Wednesday, January 28, 2015

From Ian:

Two soldiers killed, 7 hurt in attack on Lebanon border
Two soldiers were killed Wednesday when an Israeli army patrol came under anti-tank fire from Hezbollah operatives in the northern Mount Dov region along the border with Lebanon.
The IDF confirmed that at least seven soldiers were wounded in the attack and ruled out the possibility that a soldier had been kidnapped.
The two soldiers were not immediately named. They were identified as a company commander and another soldier.
“Earlier today, an anti-tank missile hit an IDF vehicle in the Har-Dov area, killing two soldiers and wounding an additional seven, two of them moderately,” said the IDF in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “The soldiers’ families have been notified.”
The vehicles were hit by Kornet guided anti-tank missiles, Channel 2 reported.
Photos that emerged after the attack showed two badly damaged vehicles in flames. The IDF vehicles were unarmored. Later reports said they were not traveling on a border road, but on a dual-use military-civilian road.
IDF strikes Syria targets; sirens sound in Golan Heights
For the second time in just 12 hours, air raid sirens sounded in the northern Golan Heights right past midnight early Wednesday morning, but there were no immediate reports of rockets falling. The alarms sounded as Israeli Air Force jets struck several targets on the Syrian side, in response to rocket attacks earlier in the day.
The sirens, which usually signal incoming attacks, were heard in several towns in the area including the Druze villages of Majdal Shams and Mas’ade, the town of Neve Atid which is adjacent to the Mount Hermon ski resort and Nimrod.
The IDF said it found no evidence of a second round of rocket or mortar fire and launched a probe as to why the sirens were triggered.
The Israeli military said it confirmed direct hits on a number of Syrian army posts, hours after two rockets launched from Syrian territory landed in the Israeli-controlled region. The projectiles set off the air raid sirens in the same area Tuesday mid-morning.
Is Hezbollah trying to draw Israel into a ground offensive?
Indeed, although it seems counterintuitive, there may be some in Hezbollah who hope to see Israeli tanks entering Syrian territory and hitting Syrian military targets.
The shelling has so far succeeded in only slightly disrupting routine life in the Golan Heights and closing the Hermon ski resort for several hours. But one can assume that if Hezbollah was indeed behind the attacks, as some in Israel claim, it won’t be the last such strike by the terror group’s contingent in the Syrian Golan.
The next stage, as far as Hezbollah is concerned, could be to try to further upset the security situation by firing rockets sporadically into the Israeli Golan Heights, in a manner that may force the IDF to send troops deep into Syrian territory.
This would make it easier for Hezbollah to exact Israeli casualties and at the same time focus Arab public opinion on the battles in the Golan Heights, distracting it from the daily acts of carnage perpetrated by Assad loyalists.
Furthermore, if Hezbollah manages to draw Israel into committing even a small number of troops to a ground incursion in the Syrian Golan Heights, the Sunni radical groups Islamic State and al Nusra Front will be in the problematic position of being portrayed as collaborators with Israel in its battle against the Assad regime and its Lebanese ally.
The rockets fired at the Golan Heights constitute a serious challenge for Israel. On the one hand Jerusalem seeks to deter Hezbollah from continuing to disrupt life in the north. On the other, too aggressive a response will prompt Hezbollah to escalate its attacks in a manner that may leave Israel no choice but to deploy ground troops, furthering the goals of Assad and the rest of the Shiite axis.

UN member killed as Israel responds to border attack
A Spanish member of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon was killed Wednesday, following an IDF response to a cross-border attack by Hezbollah on Israeli soldiers.
A 36-year-old corporal “died this morning during incidents between Hezbollah and the Israeli army in the area of responsibility of the Spanish contingent”, the Spanish defence ministry said in a statement.
The soldier was part of the 10,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon (UNIFIL), which includes 600 Spanish soldiers.
Spain’s Defense Minister Pedro Morenes, who was flying to India for a three-day visit, canceled the trip and returned to Spain mid-flight, the ministry said.
IDF combs north for possible attack tunnels
The IDF began on Wednesday to drill in the soil around Israel’s northern border in search of attack tunnels that may have been constructed by Lebanese Hezbollah operatives in order to carry out deadly assaults against Israeli citizens and soldiers. The drilling operation was halted several hours later in light of a cross-border attack by Hezbollah on an Israeli patrol.
