ISIS released a new issue its Dabiq magazine with content so fresh it covered the March 18 Bardo Museum attack in Tunisia and bragged of their destruction of ancient Assyrian “idols.” Titled “Shari’ah alone will rule Africa,” the issue also highlighted Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State and ISIS’ efforts in “the Libyan arena.” And it singled out former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.):
Those quotes are from a Feb. 27 appearance on Fox News’ The Kelly File.
One person was killed and another injured this morning when a car tried to go through the security checkpoint at the National Security Agency gate.
According to a statement from NSA Director for Strategic Communication Jonathan Freed, a vehicle with “two individuals attempted an unauthorized entry” just before 9 a.m.
“The vehicle failed to stop and barriers were deployed,” Freed said. “The vehicle accelerated toward an NSA Police vehicle blocking the road. NSA Police fired at the vehicle when it refused to stop. The unauthorized vehicle crashed into the NSA Police vehicle.”
“One of the unauthorized vehicle’s occupants died on the scene. The cause of death has not been determined. The other occupant was injured and taken to a local hospital.”
Freed said one NSA Police officer was also hurt and taken to the hospital.
“The incident was contained to the vehicle control point area on the perimeter of the secure campus,” he added, noting that the FBI is taking the lead on the investigation.
The FBI quickly said they didn’t believe the attack was linked to terrorism.
TV footage from the air showed the incident at a gate off Interstate 295, the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. The exit is reserved for NSA entry only and is marked with highway signs.
The Baltimore Sun reported that a “firefight” took place and the injured attacker was shot in the chest. The two occupants of the black SUV were reportedly men dressed as women, including wigs. TV footage showed what appeared to be a black wig on the ground.
“The president has been briefed on this morning’s incident at the National Security Agency and will be updated as appropriate,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said. “Further questions at this time should be directed to NSA.”
The New York Times reports:
The Arab states said on Sunday that they had agreed to form a combined military force to counter both Iranian influence and Islamist extremism, a gesture many analysts attributed in large part to their drive for more independence from Washington.
The agreement came as American and other Western diplomats in Lausanne, Switzerland, were racing to beat a self-imposed deadline of Tuesday to reach a deal with Iran that would restrict its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of economic sanctions. In response, Saudi Arabia and other American allies in the region have made clear that they are seeking to bolster independent regional security measures because they see the proposed accord as a betrayal of Washington’s commitment to their security.
In other words, not only does Congress not trust Barry. Not only does Netanyahu not trust Barry. Now nearly the entirety of the Arab world doesn’t trust Barry to the point that they’re uniting and forming their own military force?
Could it be that they feel Obama has declared a War on Muslims?
This wouldn’t be the first iteration of an Arab League coalition force. First formed in 1945, the force quickly disbanded after attacking and losing to the nascent Israeli Army in 1948.
As the commemorative mass for the 21 Christians beheaded by ISIS in Libya was held on the 40th day after their deaths in the village of Al Our in the Minya region of Upper Egypt this past Friday, a mob identified by witnesses as Muslim Brotherhood protestors attacked the home of one of the martyr’s families, set fire to the car of one of the mourners, and later lobbed molotov cocktails at the site of the church being constructed in their memory. Al Our village was the home of 13 of the Egyptian Coptic martyrs.
Daily News Egypt reports:
On Friday, scores of mostly young Muslims gathered in the Minya governorate after midday prayer, demonstrating in front of a church under construction there. They chanted that there is no way the church would be built.
After a while, the crowd vanished, but later in the night a smaller number of anonymous militants attacked the church with Molotov cocktails. In the attack, seven people were injured, and one car was left burning.
In February, Copts in Minya’s Our Village called for a church to be established in the village honouring 20 Coptic Egyptian workers beheaded in Libya. They died at the hands of Islamic State militants in Libya, according to religious freedoms researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) Ishak Ibrahim.
Thirteen of the beheaded Coptic workers were from the village. Ibrahim told Daily News Egypt that, during their funeral, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb said President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi agreed for the church to be built.
Coptic residents bought land and started the church’s construction, sparking protests from Muslim residents who were angered by the church. The Muslim residents were unhappy at the church’s proposed presence and its position at the entrance to the village.
A report yesterday by Al-Masry Al-Youm (AR) stated that the mob attacked the home of one of the martyr’s families with bricks and stones, and that a car belonging to a mourner who had traveled to the village for the memorial mass was set on fire. The article cited witnesses identifying the mob participants as members of the Muslim Brotherhood, and that seven protesters had been arrested.
Protesters surround Virgin Mary Church, set fire to car, & attempt to storm home to stop construction of Minya Church http://t.co/2dkinX6CMR
— إشهد | Eshhad (@SectarianAttack) March 27, 2015
— إشهد | Eshhad (@SectarianAttack) March 28, 2015
13 of the Copts beheaded in Libya were from the same village in Minya. A church is being built there now and it was attacked last night.
— Basil الضبع (@basildabh) March 28, 2015
— betsy hiel (@betsy_hiel) March 28, 2015
7 ppl were arrested in Menya clash with Copts. They attempted to burn home of a Copt slaughtered in Libya & attempt 2 burnt car of mourner.
— marlyn (@virtualactivism) March 28, 2015
Some youth in Samaloot, Minya, demonstrated agnst Sisi's decision to build a church for Libya's martyrs & resulted in rampage.
— marlyn (@virtualactivism) March 28, 2015
Following the murder of the 21 Christians by ISIS in Libya, senior government officials, including the prime minister, flocked to the village to give their condolences, and announced that that “the Church of the Martyrs of Faith and Country of al-’Our” would be built in their honor at state expense with the permission of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
And yet after this weekend’s attacks, the Coptic community in Al Our were forced by local authorities into an extra-judicial Islamic “reconciliation” meeting, where it was “agreed” that the church would be relocated, submitting to the violent protesters’ demands, and that the seven arrested protesters would be freed, prompting criticism on Twitter:
Egyptian government resorts to reconciliation session in Al Our village after attack on Church https://t.co/dAOyeEkOB0 No accountability
— Samuel Tadros (@Samueltadros) March 29, 2015
— salamamoussa (@salamamoussa) March 29, 2015
— Mai El-Sadany (@maitelsadany) March 29, 2015
#Egypt: Violent protesters attack church to stop construction of new church. Reconcil session. Church location moved & protesters acquitted.
— Mai El-Sadany (@maitelsadany) March 29, 2015
Instead of providing justice, reconciliation sessions like yesterday reward violent protesters & make the minorities compromise. #egypt
— Mai El-Sadany (@maitelsadany) March 29, 2015
Minority communities complain that the “reconciliation” meetings in Egypt almost always result in minorities having to make concessions while Muslim offenders are freed without having to face any judicial proceedings, as appears true in the present case.
Non-Muslims also complain about the active discrimination built into the Egyptian constitution stemming from the Ottoman era that prohibits the construction of any new church building, or even the repair of existing buildings, without a presidential decree.
Islamist groups use this constitutional provision to instigate sectarian attacks, and continue to use it in several cases to prevent the rebuilding of churches burned down or damaged by the Muslim Brotherhood across the country in August 2013 after the government’s dispersal of Muslim Brotherhood protests in Cairo.
Should it come as any surprise that a J Street speaker would be applauded for proclaiming the myth that the Jews “took” the land of Israel from the Palestinians and are now “imposing” on it? No. Should it come as any surprise that said speaker advocates for the idea of Jews living as a “protected minority” in an Arab Palestine, or any other nation for that matter? No. But it is sadly ridiculous, nonetheless.
Check out commentary at the Algemeiner:
The moderator didn’t challenge her, and as far as I could tell neither did any other panelists.
Isn’t it interesting that at a conference that claims to be “pro-Israel, pro-peace” and that hammers away at how it wants a two state solution, there is no objection to this one-state solution where Jews are “protected” by people who want to kill them?J-Street refuses to let Alan Dershowitz, an advocate of a two-state solution since the 1970s, speak. But this crazy lady who thinks that Israel treats Arab citizens worse than Arabs would treat Jews is given a platform, without a single dissenting voice that I could find, either at the session or on Twitter afterwards, from J-Street members or attendees.
Marcia Freedman is a former Knesset member and a member of J Street’s advisory council. Perhaps it is time for J Street to remove “Pro-Israel” from their logo, since it is obvious that, for their membership at least, any state will do.
Want to know what’s happened this week in the Middle East and the War on Terror? Here are some articles to keep you up to date:
Operation Charlie Foxtrot: Obama admin's strategic incoherence is aiding and abetting Middle East chaos http://t.co/f32EQWrbUn
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) March 28, 2015
Final battle for Tikrit: 'we won’t let the Americans take the glory' http://t.co/v2MonV4QUA
— The Guardian (@guardian) March 26, 2015
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) March 28, 2015
The Shia crescendo – Shia militias are proliferating in the Middle East http://t.co/2OnfkfCylV
— A.M.H. (@alimhaider) March 27, 2015
AEROTERROR: A regular flight from Caracas to Tehran carried more drugs and money than people http://t.co/TrMURg7yuT
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) March 28, 2015
How the U.S. caved on every promise it made about preventing an Iranian nuke. Scoop here: http://t.co/yq8C1qL0zb
— Adam Kredo (@Kredo0) March 26, 2015
Nusra Front quietly rises in Syria as Islamic State targeted http://t.co/4Gv3njazcC
— Blogs of War (@BlogsofWar) March 24, 2015
— Oren Kessler (@OrenKessler) March 27, 2015
— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) March 27, 2015
— J Lester Feder (@jlfeder) February 6, 2015
Nigeria Holds Elections Amid Threats of Violence Between Factions, Boko Haram – U.S. News & World Report http://t.co/URWB1HOyc6
— El Globalista (@El_Globalista) March 28, 2015
Obama: U.S. to maintain current level of 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through 2015 instead of reducing as planned. http://t.co/ABvMapaCKL
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) March 24, 2015
Well, I couldn’t keep it to a dozen this week, so here’s a few more:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) March 24, 2015
— El_Grillo (@El_Grillo1) March 25, 2015
“Their bathrooms are bigger than our living rooms" Taliban leaders are living in luxury in Qatar http://t.co/dWXpcvhF9e
— Alessandria Masi (@AlessandriaMasi) March 24, 2015
— Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) March 24, 2015
Saudi gov't proxy argues that it's a Sunni-Shia conflict for years to come. Saddest thing is he might be right. http://t.co/N1z7NKYtGi
— Evan Hill (@evanchill) March 28, 2015
Decrying that President Obama’s policies have pushed the Middle East to a “tipping point,” Republican senators accused the commander in chief of not acting against Iran’s aggression in Yemen and other places because of his “obsession” with placating the Islamic Republic during nuclear talks.
