Saturday, July 18, 2015

From Ian:

The ICC Channels the Queen of Hearts on Israel
If the International Criminal Court ever had any pretensions of being a serious legal institution, they were effectively demolished by yesterday’s ruling overturning Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s decision not to investigate Israel’s botched raid on a 2010 flotilla to Gaza. Reading the ruling feels like falling down the rabbit hole straight into the Queen of Hearts’ courtroom, for many reasons. But here’s the one I found most astonishing: In a 27-page document devoted almost entirely to discussing whether the alleged Israeli crimes were grave enough to merit the court’s attention, not once did the majority judges mention one the most salient facts of the case: that flotilla passengers had attacked the Israeli soldiers with “fists, knives, chains, wooden clubs, iron rods, and slingshots with metal and glass projectiles,” causing nine soldiers serious injuries.
That fact appeared only in Judge Peter Kovacs’ dissent. Anyone reading the majority decision would conclude that the soldiers opened fire no reason whatsoever.
This is not a minor detail; it was central to Bensouda’s decision to close the case. She noted that the soldiers opened fire, ultimately killing 10 passengers, aboard only one of the flotilla’s seven ships – the one where passengers attacked them. That strongly indicates there was no deliberate plan to kill civilians; rather, the soldiers intended to peacefully intercept all the vessels, and the killings were the unpremeditated result of a chaotic combat situation that unexpectedly developed aboard one ship. Or in her words, “none of the information available suggests […] the intended object of the attack was the civilian passengers on board these vessels.”
The majority judges, however, dismiss that conclusion, asserting that the lack of casualties aboard the other ships doesn’t preclude the possibility that soldiers intended from the outset to kill the Mavi Marmara’s passengers. They then offer a string of wild suppositions to explain why soldiers might have wanted to perpetrate a massacre aboard that ship but not the others. Perhaps, they suggest gravely, it’s because the Mavi Marmara carried the most passengers. Or, perhaps because it carried no humanitarian aid. In any event, the soldiers clearly used more violence against the Mavi Marmara than against other ships that also refused their orders to halt, so “It is reasonable to consider these circumstances as possibly explaining that the Mavi Marmara was treated by the IDF differently from the other vessels of the flotilla from the outset.”
Douglas Murray: Iran Deal: The Great Bamboozle Festival
What exactly is it that the Obama administration thinks has changed about the leadership of Iran? Of all the questions which remain unanswered in the wake of the P5+1 deal with Iran, this one is perhaps the most unanswered of all.
There must, after all, be something that a Western leader sees when an attempt is made to "normalize" relations with a rogue regime -- what Richard Nixon saw in the Chinese Communist Party that persuaded him that an unfreezing of relations was possible, or what Margaret Thatcher saw in the eyes of Mikhail Gorbachev, which persuaded her that here was a counterpart who could finally be trusted.
After all, the outward signs with Iran would seem to remain unpromising. Last Friday in Tehran, just as the P5+1 were wrapping up their deal with the Iranians, the streets of Iran were playing host to "Al-Quds Day." This, in the Iranian calendar, is the day, inaugurated by the late Ayatollah Khomeini, when anti-Israel and anti-American activity come to the fore even more than usual. Encouraged by the regime, tens of thousands of Iranians march in the streets calling for the end of Israel and "Death to America". Not only Israeli and American flags were burned -- British flags were also torched, in a touching reminder that Iran is the only country that still believes Britain runs the world.
The latest in a long line of "moderate" Iranian leaders, President Hassan Rouhani, turned up at one of these parades himself to see the Israeli and American flags being burned. Did he intervene? Did he explain to the crowd that they had got the wrong memo -- that America is now our friend and that they ought at least to concentrate their energies on the mass-burning of Stars of David? No, he took part as usual, and the crowds reacted as usual.
Jon Karl Challenges White House’s Claim of ’99 Percent’ World Community Support on Iran Nuclear Deal
During Friday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Josh Earnest consistently said that 99 percent of the world community supported the nuclear deal with Iran.
That figure did not sit right with ABC’s Jon Karl. Karl questioned Earnest on the number and how the White House got to it.
“Well, I guess if you look at the population of the countries that are represented in this particular agreement, the vast majority–the 99 percent of the world, is on the side of the United States and international partners in implementing this agreement,” Earnest said.
Karl continued to push on the number and asked if the White House had done the math on the number of U.S. allies in the Middle East that were mostly directly affected by the nuclear deal.
While Earnest did not provide the exact formula that the White House used to get the 99 percent, he did give a readout from Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir’s visit to Camp David about how Saudi Arabia supported the discussions between the P5+1 and Iran.