Defense officials stressed that the operation in the small village of Zarit was not prompted by information regarding a specific threat of tunnel digging, but was instead initiated in order to assure local residents that the border was secure, Israel Radio reported.
The IDF was employing heavy machinery for the digging task, according to the report, and no tunnels had yet to be found.
Video released of IDF strikes in Lebanon, Liberman calls for 'disproportionate response'
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called Wednesday for a “harsh and disproportionate” response to a multi-pronged Hezbollah attack that injured seven IDF soldiers on Wednesday.
“Israel has to change the policy by which it responds to missile attacks against its sovereign territory,” Liberman said and added “it must do so harshly, and not disproportionately.”
He spoke during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing. China or the US would respond in such a disproportionate manner if it was their sovereign territory that was being attacked, Liberman said.
Israel expects its allies to support a harsh response, Liberman told Wang. He added that countries around the world had to adopt a harsh and severe policy with regard to terrorism that did not allow for the kind of provocation that Israel experienced on Wednesday from Hezbollah.
Netanyahu Warns Hezbollah 'Look What Happened to Hamas'
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to the Hezbollah attack on Har Dov in the Golan Heights on Wednesday, in which seven Israelis were reportedly wounded following anti-tank, rocket and mortar fire.
As the fighting blazed on, Netanyahu said during a visit in the southern city of Sderot "in these moments the IDF is responding to the incidents in the north."
"To all those trying to challenge us on the northern border, I suggest looking at what happened here, not far from the city of Sderot, in the Gaza strip," he added, referring to Operation Protective Edge last summer that was launched in response to a Hamas missile escalation.
The prime minister concluded "Hamas absorbed the hardest blow since it was founded last summer, and the IDF is ready to act with force on any front."
Israeli officials blame Iran for northern border attack
Sources in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bureau blamed Iran for Wednesday’s attack on the northern border.
“Iran is behind this heinous terrorist attack. The same Iran which the world powers are forming an agreement with, that would allow it to maintain its ability to acquire nuclear weapons capacity,” the sources said.
This is the same Iran that tried to build a terrorist infrastructure in the Golan Heights, similar to what it has in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq and Yemen, the sources said.
This is the same Iran that supports terrorism around the globe, the sources said.
“We must not give such terrorism a nuclear umbrella. We must not let the most dangerous regime in the world to arm itself with the most dangerous weapons in the world,” the sources said.
Ya'alon: IAF strike on Syria sent 'clear message' Israel won't tolerate violations of sovereignty
Amid tension in the North, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Wednesday that the IAF strike on Assad-controlled territory the day before relayed a "clear message" that Israel will "respond with force and determination" to any violations of its sovereignty.
The defense minister said Israel held the Syrian regime as responsible for attacks from its territory.
Israel "knows how to exact a heavy price from any regime or organization from where a violation of our sovereignty or fire against Israel will originate," the defense minister added.
"We have no intention of ignoring or being tolerant of terrorist activities and attempts to harm our civilians and soldiers. We are working calmly and with determination, responsibly and with good judgment to safeguard the security of Israeli citizens against states and terrorist elements bent on disrupting our lives," he added.
Abbas' Fatah to Hezbollah: "We are in the same trench, and are resisting the same enemy"
Earlier this month, Hezbollah commander Jihad Mughniyeh was killed in an Israeli airstrike. Jihad Mughniyeh was commander of the terror organization in the Syrian Golan Heights and son of Imad Mughniyeh, a senior Hezbollah member assassinated in 2008. According to Western intelligence sources, Jihad Mughniyeh was planning and preparing terror attacks against Israel, including firing of rockets and explosive devices meant to target Israelis.
