Friday, May 20, 2016

Israel, Gaza and "Proportionality" - Louis René Beres

by Louis René Beres

The obligations of proportionality require that no side employ any level of force that is greater than what is needed to achieve a legitimate political and operational objective.

  • It appears that several major Palestinian terror groups have begun to prepare for mega-terror attacks on Israel.
  • The authoritative rules of war do not equate "proportionality" with how many people die in each side of a conflict. In war, no side is ever required to respond to aggression with only the equivalent measure of force. Rather, the obligations of proportionality require that no side employ any level of force that is greater than what is needed to achieve a legitimate political and operational objective.
  • Under pertinent international law, the use of one's own people as "human shields" -- because such firing from populated areas is intended to deter Israeli reprisals, or to elicit injuries to Palestinian civilians -- represents a codified war crime. More specifically, this crime is known as "perfidy." This is plainly an attempt to make the IDF appear murderous when it is compelled to retaliate, but it is simply a Palestinian manipulation of legal responsibility. Under law, those Arab residents who suffer from Israeli retaliations are incurring the consequences of their own government's war crimes.
  • International law is not a suicide pact. Instead, it offers a universally binding body of rules and procedures that allows all states to act on behalf of their "inherent right of self-defense."

Already, calls from various directions have begun to condemn Israel for its recent retaliatory strikes in self-defense at Gaza.[1] The carefully-rehearsed refrain is all-too familiar. Gazan terrorists fire rockets and mortars at Israel; then, the world calls upon the Israel Air Force (IAF) not to respond.

Although Israel is plainly the victim in these ritualistic cycles of Arab terror and required Israeli retaliations, the "civilized world" usually comes to the defense of the victimizers. Inexplicably, in the European Union, and even sometimes with the current U.S. president, the Israeli response is reflexively, without thought, described as "excessive" or "disproportionate."

Leaving aside the irony of President Obama's evident sympathies here -- nothing that Israel has done in its own defense even comes close to the indiscriminacy of recent U.S. operations in Afghanistan[2] -- the condemnations are always unfounded. Plainly, Hamas and allied Arab terror groups deliberately fire their rockets from populated areas in Gaza at Israeli civilians. Under pertinent international law, this use of one's own people as "human shields" -- because such firing from populated areas is intended to deter Israeli reprisals, or to elicit injuries to Palestinian civilians -- represents a codified war crime. More specifically, this crime is known as "perfidy."

"Perfidy" is plainly an attempt to make the IDF appear murderous when it is compelled to retaliate, but it is always simply a Palestinian manipulation of true legal responsibility. Hamas's intent might be to incriminate the Israelis as murderers of Gaza's civilians. Legally, however, the net effect of Arab perfidy in Gaza is to free Israel of all responsibility for Arab harm, even if it is Israeli retaliatory fire that actually injures or kills the Gazan victims. Under law, those Arab residents who suffer from Israeli retaliations are incurring the consequences of their own government's war crimes. Palestinian suffering, which we are surely about to see again in stepped-up, choreographed Arab propaganda videos, remains the direct result of a relentlessly cruel, insensitive, and criminal Hamas leadership.

Significant, too, although never really mentioned, is that this Hamas leadership, similar to the PA and Fatah leadership, often sits safely away from Gaza, tucked away inconspicuously in Qatar. For these markedly unheroic figures, "martyrdom" is allegedly always welcomed and revered, but only as long as this singular honor is actually conferred upon someone else.

Moreover, the authoritative rules of war do not equate "proportionality" with how many people die in each side of a conflict. In war, no side is ever required to respond to aggression with only the equivalent measure of force. Rather, the obligations of proportionality require that no side employ any level of force that is greater than what is needed to achieve a legitimate political and operational objective.

If the rule of proportionality were genuinely about an equivalent number of dead, America's use of atomic weapons against Japanese civilians in August 1945 would represent the greatest single expression of "disproportionality" in human history.

It appears that several major Palestinian terror groups have begun to prepare for mega-terror attacks on Israel. Such attacks, possibly in cooperation with certain allied jihadist factions, could include chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. Over time, especially if Iran, undeterred by the July 2015 Vienna Pact, should agree to transfer portions of its residual nuclear materials to terror groups, Israel could then have to face Palestinian-directed nuclear terrorism.

One message is clear. If Israel, pressured by outside forces, allows Palestinian terror from Gaza to continue unopposed, the state could become increasingly vulnerable to even greater forms of Arab aggression.

Also important to keep in mind is that nuclear terror assaults against Israel could be launched from trucks or ships, not only from rockets and missiles.

What about Israel's active defenses? In its most recent defensive operations, Protective Edge and Pillar of Defense, Israel accomplished an impressively high rate of "Iron Dome" interceptions against incoming rockets from Gaza. Still, it would be a mistake to extrapolate from any such relatively limited successes to the vastly more complex hazards of strategic danger from Iran. Should Iran "go nuclear" in ten years or sooner, that still recalcitrant Islamic regime could launch at Israel missiles armed with nuclear warheads.

In its most recent defensive operations, Israel accomplished an impressively high rate of "Iron Dome" interceptions against incoming rockets from Gaza. Still, it would be a mistake to extrapolate from any such relatively limited successes to the vastly more complex hazards of strategic danger from Iran. (Image source: IDF)

Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese military thinker, already understood -- long before the nuclear age -- that too great a reliance on defense is always misconceived. Today, Arrow, Israel's core ballistic missile defense (BMD) interception system, would require a 100% rate success against offensive nuclear missiles. At the same time, such a rate is impossible to achieve, even if enhanced by Rafael's new laser-based defenses. Israel must therefore continue to rely primarily on deterrence for existential nuclear threats.

Although unacknowledged, Israel has always been willing to keep its essential counterterrorism operations in Gaza consistent with the established rules of humanitarian international law. Palestinian violence, however, has remained in persistent violation of all accepted rules of engagement -- even after Israel painfully "disengaged" from Gaza in 2005.

Both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority still speak indignantly of "the Occupation?" But where, precisely, is this "occupation?" After all their agitated umbrage about Israeli "disproportionality," shouldn't the Palestinians and their allies finally be able to answer that core question? There are no Israelis in Gaza.

International law is not a suicide pact. Instead, it offers a universally binding body of rules and procedures that allows all states to act on behalf of their "inherent right of self-defense."[3] When terrorists groups such as Hamas openly celebrate the "martyrdom" of Palestinian children, and when Hamas leaders unhesitatingly seek their own religious redemption through the mass-murder of Jewish children, unfortunately these terrorists retain no legal right to demand sanctuary.

In response to endless terror attacks from Gaza, Israel, with countless leaflets, phone calls, "knocks on the roof," and other warnings to its attackers, has been acting with an operational restraint unequaled by any other nation and according to binding rules of war. In these obligatory acts of self-defense there has not yet been the slightest evidence of disproportionality.
Louis René Beres is Emeritus Professor of International Law at Purdue University. His just-published new book is titled Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel's Nuclear Strategy.

