Friday, May 31, 2013

  • Friday, May 31, 2013
  • Elder of Ziyon
The 2012 Counterterrorism Report from the US State Department is a very good resource to see the big picture of what the state of world terrorism is. Here are some highlights from the specific country sections.

Iran is clearly recognized as a state sponsor of terror, and Hizballah's terror operations have accelerated:
In 2012, there was a clear resurgence of Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism, through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), its Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and Tehran’s ally Hizballah, who remained a significant threat to the stability of Lebanon and the broader region. Attacks in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Far East were linked to the IRGC-QF or Hizballah. In fact, Hizballah’s terrorist activity has reached a tempo unseen since the 1990s with attacks plotted in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa.

...A series of terrorist attacks and foiled plots against Israeli interests abroad that began in 2011 continued in 2012. Though most of these plots were disrupted, a July 18 suicide attack against Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria, killed five Israeli citizens and one Bulgarian and injured dozens, and a February 13 attack in New Delhi injured the wife of an Israeli Ministry of Defense employee. Terrorist plots were also uncovered against Israeli targets in Thailand, Azerbaijan, and Cyprus, and an attack was foiled in Georgia. Israeli officials publicly linked many of these plots and attacks to Hizballah and its Iranian sponsors. [On February 5, 2013, the Bulgarian government publically implicated Hizballah in the July 2012 Burgas bombing that killed five Israelis and one Bulgarian citizen, and injured 32 others. On March 21, 2013, a Cyprus court found a Hizballah operative guilty of charges stemming from his surveillance activities, carried out in 2012, of Israeli tourist targets, while Thailand was prosecuting a Hizballah member for his role in helping plan a possible terrorist attack in that country.]

...Hizballah-linked incidents [in Israel] included:

• According to the ISA, in early June, Hizballah smuggled 20 kilograms of C-4 explosive and an IED detonation system into Israel from Lebanon, using a network of narcotics dealers. Weapons were also seized as part of a joint ISA-Israel National Police operation that exposed the scheme. Twelve suspects were detained and questioned, and charges were filed against eight.

• On October 6, the IAF shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that entered Israeli airspace, and the IDF posted a video clip of the interception online. According to press, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah, in televised remarks on October 11, acknowledged that the group had sent the drone, and claimed its parts were manufactured in Iran and assembled by Hizballah in Lebanon.

...Hizballah, with deep roots among Lebanon’s Shia community and significant backing from the Iranian government, remained the most dangerous and prominent terrorist group in Lebanon.
Israel's efforts to combat terrorism are praised:
Israel continued to be a stalwart counterterrorism partner in 2012. It faced continued terrorist threats from Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committees, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), particularly from Gaza but also from the West Bank; and from Hizballah in Lebanon. Fourteen Israelis were killed as a result of terrorist attacks in 2012. Gaza-based Palestinian terrorist organizations continued rocket and mortar attacks into Israeli territory, and multiple terrorist attacks were launched along the Gaza security fence as well as the Israel-Egypt border. Gaza also remained a base of operations for several violent Islamist extremist splinter groups. The Government of Israel responded to these threats with operations directed at terrorist leaders, infrastructure, and activities such as rocket launching, most notably in Operation Pillar of Defense during the November 14-21 Gaza conflict.

A Hamas and PIJ-linked terrorist cell based in the West Bank also carried out a bombing on a Tel Aviv city bus, the first such attack in years, and Israel faced a wave of plots and attacks against its interests abroad that Israeli officials linked to Iran and Hizballah. Arms smuggling continued from Iran through Egypt into Gaza to Palestinian terrorist organizations. Israeli officials also continued to be concerned about the smuggling of weapons from Libya via Sudan into Gaza.
The State Department praises the PA's efforts to keep things calm, noting that there were no fatal terror attacks from the West Bank in 2012, the first time that has happened in many years. Unfortunately, it ignores the hundreds of Molotov cocktails being hurled at Jews in the West Bank, except in quoting Israeli statistics; it does not classify these as terrorist incidents on its own.

Also, very important sentences are buried:
. Limitations on PA counterterrorism efforts in the West Bank included restrictions on the movement and activities of PASF in and through areas of the West Bank for which the Israeli government retained responsibility for security under the terms of Oslo-era agreements. The limited capacity of the PA’s civilian criminal justice system also hampered PA counterterrorism efforts.
It would seem obvious that security in areas under Israeli military control is better than in Area A, but the report highlights it as if it is a problem for counterterrorism - and then barely notes that the PA's justice system remains severely underdeveloped, 20 years after Oslo.

The worst paragraph in the Israel/West Bank-Gaza section is undoubtedly this one:
According to the PA’s Palestinian Broadcasting Company’s code of conduct, no programming is allowed that encourages “violence against any person or institution on the basis of race, religion, political beliefs, or sex.” The PA continued its efforts to monitor and control the content of Friday sermons delivered in over 1,800 West Bank mosques to ensure that they do not endorse or incite violence. The PA’s ability to enforce these guidelines varies depending upon its location, and it has limited authority to control the context of sermons in Israeli-controlled Area C.
It seems unfathomable that the State Department does not challenge the PBC's assertions with the scores of examples of antisemitic and anti-Israel incitement, and praise for terror, uncovered by Palestinian Media Watch, not to mention incitement in newspapers, schools and other venues. The last sentence is ridiculous, as over 95% of Palestinian Muslims live in areas A or B, meaning that focusing on incitement in sermons in Area C - if it even exists - is nothing more than a backhanded way to criticize Israel's presence in Judaism's traditional homeland (as was the earlier sentence about the PASF.)

While this clear attempt to exaggerate the PA's counterterrorism efforts is problematic, there is a lot of very useful information in this report, and its sections on Gaza and Hamas, including weapons smuggling and terror attacks, are quite accurate.

(h/t Gidon Shaviv)

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