“Operation Decisive Storm,” launched at midnight Saudi Arabia time, bombarded Yemen’s Houthi rebels with the power of 100 Saudi fighters jets, 150,000 soldiers and naval units in the operation. The United Arab Emirates pitched in 30 fighter jets, Bahrain contributed 15, Qatar sent 10, Kuwait deployed 15 and Jordan contributed six. Even North Africa got into the game, with Sudan sending three fighter jets, Egypt supplying four warships and air support, and Morocco sending six fighter jets. Pakistan also provided naval and aerial support in the attack on the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. The White House said the U.S. provided “logistical and intelligence” support.
But it was revealed today that Pentagon officials were told about the coalition operation just a few hours before the Saudis struck. The Saudi ambassador to Washington announced the attack at their embassy in D.C. shortly after the military found out.
“The reality is that countries in the region no longer have confidence in or are willing to work with the United States of America,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) somberly noted at a press conference on the Hill moments ago.
“Look at where we have come from — our closest allies in the region no longer trust us that they wait to tell us a few hours before they begin a major military operation,” McCain said. “I understand why these countries did not notify us or seek our coordination. That’s because they believe we are siding with Iran.”
The Saudis launched the operation as the U.S. sat down with Iran in Switzerland for the latest round of negotiations. The Associated Press published an exclusive today revealing that Washington “is considering letting Tehran run hundreds of centrifuges at a once-secret, fortified underground bunker.”
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) told reporters that the administration is making a huge mistake by keeping Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and spread of influence through backing Shiite rebels in key countries off the negotiating table.
“You cannot divorce the two of them,” Ayotte said, stressing that “Iran’s backing of the Houthis has caused this situation to devolve where we had to evacuate from Yemen.”
She noted that another Iran target is home of America’s Fifth Fleet, Bahrain. “They are backing Shia groups that are trying to undermine the government in Bahrain,” the senator said. “This will continue to spread further.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) stressed that Obama’s “leading from behind” policy left the region poised for a “bloodletting between Sunnis and Shia that we haven’t seen in 1,000 years.”
“We’re on the verge of a full-scale proxy war in Yemen between Iran and Arab states” that threatens to spill over into the entire region, Graham said. “The Mideast is on fire and it’s every person for himself.”
All three senators made clear that they support the Saudi-led offensive — “the Saudis did the right thing,” McCain said — but, in the words of Graham, “categorically reject President Obama’s foreign policy that we believe has substantially contributed to this mess.”
Graham backed an international operation that would take out the Houthis and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula at the same time. “We’re not in the Sunni-Shia debate here,” he said.
“I think it’s fine that they did it themselves; the question is, what’s the reason for that?” McCain asked, adding it’s “unacceptable that we’re negotiating a bad nuclear deal and at same time turning a blind eye to Iranian aggression.”
McCain said he does not believe that the Saudis launched the offensive to derail the P5+1 talks.
“The saddest things about this whole series of events that have taken place over the past several years is we predicted every single thing that would happen,” he said, ranging from the effects of an Iraq pullout to a refusal to assist the Free Syrian Army in the early days of the war to the non-enforcement of the red line drawn by Obama when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad unleashed chemical weapons on his people.
Graham saw the red line as a “defining moment” as Obama “failed to act in a way the region saw as meaningful.”
“ISIS will never be destroyed on his watch,” Graham predicted. “…He’s afraid to disrupt negotiations by taking on [Iran's] puppet Assad.”
He further predicted that the Arab coalition “will probably not stop in Yemen and Iran will probably push back — God help us all.”
The Senate is plowing through a slew of amendments today expected to last until midnight, dubbed the “vote-a-rama” that precedes the budget vote.
One of those amendments would create an ISIS tax.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), backed by Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), proposed a “temporary surtax” to help cover the cost of military operations against ISIS.
That would be discontinued, his office said without offering more details, “once relevant military operations have concluded” against the Islamic State.
According to yesterday’s congressional record, the amount collected would be $8,800,000,000.
“As our nation’s Armed Forces continue their critical mission to degrade and destroy ISIS, which is already months underway, we need to consider another part of our strategy–paying for the war. This is not a new concept. Our nation has a long history of paying for our military missions. In fact, every war since the Revolutionary War, to the first Gulf War, was paid for,” Coons said on the Senate floor last night.
“Through each of our nation’s armed conflicts, new revenue streams not only provided the resources our military needed, they reminded the American people that our country was at war and we all needed to contribute to the effort. But after 14 years and 2 wars that have cost our nation trillions of dollars, I fear we have forgotten this important lesson from our history,” he continued. “We cannot write another blank check for a war. Paying for a war against ISIS is the right thing to do. It is fiscally, morally, and militarily responsible. As we continue to debate this war authorization in Congress, we need to be honest with the American people and each other about what it will cost our nation. That is why, as we debate the budget this week, I have offered an amendment that requires us to raise the revenue to pay for the fight against ISIS. The American people deserve no less.”
“I urge my colleagues to join me on this amendment to pay for a critically important war against ISIS and ensure we fight this battle together as one country.”
Sanders said the GOP “has to end their hypocrisy with regard to deficits and the national debt.”
“They are going to have to be honest with the American people. Wars are enormously expensive, not only in terms of human life and suffering, but in terms of the budget,” Sanders said. “If the Republicans want another war in the Mideast, they are going to have to tell the American people how much it will cost them and how it will be paid for.”
UPDATE: The amendment failed this evening, but not by a lot — 46-54.
Israeli newspaper Yediot got their hands on the European Union’s 40-point plan to “pressure Israel into negotiations” in the wake of Netanyahu’s re-election.
An EU diplomatic source told Ynet that there was a definite chance that the recommendations in the report, which the member states have yet to approve, were more likely to be implemented following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement during his election campaign that a Palestinian state would not be created under his rule.
“We are on a collision course,” said the European diplomat. “It’s clear to everyone in Brussels that there must be a response to these statements.”
…”If Israel continues its policy beyond the Green Line, it will affect the relationship between European nations and Israel,” he warned.
Headings of the 40-point plan include, “Preserving the viability of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states” and “Strengthening the role, visibility and policy of the European Union.” The full report has been scanned and is linked via the Ynet story.
A pilot I know once told me he tried to pass through security to fly a plane across the ocean forgetting that he had a pen knife in his pocket. The TSA said he couldn’t take the small blade on the plane. The irony was rich, since the pilot would soon have several hundred souls aboard his incendiary-laden missile, the path of which he controlled from inside a locked flight deck.
Every crime show, or terror drama, portrays the villain using the good guy’s reasonable safety protocols to enhance the chance for success of his nefarious plot. But what screenwriters and novelists take as second nature, governments, and many people, have yet to learn.
A predictable safety regimen presents opportunity and simplifies planning for the wicked. A shield becomes a weapon.
So, it’s not surprising that French authorities now believe the co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 intentionally flew his incendiary missile packed with 149 other souls into an Alpine hillside at some 430 miles per hour. . . AFTER electronically barring the safety door, locking the captain out of the flight deck.
The door did its job. It prevented a flight deck breach. All of the engineering worked to prevent access to the most dangerous place on the plane. And thus, the best laid plans of engineers and regulatory officials actually helped the wicked man to carry out his murderous scheme.
The very security device instituted after the 9/11/2001 attacks to deter evil-doers from turning a passenger jet into a weapon became the ideal tool for allowing an evil-doer to do just that.
With the touch of a button — really no effort at all — one person can absolutely foil millions of hours of planning devoted to preventing the very act that he’s determined to commit.
The most effective deadly weapon a man can carry is a non-networked three-pound supercomputer called the human brain. It takes instruction only from an intangible, non-geolocatable command apparatus sometimes called “the heart.”
The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick.
Who can understand it?
At TheRebel.media, Marissa Semkiw interviews world religions professor Dr. Tony Costa.
He explains why, next to Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem, the otherwise unremarkable Syrian town of Dabiq is one of the key places in Islamic mythology.
As the Muslim equivalent of “Armageddon,” Dabiq is the alleged site of the final battle between Islam and the infidels.
That’s why ISIS considers it so important.
(Note that they named their propaganda magazine after it.)
This concise video gives you a terrific layman’s overview of Muslim end-times theology.
(It’s especially timely for Canadians, since today Parliament begins debating Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s proposed extension of Canada’s mission in Syria.)
You’ll feel smarter after watching it:
We know that ISIS will stop at nothing to take as much land as they can and claim it for Islam. Now the Tunisian town of Tataouine, where George Lucas filmed part of Star Wars (and for which he named the film’s planet Tatooine), has reportedly fallen under ISIS control.
This struggling town on the fringes of the Sahara still draws a few fans of the movie but now finds itself part of a real conflict, as a way-station for jihadists crossing the Libyan border 60 miles to the east.
Earlier this month, before the gun attack on the Bardo Museum in Tunis, three young men were arrested here as they allegedly made plans to cross into Libya to join a terrorist network. A local official told CNN they had since been taken to Tunis for questioning.
Two arms caches have also been found in the region this month, one of which included rocket-propelled grenade launchers and more than 20,000 rounds of ammunition, thought to have been removed from a Libyan armory in the aftermath of Moammar Gadhafi’s ouster in 2011.
Tunisians worry about the frail state of neighbor Libya and the presence of ISIS all over North Africa. The country recently celebrated the anniversary of its independence from France, but now the mood among residents is less than celebratory.
The mood among many Tunisians seems much harder and more pragmatic than it was four years ago. A shopkeeper in a small village between Tataouine and Remada said there needs to be a security crackdown. He said people in the area led simple lives — but they knew each other and noticed strangers.
Bassim, a taxi driver on the island of Djerba, some 60 miles to the north of Tataouine, was of a similar view.
“The people need to be the third eye of the security forces” he said. “And we need to think of the safety of visitors like we think of the safety of our families.”
Tunisians say their country is at a crossroads as it tries to fend off the jihadist contagion seeping across North Africa. Their democracy is young and vulnerable.
“We want to be the hope of the Arab world,” said Bassim, “like we were four years ago.”
“We still have hope, but now we have fear too.”
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock / Adisa
In a warmly received address to a joint session of Congress today, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani reassured lawmakers that his country wants nothing more than to be safe and self-reliant, and will not “be the lazy Uncle Joe” who won’t get a job.
“We owe a profound debt to the 2,350 servicemen and -women killed and the more than 20,000 who have been wounded in service to your country and ours… I want to thank the American taxpayer and you, their representatives, for supporting us,” Ghani said, reiterating remarks he made Monday to servicemen and women at the Pentagon.
