi Talib, the cousin of Muhammed who  married his daughter Fatma and became the fourth Caliph, burned two heretics to death. There is a dispute among Islamic religious figures about whether that is allowed, opponents claiming that only God is licensed to condemn heretics to the flames – that is, to burn in Hell. Islamic State – which sees itself as the force that will reestablish the original Islamic State – uses Ali's precedent on the burning of enemies, and allows punishment by fire on earth.

This point is extremely important to those in charge of the ISIS propaganda machine: the message the film conveys is that anyone who attacks Islamic State will be condemned to a living Hell – and if he is unsure about how Hell looks and about what happens to the wicked there, he now has a movie that answers both questions. Just for comparison's sake: several months ago, the web was full of ISIS fighters talking about Yazidi girls that they were going to have their way with, and that, too, was a clear message: that is, instead of waiting for 72 virgins, whoever joins ISIS gets to enjoy Paradise on earth.

Another reason for burning the pilot to death is the Islamic legal principle of mutuality – the punishment must fit the crime. In the case of the Jordanian pilot the video takes pains to show ISIS victims, including children, burned in coalition attacks. Ths presentation of burned victims is meant to justify the method by which the pilot is executed, based on the mutuality principle.

Another important detail that appears in the movie is a long list of Jordanian pilots, some accompanied by a photograph and a home address, the point of which is to encourage Jordanians who identify with ISIS to take revenge on these pilots as well as to deter Jordanian pilots from taking part in the air battles against ISIS.  Without a shred of doubt, the ISIS psychological war machine invested much time and talent in producing this movie, using graphics and other techniques to get its message across.

Except that the burning alive of the Jordanian pilot is not a new propaganda weapon invented by ISIS, as some of the media commentators on the movie claimed. This is a method of eliminating enemies that is well known and documented in early Islamic sources, and based on a deductive legal principle in Sharia law.

Some commentators are engaged in a contest over who can demonize ISIS more, and the expressions heard in the last few days are justifiably harsh, but this is exactly what the ISIS fighters want to hear. They want to plant fear in the hearts of their enemies, so that demonizing them plays right into their hands by heightening the fears of other populations, especially in the West.

The right way to react is to stay detached and carry out an in-depth, objective and balanced analysis of the activities of ISIS and the words of its spokesmen in an effort to get to the bottom of the cultural and religious sources of its leaders  - this, so as to find their weak points and use them to succeed. For example: ISIS fighters believe that if a woman kills them, they will not be shahids and will not be sent to Paradise. The Kurdish army in northern Iraq, the Peshmerga,  made use of this belief by enlisting women fighters who would shout and ululate as they approached ISIS positions. When the ISIS fighters heard the Kurdish women's battle cries, they fled to prevent their being killed by a woman.

This is one example of the way forces opposed to ISIS can use their enemies' beliefs when planning effective fighting. There are other options for convincing ISIS to retreat, but this is not the place to expound upon them.

Jordan at War

As soon as the barbaric murder of the Jordanian pilot became known, Jordan retaliated by hanging a man and woman who were members of Al Qaeda and whose death sentences had not been carried out for several years.

King Abdullah the Second gave a short speech to his citizens in which he vowed to avenge the blood of the pilot in the war against Islamic State. The king did not divulge details of the war he is planning against those who burned the pilot, but the impression is that Jordan will increase the level of its attacks on ISIS.

On the one hand, there is the possibility of increased participation in the coalition's activities, but it is also possible that we will soon observe Jordanian forces engaging in ground operations against Islamic State.

The king must go out to war against Islamic State or he will suffer strong criticism from the Bedouin tribles for whom avenging the blood of their brother pilot is a holy mission. The message that went out to the Bedouin and the empathy with their pain were tangible in the red Bedouin keffiyah that the king wore on his head while giving his speech.

On the other hand, the king must also give a clear signal to those Jordanians who identify with Islamic State – and there are more than a few of those – that his long arm will catch up with them and deal with them harshly. If there is an escalation of hostilities between Jordan and ISIS, the Jordanian police will probably arrest a significant number of citizens suspected of ISIS sympathies, especially those living in the southern city of Maan and the Syrian refugees in the Alzatri camp in northern Jordan.

