Saturday, December 14, 2019

William Barr Has Suddenly Become Chatty—and He’s Provided Quite an Information Dump - Sharyl Attkisson

by Sharyl Attkisson

Signposts indicate that we can expect a shakeup of a system that may have been broken for decades

In each of two video appearances, on NBC News and at Wall Street Journal’s “CEO Council,” Attorney General William Barr provided the same basic information and views about the U.S. intelligence community’s actions against the Trump campaign in 2016 and 2017. A criminal investigation is underway and being led by U.S. Attorney John Durham.

Barr was motivated to make the public statements, he said, by the misreporting and confusion surrounding Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s report issued on Dec. 9. It found serious government surveillance abuses but no evidence of political bias on the part of the offending FBI officials and agents.

Below are 24 points Barr felt the need to make after the release of the Horowitz report. (All of the information is attributed to Barr.)

1. Don’t expect Durham’s findings to be announced before late spring or summer 2020.

2. The FBI did spy on the Trump campaign. That’s what electronic surveillance is.

3. Regarding the FBI’s actions in surveilling Trump campaign associates, it was a “travesty” and there were “many abuses.”

4. From “day one,” the FBI investigation generated exculpatory information (tending to point to the targets’ innocence) and nothing that corroborated Russia collusion.

5. It’s a “big deal” to use U.S. law enforcement and intelligence resources to investigate the opposing political party, and I cannot think of another recent instance in which this happened.

6. Evidence to start the FBI’s investigation into Trump associates was “flimsy” from the start and based on the idea that Trump aide George Papadopoulos expressed he may have had pre-knowledge of a Democrat National Committee computer hack. However, it was actually just an offhand barroom comment by a young campaign aide described merely as a “suggestion of a suggestion, a vague allusion” to the fact that the Russians may have something they can dump. But by that time, May 2016, there was already rampant speculation online and in political circles that the Russians had hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails in 2014 and that they might surface. So the idea that Papadopoulos’s comment showed pre-knowledge of the Democratic National Committee hack and dump “is a big stretch.”

7. It was “wrong” for the FBI to presume the Trump campaign was part of a plot. They should have gone to the campaign and discussed their suspicions.

8. The normal thing to do would be to tell the campaign that there could be attempted foreign interference. There is no legitimate explanation as to why the FBI didn’t do this. The FBI’s explanation for this was that they only do “defensive briefings” if they’re certain there’s no chance they’re tipping someone off. But this simply isn’t true, isn’t plausible, and doesn’t hold water because our intelligence officials and President Barack Obama repeatedly contacted the Russians, the guilty party, to tell them to “cut it out.”

9. If the purpose were to protect the election, you would have given the Trump campaign a defensive briefing. You could have disrupted any foreign activity in time to protect the U.S. election.

10. As to the FBI’s motive, “that’s why we have Durham.” I’m not saying the motivations were improper, but it’s premature to say they weren’t.

11. The inspector general operates differently as an internal watchdog. Horowitz’s approach is to say that if people involved give reasonable explanations for what appears to be wrongdoing, and if he can’t find documentary or testimonial evidence to the contrary, he accepts it.

12. Contrary to much reporting, Horowitz didn’t rule out improper motive; he didn’t find documentary or testimonial evidence of improper motive. Those are two different things.

13. Instead of talking to the Trump campaign, the FBI secretly “wired up” sources and had them talk to four people affiliated with the Trump campaign, in August, September, and October 2016.

14. All of the information from this surveillance came back exculpatory regarding any supposed relationship to Russia and specific facts. But the FBI didn’t inform the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court, which approved wiretaps against former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page four times.

15. At one point early on, the FBI didn’t have enough probable cause for a wiretap warrant, so it took the “Steele dossier” information against Trump, “which they’d done nothing to verify,” and used that to get the wiretaps.

16. The wiretaps allowed the FBI to go back and capture Page’s communications, emails, and other material from weeks, months, and even years ago.

17. Should the four FBI applications to wiretap Trump campaign aide Carter Page have ever been made, considering there were 17 critical omissions or errors by the FBI making it appear they had better evidence than they had? This is the meat of the issue, and “if you spend time to look at what happened, you’d be appalled.”

18. The FBI withheld from the court all of the exculpatory information and the lack of reliability of the main FBI source, Christopher Steele, who was being paid by the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign to find evidence connecting Trump to Russia.

19. The major takeaway is that after the election in January, the FBI finally talked to one of Steele’s important sources to try to verify some of the “dossier” information and sourcing, as they’re required to do. This Steele source told the FBI he didn’t know what Steele was talking about in the dossier, and that he’d told Steele that the information he’d provided was “supposition” and “theory.” At that point, “it was clear the dossier was a sham.” Yet the FBI didn’t tell the court, and continued to get wiretaps based on the dossier.

20. Further, the FBI falsely told the court that Steele’s source had been proven reliable and truthful. In fact, what the source had told the truth about was that “the dossier was garbage.” It’s hard to look at this “and not think it was gross abuse.”

21. Were the four Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act judges who approved the four wiretaps against Trump associate Carter Page badly misled by the FBI? Yes.

22. Are people going to be held accountable, including at the very top of our intelligence agencies and FBI? Well, they’re all gone.