[1] Speaking in Beirut on Channel 10 News, on May 7, 2016, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah accused Israel of "attacking Gaza," continuing: "Unfortunately, the Arab world is silent about the situation in Gaza. ... these actions must be condemned." Cited in Israel National News, "Nasrallah calls for condemnation of Israeli 'Attacks' on Gaza," May 7, 2016. Interesting, too, is that Nasrallah, a Shiite leader, is speaking here in strong support of Sunni Hamas.
[2] See Alissa J. Rubin, "Airstrike Hits Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Afghanistan," The New York Times, October 3, 2015. This is an account of the October 2015, U.S. destruction of a crowded hospital in the embattled city of Kunduz. The Pentagon confirmed the strike, which it called "collateral damage," and President Obama offered condolences to the victims in what he termed a "tragic incident." Doctors Without Borders was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.
[3] See, especially, Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

Louis René Beres is Emeritus Professor of International Law at Purdue University. His just-published new book is titled Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel's Nuclear Strategy.


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

How Terrorists and Dictators Silence Arab Journalists - Khaled Abu Toameh

by Khaled Abu Toameh

Today, the only free and independent Arabic newspapers in the Middle East can be found inside Israel.

  • That is the sad state of journalism in the Arab world: "If you're not with us, then you must be against us and that is why we need to shut your mouth." A journalist who does not agree to serve as a governmental mouthpiece is denounced as a "traitor."
  • Hamas shut the Gaza offices of Al-Arabiya in July 2013, under the pretext that the station broadcasted "incorrect news" about the situation in the Gaza Strip. The closure did not receive much attention from the international community and human rights organizations. Had the office been closed by Israel, there would have been an international outcry, with journalists screaming about Israeli "assaults on freedom of the media."
  • Al-Arabiya, like many other Arab TV stations, has a bureau in Israel, and its reporters enjoy more freedom reporting out of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv than they do in the Arab world. Today, the only free and independent Arabic newspapers in the Middle East can be found inside Israel.

Thirty-five Arab journalists have been fired since the beginning of April as a result of a campaign of intimidation and terrorism waged against them by Hamas and Hezbollah.

The journalists were working for the Saudi-owned pan-Arab Al-Arabiya television news channel, based in Dubai Media City in the United Arab Emirates. The network was previously rated by the BBC among the top pan-Arab stations.

But life for Al-Arabiya reporters has never been easy. Like most Arab journalists covering the Arab and Islamic countries, they too have long faced threats from various parties and governments.

That is the sad state of journalism in the Arab world: "If you're not with us, then you must be against us and that is why we need to shut your mouth." A journalist who does not agree to serve as a governmental mouthpiece is denounced as a "traitor."

The absence of democracy and freedom of speech in most Arab and Islamic countries has forced many Arab journalists to relocate to the West. In the past four decades, some of the Arab world's best journalists and writers moved to France and Britain, where they could work without fearing for their lives.

But in the Arab world, freedom of the media remains a far-fetched dream. There, if you are not threatened by the government, there is always someone else who will find a reason to target you.

The case of the Al-Arabiya journalists is yet another example of the dangers facing media representatives who do not toe the line or who dare to challenge a government or a terrorist group.

Earlier this week, Al-Arabiya announced that it was firing its eight workers in the Gaza Strip -- three years after the Hamas government decided to shut the station's offices there. The workers are Mohamed Jahjouh, Jamal Abu Nahel, Hanan al-Masri, Rula Elayan, Mahmdouh al-Sayed, Sha'ban Mimeh, Ala Zamou and Ahmed al-Razi.

In an email to the workers, the Al-Arabiya management wrote:
"We appreciate your work with us during the previous period. You were all an example of professional performance, but the time has come for the hard decision after we exhausted all attempts to reopen the offices, which were forcibly closed, as you know, by the party that controls the street in the Gaza Strip."
Hamas shut the Gaza offices of Al-Arabiya in July 2013, under the pretext that the station had been broadcasting "incorrect news" about the situation in the Gaza Strip. In addition to the closure, Hamas also confiscated the equipment and furniture with an estimated value of $500,000, and prevented the employees from entering the offices.

Hamas shut the Gaza offices of Al-Arabiya in July 2013, under the pretext that the station had been broadcasting "incorrect news" about the situation in the Gaza Strip. (Image source: JN1 video screenshot)

The closure of the Al-Arabiya offices in the Gaza Strip did not receive much attention from the international community and human rights organizations. Had the office been closed by Israel, of course, there would have been an international outcry, with journalists around the world screaming about Israeli "assaults on freedom of the media."

Here is an unpleasant fact: Al-Arabiya, like many other Arab TV stations, has a bureau in Israel, and its reporters enjoy more freedom reporting out of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv than they do in the Arab world. Today, the only free and independent Arabic newspapers in the Middle East can be found inside Israel.

In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the only newspapers available are those that serve as an organ for the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas. Many Arab journalists feel unsafe working under the PA in the West Bank. For the PA and Hamas alike, criticism is a crime.

Just this week, for example, Palestinian Authority security officers arrested journalist Tareq Abu Zeid in Nablus after confiscating his personal computer and mobile phone. No reason was given for Abu Zeid's arrest. He joins scores of other journalists and bloggers who have been arrested or interrogated by the PA in recent years.

Even Arab countries that once used to boast of being a base for free media, such as Lebanon, are no longer able to defend journalists from threats and violence.

Last month, Al-Arabiya also closed its offices in Beirut, citing "security concerns." In a statement, the Saudi-owned station said that the decision to quit Beirut was taken "out of concern for the safety" of its 27 employees.

The decision is believed to be the direct result of threats by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia. Hezbollah is furious with Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries for their recent decision to label the Shiite militia as a terrorist group.

Al-Arabiya's decision to close its bureau in Beirut came shortly after suspected Hezbollah thugs went on the rampage inside the offices of the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, destroying equipment and furniture.

The attack came after the pan-Arab newspaper published a cartoon marking April Fool's Day, which was deemed "offensive" to Lebanon and its flag. The message behind the cartoon was that Lebanon has become a failed state because of the growing power of Hezbollah and Iranian meddling in the internal affairs of the country -- something that has prevented the election of a new Lebanese president.

The crackdown on Arab journalists and media outlets by Hamas, Hezbollah and many Arab governments (including the Palestinian Authority) is not only aimed at silencing critics, but also at hiding from the world what life is like under dictators and terrorists. In light of the fact that Al-Arabiya's staff has been recently decimated, advocates of freedom of the media might wish to tune in.

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist is based in Jerusalem.    
Follow Khaled Abu Toameh on Twitter


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

Darul Uloom 2016 Terror Awards - Joe Kaufman

by Joe Kaufman

Honorees include CAIR, useful idiots and others.

