Wednesday, December 07, 2011

7-Dec-11: Murderous dictator reviews piles of bodies in his streets, says there have been "some mistakes". Not by him, of course

Breathtaking chutzpah by one of the world's most corrupt and arrogant dictators, a man with the blood of thousands of his fellow countrymen on what remains (if anything) of his conscience.
Bashar al-Assad says he is not responsible for Syria killings 
AFP  - WASHINGTON WEDNESDAY, 7 December 2011: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad denied responsibility for the killing of thousands of protesters, telling a U.S. reporter he was not in charge of the forces behind the crackdown, the network said Tuesday. In a rare interview, Assad spoke Monday to ABC News veteran journalist Barbara Walters in a bid to defend himself amid growing global condemnation of the nine-month-old crackdown which the U.N. says has killed 4,000 people. ABC News plans to air the interview on Wednesday but a reporter for the network, seeking U.S. reaction at a State Department briefing, quoted Assad as saying: “I’m president. I don't own the country, so they’re not my forces... There’s a difference between having a policy to crack down and between having some mistakes committed by some officials. There is a big difference,” the reporter quoted Assad as saying. Reacting to the excerpt, State Department spokesman Mark Toner criticized Assad and said he has had multiple opportunities to end the violence. “I find it ludicrous that he is attempting to hide behind some sort of shell game (and) claim that he doesn’t exercise authority in his own country,” Toner told the briefing. “There’s just no indication that he's doing anything other than cracking down in the most brutal fashion on a peaceful opposition movement,” Toner said.
Assad’s family has ruled Syria with an iron fist for four decades. Assad's brother, Lieutenant Colonel Maher al-Assad, heads the army's Fourth Division which oversees the capital as well as the elite Republican Guard. Syria has come under growing pressure from the United States, European Union, Arab League and non-Arab Turkey to stop the violence... Syria accuses “armed terrorist groups” of fueling the unrest, which comes amid a wave of street protests across the Arab world this year that have toppled authoritarian regimes in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.
Back in the world of harsh reality, Associated Press reports today on the existence of some of Assad's "mistakes" - heaps of them:
"Dozens of bodies were dumped in the streets of a Syrian city at the heart of the country's nearly 9-month-old uprising, a grim sign that sectarian bloodshed is escalating as the country descends toward civil war... Since the uprising began, Assad portrayed himself as the lone force who can ward off the radicalism and sectarianism that bedeviled neighbors in Iraq and Lebanon. With at least 4,000 people dead across Syria, the conflict is no longer just a matter of government forces firing on peaceful protesters looking to topple Assad's autocratic regime."
Our neighbour. The one we have been pressed to meet and great and with whom we are asked to settle on a long-term peace agreement based on compromise and goodwill. A terrorist of the highest order.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

6-Dec-11: A meaningful Saudi contribution to Middle East peace

Something to think about while we remind ourselves of the deeply dangerous and indispensable role of the House of Saud in enabling Islamist terrorism globally. 
"Saudi may join nuclear arms race"
2011-12-05 21:23
Riyadh - Saudi Arabia may consider acquiring nuclear weapons to match regional rivals Israel and Iran, its former intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal said on Monday. "Our efforts and those of the world have failed to convince Israel to abandon its weapons of mass destruction, as well as Iran... therefore it is our duty towards our nation and people to consider all possible options, including the possession of these weapons," Faisal told a security forum in Riyadh. "A [nuclear] disaster befalling one of us would affect us all," said Faisal. Israel is widely held to possess hundreds of nuclear missiles, which it neither confirms nor denies, while the West accuses Iran of seeking an atomic bomb, a charge the Islamic republic rejects.
A couple of direct quotations now from first-tier news sources to place this disturbing report in context:
  • "Saudi Arabia remains the world's leading source of money for Al Qaeda and other extremist networks and has failed to take key steps requested by U.S. officials to stem the flow" [LA Times]
  • "Saudi Arabia is the world's largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba – but the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, according to Hillary Clinton. "More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups," says a secret December 2009 paper signed by the US secretary of state. Her memo urged US diplomats to redouble their efforts to stop Gulf money reaching extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. "Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide," she said." [The Guardian]
And some solid background from the Congressional Research Service ("Saudi Arabia: Terrorist Financing Issues") here.

