Friday, April 17, 2015

17-Apr-15: In the aftermath of another lethal car-ramming in Jerusalem

The driver is now arrested
Wednesday night's car-ramming of Israeli commuters standing at a French Hill, Jerusalem, bus stop [reported here] has resulted in the arrest of the driver of the ramming vehicle.

The Jerusalem Post says Khaled Koutineh, a 37 year-old Palestinian Arab resident of the village of Anata, east of Jerusalem, "was motivated by nationalistic reasons to drive his vehicle" into Shalom Yohai Cherki, 25, and Shira Klein, 20. The two were standing together at the French Hill bus stop on Haim Bar Lev Boulevard in north Jerusalem. Cherki, son of a prominent family, suffered severe traumatic head trauma and died soon after the attack. Shira Klein is fighting for her life in hospital. The vehicle driven by the accused struck them at high speed.

A statement last night [Thursday] by Israel Police indicated that the car-ramming was likely an act of terror. Today's report, after the police interrogation had gone on for some hours, said there was cause to believe
that Khaled Koutineh, 37, from Anata, was motivated by nationalistic reasons to drive his vehicle into Cherki and Shira Klein, who is in her 20s, and remains hospitalized. “After the suspect was questioned, the preliminary findings reinforced that the incident was an attack; however, the investigation is continuing,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Thursday. Koutineh was arraigned at Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court earlier in the day, where a judge extended his remand through Monday. His lawyer, Nasser Massis, claimed that Koutineh is not a terrorist, but rather lost control of the vehicle due to inclement driving conditions. “My client denied all involvement in criminal activity. [He] claim[s] this was a normal traffic accident that was not unreasonable given the circumstances,” Massis said. “There was heavy rainfall and the defendant believes the court will ultimately release him.”
The alleged attacker's wife explained [Times of Israel] her husband's innocence. He had left his house at around 10 p.m. Wednesday to drive his parents to their home in Jerusalem’s Old City and the accident was "caused by the bad weather at the time... He has no political awareness. He doesn’t even watch the news,” she said."

Thursday, April 16, 2015

16-Apr-15: At a bus stop stop in Jerusalem's French Hill on Holocaust Memorial Day, two lives upended

Around 11 on Wednesday night, we posted this to our Twitter account:


Those first reports were unclear, though the sounds of emergency vehicles - clearly heard in our part of Israel's capital at a late hour - conveyed urgency and danger. There is still no confirmation from the authorities that what happened was a calculated act of terror via lethal vehicle. But the indications that it was are significant.

From Haaretz this morning ["Israeli man dies after possible Jerusalem car ramming attack"]:
Palestinian driver has been detained as part of the investigation; Police probing terror motives | Nir Hasson | April 16, 2015 | An Israeli man died Thursday morning of injuries sustained after being struck by a car in Jerusalem the previous night. The victim has been identified as Shalom Yohai Sherki, 25. He was the son of Rabbi Uri Sherki and [brother of] Channel 2 correspondent, Yair Sherki. The driver, a Palestinian, has been detained by police. Police and the Shin Bet security service were investigationg the incident and trying to determine whether the attack was intentional.They have not ruled out the possibility that it was an accident... Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat arrived at the scene Wednesday night along with heavy police forces and emergency crew. The incident occurred on Route 1, not far from some of the car ramming attacks in Jerusalem in recent months.
Those attacks were acts of terror beyond any doubt. We reported on two here just last month ["07-Mar-15: For some, but only some, Friday's Jerusalem ramming/slashing was yet another terror attack" and "06-Mar-15: Jerusalem, Purim and terror... once again"]

Shalom Yochai Sherki Z"L
Israel National News tells us more about one of the victims:
Son of Prominent Rabbi Victim in Possible 'Car Terror' Incident | The Israeli killed when he and a companion were hit by an Arab driver is Shalom Yohai Sherki, the son of the well-known Rabbi Uri Sherki | Moshe Cohen | First Publish: 4/16/2015, 9:00 AM
The Israeli killed Wednesday night when he and a companion were hit by an Arab driver is Shalom Yohai Sherki, the son of the popular Rabbi Uri Sherki, and brother of Channel Two journalist Yair Sherki. Shalom studied at the Bnei Tzvi Torani yeshiva high school in Beit El and was employed there as a youth counselor after his IDF service. The 25 year old victim's funeral will be held Thursday, the family said.
Still in critical condition is a second victim, a female around 20 years of age. Doctors are fighting to save her life. The two were hit late Wednesday by an Arab driver from Jerusalem, who slammed into the two at a bus stop in the French Hill area of Jerusalem. Police questioned the suspect overnight, and suspect that terror might have been the motive of the driver, who sought to kill Jews on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day, police sources said. The suspect is to be transferred to the Shabak for questioning Thursday. The suspect was slightly injured in the incident, and was treated at the site by Magen David Adom volunteers.
Rabbi Uri Sherki is well-known in Religious Zionist circles. A close student of Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, he is head of the Israeli student department in Machon Meir and rabbi of the Beit Yehuda synagogue. Born in Algeria, Rabbi Sherki, was raised in France, and is a popular figure among French Jews. His Torah lectures often focus on Philosophy and Religion. Yair Sherki is the religious affairs correspondent for Channel Two... 
Today, Holocaust Memorial Day (the 27th day of the month of Nissan) is when Jews reflect on the hatred that costs lives and futures.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

14-Apr-15: From Gaza, where seldom is heard an encouraging word, a (very) cautiously optimistic note

Smoke rises (in this Getty Images photo published in The Guardian) in October 2013 from
the mouth of a smuggling tunnel dug beneath the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. "Egypt's army has destroyed many of the tunnels on the Egyptian side of Rafah", the caption reads
Here's a slightly surprising follow-on to a post we put up yesterday: "13-Apr-15: The carnage resulting from Gaza's Hamas tunnels may now be sharply reduced". 