Before 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed outed Adnan el-Shukrijumah as the “next Mohamed Atta;” before Shukrijumah found recruits to carry out bomb plots in London and New York; before he was placed on the FBI’s “most wanted” list with a $5 million reward for his capture; and before he was killed during a December 2014 pre-dawn raid in Pakistan; he was prayer leader at the Darul Uloom mosque, in Pembroke Pines, Florida. This month, the former spiritual home for one of al-Qaeda’s top terrorists held its 2016 annual awards ceremony.

Adnan el-Shukrijumah was not the only al-Qaeda terrorist to pass through Darul Uloom. “Dirty Bomber” Jose Padilla was a student at Darul Uloom. And Darul Uloom Arabic teacher Imran Mandhai, along with mosque goers Hakki Aksoy and Shueyb Mossa Jokhan, hatched an operation at Darul Uloom to blow up different structures, including area power stations, Jewish businesses, and a National Guard armory. Indeed, according to the mosque’s imam, Maulana Shafayat Mohamed, at least one of the 9/11 hijackers may have spent time at his mosque.

Shafayat Mohamed has his own radical history. He has been thrown off a number of Broward County boards due to anti-homosexual activity. In February 2005, an article written by him was published on the Darul Uloom website, entitled ‘Tsunami: Wrath of God.’ In it, he claims that gay sex caused the 2004 Indonesian tsunami. Shafayat Mohamed’s article doesn’t just target homosexuals. It also attacks Jews and Christians (“People of the Book”). In the piece, Shafayat Mohamed writes that most Jews and Christians are “perverted transgressors.”

None of this meant anything to the Islamists and idiots who more than happily accepted awards from Shafayat Mohamed and Darul Uloom and helped them raise money at their 2016 Al-Hikmat Annual Awards Ceremony and Fundraising Dinner, Al-Hikmat being the media arm of Darul Uloom.

One of the award recipients was Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, the attorney for the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). His award plaque read, “In Recognition of Your Civil Rights and Community Services.” Also in attendance, seated in the audience, was CAIR-Florida CEO and Regional Operations Director Nezar Hamze.

CAIR was established in June 1994 as part of a terrorist umbrella group headed by then-global head of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook. In 2007 and 2008, CAIR was named by the US Justice Department a co-conspirator for two federal trials dealing with the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas. Since its founding, a number of CAIR representatives have served jail time and/or have been deported from the United States for terrorist-related crimes. In November 2014, CAIR, itself, was designated a terrorist group by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government.

CAIR-Florida reflects the extremism of its parent organization. In August 2010, CAIR-Florida Executive Director Hassan Shibly, who has denied that Hezbollah is a terrorist group, wrote, “Israel and its supporters are enemies of God...” In July 2014, CAIR-Florida co-sponsored a pro-Hamas rally in Downtown Miami, where rally goers shouted, “We are Hamas” and “Let’s go Hamas.” Following the rally, the event organizer, Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout, wrote, “Thank God, every day we conquer the American Jews like our conquests over the Jews of Israel!”

Ruiz is also the legal advisor for Sofian Zakkout’s group, the American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA). AMANA regularly promotes white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. In fact, the latest posting on AMANA’s Facebook page is an anti-Jewish David Duke video. In July 2010, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) condemned AMANA for posting onto its website homepage another anti-Semitic Duke video. The ADL described the video as being “venomous.” The video was posted right above an expose about Ruiz.

Another award recipient was Tamara Tillman Ayon, the Florida Director of Government Affairs for Emerge USA. Her award was for what Darul Uloom calls “her accomplishments in the political arena.” As well, participating in the awards ceremony were the National Executive Director of Emerge, Tamim Chowdhury, who was an MC for the event, and the Florida Director of Emerge and former CAIR representative, Ghazala Salam, who was an award presenter.

Emerge USA, despite its patriotic sounding name, has an extremely radical agenda based on terrorism and bigotry shrouded in the guise of political advocacy.

The main individual behind Emerge USA is Khurrum Wahid, a South Florida attorney who has built his name on representing high profile terrorists. They include members of al-Qaeda and financiers of the Taliban. According to the Miami New Times, Wahid, himself, was placed on a federal terrorist watch list in 2011.

Emerge sponsors events at terror-linked mosques. They include Darul Uloom and the Tampa-based al-Qassam (a.k.a. Islamic Community of Tampa), which was founded by Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader and former Khurrum Wahid client Sami al-Arian. Emerge also sponsors speeches made by Muslim extremists, such as Islamic lecturer Sayed Ammar Nakshawani, who has previously called for the destruction of Israel. Nakshawani gave featured talks in at least two Emerge benefit dinners, one in 2014 and one in 2015.

Not all the Darul Uloom award recipients were Islamists. Useful idiots who received awards at the 2016 ceremony included: Pembroke Pines Commissioner Jay Schwartz; President of the Foundation to Advance Interfaith Trust and Harmony, Rabbi Mark Winer; and Dean of Pastoral Formation at the St. Vincent De Paul Seminary in Boynton Beach, Rev. Gregg Caggianelli.

Receiving an award from a place like Darul Uloom that has been associated with so many terror-related individuals and so much bigotry directed at homosexuals and others is no honor. It is, instead, a shameful embarrassment. And to help raise money for such a facility is equally shameful.

The awards should be handed back to those who gave them, along with the message that terror and hate will not be tolerated.

Joe Kaufman was the 2014 Republican nominee for United States House of Representatives in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. He is an expert in the fields of counter-terrorism, foreign affairs and energy independence for America. He has been featured on all major cable networks, including Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and C-SPAN. Joe has been instrumental in getting terrorist charities shut down and terror-related individuals put behind bars. Exactly one month prior to the September 11 attacks, he predicted the attacks by stating that the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was no aberration and that it would happen again.


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

As Lebanon's Banks Begin To Implement U.S. Sanctions Against Hizbullah, Hizbullah Criticizes Banking Sector, Warns Of Chaos In Lebanon And More 'Actions Against The American Takeover Plan' - H. Varulkar and E. B. Picali

by H. Varulkar and E. B. Picali

If Lebanon's banking sector does not comply with the law it will be barred from the global financial system, which could bring about its collapse


The Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in December 2015, is aimed at curtailing the organization's funding of its domestic and international activities, and also at combatting its global criminal activities – including money laundering, drug trafficking, and human trafficking – by which it funds the terror operations that it carries out worldwide.[1] It bars any "foreign financial institution" that engages in transactions with Hizbullah or with persons or bodies affiliated with it, or which provides them with financial services or launder money for them, from maintaining a relationship with the U.S. banking system. This means that any bank in the world, including in Lebanon, that provides financial services to the organization will be denied access to U.S. financial institutions – and thus to the global financial sector. The ramifications of this are far-reaching and can lead these banks to collapse. The law also imposes sanctions and penalties (fines, imprisonment or both) on individuals or bodies that violate its provisions. It came into effect on April 15, 2016, after the U.S. Treasury issued regulations for its implementation; the Treasury also published a list of some 100 bodies and figures associated with Hizbullah with whom financial institutions may not conduct dealings.[2] 
Since Congress passed the law, Hizbullah has been perturbed and apprehensive about its ramifications and the impact it would have on its operation. This has been expressed both in statements by Hizbullah officials and in articles in the Lebanese press, especially the press close to Hizbullah.[3] In a speech a few days after the law was passed, Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah exposed his concern, by warning Lebanon's banks not to "submit to the will of America."

