Saturday, February 21, 2015

Iran prepares to attack Northern Israel - James Lewis

by James Lewis

If the Golan becomes the flashpoint, a likely outcome is a huge regional war, pitting Shi’ite Iran against Sunni Arabs. Israel has long had contacts with the Saudis and Egyptians on how to respond to Iranian aggression. If Israel is drawn into regional chaos, it is likely to support the Sunni powers, who will need all the help they can get.

Take an old-fashioned iron bar magnet and a flat piece of white paper with hundreds of scattered iron filings. As soon as the paper is placed on the magnet, all the particles align around the two separate poles of the bar’s magnetic field. Every iron particle becomes polarized around one of the two extremes.

This is what Obama and Jarrett have managed to achieve in the Middle East. It is not an accident. We know that the two-person cult of Obama-Jarrett have been secretly “negotiating” with the mullahs since the beginning of the Obama years. But time is running out, and everybody over there is planning for the post-O years.

For the Iranians that means moving as fast as possible to capitalize on a historic moment of Western weakness, collusion, and accommodation. The mullahs remember what happened when Ronald Reagan won over Jimmy Carter. They have less than two years to grab whatever they can.

That is why Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops are now moving through Syria into high mountain positions to attack the Golan Heights, the northeastern tip of Israel. Syrian Army forces and Shi’ites recruited in Pakistan and Afghanistan are working under the command of Iran’s Guards.

DEBKAfile has a detailed article on this. (Debka is linked to Israeli intelligence, but this kind of stuff they don’t kid about).
DEBKAfile February 18, 2015, 9:04 AM (IDT)
“Even in stormy winter conditions, the Syrian army continued Wednesday to press forward with Iranian, Hizballah and imported Afghani and Pakistani Shiite forces towards the Golan and Israeli lines. Their immediate objective appears to be the lofty Tel al-Hara mountain fortress, which the Syrian army lost to rebel forces. … Our military sources report that the fall of Tel al-Hara would lay Quneitra (on the Goland Heights) open to attack. …(In) Quneitra… Tehran plans to establish a major military outpost and forward command center up against Israel’s Golan deployment. This is the first instance of Syria’s Bashar Assad agreeing to pass a warfront to Iranian command.”
In response, Israel has conducted a successful decapitation strike across the border, killing half a dozen top Guard officers and half a dozen Hizb’allah planners. Syrian artillery has reportedly killed 200 Guards in a “friendly fire” accident -– but Israel probably knows how to penetrate Syrian battlefield electronics.

Of all the extremely dangerous events that are now gathering momentum in the region, the Iranian-Syrian drive against northern Israel is the most dangerous. The reason is simple. Israel has a sophisticated nuclear, WMD, and missile deterrent, to be used under military doctrines similar to our own. For rational nations, WMDs are a last resort, only usable when a threat is direct and existential. Iran has always played the crazy card, a big show of irrational fanaticism and rage. Maybe they really are crazy -- nobody knows for sure.

The mullahs are now trying to push Israel to the wall –- which is when a Western-style deterrent doctrine comes into force. Ayatollah Khamenei, the “Supreme Guide,” has obviously decided this is the moment when America will not defend its former allies. Maybe Obama and Jarrett have actually told him so; maybe Iran has penetrated this supremely foolish and malignant administration. Whatever the case may be, Iran is moving military forces through Syria toward Israel. Iran is also winning power in Yemen (which controls the narrow entrance to the Red Sea). All these moves directly threaten Saudi Arabia and Egypt, as well as Israel and U.S. naval and air force assets in the region.

This is an enormous Iranian gamble, maybe a martyrdom gamble, following Khomeinist war theology.

This is therefore the most dangerous moment since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. It is a moment of unpredictable confrontation, with nuclear weapons in the offing.

Obama and the Iranians are gambling everything on the toss of a coin.

Israel does not have the manpower to match Iran, Syria, and Hizb’allah at the Golan border. If the Iranians stage a blitzkrieg against the Golan, using a force of fifty or more tanks now located in Syria, Israel may resort to unconventional weapons. These can range from massive electronic warfare to arming the Syrian Sunni rebels, to a wide range of WMD’s.

If the Golan becomes the flashpoint, a likely outcome is a huge regional war, pitting Shi’ite Iran against Sunni Arabs. Israel has long had contacts with the Saudis and Egyptians on how to respond to Iranian aggression. If Israel is drawn into regional chaos, it is likely to support the Sunni powers, who will need all the help they can get.

Iran has a Shi’ite martyrdom creed, which suggests it is trying to provoke an Israeli strike that will predictably enrage Obama and Western liberals, so that Iran can play the aggrieved victim. The Muslim world, which is 80% Sunni, may then back Shi’ite Iran.

The most intelligent form of preemption on the Golan is therefore the most invisible one. Big nuclear bangs are self-defeating. Silent strikes may work. There is now a range of unconventional weapons available to technically advanced nations. However, any local war can spread unpredictably around the Middle East.

Obama has brought us to the nuclear brink. It is vital to understand that this is not an accident. It is purposeful. It is a continuation of the Carter-Brzezinski strategy that put Ayatollah Khomeini into power forty years ago -- the first Islamic Caliphate. The Obama-Carter strategy makes no rational sense at all, except perhaps in some drunken faculty lounge. The risks are enormous, and the potential for a major violent backlash against the United States and Europe is very great. Iran now has ICBMs that can reach Europe and soon, the United States.

The single biggest factor in this crisis is the vacuum of American power. For decades the United States was trusted to keep the peace in the Persian Gulf, where Persians and Arabs have been staring at each with implacable hatred for a thousand years, across fifty miles of water.

Obama has destroyed any trust in America. We have “community disorganized” the Middle East.

When Netanyahu comes to Washington in defiance of Obama, the Iranians and ISIS will cheer for Obama.

But maybe the American people will come to their own conclusions.  

James Lewis


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Netanyahu’s True Electoral Rival - Caroline Glick

by Caroline Glick

If Obama is able to delegitimize Netanyahu ahead of his arrival, and bring about his electoral defeat, then with a compliant Israeli government, he will face no obstacles to his plan to appease Iran and blame Islamic terrorism on the West for the remainder of his tenure in office.

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post
Officially, the election on March 17 is among Israelis. Depending on how we vote, either Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will remain in office and form the next government led by his Likud party, or Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni will form a government.

But unofficially, a far greater electoral drama is unfolding. The choice is not between Netanyahu and Herzog/Livni. It is between Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama.

As the White House sees it, if Herzog/Livni form the next government, then Jerusalem will dance to Obama’s tune. If Netanyahu is reelected, then the entire edifice of Obama’s Middle East policy may topple and fall.

Secretary of State John Kerry made clear the administration’s desire to topple Netanyahu last spring during his remarks before the Trilateral Commission. It was during that memorable speech that Kerry libeled Israel, claiming that we would automatically and naturally become an apartheid state if we didn’t give Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria to the PLO, Jew free, as quickly as possible.

Despite Israel’s venality, Kerry held out hope. In his words, “if there is a change of government [in Israel], or a change of heart, something will happen.”

Shortly after Kerry gave his Israel apartheid speech, his Middle East mediator Martin Indyk attacked Israel and the character of the Israeli people in an astounding interview to Yediot Aharonot.

Among other things, Indyk hinted that to force Israel to make concessions demanded by the PLO, the Palestinians may need to launch another terror war.

Indyk also threatened that the Palestinians will get their state whether Israel agrees to their terms or not. In his words, “They will get their state in the end – whether through violence or by turning to international organizations.”

Indyk made his statements as an unnamed US official. When his identity was exposed, he was forced to resign his position.

Following his departure from government service he returned to his previous position as vice president of the Brookings Institution and the director of its foreign policy program. Last September, The New York Times reported that the Brookings Institute received a $14.8 million, four-year donation from Qatar, the chief financier of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

This week, Indyk was back in Israel to speak at the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies. There he provided us with a picture of what we can expect from the Obama administration in its remaining two years in office if Netanyahu forms the next government.