When asked if the Saudis supported the nuclear deal, Earnest said that he would let each country speak for themselves.
As Karl ran down the list of U.S. allies in the region Earnest deflected on each one except for Israel. Earnest noted that Israel was the most vocal on being against the nuclear deal.
Jon Karl challenges White House's claim of '99 percent' world support on Iran deal




Ya’alon: Iran now a nuclear threshold state, presenting new challenge for Israel
As a consequence of the bad deal reached this week, Iran is now a nuclear “threshold state,” Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said bleakly Friday. He said the world powers had shown “how not to conduct negotiations,” while the Iranians had provided an object lesson in how to get what they wanted.
Israel will have to adapt to the new challenge, including by ensuring it maintains its military option, he said. “With an enemy like Iran, there has to be a military option. Israel has to be ready to defend itself, by itself.”
Israel would now need to discuss with the US, whose Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is due here next week, “the compensation that Israel deserves in order to maintain its qualitative [military] edge.”
Arab states, too, “will have to be armed” more effectively against the dangers now posed by Iran, he said.
It had been a mistake by the US-led world powers to delay a confrontation until the next presidency or the next generation, Ya’alon said, referring to the terms of the newly signed agreement, which leaves Iran’s main nuclear facilities intact, but aims to thwart Iran’s path to the bomb for at least the next decade.
Jeffrey Goldberg: Israeli Opposition Leader: Iran Deal Will Bring Chaos to the Middle East
Herzog’s militancy on the subject of the deal places the Obama administration in an uneasy position. While the administration can—and has—dismissed Netanyahu as a hysteric, the eminently reasonable Herzog, who is Secretary of State John Kerry’s dream of an Israeli peace-process partner, will find receptive ears among Democrats for his criticism. Herzog’s critique of the deal also places American Jewish organizations in a curious dilemma. It will be fraught for liberal Jewish organizations to endorse the Vienna agreement if both the right-wing government in Jerusalem, and its center-left opposition, are so vehemently opposed to it. (The only major Jewish organization to line up with the Obama administration so far is J Street, which describes itself as “pro-Israel and pro-peace,” but which is keenly interested in advancing Obama administration interests, whether or not Israelis agree with them. “Our No. 1 agenda item,” its founder, Jeremy Ben-Ami, once said, “is to do whatever we can in Congress to act as the president’s blocking back.” Herzog, J Street’s natural ally in Israeli politics on matters of the peace process, is putting the group in an uncomfortable position. It can’t be easy to be a self-described pro-Israel group that is lobbying for a deal that the large majority of Israelis loathe.)
Herzog would not tell me when he’s arriving in Washington to launch his non-lobbying lobbying campaign, but I expect he will arrive soon, and I expect that he will find himself the target of a great deal of lobbying as well; from the administration’s perspective, Netanyahu is a permanent adversary, but Herzog is a respected friend—one who could do damage to the administration’s cause on Capitol Hill, if he so chooses.
UAE Official: Nuke Deal Leaves Fate of Middle East in Iran’s Hands
Noting that his country is a mere 50 miles from Iran, Anwar Gargash, the United Arab Emirates’ minister of state for foreign affairs, wrote that the nuclear agreement recently reached with the Islamic Republic gives it a chance to be a good neighbor or to “subsidise instability across the region by escalating its funding for the Houthi rebels in Yemen, President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Hizbollah in Lebanon and sectarian militias in Iraq,” in an op-ed published yesterday in the Financial Times.
We have also, however, to be realistic. Leaving aside what Iran has said, what has it actually done? Since the Islamic Revolution, it has engaged in an aggressive and expansionist foreign policy. Its sectarian approach to the Arab world has polarised relations between Shia and Sunni Muslims and boosted extremism. In Iraq, the Iranian government has undermined efforts to achieve a national consensus between Sunni and Shia Iraqis that would have countered the appeal of the terrorist group known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis). In Lebanon, Iran’s client Hizbollah continues to play a radicalising role inside the country and increasingly outside it as well.
Tehran’s involvement in the conflict in Syria, where more than 200,000 people have died, has prolonged it and made it more sectarian. The Assad regime had the chance to accept the 2012 Geneva accords, which set out a mechanism for a peaceful transition of power. Enjoying unconditional Iranian support, Mr Assad stubbornly refused.
BBC Portrays Israel as the Spoiler in Nuclear Agreement With Iran
The edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘PM’ broadcast on the day the deal was announced included analysis from the person ultimately responsible for all the corporation's Middle East content, Jeremy Bowen. The Middle East editor's conversation with presenter Carolyn Quinn included some interesting between-the-lines messaging.