“Veterans will always be welcome in Afghanistan. Our deepest hope is that the time will come when Americans visiting our country see the cultural heritage and natural riches… Not as soldiers, but as parents showing their children the beautiful country where they served in the war that defeated terror,” he said. “On behalf of my entire country, when that day comes, you will be our most welcome and honored guests.”
Ghani reflected on how he was in his office at the World Bank when planes leveled the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. The Columbia University graduate — along with his Christian Lebanese wife, Rula — recalled fondly eating “corned beef at Katz’s, New York’s greatest, meatiest, pickle-lined melting pot.” That was one of many lines that drew applause from the chamber; Afghan media counted 20 standing ovations.
“Close friends were working near the Trade Center. My children were born in New York, and my daughter was living in New York when the Twin Towers fell. I visited Ground Zero that very week. Seeing firsthand the tragedy and devastation drove home the realization that after 9/11, the world would never be the same. I went home knowing that America would seek justice, and I began to write the plan for our national reconstruction,” the president continued.
Ghani stressed that despite “thankfully rare, but nonetheless tragic” green-on-blue attacks, “the overwhelming majority of Afghans continue to see the partnership with the United States as foundational to our future.”
“We have made great sacrifices, we Afghans, but then, it’s our patriotic to do so. You, on the other hand, had a choice. And when it came to a fork in the road, chose to do the right thing. Thank you.”
While the Taliban banned girls from attending school, today more than 3 million are in class, Ghani said. “Their parents thank you.”
“In 2002, when the allies built their first clinics, the average life-span of the ordinary Afghan was 44 years. Today, it’s over 60. Their children thank you.”
Afghanistan, he said, “contrary to wide perception, is well-suited to democracy.”
“Like Americans, Afghans are individuals. None of us defers to anyone else. We have neither had caste nor class, so persuading each other is an art form,” Ghani said. “Our key characteristics are our openness and hospitality. We believe in equality. Even in the most traditional parts of the country, our leadership must earn rather than inherit their position. There’s a strong public conscience. People are expected to act for the common good. We love debate.”
Ghani acknowledged ISIS as “another, darker cloud that is making its way towards our country.”
“The promise of the Arab Spring gave way to the emergence of Daesh terror and collapse of states. But the changed ecology of terror could have not formed without some states tolerating, financing, providing sanctuary and using violent, nonstate actors as instruments of shortsighted policies,” he said. “…From the West, the Daesh is already sending advance guards to southern and western Afghanistan to push our vulnerabilities. To the south, Pakistan’s counterinsurgency operations in which more than 40,000 people have already died are pushing the Taliban from South Waziristan towards Afghanistan’s border regions.”
Afghanistan, he stressed, “is carrying forward everyone’s fight by containing this threat.”
“Properly supported, Afghanistan is uniquely positioned to block the spread of extremism. We have none of the historical inferiority complexes that choose resentment across Western domination. After all, we defeated most of the empires,” he said. “…Ordinary is what has escaped us, and we’d really like to be leading ordinary lives, to go to school and to come back. To shop without being blown up. To play volleyball without being attacked.”
Ghani spent a substantial portion of his speech outlining plans to advance women’s rights, and to highlight gains already made.
“No country in the modern world can be self-reliant with half of its population locked away, uneducated and unable to contribute its energy, creativity and drive to national development… educating women is not solely a matter of rights, important though they are. It is a matter of national necessity,” he said, stressing “a mental and cultural revolution must take place over treatment of women in and by our society. There is no point talking about how much we respect woman’s honor if we let rape go unpunished or allow harassment in our streets.”
The president said he is “meeting frequently women who are entertaining the idea, seriously, the idea of becoming the first woman president of Afghanistan, and we will support them.” Four women have been appointed to his cabinet for a 20 percent share — “still too low, but at least fulfillment of our promise.”
Vowing Afghanistan “will be the graveyard of al-Qaeda and their foreign terrorist associates,” Ghani said that “although we may be poor, we’re very proud.”
“Our goal of self-reliance is no pipe dream… we want your know-how, the business skills of your corporations, the innovation of your startups and the commitment of your NGOs,” he said. “But we don’t want your charity. We have no more interest in perpetuating a childish dependence than you have in being saddled with a poor family member who lacks the energy and drive to get out and find a job. We are not going to be the lazy Uncle Joe.” Lawmakers laughed; Vice President Joe Biden was sitting behind Ghani as he spoke.
“Together, our two countries will finish the job that began on that clear, terrible September morning almost 14 years ago. We have the way, and we have the commitment that will anchor our country into a community of peaceful, democratic nations.”
Here’s the Texan who hasn’t declared he is running yet, but has been making a lot of moves that would seem to indicate he is thinking about it. Perry is also a fan of the fact that Bibi is critical of Team Lightbringer’s footsie negotiations with Iran.
President Barack Obama is delaying the pace of his planned troop withdrawal from Afghanistan but has not changed his commitment to remove nearly all U.S. troops by the time he leaves office.
The White House cited a newly productive relationship with Afghanistan’s new co-leaders, President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, as one key reason why Obama agreed to grant what they called “flexibility” in the planned departure.
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Another reason, Obama suggested to reporters Tuesday at the White House, are the lessons learned from the collapse of security in Iraq following his withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2011, which ultimately necessitated the return of nearly 3,000 American troops this year to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, along with an air war costing $8.5 million a day.
“We’re doing everything we can to help the Afghan Security Forces succeed, so we don’t have to go back,” Obama said, “so we don’t have to respond in an emergency because terrorist activities are being launched out of Afghanistan.”
You read that correctly. He learned so much from the Iraq debacle that he is going to do exactly the same thing in Afghanistan, he’s just going to take longer to do it.
Naturally, the press is treating this like a measured response on the part of the president. The problem, however, wasn’t just with how quickly troops were removed from Iraq, but that the enemy knew exactly when they would do so.
ISIS has proven to be patient and savvy, and they have been co-opting some Taliban warriors to gain a foothold in Afghanistan.
And now they know just how long they have to hang around.
Earlier this month I reported here at PJ Media that U.S.-backed Syrian rebel group Harakat al-Hazm had disbanded, and their U.S.-provided TOW anti-tank missiles had ended up in the hands of Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria.
Today a video posted on YouTube by al-Nusra shows their operatives using the U.S. TOW missiles to attack Syrian army positions in Idlib. They also posted a statement to that effect on Twitter:
— Harald Doornbos (@HaraldDoornbos) March 24, 2015
Here’s the video, with a TOW missile making its appearance ~ 0:43:
When I reported on the collapse of Hazm earlier in the month, I noted that pictures had appeared of al-Nusra fighters posing with U.S.-provided weapons, including the TOW missiles.
— Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) March 2, 2015
Some D.C. analysts claimed that the TOW tubes in the pictures were empty, but it is apparent now that al-Nusra did get their hands on live rounds and acquired personnel trained in firing the TOW system.
This, undoubtedly, is one reason why former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, once one of the loudest cheerleaders for arming the Syrian rebels, has done a complete turn-around and is now openly critical of the Syrian opposition:
Robert Ford was always one of the Syrian rebels’ loudest cheerleaders in Washington, agitating from within a reluctant administration to arm vetted moderates to fight Bashar Assad’s brutal regime.
In recent weeks, however, Ford, the former U.S. ambassador to Syria who made news when he left government service a year ago with an angry critique of Obama administration policy, has dropped his call to provide weapons to the rebels. Instead, he’s become increasingly critical of them as disjointed and untrustworthy because they collaborate with jihadists.
The about-face, which is drawing murmurs among foreign policy analysts and Syrian opposition figures in Washington, is another sign that the so-called moderate rebel option is gone and the choices in Syria have narrowed to regime vs. extremists in a war that’s killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions.
Of course, some had argued, including myself, that this is where things were headed all along with the Obama administration’s policy of supporting, arming and training the so-called “vetted moderates.” And now Ford is admitting that the “vetted moderates” supported by the U.S. are collaborating with jihadist groups.
More smart diplomacy in action.
The Times of Israel got it straight from an anonymous “senior Jerusalem official”: Obama wanted “revenge” in the wake of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Times of Israel that “it’s no secret” that the Obama administration had attempted to influence the outcome of the election…
…“The White House is driven by three main motives,” the senior official said. “The first is revenge [over the Congress speech]. The second is frustration: It’s no secret that they were involved in an attempt to bring down the Netanyahu government – something that we have clear knowledge of – and failed. The third [motive] is the administration’s attempt to divert attention from the negotiations with Iran to the Palestinian issue.”
Not only do Israeli policymakers have a full understanding of Obama’s involvement in Israeli elections, they have also already reasoned their way around Obama’s potential politicking at the UN:
…The White House will attempt to “punish” Israel at the UN or the Security Council, the senior Israeli official said Tuesday, alluding to intimations by US officials to the effect that Washington could change its policy of vetoing anti-Israel measures and even pursue a unilateral Palestinian statehood initiative.
“Congress is currently our only means of preventing a series of harmful initiatives, on both the Iranian and the Palestinian front,” the official said. “If the US government will permit the recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN, then Congress will brandish its knives and defund the UN.” On Sunday, Republic Senator John McCain threatened to do just that.
And are at ease portraying Obama as the hypocrite who is busy covering his tracks:
…“They come and accuse us of torpedoing negotiations even though they know that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas himself said no [to a deal], twice — once to then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton in 2011, and once to Secretary of State John Kerry last year.”
The union that represents the Transportation Security Agency wants to arm its agents at airport security checkpoints.
President of the American Federation of Government Employees J. David Cox spoke out following an attack at the New Orleans airport where a man sprayed insecticide on TSA agents and attacked them with a machete.
Cox pointed out that security agents were verbally abused on a regular basis, although I am not sure this is a great reason to give the TSA fire power. Airport security is unpleasant at best and many travelers do not see the point of inconvenient exercises to get on a plane. (Why are we still taking off our shoes?)
“We are sickened by the mindlessness and ferocity of this attack on TSA officers,” Cox said in a statement on the union website. “TSOs go to work every day to keep our nation safe from violent individuals who look to inflict harm on the flying public. All too often, TSOs become the targets of violence themselves, both verbal and physical.”
Security at airports currently falls to the local police forces and in the New Orleans attack, the perp was gunned down by a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputy before more harm was done.
Cox is not asking for all agents to be armed, only a select force.
I’m not convinced that arming the airport equivalent of a DMV employee is a smart decision. We seem to have enough controversy surrounding our actual police force, a group trained specifically to wield deadly force.
“For years, AFGE has advocated for a new law enforcement unit within TSA, specially trained and armed to respond to such attacks, and for other safety measures at screening checkpoints,” Cox said. “We applaud the response of law enforcement officers who ended yesterday’s attack in New Orleans, but many other airports are not prepared to respond as quickly or as effectively.”