On the Palestinian front, Indyk warned that Israel shouldn’t be worried about the Palestinians getting an anti-Israel resolution passed in the UN Security Council. Rather, it can expect that the US will join with the other permanent members of the UN Security Council to pass a resolution “against Israel’s will” that will “lay out the principle of a two-state solution.”

As Indyk intimated, Israel can avoid this fate if it elects a Herzog/Livni government. Such a government, he indicated, will preemptively give in to all of the Palestinians demands and so avoid a confrontation with the US and its colleagues at the Security Council.

Indyk explained, “If there is a government in Israel after these elections that decides to pursue a two-state solution, then there is a way forward. It begins with coordinating an initiative with the United States. And then, together with the US, looking to Egypt and Jordan and the resurrection of the Arab Peace Initiative.”

As for Iran, Indyk shrugged at Israel’s concerns over the agreement that Obama is now seeking to conclude with the Iranian regime regarding its nuclear weapons program. That agreement will leave Iran as a threshold nuclear state. Indyk suggested that the US could assuage Israel’s concerns by signing a bilateral treaty with Israel that would commit the US to do something if Iran passes some nuclear threshold.

There are only three problems with such a deal.

First, as former ambassador to the US Itamar Rabinovich noted, such a treaty would likely render Israel unable to take independent action against Iranian nuclear sites.

Second, the US has a perfect track record of missing every major nuclear advance by every country. US intelligence agencies were taken by surprise when India, Pakistan and North Korea joined the nuclear club. They have always underestimated Iranian nuclear activities and were taken by surprise, repeatedly, by Syria’s nuclear proliferation activities. In other words, it would be insane for Israel to trust that the US would act in a timely manner to prevent Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold.

Third of course is the demonstrated lack of US will – particularly under the Obama administration – to take any action that could prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. So Israel has no reason whatsoever to believe that the US would honor its commitment.

But then, since the Obama administration believes that Herzog and Livni will be compliant with its policies, the White House may expect the two will agree to forgo Israel’s right to self-defense and place Israel’s national security in relation to Iran in Obama’s hands.

And this brings us to the real contest unfolding in the lead-up to March 17.

When Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner announced last month that he had invited Netanyahu to address the joint houses of Congress on the threat emanating from Iran’s nuclear program and from radical Islam, he unintentionally transformed the Israeli elections from a local affair to a contest between Obama and Netanyahu.

Obama’s response to Netanyahu’s speech has been astounding. His ad hominem attacks against Netanyahu, his open moves to coerce Democratic lawmakers to boycott Netanyahu’s speech, and the administration’s aggressive attempts to damage Israel’s reputation in the US have been without precedent. More than anything, they expose a deep-seated fear that Netanyahu will be successful in exposing the grave danger that Obama’s policies toward Iran and toward the Islamic world in general pose to the global security.

Those fears are reasonable for two reasons.

First due to a significant degree to the administration’s unhinged response to the news of Netanyahu’s speech, Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu sparked a long-belated public debate in the US regarding Obama’s strategy of appeasing the Iranian regime. Generally consistent Obama supporters like The Washington Post editorial board have published stinging indictments of this policy in recent weeks.

These analyses have noted for the first time that in pursuing Iran, Obama is alienating and weakening America’s allies, enabling Iran to expand its nuclear program, and empowering Iran regionally as the US does nothing to prevent Iran’s takeover of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

Second, it is possible that in his remarks about Iran and radical Islam, Netanyahu will manage to discredit Obama’s approach to both issues. This is possible because Obama’s approach is difficult to understand.

Last week, following the decapitation of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by Islamic State, the Obama administration stood alone in its refusal to note that the victims were murdered because they were Christians. When Egypt retaliated for the massacre with air strikes against Islamic State training camps and other facilities in Libya, the Obama administration refused to support it ally. Instead it criticized Egypt for acting on its own and called for a political solution in Libya, which is now governed by two rival governments and has become a breeding ground for Islamic State terrorists who transit Libya to Sinai.

Following Islamic State’s massacre of the Christians, the group’s leaders threatened to invade neighboring Italy. Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi promised a strong response, and then called on the UN Security Council to do something. The Obama administration responded with coolness to a similar Egyptian call last week.

Hamas (which is supposedly much more moderate than Islamic State despite its intense cooperation with Libya-trained Islamic State forces in Sinai) warned Italy not to attack Islamic State in Libya, lest it be viewed in the words of Salah Bardawil as beginning “a new crusade against Arab and Muslim countries.”

While all of this has been going on, Obama presided over his much-touted international conference on Confronting Violent Extremism. Reportedly attended by representatives from 60 countries, and featuring many leaders of Muslim Brotherhood- linked groups like the Council on American- Islamic Relations, Obama’s conference’s apparent goal was to deemphasize and deny the link between terrorism and radical Islam.

In his remarks on Wednesday, Obama gave a lengthy defense of his refusal to acknowledge the link between Islam and Islamic State, al-Qaida and other Islamic terrorist groups. He insisted that these groups “have perverted Islam.”

Obama indirectly argued that the West is to blame for their behavior because of its supposed historical mistreatment of Muslims. In his words, the “reality… is that there’s a strain of thought that doesn’t embrace ISIL’s tactics, doesn’t embrace violence, but does buy into the notion that the Muslim world has suffered historic grievances, sometimes that’s accurate.”

Obama’s insistence that Islamic State and its ilk attack because of perceived Western misbehavior is completely at odds with observed reality. As The Atlantic’s Graeme Wood demonstrated this week in his in-depth report on Islamic State’s ideology and goals, Islam is central to the group. Islamic State is an apocalyptic movement rooted entirely in Islam.

Most of the coverage of Netanyahu’s scheduled speech before Congress has centered on his opposition to the deal Obama seeks to conclude with Iran. But it may be that the second half of his speech – which will be devoted to the threat posed by radical Islam – will be no less devastating to Obama. Obama’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge the fact that the greatest looming threats to global security today, including US national security, stem from radical Islam indicates that he is unable to contend with any evidence that jihadist Islam constitutes a unique threat unlike the threat posed by Western chauvinism and racism.

It is hard to understand either Israel’s election or Obama’s hysterical response to Netanyahu’s scheduled speech without recognizing that Obama clearly feels threatened by the message he will deliver. Surrounded by sycophantic aides and advisers, and until recently insulated from criticism by a supportive media, while free to ignore Congress due to his veto power, Obama has never had to seriously explain his policies regarding Iran and Islamic terrorists more generally. He has never endured a direct challenge to those policies.

Today Obama believes that he is in a to-the-death struggle with Netanyahu. If Netanyahu’s speech is a success, Obama’s foreign policy will be indefensible. If Obama is able to delegitimize Netanyahu ahead of his arrival, and bring about his electoral defeat, then with a compliant Israeli government, he will face no obstacles to his plan to appease Iran and blame Islamic terrorism on the West for the remainder of his tenure in office.

Caroline Glick is the Director of the David Horowitz Freedom Center's Israel Security Project and the Senior Contributing Editor of The Jerusalem Post. For more information on Ms. Glick's work, visit


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Terror Apologist Named to Federal Anti-Terror Post - Matthew Vadum

by Matthew Vadum

President Obama, who nowadays makes no secret of his sympathy for Islamic terrorists, picked the right man to carry out his policies. Hussain has already been working for the Obama administration for five years.

Rashad-HussainPresident Obama is appointing an openly terrorist-sympathizing Muslim to head a government office dedicated to countering Islamic State propaganda.

In April, Rashad Hussain will take over as director of the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, a small office within the U.S. Department of State that Obama plans to make bigger. A new component called the Information Coordination Cell will be added to the expanded center and will reportedly be staffed by intelligence analysts. It will have a staff of around 80 people and will coordinate with other government agencies.