23. The whole Russia collusion hype was a “bogus narrative hyped by an irresponsible press” that proved entirely false in the end.

Are former FBI Director James Comey and former FBI official Andy McCabe and others implicated in the Durham investigation? I think there was a failure of leadership in that group. Quoting the inspector general, the explanations he received “were not satisfactory. You can draw your own conclusions.”

24. Why haven’t we already thrown people in prison? “These things take time.” The government has to have proof beyond a reasonable doubt before we indict; it’s a substantial hurdle. Nobody is going to be indicted and go to jail unless that standard is met.

In his interviews this week, Barr provided a treasure trove of information about what stands to be one of the most important investigations into our U.S. intelligence community of our time. His signposts indicate that we can expect a shakeup of a system that may have been broken for decades.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Sharyl Attkisson


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Nadler's Frightening Abuse of Power - Daniel John Sobieski

by Daniel John Sobieski

Nadler’s frightening solution to alleged Trump-encouraged foreign interference in our election is to ignore the voters.

When the Dear Leader of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler, said that this was too important a matter to trust to the voters in the next election, he and his ilk gave us a frightening preview of the Gulag into which they would put We the People, should they gain full control of the government.

They wrap themselves up in the Constitution but conveniently forget the first three words. They forget that the Constitution establishes three branches of government, not two. But they have no time for the courts to rule on disputed documents and privileged conversations. They call the President a dictator, yet can’t wait for the next election. That election would be tainted and corrupt, don’t ya know. Any election Trump might win would be "tainted" by definition. Look at all those Ukrainians and Russians who attend Trump rallies. And isn’t red the color of communism?

They quote the Founders profusely yet despise the Electoral College those they once called a collection of misogynistic slave-owning old white guys created to prevent just the kind of tyranny of the majority we see today. If a national popular vote is such a good thing, why don’t they select their presidential nominee that way, instead of choosing delegates state-by-state just as we choose presidential electors? They don’t want democracy. They want mob rule by their mob.

The old adage about grand juries needs to be updated in the age of Nadler, Schiff, and Pelosi for under their new rules it is now also possible to impeach a ham sandwich. All you need is an agenda-driven House majority that won’t accept the results of the last election and voila! -- or whatever the equivalent is in Ukrainian -- you can impeach a duly elected President of the United States because of personal animus against him and his policies. The Democrats constantly claim Republicans want to disenfranchise voters but they want to disenfranchise the entire country because the voters elected a Republican according to the rules in the Constitution. Voting rights, anyone?

Nadler’s frightening solution to alleged Trump-encouraged foreign interference in our election is to ignore the voters and not wait till the next stinkin’ election:
“We agree that when the elections themselves are threatened by enemies foreign or domestic, we cannot wait until the next election to address the threat."
At least that’s what the Democrats agree. Hey, they got 23 votes on an impeachment committee so who cares about the 63 million voters who voted for Donald Trump and gave him a landslide electoral victory? Nadler and the Democrats’ contempt for the American people and our democracy is seen in their own words and actions:
"We cannot rely on an election to solve our problems, when the president threatens the very integrity of that election," House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said in his opening statement, claiming Trump's discussions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky about Joe and Hunter Biden's dealings in the country, and the White House's temporary withholding of military aid to Ukraine, constituted an "urgent" threat to national security.
Funny, that’s what most Americans thought elections were for -- to throw the rascals out when needed. The Democrats, not the Ukrainians or Russians are the ones interfering and tampering with our elections by saying we don’t need them or the opinions of those deplorable voters:
The Democrats believe that the 2020 election is too important to be left to the voters.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said on “Meet the Press” last weekend that Trump has to be impeached “for posing the considerable risk that he poses to the next election.” Asked if he thinks the 2020 election will be on the up and up, he said: “I don’t know. The president, based on his past performance, will do everything he can to make it not a fair election.”
Elections endangered? Don’t hold them! One of the two so-called articles of impeachment was the withholding of documents and records of conversations under executive privilege. That was supposed to constitute obstruction of Congress. Nadler reminded us that Nixon turned over the Watergate tapes. But that was after the Supreme Court ruled that he surrender them, noting that executive privilege is not absolute but neither is Congress’ right to ask for stuff. Congress must go to court and make its case.

The Founders established three branches of government, not two, as token defense witness Prof. Jonathan Turley so eloquently put it. Disputes between the legislative and executive branches were to be settled by the courts, but Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler have no time for the courts. If Congress wants documents and testimony and the White House refuses, take it to court. This is no more obstruction of Congress than a Presidential veto of a bill is. It is not grounds for impeachment.

Abuse of power? Obstruction of Congress? It is Nadler et al who are guilty if abuse or power, as Prof. Turley testified before Rep. Nadler and his irrelevant House Judiciary Committee:
Constitutional scholar and George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley told lawmakers on Wednesday during the Trump impeachment inquiry hearing that it would be an abuse of their power to impeach President Trump.
Appearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Turley accused lawmakers of doing “precisely” what they’re condemning Trump for doing and urged the committee to respect the separation of powers during the process or risk abusing their positions.
“I can’t emphasize this enough and I’ll say it just one more time: If you impeach a president, if you make a high crime and misdemeanor out of going to the courts; it is an abuse of power,” Turley said. “It’s your abuse of power.”
A highlight of Nadler’s inquisition was when freshman, and possibly one term, Dem. Rep. Madeleine Dean gave an Orwellian reading of the Constitution:
And Rep. Madeleine Dean, a freshman Democrat, noted that the Constitution grants the House the “sole” power of impeachment, “not shared with the executive.”
“It’s a civics lesson,” Dean said. “Don’t let the other side, who have such talented constitutional attorneys over there, distract you.”
“We do not need permission from the president, we do not need permission from the courts. In fact, we have an obligation to do our job under this simple, smart document,” she continued, holding up a copy of the Constitution.
Yes, Rep. Dean, you do need permission from the courts regarding claims of executive privilege. The Constitution you waved says so. In the short time it will take the Senate to throw out your puny articles of impeachment, you can actually get to read it.