Israel must follow the war between Jordan and ISIS closely, because its results will determine who stands opposite her on the other side of the Jordan River -  a sovereign country with which we have a peace agreement or a terror organization par excellence, totally devoid of ethical limitations. Israel and Jordan are in the same pit today in the war against an organization that wants to bring the fires of Hell to the Middle East so as to destroy whatever is not in line with their world view.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar


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The UN Commission of Inquiry on the Gaza Conflict A Clear Violation of All Accepted International Rules and Norms Governing Fact-Finding Missions - Amb. Alan Baker

by Amb. Alan Baker

  • William Schabas, Chair of the UN Gaza Inquiry, resigned from his post this week. His glaring anti-Israel bias was demonstrated in statements made by him over the years and now confirmed by the revelation of the clear conflict of interest arising from his consultancy work for the PLO.
  • The UN’s Rules of Fact-Finding Procedure for UN Bodies Dealing with Violations of Human Rights (1970) is the framework for rules of fact-finding commissions. These rules determine that commission members swear to perform their duties “honorably, faithfully, impartially and conscientiously.”
  • In light of the blatant and knowing violation of UN standards for impartiality, both by Schabas as well as by the UN itself, all work done by this commission and under his chairmanship and guidance is flawed and suspect.

Institute for Contemporary Affairs
Founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation

Vol. 15, No. 4       February 5, 2015
The recent resignation of Canadian Prof. William Schabas as Chair of the UN Gaza inquiry has raised some interesting issues in the general context of UN fact-finding procedures.  Shabas’ glaring anti-Israel bias was demonstrated in statements made by him over the years and now confirmed by the revelation of the clear conflict of interest arising from his consultancy work for the PLO and concealed by him from the UN and from its Human Rights Council.

The UN fact finding procedures have developed over the years through a number of declarations and studies by prominent international organizations and legal authorities, and ostensibly should have guided the UN in determining the mandate for any such commission of inquiry and in choosing the Chair of any fact-finding mission or inquiry.

However, it appears that the UN knowingly chose to ignore these well-established procedures in appointing William Schabas to chair the Gaza inquiry, and as such, the UN itself, in addition to William Schabas, have prejudiced any findings and outcome of the Commission of Inquiry and created grave doubts as to any credibility of such findings or outcome.

The following documents set out the various rules and norms for fact finding commissions, each one stressing the importance and centrality of impartiality – both of the mandate, as well as by the head and members of the commission:

 The Draft Model Rules of fact-finding procedure for UN bodies dealing with violations of human rights, issued in 1970 by the UN Secretary General, and adopted in 1974 by the UN Economic and Social Council, have served as the framework for rules of fact-finding commissions.

 These rules determine, inter alia that commission members swear to perform their duties “honorably, faithfully, impartially and conscientiously.”1

 The Belgrade Minimum Rules of Procedure for International Human Rights Fact-Finding Visits, approved by the 59th Conference of the International Law Association, held in Belgrade from August 18 to 23, 19802:

Article 1. (Terms of Reference) “The organ of an organization establishing a fact finding mission should set forth objective terms of reference which do not prejudge the issues to be investigated. These terms should accord with the instrument establishing the organization.”

Article 2. “The resolution authorizing the mission should not prejudge the mission’s work and findings.”

Article 4. (Selection of Fact finders) “The fact finding mission should be composed of persons who are respected for their integrity, impartiality, competence and objectivity and who are serving in their personal capacities”

Article 7. “The chairman and the rapporteur of the fact finding mission should not be replaced during the term of the mission except for reasons of incapacity or gross misbehavior.”