“We’re getting beaten on volume, so the only way to compete is by aggregating, curating and amplifying existing content,” Richard A. Stengel, the under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, told the New York Times.

The head-chopping barbarians of the Islamic State will no doubt cower in fear because the U.S. government has, as the newspaper notes, “more than 350 State Department Twitter accounts, combining embassies, consulates, media hubs, bureaus and individuals, as well as similar accounts operated by the Pentagon, the Homeland Security Department and foreign allies.”

Hussain is reportedly a devout Muslim who maintains close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood’s network in the U.S.

He has been spewing radical Islamic propaganda for years.

As a law student at Yale University in 2004, Hussain whined that the prosecution of University of South Florida professor Sami al-Arian was a “politically motivated persecution” calculated “to squash dissent.” The academic was recently deported and he entered guilty pleas regarding his activities as a leader of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

And al-Arian was forcibly removed from the United States for good reason. He supports suicide-bombing and chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” After two jihadist suicide bombers murdered 18 people in Israel in 1995, al-Arian referred to the decedents as “two mujahidin martyred for the sake of God.”

Robert Spencer reports that the pro-jihadist Washington Report on Middle East Affairs published Hussain’s remarks in November 2004. Since then the publication scrubbed Hussain’s quotation from the article that contained it.

WRMEA news editor and executive director Delinda Hanley “denied there was a ‘cover-up,’ and implied that anti-Muslim discrimination was behind the fact this was now being raised,” CNS News reports.

Hussain’s pro-terrorist activities have continued since he left college.

In a 2008 paper for the Brookings Institution Hussain argued that language that links Muslim terrorism to Islam itself should be avoided.

“Policymakers should reject the use of language that provides a religious legitimization of terrorism such as ‘Islamic terrorism’ and ‘Islamic extremist,’” he wrote. “They should replace such terminology with more specific and descriptive terms such as ‘Al-Qaeda terrorism.’”

This is, of course, exactly what the Obama administration did upon coming into power the next year. Even today Obama argues strenuously that the U.S. is in conflict only with specific terrorist groups and not with the Muslim world as a whole.

In the same paper Hussain urged the U.S. to “welcome and encourage the further development of mainstream Muslim organizations and moderate institutions.” He specifically referenced the work of the Fiqh Council of North America, which is linked to the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.

Hussain has also written that, “The primary cause of broad-based anger and anti-Americanism is not a clash of civilizations but the perceived effect of U.S. foreign policy in the Muslim world.”

This is, of course, the standard left-wing rationalization for Islamic aggression against the United States. It ignores the pattern of violent expansionism that has characterized Islam since the days of its founding prophet. It also ignores the fact that Islam, which is the Arabic word for submission, does not believe in the marketplace of ideas. Islam does not recognize separation of church and state. Its purpose from its creation has always been to conquer and eliminate all other religions. It must dominate.

President Obama, who nowadays makes no secret of his sympathy for Islamic terrorists, picked the right man to carry out his policies. Hussain has already been working for the Obama administration for five years.

In February 2010 Obama appointed Hussain as his ambassador to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (previously known as the Organization of the Islamic Conference).

Spencer describes the OIC as “the thuggish international organization that is engaged in a full-scale campaign to intimidate Western governments into adopting hate speech codes that will effectively quash criticism of Islam – including jihad violence perpetrated in its name.” OIC has long been pushing the myth that there is such a thing as “Islamophobia.”

Obama gushed over Hussain when he first appointed him to an administration post.

“I’m proud to announce today that I am appointing my Special Envoy to the OIC—Rashad Hussain. As an accomplished lawyer and a close and trusted member of my White House staff, Rashad has played a key role in developing the partnerships I called for in Cairo [in 2009],” Obama said at the time.

“And as a hafiz of the Qur’an, he is a respected member of the American Muslim community, and I thank him for carrying forward this important work.” (Hafiz is Arabic for “guardian” and refers to a man who has memorized all of the Koran.)

Of course, Hussain was a natural fit for the OIC, which itself is tied to the Muslim Brotherhood. It consists of 56 member states plus the Palestinian Authority and aspires to impose shariah law on the entire world. It seeks to reestablish the Islamic Caliphate.

Now that Obama is safely reelected and the final off-year congressional election of his presidency is completed, he doesn’t care about appearances anymore.

Obama doesn’t feel the need for the careful, studied, Alinskyite deception that marked his first six years in the highest office in the land. Now he is free at long last to be Obama and to let his Chicagoland, red-diaper baby, freak flag fly. His despotic power is essentially unchallenged.

Since he left Fox News, Glenn Beck no longer has the power to make the White House damage-control team jump. Inconvenient old-time journalists like Sharyl Attkisson who insist on holding power accountable have been easily ousted from their positions. Most of the rest of the media remains in awe of Obama and continues its slavish advocacy of his catastrophic agenda. There is no real opposition to his policies in Congress even though both chambers are, at least in theory, controlled by his political adversaries. Between extravagant vacations and golf trips, Obama keeps taking in money from big donors on Wall Street and elsewhere even though it’s not exactly clear what he’s going to spend it on.

In short, now more than ever Obama doesn’t care what you or anyone else thinks.

This helps to explain why he nominated Loretta Lynch, a female carbon copy of Attorney General Eric Holder, as his replacement. This helps to explain the lawless executive amnesty he unveiled weeks after his Democratic Party received a historic whooping in congressional elections. And this helps to explain why this week he characterized mass-murdering Islamic terrorists as victims who have “legitimate grievances.”

He just doesn’t care.

And if it bothers you that he is appointing terror apologist Rashad Hussain to a key post in the war against Islamic totalitarians, well, tough beans for you.

Matthew Vadum


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An American about face, into the arms of Iran - Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror

by Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror

If the rumor about the shift in the U.S. approach toward Iran is true, Israel is on the precipice of one of the toughest periods in the history of Israel-U.S. relations • Israel must prepare for a harsh period culminating with an entirely changed region.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Geneva earlier this year
Photo credit: AP

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror


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Arab nations said deeply worried by Iran nuke deal - Times of Israel Staff

by Times of Israel Staff

Leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE join Israel in conveying concerns to US over emerging accord with Tehran, Wall Street Journal reports

Arab nations have joined Israel in expressing concern over the emerging details of a US-led international nuclear deal with Iran, indicating in private talks with US officials that they are worried about the apparent terms of the agreement, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