Khaled Abu Toameh, one of the most well-informed and worthwhile news sources in the Arab parts of the Middle East, writes on the Gatestone Institute that Egypt's tough new regime of security measures and laws to strangle the massive number of tunnels running underground between the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip and Egypt is having an impact:
"The smuggling (of weapons into the Gaza Strip) has been stopped almost completely," admitted Abu Mohammed, a Palestinian arms dealer from the town Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. "Rarely does anyone manage to smuggle light weapons or ammunition." ...He complained that it has become impossible to smuggle missiles and rockets into the Gaza Strip... ["T]he cost of one bullet, which used to sell for one US dollar, had doubled in recent months. Similarly, the price of an Egyptian-made AK-47 assault rifle has risen from $900 to $1300"... Sisi has shown real guts and determination in his war to drain the swamps of terrorists. The tough measures he has taken along the border with the Gaza Strip have proven to be even more effective than Israel's military operations against the smuggling tunnels. That the Gaza Strip is facing a weapons shortage is good news not only for Israel and Egypt, but also for the Palestinians living there. It is hard to see how Hamas will rush into another military confrontation with Israel -- where Palestinians would once again pay a heavy price -- at a time when Sisi's army is working around the clock to destroy smuggling tunnels, and the prices of rifles and bullets in the Gaza Strip are skyrocketing... ["Gaza: Egypt Responsible For Weapons Shortage", Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, April 13, 2015]
A note of a less sanguine kind is sounded in a bulletin issued yesterday by MEMRI. The MEMRI mission is to render into English some of the published Arabic-language material that would otherwise go ignored in the West, and thank goodness for its work. Quoting a March 14, 2015 report on the Hamas-controlled Alqassam.ps website, the MEMRI report says the Al-Qassam Brigades, an arm of Hamas, are 
preparing for the next conflict with Israel by establishing military camps. Recently, the Al-Qassam Brigades' preparation and training division began constructing two camps, named Al-Yarmouk and Filastin, near the Israel-Gaza border. A department official said: "The brigades will continue to train, with no fear of Israel." He added, "The training is also meant to assure the residents that the resistance is in good shape, that it has not ceased operations as the occupation claims, and that it is on the frontlines to defend the people.
MEMRI quotes other Gazan sources (via Felesteen.ps, and almajd.ps) from March 8, 2015, saying 
joint training was conducted for the first time by the military wings of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (the Al-Quds Brigades) and Hamas (the Al-Qassam Brigades). The Hamas website Al-Majd explained: "The training is a deterring message to the occupation from the resistance, as well as a message of strength for the domestic Palestinian front."
Sadly, it's premature for the swords on our side of the fence to start being beaten into plough-shares.

14-Apr-15: Women and what the Palestinian Authority sees them as good for

Um Nasser (also Um Nasr, Um Sharif, Um Muhammad), designated
by the PA as embodying its transcendent values [Image Source]
From the official organ of the Mahmoud Abbas-dominated Palestinian Authority, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (edition of March 11, 2015) as translated by the diligent people of Palestinian Media Watch without whom the PA's propaganda in all its hideosity would go largely unappreciated.

It's an article evidently timed to appear during International Women's Day festivities:
The Commission of Prisoners' Affairs honored its female employees and several released female prisoners, March 10, 2015. Director of Prisoners' Affairs Commission [and PA Parliament Member] Issa Karake and Chairman of the Prisoners' Club Qadura Fares honored the female employees of the authority and the club and a number of released female prisoners on the occasion of the International Women's day, today [March 10, 2015] at the headquarters of the El-Bireh Women's Arab Union Society. The event was attended by Rashida Mughrabi [that would be the sister of notorious woman terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, one of the PLO terrorists who carried out the hijacking of an Israeli bus and the murder of 37 Israelis, all civilians, 12 of them children, in 1978. Disgracefully, PA schools, summer camps, and sports tournaments are named after her]; Chairwoman of the Women's [Arab] Union Muntaha Jarrar; Um Nasser Abu Hmeid, mother of four prisoners sentenced to life in the occupation's prisons; the released girl Malak Al-Khatib and a number of [other] released female prisoners...
Um Nasser et al, being honoured again [Image Source]
Here, courtesy of PMW, is what the heroic Mrs Abu Hmeid (pictured above - actual given name: Latifa) has achieved in her life.

Of her seven sons, one is deceased (Abd Al-Mun’im Muhammad Yusuf Naji Abu Hmeid, previously of Hamas), three others are in prison for various terrorists actions, while four more are too but they are all in for acts of homicide:
  • Her son Nasser took part in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Fatah's so-called military wing - as if the rest of Fatah is nt heart-and-soul engaged in terrorism. He is currently serving 7 life sentences plus 50 years in an Israeli prison for killing 7 Israeli civilians and for 12 additional attempted murders. 
  • Her son Nasr (who says Palestinian Arabs have no sense of humor?) belonged to the Tanzim (another Fatah terror faction, this one headed by the imprisoned "peace activist" Marwan Barghouti). Like his brother Nasser, Nasr is serving 5 life sentences in an Israeli prison for his involvement in two terror attacks and for arms dealing.
  • Their brother Sharif carried out terror attacks against Israeli civilians as well as soldiers and is behind Israeli bars serving 4 life sentences for accompanying a human bomb to an attack in March 2002.
  • And her son Muhammad is serving 2 life sentences plus 30 years for involvement in terror attacks directed at Israelis.
This radiant mother, the embodiment of human kindness and the endless search for peaceful relations with people who hold to different religions and different outlooks on life, is a regular fixture at PA ceremonies (here for instance from 2011), evidently because of the transcendent peace-and-future-centric values her life reflects in the eyes of Palestinian Arab society.

14-Apr-15: Women and what the Islamists see them as good for

Image Source
The United States is about to see a woman with a serious chance of succeeding embark on the political process of trying to get elected president. Women in the world of the terrorists play a role of a different sort.

A profile article about Gaza on the Foreign Policy website today offers an oddly-disconnected look at how women are used by the Islamist terror groups:
Throughout Gaza, armed groups have stepped up their recruitment. Now, each one — including Hamas’s Qassam Brigades and Palestinian Islamic Jihad — has a female contingent. No one knows exactly how many female fighters there are in Gaza, but the Nasser Salahuddin Brigade boasts 80 female combatants working in 25-women units. Each unit has female commanding officers, who answer to a male superior... "We fit the training around our domestic chores," said Hadifa, 26, her face obscured by a niqab, while cuddling an assault rifle during a midnight meeting at her Gaza City home. She said the women are trained to use sniper rifles, AKs, RPGs, M16s, and also how to drive cars through war zones, how to fight with a knife, and most recently how to capture an Israeli soldier in battle... It is not hard to see why they would be a military asset: Women have an easier time moving around war zones, due to the presumption that they are civilians. As a result, they can deliver weapons and food to fighters on the front lines with less risk than their male counterparts.
There's not one mention of the word "terror" in its various permutations in this article, though it's all about Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The jihadists are repeatedly called "combatants", "fighters", "military asset",  in an article replete with references to their participation in "armed resistance". In this sense, it illustrates again how a deeply cynical strategy like that of Hamas, keeping its subjects in conditions of maximum misery. depriving them of the benefits of the foreign aid inflows that make Palestinian Arabs the most-heavily-funded target group in history, pays significant dividends, particularly when there are sympathetic or dumb-as-a-boot reporters in the vicinity. This piece quotes a nameless Gazan woman, a mother, saying that:
Gaza residents see armed resistance as one of the only ways to take control of their lives. "Gaza is a tomb; we are dead anyway," she said, helping her injured son out of his wheelchair. "Either you die pointlessly and slowly, or quickly with purpose."
That sounds like it could have been lifted from an Islamist kill-the-unbelievers sermon.