 The UN’s own “Declaration on Fact finding by the United Nations in the Field of the Maintenance of International Peace and Security”, adopted by the General Assembly on the 9 December 1991 (UN General Assembly Resolution 46/59)3:

“Fact-finding should be comprehensive, objective, impartial and timely” (Paragraph 3). “Fact-finding missions have an obligation to …… perform their task in an impartial way.” (Paragraph 25) “Their members have an obligation not to seek or receive instructions from any Government or from any authority other than the competent United Nations organ.”(Paragraph 25)

    Guidelines on International Human Rights Fact-Finding Visits and Reports (The Lund-London Guidelines) 20094 drafted over several years by the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute, “in order to contribute to good practice in the conduct of fact-finding visits and in the compilation of reports”, launched at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law conference, 1 June 2009, London:

“5. The terms of reference must not reflect any predetermined conclusions about the situation under investigation.

8. The mission’s delegation should comprise individuals who are and are seen to be unbiased.

10. The NGO should ensure that all members of the delegation are aware that they must, at all times, act in an independent, unbiased, objective, lawful and ethical manner.

23. The NGO should ensure that the members of the delegation understand the need to be unbiased and not pre-judge any issues during the mission. The NGO must also ensure that the delegation understands the need to act in an ethical manner and in accordance with the laws of the country and internationally accepted human rights standards.

30. The members of the delegation must conduct themselves with integrity, professionalism and in accordance with international human rights law standards at all times during the mission.

32. If it transpires during the course of the mission that there is a conflict of interest or other circumstances involving any member of the delegation which might jeopardize their independence and impartiality, or which might give the appearance that their independence and integrity is compromised, the leader of the delegation should inform the NGO and that member should desist from participating in a particular meeting, or where necessary from the remainder of the mission. If the team leader is implicated, or is otherwise unavailable, any other members of the delegation may draw the matter to the attention of the NGO.”

In light of these documents which clearly set out the requisite norms and procedures for inquiry and fact finding commissions, it is patently clear that the UN and its Human Rights Council acted in violation of the above guidelines in sanctioning the establishment of the UN Gaza Inquiry, and all the more so in appointing William Schabas as its Chair.

Taking into account this blatant and knowing violation of UN standards for impartiality, by Prof. Schabas as well as by the UN itself, all work done by this commission and under his chairmanship and guidance is flawed and suspect.

* * *

1. see
2. 75 Am. J. Int’l L. 163 (1981) see
3. U.N. Doc. A/RES/46/59, Annex (1992),
- See more at:

Amb. Alan Baker


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Does ISIS risk blowback, or is there a plan? (CAUTION - disturbing, violent material) - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

The theory is that this may be a turning point, mobilizing not just Jordanian, but also Arab public opinion, and forcing President Obama to finally decide to do what it takes to not just contain, but to conquer ISIS.

The airwaves are full of talking heads telling us that ISIS has made a mistake in posting the horrific video of the burning alive of Jordanian pilot Muath Al-Kassasbeh.  The theory is that this may be a turning point, mobilizing not just Jordanian, but also Arab public opinion, and forcing President Obama to finally decide to do what it takes to not just contain, but to conquer ISIS.

Maybe.  I hope so.  But it is worth considering what kind of strategy ISIS had in mind.  After all, they have shown more propaganda sophistication than any other jihad group, and so far seem to be attracting adherents from all over the ummah rapidly, following the “strong horse” strategy first articulated by Osama bin Laden.

One possibility, raised by Charles Krauthammer yesterday on FNC’s Special Report, is that they intend to goad King Abdullah of Jordan into committing troops to fighting ISIS, and then provoking his overthrow.  After all, the Hashemite Kingdom is not a democracy, but rather a monarchy of a Bedouin tribe from Arabia, imposed on the hapless Arabs by the British, who awarded Amman to the Hashemites as a consolation prize when the Saud family was awarded the monarchy of Arabia.  The Hashemites are not even from Jordan.  (Needless to say, this is not unusual: the British Royal Family are from Hanover, Germany, after all.)  The majority of the population of Jordan is Palestinian, with a large number of recently arrived Syrians.  It is not at all hard to imagine an attempt to overthrow the monarchy while the king’s best troops, all of them Bedouins, are tied down fighting ISIS in Syria.