In early May 2016, two weeks after the law went into effect, Riad Salameh, governor of the Banque du Liban (BDL), Lebanon's central bank, stressed, in a directive to Lebanon's banks, the need to fully comply with the law. Following this, Lebanese banks began to close accounts of Hizbullah officials and their family members, and it has been reported that dozens such accounts have already been closed. Hizbullah reacted with a campaign of severe criticism against Salameh and the Lebanese banking system, accusing them of "surrender[ing] to the American financial mandatory authority in Lebanon and warning that this would bring about the collapse of Lebanon's currency and lead to "complete chaos" in the country. Hizbullah ministers argued that the banks had crossed every red line, and other Hizbullah members leveled threats against the banks. 

These reactions clearly indicate the scope of Hizbullah's fears about the U.S. law and its ramifications. It should be noted that in recent months Hizbullah has also been the target of sanctions by the Gulf states and several other Arab countries, which have designated it a terror organization and have begun expelling its operatives from their territory.[4] 

It should further be noted that it is not only Hizbullah that is concerned about the U.S. law, but also Lebanon's banking sector, because if it does not comply with the law it will be barred from the global financial system, which could bring about its collapse. In light of these concerns, two Lebanese delegations were recently dispatched to the U.S., one on behalf of the Lebanese parliament and the other on behalf of the Association of Banks in Lebanon. The aim of the visits was to meet with U.S. Congress and Treasury officials and to discuss the law and its implementation, and perhaps also persuade them to soften the language of the law and provide guarantees for the Lebanese banks' stability.[5] 

This report will review Hizbullah's apprehensions about the U.S. law as well as the organization's threats to the Lebanese banking sector, the Lebanese government, and the U.S. following the law's passage by Congress, and the intensification of these threats since the Lebanese banks began implementing the law.

Following Congress's Passage Of The Law, Nasrallah Warns Lebanese 
Government, Banks Not To Comply 

On December 21, 2015, three days after President Obama signed the act into law, Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah claimed that the law was part of the U.S. war on his organization that it declared years ago. In an attempt to downplay the importance of the new sanctions, Nasrallah argued that they would have no impact. He added that ever since the U.S. designated Hizbullah a terrorist organization in 1995, it has been trying to force the rest of the world to accept this designation, but to no avail; he added that since it failed in this attempt, it is now making false accusations against the organization. "The Americans," he said, "are trying to pressure Hizbullah again with a decision they issued, according to which it is a criminal organization, and they are accusing us of drug trafficking, human trafficking, and money laundering. This is not true. These accusations are unjust, and we are not interested in presenting proof of our innocence, because the accuser is the one who should be presenting proof... This is a political accusation, part of a political, security, and military campaign in the region, aimed at tarnishing Hizbullah's image in the eyes of the peoples of the world... It is part of a psychological war that will not succeed."

As part of his attempts to reassure Hizbullah's supporters and to convince them that the sanctions would have no impact, Nasrallah stated that his organization holds no accounts in Lebanese banks, nor any investments in or partnerships with Lebanese companies or merchants – and that therefore neither the BDL nor any other Lebanese bank has any cause for concern. At the same time, he revealed his concerns when he said: "The minute the U.S. gives the signal to harm some sector or political stream, some Lebanese banks will begin settling scores [with that sector or stream]." He declared that this would be "unacceptable" and warned the government and the banks against "obeying the American will." He claimed that these American sanctions were aimed not just at Hizbullah but at Lebanon's citizens, companies and businessmen, and demanded that the Lebanese state defend them: "We do not want the state to defend Hizbullah and its operatives, its sons and its daughters. We are defending ourselves and know how to do so. But the state must have people to defend any individual that the Americans wish to  accuse."[6]      

Hizbullah Faction In Lebanese Parliament: American Law Will Spur Hizbullah To Act Against U.S.'s "Terrorist Branches" In The Region

On December 24, 2015, several days after Congress passed the law, the Hizbullah faction in the Lebanese parliament harshly criticized the U.S. over it, saying that "arrogance and terrorism" were behind the decision targeting Hizbullah, its supporters, and "ostensible organizations and elements working with it". This, it stated, confirmed that the U.S. administration is indeed "the Great Satan." The faction also said that the law "would spur Hizbullah to continue its actions against the American takeover plan and to continue resisting its terrorist branches, represented by the Zionists and takfiris, in Lebanon and the region."[7] 

Hizbullah-Affiliated Daily: Sanctions Could Lead To Intra-Lebanese Tension

Additionally, on March 31, 2016, the Lebanese Hizbullah-affiliated daily Al-Akhbar published an article implicitly warning that the U.S. law would destabilize Lebanon: "As the countdown to the release of the regulations for implementing the American anti-Hizbullah sanctions begins, the fears that the [Lebanese] domestic arena will be impacted by it and its ramifications are revived... as have fears that this issue will become volatile..." 

The article also outlined the assessments that the sanctions and the anticipated regulations for their implementation will be harsh and will cover a broad range of individuals and political, financial, and media institutions, and added that if this proves to be the case, "it could constitute a worrisome factor that could stoke  domestic tension [in Lebanon, especially] in everything connected to Hizbullah's reaction to the attempts at besieging it..."[8] 

As Sanctions Implementation Begins In Lebanon, Hizbullah Harshly Criticizes U.S., Lebanese Banking Sector

On April 11, 2016, the U.S. Treasury Department released the regulations for implementing the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act; they included details for applying the sanctions as well as a list of 99 Hizbullah-linked individuals and institutions with whom banks and financial institutions worldwide may not conduct business. The law, which as mentioned came into effect on April 15, 2016, is binding on all the world's financial institutions, including Lebanese banks.

BDL Governor Salameh Orders Lebanese Banks To Comply With U.S. Law, Enraging Hizbullah 

On April 28, 2016, the governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, Riad Salameh explicitly stated, on the Lebanese LBC TV channel's show Kalam Al-Nas, that Lebanese banks must comply with the U.S. law. He stressed: "The American law cannot be circumvented, because the regulations for its implementation include all currency, including the Lebanese lira." The BDL, he said, would issue a statement emphasizing that Lebanon was committed to complying with the law and would hold banks responsible for implementing it. He added, "This will be clear and there will no way to get around it. This is an official and legal position. The banks must align with us."[9] 

A few days later, on May 3, 2016, Salameh issued guidelines requiring "all banks in Lebanon and all institutions under the oversight of the BDL" to comply with the law and to immediately inform the BDL of any freezing or closure of any account, or of any refusal to open any account, and to state their reasons for doing so.[10] According to reports in the Lebanese press, Lebanese banks have begun implementing these guidelines, and have already closed dozens of accounts belonging to Hizbullah MPs and associates.[11] Salameh's guidelines sparked enraged responses from Hizbullah.