"We are resisting the same enemy," said Rifat Shanaah, the director of Fatah's Lebanon branch who headed the "high-ranking delegation," which Abbas' Fatah party immediately sent off to convey condolences upon the death of Mughniyeh. The delegation "laid three wreaths on the grave of Martyr Jihad Mughniyeh... on behalf of the embassy of the State of Palestine, the PLO and Fatah." Speaking "in the name of the Palestinian National Liberation Movement - Fatah; in the name of the PLO and the resisting Palestinian people,"
"We hereby express our heartfelt condolences to [our] brothers in the Hezbollah leadership and to the families of the Martyrs. We are in the same trench, and are resisting the same enemy." [Ma'an (independent Palestinian news agency) Jan. 21, 2015]
State Department-Funded Group Bankrolling Anti-Bibi Campaign
A U.S. State Department-funded group is financing an Israeli campaign to oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and has hired former Obama aides to help with its grassroots organizing efforts.
U.S.-based activist group OneVoice International has partnered with V15, an “independent grassroots movement” in Israel that is actively opposing Netanyahu’s party in the upcoming elections, Ha’aretz reported on Monday. Former national field director for President Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign Jeremy Bird is also reportedly involved in the effort.
OneVoice development and grants officer Christina Taler said the group would be working with V15 on voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts but would not engage in overtly partisan activities. She said OneVoice and V15 are still formalizing the partnership.
While V15 has not endorsed any particular candidates, it is working to oppose Netanyahu in the March elections.
“We’ve formed a partnership with [V15], but it’s important to know we’re absolutely nonpartisan,” Taler told the Washington Free Beacon. “Our biggest emphasis and focus right now is just getting people out to vote.”
OneVoice said in a press release on Tuesday that it is teaming up with V15 because Israel “need[s] a prime minister and a government who will be responsive to the people.”
OneVoice International received two grants from the U.S. State Department over the past year, and lists the agency as a “partner” on its website. Taler said the group is not using this money for its Israeli election-related efforts.
Bibi Isn't the 1st Jewish Leader Stung by White House
Media reported on January 23 that "officials in Washington" said the obscenity used to describe Netanyahu by an unnamed White House official last October "was mild compared to the language used in the White House when news of Netanyahu’s planned speech [to Congress] came in."
Now compare that to what happened when many of the nation's most prominent rabbis marched to the White House in 1943, three days before Yom Kippur.
The 400 marchers, who were mobilized by the Bergson Group and the Orthodox rescue group Va'ad ha-Hatzala, included such rabbinic luminaries as Rabbis Israel Rosenberg and Eliezer Silver, co-presidents of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis; the Boyaner Rebbe, Rabbi Shlomo Friedman; Rabbi Bernard Levinthal, known as the chief rabbi of Philadelphia; and such soon-to-be leaders as Rabbi Moshe Feinstein and Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik.
The rabbis were greeted on the steps of the Capitol by leading Members of Congress. Then they marched to the Lincoln Memorial, where they recited prayers for American soldiers fighting overseas and for the Jews being slaughtered by the Nazis. From there they went to the White House, where they hoped a small delegation would be permitted to present President Roosevelt with a petition urging steps to rescue Europe's Jews.
The president, however, would not give them five minutes of his time. The rabbis were told that Roosevelt was unavailable. But FDR's schedule is a matter of public record, so we know that he had no appointments in the early or mid afternoon that day. He easily could have met with the rabbis--except that he had decided to leave the White House through a rear exit, in order to avoid the marchers.
PreOccupied Territory: Confused Obama Informed He Can’t Veto Israel’s Existence (satire)
Fresh from a triumphant State of the Union address in which he repeatedly invoked his power to veto legislation not to his liking, US President Barack Obama sought to apply his veto over the existence of Israel, only to be told the Constitution does not permit him to do so. The president reportedly expressed confusion at this information.
Obama mentioned the veto a record number of times for such an address, taking the fight to a Republican Congress that has sought to stymie many of the president’s initiatives over the years. Obama has two years left in his final term, but showed no signs of going quietly, locking horns with Congress on matters foreign and domestic. The feisty address left him and fellow Democrats energized, but evidently the president was so swept up in that energy that he failed to realize the limits of his presidential power.
Irked that Congressional leaders had invited Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Neyanyahu to address lawmakers, but had violated protocol by not notifying the White House, the president voiced frustration that he had to continue reckoning with Israel’s existence and asked an aide to look into the procedure for voiding Israel’s establishment. The aide informed him that no such mechanism existed.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Washington asks for PA delay in resubmitting UN statehood bid
Palestinian Authority leadership to delay its plans to resubmit the Palestinian statehood resolution to the UN Security Council until after the March 17 election in Israel, a senior Fatah official said on Tuesday.