Daniel John Sobieski is a former editorial writer for Investor’s Business Daily and freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Human Events, Reason Magazine, and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.


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Germany vs. Muslim Criminal Clans - Stephen Brown

by Stephen Brown

Welcome to the tearing apart of German social fabric.

It’s a story for which police have no solution.

Since the beginning of the year until last October there have been 237 police actions against mostly Muslim Arab and Kurdish criminal clans in Berlin alone. In the last one, 400 federal policemen searched clan members’ residences and business premises.

Clan criminality involves itself in Shisha-Bars, gambling offices and amusement arcades. But their more illegal activities concern protection money, bodily injury, extortion, drug dealing, money-laundering, control of the red-light scene, making false documents, murder and contract murders.
A senior state prosecutor stated that there are 20 to 25 clans in Berlin of whom seven to eight are criminal. All areas of Berlin are affected as well as all German states. Each clan also has hundreds of members with most living from welfare.

“Their male members play a considerable roll in drug dealing and red-light criminality,” stated a state prosecutor. “However, there are also family members who are quiet that support the criminal structure.

Besides their usual areas of illegal activity, clans commit sometimes spectacular crimes. One was the theft of a 100 kg gold coin from a museum. Another was the breaking into of 100 safety deposit boxes.

After these crimes, it came up that a brother, who lived on welfare, of one of the criminals bought several condominiums. This caused police to begin “an intensive investigation.”

The police are helped by a new law introduced in Germany in July, 2017. According to this law, the clans must prove they acquired property and wealth legally instead of the other way around. The police can now seize property believed to have been illegally obtained. Many properties have since been seized by the state. In Italy, this has proven to be the most effective method to fight the mafia. But clan profits are also invested abroad.

Last March, the cities of Ludwigshafen and Mannheim also experienced large raids by about 600 police, tax and customs officials against Muslim criminal clans at 70 different places. There were also raids in the states of Hesse, Baden-Wurttemburg and Rhineland-Westphalia. These criminal clans, like many others in Germany, are suspected of having criminal connections around Germany, in other European countries and internationally.But the German newspaper Die Welt states that little is known about their international connections.

In the state of North Rhineland-Westphalia alone, police believe there are 108 criminal clans, who committed 14,225 crimes the last three years. Among them are 6,449 criminally suspect persons of whom 300 are responsible for about a third of the crimes. Every fifth suspect is also a woman, according to Die Welt. In the smaller North German city of Bremen live about 2,500 clan members who commit 900 crimes per year, about 3 per day.

The clans stem mostly from Lebanon and their “core”members came to Germany about 30-40 years ago during the civil war there. They smuggle boys, called “little bullet boys,” in from their “expanded” clans in Lebanon, who must sell 10,000 Euros in heroin to cover the cost of their smuggling. The boys are 12 to 16 years old and their parents go along with it because they send money home.

“Because they are so young, they don’t go to jail. That is their value. If they are convicted, there are enough reinforcements,” says writer Yassin Musharbash. “For the string-pullers, it is almost risk free – and the profits are tremendous.”

The greatest advantage the clans have and “their most important capital” is their sticking together. That is “the knowledge that one can, in no matter what life situation, rely on one another.” Clan members never testify against one another, states one report. They would rather incriminate themselves.

“They know what one can do with this. Breaking the law is easier and the fights against rivals more effective when one can count on one another,” states German writer Werner von Berber.

According to Die Welt, the clan problem “has grown enormously the last ten years.” One of the reasons is the high clan birth rate. Each woman has about eight children, some 10 to 15, in some cases 19.

“Before the mother has her last child, she is already a grandmother,” states a story in North German Radio. “For this reason, clans grow at breath-taking speed.”

In her book ‘The End of Patience,’ former youth court judge Kirsten Heisig states that these clans are also very dangerous.

“When the drug or other illegal business is disturbed by another clan from another ethnic background, then the problem is solved by killing, or at least trying to,” Hiesig wrote. One story states the young men of these clans “again and again” have fought one another.

Even when one wants to remove an abused child from a clan home there is danger.

‘One cannot take by force a child from an Arab clan,” Heisig states. “The families will shoot those who try.”

Sending these families back to their country of origin is also a “dead issue,” according to Heisig. She states there are already second and third generation members in Germany.

Heisig was found hanging from a tree in a Berlin forest. The police ruled her death a suicide but her colleagues believe Muslim criminal clans may have been responsible because she was giving harsh sentences to their young members. Several judges and prosecutors in Germany live under police protection, fearing clan revenge.

