Monday, October 28, 2019

From Ian:

Seth J. Frantzman: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, rapist, led genocidal 'caliphate,' died in tunnel
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was a rapist. Like most jihadists, his main motivation was murder and genocide, combined with far-Right religious hatred. In Islamic State, the organization and "state" that he led, he was able to exploit various strands of followers to create the closest thing the Middle East has seen to a short-lived, Nazi-style country.

He spent his days as leader raping women the group had kidnapped while his men died on the front lines. Like Hitler, he enjoyed the good life while his Sunni soldiers suffered under the bombs of the US-led coalition and struggled to stop the rising tide of Shi’ite militias and Kurdish fighters arrayed against them.

For much of his time in the leadership of ISIS, the rapist Baghdadi was a kind of mirage, a shadowy figure who was reportedly killed several times. Yet he survived, escaping again and again as his enemies closed in. Baghdadi was a religious devotee as a young man, and was detained by the Americans after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Born in central Iraq, he joined an extremist group, was picked up near Falluja, and held at Camp Bucca in 2004. Rukmini Callimachi, the New York Times correspondent who covers ISIS, writes that by the time he was detained, he was not only radicalized but he “began inciting attacks against Shia prisoners, using metal shanks.”

In his hatred of Shi’ites, Baghdadi was channeling a new kind of jihadist zeal. While al-Qaeda and others had launched a war against the West and against local totalitarian and corrupted governments under the banner of “Islam,” the concepts floating around Iraq in 2004 viewed non-Sunnis as sub-humans. They all had to be killed: Christians, Shi’ites, Yazidis and other groups such as Kurds.

This was a truly Nazi-style ideology that saw the world in terms of believers and sub-humans. It was helped along by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda leader in Iraq who pushed for more targeting of Shi’ites and minorities. Mass attacks in 2004 on Shi’ite shrines were carried out in Karbala, killing hundreds. Baghdadi was paying attention.
Seth J. Frantzman: Eight takeaways from the Baghdadi raid
The US raid that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was executed in the first hours of October 27. It has many similarities with the raid to kill al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in 2011. President Donald Trump’s theatrics have made it sound more interesting. We don’t know all the details, but here are some of the takeaways.

It took an hour to get there
Trump says that the eight helicopters had to fly over an hour to their target. This has led to speculation about where they came from. Martin Chulov at The Guardian says that the raid began just before 3:30 a.m. and the copters flew from Erbil in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region. It was a 70-minute flight. But Trump, in subsequent comments to the press on October 27 said the copters landed in a “friendly country” in a “port.” The port comment has led to a bit of a mystery, and it’s also not entirely clear if Trump would refer to Iraq as a friendly country.

Thank you: Russia, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Kurds

Russia, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and the Syrian Kurds were all given thanks for their support. The Syrian Democratic Forces have been warning for months about Baghdadi trying to get to Idlib province in northwest Syria, where he was eventually found. In March, they had indicated that he might be there. The SDF is the main partner of the US on the ground in Syria, but Trump’s decision to leave Syria enabled a Turkish attack on the SDF.

The US had to fly over areas with Turkish and Russia air defense. It had to inform Russia, the Syrian regime and Turkey.

Trump was seeking to leave Syria as intel found Baghdadi
Trump was about to announce the US withdrawal from parts of Syria on October 6 when intelligence began to pinpoint Baghdadi, who had released tapes in September and April. Many believed he was in his home country of Iraq, or in the Syrian desert. There are up to 14,000 ISIS fighters there in the desert regions of Iraq and Syria, so he could hide with them. But as it turned out, a man appeared in mid-September before Iraqi intelligence who had smuggled two of Baghdadi’s wives through Turkey and two of his brothers. Iraqi intelligence was then able to penetrate Baghdadi’s family and handed details to the CIA.

As the information came in, Trump was already making his move to leave. But the intel led to several false starts. For weeks, Baghdadi was under surveillance. Three raids had to be cancelled, Trump said. Finally at the end of October they had him, in a house next to the Turkish border, home to another extremist group called Hurras al-Din. Baghdadi might have been seeking to go across into Turkey, or to revive ISIS in Idlib. He had to be taken down before he could move again. Trump agreed.
Col. Richard Kemp: Islamic State leader killed in Syria
Some experts claim the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is only a symbolic success against the Islamic State. That’s wrong. It’s a major blow to IS and Islamic jihadists around the world, at least as important as the killing of his former leader Osama Bin Laden in 2011.