Image Source
It's been a year (exactly - April 14, 2014) since hundreds of girls were seized in the name of a Nigerian Islamist terror group and have not been seen since. There will be walks in their honour and other commemorative "ceremonies" (the word used by the BBC) this week in London, Washington and other places. But it's clear the one walk that would make a real difference - one in which the girls emerge and are free of their Islamist kidnappers - is unlikely to take place, either today or anytime soon.

Another prominent female political figure, holding up a sadly pointless placard for the cameras, with a handwritten appeal to "#BringBackOurGirls", famously framed their plight in terms that seemed to many (us included) to have missed the real point completely. The tragedy of the Nigerian girls, in Michelle Obama's words, was an "unconscionable" effort by
"a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education – grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls... In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters. We see their hopes, their dreams..."
but not a single mention of the words Boko Haramfor the terrorists who openly took credit, or Islam or Islamist, in whose name they acted (see the official text of her speech). 

Could be its a matter of semantics, and that Mrs Obama really sees the Nigerian atrocities as being about missed educational opportunities. It could also be that being unwilling or unable to face up to the ideological platform on which men who seize girls act ensures such hideous things will keep happening.

Meanwhile women and terror continue to be bracketed in new and tragic ways:
  • "At least 2,000 women have been abducted by Boko Haram, detained in prisons and houses and subjected to forced marriage, stonings and sexual slavery, according to a report that berates Nigeria’s “dismal” security situation. The Amnesty International report – based on more than 150 witness accounts – charges the Islamist militants with the deaths of more than 5,500 civilians and paints the most detailed picture yet of the oppression inflicted upon young women... Soon after taking control of a town, militants implemented restrictions of movement, particularly on women, the report says. Failure to attend daily prayers was punishable by public flogging." ["Boko Haram 'has abducted, raped and enslaved 2,000 women in reign of terror'", The Independent UK, today]
  • "Up to 40 Australian women have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting militant groups, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said. She said an increasing number of women were going to Syria and Iraq to join husbands fighting with Islamic State (IS) or to marry a militant... Australian officials are worried about the effect of returnees, and on those who support them, on domestic security. Ms Bishop said that women accounted for nearly one-fifth of all foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, but that it "defied logic" that women would join groups such as IS." ["Dozens of Australian women 'supporting terrorism'", BBC, February 26, 2015]
  • "From Denver to Vienna, "Caliphettes" – young girls pledging their support to Isils so called "Caliphate" on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr – are escaping to marry Jihadis in Syria. And most recently, Hayat Boumeddiene, the wife of one of the perpetrators of the recent terrorist atrocities in Paris, is the most wanted terror suspect in the world today... the spectre of radicalised Western women streaming to the battlegrounds of Syria should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Isil’s highly sophisticated, tech savvy radicalisation and recruitment machinery. They deploy peer-to-peer, in this case girl-to-girl, marketing strategies, Twitter amplification apps, iconic memes, gaming imagery and go-pro footage from the field..." ["The female face of terror", The Telegraph UK, January 28, 2015]
  • "Two women and self-declared “citizens of the Islamic State” were arrested Thursday in connection to a plot to detonate homemade bombs in the United States. Noelle Velentzas and Asia Siddiqui, both of Queens, N.Y., were charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against “persons or property” in the United States..." ["2 Women Arrested in New York for ISIS-Inspired Terror Plot" [TIME Magazine, April 2, 2015]
  • "Women have long been involved in terror of all stripes, from female neo-Nazis in Europe to Chechen “black widow” suicide bombers. Indeed, despite stereotypes about their domesticity and passivity... women are drawn to groups like the Islamic State by many of the same forces as men: adventure, inequality, alienation and the pull of the cause. Once there, they commit violence against other women, including as part of all-female brigades enforcing female morality codes requiring modest dress and sex segregation. They operate checkpoints and go on home raids; they are also reportedly recruiters, trainers of female suicide bombers, wives and homemakers, fund-raisers and propagandists. They also help sanitize the group’s image by posting photos of themselves drinking milkshakes on Instagram and writing chatty, lighthearted tweets... The West’s inability to appreciate the role that women play in terror should come under the highest scrutiny...  ["When Women Become Terrorists", Jayne Huckerby, NYTimes, January 21, 2015]
We said here a year ago that America's current First Lady would surely agree 
that the killing of our daughter in August 2001 at the hands of another overtly-Islamist terror group - Hamas - was unconscionable. And yes, it cheated Malki of her education. And certainly it destroyed her hopes and dreamsBut it was principally about murder and especially about hatredDid it bring anguish into our lives? Oh yes, and it's an anguish that grows as we see well-informed people who fail to comprehend the nature of attacks like the one that targeted Jewish children in a Jerusalem pizza store, and like the one that targeted Nigerian girls in their school. Excising the Islamist dimension from their understanding of what is happening dooms some of the most influential people in our societies to continue seriously misapprehending the goals of Hamas, of Boko Haram and of the rising tide of terrorism-addicted savages with Islamist passion in their hearts. Ultimately, we all pay a price for this, and it's unconscionably heavy.
Part of that price is the hypocrisy and seriously shallow thinking that tinges news reports emanating from terror-rich war zones. The problem is not so much in mis-understanding why and how women play the role they do but in comprehending how different the terrorists - female and male - are from "fighters" and "combatants". The media's confusion on this, along with the double-speak of too many politicians and other public figures, ought to be understood for what they mean strategically: an indispensable achievement for the Islamists in their march against civilized societies. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

13-Apr-15: The carnage resulting from Gaza's Hamas tunnels may now be sharply reduced

Children working on a Gaza tunnel construction site, from a National
Geographic report
published in July 2014
As far as we can tell from Googling, no mainstream Western news source is reporting on the dramatic moves the Egyptians have just taken - a no-holds-barred assault on the Hamas-inspired Gaza attack-tunnels phenomenon. Not surprisingly, several Israeli sources are reporting on it. Here's one.

Egypt to sentence Gaza smugglers to life in prison | The Times of Israel April 13, 2015
A new amendment to Egypt’s penal code would sentence offenders convicted of digging and using cross-border tunnels connecting the country to the Gaza Strip to terms of up to life in prison, the Egyptian news agency MENA reported Sunday. The amendment, one of several passed by presidential decree, seeks to curtail the problem of tunnels between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, which have been used to smuggle contraband crucial for the Hamas rule in the Palestinian territory, as well as weapons and terror activists. Under the new amendment, the Egyptian government has the authority to confiscate buildings above the tunnels or any equipment used in their construction. Anyone with knowledge of cross-border tunnels who does not report them could be liable to the same life term as those who build and use them.
The victims of the tunnels industry are not only Israeli military personnel and civilians. Nor are they only Egyptian security people fighting the terrorist groups that have been active for years in the Sinai. In fact, the price paid by Palestinian children is one that has so far largely been kept under wraps.