Clans have also tried infiltrating the police. One member of the police academy was accused of having contacts with a criminal clan while a student of Arab background doing an internship at a police station was caught photographing files of a Muslim clan she sent to an unknown recipient. The police union has warned of “targeted infiltration” of the public service.

“They attempt to keep certain family members from criminal acts in order to bring them into public service,” stated Die Welt.

The challenge to the state based on the rule of law by these Muslim criminal clans is a large and growing problem. No mafia organization, as is well known, respects the state based on laws.

Udo Ulfkotte wrote in his book ‘Beware! Civil War’ that the problem with the Muslim criminal clans, and with Muslim immigration in general, is that Islamic culture has simply different civilizational standards. This has caused, he writes, “a fall of values that leads to the state order not being accepted anymore.”

The president of the police union of Essen goes even further and states that the Muslim criminal clans see the German state only as “prey.”

Everyone realizes, however, that the clans represent a total failure at integration. Essen’s police union president says integration has ;“driven direct into a wall” here, saying many members don’t want to integrate. They live in their own parallel criminal societies and have little to do with German society.

“They destroy the trust in the legal state and undermine state structures…,” stated one politician.

Many Germans believe the apparent powerlessness of the state against these Muslim criminal clans is “shameful.”

“What kind of a state, based on law, is that where such families can do what they want,’ posted a commentator to the North German Radio story.

Unfortunately, no solution appears in sight to this tearing apart of the German social fabric, although German politicians of all parties are very concerned about the problem.

“The police union has scarcely any hope for a solution of the problem,” states Die Welt.

Stephen Brown


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Iran's Plan to Foil the Gaza Ceasefire - Khaled Abu Toameh

by Khaled Abu Toameh

This is how Iran's leaders see the situation: "We are not sending these groups and militias cash and guns so that they can strike ceasefire deals."

  • The protesters are saying, in other words, that the Iranian people are fed up watching their country deliver hundreds of millions of dollars to Palestinian and Lebanese terrorist groups instead of improving the economic situation in Iran.
  • Iran is apparently determined to pursue its goal of exporting its "Islamic Revolution" to as many Arab countries as possible, including the Palestinian arena. Another Iranian goal: the elimination of Israel.
  • This is how Iran's leaders see the situation: "We are not sending these groups and militias cash and guns so that they can strike ceasefire deals."
  • That is why it is safe to assume that even if the Egyptians manage to secure any kind of a ceasefire between the Palestinian groups and Israel, the leaders of Tehran will do their utmost to obstruct such an agreement.

This is how Iran's leaders see their relations with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad: "We are not sending these groups and militias cash and guns so that they can strike ceasefire deals. As long as we're supplying them with money and weapons, they must do anything we want." Pictured: A senior Hamas delegation, headed by military leader Saleh Arouri, meets with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during a visit to Iran, July 22, 2019. (Image source:

Iran seems concerned that its Palestinian allies in the Gaza Strip may reach a long-term ceasefire with Israel. That is probably why Iran summoned leaders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) to Tehran after reports in the Arab media suggested that the Egyptians have made significant progress in their efforts to achieve a long-term ceasefire between the Gaza-based Palestinian factions, including Hamas and PIJ.

According to the reports, the leaders of Hamas and PIJ who visited Cairo agreed to a long-term ceasefire with Israel. Both groups reportedly told the Egyptians that they would commit to the proposed ceasefire only if Israel halts targeted killings of Hamas and PIJ operatives.

Despite the reports, PIJ officials were quoted as denying that they had agreed to "consolidate" the ceasefire understandings reached with Israel earlier this year under the auspices of Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations. The PIJ leaders reportedly informed the Egyptian mediators that while they were opposed to a long-term ceasefire with Israel, they would honor a formula according to which "calm would be met with calm." What PIJ is saying, in other words, is that they will attack Israel only in response to Israeli "aggression" on the Gaza Strip.

Hamas has also denied the reports about an imminent Egyptian-brokered long-term ceasefire with Israel. Yahya Musa, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, dismissed the reports as "nonsense" and "fake news."

Another senior Hamas official, Mahmoud Zahar, downplayed the reports about a possible long-term ceasefire with Israel. He said that even if his group agrees to a temporary cessation of terror attacks against Israel, that would be only to allow Hamas to continue stockpiling weapons. "There's no ignoring our main goal: the liberation of all of Palestine," Zahar explained. "Whoever tries to portray the calm as a form of security cooperation or agreement with the [Israeli] enemy is mistaken."

The statements by the Hamas and PIJ leaders contradict the sense of optimism voiced by the Egyptians after the ceasefire discussions in Cairo in the past week.

The Egyptian optimism is apparently based on what Cairo's senior intelligence officials heard from Hamas and PIJ during closed door meetings. Both groups reportedly assured the Egyptians that the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip are interested in preserving the ceasefire understandings with Israel.

Yet, the moment the Hamas and PIJ leaders left Cairo earlier this week, they appeared to recant the announcement. They categorically denied the reports and claimed that "significant progress" had been reached towards achieving a long-term ceasefire with Israel.

Is it possible that the two groups lied to the Egyptians by leading them to believe that Hamas and PIJ are keen on a prolonged period of calm with Israel? Or is there another reason why Hamas and PIJ are now telling everyone that they never agreed to the Egyptian ceasefire proposal?