Al-Baghdadi was a hugely influential and inspirational figure for radical Muslims everywhere, his claim to be directly descended from the prophet Muhammad’s grandson widely accepted. A Koranic scholar at the University of Baghdad, he had a religious authority that armed his followers to counter claims that IS was a distortion of Islam.

Al-Baghdadi had been on the run and his Islamic State in retreat for many months following intensive coalition attacks against them. His death signals their final defeat but only in its current form. It does not mean the end of al-Baghdadi’s brutal vision any more than Bin Laden’s death was the end of Al Qaida, which has since increased its strength in various parts of the world.

Two months ago he named his successor but experience shows that terrorist groups evolve like the hydra, sprouting multiple heads, with subordinate leaders freed to carry out their own malevolent and sometimes more effective plans. Al-Baghdadi himself gained power after the killing of his former boss Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Islamic State in Iraq.

The tip, the raid, the reveal: The takedown of al-Baghdadi
The helicopters flew low and fast into the night, ferrying U.S. special forces to a compound where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was hiding in Syria. Half a world away, President Donald Trump watched the raid in real time via a video link as troops blasted into the hideout and sent the most-wanted militant running the last steps of his life.

The daring raid was the culmination of years of steady intelligence-gathering work — and 48 hours of hurry-up planning once Washington got word that al-Baghdadi would be at a compound in northwestern Syria.

The night unfolded with methodical precision and unexpected turns. This reconstruction is based on the first-blush accounts of Trump and other administration officials eager to share the details of how the U.S. snared its top target, as well observations from startled villagers who had no idea al-Baghdadi was in their midst.

Events developed quickly once the White House learned on Thursday there was “a high probability” that al-Baghdadi would be at an Idlib province compound.

By Friday, Trump had military options on his desk.

By Saturday morning, the administration at last had “actionable intelligence” it could exploit.
Islamic State Will Not Die with Baghdadi
One must employ caution and skepticism when it comes the apparent assassination of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a U.S.-led raid in Syria.

Numerous attempts have been made to eliminate him since 2014, when IS managed to take over one-third of Iraq's territory and much of Syria's as well.

The last of these was in 2017, when the Russian Defense Ministry announced that it had succeeded in doing so during a devastating air in Islamic State's then-headquarters in the Syrian city of Raqqa.

These claims later turned out to be somewhat overblown, given that Awad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri – the IS leader's real name - appeared on a recording that he released proving he was alive and kicking.

Even so, experience shows that Pentagon claims are credible, even when released unofficially, so it is fair to assume that al-Baghdadi did indeed die during an American raid in the heart of Idlib province in northwestern Syria, that was based on intelligence received from the CIA and perhaps other sources in the Middle East.

The details of the raid, the surrounding drama and exactly how Baghdad was killed are yet to be confirmed, but what matters most now is to assess the extent to which his elimination will affect the murderous activities of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (or ISIS – the group's official name).

Branches of this terrorist organization are now deployed in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and presumably in Europe as well.

The organization is committing deadly attacks from Sri Lanka through Mali to southern France and although it suffered a severe blow when it lost all territories in Iraq and Syria beginning in 2017, it is still dangerous.
The Washington Post Dead ISIS Leader Was ‘Austere Religious Scholar’
On October 27, 2019 President Donald Trump confirmed the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The terrorist reportedly detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and three of his children, when U.S. Special Forces raided his hideout in Idlib, Syria. The 48-year-old led a terrorist organization that was responsible for genocide in the Middle East and mass murder abroad.

But the headline for The Washington Post’s obituary initially described the terror chieftain as merely “an austere religious scholar at helm of Islamic State.” The newspaper subsequently changed it to read “extremist leader of Islamic State.” Oddly, the first version of the Post’s Baghdadi obituary described him as the “Islamic State’s terrorist-in-chief” before changing it to “an austere religious scholar,” according to a Washington Examiner report.