Put me down for “no, thanks.”
Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator has stressed yet again that there is no deal with the P5+1 unless all sanctions on the Islamic Republic are lifted first.
In fact, there are “no concessions” on Iran’s part forthcoming, he said.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi said early this month that Tehran’s “principle position is that all sanctions are lifted at once.”
Last week, 260 lawmakers in the 290-seat Islamic Consultative Assembly wrote a letter demanding that all sanctions be removed as a prerequisite for signing a nuclear deal.
“As a guarantee for implementation, in case of any violation of obligations by the opposite side, the agreement will be declared null and void and enrichment will be resumed at any required level,” the lawmakers wrote.
And over the weekend, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who will ultimately sign off on or reject any nuclear deal, tweeted his agreement. “We reject US fraudulent offer of reaching a deal w #Iran first then lifting sanctions. Lifting sanctions is a part of deal not its outcome,” Khamenei tweeted.
Now today, with more than two weeks of negotiations having passed since his original comments, Araqchi is reiterating that “Tehran’s confidence-building measures and removal of sanctions by the powers are the objectives of the ongoing nuclear talks between the two sides,” according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.
Fars reported that Araqchi stressed “Iran is not to give away any concessions”:
He described the present phase of the talks as “sensitive”, and said it was natural for certain people to make some remarks to influence the process of the negotiations.
However, Araqchi said, Iran is not to grant any concessions.
Commenting on the recent remarks of the US President Barack Obama who said Iran has not provided enough concessions yet, he said the American president is making the remarks to affect the negotiations.
He said none of the parties is expected to offer concessions, specially Iran.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said today at the Council on Foreign Relations and on the Senate floor that the Obama administration trying to repeal Iran sanctions at the UN and not coming to Congress would be met with a bipartisan “violent response.”
“The Iranians are going to demand immediate sanction relief, and I hope we’ll say no. Until the IAEA verifies what they’ve been doing in the past, I think it would be ill-advised to relieve the sanctions,” Graham said at the CFR event. “They’re going to ask for a research-and-development capability. That scares the hell out of me, and I hope we’ll say no. If they demand immediate sanctions relief, the deal probably falls. Then we’ll be in no-man’s territory. Just, we don’t know what will happen next.”
“And that’s the most dangerous time, because that’s when they’re most likely to break out. Whether they believe that Obama would use force to stop their breakout, after drawing the red line with Assad, I doubt it. Whether they believe that P5+1 would do it as a group, I doubt it after the way we’ve handled Russia and the Ukraine.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters today that they “have made pretty clear… that this deal will be predicated on serious commitments from the Iranians about resolving the international community’s concerns with their nuclear program and a commitment that they will comply with intrusive inspections.”
“And those are the kinds of commitments that we’re going to insist on before we even contemplate any sort of sanctions relief,” Earnest said. “And what we would envision is a demonstrated commitment to the — to compliance with the agreement before phasing the sanctions relief.”
The Obama administration frequently notes that it made Syrian President Bashar al-Assad get rid of his chemical weapons, a deal struck with the help of Assad ally Russia after the ghastly 2013 attack on Ghouta.
That attack crossed the red line established by President Obama to take action to help the Syrian people, and once he struck the weapons disposal deal he considered it a most welcome line through an unpleasant confrontation on his to-do list.
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough held the deal up during his speech to J Street today as a “political arrangement” where congressional approval is not needed, such as what they’re trying to achieve with Iran. “It’s how we—peacefully—removed Syria’s entire declared stockpile of chemical weapons,” McDonough said.
Despite the ambiguity of “declared” in a country where the majority is a strict no-go zone for weapons inspectors, Assad has continued his chemical weapons attacks with chlorine gas.
Last week, the towns of Sarmin and Qmenas were hit with chlorine bombs by Assad forces, video reviewed and confirmed by human rights groups. The Syrian Coalition said six were killed, including three children, and about 70 were injured, 13 seriously.
“Once again the Assad regime has used the chlorine gas against civilians in flagrant violations of the UN Security Council Resolution No. 2209 which bans use of chlorine gas in Syria,” Syrian Coalition Vice President Hisham Marwa said. “The UN Security Council must take all necessary measures that ensures the enforcement of the resolution No. 2209, which rules that chlorine gas is toxic and a chemical weapon, and that using it militarily represents a gross violation of international law and a flagrant violation of Resolution 2118.”
Secretary of State John Kerry put out a statement Thursday saying the administration was “deeply disturbed” that Assad used chlorine gas weapons “again.”
“What is clear is that the Assad regime continues to flout international standards and norms, including, if these latest allegations are verified, the Chemical Weapons Convention. The international community cannot turn a blind eye to such barbarism. As has been well documented, the Assad regime continues to terrorize the people of Syria through indiscriminate airstrikes, barrel bombings, arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, murder, and starvation. The Assad regime must be held accountable for such atrocious behavior,” Kerry said.
“…The Assad regime’s horrifying pattern of using chlorine as a chemical weapon against the Syrian people underscores the importance of investigating this allegation as quickly as possible, holding those who perpetrated such abhorrent acts in violation of international law accountable, and continuing to support the complete elimination chemical weapons in this volatile region.”
State Department press secretary Jen Psaki didn’t have “any predictions” on what holding Assad accountable might entail.
“Reports and video out of
#Syria utterly horrific. Civilians, including kids, victims of an apparent chlorine gas attack,” UN Ambassador Samantha Power tweeted that day. “This is why #UNSC passed res affirming the weaponization of chlorine as viol of CWC&UN res. Long past time for attribution&consequences. Asad regime is only power with helos. Reports again are that gas attack came from the air. If it flies like a duck…”
That was enough for Syrians who have been bearing the brunt of these attacks.
— Kafranbel English (@kafrev) March 21, 2015
— Kafranbel English (@kafrev) March 21, 2015
The northwestern Syrian fig-and-olive-producing town of Kafranbel huddled together fairly early in the war and decided the best way to get their message to the outside world would be to pen signs in English, then spread them through the Internet and social media. Their signs have included see Obama as Pinocchio and a genocide enabler.
Smart Diplomacy in Action: US Ambassador to Libya Abandons Twitter After Tweeting False Bombing Casualty Info
U.S. Ambassador to Libya Deborah K. Jones retired from Twitter on Monday after tweeting out false information on civilian casualties of a bombing raid by military forces of the internationally recognized Libyan government:
— Safira Deborah (@SafiraDeborah) March 23, 2015
Her tweet was picked up by Western media as the primary source for the information. See this Reuters article:
Eight civilians were killed in an air strike near Tripoli on Monday, the U.S. ambassador said, as Libya’s internationally recognized government pressed on with an assault to recapture the capital it abandoned to a rival faction last year …
“Terrible news today from Tarhouna where eight innocent displaced Tawergha killed in air strikes,” U.S. Ambassador Deborah Jones said in a tweet, referring to members of a minority group, thousands of whom were displaced after Gaddafi fell.
“This violence serves no one’s interests,” said Jones, who is based outside Libya since most diplomats were evacuated from Tripoli last year.
It turned out that the information was based on rumors and conflicting information from both sides:
The eastern chief of army staff said in a statement its planes had hit a Libya Dawn barracks, not a Tawergha camp, demanding an apology from Jones.
But Mohamed al-Tarhouni, spokesman of the town’s municipality, said nobody had been killed in the strike which he said had hit an empty farm near a camp of displaced Tawergha.
Jones and Louai El-Ghawi, an eastern lawmaker, said there were reports that several family members of a colonel opposed to Libya Dawn had been killed in Tarhouna in an apparent revenge attack, but details were unclear. The eastern chief of staff said Dawn supporters had killed eight members of the family.
A freelance reporter on the scene found nothing describing the info that Jones had tweeted out:
@SafiraDeborah I saw by myself 3 impacts of the airstrike, I can guarantee no one was killed because of it 1/2
— Mathieu Galtier (@mathieu_galtier) March 23, 2015
The Libyan Army condemned Jones’ statement:
— Alwasat (@alwasatengnews) March 23, 2015
Libyan Twitter users then began attacking the ambassador for floating false information:
False information from the US ambassador, especially after being sensationalized in the media, has naturally generated a firestorm in #Libya
— James Wheeler (@wheelertweets) March 23, 2015
The back-tracking then began in earnest:
My last tweet based on sources on both sides. Numbers may need correction but bottom line remains: violence serves no one.
— Safira Deborah (@SafiraDeborah) March 23, 2015
This info followed info on the other strikes: both are wrong and we condemn both. The violence must cease. Period
— Safira Deborah (@SafiraDeborah) March 23, 2015
But the damage had been done, and she announced her departure from Twitter:
I have concluded it is best to cease efforts to communicate via Twitter insofar as it distracts from our goal of peace & stability 4 #Libya
— Safira Deborah (@SafiraDeborah) March 23, 2015
We shall continue to post official statements on our embassy FB account. To all those responsible & thoughtful Tweeps out there, thank you
— Safira Deborah (@SafiraDeborah) March 23, 2015
Getting to know thoughtful, dedicated Libyans via Twitter has been an inspiration & given me great hope 4 Libya's future. I wish you well.
— Safira Deborah (@SafiraDeborah) March 23, 2015
Thus, America is even getting run off of Twitter.
— Youssef Sawani (@YoussefSawani) March 23, 2015
Have any other US ambassadors pulled out of Twitter before? Is @SafiraDeborah the first? I remember when the embassy in Cairo clamped down.
— Andy Carvin (@acarvin) March 23, 2015
Smart diplomacy in action. I blame that YouTube video.
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough today called for an end to Israel’s “occupation” of the Palestinians and vowed that the Obama administration won’t “pretend” that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn’t make his campaign remarks about no two-state solution.
McDonough thanked the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” — as J Street bills itself — and pro-Palestinian lobbying group for the “important work you do around the country,” calling it “an organization that, in the best tradition of the American Jewish community, shares a set of values about the type of country that we are – a democracy where all of our people can access opportunity.”
“President Obama asked me to convey his deep appreciation to all of you for your partnership and your work on behalf of the U.S.-Israel relationship, especially building support for our efforts to advance a two-state solution,” he said.
McDonough spent much of his speech, though, on issues other than the Mideast: solar energy, the auto industry, job growth, energy independence, and the fifth anniversary of Obamacare. He also spent significant time taking shots at the new Republican budget.
“Of course, our relationship with Israel isn’t defined by numbers in a budget. Ours is a deep and abiding partnership between two vibrant democracies. We saw that democracy in action when Israelis of all backgrounds—Jewish and Arab, religious and secular–cast their ballots last week. At the heart of any democracy is the right of all citizens to participate equally,” he said. J Street lobbied heavily against Netanyahu and the Likud party.