There is only one explanation as to why Hamas and PIJ seem to be in a panic: fear of Iran's response to any deal with Israel. Hamas and PIJ have long been receiving financial, political and military aid from Iran so that they could continue the jihad against Israel. Obviously, Iran cannot afford to lose its Palestinian proxies, particularly not when Tehran's militiamen and political agents are increasing their activities in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

A PIJ delegation headed by the group's secretary general, Ziyad al-Nakhalah, is now on its way to Tehran, where its members are expected to assure the Iranian leaders that, as a result of the discussions in Cairo, they have not abandoned the fight against Israel.

Iran's main objective is evidently to ensure that Hamas and PIJ will continue to serve as its trusted agents in its war against Israel. Arab political analysts believe the Iranians are now seeking to retaliate for Israeli airstrikes on pro-Iranian militias and bases in Iraq and Syria.

"Iran wants to use the Palestinian Islamic Jihad rockets as a response to Israel's missile attacks on pro-Iranian militias in Syria and Iraq," said Arab political analyst Abdel Moneim Ibrahim. "At the same time, however, Iran does not want to expand the scope of military confrontation to a point where Israel would target bases of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard inside Iran. The biggest tragedy in this game between Israel and Iran and its proxy in the Gaza Strip is that there are dozens of innocent Palestinians dying in every confrontation."

Iran's policy seems to be keeping the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip on a low flame.

That policy means a slow drip of rockets attacking Israel from the Gaza Strip every now and then, while making sure that the violence does not deteriorate into an all-out war in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.

The Iranians are well aware that such a war could result in the total destruction of its proxies in the Gaza Strip, while sporadic rocket attacks will only draw a restrained response from Israel.

The Iranian plan to foil a long-term ceasefire in the Gaza Strip may also be seen as part of Tehran's effort to divert attention from the widespread protests that have erupted in Iran in recent weeks. Dozens of protesters have been killed during demonstrations against a fuel subsidy cut.

What is probably most disturbing for Iran's leaders are the slogans some of the protesters have been shouting: "No to Gaza, no to Lebanon."

These slogans are directed against Iran's financial support for Hamas and PIJ in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon. The protesters are saying, in other words, that the Iranian people are fed up watching their country deliver hundreds of millions of dollars to Palestinian and Lebanese terrorist groups instead of improving the economic situation in Iran.

Palestinians say that in addition to the financial and military aid to Hamas and PIJ, Iran has also been funding various projects in the Gaza Strip, including building new homes and paying stipends to families of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel for their involvement in terrorism against Israelis.

Palestinian political analyst Mohammed Anabtawi believes that the Iranian aid is aimed at "sabotaging" Egypt's efforts to achieve a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and "driving a wedge" between Hamas and the President Mahmoud Abbas's West Bank-based Palestinian Authority. "If Iran was sincere about its aid, it would have channeled it through the Palestinian Authority," Anabtawi said. "But this is politically motivated aid with an agenda that does not serve the interests of the Palestinians. Iran is playing the Gaza card as part of its conflicts in other parts of the world."

Iran is apparently determined to pursue its goal of exporting its "Islamic Revolution" to as many Arab countries as possible, including the Palestinian arena. Another Iranian goal: the elimination of Israel.

Iran can achieve its goal only if its proxies and militias continue to meddle in the internal affairs of the Arab countries and launch more attacks against Israel.

This is how Iran's leaders see the situation: "We are not sending these groups and militias cash and guns so that they can strike ceasefire deals. As long as we're supplying them with money and weapons, they must do anything we want."

That is why it is safe to assume that even if the Egyptians manage to secure any kind of a ceasefire between the Palestinian groups and Israel, the leaders of Tehran will do their utmost to obstruct such an agreement.
  • Follow Khaled Abu Toameh on Twitter

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.


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Like in Europe, America's Broken Asylum System Enables Islamist Infiltration - Todd Bensman

by Todd Bensman

What Terrorist Migration Over European Borders Can Teach About American Border Security

Originally published under the title "Part III: Like in Europe, America's Broken Asylum System Enables Terrorist Infiltration Over the U.S.-Mexico Border."

On September 30, 2017, a Somali immigrant who initially had himself smuggled over the Mexico-California border conducted a double vehicle ramming and stabbing attack, carrying an ISIS flag, that left a police officer and four others gravely injured in Edmonton, Alberta.

But Abdulahi Hasan Sharif arguably would never have been present in Canada for his melee had he not been able to claim one of America's most indulgent and abused immigration benefits: political asylum. Simply asking a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at the border for asylum sets in motion a process that guarantees most foreign strangers legal entry into the United States for as long as processing takes, which can amount to years.

That's exactly what Sharif did as soon as he crossed from Tijuana to the San Ysidro port of entry on July 12, 2011 after a long smuggler-led journey from Somalia. It didn't matter that Sharif's claim was not granted; it got him in and free to lodge a more successful Canadian claim in January 2012. Within 36 months, Canadian intelligence was interviewing Sharif for espousing genocidal Islamist beliefs, and we know what happened later in Edmonton.

Abdulahi Hasan Sharif's asylum claim, though ultimately rejected, got him in the U.S. Six years later, he carried out an ISIS-inspired terror attack in Canada.
We also now know that Sharif's use of the asylum system to access what, for any foreign-born jihadist, would be a target-rich dreamland, is far from a one-off.