1) Downplaying Iran's role in the Middle East's ongoing conflicts and the impact that the deal's lifting of sanctions and cash influx to Iran is likely to have on regional stability.
Bowen's dubious portrayal of the IRGC as though they were a bunch of naughty schoolboys is telling enough but his presentation of an Iranian regime concerned about and influenced by domestic public opinion obviously ignores the fact that even when economic sanctions were affecting the Iranian people most severely, the regime still found the funds to sponsor assorted terrorist proxies in the region, to intervene in regional conflicts and, of course, to develop its nuclear programme and military industries.
2) Promotion of Israel as the belligerent party and the notion that conflict has been avoided – rather than at most postponed.
In 2013 Bowen similarly portrayed Israel as the belligerent in a report promoted on several BBC platforms. Speculations concerning the likelihood of an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities have featured in BBC coverage since at least early 2012 – see examples here, here and here.
3) Promotion of the notion of a ‘moderate’ Iranian Supreme Leader.
Bowen did not clarify to listeners that the terms of the deal now conform to conditions set by Khamenei back in April and provide sanctions relief for some of those very same “hardliners” who “make trouble in the region”. Neither did he point out that nothing in this deal has brought change to Iran's long-standing approaches and policies.
7 Devastating Facts About Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal
As Iran and President Barack Obama cheer and champion their controversial nuclear deal, critics are roundly condemning the deal as a historic and catastrophic agreement that will strengthen Iran and imperil national security for America and its allies.
Here, then, are seven facts about Obama’s proposed Iran nuclear deal Americans should know:
1. U.S. Nuclear Inspectors Are Banned From Inspecting Iran’s Nuclear Sites
2. Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal Lifts Economic Sanctions that Could Boost Iran’s Economy with $150 Billion in Revenue
3. The Obama Administration Admits That ‘We Should Expect’ Iran Will Spend Some of the $150 Billion in Revenues Obama’s Deal Gives Them On Their Military and Possibly Terrorism
4. On the Very Week Obama Brokered His Iran Nuclear Deal, Large Crowds Across Iran Could Be Heard Chanting “Death to America”—And Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Declared ‘Death to America’ Just Months Ago
5. Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal Does Not Require Iran to Release Any American Prisoners
6. Obama’s Deal Allows Russia and China to Supply Iran with Weapons
7. 77 Percent of Americans Oppose Obama’s Lifting of Sanctions Against Iran
Obama calls critics of Iran nuclear deal 'overheated and dishonest'
US President Barack Obama on Saturday defended the historic nuclear deal made with Iran last week and warned that some critics of the agreement will offer the American people "dishonest arguments" against the accord in the weeks ahead.
"There's a reason this deal took so long to negotiate. Because we refused to accept a bad deal. We held out for a deal that met every one of our bottom lines. And we got it," Obama said during his weekly address to the American people.
"This deal will make America and the world safer and more secure. Still, you're going to hear a lot of overheated and often dishonest arguments about it in the weeks ahead," he said.
Obama has run into a storm of accusations from Republican lawmakers and Israel that he gave away too much to Tehran and is seeking to sell the Iran nuclear deal to skeptical US lawmakers and nervous allies, insisting the landmark agreement was the only alternative to a nuclear arms race and more war in the Middle East.
"Does this deal resolve all of the threats Iran poses to its neighbors and the world? No. Does it do more than anyone has done before to make sure Iran does not obtain a nuclear weapon? Yes. And that was our top priority from the start," Obama continued.
Deal means ‘permanent prohibition’ on Iranian nukes, insists Obama
US President Barack Obama rebuffed critics of the Iran nuclear agreement Saturday, defending the historic accord amid skepticism from lawmakers reviewing the deal.
In his weekly address, Obama said that without the accord, “we’d risk another war in the most volatile region in the world,” underlining the limits now placed on Iran’s nuclear program.
“This deal actually pushes Iran further away from a bomb. And there’s a permanent prohibition on Iran ever having a nuclear weapon,” Obama said.
“We will have unprecedented, 24/7 monitoring of Iran’s key nuclear facilities.”
White House: Military Options Remain Available Regarding Iran
White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Friday addressed the nuclear deal reached with Iran this past week, saying that military options remain available regarding Iran, but the administration is pursuing diplomacy first.
Earnest said that the nuclear agreement with Iran would actually enhance the United States' potential military options if Iran violates the compact, according to the Reuters news agency.