McDonough said in Thursday’s congratulatory call from Obama to Netanyahu the president “committed to continuing consultations on a range of regional issues, including resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
“No matter who leads Israel, America’s commitment to Israel’s security will never waver,” he said, noting money allocated by Congress and approved by the administration to spend on the Iron Dome missile defense system and next year’s delivery of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
“We continue to believe that the best way to safeguard Israel’s long-term security is to bring about a comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians—two states for two peoples, living side-by-side in security and peace,” he said, adding that’s why Netanyahu’s “comments on the eve of the election—in which he first intimated and then made very clear in response to a follow up question that a Palestinian state will not be established while he is prime minister—were so troubling.”
“After the election, the prime minister said that he had not changed his position, but for many in Israel and in the international community, such contradictory comments call into question his commitment to a two-state solution, as did his suggestion that the construction of settlements has a strategic purpose of dividing Palestinian communities and his claim that conditions in the larger Middle East must be more stable before a Palestinian state can be established. We cannot simply pretend that those comments were never made, or that they don’t raise questions about the prime minister’s commitment to achieving peace through direct negotiations.”
Netanyahu clarified his comments to note that the conditions for a two-state solution currently do not exist as Fatah remains allied with Hamas and they refuse to recognize Israel or stop incitement.
“In recent days, some have suggested our reaction to this issue is a matter of personal pique,” McDonough told the crowd. “Nothing could be further from the truth. America’s commitment to a two-state solution is fundamental to U.S. foreign policy. It’s been the goal of both Republican and Democratic presidents, and it remains our goal today. Because it is the only way to secure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.”
That’s why, he said, Obama now wants to “re-evaluate our approach to the peace process and how we pursue the cause of peace – because, like all of you, we care deeply about Israel and its future.”
“In the end, we know what a peace agreement should look like. The borders of Israel and an independent Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps. Each state needs secure and recognized borders, and there must be robust provisions that safeguard Israel’s security. An occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end, and the Palestinian people must have the right to live in and govern themselves in their own sovereign state.”
McDonough said the “truth” is “Israel cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely.”
He insisted that Israel accepting a two-state solution “would deal a knock-out blow to calls for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions” and “would undercut efforts to isolate Israel in the international community and roll back de-legitimization efforts.”
The White House chief of staff also delivered the standard administration line on Iran negotiations, saying they won’t accept a bad deal but stressing that they’re pursing a deal that’s “both realistic and achievable.”
“Congress should not seek to undermine negotiations before a deal is reached,” McDonough said. “…I’m sure you heard about the letter some Republican senators addressed directly to Iran’s leaders. It was a blatant political move—as the president said, that is not how America does its business.”
He called the letter “critically flawed in its legal reasoning” as the administration is “pursuing a political arrangement with Iran that does not require congressional approval.”
“Some senators have also proposed legislation that would torpedo diplomacy by suggesting Congress must vote on any deal and by stripping the President of his existing authorities to waive sanctions. Let’s be very clear about what this would do. It would embolden hard-liners in Iran. It would separate the United States from our allies,” McDonough said, adding “it would set a damaging precedent by limiting the ability of future presidents to conduct essential diplomatic negotiations.”
“…If a deal is reached, we will share the details and technical documents with Congress, at which point we welcome a full debate—after all, only Congress could terminate U.S. statutory sanctions on Iran during the duration of the agreement.”
McDonough was the administration representative to the annual conference, facing a much more friendly crowd than National Security Advisor Susan Rice did weeks ago at the AIPAC mega-conference.
In an extraordinary moment more than 13 years in the making, the second elected Afghan president since the fall of the Taliban stood in the hub of America’s military community and thanked the troops’ sacrifice to liberate and build his country.
More than 850,000 U.S. troops and civilians, along with thousands of contractors, have served in Afghanistan since the war began in October 2001, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter reminded all at the beginning of the ceremony in the Pentagon courtyard. “We remember the 2,215 Americans and their spouses, parents, sons, and daughters who paid the ultimate price during the course of the conflict,” Carter said.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had warm words for those “who have sacrificed continually since 9/11 to bring us freedom and hope.”
“Each one of you has left a legacy but I also understand Afghanistan has marked you,” he said, noting “sometimes you wake up at night not sure whether you’re there or here” and realize “I’ve left a piece of my heart in Afghanistan.”
“Thank you,” Ghani said.
“Each one of you also has left a memory in the heart of every Afghan that you’ve touched and encountered,” the president continued, adding that U.S. forces were “not there just to fight” but “you built schools, you built roads” while bringing “an attitude of caring and sacrifice.”
The Afghan National Security Forces, which includes military and police, now “emulate the best of your example.”
While thanking the troops and their families, Ghani stressed thanks “mostly to the American taxpayer — the men and women who have had made your hard-earned dollars available for Afghanistan.”
The partnership between the U.S. and Afghanistan now enters a different “phase,” he said, focusing on “building resources,” trade with Europe through the supply road left by coalition forces, and ensuring that Afghanistan can meet the growing security challenges.
Ghani has admitted ISIS is now inside Afghanistan, telling NBC News “we have sufficient evidence that they were targeting us because to their narrative, to their storyline, Afghanistan is central.” That’s the Khorasan region touted by the Islamic State.
“We are not going to be a burden,” Ghani vowed to the Pentagon community, giving a nod to JFK when he added Afghanistan wants to focus on what it can do for the world instead of what the world can do for Afghanistan. “We are going to get our house in order.”
On terrorism, not just ISIS but the more persistent and deadly Taliban threat, “We are a front-line state. We die on a daily basis.”
“We die, but we will never be defeated,” Ghani added. “…We the people of Afghanistan are willing to speak truth to terror… we are going to overcome.”
The current partnership with the United States, the president said, “is foundational because we will be the first line of defense globally.”
Ghani said his “fondest hope to veterans is we hope to welcome you in Afghanistan as tourists,” where “millions of us will be able to thank you personally, shake your hand, welcome you into our homes.”
To the sounds of the Washington Post March, Ghani shook hands and greeted troops and family members on the lawn.
Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah meet with President Obama on Tuesday for a “working lunch” at the White House.
Abdullah and Ghani wrote in a joint Washington Post op-ed Friday that “while the opportunities to build peace and stability have never been greater, a new ecology of terror threatens to block not just our prosperity but yours as well.”
“Properly supported, Afghanistan is uniquely positioned to block the spread of extremism,” the leaders wrote. “With the bitter exception of the Taliban regime, Islam in Afghanistan has traditionally been inclusive and reflective, not violent and angry. And after 36 years of conflict, our people have become immunized against ideologically based conflict.”
Watch as the infamous activist, blacklisted by Brandeis University for her anti-Islam views, discusses her new book Heretic and the concept of reforming Islam. Martha Raddatz has no problem outing herself as a turncoat feminist, accusing Hirsi Ali, herself a survivor of female genital mutilation, of unfairly attacking Islam now that she has left the religion.
Raddatz and the pro-Islam Manalo Omar are also quick to gang up on Hirsi Ali when she highlights one of the many Qu’ranic calls for death to infidels currently being used to justify Sharia law and jihad, citing both “the Torah” and “the Bible” as containing violent verses. When Hirsi Ali replies by questioning where the Christians are who take these verses as literally as their Islamic counterparts, Raddatz changes her line of questioning without changing her politically correct tone.
“Doesn’t [your book] incite people to hate Muslims?” is Raddatz’s conclusion, not her query, proving once again that the West’s multiculturalist elite are the greatest threat to Islamic reform.
A message posted online yesterday urges Egyptians to join the Islamic State, arguing that the Muslim Brotherhood hasn’t done enough to topple President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi.
“We are sending you these messages because we indeed feel the wrong that’s done to you,” said the message posted by the “All Tweets Ansar Association” on a file-sharing site. “Muslims nowadays are done through with living in fear now it’s not the time to run but to be steady, to fight back.”
“Why do you want to respond in peace to a someone that wants to kill you? Islam gives your [sic] the right to defend your self,” the “campaign message to the people of Egypt” continues.
“Peaceful demonstrations that you are proud of resulted in another regime that is far more worst [sic] than before. Muslim Brotherhood has no answer in their hands, they are existed in more than 80 years what they have achieved. More than 80 years in the political wing and the result is now that most of their leaders are waiting for death sentence. Peaceful demonstration leads you to prison while Jihad in the path of Allah leads you to glory.”
El-Sisi, who has angered extremists by attending a Coptic Mass and warned of terrorists’ desire to “kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants,” called last month for a “unified Arab force” to fight ISIS. He launched a series of airstrikes against ISIS targets in Libya after the brutal beheading of 21 Coptic Christians who had gone to work there. He also quickly put in place plans to evacuate remaining Egyptians from Libya.
The call to Egyptians to join ISIS was supplemented with a 13-minute video released by the pro-ISIS Al-Malhama Brigade featuring footage of Egyptian protests and former President Mohamed Morsi along with news footage of el-Sisi in regard to strikes on ISIS targets.
The print message posted online charged that military and secularists “created an alliance to fight Islam” and “add to them the Christians who we all know want to rule again after Islam erased ignorance …in Egypt.”
“They have long and unfinished business with Muslims and they are good at hiding it with another banner. Their fight is clear indeed. Muslims are so deep in sleep that they are ready to believe in what ever they have been told.”
They repeat a persistent charge of the Muslim Brotherhood — that Coptic women who convert to Islam are disappeared by the Christian church. The statistics tell a different story of abduction, rape, slavery, beatings, forced conversion and forced marriages of Coptic women by Islamists. Mary Sameh George, 25, was dragged from her car and savagely stabbed and beaten to death by a protest mob a year ago for reportedly having a cross hanging from her rearview mirror in a suburb considered a Muslim Brotherhood stronghold.
The message trying to rally membership for ISIS, though, said Muslims must think of “hundreds others who are being raped, tortured in the Apostate jails and detention centers.”
The choice for Egyptians is “jihad or humiliation,” the message states, underscoring this with a video showing el-Sisi with the Egyptian Coptic Pope Tawadros II on Christmas Eve in Cairo.
“Compare between what Jihad achieves and what peace achieves. Through Jihad we ruled the world and through peace we got killed in the street. Rest of us got arrested our women are being raped Apostate regime ruled,” the plea continues. “In the day of Judgement you will be asked! Why do you leave Jihad, while it’s your only choice. Are you scared of death? Can’t you see it’s also coming to you with your peaceful demonstrations?”
Protesters are urged to “leave peace, take gun.”