Though Arab officials have been careful not to side with Israel in their stated positions, their worries over the possibility of a nuclear-armed Tehran are in fact similar to those of Jerusalem, and their attitudes towards the current state of nuclear talks between Tehran and Western powers are similarly pessimistic, according to the report. 
Leaders of Sunni states such as Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia fear a bad deal with Tehran would allow it, with the removal of sanctions, to become a nuclear threshold state, the WSJ reported. They say it could also lead to a nuclear arms race in the region.
“At this stage, we prefer a collapse of the diplomatic process to a bad deal,” an official from an unnamed Arab nation told the paper.
Arab officials have also reportedly held discussions with the US over the possibility of Washington placing their countries under its “nuclear umbrella” — a guarantee to take military, even nuclear, action to protect an allied state under certain circumstances.
The WSJ report came amid news that US President Barack Obama will meet next week with the leader of Qatar, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to discuss shared concerns over stability and prosperity in the Middle East.
Obama, meanwhile, has refused to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he visits Washington in early March, citing the trip’s proximity to Israel’s March 17 elections. Netanyahu is to speak to Congress against what he says is an imminent deal, pushed by US-led negotiators, that could legitimize Iran as a nuclear threshold state.
Netanyahu said Friday that a UN report critical of Iran’s evasiveness over its nuclear program was further proof that the international community should reconsider the direction of its negotiations with Tehran.
“The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) report again demonstrates that Iran refuses to come clean to the international community about its preparations for producing nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said. World powers should not be “wooing Iran for its agreement” to a deal that would enable it to continue uranium enrichment, he said.
The IAEA report stated that Tehran was being evasive and ambiguous in its dealings with the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency, preventing the organization from launching a thorough assessment of the country’s nuclear program.
The US and five other powers insist that Tehran must fully cooperate with the IAEA’s probe for any nuclear agreement that grants Iran total sanctions relief. “Iran has not provided any explanations” on the suspicions that it tried to develop nuclear weapons, according to a confidential copy of the IAEA report obtained by The Associated Press. The agency did note that Iran was honoring commitments to put temporary restraints on its atomic activities as it negotiates on the long-term nuclear deal.
Netanyahu has long been opposed to the apparent deal taking shape in talks with Iran. The prime minister believes that the Iranians are negotiating in bad faith and that world powers are walking into a bad deal which would allow Tehran to come very close to a bomb while removing all sanctions on the regime.
Netanyahu said Thursday that he knows the details of the deal being forged with Iran over its nuclear program, asking “What is there to hide?” after the US said it was withholding some information from Israel on the talks.
His remarks came a day after the Obama administration publicly acknowledged it is keeping some specifics from Israel because it fears the close US ally has leaked sensitive information to try to scuttle the talks — and will continue to do so.
“We know that Tehran knows the details of the talks. Now I tell you that Israel also knows the details of the proposed agreement,” Netanyahu said. “I think this is a bad agreement that is dangerous for the state of Israel, and not only for it.”
US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Thursday questioned Netanyahu’s claim to knowing the details of the deal. “Then the fact is that he knows more than the negotiators, in that there is no deal yet,” she said. “Obviously, if there’s a deal we’ll be explaining the deal and explaining why and how it prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. And if that’s the case and we come to a deal, it’s hard to see how anyone wouldn’t see that’s to the benefit of the international community,” she said.
Israel views a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to its very existence, citing Tehran’s repeated calls for Israel’s destruction, its long-range missile program and its support for anti-Israel terror groups like Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Iran insists that its nuclear program is for purely civilian purposes.
Netanyahu’s National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen is in Washington for talks with top US officials, despite the strains between the allies. On Wednesday, he met with Obama’s senior Iran negotiator Wendy Sherman, and Kerry made an unscheduled stop at their session, evidently to indicate that communication between the two leaderships was still continuing at senior levels.
Iran’s and America’s top nuclear officials joined seven-nation talks Saturday in a move that may help resolve technical disputes standing it the way of the deal.
Technical experts for Iran and the six nations it is negotiating with have been meeting alongside senior political officials. But Saturday was the first time that Iranian Atomic Energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi and US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz also joined in.
Western officials say the US decided to send Moniz only after Iran announced that Salehi will be coming. Still, their presence could improve chances of a deal by fast-tracking complex technical details of constraints on Iran’s nuclear programs that are acceptable to Tehran.
They were expected to discuss the number of centrifuges Iran can operate to enrich uranium; how much enriched material it can stockpile; what research and development it may pursue related to enrichment, and the future of a planned heavy water reactor that could produce substantial amounts of plutonium — like enriched uranium, a potential pathway to nuclear arms.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif is also at the talks, with US Secretary of State John Kerry scheduled to join Sunday and Monday.
AP and AFP contributed to this report.

Times of Israel Staff


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When 'debt relief' becomes 'stealing' - Rick Moran

by Rick Moran

At issue is Greek insistence that it should be granted special terms that allow it to avoid paying back the money it owes, and be freed from the rigid austerity measures imposed on them when they borrowed $280 billion to keep from defaulting on it's debt. They want the conditions of the loans lifted so they can massively increase their spending.

Kicking Greece's debt bomb can down the road again, the EU and Athens have agreed to a four month extension of the terms of their bailout. This is a big climb down by Greece, who insisted the terms be changed. But it hardly solves anything and raises a fundamental question being faced by all debtor nations.

When does sovereign debt relief become outright stealing?

At issue is Greek insistence that it should be granted special terms that allow it to avoid paying back the money it owes, and be freed from the rigid austerity measures imposed on them when they borrowed $280 billion to keep from defaulting on it's debt. They want the conditions of the loans lifted so they can massively increase their spending.

As Nobel Prize wining economist Joseph Stiglitz points out, creditors also have a responsibility:
Debts are contracts -- that is, voluntary agreements -- so creditors are just as responsible for them as debtors. In fact, creditors arguably are more responsible: typically, they are sophisticated financial institutions, whereas borrowers frequently are far less attuned to market vicissitudes and the risks associated with different contractual arrangements... Every (advanced) country has realised that making capitalism work requires giving individuals a fresh start. The debtors’ prisons of the 19th century were a failure -- inhumane and not exactly helping to ensure repayment. What did help was to provide better incentives for good lending, by making creditors more responsible for the consequences of their decisions.
But sovereign debt is different. A government can simply seize the debt and impoverish its creditors, as England did to the Jews in the 12th century. In the case of Greece, the far left has mounted an effective demonization campaign of its creditors, including making Germany look like fascists for insisting that Greece pay back what it owes.

Leonid Bershidsky writing in Bloomberg:
Those creditors who resist and go to court to chase the sovereign's property and funds to ensure repayment are condemned as vultures. The polite, reasonable thing to do is to make a deal and slink away with one's tail between one's legs. Greece's private creditors have already done that, accepting a more than 50 percent haircut on the bonds they owned.
When a deadbeat country is seen as the hero and its creditors as villains, the only consideration that deters more countries from defaulting -- the threat of financial ostracism -- loses its power. A country that has successfully done a restructuring deal knows it can be welcomed back to the debt market with open arms. Lenders, apparently suffering from a strange form of masochism induced by all the editorial ink shaming them, prepare to take out their wallets again.
If Greece gets its way, more countries will be tempted to declare responsibility a dirty word. The International Monetary Fund predicts that this year, only 6 out of 34 advanced economies -- Germany, Hong Kong, Korea, Norway, Singapore and Switzerland -- will have a positive fiscal balance. Nations are hardly deleveraging: The average debt level of a G20 nation in 2014 was 113.5 percent economic output, the same as a year before and only slightly lower than the record of 115.3 percent reached in 2012. So why pay all that money back?
I would argue that, if Greece's new government succeeds, it should result in a fundamental repricing of all public debt in line with the realization that any government's creditors are as powerless as the Jews in Edward I's England.
Stiglitz has long called for a universal mechanism for sovereign bankruptcies that would make the risks of non-payment transparent to all lenders and borrowers. In the absence of such a framework, Germany is doing the right thing by making sure no other government is tempted to go down the Greek path just because it wants to spend more than its debt burden allows.
An old joke: If you owe the bank $10,000, you're in trouble. If you owe the bank $10 million, the bank is in trouble. Germany and the rest of the euro zone is on the hook for tens of billions of dollars in Greek debt. But Germany, who is resisting any renegotiations on the terms of the Greek bailout, sees far more trouble in allowing Greece to get away with their massive theft than in standing firm and watching as Greece exits the euro.

In the long run, Germany is almost certainly correct, as other debtor nations would follow the lead of Greece and avoid paying its debtors the money they owe. Better to allow the Grexit rather than continually pay the price in the years ahead.