The Post’s absurd description of Baghdadi drew widespread condemnation and mockery on social media, with several Twitter users employing the hashtag “WashPostObituaries” to lampoon the newspaper. A Washington Post spokesperson, Kristine Coratti Kelly, admitted that the headline “should never have read that way and we changed it quickly.”

However, the problem goes beyond the headline. The Post’s opening paragraph still whitewashes Baghdadi as “an austere religious scholar with wire-frame glasses” who had “no known aptitude for fighting and killing” when he first took charge of the terror group. The newspaper does note that he “embraced a kind of extreme brutality” and led “one of the most notorious, vicious—and for a time, successful—terrorist groups of modern times.” But as The Washington Examiner’s Madison Dibble pointed out, the Post “focused much of its obituary on his academic career.”

By contrast, The New York Times’s obit, “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS Leader Known for His Brutality, Is Dead at 48,” provided readers with a no-frills, but deeply informative, accounting of Baghdadi’s crimes. New York Times reporters Rukmini Callimachi and Falih Hassan noted that Baghdadi was also a serial rapist, who personally tortured and toyed with his victims.
Washington Post’s Remake of Terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Not Unique
The Washington Post‘s outrageous headline which yesterday whitewashed Islamic State terror chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as an “austere religious scholar at the helm of Islamic State” set off a Twitter firestorm, with critics using the hashtag #WaPoDeathNotices to skewer the paper with satirical obituary headlines recasting notorious murderers as whimsical artists, collectors, activists and do-gooders.

While the Twittersphere response is genuinely hilarious, there is nothing amusing about the mainstream media’s depiction of deadly terrorists as well-meaning activists. Indeed, while The Washington Post al-Baghdadi case is an extreme example involving perhaps the world’s most notorious terrorist, the whitewashing of terrorists who killed Israelis, Jews and others is a common occurrence.

Last month, for example, Agence France Presse published a series of captions about “Bassam al-Sayeh, a Palestinian who reportedly died in Israeli jail.” (In fact, as a seriously ill cancer patient, he died in an Israeli hospital.) Though many of the captions contained biographical information of questionable relevance, some of it not accurate, none initially noted that al-Sayeh, a Hamas field commander, was convicted of authorizing and financing the 2015 the deadly West Bank shooting of Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin, murdered in front of their children. CAMERA compelled extensive revisions to the captions.

It’s not only terrorists who hunt down Jews in disputed territory who earn deferential or even friendly media treatment. Last January, the lead sentence of an AFP article about the opening of the trial for the terrorist charged with murdering four people at the Brussels Jewish museum described Mehdi Nammouche as a “‘very polite’ Frenchman.” CAMERA prompted removal of the description.
PM Corbyn Would Refuse to Authorise Killing of al-Baghdadi
The biggest international news of the weekend was undoubtedly the killing of ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, however the Labour Party seemed surprising quiet over the news, without a single press release or Tweet from Jeremy Corbyn or Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry. Labour strangely silent on this…

The reason for the radio silence may be Jeremy Corbyn”s ambiguity on whether he would authorise a strike on the ISIS leader if he became PM.

Interviewing Corbyn in 2017, Andrew Marr posited:
“the gentlemen in suits walk in and say ‘Prime Minister Corbyn, we’ve got good news for you: al-Baghdadi the leader of ISIS, we know where he is, we can take him out with a drone strike – can we have your permission?’ What do you tell them?”.

Corbyn then spent a minute skirting round the answer, refusing to say he would. At least he didn’t copy the Washington Post’s editorial line and revere Baghdadi as an “austere religious scholar”…
PreOccupiedTerritory: Permalink to Turkey Insists Made Al-Baghdadi Op Possible, No Armenian Genocide, Erdogan Not Gay (satire)
A day after an audacious American strike may have killed the leader of the notorious Islamic State terrorist group in northeastern Syria, Turkish officials clamored to create international media coverage to the effect that the country had provided the key intelligence information that enabled the strike, that the Muslim rulers of the dying Ottoman Empire and and its successor state bore no responsibility for the organized murder of of 1.5 million Christians in its territory during WWI, and that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan most certainly does not prefer sex with men, no sir.