“O’ Egyptians Islamic State is waiting for you,” it continues, urging battle against “pharaoh” and his soldiers, “coconuts” (moderate Muslims), and apostates. “Come and join. Come and raise the flag of Islam.”
Muslims, it says, have the caliphate as their “only choice” against “apostate” el-Sisi.
“What will be your excuse of not fighting the Enemy of Islam? Now that the caliphate is in your lands!!!”
There’s already a branch of ISIS in the Sinai peninsula, one that warned on the same file-sharing site as the Egyptian recruitment posting last week that they have a contingent of suicide bombers and a weapons stockpile to go after “the Egyptian army collaborator with the Zionists in the Sinai.”
That statement said they’re under “huge pressure” to accept new recruits but building “strong organizational structure” is their first priority.
Israeli Defense Forces Col. Arik Chen told reporters last week that ISIS activity in the Sinai “is of great concern to the army and influences our preparedness for any incident that might occur.”
A March 12 report by the Institute for the Study of War noted “a number of large utility vehicles have been stolen in North Sinai recently, suggesting that ISIS affiliate group ‘Wilayat Sinai,’ formerly known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, may be planning large-scale vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attacks.” Those vehicles include a garbage truck, an ambulance and water tankers.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) declared a week ago that “we’ve got 66 now” to override President Obama’s promised veto of legislation to require congressional review of any deal with Iran.
Now, after a week of heavy White House lobbying of lawmakers, Graham stands by that assessment.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act on the eve of the AIPAC conference and Netanyahu visit along with Graham and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). The bill mandates that the president submit the text of any nuclear agreement with Iran to Congress and prohibits the administration from suspending congressional sanctions for 60 days. During that period, Congress would have the opportunity to hold hearings and approve, disapprove or take no action on the agreement.
Critics of the recent GOP open letter to ayatollahs in Iran have said the outcry over the move would dial back Democratic support for the bill, but even Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) acknowledged that wouldn’t be the case.
Politico reported that the White House wants Democrats who are planning to defect to contact them first, and even President Obama has been personally trying to whip key Dems. But when Reid was asked Tuesday whether he’s lobbying his caucus to oppose Corker-Menendez, he quickly replied, “No.”
Said Graham on Thursday night: “We are going to override his veto.”
“I think we’ll have enough democrats that will say the following: Mr. President, you negotiate the deal, you are the commander and chief, and you are the president. When it comes to lifting congressional sanctions that we have created with 100 to nothing vote we are going to have a say before you lift those congressional sanctions,” Graham told Fox.
“It may slip a little bit because they are asking until the end of the month to finish the framework agreement,” he said, noting “the Iranians are dragging this out.”
“Democrats are saying the following: We are going to allow them to the end of the month to negotiate a framework agreement, then all bets are off… Here is what the president needs to understand. If you go to the UN Security Council and try to bypass the congress to get this deal approved by the UN Security Council but not come to your own Congress, then you are going to risk Congress cutting off money to the United Nations.”
Graham stressed that Congress would be “marginalized” if they’re bypassed on sanctions.
“Here’s the question, if we think it’s a bad deal, one, not even guaranteeing we can look at it, you can imagine a deal of this consequence and they don’t want to share it with their own Congress,” he said. “Here is the deal, if they try to go to the UN Security council and bypass us and leave us as the last guy standing, then they there will be a violent reaction against the United Nations, 22 percent of the funding for the United Nations comes from the American taxpayer and I’m in charge of that account. I’m not going to allow the United Nations to be used as a way to get around the United States Congress for a deal that affects the very existence of Israel and our own national security. The worst possible outcome is for Iran to get a nuclear weapon.”
Graham is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.
“If the UN Did something that provocative, lift the sanctions before we ever got a chance to look at it in Congress, if they go to the UN Security Council and the UN Security Council lifts all sanctions before we ever get a chance to look at this deal, absolutely I would suspend funding the United Nations, because I don’t think your money should go to an organization that irresponsible,” the senator continued.
“…If this is a good deal I will vote for it. But I’m not going to be dealt out. They are about to make a mistake for the ages. In my view when he drew the red line in Syria and did nothing about it the Iranians are not taking him serious and we started with dismantling their program as the goal. Now we are locking in a program that can be broken out in a year. We have changed the goal. And Arabs and Israelis have one thing in common. They are not going to let the Iranians have a nuclear advantage over them. The president is about to start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East if he doesn’t watch it.”
Posted with permission from MEMRI.
The following report is a complimentary offering from MEMRI’s Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.
Following the deadly March 18, 2015 attack at the Bardo National Museum in Tunisia, in which 17 tourists and two Tunisians were killed, the Ifriqiyya media company, which is associated with jihad organizations in North Africa, released an article titled “Just Another Day – Commentary on the Blessed Attack on Bardo Museum.” The article states that the gunmen who carried out the attack, Yassine Laabidi and Hatem Khachnaoui, focused on killing infidels and “apostate” policemen and soldiers, and urges Muslims to carry out similar attacks, especially against tourists, with emphasis on French, British, American and Israeli nationals. It also suggests ways to kill tourists, suggesting to “drown them in the ocean, poison their food, bash their skulls with a rock, or suffocate them with pillows in their [hotel] rooms.” It lists what is calls the great achievements of the attack, including the harm to Tunisia’s tourism industry and economy, and threatens that additional attacks will be carried out soon, on unexpected targets throughout the country.
The following are excerpts from the article, which was posted on the jihadi forum Shumoukh Al-Islam:
“The article begins with a storybook-like description of the shooters on their way to the target site: “One ordinary sunny day with nice, clear weather, the two left their homes, boarded the metro, got off at a station where they changed to another [line], and then exited the metro. They passed the Bardo police station and the headquarters of the tyrannical military intelligence [apparatus]. Leaving the bags containing their guns at a bus stop, they entered [the museum] to check it out. They went back for their bags and [again] infiltrated [the area of] the apostate parliament and the museum. One of them took out the weapons and the grenades, while the other did a short preparatory tour… The policemen and presidential guards noticed that they were armed but were so amazed they froze on the spot. ‘How did you enter so easily,’ they asked in astonishment, and the two answered: ‘We come in the name of Allah.’ Then they began throwing grenades, crying ‘Allah Akbar, and shooting at infidels and at the policemen that guarded them, and the massacre began.”
The article adds that the shooters originally intended to continue from the museum to the nearby parliament building, but changed their minds when they encountered heavy gunfire, because they did not want to be killed before killing as many infidels as possible. So instead they shot some infidels who had gathered at the bus stop, and then went back into the museum and took some more infidels hostage. According to the article, they released some children and Muslim museum employees, not wanting to shed innocent blood.
After a long while, says the article, when the “counter-Islam” (i.e., counterterrorism) unit arrived and stormed the site, the gunmen shot the hostages and then fought back. Eventually they achieved their goal of attaining martyrdom, having delivered a harsh blow to the apostates [the Tunisian government] and their masters [the West], and having fulfilled what is said in the Koran (9:14): “Fight against them so that Allah will punish them by your hands and disgrace them and give you victory over them and heal the breasts of a believing people.”
The article lists what it regards as the achievements of the operation, as follows:
1. The killing and wounding of dozens of infidels and Tunisian security personnel.
2. The operation exposed the ease of infiltrating sensitive sites.
3. The operation proved that using simple means and minimal planning, it is possible to deliver harsh blows to the regime and carry out deadly attacks even in secured and fortified locations. According to the article, the perpetrators only carried two AK-47 rifles and four grenades, and did not use explosive belts.
4. The regime’s lies were exposed, such as its claim that the perpetrators had killed a Muslim woman who worked at the museum.
5. The operation exposed the true face of “hypocrite” clerics who presume to be Salafis, and of politicians, journalists, and even Muslim Brotherhood members who were quick to condemn the attack.
6. The Tunisian stock market crashed following the attack: “The stock market collapsed as the result of the actions of only two individuals. What would have happened if it were a coordinated and simultaneous attack on several sensitive military and tourist locations?”
7. Tourism, which is an import source of revenue for the Tunisian economy, was badly damaged.
8. Many Tunisians were exposed as apostates when they sent condolences to the Western countries for their citizens who were killed.
9. The attack caused the countries of “Tunisia’s masters” (i.e. Western countries) to issue travel warnings for Tunisia. Additionally, it revealed “that Tunisia’s new rulers are agents of the French, and that Tunisia is still a French colony. Less than an hour after the operation commenced, the French prime minister issued a warning, a threat, and a condemnation, even before speaking to his tyrant Tunisian agents – the president and prime minister.”
10. The attack damaged the morale of Tunisian government and security personnel.
The article calls on Muslims to express their joy quietly, while promising them that in the future they will rejoice openly in streets and city squares. The article also addresses all Muslims, asking them to take an example from the operation and kill non-Muslim infidels as well as apostates who have abandoned Islam. Citing the Koran and Islamic law on the permissibility of killing infidels, it urges Muslims to kill tourists in Tunisia: “If you are afraid to kill an apostate soldier or policeman or tyrant ruler despite Allah’s orders, then you must kill infidels, who are called tourists. The blood and money of an infidel is permitted… Hunt them down everywhere, especially the French, American, British, and Israeli ones. Run them over with cars after changing your license plates and hiding your faces. Lure them on the roads, in dance clubs, and in bars. Then slaughter them on the beach or drown them in the ocean, poison their food, bash their skulls with a rock, or suffocate them with pillows in their rooms.” The article advises the attackers to change their appearance before carrying out the attack, avoid using cameras or phones or leaving fingerprints, and steal the tourists’ money and possessions before making their escape. It also advises them to later discard the clothes they wore during the act.
The article threatens Tunisian authorities and promises more attacks in the future: “You can promise, threaten, and do whatever you want. Muslims have grown used to prisons, torture and arrests. These have become enjoyable for them, since they brings them closer to their creator. But you do not know of the active fighting cells and do not recognize them. Expect further [attacks] in unexpected places.”
Addressing the fact that no organization has claimed responsibility for the attack, the article adds: “Regarding the claim of responsibility for the operation and the affiliation of the two dead [attackers], we say that, for the meantime, we want to listen to your funny analyses, hear your crying and moaning on the TV and radio, and laugh at the helplessness of your apostate masters [the Tunisian security apparatuses]. We informed them of every operation several hours in advance, and despite this, their helplessness is clear to all. We hinted at the type of target, and despite this, their helplessness is clear to all. What more do they want? The GPS coordinates??”
The article concludes by addressing “the hypocrite journalists and politicians” and advising them to flee Tunisia. It also warns the regime’s spies and agents and threatens that jihadis will kill them if they continue their activities.
 Shamikh1.info, March 18, 2015.
Reprinted with permission from MEMRI.