6-Dec-11: So those rockets were from Hezbollah after all (it appears)

Hezbollah rocket men - they're deployed right
across southern Lebanon, with a vast arsenal
pointing at Israeli homes
Here's a follow up to what we wrote ("29-Nov-11: Rockets from our north - once again") about last week's rocket attacks on northern Israel.
Qaida-Linked Group Denies Israel Rocket Attack, Blames Hizbullah 
An al-Qaida-inspired group has denied claiming responsibility for a recent rocket attack from southern Lebanon against Israel, instead blaming a group linked to Hizbullah, a U.S. monitoring group said Monday. In a statement issued on jihadist forums, the Brigades of Abdullah Azzam said the November 29 attack should be seen as a warning to the West and Israel from embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the SITE Intelligence Group said. "The Brigades declared that the attack ... is to be construed as a message from Assad to Israel and the West, that if his regime is made to fall, then the field will open to the youth of the Sunni people to attack the Jewish state," the statement said. The group gave examples of what it said was Syria's and Hizbullah's "cunning," claiming, for example, that Syrian intelligence was behind the March kidnapping of seven Estonian cyclists in Lebanon’s Bekaa region. The seven were freed unharmed in July. The Brigades in their statement said it was clear that Damascus and its Lebanese ally Hizbullah were keen for political reasons to blame the group for any security incidents in Lebanon, including a July attack on U.N. troops.
Wikipedia says this about the American intelligence unit that appears to be the a source of this intriguing analysis: "The Search for International Terrorist Entities (SITE) Intelligence Group is an organization that tracks the online activity of terrorist organizations. The SITE Institute was founded in 2002 by Rita Katz and Josh Devon, who had left the Investigative Project (a private Islamist-terrorist tracking group). In early 2008 it ceased its operations, and some of its staff formed the SITE Intelligence Group, a for-profit entity, to continue some of its activities."

Monday, December 05, 2011

5-Dec-11: Attempted murder by rock

Site of the attacks
From the British Sky News this afternoon:
Motorist's Terror As Rock Smashes Into Car 
A motorist has told of her lucky escape after a large rock was thrown from a bridge, shattering her car windscreen. Lisa Horne, 26, said she was left "very shaken" and "scared to drive" following the incident last Thursday evening on the A12 in Essex. She and her 48-year-old mother escaped unharmed when their Vauxhall Astra was targeted as they travelled under the Fryerning Lane Bridge near Ingatestone. Around 40 minutes later, a 57-year-old woman and her husband were injured after a "bucket-sized" piece of concrete was dropped on to her car from a different bridge on the same stretch of road between Chelmsford and London. Police are treating both incidents as attempted murder.
And so they should.

People who hurl rocks at moving vehicles and at the people inside them either want to kill those people or are absolutely indifferent as to whether or not that is the result.  Either way, it's murder or attempted murder. The deaths on an Israeli road two months ago of Asher Palmer and his baby son Yonatan ("25-Sep-11: "Only" rock throwers - but now a father and his infant son are dead") are proof enough. Palestinian Arab youths and men routinely engage in rock-throwing attacks on Israelis in their cars. We understand what their goals are. Some Brits might now, too.

UPDATE Monday 8:15pm: The story is getting wider coverage. Today's Daily Mail has these quotes:
"It is not fair, you could have taken peoples' lives away and left my children without a mum.'
'I just don't know how they went home that night and slept,' she said.
'They could have killed four people within half an hour."
'I just don't understand how people could do that. I cannot sleep thinking about it.'
"Sick, twisted, ferral little thugs - I despair - bring back national service, the cane, the stocks, public hanging"
This appears to be evolving into the sort of story to which the ordinary members of the British public can relate. Wouldn't it be something if someone over there made the connection to what Israelis have had to endure for years, up to and including today?

Sunday, December 04, 2011

4-Dec-11: When, if ever, do these casualty numbers start to have a real impact?

Since it's mostly being ignored, here's today's update from Reuters on the incredibly vicious Arab on Arab violence just across our northern border. "At least 23 people were reported killed in Syria on Saturday as violence intensified in the eighth month of unrest against President Bashar al-Assad, pushing the death toll close to 4,600."

Saturday, December 03, 2011

3-Dec-11: The Islamists are marching...

The centrality of the religious factor in Arab public life is increasingly a talking point in media coverage as major changes wash across the entire area.

