Tuesday, October 29, 2019

From Ian:

Noah Rothman: How Trump Can Avoid Obama’s Terror Trap
Obama’s impulse to dismiss the threat posed by Islamist insurgents in the wake of bin Laden’s death explains why he was so quick to dismiss the first wave of ISIS terrorists even as they sacked Iraqi cities. “The analogy we use around here sometimes,” the former president told the New Yorker’s David Remnick, “is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” Obama’s commitment to this narrative applied not only politically but in terms of policy, too. Though he conceded that “terrorism” remained a threat to the American homeland in a May 2014 address to cadets at West Point, the former president also claimed that the terror threat could not be alleviated by military means alone. “A strategy that involves invading every country that harbors terrorist networks is naïve and unsustainable,” the president insisted. By the end of the year, though, ISIS would have conquered vast swaths of territory in the Middle East, and American troops and airpower would again be unleashed on targets in both Iraq and Syria.

And though Obama would eventually acknowledge his failure to anticipate ISIS’s rise or to develop a comprehensive strategy to combat it, his administration still stubbornly refused to acknowledge the obvious when it came to radical Islamist terror. As late as the summer of 2016, following the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, administration officials made a concerted effort to “shift the conversation more to hate and not just terrorism,” according to CBS News reporter Paula Reid. Indeed, it’s hard to explain why the Justice Department scrubbed references to ISIS and al-Baghdadi in the transcript of the shooter’s confessional 911 call in the absence of a directive aimed at minimizing the revivified Islamist terror threat.

Like his predecessor, Donald Trump seems committed to the idea that ISIS has been “decimated” and can no longer recruit foreign fighters or effectively export terrorism. He’s been saying as much since February, and the death of ISIS’s chief executive will only make that narrative more irresistible. The evidence that Trump has begun to believe his own hype is not hard to come by. Experts have warned that the abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces from forward positions in Syria would sow the seeds for an ISIS resurgence at least since Trump began to flirt with the prospect last December. If anything, those expert analyses underestimated the humanitarian and strategic setbacks that would follow such a withdrawal. American military and diplomatic officials appear clear-eyed about the potential for an ISIS comeback, but the president remains far more sanguine about the Islamist terrorist threat than his subordinates.

The dispatching of al-Baghdadi is a welcome development, but it does not make up for the strategic initiative sacrificed in the lead-up to this weekend’s successful operation. Today, as American special forces reportedly retake Syrian positions they’d abandoned only weeks or days earlier, U.S. positions in eastern Syria are reinforced with mechanized forces, and the State Department rallies a Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in anticipation of the worst, it would behoove Trump to internalize a lesson his predecessor learned too late. He’d do well to hedge his bets.
Missing The Point Of The Latest Middle East Protests
In Lebanon and in Iraq, millennials have taken to the streets to protest their respective governments. It stands to reason — in both countries, services are minimal, jobs are non-existent, and the best way to make a living is to leave. Garbage piles up in the streets of Beirut and forest fires have decimated the country. In Iraq, corruption is endemic. But in both countries, there is more afoot.

The demonstrators, representing a variety of religious and ethnic groups in countries that have been wracked by sectarian fighting, are in agreement that the presence of Iran and its proxies in their homelands has deformed politics and economics alike.

Young people want Iran out.

Association with the Islamic Republic means that assets are taken and used by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, not by the civilian government, and it means religious and ethnic tensions are stoked to ensure that a unified public cannot impede Iran’s regional ambitions. Iran wants Iraq for the oil and also for the passageway through Sunni territory to Syria, Lebanon, and the Mediterranean Sea. It helped create the instability of ISIS in Iraq by “offering” to help contain the threat via Shiite militias commanded by Iranian officers. Those Shiite militias remain in the largely Sunni western part of Iraq and in the Kurdish areas.

The story in Lebanon goes back farther — to the early days of the Islamic Republic. Iran created Hezbollah and had its hand in the 1982 Marine barracks bombing that killed 244 Americans. It fostered and enlarged Hezbollah and planted an arsenal of rockets and missiles in southern Lebanon (in violation of U.N. Resolution 1701) and missile factories closer to Beirut. Lebanese civilians live between the Iranian/Hezbollah arsenal and potential Israeli retaliation if that arsenal is used.