The PA leadership has accepted the US request, the official said. The Palestinians do not want the statehood bid at the Security Council to have any effect on the election, he added.
Some Arab countries have also asked the PA leadership to postpone its plan to go back to the Security Council to seek a resolution establishing a time line for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines, the official said.
An attempt on December 30 to pass such a resolution failed when the Palestinians failed to win the backing of nine members of the Security Council.
Palestinians are “Desperate” for…
Recently, the New York Times editorial page led with a piece titled “The Palestinians Desperation Move.” The opinion piece advanced the case that acting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must be frustrated in his mission to create a new Palestinian State.
Creating a State? Desperate people take what they can. They view their options as limited and prospects as weak. They seize any opportunities to advance their main goal, whatever that might be.
Witness early Zionists agreeing to any size and configuration of a Jewish state, despite their dream for a larger state based on the British Mandate of Palestine in 1922. They voted “yes” to a United Nations partition in 1947. They voted “yes” to greater Jerusalem and greater Bethlehem being international cities.
The Arabs, on the other hand, consistently voted “no” at every juncture.
B’Tselem manipulates and distorts facts to defame Israel
Hagai El-Ad, executive director of the non-governmental organization B’Tselem, has repeatedly lashed out at the Israeli government and the senior command of the Israel Defense Forces, accusing them of deliberately committing large-scale war crimes in the Gaza Strip during last summer’s war against Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations.
In an op-ed article on the Israel radical leftist website Mekomit, El-Ad argues that the “atrocities” in Gaza came “a result of conscious decisions made by the Israeli government how to use military force in the Gaza Strip, even though the consequences of this policy are known in advance… the senior civilian leadership sent its army to Gaza, armed with a policy which its pre-predicted consequences were massive killing of civilians.”
He further accuses the Israeli government of an attempt to “whitewash the atrocities with minimal damage to its architects, while cowardly hiding behind the back of the soldiers... this is a cynical theatre in the political, legal, and international levels.”
Is El-Ad an unbiased human rights activist who adheres objectively to the facts, or a radical leftist activist who misuses the human rights agenda in order to promote his anti-Israeli political goals? (h/t Bob Knot)
Charging Israel With War Crimes is a New Israel Fund Endeavor
If recent events in Paris were not the eye-opener for those on the ultra-Left who still believe that the rampant antisemitism in Europe is an anomaly inspired by the actions of Israel, I am afraid more harm will be coming.
The new working definition of antisemitism, by the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC), includes “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis,” and “holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.”
While it should be acceptable to criticize Israeli policy without being considered anti-Jewish, the lines are no longer so clear, and anti-Jewish and anti-Israel are often one and the same.
Historian Simon Schama said: “It used to be the Zionists that were the problem. Now it’s the ‘Jews.’”
The Islamist Parisian who killed Jews in the kosher supermarket said that he targeted the kosher store so as to kill the highest number of Jews that he could. Now the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague is investigating Israel for “war crimes” during a conflict motivated by Israeli self-defense. This effort is being spearheaded by the Palestinians, who are applying to the ICC for membership. (h/t Bob Knot)
ICC backers defy Israeli call to cut funding for court
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said the country was lobbying states to cut funding to what he described as a political body. He and other Israeli officials said their efforts would target Germany, Canada, Australia and Japan.
While few of the ICC's 122 member states welcome the diplomatic complications of a case dealing with the politically loaded Middle East conflict, many of the biggest financial contributors said they would maintain their funding.
The bulk of the court's 141 million euro ($158 million) annual budget comes from the advanced economies of Europe and North Asia. More than half comes from the top seven donors.
The German government -- the second-largest donor, contributing about a 10th of the ICC budget in 2014 -- said it "couldn't imagine" cutting funding.
French, British and Italian officials, representing the court's third, fourth and fifth largest contributors, told Reuters their governments would not change policy.
Canada, the seventh-biggest donor whose foreign minister was pelted with eggs for his country's pro-Israel stance in a recent visit to the West Bank, also said it was not reviewing its funding in light of Lieberman's request.
Japan, the top donor, having given 20.4 million euros ($23.1 million) in 2014, and Spain, ranked six, declined to comment.