He added that the agreement will give the United States more insight into Iran's activities.
Earnest also warned that if the U.S. Congress rejects the agreement, then Iran will not face any consequences for its actions.
Not backing the deal, Earnest said according to Reuters, would amount to Iran getting off "scot-free."
He also said the administration is confident that it has strong support among U.S. Democrats in the House of Representatives.
Over 5,000 Christians March on Washington to Quash Iran Deal
Some called it “Divine Intervention,” while others described the timing of the Iran deal announcement during the Christians United For Israel (CUFI) 10th annual Summit as “bashert,” the Yiddish word for destiny or fate. Either way, the world’s largest pro-Israel organization, boasting over 2.2 million members, was heading to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning to look their congressional representative in the eye and tell him or her to say no to the Iran nuclear deal.
“The Iran deal is worse than the troubling reports previously indicated,” explained CUFI Executive Director David Brog to the Salomon Center for American Jewish Thought. “This is an abdication of American power and leadership in the world and it is a retreat that will endanger Israel, America and the world. We at Christians United For Israel are determined to fight this dangerous, bad, and yes—stupid deal with everything we’ve got.”
Walking through the halls of the Cannon, Longworth and Rayburn House office buildings and their Senate counterparts, CUFI’s presence was undeniable. Americans of every stripe, clad in everything from business suits to T-shirts and shorts, toted blue and white bags and sported nametags on light green lanyards around their necks. The walls of the buildings were lined with supporters of Israel waiting to see their congressional representatives to make sure they knew how strongly they felt that the Iran deal was a loser for both the U.S. and Israel.
By close of business Tuesday afternoon, over 80 percent of House and Senate members or their staff had met with a member of CUFI.
Congressman Introduces Legislation Condemning Iran Deal
Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-06), co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus, on Friday introduced legislation expressing the sense of the House of Representatives in disapproval of the deal agreed to by the six world powers and Iran.
The resolution, H. Res. 367, which is backed by 171 co-sponsors, including 14 of 22 House committee chairmen, is intended to build support for an expected vote on a formal joint resolution of disapproval in September.
“This agreement fails on every level to ensure Iran never acquires a nuclear weapons capability. Tehran is allowed to keep much of its nuclear infrastructure intact and rewarded a $150 billion cash infusion from sanctions relief,” warned Roskam.
“The so-called ‘anytime, anywhere’ inspections regime in reality provides Iran nearly a month's notice on inspections. And, in an unprecedented last-minute concession, the UN arms embargo and ban on ballistic missiles will be lifted in just a few short years,” he continued.
House Speaker Boehner says majority of Congress opposes Iran deal
John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said on Thursday it was "pretty clear" that a majority of the House and Senate oppose the Iran nuclear deal.
Republicans control both the House and Senate, which have the right to review the deal under a law Democratic President Barack Obama signed in May. They are expected to vote on the agreement after the Labor Day holiday in early September.
"It's pretty clear that a majority of the House and Senate, at a minimum, are opposed to this deal. What those numbers look like post-Labor Day, we'll see," he told a weekly news conference.
Iran’s Khamenei hails his people for demanding Death to America and Israel
Iran’s supreme leader on Saturday hailed the Iranian masses for demanding the destruction of Israel and America, and said he hoped that God would answer their prayers.
In a viciously anti-US speech delivered in Tehran four days after Iran and the world powers signed an accord designed to thwart Iran’s nuclear program, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praised “the slogans of the people of Iran” which “indicated what directions they’re heading for,” according to the English translation of his speech by Iran’s Press TV.
At Al-Quds day rallies last week, Khamenei noted appreciatively, “You heard ‘Death to Israel’, ‘Death to the US.’ You could hear it. The whole nation was shaken by these slogans. It wasn’t only confined to Tehran. The whole of the nation, you could hear, that was covered by this great movement. So we ask Almighty God to accept these prayers by the people of Iran.”
Khamenei also vowed in the speech, which was broadcast live on state television, that the nuclear agreement with the major powers would not change Iran’s policy against the “arrogant American government” nor would it change the Islamic Republic’s policy of supporting its “friends” in the region.
Iran Extends Olive Branch to Muslim Countries Following Deal
Iran, embarking on a diplomatic offensive in the wake of its nuclear deal with world powers, told fellow Muslim countries on Friday it hoped the accord could pave the way for more cooperation in the Middle East and internationally, Reuters reported.
The country’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, made the comment in a message to Islamic and Arab countries on the occasion of the Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the ministry's website said.
"By solving the artificial crisis about its nuclear program diplomatically, a new opportunity for regional and international cooperation has emerged," Zarif said, according to Reuters.