Rick Moran


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

Terror Strikes Copenhagen - Lars Hedegaard

by Lars Hedegaard

The first question the Danish Prime Minister got from one of the journalists, was, "How do you think this is going to affect the Muslims in Denmark? None of the journalists asked, "What are you going to do to protect us from this Islamist savagery?"
Imam Hajj Saeed of the Al-Faruq Mosque in Copenhagen, the day before the terror attack, rejected any thought of interfaith dialogue, and noted that the Prophet Muhammad waged war against his Jewish neighbors rather than engage in dialogue.
The day after the shootings, the political spokesperson of the main liberal opposition party went on television and said, "We are dealing with a small group that is abusing the Koran." In other words, once again we are faced with one or more Muslims who have completely misunderstood their own religion. The implication, of course is that Danes have nothing to fear from the fast growing number of Muslims or the spread of Islam.
It would appear, however, that the killer, Omar el-Hussein, had not "abused" anything but simply followed Allah and his prophet.
"It is vital that we as Muslims do not distance ourselves [from el-Hussein's actions] but put things in their right context. It is the Danish politicians and media that ought to distance themselves from the politics that have created the circumstances that lead to hatred, threats and violent attacks and eventually murder, regardless of who the victims may be. We must under no circumstances bow to the pressure or accept the premise that Islam is in the dock." — From a press release issued by Junes Kock, spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir, Scandinavia.
In all likelihood, the politicians and the media will continue telling the Danes that they have nothing to fear from Islam.

It did not take many hours after last weekend's two fatal terrorist attacks in the Danish capital before the usual phalanx of apologists of Islamism went into action.

Shortly after 3pm on Saturday, when 22-year-old Omar Abdel Hamid el-Hussein had shot and killed one of the guests attending a discussion on free speech at the Krudttønden cultural institute in Copenhagen's Østerbro neighborhood, Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt arrived at the scene to express her sympathy with the families of the victim and the policemen who had been wounded in the firefight with el-Hussein. She also stressed the need for national unity in this time of horror.

The discussion that came under attack was attended by the Swedish artist Lars Vilks -- famous for his drawing of Muhammad as a roundabout dog, and probably the intended target -- and the French ambassador.

The first question Thorning-Schmidt got from one of the journalists was, "How do you think this is going to affect Muslims in Denmark?" None of the journalists asked, "What are you going to do to protect us from Islamist savagery?" Or, "How can you allow the current mass influx of Muslims when we have so obviously been unable to integrate those already here?"

These questions are now being asked by a growing number of ordinary Danes, for example in social media; but so far no politician of any note has acknowledged any connection between terror, immigration, the build-up of Muslim parallel communities and Islam.

This lapse is despite the fact that el-Hussein had been heard shouting in Arabic as he emptied his automatic weapon into a glass door leading into Krudttønden, after shooting dead 55-year-old film director Finn Nørgaard, who had been standing outside.

El-Hussein managed to flee, and several hours later -- shortly before 1am Sunday -- he turned up outside the synagogue in Krystalgade in Central Copenhagen. In front of the synagogue were the Jewish community's volunteer guard, 37-year-old Dan Uzan, and two policemen who were protecting a bat mitzvah party taking place in a building behind the synagogue. El-Hussein managed to get close to the fence in front of the synagogue by playing drunk, then shot dead Dan Uzan and wounded the two policemen, whose automatic weapons did not function.

By then, the police knew his identity; he was killed some hours later outside a building in the heavily Muslim area of Nørrebro, after opening fire on the police.

Two suspected accomplices, aged 19 and 22, were arrested shortly afterwards and are now in jail awaiting trial.

No mention of Islam

After Omar el-Hussein's two shooting sprees, it should have been perfectly clear to politicians that Denmark was facing religiously motivated terror and that, just as in Paris, it was directed at free speech and the Jewish community.

Nevertheless, none of them -- whether from the government or the opposition -- saw fit to mention Islam as a motivating factor. Rather, everyone went out of his way to stress the need for unity among all religions. The leader of the Jewish Faith Community (Mosaisk Troessamfund), Dan Rosenberg Asmussen, emphasized the need for "Muslims, Christians and Jews" to stand together in this time of adversity.

Rosenberg Asmussen would have been disappointed if he had heard what Imam Hajj Saeed of the Al-Faruq Mosque in Copenhagen told his flock on February 13, the day before the terror attacks: Imam Saeed rejected any thought of interfaith dialogue and noted that the Prophet Muhammad waged war against his Jewish neighbors rather than engage in dialogue.

The day after the shootings, a spokesperson of the main liberal opposition party (Venstre), MP Inger Støjberg, went on television and said, "Let me be quite clear: We are dealing with a small group that is abusing the Koran." In other words, once again we are faced with one or more Muslims who have completely misunderstood their own religion. The implication, of course, is that Danes have nothing to fear from the fast-growing number of Muslims and the spread of Islam.

Curiously, the killer, Omar el-Hussein made no bones about the fact he acted in accordance with Islamic teachings. At 3:24 pm Saturday, nine minutes before his attack at Krudttønden, he posted the following comment on Facebook: "I follow Abu Bakr obediently and humbly in bad times as well as good and will not disobey the orders I have been given unless I witness open unbelief."

The Facebook message was revealed by the national daily, B.T., which had it translated from Arabic to Danish. The paper assumes that "Abu Bakr" refers to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State.

A little earlier, at 3:01 pm the same day, el-Hussein had quoted the Koran (sura 59, verse 2) on his Facebook page: "It is He who expelled the ones who disbelieved among the People of the Book [Jews and Christians] from their homes at the first gathering. You did not think they would leave, and they thought that their fortresses would protect them from Allah; but Allah came upon them from where they had not expected, and He cast terror into their hearts [so] they destroyed their houses by their hands and the hands of the believers. So take warning, O people of vision."

It would appear that Omar el-Hussein had not "abused" anything but simply followed Allah and his prophet.

A small group?

How did MP Inger Støjberg, and other politicians who have been saying the same things, know that Danes are up against "a small group"?

It turns out, in fact, that Omar el-Hussein and his accomplices have quite a fan club in and around the Muslim settlement area of Nørrebro in Copenhagen, as demonstrated by this French video published by the blog Gates of Vienna, with English subtitles. Danish television has also interviewed other young Muslims who expressed support for el-Hussein and openly declared that people who dare criticize the prophet -- as, in this case, Swedish artist Lars Vilks -- must be killed.

Danish and French television crews had no problem finding Muslims on the streets of Copenhagen who supported and praised terrorist Omar el-Hussein and his actions, along with many flower bouquets marking a memorial on the street where el-Hussein was killed in a shoot-out with police.

Further, the radical Muslim organization Hizb ut-Tahrir, which can regularly muster more than a thousand supporters for its demonstrations in Copenhagen, refuses to condemn the weekend's terror. A press release issued by the organization's spokesman for Scandinavia, Junes Kock, states:
"It is vital that we as Muslims do not distance ourselves [from el-Hussein's actions] but put things in their right context. It is the Danish politicians and media that ought to distance themselves from the politics that have created the circumstances that lead to hatred, threats, violent attacks and eventually murder, regardless of who the victims may be. We as a Muslim community must under no circumstances bow to the pressure or accept the premise that Islam is in the dock."
It appears that Hizb ut-Tahrir can rest assured that Islam will not be put in the dock. In all likelihood, politicians and the media will continue telling the Danes that they have nothing to fear from Islam.

The question is, will ordinary Danes continue to believe them?

Lars Hedegaard


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

Islamic Terrorism, Sharia Patrols and "De-Radicalization" - Soeren Kern

by Soeren Kern

"O Europeans, the Islamic State did not initiate a war against you, as your governments and media try to make you believe. It is you who started the transgression against us, and this you deserve blame and you will pay a great price.... We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah." — From a jihadist video threatening Italy.
"We Muslims in no way need your help to drag us down into a sad, Western culture where youth suffer from a capitalist existential void which causes widespread depression, addiction, self-injury, and even an alarmingly high rate of suicide. It is clearly the Danish people who need help to find the correct meaning of life, and here we would like to help." — Junes Kock, Danish convert to Islam and spokesman for Hizb ut-Tahrir, Scandinavia.
"There seems to be something going on in Scandinavian countries, and I think it's been the reluctance to actually identify and confront hate preachers." — Haras Rafiq, managing director, Quilliam Foundation.
"So far we have been lucky [to avoid a major terrorist attack in Germany]. Unfortunately, this may not always be the case." — German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière.
The Swedish welfare agency Socialstyrelsen estimated that 38,000 girls and women in Sweden have been subjected to female genital mutilation, and that another 19,000 are "at risk" of having the procedure performed on them.