Still-emerging reports from Idlib Province appear to indicate that a combined airstrike and special forces incursion by US troops early Sunday morning resulted in Abu Bakr A-Baghdadi, the self-styled Khalif of the Islamic State, detonating a suicide explosive belt so as to avoid capture alive. President Erdoğan’s representatives touted his provision of important details that made the operation possible, citing his meetings with top-level Trump administration officials last week, and took the public relations opportunity the occasion provided to repeat both a longstanding official Turkish claim of dubious historical accuracy that millions of Armenians died through tragedy and internecine conflict, not a calculated Turkish policy, and that Erdoğan is definitely not homosexual how dare you even imply it.

“Our input proved crucial in engineering this dramatic development,” declared Ministry of Defense spokesman Hizfist Immirektim. By the same token, the estimates of how so many Armenians supposedly died when the Ottoman Empire began disintegrating are way overblown and all those who accuse the governing Muslim factions of perpetrating or enabling it are biased against the noble and great state of Turkey, which benefits from the enlightened, bold, wise leadership of President Erdoğan who has been married to a woman since 1978, I might add. No gay man has ever hid his proclivities behind the façade of a heterosexual marriage. We can just stop with the scuttlebutt, please.” The spokesman appeared to giggle at his use of the word “scuttlebutt.”
Trump’s departing peace envoy hails ‘huge shift’ in neighbors’ ties with Israel
Jason Greenblatt is formally leaving his position as the White House point man for Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking at the end of this week, but he plans to stay involved in efforts to solve this intractable conflict.

“I hope to continue to help seek peace and improve the lives of all in the region — Palestinians, Israelis and all of their neighbors,” he told The Times of Israel this week in a farewell interview.

“Someone who was involved in prior peace efforts said to me when I announced my departure that this effort is like the Eagles song ‘Hotel California’ — You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave. That resonated with me. The people and leaders throughout the region have touched my heart and my soul, and I hope to remain involved and help achieve a solution to this long-standing conflict.”

Greenblatt, whose family resides in Teaneck, New Jersey, said that one of the administration’s greatest achievements in the Middle East was to bring Israel closer to the Arab world, something he considered a core mission.

“Before this Administration, engagement between Israel and its neighbors was often behind the scenes. People were reluctant to speak about it out loud. Now, in just three years, we see a huge shift with countries being increasingly open about its relationship and engagement with Israel,” he said.

Reflecting on his two-and-half-year term as US President Donald Trump’s “Special Representative for International Negotiations,” Greenblatt said he helped create “a solid vision for peace, one that can actually be achieved and improve the lives of millions of people.” But he also acknowledged that the peace proposal, which he authored together with the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, may not be “embraced immediately” by the two sides.
The slow death of a promising peace
The things I hear coming out of Jordan are dismaying.

"Twenty-five years have passed and the relationship between our countries remains murky and bleak", tells me one of the people involved with the 1994 peace agreement between Jordan and Israel.

"Our cooperative security efforts have never been stronger, but pressures are increasing on to make a more expansive peace with Israel", he adds.

Our Jordanian friend talks about peace in a frustrated and disappointed way, a peace which was promised to be "warm and true".

There is a new player on the field: Israel's attention is drawn towards Saudi Arabia, an adversary of Jordan.

If the attempts to bring the two countries come to fruition, Riyadh and Jerusalem will bring Amman and Cairo into a strong and unified Persian Gulf front against Iran.

But for now, king Abdallah uses the recent border disputes along the Jordan River with Israel as punishment, demanding certain Israeli enclaves in Jordan to return to full Jordanian control.

Withstanding that, everything still seems to be in order: Israeli tourists are still going to Aqaba, Petra and even Amman.

But a worsening in the status que is apparent: Israelis – only Jews, not Israeli Arabs – are forced to bribe cab and transport drivers to take them across the Jordanian border.
Jordan mulled downgrading ties after PM vowed to annex Jordan Valley: report
Jordan considered downgrading its diplomatic ties with Israel in the wake of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s public promise during the run-up to last month’s Knesset election to annex the Jordan Valley, backing down only after King Abdullah II concluded the declaration was most likely a pre-election stunt, according to a television report on Saturday.