The Iranian foreign minister will travel to Gulf countries at some point after the Eid holiday, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham told state news agency IRNA late on Thursday.
The Deal That Dare Not Be Considered Under Regular Order
Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, the president, within five calendar days after reaching an agreement with Iran, must transmit to Congress the agreement, side agreements, technical understandings, implementing materials, and certain reports and certifications specified in the law. The 60-day period for Congress to vote on the deal then commences. As of yesterday, the transmittal had not yet occurred, which means Congress will have until at least September 15 for its review – unless the administration undermines it, as it plans to do, by taking the deal immediately to the U.N. Security Council for a resolution that revokes all previous U.N. resolutions regarding Iran and endorses the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA) instead. Earlier this year, the president tried to keep Congress out of the process entirely; then he agreed to let Congress consider the deal as long as a two-thirds vote was required to stop him; now he effectively seeks to avoid even that.
Yesterday, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Corker, and its ranking member, Senator Ben Cardin, wrote jointly to the president urging him to postpone a UN vote until after Congress considers the deal:
The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, a bill which 98 Senators and 400 Representatives supported and you signed, established a 60-day period for Congress to consider the nuclear agreement. We are deeply concerned that your administration plans to enable the United Nations Security Council to vote on the agreement before the United States Congress can do the same.
Doing so would be contrary to your statement that “it’s important for the American people and Congress to get a full opportunity to review this deal…our national security policies are stronger and more effective when they are subject to the scrutiny and transparency that democracy demands.”

Yesterday the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee (Ed Royce, R-CA) and the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee (Michael McCaul, R-TX) likewise sent a joint letter to the president, asserting that Congress should consider the deal before any UN action:
Any U.S.-supported effort to lift UN sanctions before Congress has weighed-in on the terms of the agreement would undermine our oversight responsibilities and violate the spirit of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which you signed into law. … The full 60 day review period and parliamentary procedures prescribed by the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act should be allowed to play out before action at the Security Council.
It is unclear whether the president will slow down. In May, he signed the Iran Nuclear Review Act of 2015 and then in July negotiated the JCPOA that provides for submission of a new resolution to the U.N. Security Council “promptly [after negotiations are concluded] … for adoption without delay.” The JCPOA makes no mention of the law the president signed.
No wonder BBC WS presenter Razia Iqbal got Iranian threat to Israel wrong
Razia Iqbal [interrupts]: “But you’re not under…you’re not under threat by Iran. Nobody in Iran has threatened you for a very long time. You’re harking back to a time when President Mahmoud Ahmedinijad threatened Israel directly.”
Danny Danon: “Well when I see only two days ago the Israeli and American flags being burned in the streets of Tehran I believe those pictures. And when I see the Iranians sponsoring terror activities in Lebanon, in the Sinai Peninsula and in other parts of the Middle East, I understand what will be the next step that they will take and if we will see or feel that we are in danger, we do keep our right to defend ourselves.”

In his final remarks Minister Danon was of course referring to last Friday’s ‘Al Quds Day’ rallies which took place in Iran and elsewhere – including on the BBC’s literal doorstep in London. As was noted here earlier, the BBC refrained from reporting on those events on its English language services and has in the past tried to downplay and distort that annual day of Iranian state sponsored hate.
Of course had the BBC not censored coverage of that event and had it made more of an effort in the past to report on the many additional examples of Iranian regime threats against Israel and to cover the issues of Iranian terrorism and Iranian patronage of terrorist organisations such as Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hizballah more accurately and comprehensively, then its own presenters might be capable of displaying the modicum of understanding of the topic under discussion as expected by audiences worldwide and able to avoid misleading listeners with inaccurate – and plainly embarrassing – statements.
Guardian omits Rouhani’s swipe at the “Zionist usurper regime”.
UK Media Watch prompts correction to Guardian mistranslation of Rouhani speech
Yesterday, we posted about a Guardian editorial praising the Iranian nuclear deal (Guardian view on Iran nuclear deal: a triumph of diplomacy, July 14) which included this curious claim regarding Iran’s President, Hasan Rouhani.
In a small but perhaps encouraging sign, President Rouhani, in his statement welcoming the deal, referred to Israel by its name, rather than as “the Zionist entity”.