Number of Jewish Visitors to Temple Mount Increased by 92 Percent Since 2009
According to the figures, 5,658 Israeli Jews visited the Temple Mount in 2009. Then the number rose steadily year by year to a high of 10,906 in 2014, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Israel gained eastern Jerusalem along with its holy sites from Jordan during the 1967 Six Day War. However, the Temple Mount is administered by the Islamic Waqf, a Muslim trust overseen by Jordan that limits non-Muslim visitation and bans Jewish prayer.
The increase in Jewish visitors has been led by Jewish activist groups that have been calling for greater access to the Temple Mount.
Tensions over the Temple Mount increased late last year after several Arab leaders spoke out about Jewish visitation, including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who called for Muslims to “prevent” Jews from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Israelis Forced to Travel Through Arab Village, Pelted by Rocks
A fatal car crash which occurred Tuesday on Highway 55 near the Shomron community of Ginot Shomron, forced the closure of the road for several hours.
Instead, drivers were instructed to take a detour and drive through the Arab village Azzun - where they were greeted by rock throwers.
Despite the military presence along the road, Arabs were able to throw rocks at an Israeli bus and another Israeli vehicle that passed by. Miraculously, there were no injuries.
The driver of the private vehicle that was attacked, Miriam, said that she drove through Azzun after being ordered to do so by the security forces.
Major Canadian Muslim Group Found to have Funded Hamas
A warrant from a raid by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was recently revealed by QMI Agency, showing that one of Canada's largest Muslim organizations provided funds to a charity linked with the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza.
The organization, the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC), is based in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, and runs 20 Islamic schools nationwide, in addition to 15 mosques. Those schools and mosques are located in major urban centers, such as Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, reports the Toronto Sun.
QMI recently obtained the police warrant from a raid last April 28 on IRFAN-Canada, which is a listed terrorist organization charity group also based in Mississauga. In the raid, police seized data as well as videos that "demonize Israel."
In the 113-page warrant, the police revealed "the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) provided $296,514 between 2001 and 2010" to IRFAN-Canada.
MAC, which has a total of land and building assets in Canada nearly equaling $31 million, claimed on its website that it "has no organizational link or affiliation with other organizations," a claim that the raid apparently debunked.
Report: Hamas Desperate to Renew Talks With Israel After PA, UN Funding Slows
Hamas, faced with a disastrous economic situation in Gaza stemming from a freeze on funding from the rival Palestinian Authority (PA), and halted UN reconstruction funds, urgently wants to restore indirect talks with Israel, NRG News reported Tuesday.
Hamas leader Osama Hamdan admitted that the Iran-backed organization was trying to resume negotiations with Israel through Egyptian mediation.
In an interview with Hamas’s Al Aqsa TV, Hamdan said that members of the group recently went to Egypt to promote a meeting with Israeli negotiators in order to conclude the indirect talks which began after last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, but which were suspended by Egypt in October.
Cairo’s move came after a terror attack killed at least 30 Egyptian soldiers in the northern Sinai, in what Egypt said was a Hamas-backed operation.
Hamdan, however, also criticized what he called “the recent Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip,” referring to IDF fire towards the border fence in recent days, intended to repulse potential infiltrators and protesters from the heavily-guarded security perimeter.
UNRWA, for its part, said that it “has been forced to suspend its cash assistance program in Gaza to tens of thousands of people for repairs to damaged and destroyed homes and for rental subsidies to the homeless,” a statement read.
Angry Gazans Try to Storm UN Headquarters
Hundreds of protesters on Wednesday tried to storm the Gaza headquarters of the United Nations, an AFP correspondent said, after the UN announced it lacked funds to rebuild the enclave from the damage caused by Hamas's most recent terror war against Israel.
Around 200 people demonstrated outside the building in Gaza City of UNRWA, burning tires and throwing rocks, while shouting "we are still homeless!"
As the riot continued to turn violent, some tried to storm the building before police of the Hamas terrorist organization that rules Gaza, broke up the demonstration.
The incident came a day after UNRWA announced it can not afford to repair tens of thousands of homes damaged during the July-August war between Israel and Hamas because donors have failed to pay.