According to the Channel 13 report, which cited an anonymous Israeli official with ties to senior Jordanians, one of the options that was considered and ultimately discarded was the recalling of Ambassador to Israel Ghassan Majali.

Amman reacted harshly in the wake of Netanyahu’s announcement. The speaker of the country’s lower house of parliament declared that annexation could put the peace treaty with Israel “at stake” while Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi blasted Netanyahu’s comments as a “dangerous escalation.” According to several analysts, Israeli leaders’ talk of extending sovereignty into the West Bank revived Jordanian fears that their country will again be considered an “alternative homeland” for Palestinians.

Saturday marked the 25th anniversary of the 1994 Israel-Jordan “Treaty of Peace,” which ended decades of war and hostility between the two nations but neither country took steps to mark the occasion. Diplomatic relations, generally characterized as a cold peace, have deteriorated significantly in recent years.
A Bedouin shepherd walks with his herd of sheep in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank on September 11, 2019 (AHMAD GHARABLI / AFP)

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday hailed the milestone.

“Today marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Peace between the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the State of Israel, an agreement that began a tradition of peaceful and respectful cooperation that continues today,” said Pompeo.

Why Jews should oppose European Federalism
Once the financial conditions for a pan-European welfare state fade, it will be evident that the core markers of a pan-European identity are racial whiteness and Christian roots. A politically-unified Europe will therefore gravitate towards these basic common denominators of the continental identity. This process will be gradual, yet unstoppable, as local and national identities are superseded by a continental consciousness. As a result, Jews and other non-white minorities could be increasingly perceived as foreign in a united Europe, particularly in the wake of financial slumps and economic downturns.

A pan-continental identity and culture will not be the sole factors steering Europe away from Jews. A politically-united Europe will view itself as entitled to an autonomous foreign policy, no longer subordinate to American or North Atlantic interests. In this context, Europe will increasingly try to differentiate itself as a super-power by pursuing a foreign policy that contrasts American influence in the Middle East and North Africa.

The corollary of this approach is a marked and increasingly open hostility to Israel, viewed as a pawn to be sacrificed for Arab and Muslim support in the international arena. Federica Mogherini, the former European Commissioner for Foreign Affairs was not accidentally hostile towards Israel and also eager to appease Islamic autocrats. She is just a taste of what the world can expect from an increasingly united and assertive Europe.

A unified Europe need not be an avatar of the Third Reich. However, there are solid reasons to fear that if the balance between regional, national and continental identities is displaced, Europe will become less hospitable towards Jews. Most European Jews tend to believe that they face two chief threats: that of militant Islamists and that of traditional nationalists. The history of 19th and 20th century Germany and Italy suggests that European federalism will eventually power a pan-European nationalism inimical towards Jews and all non-white, non-Christian minorities in the Old Continent.
Israel welcomes Ukraine’s decision to open ‘diplomatic’ office in J'lem
Foreign Minister Israel Katz welcomed Ukraine’s formal decision on Friday to open what he stressed was a “diplomatic mission” in Jerusalem, saying that this “strengthens the status of Jerusalem in the world.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced during a visit there in August that Ukraine had agreed to open a hi-tech and investment office in Jerusalem, and that Israel would open a similar bureau in Kiev.

“This office will have the status of a diplomatic mission and will be part of the Ukrainian embassy in Israel,” Katz said.

Diplomatic officials said that while there is considerable support in the Ukrainian parliament to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the European Union’s strong opposition to this move – and Kiev’s need for European support and assistance in dealing with Moscow – has militated against the step.

In opening an official office in Jerusalem, Ukraine is following the example of several other countries which – since the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem in May 2018 – have opened offices in Jerusalem, but kept their embassies in Tel Aviv.

Hungary, for example, opened an economic and trade office in Jerusalem, as has the Czech Republic and Honduras. Australia has opened a trade and defense office in the capital, while Brazil and Paraguay have declared their intention to open offices in Jerusalem as well. Paraguay moved its embassy to Jerusalem shortly after the US Embassy move, but then quickly moved it back to Tel Aviv after new elections there.