Following the recent Israeli elections, ‘Imad Al-Falouji, head of the Gaza-based Institute for Intercultural Dialogue, wrote an article titled “Israel’s Democracy and Our Anarchy.” Falouji is a former Hamas member who left the movement in 1996 and later served as information minister and as an advisor under Yasser Arafat. In his article he praised Israel’s way of handling controversy, and also praised the Israeli political parties for concerning themselves with the citizens’ wellbeing and with domains such as economy, education and security; this, in contrast to Palestinian parties which, he said, are concerned mostly with political grandstanding and do not seek solutions to the people’s everyday problems. He called upon the Palestinians to emulate the Israeli Arabs who united their ranks in order to bring about change.
The following are excerpts from his article:
‘Imad Al-Falouji (Image: Youtube.com)
“There is no shame in seeing reality as it is, and no wisdom in becoming experts [only] at cursing and disparaging our enemy. I know how difficult it is to compare the internal Palestinian situation – our shaping of our policy, the internal relations among us and our ways of resolving our differences – with the domestic situation of the enemy that is occupying our lands, usurping our holy sites, and denying our most minimal rights. But this enemy is proving to us and to the international community that, despite its tyranny and aggression, it surpasses us in many ways that are no longer hidden from any observer possessing a minimal degree of objectivity…
“Anyone examining the Israeli entity is amazed by the extent of internal disagreement on every issue between the religious and secular [sectors], and [also] by the disagreements within the sectors. They have a [political] right, center and left… and every perception has proponents and opponents and every senior has an [entire] dossier of charges against him. But, despite all this, they have passed laws that govern [the handling of] these disagreements and set out a common goal: that of serving the State of Israel and the people of Israel. They manage to use the internal disagreements as a source of strength…
“But we, ‘the possessors of truth’ – look at what is happening to us. We strike out in every direction without an agreed-upon plan or purpose. Each party or group has its own plan and goal. We do not believe in a unifying means. We renounce all the laws and charters, and have destroyed everything that united us. Each group claims to possess the absolute truth and [presents] the others’ [beliefs] as absolute lies. We do not possess the ability to listen to the other. Anarchy rules the day: political, economic, social and even conceptual anarchy.
“Let’s look at the campaign platforms of the Israeli parties, and what they focused on. All of them agreed on the need to serve the people on the socio-economic level, promote employment, cultivate the family and solve its problems, eradicate unemployment, promote education and achieve security for all citizens. They do not focus so much on political sparring and on empty grandstanding.
“But in our [political arena], everyone talks about politics and general foreign-[policy] affairs, and only rarely does a party concern itself with improving the lives of the people and resolving the internal crises from which they suffer. Moreover, nobody proposes solutions to anything.
“I know this comparison is difficult and may anger those who refuse to face the bleak reality. But there is no alternative but to say these things. Perhaps some of us will wake up and take the opportunity to improve our situation. Our brothers the Palestinians inside [i.e., the Israeli Arabs] have set up a model of unity [by uniting all their political parties in the Knesset], and have thereby proved that we [Palestinians] are capable of change when we realize the danger, and that there is yet hope.”
 Amad.ps, March 18, 2015.
One senator wants to know if former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton deleted her emails regarding the very delayed designation of Boko Haram as a terrorist organization — and if a very well-heeled donor influenced that policy.
The query is not new for Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), but it’s now reflected in some additional disturbing lights: the admission by Clinton that she used personal email while the nation’s top diplomat and screened which ones to keep or discard, and the ascension of Boko Haram to an ISIS affiliate.
In June of last year, Vitter questioned why the State Department, under former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “misled” Congress on the threat posed by Boko Haram.
He cited 2011 evidence on Boko Haram presented to the State Department by the National Counterterrorism Center, followed by a delay in the group’s terror designation until fall 2013.
“Recent evidence suggests Secretary Hillary Clinton and the State Department not only knew of the extent, but also deliberately attempted to obfuscate the issue in order to avoid having to make the designation of Boko Haram as a FTO, including downplaying the State Department’s own Country Reports on Terrorism (CRT),” Vitter wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry then.
“Inaccuracies within official documents make it clear that the State Department misled Congress and the American people. Evidence suggests that there was an internal decision by the Office of Coordinator for Counterterrorism to downplay official, legally required, intelligence data in order to purposefully avoid making the determination,” the senator continued.
Boko Haram, founded in 2002, began its campaign of attacks in earnest in 2009 but wasn’t put on the terror list until November 2013 — on the eve of Nigerian activists coming to Congress to testify about Boko Haram’s crimes and demand the terrorist designation. The State Department’s listing of Boko Haram and its offshoot, Ansaru, was so sudden the morning of the House subcommittee hearing that the submitted testimony of Emmanuel Ogebe, a Nigerian lawyer and human rights activist, still included a plea for the U.S. to finally add the Islamist groups to the list.
“We are concerned that it took them too long,” said Ogebe said, who put in his prepared remarks that “part of the State Department’s response has been to deny the religious motivation of a rabid jihadist group that has repeatedly declared its goal of overthrowing the state and establishing a radical Muslim theocracy; to downplay the repeated threats to America going back several years by claiming this is all ‘local’; presenting arguments rationalizing terrorism by psycho-analyzing the emotional disconnect between the central government and northern Muslims who fuel the terrorism.”
Even after a February 2012 promise by Boko Haram to assassinate the U.S. ambassador, the State Department kept the Nigerian terrorists off the list.
Vitter has suggested that Clinton’s deep donor ties to Gilbert Chagoury, a major Lebanese-Nigerian land developer who has given millions to Democratic campaigns, the Clinton library and Clinton Foundation global initiatives, could have accounted for some of Clinton’s reticence in the terror designation — a recognized terrorist group operating in the region, after all, makes more than a dent on local economies and investors get scared off.
When Chagoury was added to the no-fly list and pulled off a plane in 2010, it took just a few months to get a waiver and a written apology from the Department of Homeland Security — though he said afterwards that he didn’t approach the Clintons for help.
The Chagoury Group says it is “a leading Nigerian employer, with a workforce numbering tens of thousands of Nigerian and other African and international personnel,” boasting manufacturing, construction, industrial, hotels and hi-tech companies under its umbrella.
Yesterday, Vitter sent more correspondence to Kerry, asking that his department turn over “all additional files specifically relating to the designation of Boko Haram as a terrorist organization during former Secretary Clinton’s term and seek out any related files which may not have already been turned over by Secretary Clinton.”
“Given the drastic foothold Boko Haram was allowed to gain prior to being designated an FTO, the nexus between the Department’s decision against designating Boko Haram as an FTO and connections to outside groups should be brought forward. Associated records should have been preserved as evidence of the agency’s activities, decisions and procedures. These should be presented to the relevant committees and to the American public to be evaluated for corresponding misconduct,” Vitter wrote.
He stressed that while last year’s evidence of “inaccuracies within official documents” makes “clear that the State Department misled Congress and the American people,” additional evidence “demonstrates that multiple Department employees who were directly involved in the decision against designating Boko Haram as an FTO, including the Office Coordinator for Counterterrorism, have been Clinton Foundation employees.”
Vitter noted that while the Boko Haram designation was being stalled, President Clinton was participating in events with Chagoury, whose pockets are so deep he has a section named after him at the Louvre. Those included a February 2012 speaking engagement at the dedication ceremony for Chagoury’s new luxury housing project.
Long under the microscope for corruption, allegations he has denied, Chagoury settled a 2000 money laundering case in Geneva with a fine of a million Swiss francs and paying $66 million to the Nigerian government; that conviction has since been expunged from his record by the Swiss.
“We need to know if Mr. Chagoury had any influence in the decision not to designate Boko Haram an FTO, or had any other influence with Sec. Clinton’s foreign policy decisions,” Vitter wrote.
Mark Corallo, who was retained by Chagoury back in 2010 during his incident with TSA and is now close friends with the philanthropist, said Vitter’s hunt into the relationship of Chagoury and the Clintons as it relates to the Boko Haram listing is baseless.
Corallo said Chagoury “has had no contact with Hillary Clinton for years – predating her time as a U.S. senator.”
“So even if Senator Vitter somehow retrieves Hillary’s emails, he’ll find no emails or correspondence of any kind with Secretary Clinton or the Department of State. Furthermore, while he has had a well-publicized friendship with former President Clinton and has donated to the Clinton foundation, I would point out that he has also donated to the George W Bush presidential library. Why? Because both President Bush and President Clinton showed a real interest in Africa and Ambassador Chagoury truly appreciated both men and their efforts,” Corallo told PJM.
Corallo called Chagoury “one of the most kind, generous and peace loving men I have ever known” and charged that for Vitter “to use him as a foil is pathetic.”
“To implicate a good man in some nefarious scheme to benefit the ruthless Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram – a group that is responsible for murdering thousands of Nigerian Christians and innocent Muslims who are Ambassador Chagoury’s countrymen is despicable,” he said.
Vitter, who is running for governor of Louisiana this year, reminded Kerry that he’s “long opposed the foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation as a conflict of interest for Secretary Clinton due to the nature of the job.”
“Former Secretary Clinton’s actions in conjunction to information I have previously presented to the Department where she circumvented and misled Congress should be closely examined,” Vitter wrote. “…Due to the highly unusual nature of the current circumstance, I am asking you to demonstrate the Department’s commitment to transparency and to provide all files related to their decision not to designate Boko Haram an FTO, and all communication with Mr. Chagoury or his affiliated businesses.”
“These actions, if true, run contrary to the trust placed in the Department, as a representative of the United States and constitutional government. It is imperative to fully disclose relevant information to the American public.”
Boko Haram killed more than 6,300 civilians in 2014 alone, and its rampages this year have included some 2,000 deaths in the Baga massacre alone. Most of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped 11 months ago, sparking the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, have not been found.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was updated on 3/20/14 to add comment from Chagoury associate Mark Corallo.
Tunisia’s president has vowed to act “without mercy” in response to today’s terrorist attack that targeted tourists at the capital’s renowned Bardo Museum.
Prime Minister Habib Essid said the 22 dead included 20 tourists from Italy, Germany, Spain and Poland. An interior ministry spokesman said there were also victims from France and South Africa. Two gunmen were killed and one to three gunmen were reported to still be at large. They reportedly began spraying the tourists with gunfire as they disembarked from tour buses. Some were taken hostage inside the museum complex and later freed by security forces with one police officer killed.
Tunisia, which was the birth of the Arab Spring democracy movements, is viewing it as a direct assault upon their lucrative tourism industry. “All Tunisians should be united after this attack which was aimed at destroying the Tunisian economy,” Essid said in an address to the nation.