A July 2014 Tablet Magazine report ["Hamas Killed 160 Palestinian Children to Build Tunnels"] describes the ruthless abuse by the Islamist ideologues of Hamas in exploiting child slave-laborers. Demonstrating the lethal hypocrisy of Iran's local Hamas surrogates in the Gaza Strip, those children were all Palestinian Arabs:
The Institute for Palestine Studies published a detailed report [here] on Gaza’s Tunnel Phenomenon in the summer of 2012. It reported that tunnel construction in Gaza has resulted in a large number of child deaths. The author, Nicolas Pelham, explains that Hamas uses child laborers to build their terror tunnels because, "much as in Victorian coal mines, they are prized for their nimble bodies". Human rights groups operating in Gaza raised concerns about child labor in the tunnels as far back as 2008. Hamas responded by saying it was “considering curbs." ...Nor does it seem that Hamas paid much subsequent attention to ensuring the safety of the child workers that it used to build the tunnels that would wind up endangering the lives of many in Gaza. On a tour of the tunnels in 2011, Pelham noted that, “nothing was done to impede the use of children in the tunnels.”
Now something does appear finally to have been done - not (of course) by the jihadists of Gaza but by the Egyptians on the other side of the border.

It's safe to assume that many lives that would otherwise be needlessly endangered, at least in those Gaza tunnels that run to and from Egypt and the Sinai, will be preserved as a result.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

12-Apr-15: Calling Canada

If you are in the Toronto area, here's a heads-up that Arnold Roth is going to be visiting there briefly to be the guest speaker at a public event on Wednesday night, April 22, 2015. Details are on the Malki Foundation blog (click here).

Regular readers of this blog know that the Roths look for opportunities to share their views and experiences about terrorism, and insights they have gotten from personal exposure to aspects of it that are too often not well understood.

Arnold will be speaking at several private and public venues during his week in Toronto. To the extent that his schedule allows, he welcomes additional opportunities. If you have suggestions, please be in touch.

And for anyone interested in the background to the work of the Malki Foundation, established by the Roths in 2001, this past weekend's Jerusalem Post Magazine carries an interview with Arnold. Click here to view.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

09-Apr-15: Nuclear Iran and the horse's mouth

For those optimistic spirits out there, here's a Thursday morning cold-water-in-the-face snapshot of how Iran's Supreme Leader is tackling the marketing, right now, this hour, of the framework agreement his underlings entered into last week with the P5+1. Pleasant reading it's not, at least not if a person wants to feel that the whole peace-in-our-time thing is coming together.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei today, after the achievement of last week's Framework Agreement:
"Americans (he tweets) always deceive & breach promises"

The issues at stake are, of course, infinitely more complex than what can be shoe-horned into a string of Twitter tweets. But if this is the messaging that emanates from the highest authority in the land of Iran, the absolute Horse's Mouth, there has to be a basis here for reasonable, perceptive people to draw interim conclusions. 

One of those might be, we think, that Iran is ready, willing and able to go to some lengths to humiliate the Americans. They did the same to Carter in the dying days of his presidency.

Supreme Iranian Leader last week [Image Source]
Henry Kissinger has drawn some conclusions. His powerful analysis, co-authored with another former Secretary of State, ["The Iran Deal and Its Consequences", Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2015] is a masterpiece of taking apart the Obama/Kerry policies, compromises and about-faces that we have seen in the past year and especially the past few weeks, and describing in blunt terms the kind of mess we are now in. It ends with these words:
If the world is to be spared even worse turmoil, the U.S. must develop a strategic doctrine for the region. Stability requires an active American role. For Iran to be a valuable member of the international community, the prerequisite is that it accepts restraint on its ability to destabilize the Middle East and challenge the broader international order.
Until clarity on an American strategic political concept is reached, the projected nuclear agreement will reinforce, not resolve, the world’s challenges in the region. Rather than enabling American disengagement from the Middle East, the nuclear framework is more likely to necessitate deepening involvement there—on complex new terms. History will not do our work for us; it helps only those who seek to help themselves.
The ever-articulate David Horowitz has offered up some more-plainly-spoken analysis on the Times of Israel site [here] that we wish would get wider attention. The latest installment is entitled "The unfolding farce of Obama’s deal with Iran". In it, he refers to Iran's increasingly-brazen, publicly-announced measures that, as he correctly says, make a mockery of the entire treaty process:
Doubtless there is more of this travesty to come. That’s what you get when you allow a brutal, murderous regime to smell your hesitancy, your weakness, your neglect of your own and your allies’ essential interests. “This is our best bet by far to make sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon,” Obama asserted to The New York Times. Really, Mr. President? It doesn’t look like that from here. From here, it looks like you could have done a whole lot better. In fact, it looks like the very outcome you promised you’d avoid: A deal that lifts the economic pressure on an evil regime, and clears its route to the bomb. A bad deal. Far, far worse than no deal at all. [David Horowitz in Times of Israel, April 8, 2015]
If there's a verifiably optimistic dimension to this (not the self-deluding pap that seems to have much of America's news media in its grip), we're open to being shown where it is.

09-Apr-15: Reminders from France of the price of living in the cross-hairs of the terrorists

The TV5monde website at this hour, Thursday morning
France is experiencing a face-to-face encounter this morning with a relatively benign form of Islamist terrorist that is sure to be having a significant impact, one way or another, on the thinking of ordinary French people. The report comes from Associated Press:

French network's channels hacked by group claiming IS ties
AP | Apr. 9, 2015
A French television network has been hacked by people claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group, the channel's director said Thursday. The hackers briefly cut transmission of 11 channels belonging to TV5 Monde and took over its websites and social media accounts. The channel's director, Yves Bigot, said the attack was continuing Thursday morning. He told RTL radio that the network has restored its signal but can only broadcast recorded programs. He said he was shaken when he saw 11 channels with a black screen "and when we discovered the sense of the message appearing on our social media and our websites, it both allowed us to understand what was happening and obviously worried us."
The message on the TV5 Monde website read in part "I am IS" with a banner by a group that called itself Cybercaliphate. That was replaced later Thursday by a simple message saying that it was undergoing maintenance.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls, on his Twitter account, called the attack "an unacceptable insult to freedom of information and expression" and expressed his support for the editorial staff. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve tweeted that he and the ministers of culture and foreign affairs were visiting the channel's offices.
The Islamic extremist group has claimed complex hackings before, but the seizure of the French network appeared to be a new step in its information warfare tactics.
As of this writing, TV5monde's television channels, website and a number of its Twitter and Facebook pages are all down [source]:
Commenting on the ability to broadcast, Yves Bigot, the director of TV5 Monde, said that “we have begun to be able to retransmit a programme on a number of areas,” but “our systems have been extremely damaged” by the attack “with incredible power,” and the return to normal “will take hours or even days.” Paris-based TV5 Monde broadcasts in over 200 countries around the world... [Broadband TV News, today]
What's going on in the background is in some ways as worrying and perhaps even more so. This comes from France24 and AFP:

French realities, 2015 [Image Source]
Three months after Paris attacks, police working round the clock say they’re exhausted | Updated 2015-04-08
Police officers and troops deployed to work round the clock since Islamist terror attacks killed 17 people in Paris in January, say they are overworked and 'exhausted'. Since January’s terror attacks, about 10,500 troops have been deployed in France, including 5,800 in the Ile-de-France region that covers Paris, in addition to reinforcing conventional units of law enforcement. But after three months of guarding locations deemed sensitive round the clock, and long stretches of work without a day off, the police say they are “exhausted” and worried about the possibility of having to maintain this pace long term, according to Nicolas Comte, head of the police union... Nearly a thousand CRS officers have been tasked daily in Paris with monitoring public buildings, synagogues and media companies since the terror attacks that targeted satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket. Unlike other French government agencies, the CRS are not entitled to the right to strike... A third of the Toulouse brigade workforce, which was scheduled to go to Paris on a mission, called in sick. Several of them are suffering from "psychological fatigue", Barcouda Christian, a union leader of CRS Toulouse, told reporters. "Many of our colleagues are just no longer doing well," she said.
Police sources said that this unprecedented mobilisation, which has also added to government budgetry costs, threatens to place officers under undue strain and could potentially lead to higher attrition rates. 
Imagine living with the threat of terrorism round the clock, 365 days a year, and the knowledge that sometimes the Islamists, not satisfied with seizing control of the mass media, engage in the actual murder of people. Incomprehensibly, it's a reality that is growing and not shrinking. As difficult as it sounds, we are all going to have to (a) get used to it, and (b) ponder about how high a price our societies are going to have to be prepared to pay in order to live with the dangers and overcome them.

"Living with the dangers and overcoming them" means, of course, defeating them. No other option exists.

09-Apr-15: Another decision against Jordan's Arab Bank in Anti-Terrorism Act law case

Arab Bank premises in the financial district of downtown Amman,
Jordan [Image Source]
Another court decision (text here) was handed down Wednesday in the long-running Anti-Terrorism Act litigation in New York known as Courtney Linde et al -v- Arab Bank PLC. 

It's a major legal event in which the Jordan-based bank, which refers to itself as "the largest global Arab banking network", is being sued by multiple plaintiffs for giving support to the terrorists of Hamas. Those plaintiffs are the families of more than 100 American citizens killed or injured in two dozen terror attacks that we describe below.

Most of Arab Bank Verdict Survives Defense Motions
Andrew Keshner | New York Law Journal | April 9, 2015 
A judge has refused to upset most of a jury verdict that found Arab Bank civilly liable for the material support of Hamas during the Second Intifada.
"The verdict was based on volumes of damning circumstantial evidence that the defendant knew its customers were terrorists," Eastern District Judge Brian Cogan wrote in a 94-page decision released today, denying most of the bank's bid for judgment as a matter of law.
In September, jurors decided that Arab Bank's knowing material support, in the form of financial services, was linked to 24 terror attacks in Israel carried out by Hamas. Cogan presided over the six-week trial leading up to the closely-watched verdict (NYLJ, Sept. 23, 2014).
On Wednesday, Cogan said the plaintiffs, survivors of the attacks or their relatives, failed to show Hamas' responsibility for two of the 24 attacks. Cogan rebuffed the bank's call for a new trial under the civil liability provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act. He also refused to certify an interlocutory appeal on the liability verdict.
The case is thought to be the first time a financial institution had been tried on allegations it violated the Anti-Terrorism Act's civil provisions.
In their post-verdict motions, the bank - which hotly disputes that it knowingly aided terrorists - called the jury's conclusions "a miscarriage of justice" (NYLJ, Oct. 14, 2014). A trial on the damages portion of the case, Linde v. Arab Bank, 04-CV-2799, is upcoming.
The legal case against Arab Bank, Jordan's largest financial institution, got underway in 2004. It relates to some 24 specific acts of terror alleged by the plaintiffs to have been committed by Hamas between 2001 and 2004. From September 22, 2014 onwards, the word "alleged" is less relevant since, on that date, the federal jury in the trial "found Arab Bank liable for knowingly supporting terrorism efforts connected to two dozen attacks in the Middle East, the first time a bank has ever been held liable in a civil suit under a broad antiterrorism statute" [NYTimes].

The 24 Hamas-executed terror attacks [based on OsenLaw website's listing] that have been at the heart of this legal case, involving innocent people murdered, injured, bereaved and suffering, are:
  • Bombing of a gas station at Neve Yamin (near Kfar Saba) - March 28, 2001
  • Bombing of the Tel Aviv Dolphinarium - June 1, 2001
  • Human-bomb attack on the central Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria - August 9, 2001
  • Multiple bombings at central Jerusalem's Ben Yehuda mall - December 1, 2001
  • Bombing and shooting attack in Emmanuel (Samaria District) - December 12, 2001
  • Shooting attack in Atzmona - March 7, 2002
  • Bombing of Jerusalem's Café Moment - March 9, 2002
  • Bombing of Park Hotel in Netanya on Passover night - March 27, 2002
  • Bombing of the Sheffield Club, Rishon Letzion - May 7, 2002
  • Bombing of Egged city bus 32A in Jerusalem, close to Pat Junction - June 18, 2002
  • Bombing of Frank Sinatra Cafeteria, Hebrew University of Jerusalem - July 31, 2002
  • Bombing of Dan bus 4 on Allenby Street in central Tel Aviv - September 19, 2002
  • Shooting attack in Ofra on Route 60  - January 29, 2003
  • Bombing of Haifa bus 37 - March 5, 2003
  • Shooting attack in Kiryat Arba - March 7, 2003
  • Bombing of Tel Aviv beachside Mike's Place club - April 30, 2003
  • Bombing of Egged bus 6 in Jerusalem's French Hill neighbourhood - May 18, 2003
  • Bombing of Egged bus 14A on Jerusalem's Jaffa Road - June 11, 2003 
  • Sniper-shooting attack on a vehicle traveling on Route 60, near Ofra, north of Jerusalem - June 20, 2003 
  • Bombing of Egged bus 2 in north Jerusalem - August 19, 2003
  • Bombing of Jerusalem's Café Hillel (German Colony/Emek Refaim) - September 9, 2003
  • Shooting attack at Tel Romeida, Hevron - October 22, 2003
  • Bombing of Jerusalem Egged bus 19 very close to the Prime Minister's official residence in Rehavia - January 29, 2004 [but see below]
  • Mortar attack on Neve Dekalim community in Gush Katif (Gaza Strip) - September 24, 2004 [but see below]
Judge Cogan refers in yesterday's decision to the assertion by Arab Bank's lawyers that the plaintiffs failed to prove Hamas’ responsibility for perpetrating all 24 attacks. This, he says, is "not remotely supported by the record..." other than in the case of the last two attacks in the list above: the January 29, 2004 bombing of the Jerusalem Egged bus 19, and the mortar attack on Neve Dekalim on September 24, 2004. "As to these two attacks, defendant is correct", he wrote, citing "insufficient evidence". For the purposes of this litigation, the other 22 attacks remain the responsibility of Hamas. 