In Austria, the government threatened to close the Vienna-based King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), due to its refusal to condemn the flogging of Raif Badawi, a Saudi human rights activist and blogger who has been sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for "insulting Islam."

Saudi Arabia responded to the threat by issuing a counter-threat to move the permanent headquarters of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) out of Austria.

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said: "If this center says it stands for interreligious dialogue, then it must do so. But if it wants to remain only an economic center with a religious fig leaf, then Austria should no longer be a part of it. In any event, Austria will not allow itself to be threatened or blackmailed."

On January 20, the government announced a new plan to spend nearly 290 million euros ($330 million) to combat terrorism over the next four years. The largest share of the money (126 million euros) will be dedicated to human resources to provide additional training of specialists for cyber security, crime fighting and forensics. At least 13 million euros will fund "de-radicalization" programs aimed at cracking down on Islamic extremism in the country.

In Vienna, city officials closed a private Islamic primary school in the Brigittenau district, over concerns that teachers were endangering the welfare of the students. The move came after the principal failed to call an ambulance when a six-year-old pupil was knocked down by a classmate and seriously injured her forehead. The incident was not reported until the following day, when the girl still had significant swelling.

The school's principal allegedly prohibited the teaching staff from cooperating with local authorities in order not to upset the children's parents, many of whom are immigrants from Chechnya. The school said the charges against it were motivated by "Islamophobia."

Previously, Austrian authorities initiated a review of the Islamic Austrian International School in Vienna after local reporters obtained a copy of a school history textbook that contained conspiracy theories and incitement against Jews. It later emerged that some parents had forbidden their children to attend music lessons at the school on the grounds that music is haram, or prohibited in Islam. The music teacher was subsequently fired for drawing attention to the problem.

In Belgium, two suspected jihadists, Sofiane Amghar, 26, and Khalid Ben Larbi, 23, were killed on January 15 in an anti-terror operation in Verviers, a city close to the German border. Prosecutor Eric Van Der Sypt said police had targeted a cell of jihadists returning from Syria, who were planning to launch imminent attacks.

After the shootout, police seized police uniforms, explosives and four AK-47 assault rifles. Thirteen other Belgian nationals were charged in connection with the raid, five of whom were charged with "participating in the activities of a terrorist group." The suspected ringleader of the cell, Belgian-Moroccan jihadist Abelhamid Abaaoud, remains at large.

Belgian police vehicles crowd a street in Verviers, where an anti-terror raid resulted in a shoot-out that left two jihadists dead, January 15, 2014. (Image source: RT video screenshot)

Belgian authorities revealed that 335 Belgian nationals have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq, making it the European country with the highest proportion of jihadists in the Middle East. Of the 335, 184 are on the battlefield, 50 have been killed, and 101 have returned to Belgium.

On January 4, a Muslim inmate at the prison in Vorst stabbed six prison guards with a knife. The inmate, a 35-year-old Moroccan named Rachid El-Boukhari, had been sentenced to 27 years in prison in December for setting fire to a Shiite mosque in the Anderlecht district of Brussels. The imam of the mosque died in the blaze. El-Boukhari has now been transferred to a maximum-security prison in Bruges, where he joins Mehdi Nemmouche, a 29-year-old French national of Algerian origin, who is awaiting trial for murdering four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May 2014.

In Antwerp, Mayor Bart De Wever postponed a march by PEGIDA Vlaanderen, the Flemish branch of the German anti-Islamization group PEGIDA, due to the heightened terror threat in the country. The demonstration, as well as a counter-demonstration, was to have taken place on January 26. It was rescheduled for March 2, according to the group's Facebook page.

In Denmark, authorities raised the official police alert level for the first time, in response to heightened threats across Europe. Danish National Police Spokesman Allan Nyring said:
"This is the first time ever that we have gone to this alert level [level two]. I have been with the police for many years and I cannot remember any point at which we were at a higher alert level than we are right now.
"We have raised the level of preparedness to be ready if the threat becomes greater. Mentally we are preparing anything that could happen. When you look at what is happening around Europe, it is not inconceivable that someone can be inspired to carry out attacks here."
Meanwhile, the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir rejected Denmark's new anti-radicalization strategy, arguing it is not Muslims who need help, but young Danes who need rescuing from a "sad Western culture" and its "capitalist existential void." On January 25, Junes Kock, a Danish convert to Islam who serves as media representative for the group, wrote:
"We Muslims in no way need your help to drag us down into a sad, Western culture where youth suffer from a capitalist existential void which causes widespread depression, addiction, self-injury, and even an alarmingly high rate of suicide. It is clearly the Danish people who need help to find the correct meaning of life, and here we would like to help."
In Finland, police revealed that nearly 50 people from the country have joined the ranks of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Helsinki Police Chief Inspector Jari Taponen said on January 22 that of the 50 individuals, nearly 20 are native Finns (defined by Taponen as Finnish citizens who have two Finnish parents), while 76% are Finnish passport holders.

When asked whether the Finnish government should withdraw the passports of those who have joined the ranks of the Islamic State, Taponen said: "The aim is to reintegrate the individual back into society. These people have to live somewhere. They cannot be swept under the carpet as if they do not exist."

The Finnish Security Intelligence Service (Supo) estimates that between six and eight Finnish jihadists have been killed on the battlefield, and that 20 have already returned to Finland. Although most of those travelling to the Middle East are young males, there has also been an upswing in interest in radicalism among young female converts to Islam.

The managing director of the British counter-extremism think tank Quilliam Foundation, Haras Rafiq, estimated that on a percentage basis per capita, there are more IS recruits coming from Finland than from the UK. He said:
"[Finland] is one of the biggest problem areas in Europe. In Finland, the proportion of combatants in the Muslim population is more than three times higher than in Britain.
"There seems to be something going on in Scandinavian countries, and I think it's been the reluctance to actually identify and confront hate preachers."
On January 9, Supo said that the Finns Party MEP Jussi Halla-aho had received a threatening message from a Finnish jihadist who calls himself Abu Hurairah Finlandi. He wrote: "You are on the list of the first to be killed when we arrive in Finland." He also threatened to attack the government and parliament buildings if Finland decides to join the "coalition against the caliphate."

An investigation carried out by local media concluded that the individual is a 21-year-old man of Pakistani origin who was studying business in Pori, a city along the west coast of Finland, but who had left to join the Islamic State in Syria in October 2014.

On January 14, a man described by police as having "dark skin" and a "foreign background" hacked two people to death with an axe at a pub in Oulu, a city in northern Finland. Police are refusing to publish the identity of the suspect, who was fatally shot hours later when police tried to apprehend him. Detective Chief Inspector Ari-Pekka Kouva, who is leading the investigation, told reporters that Oulu police have stepped-up monitoring of social media, to prevent anti-immigrant sentiment from "boiling over" following the killings.

Meanwhile, the chairman and the secretary of the Finnish Kurdish Alliance, Wehlat Neri and Majid Hakki, respectively, warned that self-taught "false imams" were spreading Islamic Sharia law in Finland. They said that controls were needed to prevent "unqualified" imams from radicalizing the moderate Muslim community. "Of the imams in Finland, more than half of them would not be allowed to have the same role in Muslim countries, where there are controls over who can serve as an imam," they wrote. They noted the example of one imam who began preaching Islamism and later left Finland to become a jihadist with the Islamic State.

In France, a series of jihadist attacks in Paris left 17 people dead. The first and deadliest of the attacks occurred on January 7, when French-born Islamic radicals Chérif and Saïd Kouachi stormed the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and fatally shot eight employees, two police officers, and two others, and injured eleven other people.