New research published by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which examined the extent of border-infiltrating migrant-terrorist attacks in the European Union, shows that dozens exploited overwhelmed asylum systems, similar to U.S. ones even in non-crisis times, to gain legal entry into targetable nations and time to radicalize, plot, and conduct attacks.

As reported in Part I and Part II of this series from the CIS study, a new terror travel tactic of illicit cross-border migration in Europe – and the complementary role of asylum law – hold learnable lessons for American land border and immigration security. Chief among these is how a deeply dysfunctional American asylum system, left unreformed and administered without considering security, can enable the same kind of death and destruction experienced by Europe in recent years – and in Edmonton.

How Europe's Asylum Laws Killed

The CIS study What Terrorist Migration Over European Borders Can Teach About American Border Security established that many of the 104 terrorists known to have infiltrated Europe's borders with migrant caravans between 2014 and 2018 applied for asylum and, by doing so, acquired the necessities of time and access to incubate plots or carry them out.

Before Europe's migrant crisis in 2014, European Union member states followed common procedures for granting asylum and temporary international protection to people ostensibly fleeing persecution or harm back home. Not including appeals, six months was the recommended guideline for adjudicating applications before the crisis, with legal residence and even government financial support provided during the wait.

Administrative asylum processes rarely ferret out terrorists.
By early 2015, though, hundreds of thousands of migrants from Muslim-majority countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, arriving at the EU's southern and eastern borders, were overwhelming the system. This dramatically extended processing and wait times. In the 55 migrant-terrorism cases for which there was sufficient data, the average time between a border entry and attack or arrest was 11 months.

But even the EU's pre-crisis six months offered plenty of time for plotting and attacking, including 17 in under three months. Importantly, administrative asylum processes rarely discovered terrorists, indicating that bureaucrats with the closest interactions were neither trained nor interested in detecting the malevolent among the benevolent.

Jaber al-Bakr (left) and Leeth Abdalhameed.
For instance, Germany approved the asylum claim of Syrian ISIS migrant Jaber al-Bakr in five months. Then, due to roommates diming him out, police arrested al-Bakr in the advanced stages of planning an ISIS-connected bomb attack using 1.5 kg. of explosives found in his apartment. In another case, German police arrested Syrian asylum seeker and mid-level ISIS commander Leeth Abdalhameed within two weeks of his arrival. Abdalhameed applied for asylum under a false name and avoided providing his fingerprints. He was only arrested after a fellow refugee informed police of his past work as a mid-level commander who smuggled money, medicine and ammunition for the terrorist group in Syria.

Plenty of other migrant-terrorists involved in actual attacks and plots took advantage of extended process delays caused by high claim volumes. In 15 cases, the time lapse exceeded 15 months. One such case was Afghan asylum seeker "Jawad S.," who arrived in Germany as an unaccompanied 16-year-old in November 2015. It took 18 months for German authorities to reject his asylum claim in August 2017 on unknown grounds, but he was able to stay pending an appeal. Two years and nine months after arriving, a film about how artists in the Netherlands ridiculed Prophet Mohammed triggered Jawad S. to travel to Amsterdam, where he stabbed two American tourists in revenge.

A Terrorist-Accommodating American Asylum System

The problem is that, even in the best of times, the U.S. asylum system, severely dysfunctional, if not completely broken, would easily accommodate migrant-terrorists and discover none. Smugglers who specialize in transporting migrants the long distances from Muslim-majority countries learn the U.S. system as well as any immigration lawyer so they can best abuse it.

Sharif's route from Somalia to Canada.
Terrorists like Sharif would likely travel among the nearly 4,000 migrants from Muslim-majority countries who are apprehended annually at the U.S. southern border, most of them claiming political asylum. To proceed, claims of persecution go through an initial "credible fear" screening interview by federal officers and, if approved there, as a majority were for years until very recently, move on to an immigration judge for a merit hearing.

The vast majority of credible fear interview screenings, above 90 percent, have been positive, which contributed to vast hearing backlogs and time for any plotting or radicalization that far exceeds what developed in Europe. The backlog, for instance, grew to more than 800,000 by January 2019, with the average wait time of about 19 months to see a judge. By September 2019, the backlog had topped one million. Plenty of time for terrorist plot gestation or radicalization with little risk of detection.

The motive to commit asylum fraud is powerful. The professional smugglers who transport migrants from higher risk Muslim-majority countries literally embroider U.S. asylum system deficiencies into their very business models. After all, it is neither in the interest of the smuggler nor migrant customers who might lose tens of thousands in fees were they to lose asylum and be deported.

Court records examined in a study of this kind of smuggling show these smugglers to be highly versed in how pass the credible fear screen and later gain approval by judges. Such smugglers coach their clients in fraudulent persecution stories and in the kinds of information to withhold from American adjudicators.

For example, the Mexico City-based Nepalese smuggler Rakhi Gauchan, prior to her 2013 arrest, coached most of her Pakistani and Bangladeshi clients to tell American immigration officials that they belonged to certain persecuted political parties then in asylum vogue and not to disclose disqualifying information about asylum denials in other countries. She would critique their "life story" and suggest how to make the story more compelling.