Permanent revolution, permanent warfare, permanent upheaval — stoked by an outside force — makes it impossible to create the workable, modern, growing economy millennials demand; particularly in Lebanon, where there is a well-educated generation that crosses sectarian divides.
The strategic utility of mocking Abu Bakr al Baghdadi
Announcing ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi's death, President Trump didn't hold back on Sunday. Baghdadi, Trump said, "died after running into a dead-end tunnel, whimpering and crying and screaming all the way."

That was only the first of a number of insults Trump lobbed at Baghdadi and the Islamic State during his speech. But while some are condemning the president's rhetoric, I believe it was both morally justified and strategically valuable.

Although it might appear that Trump was resorting to standard-fare rhetorical excesses, the president seems to have intended his words to carry a broader strategic effect here. Note, for example, Trump's repeated focus on dogs, an animal regarded by most Islamic teachings as unclean and unworthy of companionship. Describing Baghdadi's desperate attempt to escape, Trump noted how "our dogs chased him down." Trump later observed that many ISIS fighters are "very frightened puppies" and concluded by saying that Baghdadi "died like a dog — he died like a coward."

This canine focus is extremely odd unless it is intentional, which I suspect it is. And that would be a good thing. ISIS presents itself as the holiest citadel of warriors, as a group serving God's pure and ordained will on Earth. But when the leader of ISIS's most hated adversary mocks its deceased caliph (emperor) as a fool who ran into a dead-end tunnel while being chased by lowly dogs, it erodes ISIS's credibility. It underscores how the organization, which at one point nearly qualified for its own seat at the United Nations, is now perceived as a sad joke.

JPost Editorial: Naming terrorism
The mission was called Operation Kayla, after American Kayla Mueller, who was kidnapped by ISIS and reportedly forced to serve as a sex slave to Baghdadi. American officials have tended to focus on ISIS’s crimes in beheading two US journalists as well as Mueller.

But of course ISIS is guilty of far more than that: Hundreds of thousands have been killed and millions made homeless by the terrorist organization. It wiped out Christian, Kurdish, Yazidi and other minority communities across the Mideast. Its affiliated organizations, such as Boko Haram, continue to slaughter Christians and others throughout Africa and Asia. It has carried out terror atrocities across Europe and the US.

The death of Baghdadi, while significant, does not mean the end of the global jihad he led. The Washington Post is not alone in feeling unable to call terrorism by name. US president Barack Obama infamously described the 2015 terror attack on the French Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket as “a bunch of violent, vicious zealots who behead people or randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”

Terrorists are routinely referred to as “gunmen” and “assailants” without acknowledging the Islamist ideology that drives them. But how can you fight a problem you refuse to name? Arguably, it was the refusal to see the problem of global jihad for fear of being accused of Islamophobia that contributed to its success in spreading its tentacles unchecked.

Those who contributed to the operation in which Baghdadi was killed should be congratulated, but their work and the risks they took will be in vain if it remains difficult to call out Baghdadi’s jihadist ideology. Terrorism exists. It’s evil. And it must be named to be defeated.
Pentagon Reveals Details on Death of IS Leader Baghdadi

Beheaded journalist’s parents thank Trump for ‘eliminating’ IS chief
The parents of Steven Sotloff, a Jewish journalist who was beheaded by Islamic State terrorists, said they are glad that the terror group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead.

“The Sotloff family is thankful to President Trump, our brave US special forces and all involved intelligence allies for pinpointing and eliminating ISIS leader al-Baghdadi without suffering any US military casualties,” said Shirley Sotloff, reading from a statement on Sunday, as her husband Arthur stood beside her in front of their home.

“While the victory will not bring our beloved son Steven back to us, it is a significant step in the campaign against ISIS,” Sotloff said.

ISIS is another acronym for the Islamic State terror group.

US President Donald Trump recalled Sotloff by name, as well as three other American IS victims, during his announcement of the death of Baghdadi.