Riad Salameh (, April 4, 2016)

Hizbullah MP: U.S. Is The Great Satan, We Must Resist Its Plans In The Region

Hizbullah MP Hussein Al-Moussawi threatened the U.S., saying: "The U.S. is still the leader of the camp of lies, and, as the Great Satan, it attempts to give the resistance a satanic image, and marginalize it with terrorism accusations and economic sanctions... The sons of the ummah should be wary of the American plans and carry out resistance against them."[12] 

Hizbullah: Salameh Surrendered To "The American Financial Mandatory" Rule In Lebanon; Implementing This Law Will Lead To Chaos In The Country

After Lebanese banks began closing the accounts of Hizbullah affiliates, the organization launched criticism not only at the U.S. but also at the Lebanese banking sector. On May 12, 2016, the Hizbullah faction in the Lebanese parliament issued an exceptionally harsh statement against Riad Salameh, noting: "The recent American law, which forces Lebanese banks to comply with its sections, is completely unacceptable because it will form the basis for a local war of exclusion, which the central bank and other banks are helping to stoke. This is in addition to the fact that complying [with the U.S. law] constitutes an appropriation of Lebanese financial sovereignty."

The statement also said: "The orders recently published by BDL governor Riad Salameh... are a form of unjustified surrender to the American financial mandatory authority in Lebanon – which could exacerbate the financial crisis in the country, lead it to bankruptcy because of the ramifications of the deep schism [that could come about] between the Lebanese and the banks, and place the country on the brink of a grave currency collapse in the country and complete chaos that will be unstoppable." The announcement also called on the governor "to reexamine the recent guidelines, such that they will be compatible [with the principle] of national sovereignty," and on the government "to take the necessary steps to prevent the dangerous ramifications that are likely to emanate from this."[13] 

Hizbullah-Affiliated Daily: Hizbullah Is Furious At BDL Governor For Reneging On Understandings It Reached With Him

The Lebanese daily Al-Safir, which is close to Hizbullah, revealed on May 13, 2016 that the reason for Hizbullah's fury at the BDL governor is that the guidelines he issued for the banks effectively countermanded previous understandings at which he had secretly arrived with Hizbullah, that were meant to mitigate the impact of the sanctions. According to the report, former Hizbullah MP Amin Shiri had concluded with Salameh that the Lebanese banks would not decide independently on the closure of any Lebanese citizen's bank account, but would obtain Salameh's personal approval beforehand. They also agreed that the banks would allow any citizen, including Hizbullah members, to open an account in Lebanese lira. However, the new guidelines that Salameh released in early May contradicted these understandings; under the new guidelines, banks should close accounts on their own and then inform the BDL, and must prevent Hizbullah members from opening accounts in Lebanese lira –because the American regulations for implementation specifically bar opening accounts in any currency.

According to Al-Safir, Hizbullah was surprised, and enraged, by Salameh's guidelines. It quickly tried to contact him, but after receiving no persuasive answer, it decided to publish the harsh statement against him, and to raise the issue in the upcoming cabinet session.[14] 

The daily Al-Akhbar, which is also close to Hizbullah, added that the organization had sent a message to Salameh claiming that "some banks decide for themselves to go too far in implementing the American sanctions, punishing Lebanese [citizens] that the U.S. did not even seek to sanction." The daily added that Hizbullah had told Salameh that it would not allow the Lebanese banking sector "to act purely as the executive arm of the American administration [in carrying out its] decisions."[15] 

Al-Safir: Lebanese Elements, Saudi And UAE Foreign Ministers Worked To Step Up The Sanctions

Al-Safir reported that several MPs, apparently from Hizbullah, had complained to parliament speaker Nabih Berri that the regulations for implementation released in April by the U.S. Treasury Department had included new sections that were not in the law itself – for example, that the sanctions apply to all currencies, not only to U.S. dollars. They argued that these additions undercut the understandings between Hizbullah and Salameh, which were aimed at circumventing the sanctions and mitigating their effects. The MPs argued that an apparent "Lebanese element... leaked these [Hizbullah-Salameh understandings]." The daily cited sources as saying that "there is an Israeli-Lebanese-Arab lobby operating daily in Washington under the direct supervision of the office of Saudi Foreign Minister 'Adel Al-Jubeir and the office of UAE Foreign Minister 'Abdallah bin Zayed," and adding that UAE Ambassador to Washington Yousef Al-'Otaiba is working hard on this matter in Congress and the Treasury Department.[16] 

Hizbullah Ministers: Lebanese Banks Have "Gone Too Far" In Implementing The American Law"; This Crosses All Red Lines

On May 12, 2016, the same day the Hizbullah faction in the parliament issued its statement against the Lebanese banking sector, Hizbullah ministers raised the issue in the cabinet session. The Al-Akhbar and Al-Safir dailies reported that Hizbullah ministers in the unity government, Hussein Al-Hajj Hassan and Muhammad Fneish, had delivered scathing attacks on the Lebanese banks, saying that they had "gone too far in implementing the American law" and had begun "taking steps against people with no ties to Hizbullah other than familial ties to organization officials."

At the meeting, Hizbullah ministers claimed that one bank had closed the account of the daughter of a former Hizbullah MP. Al-Hajj Hassan claimed that banks had also recently closed the accounts of MPs Nawar Al-Sahili, 'Ali Fayyad, 'Ali Ammar, and 'Ali Al-Miqdad, as well as that of former MP Amin Shiri. Also closed, they said, were accounts belonging to various cultural, religious, healthcare, and societal institutions, as well as charity organizations; he also expressed apprehension that the accounts of dozens of local municipalities would be closed "on the pretext that they [are administered] by Hizbullah members." It was also reported that during the meeting, other ministers who are not members of Hizbullah related how U.S. and French banks had refused to open accounts for them and also closed their existing accounts.

According to Al-Hajj Hassan, these closures constituted "a serious attack that crosses all red lines," especially since the law harms all Lebanese, not just one group or sect. Other reports in the Lebanese press noted that Al-Hajj Hassan had issued threats, and had said that the BDL guidelines and the conduct of the banking sector had "crossed the red line and reached the black line, and Hizbullah will not agree to this, and the American sanctions will not be allowed to pass." It was also reported that Hizbullah ministers had called the Lebanese banks' implementation of the U.S. law submission to aggression, and added that there must be no silence over this law, "because the occupation is not only military, but also financial, political, and cultural."[17] 

Al-Safir reported that some ministers from the March 14 Forces, the rival bloc in the unity government, were claiming that Hizbullah had brought this situation on itself, and that the resistance had become a weak point for Lebanon, not a source of strength. Furthermore, one minister argued that Hizbullah ministers could not shift responsibility to the Lebanese banks or the BDL governor, since no one in the world can confront the U.S. The cabinet meeting ended with a decision by Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Finance Minister 'Ali Hassan Khalil to meet with Salameh to discuss the matter and update the government on the results.[18] 

Hizbullah Sources Threaten: Hizbullah Won't Remain Silent – We Will Upend Everything

On May 14, 2016, the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar quoted sources in the Hizbullah-headed March 8 Forces as saying that the organization would not remain silent about the new guidelines released by Salameh, and that it would not back down from its demand that they be cancelled. The sources argued that the banks were implementing the sanctions also against people who were not on the U.S. Treasury Department list, only because they were Shi'ites or relatives of a Hizbullah member. They added: "How is it possible that the bank accounts of MPs representing the Lebanese people are being closed – how will they receive their salaries?"