The next phase of the trial is likely to get underway in July when the parties come before Judge Cogan again in a hearing to determine how much will have to be paid by Arab Bank by way of damages in three specific attacks of the 22. Until then, according to a Newsday report, Judge Cogan  
ruled that no appeal of his controversial rulings will be allowed until a trial to assess damages is complete.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

08-Apr-15: Near Shiloh, a stabbing attack this morning

Israel National News says this is the scene of this morning's
knifing attack [Image Source]
According to Ynet ["Two IDF soldiers hurt in West Bank stabbing attack"], an attack took place in the past couple of hours at Sinjil Junction, close to the community of Shiloh in the Samaria District north of Jerusalem.

An IDF serviceman, reportedly about 20 years old, was seriously injured, evidently with stab wounds to the neck and upper body. He was rushed to Jerusalem's Shaarei Zedek Medical Center for emergency care. A second IDF serviceman suffered light injuries. The attacker, a Palestinian Arab it appears, was shot dead at the site by security forces. Searches are underway right now for others involved in the attack which evidently took place inside an IDF ambulance. It is likely the stabbing victims were medics (hovshim, in Hebrew).
"At 10:07, Magen David Adom's Jerusalem district received a message that a 20-year-old man had been stabbed on Route 60, close to the entrance to the Ma'ale Levona settlement. Medics and paramedics treated him at the site and evacuated him to a hospital in Jerusalem in serious condition with stab wounds to his upper body," said an MDA spokesman. [Ynet today]
Over at Israel National News, they report that there are two wounded Israelis in addition to the young man now in hospital. One of the two is said to be in moderate condition. The search now underway is in pursuit of Arab attackers, making a group of four perpetrators in all, including the one killed at the scene.

That same INN report reminds us that the most recent knifing attack on an Israeli target took place a mere five days ago. A young Palestinian Arab resident of Tulkarem, an underage minor with no prior security record until now, stabbed an IDF soldier of 22, the commander of a paratrooper unit, at Oranit Checkpoint along the Trans-Samaria Highway this past Thursday afternoon, April 2. The victim suffered stabbing injuries to the upper body including the head. He was rushed to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva in mild to moderate condition and conscious. We heard him describe his injuries the next day in a news radio interview. His soldiers had been rushed into the area after six Palestinian Arabs were detected illegally crossing the security barrier and attempting to cross into Israeli-controlled territory. In the course of that arrest, the attacker whipped out a knife and stabbed the officer who, despite the knife wounds and blood loss, managed to overpower the young thug. The officer is recovering.

We're praying today's outcome is no less benign for the on-duty knifing victims.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

07-Apr-15: In South Africa, they're pondering how children are converted into murdering terrorists

South Africa's Minister of State Security
From an Associated Press report published today:
South African security authorities say a teenager was taken off an airline flight because the 15-year-old girl was suspected to be leaving her home in Cape Town to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria... [T]he girl has been returned to her family's care... the State Security department was investigating how the teenager had paid for the flight and how she may have been recruited. [AP, April 7, 2015]
Now here are extracts of some slightly fuller background as investigated by a South African news channel ["ISIS is here", and also "How 15-year-old SA girl was recruited by ISIS", published today, April 7, 2015]:
As details emerged about how the Kenwyn teenager was recruited through social media, the State Security Department last night said there had been other "possible recruitments". Brian Dube, spokesman for State Security Minister David Mahlobo, told The Times: "This is not the first case to come to the fore that we are currently investigating. "We have been picking up information about other possible recruitments in this country." He refused to identify other recruits...
[T]he teenager, whose mother is a medical doctor, was missing when she failed to answer her grandparents' call for her to come to breakfast. She had left the house after locking her bedroom door and escaping through a window, reportedly leaving behind documents linking her to Islamic State. It was initially thought by the police that she was a runaway and the family were turned away by Landsowne police, who told them, in contravention of police procedure, that they had to wait 24 hours before reporting her missing...
The entire family is being questioned by State Security to establish exactly how the girl, who lives in a neighbourhood of both Christians and Muslims, was recruited by IS and what her role was to be. Neighbours said many youths in the neighbourhood had been recruited... The girl, who cannot be named, was released into her parents' custody... The family of the girl, who lives in a modest double-storey house, refused to comment...
A resident who spoke on condition of anonymity said: "There are a number of radical Muslims in the area, some of whom are extremists. But most of the Muslims here are moderates."
The girl was found aboard the BA aircraft, with a ticket to Saudia [sic] Arabia, moments before it was due to lift off for Johannesburg...
Her family, however, told Crime Line that she was active on social media. One of her last tweets, posted in 2012 read: "When Muslims are massacred daily, it's nothing, as soon as one Jew is killed, the whole world wants 'justice' i#PrayForGaza."
...Some reports suggest that up to 200 South Africans have been recruited. In February, The Times reported the UN Security Council's warning that about 11 international terrorists were considering using South Africa as a base. The UN said the 11 were linked to al-Qaeda and IS. Muslim Judicial Council spokesman Nabeweya Malick worried about teens falling prey to IS. "We need to find out who is involved."
Indeed we do. But not everyone sees it as a major concern.

For instance, there's this follow-up report ["SA is safe from terrorism: Mahlobo"] from South Africa's state broadcaster, published only this morning:
State Security Minister David Mahlobo has assured South Africans that they are safe from any form of terrorism. This after a 15-year-old school girl from Cape Town was taken off a flight to Johannesburg by police who suspected that she was going to board an international flight to join the Islamic State... He says terrorism is a worldwide problem, but security officials in the country are working tirelessly to ensure the safety of South Africans. "It doesn’t mean there are terrorists in South Africa, but the use of social networks and technology is a challenge. They are using technology to attract children. But we know our security cluster officials in this country are working tirelessly to ensure our people are safe. People must calm down. There are no terrorists in the country."
Actually the minister says much more in the video version of the interview embedded below.