On January 8, a third assailant in the attacks, Amedy Coulibaly, shot and killed municipal police officer Clarissa Jean-Philippe in Montrouge, a southern suburb of Paris. On January 9, Coulibaly entered a Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in Paris, killed four people and took several hostages. Coulibaly was killed when police stormed the store. His female accomplice, believed to be his wife, Hayat Boumeddiene, remains at large.

An Ifop poll published by the Journal du Dimanche on January 18 showed that 42% of French people oppose the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed, such as those published by Charlie Hebdo, and indicated that they believed there should be "limitations on free speech online and on social networks." The vast majority – 81% – said they favored stripping French nationality from dual nationals who have committed an act of terrorism on French soil.

More than two-thirds (68%) said that French citizens should be banned from returning to the country if "they are suspected of having gone to fight in countries or regions controlled by terrorist groups."
On January 28, an Ipsos/Sopra-Steria poll produced for Le Monde and Europe 1 Radio found that 53% of French citizens believe the country is "at war" and 51% feel that Islam is "incompatible" with the values of French society.

On January 20, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that the terrorist attacks exposed a "territorial, social, ethnic apartheid" that is plaguing French society. In a speech that was described as one of the strongest indictments of French society ever by a government figure, Valls said there was an urgent need to fight discrimination, especially in impoverished suburbs that are home to many Muslim immigrants. He said that despite years of government efforts to improve conditions in run-down neighborhoods, many people have been relegated to living in ghettos. He added:
"The social misery is compounded by daily discrimination, because someone does not have the right family name, the right skin color, or because she is a woman. I am not making excuses, but we have to look at the reality of our country."
On January 21, Valls announced a 736 million euro ($835 million) program to augment its anti-terrorism defenses amid a rapidly expanding jihadist threat. He said the government would hire and train 2,680 new anti-terrorist judges, security agents, police officers, electronic eavesdroppers and analysts over the next three years. The government will also spend 480 million euros on new weapons and protective gear for police. The initiative includes an enhanced online presence based on a new government website called "Stop Djihadisme."

On January 23, the Conseil Constitutionnel, the highest court in France, dismissed a legal challenge to a ruling that stripped a French-Moroccan jihadist of French citizenship after he was convicted on terror-related charges. The challenge was brought by lawyers for Ahmed Sahnouni el-Yaacoubi, a Moroccan who obtained French citizenship in 2003, and who was sentenced to seven years in prison in March 2013 for recruiting jihadists online. He was stripped of his citizenship in May 2014.
Sahnouni's lawyer argued that the move was unconstitutional because it breached the equality between French-born citizens and those who are naturalized. The lawyer said that the French Civil Code, which states that naturalized French citizens can be stripped of their nationality if found guilty of "acts of terrorism," violates France's Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, which states that the law "must be the same for everyone, whether it protects or punishes."

In a statement, the high court wrote:
"The Constitutional Court noted that people who acquired French nationality and those to whom French nationality was given at birth are in the same situation, but that the difference in treatment, which was created to combat terrorism, does not violate the principle of equality."
On January 20, police arrested five Chechens in southern France on suspicion that they were preparing an attack on French soil. Four of the suspects were detained in the city of Montpellier, and the fifth was arrested in the nearby town of Béziers.

On January 27, heavily armed police arrested five suspected jihadists, aged 26 to 44, in dawn raids in Lunel, a small town near the Mediterranean coast. At least ten, and possibly as many as 20 people from the town -- with a population of just 25,000 -- have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight with the Islamic State.

On January 3, a 23-year-old Muslim man in the eastern city of Metz tried to strangle a police officer while shouting "Allahu Akbar!" ("Allah is greater!"). The assault took place at the police station after the man, who was arrested for purse-snatching, asked the officer to bring him a glass of water. When the policeman opened the cell door, the man lunged at him. The officer was rescued by a colleague who saw the scene unfold on a video surveillance camera.

The attack was similar to one that occurred in Joue-les-Tours in December, when a 20-year-old convert to Islam named Bertrand Nzohabonayo attacked police with a knife while shouting "Allahu Akbar." The man was killed by police in self-defense.

In the Paris suburb of Clichy-la-Garenne, an artwork depicting women's shoes on Muslim prayer rugs was removed from an exhibition after the Federation of Islamic Associations of Clichy warned that it might provoke "uncontrollable, irresponsible incidents." The artwork, made by the French-Algerian artist Zoulikha Bouabdellah, included high-heel shoes placed on the center of prayer rugs in shades of blue, white and red, symbolizing the French flag.

Bouabdellah defended herself, saying that she did not consider the work to be blasphemous, but curator Christine Ollier said it would be removed to "avoid polemics." The act of self-censorship was criticized by other artists who said that the freedom of expression was being undermined.

In Germany, the offices of the Hamburger Morgenpost were firebombed on January 11, after the newspaper republished Charlie Hebdo cartoons on its front cover in solidarity with the French magazine and in defense of free speech. The perpetrators remain at large.

On January 12, a record 25,000 people joined an anti-Islamization march in Dresden, just days after the jihadist attacks in Paris. The march was organized by a citizen's movement called PEGIDA, short for "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West." The group, which has been holding marches in Dresden on Monday evenings since October, has seen the number of protesters increase exponentially from week to week.

On January 21, however, PEGIDA's founder and leader Lutz Bachmann abruptly stepped down after German media published a photograph of him with an Adolf Hitler-style haircut and moustache. On January 27, five other senior PEGIDA leaders abandoned the group. The leadership split has cast the future of the movement into doubt.

On January 12, German Chancellor Angela Merkel repudiated the PEGIDA movement by saying that Islam "belongs to Germany." She was repeating comments made by former German president Christian Wulff in October 2010, when he triggered a heated debate about the role of Islam in Germany.

On January 25, however, the prime minister of the eastern German state of Saxony, Stanislaw Tillich, said he disagreed with Merkel. "Muslims are welcome in Germany and can practice their religion," he said. "But this does not mean that Islam is part of Saxony." The capital city of Saxony is Dresden, which is the headquarters of the PEGIDA movement.

Also on January 25, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said PEGIDA was harming Germany's international image.

On January 12, a 20-year-old Eritrean refugee and asylum seeker named Khaled Idris Bahray was stabbed to death in Dresden. European media were quick to blame PEGIDA for inciting the murder of Bahray, who was Muslim. The London-based Guardian reported that the killing "exposes racial tensions" and "anti-immigration sentiment" in Germany. On January 22, however, German prosecutors said that a 26-year old Eritrean roommate of Bahray had confessed to the stabbing.

On January 9, Der Spiegel reported that Germany's Federal Criminal Police Agency (Bundeskriminalamt, BKA) was implementing a nationwide emergency plan aimed at preventing Islamic terrorists from striking in Germany. According to the magazine, federal and state security agencies were ordered to locate the whereabouts of up to 250 German Islamists and other "relevant persons" whose identities are known to counter-terrorism authorities.

In a January 11 interview with the newspaper Bild am Sonntag, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière confirmed that German intelligence was monitoring "around 260 individuals" who could potentially strike at any moment.

Bild questioned whether Germany has enough security personnel to track all the potential terrorists. According to the newspaper, at least 60 police officers are needed to monitor successfully just one German jihadist around the clock. De Maizière said he was doing all he could, but he conceded: "So far we have been lucky. Unfortunately, this may not always be the case."

A few days later, German police said they had received specific warnings that Islamic terrorists were planning to attack the central train stations in Berlin and Dresden. The newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported that foreign intelligence agencies had intercepted the information from jihadist groups. "We are taking these tips seriously," a high-ranking security official was quoted as saying.

On January 15, police in Lower Saxony arrested a 26-year-old German-Lebanese jihadist identified as Ayub B. He is being charged with participating in the jihad in Syria. Also on January 15, police in Pforzheim raided the apartments of two Balkan Salafists. On January 16, more than 250 police searched 11 premises in Berlin. They arrested five Turkish Islamists, including a 41-year-old Turk identified as Ismet D., who refers to himself as the "Emir of Berlin." On January 20, more than 200 police raided 13 properties in Berlin and the eastern states of Brandenburg and Thuringia.