Since the US Embassy move, only Guatemala has followed the US’s lead and permanently placed its embassy in Jerusalem.
Ukrainian PM, minister attended neo-Nazi concert in Kyiv
Ukrainian Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk and Veterans Affairs Minister Oksana Koliada have defended their attendance at a concert earlier this month headlined by a neo-Nazi band, railing against the “politicization” of what they say was merely a benefit for veterans of their country’s ongoing war against Russian-backed separatists.

According to a report by the open-source intelligence investigative collective Bellingcat, the “Veterans Strong” concert held in the Ukrainian capital on October 13 was organized by Andriy Medvedko, a senior member of the far-right C14 movement, who is currently under prosecution for murder. It was headlined by Sokyra Peruna, a neo-Nazi band whose repertoire includes Holocaust denial songs such as “Six Million Words of Lies.”

Medvedko has been linked to Knights of the City, a C14-linked vigilante group involved in a number of violent incidents. C14 is an extremist spinoff of the anti-Semitic Svoboda party, whose leader, Yevhen Karas, has listed Russians, Jews and Poles as enemies. C14 denies that it is a neo-Nazi organization, though its social media accounts have heavily featured white nationalist and Nazi symbolism. Its members also were involved in a series of attacks, described by some as pogroms, against members of Ukraine’s Roma minority.

In a Facebook post, Honcharuk hit back against negative press coverage of his participation in the event, where he was photographed standing onstage along the performers, writing that “politicization here is absolutely inappropriate.”
IDF arrests 19 Palestinian suspects in overnight West Bank raids
Israeli troops carried out raids throughout the West Bank late Sunday and early Monday, arresting 19 Palestinians and escorting Jewish worshipers to a flashpoint holy site.

The Palestinian suspects were held on suspicion of participating in violent riots in recent weeks or involvement in terror-related activities, the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

The army said 13 Palestinians were arrested in a “wide-scale operation” in the Arroub refugee camp, outside the southern West Bank city of Hebron, which came in response to an uptick in stone-throwing and firebomb attacks on Israeli vehicles traveling on the nearby Route 60.

“For the past few weeks, our patrols have been trying to halt daily attempts to attack commuters on Route 60 as part of their work securing the residents of the Etzion bloc,” the statement said.

The IDF said that troops found and confiscated an M16 rifle and ammunition during searches of al-Arroub.
MEMRI: Palestinian Authority President 'Abbas Orders To Rebuild Home Of Mother Of Six Terrorists; Palestinian PM Praises Her
Palestinian President Mahmoud 'Abbas recently issued instructions to rebuild the home of Latifa Abu Hmeid, the mother of six terrorists who were involved in shooting and suicide attacks against Israelis. Abu Hmeid's home, in the Al-Am'ari refugee camp in the Ramallah-Al-Bireh governorate, has been demolished by Israel four times following attacks by her sons. The third time was in December 2018, after Latifa's son, Islam Abu Hmeid, killed an Israeli soldier. 'Abbas issued instructions to rebuild it, [1] but before the reconstruction was complete Israel demolished the house again, following which 'Abbas again ordered its rebuilding. This latest decision was announced on October 24, 2019 by Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs and Fatah official Hussein Al-Sheikh on his Twitter page. On the same day Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh visited Latifa Abu Hmeid and praised her for her "steadfastness."

As stated, six of Abu Hmeid's sons, members of Fatah and Hamas, were involved in the murder of Israelis. 'Abd Al-Mun'im Abu Hmeid was active in the Hamas military wing, the 'Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, and was killed by Israel. He assisted in the murder of three Israelis in the West Bank on December 14, 1990 and the murder of another Israeli on February 13, 1994. Nasser Abu Hmeid, one of the founders of Fatah's military wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, was a deputy to Marwan Barghouti, Fatah Secretary-General in the West Bank during the Second Intifada, and took an active part in the lynching of two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah on October 12, 2000. He is serving seven consecutive life sentences and an additional 50 years for the murder of seven Israelis and 12 additional attempted murders. Sharif Abu Hmeid was active in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and supplied weapons and assistance for the execution of terror attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv during February and March 2002. He is serving four consecutive life sentences. Muhammad Abu Hmeid is serving two consecutive life sentences plus 30 years for planning suicide attacks for the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. Nasr Abu Hmeid was active with Nasser in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and is currently serving five consecutive life sentences for planning suicide attacks. Islam Abu Hmeid is serving a life sentence for killing an Israeli soldier by dropping a slab of marble from the roof of a building in Al-Am'ari in May 2018. In 2004-2009 he served a prison sentence for a shooting attack he perpetrated on behalf of Hamas. Another son, Jihad Abu Hmeid, is currently detained in Israel.