Bogus stories, omitted information and huge backlogs would work in a terrorist's favor perhaps even better in the United States than in Europe. A Congressional Research Service report recognized that terrorists from countries of "special concern, (i.e., Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia) would seek to hide fraudulent asylum claims like these among the hundreds of thousands of pending cases."

Like European asylum, the American system rarely ferrets out potential terrorist actors or fraud. Almost repetitive Government Accountability Office investigations dating to at least 2008 find the U.S. does virtually nothing to detect asylum fraud. In 2014, four Republican congressmen asked the GAO to investigate the asylum process after a leaked DHS report showed that up to 70 percent of cases contained proven or possible fraud.

A 2015 GAO investigation found that U.S. Attorneys won't prosecute asylum fraud and that this trickles down to ICE investigators who become disinclined to investigate and send referrals.

This isn't just my assessment, either.
The Trump administration has corrected some of the worst asylum law deficiencies.
The asylum system was regarded as so vulnerable to terrorist infiltration that DHS's 2008-2013 threat assessment's "highest level of concern" was that "terrorists will attempt to defeat border security measures with the goal of inserting operatives and establishing support networks in the United States" by posing as "refugees or asylum seekers ... from countries of special interest for terrorism."

President Donald Trump in recent months has taken steps to correct some of the worst asylum law deficiencies, such as reducing carte blanch credible fear approvals. But these measures appear aimed mainly at Central American entrants. Whether this administration or the ones that follow Trump apply fixes to border entrants from Muslim-majority countries is a question the country will surely be asking when America experiences more Sharifs, or what Europe is still suffering through right now.

Todd Bensman is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and a senior national security fellow for the Center for Immigration Studies. He previously led counterterrorism-related intelligence efforts for the Texas Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division.


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Sweden: Confronting Reality - Judith Bergman

by Judith Bergman

Responsibility for years of ill-conceived policies -- and the inability to address the problems -- is shared by many

  • One problem is that the Swedish state itself contributes indirectly to the spread of extremism. The Swedish Security Service (Säpo) has found that a "relatively large" number of organizations with links to violent extremism have been using Sweden's state and municipal grant systems, which Säpo says could "contribute to radicalization and thus growth in extremist environments in Sweden."
  • According to Säpo, individuals from Islamist groups are using public-funded schools, cultural associations and foundations as platforms to spread extremist ideology within Sweden.
  • "Of course, the segregation, exclusion and long-standing uncontrolled immigration that is now driving serious crime did not suddenly arise. Responsibility for years of ill-conceived policies -- and the inability to address the problems -- is shared by many.... [I]t is quite clear that gang criminality, shootings and executions are strongly linked to excessive immigration and to bad integration. How can you even pretend anything else?" -- Ulf Kristersson, leader of the Moderate Party, Facebook, November 17, 2019
  • The question now is how the Moderate Party will transform Kristersson's apology into "concrete political action" that can stop Swedish reality from deteriorating even further.

Back in February and March 2017 BBC News ran a number of articles about Trump's much vilified remarks about Sweden, including one with the headline, "Trump's wrong, it's 'quiet and safe' in Malmo." One article in particular, "All eyes on Malmo but not because of Trump" painted an idyllic picture of the lives of expats in Malmö. It spoke, among others, about a young American woman working in Malmö, Susanna Lewis, in the following way:
"As a woman, she is also used to being prepared and watchful as she walks alone in other places, yet she does not feel afraid in Malmö city centre or its outer suburbs".
The article went on to quote her: "I never have had that fear in Sweden. This is the safest place I've ever lived."

Now, however, even the BBC appears to have discovered that Sweden suffers from serious problems. In November, the BBC published an article headlined, "Sweden's 100 explosions this year: What's going on?"

"Swedish police are dealing with unprecedented levels of attacks, targeting city centre locations too. The bomb squad was called to deal with 97 explosions in the first nine months of this year," the BBC wrote. It even quoted Linda H. Straaf, head of intelligence at Sweden's National Operations Department, about the identity of the men behind the explosions and gang violence:
"They have grown up in Sweden and they are from socio-economically weak groups, socio-economically weak areas, and many are perhaps second- or third-generation immigrants".
It is significant that one of the world's largest mainstream media organizations finally engages with Swedish reality, and attempts accurately to describe it.

Swedish reality, unfortunately, continues to deteriorate. Last month, a 15-year-old was shot to death and another teenager seriously wounded in a pizzeria in Malmö. That incident appears to have been a turning point. "We have seen a weekend in Malmö that is unacceptable, with an execution-like murder," said Mats Löfving, head of the Swedish police's National Operations Department. He announced that police would be launching a six-month nation-wide operation against the wave of gang-related violence and explosions. The operation would mainly work towards four goals.

"What we want to achieve is that shootings and explosions in the gang environments will be significantly reduced. Secondly that the number of people involved in criminal networks should be reduced by the use of coercive measures", said Stefan Hector, who will be leading the operation.

The last two objectives are to increase the number of seizures of weapons and explosive components, and to make the public feel more secure.