The interviewer points out, before turning to the minister, that it's clear ISIS's recruitment drive is extensive, South Africa is not immune and the terrorists are making real inroads. What do we know, she asks reasonably, about the modus operandi of these people? How prevalent is recruitment in South Africa? If it can reach a fifteen year-old, there must be face-to-face interaction, she says. If a youngster is going to travel by plane, there must have been an adult in the story. 

Not so, says the politician. "They are trying to recruit people without putting their foot in the country." He says it's all about what he calls "access to gadgets and technology... Our biggest challenge is cyberspace... social platforms... The state alone cannot deal with this alone; we need the support of the parents... Let's not be more overstating the issue... They are trying to work on the minds of unsuspecting young people... the vulnerabilities of various communities in terms of unemployment, inequalities... using ideology for one reason or another..."

We don't know South Africa well. But we take off our hat to the self-confident Minister of State Security and his ability to explain the hottest story of today without once mentioning Islam, Islamism, or jihad. Nor does he refer to South African media reports from February 2015 ["Is this the first South African fighting for the ISIS?", Daily Maverick, February 22, 2015] profiling Abu Hurayra Al-Afriki who also "refers to himself as al-Hindi, ‘the Indian’, suggesting that he is a South African of Indian origin" [source].

As for whether the South African security apparatus is going to find practitioners, promoters and/or recruiters actively serving the terrorist cause, this might be hard to do if the agents know success will mean contradicting the brash senior politician in charge of their careers.

On the other hand... Just four weeks ago, the South African media carried reports - like this and this - warning about
11 international terrorists who may consider South Africa their safe haven. The 11, including two terrorist organisations, have been labelled by the United Nations Security Council as being directly linked to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) of Iraq and Syria. South African authorities have been instructed to be on the lookout for them. This week, the Presidency published a proclamation in the government gazette listing the 11 people and groups, identified as financiers, recruiters and logistics supporters, from France, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq... South Africa has been used as a base for terror activities in the past. Hussein Solomon, a senior professor at the University of Free State’s political studies department, said South Africa had played a key role in global terror networks since the 1990s. “Al-Qaeda has had a presence here since 1997. “By 1995, there were five Hezbollah camps in South Africa. The list of the who’s who of the terrorism zoo in South Africa goes on and on.” Solomon said that in 1999 the FBI had arrested a man at Cape Town International Airport for the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. “The 2007 London bombers got their orders to launch their attack from a terror cell in Johannesburg.” More recently, he said, during the 2010 Fifa World Cup an al-Shabaab terrorist attack against US and UK teams and supporters, to be launched from Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township by Somalis, was foiled. “It was foiled after a cellphone call from South Africa was intercepted by US authorities monitoring al-Shabaab in Somalia.” Solomon said when Osama bin Laden was killed, documents penned by him were found in his Abottabad compound authorising operations to be conducted in South Africa because it was an “open country”. “The attack on Kenya’s Westgate Mall, organised by UK national Samantha Lewthwaite – the White Widow – who used a South African passport, has brought huge pressure on our government.” ...Explaining why South Africa was a viable base for terror groups, Solomon said the country’s high corruption levels and ease at which passports and identity documents could be obtained were motivating factors... He said the country’s intelligence agencies were focusing their resources on journalists and tender scandals instead of targeting terror groups. [HeraldLIVE South Africa, February 20, 2015]

Monday, April 06, 2015

06-Apr-15: Just a day in the life

Nothing obvious has happened to make the past 24 hours especially dangerous in terms of terrorist attacks. So let's assume that what we are seeing via the snippets below is a work in progress: simply a day in the life of a world falling victim to unthinkable violence of a kind most societies are ill-equipped to challenge, let alone thwart. A day among many not-so-different days.

New York
NY Daily News, April 3, 2015
NY Terror Case: Women Wanted an Active Military Role in ISIS 
Stassa Edwards | Jezebel.com | April 5, 2015
When Noelle Velentzas and Asia Siddiqui were arrested early Thursday morning at their Queens home, officers found pressure cookers, gas tanks, hand-written instructions for bomb making and jihadist pamphlets. According to the AP, Velentzas’ and Siddiqui’s arrest indicates a shift in women’s participation in “militant Islamic jihad.” Unlike women that have previously sought to join terrorist groups, Velentzas and Siddiqui had no interest in the roles traditionally reserved for women: marrying an ISIS fighter or nursing. Rather, the government alleges that the two women wanted to take active an military role by building a bomb and attacking a domestic target.
Accused bomb plotter’s husband says propane tanks were for barbecues
Beckie Strum | New York Post | April 6, 2015
The husband of accused ISIS-savage wannabe Noelle Velentzas insists she really loves America — and says building bombs made out of gas tanks, fertilizer and a pressure cooker was the very furthest thing from her mind. The 51-year-old man, who uses the admitted alias Abu Bakr, was sure the propane tanks authorities found at the home of his wife’s alleged accomplice would never have been used for explosives. “You can’t convince me that those propane tanks were going to be used for that because I know they were going to be used for barbecues,” he claimed... Velentzas did have an image of bin Laden on her phone, Abu Bakr conceded. And he admitted her political views might even “raise a few eyebrows.” But he had an explanation for all of that, too. Her admiration for the man who attacked New York City is based only on the fact that he helped the Afghans to drive out the Russians. “She doesn’t support 9/11,” the husband said... “They took two knives, which I had for more than 15 years,” he said. “They were in a box packed up. They also took two machetes I occasionally use... to clear yards and do gardening.”
...Abu Bakr said he’d never believe the accusations against his wife. “She couldn’t even hit the baby,” he said, referring to their 5-year-old daughter. “I just want people to know that’s not her . . . She never had any intentions of hurting anybody. This is her country, these are her people,” he said. "She’s a role model for women who really, really want to live as God-fearing women," Abu Bakr said proudly. "She’s passionate about her religion."
Malaysia
Malaysia detains 17 people suspected of plotting terror acts
Malaysian police have detained 17 suspected militants who authorities said Monday had planned to attack police stations and army camps to acquire weapons and carry out terrorist acts in Kuala Lumpur. Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said they were detained Sunday. Khalid tweeted that two of them had just returned from Syria. This brought the number of suspected supporters of the Islamic State group arrested since last year to 92, a police official said. Home Minister Zahid Hamidi said the 17, aged between 14 and 44, were planning to attack police stations and army camps to acquire weapons... Authorities also believe the suspects were trying to make bombs as police found notes on bomb-making written by Imam Samudra, an Indonesian who was convicted and executed for his role in carrying out the 2002 Bali bombings, Zahid said. The suspects included two army personnel and two students, and some of them had received militant training in Afghanistan and Indonesia's Sulawesi province... "This is a real threat and prevention measures are needed," Zahid said.
United Kingdom
Boy, 14, and girl, 16, arrested by anti-terror police
The Telegraph UK, April 5, 2015
A 14-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl have been arrested on suspicion of preparing a terror act. Counter-terrorism police detained the boy in Blackburn, Lancashire, before arresting the girl in Manchester the following day. Officers refused to say whether the case was Syria-related... The investigation is being run by the North West Counter-Terrorism Unit and the two youngsters have been bailed to May 28. The boy was arrested on Thursday after police had examined a number of electronic items, a spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said. The next day, police raided a home in Longsight, Manchester, and detained a 16-year-old girl.
Both are suspected of "engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism". The teenage girl lives with her parents and brothers in a semi detached house in Longsight. A green Nissan Micra was in the driveway of the house yesterday but no one answered the door. A next door neighbour said:" I know the girl very well and she is very nice - she goes to the school where I work. But I do not want to say anything other than they are a very nice family." Another neighbour, who also did not wish to be named, added: "There were police outside and inside the house on Friday and we did not have a clue what was going on. "The girl who was arrested has always been very pleasant to me - we have never had any problems with the family at all. "I used to see her chatting to her brothers outside in the street - they seemed just like normal kids to me." 
Kenya
Kenya Defence forces soldiers at Garissa University after the
terrorist massacre [Image Source]
Shame of slow response in 15-hour campus terror
The alarm... was sounded at 6 a.m. on Thursday last week. As they gathered, officers of the elite paramilitary unit were informed that a possible terrorist attack had been launched on Garissa University College... They quickly assembled their gear and got ready for deployment... But seven hours later the officers were still in Nairobi. [Our comment: Garissa is 370 km from Nairobi; driving time is about 5 hours at a normal civilized non-emergency rate.] After the long wait, the team would finally leave Wilson Airport after midday and finally enter Elgon hostel on the campus, the terrorists’ last stand, nearly 11 hours later. This was long after the killing had started and a majority of the 142 young Kenyans had been slaughtered by the extremists... On arrival in Garissa, the GSU [Wikipedia defines it as "a paramilitary wing of the Kenya Defence Forces and Kenyan Police, consisting of highly trained police officers and special forces soldiers"] team was briefed on the situation for two hours and when the ones that had travelled by road arrived, they launched the final assault on the terrorists at about 5 p.m., who they are reported to have subdued within half an hour... The Sunday Nation established that prior to the attack, local police had received intelligence of an impending attack... Four police officers were deployed at the university to provide security... Judging by security actions that preceded the attack, it was clear the government was aware of the threat, particularly targeting institutions of higher learning... On Friday, Maj-Gen (rtd) Nkaissery said: “This incident which happened today is one of those incidents which can surprise any country.” 
India
Security agencies warn of possible terror attack in Delhi
Security agencies have alerted the Delhi Police about the possibility of [Pakistan-based] terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) carrying out a 'fidayeen' attack in the city... Asking the Delhi Police to remain on alert, the advisory said senior police officers, particularly Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCPs), should take all necessary preventive and precautionary measures in their area of jurisdiction in order to avoid any untoward incident, official sources said.