Under the headline "Jordan apology to Hamas baffles many", a mainstream Arab news publication is reporting today on Jordanian overtures to the most dangerous of this region's terrorist organizations.
The mea culpa was offered by Jordan's prime minister, Awn Khasawneh, for the 1999 decision to close the Islamist group's offices and expel its members - action widely believed to have been taken under pressure from the US. Calling it a "constitutional and political mistake", his regret was extended soon after Jordan's King Abdullah II appointed him to the premiership in October. Further, the Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, reportedly is arriving in Jordan today for talks. Mending relations with Hamas has raised eyebrows among the king's loyalists and his detractors, and not only because Washington considers the Palestinian group a terrorist organisation. Increasingly, it is perceived as an attempt to outflank the king's domestic critics and bolster his standing in the Arab world... Beginning this year with calls to end official corruption, [widespread Jordanian] protests have escalated into angry demonstrations - increasingly by members of the monarchy's tribal support base. By reaching out to Hamas, however, suspicion has mounted that the king is trying to put off reforms by cutting a deal with the group's influential brethren in Jordan, the Muslim Brotherhood. Their support could prove useful for restraining dissent..."
In Egypt, where the outcome of this past week's elections have been held back by the military who are the actual post-"Arab spring" rulers, first numbers are emerging and they bode ill for those who understand the close ties between the Muslim Brotherhood in its various forms, and jihadist terror. From AFP ("Islamists sweep Egypt elections") in the past hour (late Saturday night):
Early results from Egypt's first post-revolution election showed Islamist parties sweeping to victory, including hardline Salafists, with secular parties trounced in many areas.
Earlier today, there were reports that "the Muslim Brotherhood claimed the first round in the Egyptian parliamentary elections Saturday, after polls said it has won 40% of the votes. The official results of the elections are still pending."

In last week's elections in Morocco, the Islamist Justice and Development Party dominated, taking 107 seats out of the 395 seats, almost twice as many as the second place party. AP says this means "King Mohammed VI must pick the next prime minister from its ranks and to form the next government."

In elections in Tunisia in late October, the Islamist Ennahda party, banned for decades until January 2011, won 41% of the vote, securing 90 seats in the 217-member parliament. Today in the Tunisian capital, thousands of Islamists and secularists staged competing protests outside the parliament. Reuters says tensions are high:
"The latest round of protests was sparked when a group of hardline Islamists occupied a university campus near the capital to demand segregation of sexes in class and the right for women students to wear a full-face veil."
For the terrorist leadership of Hamas in Gaza, this is all great news. One of its more outspoken insiders, Musa Abu Marzouk, said this week the Egyptian win "serves the interests of Hamas", while his colleague Fawzi Barhoum, one of the Hamas designated spokespeople, said the election results we mentioned will "strengthen Hamas in the face of Israeli, American and European efforts" to isolate the terrorists.

Meanwhile an Arab voice of a different kind sees things via a different, more practical lens. Jeannette Bougrab, minister for youth in the government of France, and a self-described "French woman of Arab origin", said to the Le Parisien newspaper that that the electoral outcomes are 
"very worrying... I don’t know of any moderate Islam... There are no half measures with sharia. I am a lawyer and you can make all the theological, literal or fundamental interpretations of it that you like but law based on sharia is inevitably a restriction on freedom, especially freedom of conscience.”
Muslim Brotherhood activists "clash" with plainclothes
Egyptian police at an anti-Israel rally [Source]
The Moslem Brotherhood's official motto is: "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." Establishing an Islamic state based on sharia is at the center of its ideology. Egyptians - according to an April 2010 Pew Research Center poll  - very much like what it has to say about such core values as stoning adulterers (82% support), whipping and/or chopping off the hands of thieves (77%), and imposing the death penalty on apostates (84%)

They held a rally a week ago in Cairo's most prominent mosque, Al-AzharThis report says 5,000 people took part. The main preacher was its Grand Imam, Ahmed al-Tayeb who said: "The al-Aqsa Mosque is currently under an offensive by the Jews…we shall not allow the Zionists to Judaize al-Quds (Jerusalem.) We are telling Israel and Europe that we shall not allow even one stone to be moved there." The report says Muslim Brotherhood spokesmen, as well as Palestinian guest speakers, made explicit calls for Jihad and for liberating the whole of Palestine. Time and again, a Koran quote vowing that "one day we shall kill all the Jews" was uttered at the site... Throughout the event, Muslim Brotherhood activists chanted: "Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, judgment day has come."

With the Egyptian election behind us, it's worth recalling what a leading expert on the Muslim Brotherhood ("Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood: In Their Own Words") wrote nearly a year ago:
The Muslim Brotherhood does not hide its global aspirations and the violent path it intends to follow to achieve them. The Brotherhood is meticulous in its step-by-step plan, first to take over the soul of the individual and then the family, people, nation and union of Islamic nations, until the global Islamic state has been realized. The principle of stages dictates the Muslim Brotherhood's supposed "moderation." However, that "moderation" will gradually vanish as Muslim Brotherhood achievements increase and its acceptance of the existing situation is replaced by a strict, orthodox Muslim rule whose foreign policy is based on jihad. 
And now it appears they're taking power in our largest neighbour.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

1-Dec-11: Freedom Hurts

Free as a bird, the exultant convicted murderer
of our fifteen year old daughter on arrival
in her country of "exile", the Hashemite Kingdom
of Jordan (where she was born and where most of
her family live) October 2011. 
One of this blog's authors wrote the op ed below. It was published yesterday on the Forward.com website and will appear in the Forward weekly print edition, datelined  9th December 2011.