Trump called the Sotloff family following his news conference on Sunday morning.

Sotloff was kidnapped in August 2013 after crossing into Syria from Turkey and was killed on September 2, 2014.

IS posted a video showing the beheading. American journalist James Foley had been similarly killed a month earlier by the terrorist group.
Trump: ISIS replacement leader also killed
The man who would have been the first choice to replace Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the leader of the ISIS terrorist organization has been killed, according to US President Donald Trump.

"Just confirmed that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s number one replacement has been terminated by American troops. Most likely would have taken the top spot - Now he is also Dead!" Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

The president did not name the terrorist who was killed.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s Death Is Good News for Israel, but Doesn’t Mean the End of Islamic State
After months of planning, U.S. special forces attacked the compound in the northeastern Syrian province of Idlib where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi—Islamic State’s self-styled caliph—was hiding. When cornered, Baghdadi blew himself up. Ron Ben-Yishai sums up the implications for Islamic State (IS) and for Israel:

Baghdadi’s death may accelerate the occupation of the Idlib enclave by the Assad regime, helped by Russian bombing and backed by Shiite militias operating under Iranian patronage. Islamic State’s Sunni rival, the al-Qaeda organization formerly called Nusra Front, is also active in Idlib and is no less radical or less determined to fight Assad’s regime. Nonetheless, the death of Baghdadi may affect the morale of all the Sunni jihadists now concentrated in Idlib to prepare for the final battle.

According to the United Nations, the organization still has some 30,000 fighters in scattered underground cells in Iraq and Syria; these cells include foreign Muslim civilians from all over the world—from Europe to Chechnya and Afghanistan and the Philippines. IS also has thousands of fighters in the Sinai Peninsula battling the Egyptian army, as well as active and murderous groups in Nigeria, Pakistan, France and Belgium. And this is only a partial list.

Baghdadi’s death is good news [for Israel, however], and one can assume that fewer and fewer Arab citizens of Israel will now try to reach Syria and Iraq to fight in Islamic State’s ranks. Even so, IS underground activity in Europe is unlikely to cease. It may even be bolstered by the announcement of a new leader to replace Baghdadi and inspired by the myths created among jihadists around the world following his death.
Former British Spy in Al-Qaeda Aimen Dean on ISIS Post Baghdadi
Aimen Dean, the former Al-Qaeda operative turned British spy talks with Nurit Ben about the death of ISIS leader

Syrian, Turkish forces exchange fire in first border zone clash
Syrian government forces and the Turkish military clashed on Tuesday for the first time since Ankara launched an offensive in northeastern Syria three weeks ago, a war monitor said.

“Heavy fighting erupted for the first time between the Syrian and Turkish armies,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

The Britain-based monitoring group said artillery and machine-gun fire was exchanged near the village of Assadiya, south of the border town of Ras al-Ayn.

At least six Syrian soldiers were wounded in the fighting, the Observatory said.

The Turkish military and its Syrian proxies attacked Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria on October 9 with the aim of creating a roughly 30-kilometer (20-mile) deep buffer zone.

Kurdish forces agreed to withdraw from a 120-kilometer (75 mile) long, Arab-majority segment of the 440-kilometer (275-mile) border zone, although clashes have been reported since.

Turkey subsequently reached a deal with the Syrian government’s main backer Russia for Kurdish forces to pull back from the entire border area.
NPR Praises Terrorist Baghdadi: ‘He Was a Real Leader,’ ‘A Movement We’ve Never Seen Before’
The Washington Post is not alone when it comes to kind remembrances of the ISIS terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who died igniting a suicide vest in a tunnel in northwest Syria on Saturday as U.S. troops closed in.

During special coverage of President Donald Trump’s announcement on Sunday of the successful mission, National Public Radio (NPR) praised the man who was responsible for beheading three Americans and enslaving and killing an American woman.

Host Lulu Garcia-Navarro led a roundtable discussion with NPR reporters Greg Myre, Tamara Keith and Daniel Estrin about Baghdadi’s death and asked them to tell listeners about the terrorist.