06-Apr-15: Persian carpetry and the merchants of menace

The caption in The Economist reads: "Kilim me softly without nukes"
Dr Michael Oren served Israel as its ambassador to the United States between 2009 and 2013. He ran for the Knesset in the February 2015 elections and is now a politician, representing the brand-spanking-new Kulanu Party (created just five months ago). Still, what he says often hits the right note, in our view. 

So here is an extract from an essay of his, published a couple of days ago on the TIME website, and offering some gently-worded but trenchant criticism of the West's approach - and in particular America's - to the Nuclear Iran deal and what the Persian carpet business ("Iran’s largest after oil") can teach us.
...The Middle Eastern form of negotiating, perfected over thousands of years, should no longer be alien to Westerners. The Palestinians have employed it repeatedly, starting each round of peace talks with “how much are you willing to spend?” If the answer is a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps and its capital in East Jerusalem, be assured that this will be their new opening position. The Palestinians — not the Israelis — keep walking away from the table, each time pocketing their newly-obtained concessions.  
Nobody should be surprised, when discussions on a final nuclear agreement begin, Iranian delegates treat the parameters agreement as the baseline for garnering an even better price. 
To prevent that, the United States and its P5+1 partners must reject any further Iranian demands. They should make clear to Tehran that it risks losing the gains it has made while facing punitive measures such as ramped-up sanctions. They must be prepared to walk way. At the same time, effective mechanisms must be put into place for rapidly responding to Iranian violations. The world must provide for the possibility that the treaty — like the carpet — will fall apart. 
The Iranians are not just expert carpet merchants. They also deal in terror and endangering American allies. Proceeds from this deal will no doubt fund those activities. And the Iranians, we know, cheat. For more than 30 years, they have lied about every aspect of their nuclear program, built secret, fortified facilities, violated the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and hidden their previous work on atomic weapons. Still, much of the world wants their carpet. 
Only later, when its colors quickly fade and its threads unravel, will they discover that, in the Middle East, there is no return policy.
Oren's essay, entitled "The Iran Deal and How Not To Buy a Middle Eastern Carpet", is online here.

His approach is appealing. But given what is known about Iranian plans for its nuclear efforts and their goals, the analogy he offers needs to be modified somewhat. Innocent tourists walking by a Persian merchant's shop may get ripped off but end up with a carpet - perhaps too expensive, perhaps low quality, perhaps bound to crumble soon - but a carpet. No one in these negotiations ever had a realistic basis for thinking Iran's merchants were selling carpets (i.e. ordinary nuclear energy). Their program was in fact weapons-directed at all stages. The negotiators for the P5+1 all know this, knew this, but smile broadly when the cameras are pointed at them. We wonder how.

A 2011 film, Iranium, took a long and supremely discomforting look at Iran's real goals and overt guiding principles. It's definitely worth a revisit now; the YouTube version is below.



While watching, keep in mind what Iran's current political leader, the so-called moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani about whom we posted recently ["20-Mar-15: This is how it looks when an Islamist state turns moderate"], said just two years ago when running for the presidency:
..."Saying 'Death to America' is easy," Mr. Rouhani said in a speech in the city of Karaj, according to the state-run Mehr News Agency. "We need to express 'Death to America' with action. Saying it is easy." [Source: Wall Street Journal]
With a framework agreement with Iran now in place since this past Friday, the official US position is to call this "our best bet by far to make sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon". In a New York Times article published yesterday ["President Obama Calls Preliminary Iran Nuclear Deal ‘Our Best Bet’"] we see the US president saying what was achieved in that preliminary agreement is a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to prevent nuclear weapons from spreading, and - speaking about Israel - that again "we’ve got their backs":
What we will be doing even as we enter into this deal is sending a very clear message to the Iranians and to the entire region that if anybody messes with Israel, America will be there.
The same article also notes, a little drily for our taste, that
Mr. Obama’s descriptions differed in key respects from Iran’s interpretations.
It can be that way in Persian bazaars.