The last objective, making the public feel more secure, will prove to be a formidable task. Last month, a teenager was forced into a garage by a gang of ten people, robbed of everything but his underwear and had part of his ear cut off. The incident took place in a usually peaceful area in the city of Gothenburg. Also in Gothenburg last month, a man who missed the tram at a station threw stones at the tram driver, injuring him and smashing several windows, according to police. In addition, a young woman, waiting at a bus stop in Malmö, suffered life-threatening injuries after being hit repeatedly over the head with a plank by a 21-year old man, Ibrahim Ramadan.

While random Swedes are experiencing an unprecedented wave of brutal violence, a recent report, "Hate Crimes 2018" by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (BRÅ) showed that antisemitic crimes in the country increased by 53% from 2016 to 2018. There were 278 hate crimes against Jews in 2018. There are approximately 20,000 Jews in Sweden. By comparison, BRÅ registered 562 hate crimes against Muslims, an increase of 28% from 2016. There were roughly 800,000 Muslims in Sweden in 2016, according to a 2017 Pew report.

Although BRÅ's report does not mention who the perpetrators of the antisemitic crimes were, there are significant clues in a report, "Antisemitism - Overview of data available in the European Union 2007–2017," published in November 2018 by the EU's Agency for Fundamental Rights. The report quoted the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) stating that, in 2017:
"The main perpetrators of antisemitic incidents are 'Islamists' and radicalised young Muslims, including schoolchildren, as well as neo-Nazis and sympathisers of extreme-right and, in some cases, extreme-left groups".
Neo-Nazis are suspected of having orchestrated what appears to be coordinated acts against Jewish institutions and private homes on the anniversary of Kristallnacht on November 9 in Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway. In Sweden, stickers in the form of yellow Stars of David with the words "Jude" were put on the facades of synagogues in Stockholm, Gothenburg, Norrköping and Helsingborg. In Denmark, similar acts took place, but on the homes of some Jews. The headstones in an old Jewish cemetery in the Danish city of Randers were also vandalized with green paint. A leading Danish member of the neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement, also known as Nordfront (Northern Front), and a 27-year old accomplice were arrested for vandalizing the graveyard. As of this writing, no other arrests have been made.

One problem is that the Swedish state itself contributes indirectly to the spread of extremism. The Swedish Security Service (Säpo) has found that a "relatively large" number of organizations with links to violent extremism have been using Sweden's state and municipal grant systems, which Säpo says could "contribute to radicalization and thus growth in extremist environments in Sweden."

The report found that both left-wing, right-wing, and Islamist extremist groups had taken advantage of state aid. However, according to Johan Olsson, the Operational Manager at Säpo, "Right now we see that the problem is greatest in the violent Islamist environment." According to Säpo, individuals from Islamist groups are using public-funded schools, cultural associations and foundations as platforms to spread extremist ideology within Sweden.

The consequences of these developments are that: In a recent poll, the Sweden Democrats are now the largest party in Sweden with 24% of the vote -- a record number. The Sweden Democrats say, among other things, that they want "to stop receiving asylum seekers in Sweden", as well as "sharpen the requirements to become Swedish citizens". The Sweden Democrats also want to introduce, among other things, "wide-ranging penalties and, in particular, raise the minimum penalty for repeated and serious crimes". They also want to introduce "compulsory expulsion of grossly criminal foreigners and the possibility to recall citizenship in case of terrorist offenses". The ruling Social Democrats, who are not doing anything about the problems and are letting Sweden disintegrate, are at a historical low with a mere 22.2% of the vote. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has previously called the Sweden Democrats "an extremist and racist party".

It is possible that these consequences were one of the reasons why Ulf Kristersson, leader of one of the main opposition parties, the Moderate Party, on November 17, in an unusual move, apologized on Facebook to those Swedes who criticized Swedish immigration policies over the years:
"Of course, the segregation, exclusion and long-standing uncontrolled immigration that is now driving serious crime did not suddenly arise. Responsibility for years of ill-conceived policies -- and the inability to address the problems -- is shared by many. Also, by my party, the Moderates...
"First and foremost: It is completely wrong that this development could not have been predicted. Many warned of it already in the 1990 's... and many other voices took off in the 2000's.
"Since then, the voices have become many... the problems of large-scale immigration and poor integration – and the long-term risks of deep exclusion, strong social tensions and serious crime – have been raised by many and with constructive intentions. So, the development has been predicted to a very high degree. But too many people in politics disregarded this for too long...
"Secondly, the Moderate Party frankly acknowledges that we share the responsibility. We too should have acted at an earlier stage, clearer and in a more powerful way. And to the extent that my party has helped to revile and freeze out the voices that wanted and dared to raise the problems, they deserve my and my party's unreserved apology.
"Looking back and learning from mistakes... is therefore necessary. But not enough. We must also take responsibility through clear political rethinking and concrete action.
"For what [Prime Minister] Stefan Löfven cannot see at all, almost everyone sees: it is quite clear that gang criminality, shootings and executions are strongly linked to excessive immigration and to bad integration. How can you even pretend anything else?"
These are forceful words coming from the leader of a party whose predecessor, Frederik Reinfeldt -- prime minister of Sweden from 2006 to 2014 and chairman of the Moderate Party from 2003 to 2015 -- urged Swedes in 2014 to "Open your hearts" to the refugees of the world.

The question now is how the Moderate Party will transform Kristersson's apology into "concrete political action" that can stop Swedish reality from deteriorating even further.

Judith Bergman, a columnist, lawyer and political analyst, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.


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