“He led a movement that we’ve never seen before,” Myre said. “ISIS had tens of thousands of members, fighters, coming in from all over the world.”

“They controlled massive amounts of territory — in Eastern Syria and Western and Northern Iraq,” Myre said, adding ISIS had ”millions of people under their control.”

“They administered cities, they collected taxes,” Myre said.

“They had this incredible online recruit presence in terms of spreading propaganda; recruiting followers,” Myre said. “This is a guy that sort of emerged on the scene.”

“And led this group that had done something we’d never seen before,” Myre said.

“This isn’t the end of ISIS, but he was a real leader,” Myre said. “It’s not somebody that they can just appoint somebody else; take over, and the movement continues.”
Germany charges two Syrians with crimes against humanity
German prosecutors have charged two Syrians with crimes against humanity that include torturing and killing opposition activists, setting the stage for the first trial of suspected members of President Bashar al-Assad's feared security service.

Germany detained the two men earlier this year under its "universal jurisdiction" laws that allow it to prosecute people for crimes against humanity committed anywhere in the world.

Prosecutors said charges against the main suspect, identified as Anwar R. under Germany's privacy rules, include 58 murders and multiple sexual assaults in a Damascus prison where at least 4,000 opposition activists were tortured.

It said 56-year-old Anwar R. oversaw interrogations at the facility and is suspected of involvement in crimes against humanity between 2011 and 2012. He left Syria in 2012 and arrived in Germany in July 2014.

The second suspect, Eyad A., is charged with facilitating the torture of at least 30 opposition activists arrested after intelligence agents opened fire on an anti-Assad demonstration in Douma near Damascus in Autumn of 2011.
With Peace Plan Still Locked Away, Trump Envoy Kushner Visits Israel, Meets With Gantz and Netanyahu
US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner visited Israel on Monday, meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his top rivals, Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid of the Blue and White party.

Gantz — who currently holds the mandate to try to form the next government after September’s inconclusive Knesset elections — tweeted, “I met today with the senior adviser to the US president, Jared Kushner, along with Yair Lapid and US Ambassador David Friedman. We spoke about developments in the Middle East and the good and strong relations between the US and [Israel].”

The Prime Minister’s Office announced that Kushner had also sat down with Netanyahu and his team, including National Security Council Director Meir Ben-Shabbat and Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer.

Kushner’s drop-by came at a sensitive time in Israel, amid the ongoing political stalemate, concern over Trump’s recent decision to withdraw US troops from Syria and the sense of a growing direct threat from Iran.
Netanyahu, Gantz Meet with Senior Advisor Jared Kushner
US President Donald Trump’s senior advisor and son-and-law Jared Kushner met on Monday, in separate occasions, both Israel’s prime minister-designate Benny Gantz and incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Special Envoy to the Middle East met first with Gantz in Jerusalem. Co-leader of Blue and White alliance Yair Lapir, US Ambassador to Israel David Fridman, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook and Deputy Assistant to the President Avi Berkowitz also attended the meeting.

U.S.: "Hamas Is One of the Largest Obstacles to Peace"
U.S. UN Ambassador Kelly Craft told the Security Council on Monday: "Hamas [is] a terrorist organization that oppresses the Palestinian people in Gaza through intimidation and outright violence, while inciting violence against Israel. Hamas is one of the largest obstacles to real peace and prosperity for Palestinians, and to the resolution of this conflict....Hamas has brutally beaten peaceful protestors, raided homes, and detained organizers and journalists advocating for better living standards. I condemn this behavior. We all should."

"Every Friday, Hamas encourages minors to join riots at the security fence, hoping that violence will erupt, and that the children will be injured or even killed as a result, thereby feeding their propaganda machine. A more cynical and shameful approach could not be devised. This is child abuse, plain and simple."
Israel’s UN envoy: Erdogan has turned Turkey into a ‘regional hub for terror’
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations on Monday blasted Turkey’s invasion of Syria, and accused Ankara of promoting anti-Semitism and the ethnic cleansing of Kurds.