We noted that he did not use the word “Israel” and in fact did use “Zionist” in the pejorative. Specifically, he referred to the Jewish state as “the Zionist usurper regime“, as this clip of a CSPAN translation from the original Farsi demonstrates. (Alternatively, MEMRI translated the words as “oppressive Zionist regime”)
Shortly after contacting Guardian editors, complaining about the mischaracterization of Rouhani’s speech, they completely removed the problematic passage, and added this addendum at the bottom of the editorial:
Sailor wounded in Chattanooga shooting dies
A wounded U.S. Navy sailor died on Saturday, bringing the toll to five service members killed in last week’s attacks on military centers in Chattanooga, the Navy announced.
The military did not name the latest victim, but family members have previously said that Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, 26, was among the injured and was in critical condition.
Smith had lived in Paulding County, Ohio, before joining the service. Ohio Gov. John Kasich tweeted his condolences on Saturday.
Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire at two military-related locations in Chattanooga on Thursday, shooting seven people in what officials are investigating as a terrorist attack. Abdulazeez was killed during a firefight with police at the Navy Operational Support Center.
According to the Navy statement, “a male Navy petty officer succumbed to wounds” at 2:17 a.m. EDT on Saturday.
In addition to Smith, four Marines were killed in Thursday’s attack.
They are: Lance Cpl. Squire K. Wells of Cobb, Ga., Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan of Hampden, Mass., Sgt. Carson Holmquist of Polk, Wis., and Staff Sgt. David Wyatt of Burke, N.C.
The Terror We Couldn’t Stop
On the July Fourth holiday, FBI Director James Comey revealed that his agency had prevented a massive, ISIS-inspired terrorist event and charged 10 potential mass killers who were preparing to execute the assault. “I do believe our work disrupted efforts to kill people, likely in connection with July 4,” Comey said. He added that some of the plotting represented “very serious efforts to kill people in the United States.”
And, as recently as Monday, American officials arrested the son of the captain of the Boston Police Department for allegedly plotting to execute an ISIS-inspired terrorist attack. Radicalized by the Boston Marathon bombings, the young man who calls himself Ali Al Amriki was arrested after purchasing four weapons illegally from an informant on July 4. “In his apartment, the FBI found possible bomb-making equipment including a pressure cooker, as was used by Boston Marathon bombers Dzhokar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, as well as a variety of chemicals, an alarm clock, along with ‘attack planning papers,’” the New York Post reported.
American law enforcement deserves plaudits for effectively thwarting these and many other attacks on American targets, but that is cold comfort to those who lost friends and family members in Tennessee on Thursday. Abdulazeez’s successful attack demonstrates that, in a complex threat environment with a variety of actors trying to evade law enforcement, some will slip through the cracks.
This attack demonstrates the necessity of combating and ultimately destroying ISIS overseas in order to eliminate the ideological center of gravity that compels the young and radicalized to destroy themselves in service to a bloody belief structure. This grotesque act of violence is disturbingly common and fails to shock the senses in precisely the opposite way that Dylann Roof’s racist and terroristic attack on an African-American church stunned and traumatized the nation. Whereas acts of backwards and anachronistic racist acts of mass violence are rare, attempted attacks like those carried out by Abdulazeez’s are all too common. Someday, when the war to defeat radical Islam enjoys its final victory, acts of terrorism like those Chattanooga will be as unusual as that in Charleston. It is a day America’s lawmakers should be doing all within their power to realize.
Mohammad Abdulazeez Failed Background Check to Work at Nuclear Power Plant
Mohammad Abdulazeez, the Tennessee college graduate slain after a shooting spree which killed four U.S. Marines, reportedly failed a background check to work at a nuclear power plant in Ohio.
According to the Associated Press:
An Ohio company says the man who gunned down four Marines in Tennessee failed a background check in May 2013.
Todd Schneider, a spokesman for FirstEnergy Corp., says Muhammad Abdulazeez was conditionally hired as an engineer at a nuclear plant in east Cleveland. He spent 10 days there before he was let go because he failed a background check.
He would not say why Abdulazeez didn’t pass the screening process.

However, FirstEnergy is not just “an Ohio company.” It provides electricity to multiple states, including the majority of land in Pennsylvania and West Virginia:
The Media Isn't Sure of Chattanooga Killer's Motive


CHARLIE HEBDO EDITOR: No More Mohammed Cartoons
The editor of satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo has declared that he will not publish any more cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, just six months after the Islamist terrorist attack on the magazine that killed 11 civilians and one police officer.
Speaking to Hamburg-based Stern, Laurent Sourisseau, the cartoonist and publishing editor who took a gunshot to the shoulder in the attacks, said, “We’ve done our job. We have defended the right to caricature.”
Some may view the magazine’s new approach as a capitulation to the radical Islamist terrorists demanding censorship in fealty to their fundamentalist ideals. The fact is that images of the Prophet Mohammed have in fact been commonplace throughout Islam’s history.