Latifa Abu Hmeid, aka Umm Nasser, is frequently honored by Fatah and Palestinian Authority (PA) officials, including President 'Abbas, who visit her and encourage her. She is known among the Palestinians as "the Khansa' of Palestine," after 7th century Arabic poet Al-Khansa' bint 'Amr, who was called "The Mother of the Martyrs" because she did not mourn the death of her four sons in the Battle of Qadisiyah, but rather thanked Allah for honoring her with their martyrdom.
PMW: PA child abuse: Kids taught to offer their "blood" on children's TV programs PA child abuse continues.
Young children sing: Palestine - "Its borders are the blood of the Palestinian Martyr"

7-year-old girl recites poem: I learned "the art of the rifle... Abbas... my blood is your blood"

Palestinian Authority child abuse continues. A music video on official PA TV uses children to promote the ideal of dying as Martyrs for "Palestine," whose borders are set by "the blood of the Palestinian Martyr." The song also mentions the one who "joins the dance, rifle in hand." Furthermore, the song anticipates a time when Israel will no longer exist, defining as "Palestine" the area between Rosh HaNikra in north-western Israel and Aqaba, the Jordanian city next to Israel's southernmost town Eilat.
Lyrics: "O Ahmed, this is my country - Palestinian...
Its borders are [set by] the blood of the Palestinian Martyr - Palestinian
History bears witness to us...
He joined the Arab folk dance with rifle in hand,
He made a vow and fulfilled the promise:
Palestine, my land, will remain decorated
My land - from Aqaba to Rosh HaNikra"

[Official PA TV, The Best Home, Oct. 3, 2019, May 26, 2017]

Similarly, a Palestinian girl in 2nd grade recited a poem on official PA TV's children's program The Best Home, which illustrates that Palestinian kids are still taught to venerate the rifle and to be prepared to sacrifice themselves - their "blood" - for "Palestine." The girl recited that she "learned the art of the rifle," and addressing Mahmoud Abbas, she recited: "By Allah, my blood is your blood":
Lyrics: "[Arafat] you are the rifle and I am the one who learned its art
O [PA President] Mahmoud Abbas, walk on and don't worry...
By Allah, my blood is your blood
You are the history of wonders
And if someone petty rushes to condemn you, don't worry about the dogs...
[Arafat,] you are the morning of the Martyrs
You are the evening of the Martyrs
You are the source of the gallantry
You are the storm of combat."

[Official PA TV, The Best Home, Sept. 5, 2019]
PA warns of intl. intervention against Israeli trade embargo threats
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyadh al-Maliki warned that the Palestinian Authority would call for international arbitration if Israel implemented threats to ban Palestinian exports of dates and olive oil, as tensions rise in the "trade war" between the two governments after the PA banned the import of calves from Israel earlier this month.

In an interview with Voice of Palestine radio on Monday, Maliki said that the Palestinians could resort to the International Court of Arbitration, as well as the United Nations Human Rights Council, the International Court of Justice and the UN General Assembly, in order to force Israel to retreat from such threats.

The foreign minister stressed that the threats by Israel would not get them to "back down or give up."

Palestinian Agriculture Minister Riyad al-Attari said in a radio interview on Sunday that he had not heard about the threat by Israel from any official source and had so far only heard about them from the media.

"If the Israeli government makes any decision, the Palestinian government, in consultation with all the competent authorities, will consider the appropriate mechanism to respond.

Channel 11 reported on Friday that Israel was considering taking a number of punitive measures against the PA in response to the ban on importing calves. The measures include, among other things, banning the entry of international aid to the West Bank and preventing the export of Palestinian olive oil and dates to the Arab countries, the report said.
Khaled Abu Toameh: PA election officials arrive in Gaza for talks with Hamas
The chairman of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC), Hanna Nasir, arrived in the Gaza Strip on Sunday for talks with leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian factions on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s plans to hold parliamentary elections in the coastal enclave, the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Nasir was accompanied by senior CEC officials, including Chief Electoral Officer Hisham Kuhail and his deputy, Ashraf Shuaibi. The officials entered the Gaza Strip through the Erez border crossing with Israel.