Danny Danon told the Security Council’s monthly Middle East meeting that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “has been destabilizing the region through violence and supporting terror organizations,” adding that Turkey’s “shocking” incursion into Syria had come as no surprise.

Once-warm relations between Israel and Turkey have greatly deteriorated since Erdogan came to power. The Islamist leader is a vocal critic of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, particularly in Gaza, and he has good relations with the territory’s terrorist Hamas rulers.

“Erdogan has turned Turkey into a safe haven for Hamas terrorists and a financial center for funneling money to subsidize terror attacks,” Danon said. “Erdogan’s Turkey shows no moral or human restraint toward the Kurdish people. Erdogan has turned Turkey into a regional hub for terror.”

Danon said Erdogan was dragging his country down an “imperialist path. He threatens journalists, persecutes religious minorities and promotes anti-Semitism.”
Top Jewish Civil Rights Group Endorses US Congressional Resolution to Recognize Genocide of Armenians by Turkey
A leading US-based Jewish civil rights group publicly endorsed on Monday a bipartisan House of Representatives resolution that recognizes the systematic genocide of the Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turkey more than a century ago.

In a statement, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) affirmed that H. Res 296 — introduced into the House of Representatives in April — was a “historic Congressional resolution…long overdue,” praising it as “an important step toward raising awareness and educating the American public about the horrific genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire against Armenians during the early part of the 1900s.”

More than 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered by Turkey between 1915-23, in a killing campaign that formed the basis for the subsequent legal definition of “genocide.”

“The 20th century saw the worst episodes of genocide in recorded human history, beginning with the Armenian Genocide, through the Holocaust and all the way to the atrocities in Bosnia and Rwanda,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in the statement.

Greenblatt observed that “historians note that Hitler viewed the Armenian Genocide and the world’s indifference toward it as inspiration to launch his own genocidal campaign across Europe. We believe that remembering and educating about any genocide — Armenian, the Holocaust, Bosnia, Rwanda, and others — is a necessary tool to prevent future tragedies and begins with recognition.”
Israeli embassies said to ramp up security amid fears of Iranian attack
Israeli embassies have reportedly stepped up security and preparedness amid growing fears in Jerusalem that Iran was readying to launch a military strike on the Jewish state.

A report by the Kan public broadcaster Monday said that Tehran has been emboldened by its devastating attack on Saudi Arabian oil installations last month, and was plotting an attack against Israeli targets.

Kan said officials were concerned that Iran — now more “aggressive and creative” than before — might choose a target outside of Israel.

The report said several diplomatic missions have been placed on high alert, and have been instructed to take certain security precautions.

Israeli leaders in recent weeks have increasingly warned of a growing security threat from the Islamic Republic.

Last week, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi warned that the “tense and precarious” security situation along Israel’s northern and southern borders was poised to deteriorate into a conflict.

Kohavi told reporters the primary threat facing Israel comes from Iran and its proxies in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, and said the IDF was in an “accelerated process of preparation” for a multi-front war.
Netanyahu: Iran Seeking to Attack Israel From Yemen With Precision-Guided Missiles
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that Iran was attempting to deploy advanced weaponry in Yemen to threaten Israel and other countries in the region.

During a press conference in Jerusalem with visiting US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Netanyahu said, “Iran is seeking to develop now precision-guided munitions, missiles that can hit any target in the Middle East with a circumference of five to ten meters.”

“They want to place them in Iraq and in Syria, and to convert Lebanon’s arsenal of 130,000 statistical rockets to precision-guided munitions,” Netanyahu continued. “They seek also to develop that, and have already begun to put that in Yemen, with the goal of reaching Israel from there too.”

Netanyahu emphasized the global threat posed by the Tehran regime, saying, “We view Iran as the greatest threat to peace, stability, and our security, and the security of many others. They fired into Saudi Arabia. They’ve interfered with international shipping lanes. They’ve attacked Americans and they’ve killed Americans throughout the last ten years in Afghanistan and elsewhere.”

Jewish mom gets nod as Belgium’s first female prime minister
Sophie Wilmes is the first woman and the first Jewish person to become the prime minister of Belgium.