“We still believe that we have the right to criticize all religions,” he added.
Sourisseau was present as his colleagues were murdered in January. In fact, he himself had to ‘play dead’ to avoid further targeting.
But his interview in Stern also reveals that he believes that new pioneers in the area of free speech have taken up the Charlie Hebdo mantle.
BBC fails to report the conclusion to a story it covered four years ago
Back in 2011 the BBC devoted substantial coverage to what it described in an edition of the World Service radio programme ‘Assignment’ as “The Mystery of Dirar Abu Sisi“.
Additional content on the same topic included:
“Palestinian ‘abducted’ in Ukraine due in Israel court” – Yolande Knell, BBC News website, 29/3/2011
“His friends and relatives reject Israeli reports that the engineer is affiliated to militant groups in the Gaza Strip and are calling on the Ukraine authorities to intervene.”

The ‘mystery’ of Abu Sisi came to an end in March 2015 when he was convicted after admitting the charges against him.
“The Be’er Sheva District Court convicted Dirar Abu Sisi, known in the Shin Bet security service as the “father of the rockets,” in a plea bargain arrangement. Abu Sisi, an engineer, is said to have been responsible for extending the range of Hamas’s Kassam rockets. […]
Abu Sisi has been under arrest in Israel for four years, As the commander of the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, he was a senior partner in the production of missiles and mortars of various types, and of developing and extending the range of rockets used to fire into Israel.
Abu Sisi was convicted on Thursday after he admitted to the charges, according to the updated indictment from which many of the original charges of attempted murder were dropped, while those of belonging to an unauthorized organization, planning to commit murder, producing weapons, activity in a terror organization and other weapons charges all remained.
IS rape and torture of Yazidi women pushed me to fight with Kurds, says Gill Rosenberg
Israel should provide military training to Kurdish fighters engaged in war with Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, says an Israeli-Canadian woman who has just returned from fighting alongside the Kurdish and Christian insurgent groups in those countries.
Gill Rosenberg, believed to be the first female foreigner to join Kurdish forces battling the Islamic State, said the rape and torture of Yazidi women at the hands of IS motivated her to travel to fight with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northeastern Syria last November.
“For me, that was the difference between a regular war and genocide,” she said of the news of ethnic cleansing that she heard while in Israel.
Thousands of foreigners have volunteered to fight in Syria and Iraq alongside Islamic State, but few have joined the war on the side of minority rebel groups currently engaged in battle both against the Assad regime and radical Islamic factions.
Rosenberg said the fact that Kurdish units include both male and female combatants made the decision to join easier. She traveled to Syria via Jordan, and within days was engaged in combat with Islamic State forces near the town of Qamishli, on the border with Turkey.
ISIS Has Fired Chemical Mortar Shells, Evidence Indicates
The Islamic State appears to have manufactured rudimentary chemical warfare shells and attacked Kurdish positions in Iraq and Syria with them as many as three times in recent weeks, according to field investigators, Kurdish officials and a Western ordnance disposal technician who examined the incidents and recovered one of the shells.
The development, which the investigators said involved toxic industrial or agricultural chemicals repurposed as weapons, signaled a potential escalation of the group’s capabilities, though it was not entirely without precedent.
Beginning more than a decade ago, Sunni militants in Iraq have occasionally used chlorine or old chemical warfare shells in makeshift bombs against American and Iraqi government forces. And Kurdish forces have claimed that militants affiliated with the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, used a chlorine-based chemical in at least one suicide truck bomb in Iraq this year.
Continue reading the main story
Firing chemical mortar shells across distances, however, as opposed to dispersing toxic chemicals via truck bombs or stationary devices, would be a new tactic for the group, and would require its munitions makers to overcome a significantly more difficult technical challenge.
‘Hezbollah arrests 175 of own men for refusing to fight in Syria’
The Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah has arrested 175 of its own fighters after they refused to take part in battles in the Syrian city of Zabadani, close to the border with Lebanon, Israel Radio said Saturday, quoting opposition sources in Syria.
The radio also cited a report in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, which claimed that Hezbollah fighters dispatched to Syria to shore up the regime there have begun to show reluctance to confront the rebel groups seeking to overthrow President Bashar Assad. According to the report, the hesitation began after 120 Hezbollah fighters were killed in confrontations with opposition groups and another 200 were wounded.