"$5.4 billion was pledged at the Cairo (aid) conference last October and virtually none of it has reached Gaza. This is distressing and unacceptable. It is unclear why this funding has not been forthcoming," said UNRWA.
10,000 Palestinian teens graduate Hamas terror camp
Haniyeh attends graduation ceremony for Gazan group's youngest members, who have been trained to use sniper rifles and simulated tunnel infiltrations to Israel.
While their senior counterparts have been testing new homemade rockets and rebuilding the terror tunnel infrastructure, more than 10,000 teenagers arrived at an Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades training compound.
Under the guise of a program named "Pioneers of the Resistance," the Palestinian youths – aged 15 to 21 – underwent intensive military training, including exercises simulating operations of Hamas naval commandos.
The participants of the militant camp were also trained in firing sniper rifles, using the portraits of Israeli leaders for targets. The Palestinian youth simulated attacks on Israeli destinations through model terror tunnels, meant to recreate the experience of infiltrating Israeli territory.
Hamas Leader’s Departure from Qatar Shows Growing Influence of Saudi-Egypt Axis
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has left the Gulf state of Qatar, which had been his home since 2012, and has moved to Turkey, according to a report published Monday in The Christian Science Monitor. Meshaal’s departure is reportedly the result of the growing influence of the rapprochement between Qatar and both Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal, arguably Qatar’s most famous resident, has left Doha, his departure marking a deeper geopolitical shift taking hold in the region. …
The main force at play in the region is a strengthening of an Egyptian-Saudi axis that is increasingly hostile to Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is the Palestinian chapter.

The growing ties between Qatar and its neighbor Saudi Arabia may be opportunistic, as the Monitor quotes one observer saying, “Right now the wind of change is blowing in Saudi Arabia’s favor, and Qatar is moving with it.”
Muslim Brotherhood-Aligned Leaders Hosted at State Department
The State Department hosted a delegation of Muslim Brotherhood-aligned leaders this week for a meeting about their ongoing efforts to oppose the current government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, who rose to power following the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi, an ally of the Brotherhood, in 2013.
One member of the delegation, a Brotherhood-aligned judge in Egypt, posed for a picture while at Foggy Bottom in which he held up the Islamic group’s notorious four-finger Rabia symbol, according to his Facebook page.
That delegation member, Waleed Sharaby, is a secretary-general of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council and a spokesman for Judges for Egypt, a group reported to have close ties to the Brotherhood.
The delegation also includes Gamal Heshmat, a leading member of the Brotherhood, and Abdel Mawgoud al-Dardery, a Brotherhood member who served as a parliamentarian from Luxor.
Egyptian President Al-Sisi at Davos: Time Has Proven the Genius Nature of Sadat's Peace Initiative

Spy General Unloads on Obama’s ISIS War Plan
The former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency slammed the Obama administration on Monday as “well intentioned” but paralyzed and playing defense in its the fight against Islamic militancy.
Recently retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn called for the U.S. to lead the charge in a sweeping, decades-long campaign against the Islamic State group, al Qaeda, and its ilk—a fight like the one against the former Soviet Union—against a new enemy he said is “committed to the destruction of freedom and the American way of life.”
“There is no substitute, none, for American power,” the general said, to occasional cheers and ultimately a standing ovation from a crowd of special operators and intelligence officers at a Washington industry conference.
He also slammed the administration for refusing to use the term “Islamic militants” in its description of ISIS and al Qaeda.
“You cannot defeat an enemy you do not admit exists,” Flynn said.
Report: Jordan Agrees to Prisoner Swap with ISIS
Jordan is willing to free an Iraqi female jihadist from prison in exchange for a Jordanian pilot held hostage by the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS), state television said Wednesday.
"Jordan is ready to release the prisoner Sajida al-Rishawi if the Jordanian pilot is freed unharmed," it quoted a government spokesman as saying.
ISIS, in a video released on Tuesday, threatened to kill airman Maaz al-Kassasbeh and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto unless Amman releases al-Rishawi within 24 hours.
The demand to release al-Rishawi - while dropping demands for a $200 million ransom - raised eyebrows, and sent analysts scrambling to discover who she was to be of such importance to ISIS.