Hizbullah maintained that the BDL and the other banks are going beyond what the Americans are demanding in their implementation of the sanctions, and thus are strangling an entire community. The sources said: "When [Hizbullah] asked the BDL governor about the implementation of the U.S. law, he said nothing about what he is implementing today, but [said that there would be] an investigation and an examination of every account about which there are doubts... But closing the accounts of innocent people who have no connection [to Hizbullah] without any investigation or examination [as is happening right now] – that is a dangerous sign of concessions on Lebanese sovereignty and of punishment of the Lebanese people by the state, which we will in no way allow to happen." The sources argued that the government must "cancel the BDL's guidelines, otherwise [Hizbullah] will react not only by thwarting the government['s activity] but will upend everything, and will open the file of the banking sector from the 1990s onward..." – hinting that Hizbullah has information on improper conduct by the banks.

 Asked what was meant by the term "upend everything," the sources quoted a hadith attributed to Imam 'Ali bin Abu Taleb, the fourth caliph: "I am amazed how a poor man who lacks a crust of bread does not go out and brandish his sword at the people" – hinting that Hizbullah's reaction will be harsh.[19] 

Nasrallah: We Face A Challenge To Obtain Monetary Aid – "We Will Be Grateful For Every Donation" 

Hizbullah officials' threats and harsh reactions clearly attested to the distress and pressure felt by the organization, and to the scope of the sanctions' impact on its activity. Additional evidence of this could be found in a May 6, 2016 speech by Nasrallah following the release of the regulations for implementing the U.S. law. 

In his speech, Nasrallah reiterated, as he had first stated in his December 2015 speech, that the sanctions would do little damage to Hizbullah because the organization was accustomed to such pressure and that it would overcome it as it had in the past "under much worse circumstances." But despite Nasrallah's efforts to convey the message that Hizbullah was just fine, the scope of the economic damage done to the organization came through in his statements, in which he noted, inter alia, that the Islamic Resistance Support Organization was now playing a vital role in financially helping the organization. He even personally appealed to the public of supporters of the resistance for monetary donations, no matter how modest: 

"I want to talk about this point openly, so that the people will also know how we think and operate. We first of all consider the importance and real value of the intention of the donors, not the size of the contribution... The families of the martyrs donate, the wounded donate, the people donate, the elderly lady who saved for her old age gives a little of her savings to the resistance, the boy who is in school takes some of his allowance and drops it into the cashbox of the resistance. This, for us, is worth millions. This is the real support for us... 

"Therefore, today, when we stand before America's, Israel's, and Saudi Arabia's attempts to dry up our sources of funding, we must realize that the sums donated by this or that family via the the Islamic Resistance Support Organization, even if modest, are in fact very large and extremely valuable sums. Obviously, we do not want to embarrass anyone... [so that they will] donate to us, but we trust the faith, the insight, and the reliability of all those who donate to us, since they are the people with whom we have, together, [overcome] the most difficult of days and circumstances, and the most dangerous of challenges and hardships. With them, we have completed the path; we have triumphed, and passed through all the difficult stages; with them, we will pass through all  the difficult stages to come, Allah willing." 

In an attempt to reassure the resistance-supporting public, he added that they must not worry, because Iran would continue to send economic, material, and military aid to Hizbullah despite the pressures and threats against it as well.[20]

*H. Varulkar is Director of Research at MEMRI; E. B. Picali is a Research Fellow at MEMRI.

[1] On Hizbullah's involvement in global drug trafficking, see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1227, Hizbullah's International Drug Network Preoccupies Europe, February 9, 2016.
[3] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), January 11, 2016, March 31, 2016.
[5]  Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), January 11, 2016, February 2, 2016, March 31, 2016.
[6], December 21, 2015; Al-Safir (Lebanon), Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), December 22, 2015.
[7] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), December 25, 2015.
[8] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), March 31, 2016.
[9] Al-Liwa (Lebanon), April 29, 2016.
[10] Al-Nahar (Lebanon), May 4, 2016.
[11] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), May 16, 2016, Al-Safir (Lebanon), May 13, 2016.
[12], May 2, 2016.
[13] Al-Safir (Lebanon), May 12, 2016.
[14] Al-Safir (Lebanon), May 13, 2016.
[15] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), May 13, 2016.
[16] Al-Safir (Lebanon), May 13, 2016.
[17] Al-Safir, Al-Akhbar, Al-Mustaqbal , Al-Modon (Lebanon), May 13, 2016.
[18] Al-Safir (Lebanon), May 13, 2016; Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), May 13, 2016.
[19] Al-Nahar (Lebanon), May 14, 2016. This hadith is attributed to Abu Dhar Al-Ghafari, a Companion of the Prophet Muhammad, and the fourth person to be converted to Islam by him. However, no verification or evidence has been found for such a hadith in the Book of Hadiths, and some even claim that it is not reliable.
[20], May 6, 2016.

H. Varulkar and E. B. Picali


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ISIS Campaign In Support Of Its Sinai Branch, Urges Egyptians To Join Its Ranks - MEMRI


It should be mentioned that ISIS leadership views the Sinai province as a key extension for the organization outside of its core area of control in Syria and Iraq.

On May 5 2016, the Islamic State (ISIS) launched a campaign to support and encourage its branch in the Sinai Peninsula. The campaign consists of a series of videos published by the media offices of 14 ISIS provinces, mainly in Iraq and Syria. The videos featured ISIS fighters, with an emphasis on Egyptians, praising ISIS in Sinai, calling on it to remain steadfast, goading it to continue fighting against the Egyptian army, and lashing out at its ideological rivals among the Islamist movements in Egypt. The speakers in the videos stressed the strategic importance of Sinai as "the gateway to Jerusalem."

As has become customary in similar ISIS media campaigns,[1] the entire apparatus of media groups and activists that support ISIS sprang into action: According to coverage of the campaign in ISIS's official weekly Al-Naba', media groups produced 11 video clips, 3 nashids [songs], 282 posters and 49 articles. In addition to this came a torrent of social media postings by ISIS supporters disseminating the videos and other messages praising the Sinai province. For example, the pro-ISIS media group Al-Wafa' Foundation contributed 15 articles praising the ISIS Sinai province and lashing out at the Egyptian government.