Wilmes, a mother of four, from the Brussels region, replaced Charles Michel on Sunday in the top post. The centrist politician will head a caretaker government during negotiations on the formation of a coalition, which in Belgium has been known to take months.

Michel’s cabinet collapsed last year, and Wilmes replaced him when he left for a European Union position. Both are members of the center-left MR party.

Wilmes’s mother is Ashkenazi Jewish and lost several relatives in the Holocaust, Philippe Markiewicz, the president of the Consistoire organization of Belgian Jewry, confirmed Monday to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

“She hid her Jewish identity, though it seems to be a private detail from her biography and not something connected to any policy-making aspect,” he said.

Wilmes’s father, Philippe, was a lecturer at the Catholic University of Louvain and is not Jewish.
New Swedish FM : BDS is not Antisemitic
Newly appointed Swedish foreign minister Ann Linde told the Swedish parliament she does not consider the Boycott Divest Sanctions (BDS) movement Antisemitic.

Linde said she does not support boycotts but considers the BDS a legitimate, political, non-violent tool, in the struggle for human rights, freedom of expression and an end to occupation.

The new minister had visited Israel a number of times in the past and is in favor of expanding trade agreements between Israel and Sweden.

"The Swedish government has made it very clear that it supports Israel's security needs and that Israel's right to exist is not debatable in any way". Linde said in a television interview Monday, "The fact that Israel's neighbors challenge its to exist makes Israel more vulnerable, but the Middle East must see the promotion of democratic values and human rights" she said.

"I hope to visit Israel in an official capacity. I am fond of both Israel and the Palestinian territories." She added, " I was in Sderot and saw the damage done by Hamas rockets that landed on a kindergarten, so I understand the threat and the fear."

"This does not contradict the view that the occupation which is in violation of UN resolutions, must end and the Palestinians must be given their rights to live in recognized borders." The minister added.

Officials in Jerusalem condemned Linde's comments and claimed she is playing into the hands of Anti-Semites.

Linde replaced Margot Wallström as foreign minister earlier this month.
Woman Named Chief Intelligence Officer for IDF Central Command
For the first time in Israel’s history, a woman was nominated to serve as the chief intelligence officer for an Israel Defense Forces regional command on Monday, the army said.

Col. “Nun” — who for security reasons can only be identified by her rank and first Hebrew initial of her name — was named as the next chief intelligence officer for the IDF Central Command, which operates in the West Bank.

Nun was drafted into the IDF in 2000 and served in a host of positions within Military Intelligence before her appointment to the high-ranking and highly sensitive role on Monday. It was not immediately clear when she would enter the new position.

Nun’s appointment was one of several announced by the IDF on Monday.

Brig. Gen. Shai Elbaz, the outgoing head of IDF naval operations, who resigned in October 2019 amid allegations of past illicit sexual liaisons with subordinates.

Brig. Gen. Eyal Harel was nominated to replace Brig. Gen. Shai Elbaz, who resigned suddenly last week ahead of a television report alleging he had multiple sexual relationships with subordinates in violation of military rules while he was commander of the navy’s elite Shayetet 13 commando unit.
Mother of Naama Issachar in Russian jail denied visit
The mother of Naama Issachar, imprisoned in Russia for seven and a half years on a minor drug charge, was denied the ability to visit her daughter on Tuesday despite having received court permission on Monday.

Issachar’s mother Yafa arrived at the prison Tuesday morning but was told that a visit to Naama last week by the Israeli consul had come at the expense of a visit by her mother.

Efforts by Naama’s lawyers and the deputy Israeli ambassador to Russia to chage this decision were unsuccessful, and Yafa subsequently returned back to her rented apartment in Moscow without seeing her daughter.

According a friend of the Issachar family, the directorate of the prison holding Naama told her mother that a phone call was also not permitted.

“I am helpless, and I don’t understand why they make things harder and harder on Naama every day,” Yafa said following the incident.