Why Did Netanyahu Free My Daughter's Killer?
Mother Blasts Prisoner Exchange To Free Gilad Shalit
By Frimet Roth
Published November 30, 2011, Forward issue of December 09, 2011.
Malki, in October you would have turned 25, if only… if only you hadn’t stopped in at the Sbarro restaurant in the center of Jerusalem with your best friend, Michal, that hot summer afternoon of August 9, 2001.
You were on your way to a camp counselors’ meeting but had some time to spare. At 2 p.m., while you both stood on line, waiting to order, a Palestinian Arab man finished his meal, stood up and detonated the explosives concealed in his guitar case. Fifteen men, women and children perished.
In recent weeks, the pain we have endured for 10 years has become even more intense. We can thank Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for that. Despite our hand-delivered entreaties to keep your murderer, Ahlam Tamimi, in prison — to which Netanyahu never responded — he freed her in the prisoner exchange deal that led to the release of Gilad Shalit. The letter of “explanation” he claimed publicly in October to have mailed to all the affected terror victim families has, for some reason, not yet reached us.
Malki, you never saw your murderer. By her own account, Tamimi scouted Jerusalem for days before she selected the target. She then transported a 10 kilogram bomb and led the suicide bomber to the site. Later, in prison, she smiled for the cameras when she learned that not three (as she had thought) but eight children were among the victims. She proclaimed repeatedly, “I am not sorry for what I did…. I would do it again.”
The judge who sentenced her to 16 life terms appreciated the depths of Tamimi’s evil. In handing down the sentence, he recommended that she never be included in any prisoner exchange. But our prime minister, rejecting those considered rulings, repatriated this woman to her father and brother in Jordan — and assured the public that she had been “exiled.”
Adding salt to our wounds is an avalanche of revelations about the Shalit saga, which was unleashed the moment Gilad returned home.
Ronen Cohen, who recently stepped down from leading the counter-terrorism unit in military intelligence, spoke to Haaretz and Israeli television on the day that Shalit was freed. He declared that the handling of Shalit’s captivity “was a resounding failure of the IDF. There are no other words to describe it. The IDF never took responsibility for the soldier and did not even set up a team to deal with bringing him back. They simply passed it on to the Shin Bet [security service].”
Cohen continued, “It may also be that during [Operation Cast Lead in December 2008] it was still possible to do something under the cover of the chaos of the fighting, but it was not done.”
When asked in the television interview about the government’s assertions that it had insufficient intelligence on Gilad, Cohen countered: “Intelligence is not passive but must be activated. It never was.”
Additional critics of the mass release of murderers have now come out of the woodwork. Anshel Pfeffer wrote in Haaretz: “Shalit’s capture… was a colossal operational blunder, at just about every level…. His eventual release was a victory primarily for the other side’s negotiators.”
When Maariv journalist Ben Caspit spoke to Yitzhak Mordechai, a former defense minister and operating commander of the southern, central and northern commands, Mordechai told him that it was only when the worsening condition of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel became an issue in Gaza that Hamas was willing to negotiate.
Caspit then asked a question that haunts us, Malki. Referring to the astonishingly indulgent treatment that had been accorded to terrorists in the Israeli prison system, he wondered what would have happened if the authorities hadn’t waited so long to take away the perks that turned these prisoners’ incarceration into the equivalent of summer camp. “Too bad no one thought to explore this option in real time,” Caspit said.
These disclosures have hardly had an impact on the majority of Israelis. Some 80% bought Netanyahu’s absurd assertion that releasing 1,027 unrepentant, tried and convicted terrorists in return for one soldier is a “victory,” a show of our “moral superiority.”
It is nothing less than suicidal to place our trust in a leader who has sacrificed his nation’s security and its judicial system for political gain.
Malki, please know that we have not given up the fight. We will seek an investigation into the disastrous handling of the Shalit affair. We still hope for an apology from our prime minister for his role in this travesty of justice.
Your murderer has told Jordanian reporters, “All I dream about now is to live with Nezar [another freed terrorist], settle down and raise our future children.”
We will not rest until her dreams are dashed and she is back in prison. We will pursue that goal not to seek revenge or to ease our relentless longing for you, but simply because it is the only just and sane thing for a democratic state to do.
Frimet Roth is a freelance writer based in Jerusalem. After her daughter’s murder, in 2001, she and her husband founded the Malki Foundation, which provides support for Israeli families of all faiths who care for a special needs child.