Another possibility is that ISIS wants to appear as the biggest, baddest strong horse, and thereby appeal to the widespread desire among Arabs, and Muslims more generally, for revenge.  The more recent centuries have been tough on Muslim pride, after all.  Taught that their religion and values are from Allah and superior to everything else, they have been forced to watch as decadent Westerners have triumphed, militarily, culturally, and economically.  Islam spread farther and faster than any other civilization in the two centuries following Mohammed, strong evidence of its superiority.  But first the Crusades, and then the defense of Europe at Tours and later at the Gates of Vienna, caused some trouble for this interpretation of Allah’s triumph.  The Ottoman Empire, however difficult for the non-Turkish subjects, was still a formidable and powerful caliphate.  But its humiliation and breakup a century ago was another huge blow.

However much President Obama (and NASA) tout the Muslim purported contributions to science (a millennium ago), the plain fact is that science, industry, telecom, air conditioning, and almost everything else that makes life today easier than it was in Mohammed’s time are a product of the decadent West.  And world culture is also the product of the West, especially the Great Satan, America.  There has got to be a desire for vengeance, in the face of the supine position that Islamic civilization finds itself in.  But for oil, discovered, developed, and mostly used by the infidels, Islam would be impoverished, weak, and supplicant.  It has to enrage many.  Particularly against fellow Muslims like the pro-Western monarchs and those who pilot their planes (or command their tanks or bear their arms).

Vengeance has a powerful appeal.

There is a third possible motive: to terrify.  Of course, by definition, this is what terrorism is all about.  But there is a powerful history to horrifying cruelty as a tactic.  While there is nothing uniquely Islamic about this, most recently in world history, it is an Islamic tactic.  Walid Shoebat highlights this thinking and its history:
To desecrate the victim while alive is part and parcel of Islam in hope that people would convert through sheer fear or to repulse the enemy. (snip)
Everyone in the Middle East knows three things told to them by their grand parents about the Ottoman Turks and what they spread throughout the Middle East: Sihr “sorcery,” Baksheesh “bribery”, and theKhazouk which is a spike driven through the victim’s rectum, which the Ottomans used to terrify locals and deter potential insurgents. And this is exactly what this lady wanted to reinstitute:

“Are you going to execute him with a merciful bullet? Or are you going to execute him with a merciful knife?” she asks.
Khawiskou “impale him” she cries out “then send him to his mother” says the peace-loving Muslim lady.
“Why are the Arab world fighting us. We are Muslim doing the will of Allah”.
“I am pleading [ISIS] to honor my special request that you Khazouk him “impale him” and post it all over the social networks and the media”.

Executing someone and desecrating the body alive is not something that only existed in far history, it was a reality under the Turks until the Christians gave a crushing blow to the Ottoman beast after World War I when Khazouk executions were part of daily life. One TV series reminds how the Ottomans, in order to thwart dissidents used this horrific type of execution:

Such brutality has come to the world from an Islamic edict by Ibn Taymiyya, one of the highest authorities on Islamic jurisprudence, and will be emerging as we see neo-Ottomanism revive….

It would not in the least surprise me to see all three motives at work as ISIS holds more prisoners.

Thomas Lifson


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Turkey's Free Speech Impediment - Burak Bekdil

by Burak Bekdil

A survey, released Jan. 20 and conducted by Kadir Has University in Istanbul, revealed that the percentage of Turks who trust the judiciary in the country dropped from 33% in 2011 to 28% at the end of 2014.

Originally published under the title, "Justice, Erdogan Style."

Journalist and anchorwoman Sedef Kabas faces five years in prison for tweeting that the public should "not forget the name of the judge" who dropped all charges in a mega-corruption investigation involving four ministers, their sons and high-profile businessmen.
Shortly before parliamentary elections in 2011, a prominent opposition deputy visited Sakarya, a province not far away from Istanbul. Muharrem Ince, from the main opposition Republican People's Party [CHP], hopped on a minibus and made a speech to locals for about 15 minutes. Later, Ince would learn that a prosecutor had charged him with "blocking the city traffic by speaking on a minibus and attempting to wear down the government." The prosecutor was asking parliament to remove his immunity so that he could stand trial.

That never happened, but the indictment against the opposition deputy was the precursor to how Turkey's justice system would evolve and become an instrument to suppress any kind of dissent.