“This is abuse and I request from the president, the prime minister and the head of the National Security Council to bring an end to this abuse against Naama. Naama is innocent and is paying a heavy price because of legal and diplomatic decisions of the State of Israel which have no connection to Naama. She cannot be a captive or a bargaining chip between the two countries.”

President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have both asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to grant Naama a pardon and release her, but Putin is yet to make a decision.
Australian jailed for 36 years over rape, murder of Israeli student Aya Maasarwe
A Melbourne court on Tuesday sentenced an Australian man to 36 years in prison for the rape and murder of an Israeli student in January.

Codey Herrmann pleaded guilty earlier this year to the brutal killing and sexual assault of 21-year-old Aya Maasarwe while she was on her way home from a night out in the city.

Herrmann will serve a minimum of 30 years before he is eligible for parole.

“Women should be free to walk the streets alone without fear of being violently attacked by a stranger,” Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth said in her sentencing remarks, according to Channel 9 News.

Herrmann’s lawyer had told the court his client deserved leniency as he suffered from a personality disorder as the result of childhood trauma. However the judge said that although she was sympathetic, Herrmann’s mental condition was even more reason for the court to ensure that society was protected from him.

Maasarwe’s father Saeed reacted to the sentencing, asking his daughter be remembered as someone who loved everybody, regardless of their background.

He called on the Australian government to do more to protect women and international visitors, saying that Herrmann would be free to live his life in 30 years.

When asked how it felt to look at his daughter’s murderer, Saeed said: “We lost Aya, it doesn’t matter if I look at him.”
Palestinian Stabbing Attack Foiled in Jerusalem
Israeli police apprehended a terrorist suspected of attempting to carry out a stabbing attack at Herod's Gate in Jerusalem's Old City. No injuries or casualties were reported.

At approximately 3:40 p.m., while border police were in the area, a terrorist with a knife attempted to stab on-duty officers, according to Israel Police. The terrorist fled the scene, but was chased by police who opened fire and apprehended him.

The 16-year-old terrorist from east Jerusalem is in the hospital, Israel Police reported.

Two others were arrested in connection with the attempted stabbing attack, the police added.
IDF jets shoot down drone over Gaza Strip
Israeli fighter jets shot down a drone that was flying at an “irregular altitude” over the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The military said fighter jets were scrambled when the aircraft was detected and they shot it down.

“An unmanned aircraft flying was detected flying at an irregular altitude over the Gaza Strip. IDF fighter jets were sent toward it and they intercepted it,” the army said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear who was operating the drone.

In general, the Israeli military does not interfere with drones flying over the Gaza Strip unless they approach the border or fly at especially high altitudes.

The incident came after a series of false alarms around Gaza in which rocket sirens were apparently triggered by terror groups’ training exercises in the coastal enclave.

On Sunday, rocket sirens sounded in the community of Kibbutz Erez just north of the Gaza Strip in a false alarm.
Palestinian anti-PA activist says Facebook closed his popular page
A well-known Palestinian activist critical of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says that Facebook has taken down his page, which had approximately 998,000 followers.

Fadi Elsalameen said on Monday that Facebook unpublished his page in late September, but did not inform him why it made the move.

Elsalameen, 35, is originally from as-Samu, a village south of Hebron, but he currently lives in Washington, DC. He has been accused of being close to exiled Fatah member and Abbas rival Mohammed Dahlan, but he has adamantly denied the claim.

“The page criticized corruption in the Palestinian Authority and freedom of speech violations against Palestinians,” Elsalameen told The Times of Israel in a phone interview. “The page also asked critical questions: Why have we not had presidential elections in 15 years? Why do young people and women not have a greater role in politics?”

A Fatah official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, contended that the page had consistently made false allegations against Palestinian officials.

PMW: Palestinian terrorist is like Jesus, according to official PA daily
Samer Arbid is the Palestinian terrorist arrested with two others for detonating a bomb which murdered 17-year-old Rina Shnerb and injured her father and brother near the Dolev spring on Aug. 26, 2019.

Arbid, who is a member of the terror organization Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was hospitalized for 2 weeks soon after his arrest, and the Palestinian Authority claimed that it was a result of his interrogation. Having allegedly been injured by Jews, the official PA daily published a cartoon portraying the terrorist as Jesus on the cross.