According to one report al-Rishawi, who is currently appealing a 2006 death sentence handed to her by a Jordanian court, is the sister of a top deputy of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's predecessor, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
ISIS Threatens Obama, Appears to Execute Another Hostage
In a new online video discovered by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) on Tuesday, three Islamic State fighters stand behind a kneeling Kurdish fighter as one of the extremists launches into a diatribe against the U.S. and other Western nations.
“Know, oh Obama, that will reach America,” says one of the fighters, clad in black and wearing a balaclava, in a translation from Arabic provided by MEMRI. “Know also that we will cut off your head in the White House, and transform America into a Muslim Province.”
The extremist also issued warnings to European nations.
“And this is my message to France and to its sister, Belgium,” he said. “We advise you that we will come to you with car bombs and explosive charges, and will cut off your heads.”
The video fades to black as one Islamic State fighter brings a knife up to the unidentified Kurdish fighter’s throat.
Turkey's Dance with Jihadists
On January 16, Muslims in Istanbul's devout Fatih district went to the mosque for their usual Friday prayers. Before crowds appeared in front of the mosque, everything looked normal. It was going to be just another day of quiet prayers. But this time, mosque-goers gathered earlier than the usual hour. They were there to hold funeral services (in absentia) for the terrorists who perpetrated the murderous attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris -- the Kouachi brothers. Then the worshippers at the mosque held a demonstration with a banner and placards:
In a similar eulogy, members of the Aczmendi Lodge in Istanbul conducted funeral prayers for the Kouachi brothers and praised them as "martyrs." And a billboard in the eastern town of Tatvan read: "Salute to the Kouachi brothers who avenged the Messenger of Allah. May Allah accept your martyrdom."
All of which prompted prominent Turkish columnist Anmet Hakan to ask in the daily, Hurriyet: "Are Muslims who are killed by other Muslims the orphans of the Muslim world?" He was curious why the articles of the Turkish Penal Code that regulate "praising crime and criminals" were never applied to Islamist protesters while Turkish prosecutors, citing the same article, have the habit of indicting thousands of other individuals. Good question. But it will most likely remain unanswered. Forever.
Pentagon Honors Late Saudi King With... An Essay Contest?
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has announced a “research and essay competition” at the National Defense University to honor Saudi Arabia’s recently-deceased King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.
In a DoD News press release, Dempsey called the late king “a man of remarkable character and courage,” credited with “the modernization of his country’s military” during his 10-year reign. Abdullah, of course, also presided over continued punishment of women drivers, gays and religious and political dissidents in his country.
The most recent prominent example is Raif Badawi, a blogger who is currently serving a sentence of 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam.” The sentence is being carried out in weekly beatings — 50 at a time — but they were suspended for two consecutive Fridays due to medical concerns. Badawi’s family appealed the case to Abdullah before his death, who in turn referred it to the country’s Supreme Court.
According to the Pentagon, the essay contest “will focus on issues related to the Arab-Muslim world and is designed to encourage strategic thinking and meaningful research on a crucial part of the world.” National Defense University, which will host the competition, primarily conducts graduate-level studies in international affairs, strategy and strategy.
Michelle Obama forgoes a headscarf and sparks a backlash in Saudi Arabia
Barack Obama was in Riyadh on Tuesday to pay his respects to the late Saudi King Abdullah. His visit, for which he cut short a much-hyped trip to India, underscores how important the U.S.-Saudi relationship remains to the American leadership. On social media, however, much of the attention has focused on something else: His wife's attire.
As noted by the Associated Press, Michelle Obama did not wear a headscarf or veil Tuesday. In Saudi Arabia, that's unusual: The country is one of the few on Earth where women are expected to cover their heads, and many Saudi women wear niqabs.
Exceptions are made for foreigners, however, and Michelle – who did wear loose clothing that fully covered her arms – appears to have been one of them. In photographs from the official events, other foreign female guests are also shown not wearing headscarves. In the past, Saudi leaders have met with a number of other foreign females without headscarves in the past.
More than 1,500 tweets using the hashtag #ميشيل_أوباما_سفور (roughly, #Michelle_Obama_unveiled) were sent Tuesday, many of which criticized the first lady. Some users pointed out that on a recent trip to Indonesia, Michelle had worn a headscarf. Why not in Saudi Arabia?

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