Notably, Sinai province itself seems to be facing significant setbacks with regards to its own media operation and rarely releases new videos. [2]

It should be mentioned that ISIS leadership views the Sinai province as a key extension for the organization outside of its core area of control in Syria and Iraq. Indeed, the Sinai province is considered one of the most powerful and effective among these extensions thanks to its daily attacks on the Egyptian security forces and the downing of the Russian airliner (Metrojet Flight 9268), which had a global impact.[3]

Several explanations can be provided for the launching of the campaign at this time:

First, the campaign might be an indication that the Sinai province is facing hardships due to the Egyptian military's ongoing efforts against it. Second, the campaign, which calls upon Egyptians to join ISIS in its war on their government, may be an attempt to capitalize on the growing anti-government sentiments and on the recent uproar in Egypt caused by the announcement of a deal to hand over a pair of Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. Third, it possible that ISIS sees a need to strengthen the extension in Sinai as a fallback, as it continues to lose territory in Iraq and Syria. Fourth, it is likewise possible that ISIS's media apparatus decided to tout Sinai as a major front of jihad as part of an effort to direct new recruits there, in light of the difficulties foreign volunteers are facing in entering Syria.

The following report will review a selection of the videos and articles in the ISIS campaign: 

Threats To The Egyptian Military

A video produced by the Salah Al-Din province in Iraq features two fighters, Abu Qaswara Al-Masri – an Egyptian, and Abu Omar Al-Maqdisi – likely a Palestinian from Gaza, who called on the members of ISIS in Sinai to remain steadfast and continue targeting the Egyptian army and the Jews in Israel. They urged the Egyptian people to join the mujahideen in Sinai and swear fealty to the "Caliph" Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. 

Addressing the soldiers and officers in the Egyptian army, Al-Masri said: "We advise you to repent before we manage to find you. If we find you, there will be no other [fate] but beheading for you. There will be no mercy for you and you are aware of that. You have seen what the soldiers of the caliphate have done with your colleagues and you will see. I advise you to repent. I am a truthful advisor to you." He then promised to liberate the prisoners in Egypt with guns, as opposed to with petitions and appeals. 

The video also condemned the leaders and members of the Muslim Brotherhood who were described as "deviants and bankrupt" and criticized the newly-announced plan by Saudi Arabia to build a bridge to Egypt. "As for the bridge which Al-Saloul [derogatory term describing the ruling family in Saudi Arabia] are planning to build to support the tyrant of Egypt Al-Sisi, it will turn against them and will be the gate through which the mujahideen will manage to conquer the Arabian Peninsula," Al-Maqdisi said. 

A video produced by Al-Furat' province [which comprises of the area around the towns of Albu Kamal in eastern Syria and Al-Qa'im in western Iraq] features young ISIS fighter from Sinai, Abu Al-Bara' Al-Sinawi, who warned "the soldiers of the tyrant" and threatened that they will be killed if they do not repent. Al-Sinawi is then shown beheading a young man who was accused of planning to join the anti-ISIS Sahawat ("Awakening") militias in Iraq. 

ISIS Experience In Iraq – Inspiration For Sinai

In an attempt to provide inspiration and encouragement for the members of ISIS operating in the Sinai, a video produced by Al-Anbar province in Iraq compares the peninsula to that Iraqi region. The narrator in the video notes that ISIS in Sinai has benefited from the experience from jihadi groups in other fronts, especially in Al-Anbar, which has similar characteristics to those of the Iraqi desert in terms of the landscape, the tribal character of the local population and so on. Two fighters in the video speak of the history of ISIS in Al-Anbar in order to inspire their comrades in the Sinai. They describe how it began operating with a handful of men and grew under harsh conditions into a formidable force with many recruits. This video also featured archival video footage of an Egyptian suicide bomber named Abu Muslim Al-Masri, who carried out an attack in Al-Anbar three years ago, as another means of inspiring Egyptians to join jihad.

anbari operative.jpgISIS operative from Al-Anbar 

The video from Ninawa province in Iraq featured a fighter named Abu Suhaib Al-Ansari who praised ISIS in Sinai for targeting the Egyptian government and condemned the Muslim Brotherhood for taking part in the political process in Egypt and for insisting on being peaceful. 

Abu Omar Al-Ansari, another ISIS fighter who appeared in the video told ISIS fighters in Sinai to target the Egyptian government and "spill their blood and communicate with them with guns and explosives and turn them into corpses with bombs." He then called on Muslims everywhere and especially those in Gaza to join the "soldiers of the Caliphate" in Sinai.[4] He urged the people in Sinai to support the mujahideen, saying: "In a few days, you will see the result of the clear conquest after you have seen the result of dignity and empowerment. The victory is coming soon." 

Israel – Sinai Province's Next Prey

In the video from Dijlah province, Iraq, an unidentified fighter threatened Israel, saying it will be ISIS Sinai's next prey Sinai after it is done fighting the apostates in Egypt. Addressing his comrades in Sinai he says: "You are fighting today in Sinai and the Jews are a stone's throw away from you. They are enraged and terrorized by what you are doing with their tails, the apostates [the Egyptian army], not because they love them but because they are scared for themselves, and because they know they are the prey that awaits, which you will finish off after the apostates, Allah willing."  Another fighter stressed that ISIS in Sinai is the "gate" to liberating Jerusalem: "Know that you are fighting today in the Sinai province, and the eyes of your brothers the mujahideen are directed toward you as you are the gateway to the liberation of Jerusalem, Allah willing. Know oh brothers of tawhid [monotheism] that the war is harsh, so prepare yourselves, roll up your sleeves and chop off the heads, and repel with your steadfastness the Crusader coalition and the Russians."  

ISIS speaker in video produced by Al-Jazirah province 

The video by ISIS in Al-Jazirah province, Iraq, also condemned the Saudi plan to build a bridge linking Sinai with Saudi Arabia, saying that "this project will fail like the other ones and will be a bridge through which the mujahideen will cross to the Peninsula of the Prophet Muhammad."

Sisi burning.jpg
Image of Egyptian president Al-Sisi burning, featrued in Sinai media campaign 

After praising the mujahideen in Sinai, Abu Omar Al-Ansari, one of the fighters featured in the video, threatened the Jews, saying that their air jets, tanks, international support and agents on the ground will not be able to help them when they hide behind trees and stones, in reference to the hadith predicting a war between Muslims and Jews, during which trees and stones would call on Muslims to come kill the Jews who are hiding behind them. He also praised ISIS in Sinai for taking revenge on Russia for its bombing of Al-Raqqa. 

Abu Ahmad Al-Tunisi, a Tunisian fighter who also appeared in the video, urged the tribes in Sinai to support the mujahideen there, arguing they are working to help the local tribes; he also called on the people of Gaza to join ISIS Sinai. 

Condemnation Of Mainstream Islamists

The video by ISIS in Aleppo province, Syria, focused on condemning the Muslim Brotherhood and mainstream Salafis in Egypt for participating in the country's political process. Addressing the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the fighters who was featured in the video said: "You are the preachers for polytheism and falsehood, you are the ones who issued the fatwa for people to take part in the polytheist democracy, and you are the ones who issued the fatwa for people to vote for the pagan constitution, which puts sovereignty in the hands of the people instead of Allah." He added: "You have deceived your followers that [adhering to] democracy and entering the parliament will lead to [the implementation] of Islamic shari'a. Now, where is the shari'a, O enemies of Allah?!" He then called on them to repent. 