Today, courtrooms can sometimes be places where people seek justice, and sometimes where acts of a distasteful Turkish comic opera are played. Recently Sedef Kabas, a journalist and anchorwoman, sent a tweet and called on Turks not to forget the name of the judge who had dropped all charges in the mega-corruption investigation, known as the Dec. 17-25 probe, which involved four ministers, their sons and some high-profile businessmen. 
"Do not forget the name of the judge who decided not to pursue the proceedings in the Dec. 17 probe," Kabas wrote in her tweet.

Turkey's justice system has evolved into an instrument for suppressing free speech.
Immediately afterwards, a prosecutor prepared an indictment against Kabas on charges of "targeting anti-terror officials" (referring to the judge in the case, who has no anti-terror tasks), and of "making threats." On Dec. 30, she was detained, testified to the prosecutor and was released. But a few days ago, she learned that she would face trial, with the prosecutor demanding up to five years in jail.

Then came the case of Dr. Hasan Herken, a professor of medicine and university dean in western Turkey. In a social media posting, he mocked President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's "16 warriors," symbolic figures standing for 16 states founded previously by Turks in history. He later deleted the tweet but it was too late. He did not want to insult anyone, he said. Not good enough. He started to receive death threats, including against his family, and finally resigned from his faculty post. No one has been prosecuted for threatening the professor. Probably because prosecutors are busy chasing up dissidents and opposition figures.

Last October, another opposition politician, CHP's Deputy Chairman Veli Agbaba, made an announcement for the press in Istanbul and asked a few disturbing questions about the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP): "Has the government been negotiating with the global terrorist Yasin al-Qadi over a piece of [publicly-owned] land for a shopping mall? ... Is the Justice and Development Party giving a gift to al-Qadi? ... Has this land been given to al-Qadi's company without bidding?"

Erdogan's close relationship with Saudi terrorist financier Yasin al-Qadi is off limits for public discussion.
An Istanbul prosecutor took action immediately -- not to investigate the deputy's allegations but to indict him. Prosecutor Selamettin Celep is charging the deputy with "insult and defamation" and is asking parliament to remove Agbaba's immunity. From his indictment: "Using the word 'global terrorist' repetitively and humiliating him [al-Qadi] ... Claiming that al-Qadi benefits from illegal relations with Istanbul's mayor and AKP's senior officials ... constitutes defamation..." Citing an earlier decision by a prosecutor not to investigate al-Qadi, Celep then asked for an increase in the prison sentence he is seeking for Agbaba, to a maximum of eight years and four months.

Multimillionaire Saudi businessman Al-Qadi is not just an ordinary man. The UN placed sanctions against al-Qadi in 1999 and 2000, when he was named by UN Security Council Resolutions 1267 and 1333 as a suspected associate of Osama bin Laden's terror network, al-Qaeda. The US and European Union also applied sanctions to al-Qadi.

But some European courts overturned al-Qadi's listing as a terrorist, and his name started to disappear from some of the blacklists: Switzerland in 2007, the EU in 2008 and 2010 and Britain in 2008 and 2010. All the same, under US law, he remains a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist."

Al-Qadi, whom Erdogan once referred to as "a family friend", was among hundreds of suspects in the Dec. 17-25 investigations until the judge, whose name the journalist Kabas wanted to remain in the collective Turkish memory, dropped all charges against all suspects.

Facing a prosecutor's request for the removal of his parliamentary immunity, the MP Agbaba told reporters: "AKP is using [the justice system] in order to whitewash its cronies ... Apparently, al-Qadi is not only ruling Istanbul but also the Turkish justice system." Agbaba may be prosecuted for stating that too.

Sadly, if they face a serious legal case, Turks would probably be better off hiring, instead of the best attorney in town, a senior official of the ruling AKP party. And they are aware of this.

A survey, released Jan. 20 and conducted by Kadir Has University in Istanbul, revealed that the percentage of Turks who trust the judiciary in the country dropped from 33% in 2011 to 28% at the end of 2014.

Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a columnist for the Turkish daily Hürriyet and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.


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