Portraying a Palestinian terrorist suspected of murder as Jesus is in keeping with the PA’s rewriting history and its fundamental support of terror, which claims that Jesus was the first Palestinian "Martyr", and that terrorist murderers are heroes.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri resigns: 'I reached a dead end'
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri resigned on Tuesday following unprecedented massive protests that have swept the country in recent weeks.

“I have reached a dead end,” said Hariri, “I will submit my resignation.”

The protesters, from all sectors and groups in Lebanon, chanted “Kullun yaani Kullun,” meaning “all of them means all of them,” to emphasize that the entire government must step down.

This is the second time Hariri resigned on television. The first time was in November 2018 when he resigned during a visit to Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, protesters in Sidon have begun celebrating upon hearing of Hariri's intention to resign.

"The public has held its ground for 13 days and managed to topple the government. Congratulations to the protesters; we hope our demands will be answered," one of the protesters said.

Another protester added that: "This is the beginning of our victory. We will continue until our demands are reached.
Shooting, stabbing reported as Hezbollah supporters scare off protesters
Gunfire was heard as a group of men attacked protesters with knives at Beirut's Martyrs' Square soon after youth in black shirts destroyed tents and scared off protesters without any interference by security forces, according to Lebanese broadcaster MTV. The group of youth, who are widely being identified as members of the Hezbollah terrorist group and the pro-Hezbollah Amal Party, requested that everyone leave the square.

Similar attackers were reported in other areas of Beirut and anti-riot police and the Lebanese Army were deployed to downtown Beirut. Amal and Hezbollah members threw stones at the army and protesters, according to Al-Hadath.

Members of Amal are preparing to head to Elia Square in Sidon in southern Lebanon, according to MTV.

According to Al-Hadath, members of Hezbollah and Amal have been tearing down tents in the Martyrs' Square.

The youth seem to have orders to break tents and scare protesters without being exposed, according to an MTV correspondent. They are attacking protesters with sticks.

"Security forces remain calm and unbothered as a group of men wearing black shirts attack protesters with sticks in Martyrs' Square," said an MTV correspondent.

Protesters are flowing to the Ring Bridge after clashes between protesters and Lebanese people against the protests broke out there earlier.

Amal and Hezbollah supporters are roaming downtown Beirut on motorcycles to confront demonstrations.
PreOccupiedTerritory: Advocacy Group Denies Failed Terrorist Attacks Have Anything To Do With Islam (satire)
A prominent organization for Muslims in the US issued a disclaimer today cautioning Americans in general, and journalists in particular, not to conflate violence that fills short of producing a death toll in the name of Islam with violence that succeeds in producing a death toll in the name of Islam. Rather, the organization asserts, only violence that achieves the purpose of killing infidels qualifies as Islamic.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a statement Tuesday that aimed to dispel what it characterized as unhealthy or biased assumptions regarding the Islamic faith stemming from ignorant or mendacious coverage of terrorist attacks whose perpetrators or backers claim to act in the name of Muhammad or his religious system. To that end, a spokesman noted, the group released the statement to the effect that referring to failed attacks – defined as attacks that produce no dead infidels – in any way that implies or outright establishes a connection between the attacks and Islam distorts the faith’s teachings and sows discord.

CAIR Deputy Director Behedd Diquffar told reporters the group felt compelled to issue its statement following numerous instances in recent months in which sloppy or hostile reporting has resulted in the use of phrases such as “an Islamist extremist attack” or “failed Islamist terrorist attack” in reference to incidents that killed no non-believers, and in several cases killed only the perpetrator.

“We cannot have Americans walking around with a faulty, distorted picture of Islam,” stated Diquffar. “Associating operations that fail to kill infidels will not produce an accurate picture of what Islam represents or demands. Any link between incompetence, misfortune, or, Allah forbid, a superior foe, and jihadi martyrs or aspiring martyrs, risks undermining the intimidation and dominance that plays such a central role in the authentic Islamic view of relations with unbelievers.”

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