Abbas made his announcement about the elections during a speech before the United Nations General Assembly on September 26. “From the outset, we have believed in democracy as a foundation for the building of our state and society,” Abbas said in his speech. “I have decided, upon my return from this international gathering, to announce a date for the holding of general elections in Palestine.”

He called on the UN and international groups to monitor the process, adding that he will “attribute full responsibility to those who may attempt to prevent it from taking place.”

PA officials said that they are planning to first hold parliamentary elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Elections for the PA presidency, they said, will be held at a later stage.

Hamas and several Palestinian factions have welcomed Abbas’s plan to hold new elections. They insist, however, that parliamentary and presidential elections should be held simultaneously rather than separately.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials have said they also want new elections for the Palestine National Council, the legislative body of the PLO.

Lebanon protesters successfully form 170-kilometer human chain, says organizer
Tens of thousands of Lebanese successfully formed a 170-kilometer-long (105 miles) human chain Sunday, stretching the length of the country from Tripoli in the north to Tyre in the south, in a show of solidarity with anti-government protests, organizers said.

“I can confirm that the human chain was a success,” Julie Tegho Bou Nassif, one of the organizers, told AFP.

On foot, by bicycle and on motorbikes, demonstrators and volunteers fanned out along the main north-south highway.

The protesters joined hands along a main bridge connecting central Beirut to the north and south in a show of unity while nationwide protests enter their 11th day. Demonstrators have rejected government economic reform proposals, saying they want a government and political system change.

Marcel Karkour, a mother who took part with her two children, said she wants a more “beautiful” Lebanon for the future of her family.
Protests in Lebanon: A wrench in Hezbollah and Iran's plans
Saturday saw another day of mass protests in Lebanon. The government's promises to implement economic reforms and rescind taxes, alongside threats by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah that his organization won't sit idly by if the demonstrations continue, didn't stop Lebanon's youth from flooding the streets and keeping the country paralyzed.

The fact that the protests lack a guiding hand, or any discernible leadership, not to mention any defined goals aside from vague slogans calling for "change to the system in Lebanon," is making it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's also safe to assume that the bitterness, frustrations and anger harbored by the youth for politics and politicians, the same cohort of corrupt hedonists who have brought Lebanon to the precipice of economic ruin, will continue fuelling the protests.

Lebanon is not alone. In Iraq, too, bloody protests have engulfed the country in recent days, spearheaded similarly by restless youth without hope. It is encouraging to see that the younger generation of Arabs refuses to continue accepting a reality of failure and backwardness.

Sadly, however, the protests won't catalyze any real change. Indeed, for these youth, like those in Lebanon, there is something stronger than enmity and rage – their sense of loyalty to family, tribe and ethnic group, coupled with fears of rival ethnic groups. Consequently, these youngsters repeatedly revert to backing the same types of leaders who have managed Lebanon's politics for hundreds of years.

Thus, even if Saad Hariri's government steps down it will only be replaced by a similar coalition comprising the same corrupt dignitaries who prioritize their own well-being over that of the country.

US Treasury head meets with PM Netanyahu, promises more sanctions on Iran
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has pledged to increase economic sanctions against Iran. He says the administration's "maximum pressure campaign" is halting Iranian aggression.

Mnuchin met Monday in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called on Washington to impose additional sanctions to stop what he called Iran's "plunge for everything" in the Middle East.

Mnuchin is heading a delegation to the Middle East and India to discuss economic ties and counterterrorism initiatives. He is joined by US President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who was to meet with Netanyahu and his key rival, Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz.

Mnuchin says American sanctions aim to force Iran to stop "their bad activities and exporting terrorism, looking to create nuclear capabilities, and missiles."

Earlier Monday, the International Monetary Fund reported that Iran would need oil priced at $194.6 a barrel to balance its budget next year.

Hurt by tighter US sanctions, Iran – a key member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) – is expected to have a fiscal deficit of 4.5% this year and 5.1% next year, the fund said in a report on Monday.

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