The video released by ISIS in Falluja province, Iraq, condemned the Saudi support for the Egyptian government, claiming that the Saudis have acted on behalf of the U.S. and Israel. Shams Al-Din Al-Masri, an Egyptian ISIS fighter who appeared in the video, said that the goal of the intended bridge between Sinai and Saudi Arabia is "to be a new source for the enemy's fire against the mujahideen in Sinai. Allah willing, it will only be the gate to conquering the land of the Peninsula, Mecca and Medina."

Poster accompanying video produced by Al-Khair province, Syria, showing the "road to Jerusalem" 

Egypt-Saudi Bridge Will Make It Easier For ISIS To Conquer The Arabian Peninsula

Al-Khair province (Dir Al-Zour), Syria, published a video titled "The Glint of Sword and Hope." The video features two main speakers – Abu Yahya Al-Homasi, and Abu 'Omar Al-Masri, who claims to be a former Egyptian soldier. The video praises ISIS Sinai, stressing that it scares Israel more than anything. The video features messages of support for ISIS Sinai and the promise that the Islamic State would soon spread towards Egypt, Bait Al-Maqdis (Jerusalem and Israel as a whole), and the Arabian Peninsula. The narrator in the video states that unlike various Palestinian factions, ISIS will not relinquish a single inch of Palestine, and that all of Palestine from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean Sea is Muslim land. 

Abu Yahya Al-Homasi stressed that he and his ISIS comrades yearn for the moment that they can fighter shoulder-to-shoulder with their colleagues in Sinai province against the Egyptian army and the Jews, in order to liberate Bait Al-Maqdis together. The speakers in the video highlight the achievements of the Sinai mujahideen, especially the downing of the Russian airliner with the 224 "infidel Russian crusaders onboard" as revenge for Russian involvement in Syria. Muslims in Sinai are called to support ISIS soldiers and join their ranks. The narrator says: "Oh, our people in Sinai, the soldiers of the Islamic State are merely your brothers and sons. They and we rose up merely to enact the laws of Allah and to prepare the weapons for the fight against the Jews, and to rid Bait Al-Maqdis of their filth. Therefore, oh sons of Sinai, gather around your sons, aid and protect them, since honor will be under their banner, while humiliation will belong to their enemies." The speakers also threaten Egyptian soldiers and Sinai tribesmen to cease their actions or be responsible for their own fate. 

Abu 'Omar Al-Masri mocks Saudi Arabia's intention to build a bridge to Egypt, claiming that it would only make it easier for ISIS in Sinai to cross to the Arabian Peninsula and liberate it from the filth of "Al-Saloul."

Abu Abdallah al-Masri.jpg
Abu Abdallah Al-Masri, speaking in Tripoli province's video

ISIS Preacher Condemns Egyptian Army "Crimes"

The video by Tripoli province, Libya, titled "Rewards Will [Eventually] Be Given To The Godfearing" features an ISIS preacher in Libya named Abu 'Abdallah Al-MAsri, who promises Sinai fighters that their sacrifice will eventually pay off and Allah will reward them with the right to enter Paradise. The video focuses on Egyptian army crimes against Sinai residents, and accordingly, Abu 'Adballah calls on ISIS fighters to continue killing the "tyrant's" soldiers and assassinate military personnel, media figures, and judges. According to him, the Egyptian army is a cowardly army whose soldiers use narcotics and violate everything that Islam forbids. At the end of the video, the narrator says: "The mujahideen will not stop until their cleanse every last inch of the filth of the tyrants and their agents. By Allah, the soldiers of the Islamic State will not abandon their people and brothers in Sinai so long as they are alive. They will continue to strike the strongholds of the infidels and Jews until Allah grants them victory, until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, and until the general Muslim public will soon be seen in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Allah willing." 

Egyptians Called To Join ISIS Sinai

The video by ISIS in Hama, Syria, was titled "A Message to our Brothers in Sinai." The vide opens with the narrator recounting the achievements of ISIS Sinai, especially the downing of the Russian airliner and the bombing of an Egyptian naval vessel. Later, the video's main speaker, Abu Al-Baraa' Al-Shami, sends messages of encouragement and support to ISIS fighters in Sinai. He stresses that the eyes and ears of the mujahideen in Syria eagerly await news of the achievements of their colleagues in Sinai. He expresses hope that they will soon unite and participate together in the victory over the enemies of Allah. Abu Al-Baraa' praises ISIS Sinai's war on "the Pharaoh of Egypt" – President Al-Sisi – and calls on it to be steadfast and patient despite their inferior numbers, since their victory is assured. He later speaks at length of the fear that ISIS fighters have caused Egyptian soldiers, causing the regime to turn to the Jews and Crusaders and ask for help. However, since they continued to suffer blows at the hands of the mujahideen, they turned to the royal family in Saudi Arabia – "the tyrant of the Arabian Peninsula." According to him, the Saudis responded, and even announced they would build a bridge connecting the Sinai and Arabian peninsulas. However, Abu Al-Baraa' says that the true purpose of this bridge is not to benefit the two countries' economies as they claim, but rathe! r in order to fight ISIS in Sinai. He later addresses all Muslims in Egypt and urges them to help their mujahideen brothers in Sinai, since they are defending their honor and property. He adds: "You have tried nonviolence and eventually tasted humiliation and suffered its results of shame and degradation. So go forth, defend your religion, and your mujahideen brothers."

Abu Al-Bara' Al-Shami

[1] The Islamic State has launched similar campaigns in recent months, which all involved a simultaneous outburst of video clips from its various provinces. For more on this, see: MEMRI Daily Brief No. 89, Opportunity Or Necessity? The Islamic State's Cluster Video Strategy, May 13, 2016.
[2] The last video to be released by the province came at the end of March. Regular video reportage from the battle fronts in Sinai, which is normally covered by ISIS's news agency A'maq, has not been seen in recent weeks, although ISIS's radio Al-Bayyan still reports regularly on its attacks. See MEMRI JTTM report, ISIS Sinai Video Documents Group's Military Training Camp, Raid On Egyptian Military Checkpoint, March 31, 2016.
[3]  For more on the importance of Sinai in the eyes of ISIS leaders, see MEMRI JTTM report, ISIS In Sinai Increases Military, Propaganda Pressure On Egypt, November 8, 2015.
[4] The relationship between Salafi-jihadis in and from Gaza and ISIS in Sinai is an ambivalent one. This ambivalence was illustrated by an open letter addressed to Al-Baghdadi by a Gazan ISIS fighter in Syria. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6334, Exclusive: Letter By ISIS Fighter To Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Reveals ISIS-Sinai's Ties To Hamas, March 2, 2016.


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