“I want the Tunisian people to understand that we are in a war against terrorism and that these savage minorities do not frighten us,” Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said in televised remarks. “We will fight them without mercy to our last breath.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, though suspects include Ansar al-Sharia, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and ISIS. The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation in London estimates between 1,500 and 3,000 Tunisians have gone to fight with ISIS.
The U.S. Embassy in Tunis, which is about 10 miles from the site of the attack, sent out an emergency message for U.S. citizens today warning them to avoid the area around the parliament and the museum.
“U.S. citizens are reminded to exercise caution and avoid areas where large gatherings may occur. Even demonstrations or events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. U.S. citizens should monitor local events, report suspicious activity to the local police, and take appropriate steps to bolster their own security,” the message stated. “The U.S. Embassy reiterates our standing guidance that U.S. citizens in Tunisia should exercise caution when frequenting public venues that are visited by large numbers of foreigners, such as hotels, shopping centers, and tourist sites and restaurants. U.S. citizens should also be alert to the possibility of kidnapping.”
Secretary of State John Kerry issued a statement condemning the attack. “We extend our heartfelt sympathy to the victims’ families and loved ones. We commend Tunisian authorities’ rapid response to today’s wanton violence and their efforts to resolve the hostage situation and restore calm,” Kerry said. “The United States stands with the Tunisian people at this difficult time and continues to support the Tunisian government’s efforts to advance a secure, prosperous, and democratic Tunisia.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement that U.S. officials have been in touch with Tunisian officials and are ready to offer help.
“While we do not yet know the identities of the attackers or their motives, what we do know is that their cowardly acts will not intimidate the Tunisian people, whose storied heritage is showcased at the site of this attack, the National Bardo Museum,” Earnest said. “The United States is proud of our robust cooperation with Tunisia on counterterrorism and broader security issues, and we will continue to stand with our Tunisian partners against terrorist violence.”
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) said the attack “reminds us all that there are still people who choose hate and intolerance, over understanding and compassion.”
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser is one of the men I admire most. When he recently appeared on Glenn Beck’s show he showed, once again, why that’s so:
Courageous Islamic reformers like Dr. Zuhdi Jasser are the reason why I’m convinced that the war on Radical Islam will be won… eventually. Yes, we can bomb ISIS and similar radical organizations back to the Stone Age, but that won’t actually make the problem go away permanently because Islamism has become part of Islamic cultures. It’s an ideological and cultural battle; you can only win such a war with opposing ideas, not just with bombs.
Jasser has an alternative vision for what Islam can and should be, and understands how to sell his ideas to fellow Muslims. The best part? His interpretation of Islam is loving, caring, compassionate, thoroughly modern and inspiring. His enemies only have hate and death to work with. As history has shown, in the end, liberty, freedom and love always win, especially when the forces for good use media and education to reach as many people as possible. The only bad news is that it may take several decades before Radical Islam is finally destroyed.
Do you agree that Islam can be reformed or have you given up hope for the world’s second largest religion?
As U.S. consular services in Saudi Arabia remain closed to some 40,000 American citizens until further notice, the State Department announced that diplomatic facilities in Djibouti are closing to the public as well.
U.S. citizens were told in a security message today that the embassy will close Thursday “to review its security posture.”
The embassy said it will “reopen for regular business” on Sunday. “Emergency consular services for U.S. citizens will be available.”
Citizens were “encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.”
The State Department move comes after Sheikh Hassan Hussein, a pro-Shabaab Somali cleric, declared ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to be a legitimate caliph and said some al-Qaeda had wrongly judged the caliphate. Boko Haram in Nigeria pledged allegiance to ISIS earlier this month, raising speculation about Somalia’s Al-Shabaab following suit.
Sheikh Hussein has been considered a spiritual leader of Al-Shabaab, issuing fatwas supporting their terrorist attacks.
The United Arab Emirates warned in October that more needed to be done to counter ISIS’ spread in North Africa.
“What really scares us now is what we see from Daesh, and are we going to see in the future any sort of collaboration between different terrorist groups like Daesh and al-Shabab?” Emirati foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said at the opening of a counter-piracy conference.
“I think we should start to ask ourselves: how ready we are as countries, companies and international organizations in facing these big threats,” the sheikh added.
Somali media have reported that Al-Shabaab members have been squabbling over loyalty to ISIS or Ayman al-Zawahiri.
A November travel warning for Djibouti said that the U.S. government “continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at Western (including U.S.) and Djiboutian interests.”
Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for two suicide bombings in a restaurant frequented by Westerners last May.
“Terrorist acts can include suicide operations, bombings (to include car bombings), kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation, and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Djiboutian ports. Attacks may target official government facilities, including Embassies and military installations, as well as soft targets such as restaurants, clubs, hotels, and other commercial entities. While Djiboutian officials continue the pursuit of those responsible for previous terrorist attacks, many of those involved remain at large and still operate in the region,” the travel warning said.
“…Citizens should stay abreast of local developments by following local press, radio, and television reports prior to undertaking travel. Visitors should also consult their hosts, including U.S. and Djibouti business contacts, and hotels. We also encourage U.S. citizens to evaluate carefully the security of places they visit in Djibouti, particularly public places such as shopping areas, hotels, clubs/bars, and restaurants.”
What the Netanyahu election-day robo call actually said:
Voter turnout in the Arab sector is three times higher! The threat is real: Abu Mazen’s calls and American money are getting the Arab vote out. Go and vote.
Why it was a reiteration of the truth, not race-mongering:
After the V15 story broke, the Free Beacon reported on a “confidential strategy memo” sent out last December by Ameinu, the American wing of Israel’s Labor movement, soliciting funds for a “massive, non-partisan Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign” in Israel. Touting their American contacts “…with experience in similar recent operations, including the Obama presidential campaign,” the memo details a direct link between Ameinu and the organization tagged to operate the GOTV campaign, Givat Haviva, a recipient of State Department funding.
Ameinu claims it broke from the alliance with what eventually became V15 before the V15 campaign was formed, instead choosing to direct its non-partisan fundraising efforts specifically towards Israel’s Arab community who, while traditionally Left-leaning, were not necessarily registered with any particular party.
The post-election reality? The Joint List, a coalition of three Arab and one Arab-Jewish party “will be the third largest faction in the Knesset bringing with it formidable political power.” Something that does not reassure anonymous Israeli Christian Arabs who refused to vote for an Islamic party, along with more anonymous Israeli Arabs who “…feel uncomfortable voting for a party that has members who will do nothing to advance the rights of women and homosexuals.”
How the Leftist-funded and fueled “Anybody but Bibi” crowd is playing it:
#hardball Netanyahu proves fanning racist fears and warmongering wins elections, just like Bush/Cheney and Republican Party.
— Bill Wong (@ten24get) March 17, 2015
Like Taylor Swift, no matter what tune they hum their lyrics remain the same.
The State Department brushed off a warning from the former Saudi ambassador to Washington that the P5+1 deal being negotiated with Iran will lead to rash of uranium enrichment in the Middle East.
Prince Turki al-Faisal, who was also head of Saudi intelligence services before the 9/11 attacks, told BBC that “whatever comes out of these talks, we will want the same.”
“So if Iran has the ability to enrich uranium to whatever level, it’s not just Saudi Arabia that’s going to ask for that,” the prince said. “The whole world will be an open door to go that route without any inhibition, and that’s my main objection to this P5+1 process.”
On CNN last night, State Department press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the remarks.
“Well, one, I don’t believe Prince Turki has a role in the Saudi government right now,” she said of the Saudi royal.
“But, two, this is a process that is ongoing. Every component of the deal will be vitally important, we will be briefing our partners on,” Psaki continued. “I think the third piece here is that we’re not opposed to peaceful nuclear power, a peaceful program. That’s something many countries aspire to. If they’re abiding by the NPT, which Iran would be a part of, then certainly, they would be meeting requirements. It’s about preventing them from taking this into a detrimental direction.”
Prince Turki also noted that “it seems that Iran is expanding its occupation of Iraq and that is unacceptable.”
“Iran is already a disruptive player in various scenes in the Arab world, whether it’s Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, or Bahrain,” he said.
“So ending fear of developing weapons of mass destruction is not going to be the end of the troubles we’re having with Iran.”
The Obama administration has repeatedly stressed that it wants a nuclear deal with Iran first and then will worry about its terrorist and hegemonic activities.
Without explanation, the State Department extended the closure of diplomatic facilities in Saudi Arabia for at least another day.
U.S. citizens in Saudi Arabia received a security message from the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh on Saturday, warning that consular services in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dhahra would be shut down Sunday and Monday. Even the phone lines are unavailable.
“All U.S. citizens are encouraged to be aware of their surroundings, and take extra precautions when travelling throughout the country. The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia and limit non-essential travel within the country,” the message said.
On Monday, the U.S. Embassy said in a message to citizens, “Due to heightened security concerns at U.S. diplomatic facilities in Saudi Arabia, consular services will continue to be cancelled at the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh and Consulates General in Jeddah and Dhahran on Tuesday, March 17.”
“A new security message will be sent out as soon as consular services return to normal,” the Embassy added.
Asked about the security situation last night on CNN, State Department press secretary Jen Psaki said she didn’t have an idea on when U.S. facilities might reopen.
“One of the things the State Department does is inform American citizens and people around the world when there is a credible threat, when there’s a threat that people need to have information about,” Psaki said. “…We just take every precaution necessary to protect American citizens.”
“We have not changed our staffing. We have not changed anything in that regard. Obviously, we take every precaution as it relates to security. But we also have a responsibility to provide information we have access to. And that was the case here.”
Regional media have gleaned little else about the threat. “We found it advisable not to open to the public because of our security concerns,” embassy press officer Johann Schmonsees said, according to Gulf News.
On March 13, the day before the advisory that diplomatic facilities would be closed, the Embassy said it “has information stating that, as of early March, individuals associated with a terrorist organization could be targeting Western oil workers, possibly to include those U.S. citizens working for oil companies in the Eastern Province, for an attack(s) and/or kidnapping(s). There is no further information on the timing, target, location, or method of any planned attacks.”
On March 7, the Embassy warned that “individuals associated with a terrorist organization are targeting employees of Chevron in Saudi Arabia for a possible attack.”
The State Department’s travel warning, updated on Feb. 25, notes the danger of security threats from ISIS and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
“Possible targets include housing compounds, hotels, shopping areas, international schools, and other facilities where Westerners congregate, as well as Saudi government facilities and economic/commercial targets within the Kingdom,” the warning added.
ISIS is believed to be seeking more Western hostages after it killed all of its known American hostages. The terrorist group is counting on sympathizers in countries across the region to help.
The Saudi Gazette reported in September that there are 40,000 Americans living and working in the kingdom.