German intelligence authorities estimate that at least 550 people have left Germany for Syria and around 180 have returned.

On January 29, the carnival committee in Cologne dropped plans to build a Charlie Hebdo-themed float on fears that it might pose a security threat. The float was to feature in the February 16 parade as an expression of support for Charlie Hebdo in France. The design, which was chosen by the public in an online poll, showed a cartoonist forcing a pencil into the barrel of a terrorist's gun.

Finally, the German supermarket chain Aldi removed a brand of liquid soap from store shelves after complaints that its packaging was offensive to Muslims. Aldi said the packaging of the Ombia 1,001 Nights liquid soap, which depicts a mosque with dome and minarets, together with a lantern and a set of prayer beads, was intended to evoke a scene from the Middle East

But Aldi reacted quickly after Muslim customers posted complaints about the design on Aldi's Facebook page. "When I saw your liquid soap by Ombia on your shelves, I was a little shocked since it showed a mosque," one customer posted on Aldi's Facebook page. "The mosque with its dome and minarets is a symbol that stands for dignity and respect for Muslims. That is why I do not find it appropriate to depict this meaningful image on an item of daily use."

In Greece, police on January 17 arrested a 33-year-old Algerian man named Omar Damasch, believed to be linked to a foiled jihadist plot to attack police in Belgium. He was among half-a-dozen other Islamists detained by Greek police after Belgian police raided a suspected Islamist cell in the east Belgian town of Verviers. On January 29, Damasch was extradited to Belgium, where he was charged with terrorism offenses.

In Italy, the media reported about a four-minute video in which jihadists threatened to attack famous historical sites in Rome, including the Coliseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain and the Vatican. The video includes English subtitles that warn:
"O Europeans, the Islamic State did not initiate a war against you, as your governments and media try to make you believe. It is you who started the transgression against us, and thus you deserve blame and you will pay a great price.
"You will pay the price as you are afraid of travelling to any land. Rather you will pay the price as you walk on your streets, turning right and left, fearing the Muslims. You will not feel secure even in your bedrooms.
"We will strike you in your homeland, and you will never be able to harm anyone afterwards.
"We have warned you that today we are in a new era, an era where the [Islamic] State, its soldiers, and its sons are leaders not slaves. They are a people who through the ages have not known defeat. The outcome of their battles is concluded before they begin. Being killed—according to their account—is a victory.
"This is where the secret lies. You fight a people who can never be defeated. They either gain victory or are killed.
"We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah."
On January 18, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano revealed that Italy has deported nine suspected Islamic militants so far this year. He said that five Tunisians, one Turk, one Egyptian, one Moroccan and one Pakistani, all of whom had longstanding residence permits, had been expelled. Two had been preparing to travel to Syria to fight with Islamist militant groups, he said. Alfano also said that Italian authorities were monitoring more than 100 suspected Islamic militants.

On January 21, a former jihadist now working with Canadian intelligence told the Italian television show Matrix that there are dozens of Italians who are "ready to fight" for the Islamic State. "They do not feel Italian," said Mubin Shaikh. "Only their citizenship is Italian," he added, noting that "they could be sent back to their 'home country' to carry out attacks."

In the Netherlands, it emerged that police in The Hague hired Muslim patrols from the Salafist As-Sunnah mosque to keep the peace during New Year's Eve. The patrols were tasked with keeping order in the city's Transvaal and Schilderswijk districts, home a large Muslim community.

MPs Joram van Klaveren and Louis Bontes of a party called "For the Netherlands" (VNL) said that it was "more than misguided" that the Dutch government "must be represented on the street by a Salafi mosque."

The leader of the Freedom Party in The Hague's city council, Leon de Jong, asked the city council written questions about what he called the "Sharia police" of the As-Sunnah mosque. "This kind of Islamization undermines the authority of the police," he said. "The police should control the streets. There is no place in The Hague for any kind of Islamic law enforcement whatsoever."

In Norway, police on January 20 ordered the forcible relocation of Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, an Iraqi-born cleric, who was released from prison after serving time for making death threats against politicians and fellow immigrants. The 58-year-old Kurdish Sunni cleric, also known as Mullah Krekar, was to be held at an asylum center in the village of village of Kyrksæterøra in Trøndelag, situated more than 600 kilometers (370 miles) from his home in Oslo.

Krekar came to Norway as a refugee from northern Iraq in 1991. He was the leader of the Islamist group Ansar al-Islam in Kurdistan. In 2005, he was convicted of making death threats against three other Kurdish immigrants who he said had insulted Islam. In 2007, the Norwegian Supreme Court determined that Krekar was a "danger to national security." In 2012, he was sentenced to five years in prison for issuing death threats against Norwegian officials if they tried to deport him to Iraq.

In Spain, the websites of at least 40 municipalities in the autonomous community of Navarre were hacked on January 20 and replaced with messages in support of the Islamic State. The messages, in Arabic, read: "The Islamic State exists and will endure, Allah willing, and will destroy all with rage." The hackers also included a message in English which read, "I love ISIS," followed by messages in French which read, "Je suis Mohamed" and "Je suis ISIS." Spanish police said they believed the hackers were sympathizers of the Islamic State based in neighboring France.

On January 24, police arrested four suspected jihadists in Spain's North African exclave of Ceuta. The Interior Ministry said that the men, of Spanish nationality and Moroccan origin, had been carrying out an aggressive campaign on Internet forums using Islamic State slogans to recruit jihadists to fight in Syria and Iraq and to carry out attacks in Western countries.

Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz said: "There are two pairs of very radicalized brothers who are highly trained militarily, physically and mentally and are prepared to carry out an attack, and ready, according to police, to blow themselves up in the act."

On January 9, police in the Catalan city of Manresa apprehended an 18-year-old Moroccan, identified only as Omar S., after he took to the street wielding a knife and yelling "I am a Muslim!" and "Allahu Akbar!" During his arrest, Omar tried to grab the police officer's weapon and managed to smash the windows of the police car. He later said: "You killed my brothers in Paris ... all you Christians will die."

Meanwhile, the government banned the Spanish branch of the German anti-Islamization movement PEGIDA from rallying in front of the country's largest mosque in Madrid on January 23. The Interior Ministry said the rally "could pose a serious risk to public security." The march was organized by a group called "Spain on the Move" (La España en Marcha) under the slogan "Islam get out of Europe, along with your hatred for our Christianity. No to multiculturalism." The group vowed: "We will not be silenced."

There are now three separate PEGIDA groups active in Spain: PEGIDA Spain, PEGIDA Valencia and PEGIDA Catalonia.

In Sweden, a reporter who walked around Malmö, the third-largest city in the country, while wearing a Jewish skullcap and a Star of David chain around his neck to test attitudes toward Jews, was repeatedly attacked by passersby.

In a 58-mintue documentary (shorter version here) about anti-Semitism in Malmö that was aired by Swedish Television on January 21, journalist Petter Ljunggren, equipped with a hidden camera, was shown sitting at a cafe in downtown Malmö reading a newspaper as several passersby hurled abuse at him.

At one location he was called "Jewish sh*t" and at another a "Jewish Satan." One passerby told Ljunggren to "get out," while another person on a scooter approached him to warn him to leave for his own safety.

In the Rosengård district, a neighborhood with a large Muslim population, Ljunggren was surrounded by a dozen men who threatened him, while residents of nearby apartments threw eggs at him and shouted anti-Semitic slogans. He was forced to flee the area.

Meanwhile, the Swedish welfare agency Socialstyrelsen reported that an estimated 38,000 girls and women in Sweden have been subjected to female genital mutilation, and that another 19,000 are "at risk" of having the procedure performed on them. Although FGM was outlawed in Sweden in 1992, the practice continues apace among the country's immigrant community.

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter. Follow Soeren Kern on Twitter and Facebook


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