Like the Syrian regime, Hezbollah is an Iranian proxy in the region, receiving funds and arms from the Islamic Republic. The group has dispatched thousands of fighters to support the embattled Assad, although reports have repeatedly emerged that the organization has struggled to defeat the opposition forces.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Saturday that the nuclear agreement signed earlier this week with world powers would not impact on its alliances in the region, including the regime in Syria.
Report: Hezbollah Leader Undergoes Breast Reduction Surgery (satire)
Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Shiite militant group Hezbollah, is reportedly recovering from radical breast reduction surgery in a secret bunker in the country’s Beqaa Valley.
The reduction mammoplasty was performed by Swiss cosmetic surgeons clandestinely flown in to conduct the operation, according to a disgruntled member of Hezbollah’s leadership, who spoke with The Mideast Beast on condition of anonymity.
Over 30 kilograms of breast tissue were excised during the four-hour surgery, which was then fed to Nasrallah’s pet Rottweiler, Satan’s Little Helper.
The Hezbollah leader is reportedly recovering well, aided by a compression garment to accelerate the healing process and minimize swelling. Any scarring will be concealed once Nasrallah’s dense chest hair grows back after a vigorous pre-op shaving.
Argentina’s President Kirchner Blames Visit to Jewish Community for Foreign Minister’s Illness
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the President of Argentina, implied in a series of Tweets this week that the Jewish community was responsible for the country’s foreign minister’s deteriorated health, NRG reported today.
Kirchner said that Foreign Minister Hector Timmerman’s health began deteriorating after a visit from the Jewish community prompted by backlash to the government’s memorandum including Iran in a commission of inquiry into the 1994 Buenos Aires Jewish community center bombing.
“Hector is seriously suffering after the manner in which the heads of the community behaved towards him and called him a traitor,” tweeted Kirchner after a surgery that the Foreign Minister underwent.
When she received criticism over her government’s policies and her remarks, she responded with a tweet that NRG interpreted as hinting to the the dual loyalties of the Jewish community. “It’s known that Hector is Jewish , but first he is an Argentine, like me. I am Catholic, but first I am Argentine.”
Why Anti-Semitic Statements by Celebrities Matter
Here at the Anti-Defamation League, we get it all the time. Most recently when we criticized Jarryd Hayne, a former Australian rugby star and now a running back on the San Francisco 49ers, for revisiting the ancient charge blaming Jews for the death of Christ.
Columnist Jeffrey Goldberg tweeted, “Maybe not the best use of ADL’s time?”
With all that is going on in the world of a serious nature, some say, is that what ADL should be focusing on? Let’s be clear: We deal everyday with the larger issues. On the very day that the Jarryd Hayne matter surfaced, we issued a strong statement about the Iran nuclear arrangement.
Still, the critics are missing the point. The analogy I would draw is to the approach taken by New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton when he assumed the position for the first time in 1993.
The year before, there had been over 2,000 murders in New York City. All kinds of solutions for this huge problem had been suggested and tried without success.
Bratton took a counter-intuitive approach: Focus first not on the big crimes but on the everyday petty ones, like graffiti and broken windows. People chuckled at this bizarre approach, but it worked. The murder rate went into a precipitous decline, eventually totaling 333 in 2014.
Bratton’s logic: The climate of tolerance for crime reflected in the small stuff opened the way for the truly horrendous acts. Clean up the climate and you will clean up crime.
Pollard’s attorney: Despite reports, no word yet on his release
Despite several media reports that convicted American spy-for-Israel Jonathan Pollard may be released later this year, Eliot Lauer, one of Pollard’s attorneys, told the Times of Israel Friday that he has received no indication of this.
“We have not received any word, and I would expect that either I or my client would be the ones who would be notified,” Lauer said Friday afternoon. Lauer is a member of Pollard’s pro-bono legal team and has represented him for over two decades.
The 61-year-old Pollard is serving a life sentence in a US federal prison for passing classified information to Israel; he was granted citizenship by Israel 20 years ago. The flurry of reports reflect a US government website that lists Pollard’s release date (under ID number 09185-016) as November 21, 2015 – a date that would coincide with the 30th anniversary of the former Navy analyst’s arrest. But Lauer noted that November 21, 2015, has been listed as a release date for Pollard for decades.
“Under the system he could be released unless the government or the parole commission would conclude that they’re not releasing him,” Lauer explained. “The presumption is that until the parole commission says he should be released, he doesn’t get released.”
In order for Pollard to be released, a Notice of Action must first be issued – and presumably, it is Pollard’s legal team which would receive it first. According to Lauer, no such Notice of Action has been received.
Lauer said the authorities could issue such a notice shortly before Pollard’s release date.


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