Obama to ask Netanyahu for more time for dialogue with Iran
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
November 9, 2009, 10:24 PM (GMT+02:00)
Nothing much to discuss
US official sources admitted Monday, Nov. 9, that Tehran had finally blocked every compromise on the nuclear controversy offered by the Obama administration through backdoor channels. The US president Barack Obama's Iranian and Middle East peace initiatives have both run into the sand. Secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Middle East envoy George Mitchell informed him last week after their failed bid to persuade the Palestinians to sit down and talk peace with Israel.
Clinton found Mahmoud Abbas in Abu Dhabi with one foot out of the Palestinian Authority leadership. He was busy exploiting Obama's misplaced reliance on a total Israeli settlement construction freeze on the West Bank and in Jerusalem to strike a rejectionist pose for the sake of restoring his tattered credibility on the Palestinian street.
On that score, there is nothing much for Obama to discuss with visiting Binyamin Netanyahu Tuesday, Nov. 10, although both found themselves under pressure to meet during Netanyahu's brief visit to Washington to address the General Assembly of the North American Jewish Federations.
A new Palestinian leader might find a way out of the impasse, but none is currently in the sights of the US president, the Israeli prime minister or the Palestinians. Even if a reasonable figure were to be found, it would take a newcomer to the PA leadership a couple of years to find his feet and establish himself. During that period, assuming the lid stayed clamped down on Palestinian terrorist action from the West Bank - which is far from a certainty - the peace track would be frozen solid.
The situation with Iran is much more fraught because time is running out as Iran speeds toward its nuclear and missile goals. In the summer, Netanyahu gave Obama a guarantee to hold off on a military initiative against Iran until the end of the year to give diplomatic engagement a chance.
This deadline is now only seven weeks away. DEBKAfile's Washington sources are assuming that the US president will use the Israeli prime minister's brief Washington visit to ask him to extend this deadline a while longer to permit him a last throw at cajoling Iran to accept a deal over its uranium enrichment. Our sources do not expect Netanyahu to refuse the president, both for the sake of his good standing with the Obama administration and because he too is in no hurry to cross the Rubicon for an act of war against Iran.
Procrastination in the West is Tehran's greatest boon.
This past year, the Iranians have managed to keep the diplomatic ball they are playing with the world powers up in the air and hold sanctions at bay while using the space to press forward with their military nuclear and missile programs.
Report: Hassan tried to contact al-Qaeda
US major of Palestinian origin shouted "Allahu Akbar" in Fort Hood shooting rampage
DEBKAfile Special Report
November 5, 2009, 2:00 PM (GMT+02:00)
US Maj. Malik Nadal Hasan in two guises
Speculation is rife in the US media about whether Army Major Malik Nadal Hasan's massacre of 13 servicemen at America's biggest army base, Fort Hood in Texas Thursday, Nov. 5 was motivated by terrorist ideology.
US officials are tightlipped on the question, saying only the investigation will establish the facts. Witnesses among the 28 injured reported that while firing two handguns, he shouted "Alahu Akbar!" before he was felled himself by four bullets fired by wounded female police officer Sgt. Kimberley Munlay.
That morning, he went shopping in Muslim dress.
Friday, Nov. 6, US terrorism task force agents interviewed his relatives, searched his home and seized his computer. US president Obama promised updates as the inquiry develops and ordered White House and federal buildings to fly flags at half-staff. Capitol Hill observed a minute's silence 24 hours after the tragedy.
Born in Virginia to Palestinian parents from Jordan, Major Hasan, 39, is a psychiatrist whom the army put through medical training. Before Fort Hood, he was posted for six years at Walter Reed Hospital, Washington D.C. He went on his shooting rampage shortly after being informed he would be deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Faizul Khan, a former imam at a mosque he attended at Silver Spring Md. said the major was a lifelong Muslim. "I got the impression he was a committed soldier," he said.
On a form filled out by Muslims seeking spouses through the mosque, Hasan listed his nationality as Palestinian although he was born in Virginia.
According to neighbors, Hasan handed round Qurans and his furniture that morning and had taken to wearing "Arab clothing" in recent weeks.
Retired Army Col. Terry Lee, who had worked with the major, told reporters that Hasan had hoped President Barack Obama would pull the army out of Afghanistan and Iraq. Lee said he often got into arguments with soldiers who supported the wars and had tried hard to get his pending deployment cancelled.
The major came to the attention of law enforcement authorities six months ago on suspicion of posting Internet messages equating suicide bombers with soldiers who throw themselves on a grenade to save the lives of their comrades. No formal investigation had been opened before the shooting.
President said Thursday night it was hard enough for "our soldiers to die in action in Afghanistan and Iraq, but horrifying for them to come under fire at an army base on American soil."
Congressional probe to say if Fort Hood shooting was worst post-9/11 terror attack in US
DEBKAfile Special Report
November 9, 2009, 7:22 PM (GMT+02:00)
Sen. Joe Lieberman: Independent probe essential
As pressure builds on the Obama administration and law enforcement authorities to break their silence on the Nov. 5 shootings at the Ford Hood base, Senator Joe Lieberman, an independent who heads the Senate's Homeland Security Committee, announced he was launching a congressional investigation to find out whether the attack which claimed 13 lives and injured 30 was preventable. Army commanders will be asked to explain how for two years they missed warning signs that army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan had turned to radical Islam.
Witnesses described him as calmly shooting more than 100 rounds at his comrades, some already lying wounded on the floor.
Lieberman, the first high-ranking US lawmaker to speak out on the tragedy, said to the media Sunday night, Nov. 8: "We don't know enough to say now, but there are very, very strong warning signs here that Dr. Hasan has become an Islamist extremist and therefore this was a terrorist act." Indirectly criticizing official silence, the senator said that if the news reports were true, "the murder of these 13 people was… the most destructive terrorist act committed on American soil since 9/11."
He also called on the Pentagon to conduct an independent inquiry.
Hasan's classmates at military courses in 2007-2008 quoted the US-born major of Palestinian parents as quite openly justifying suicide bombing and telling classmates that Islamic law trumped the US Constitution. One said students had complained to their professors but no action was taken. Others reported that the Fort Hood killer had complained to at least five officers and two civilian lecturers - and written a letter to the Pentagon - saying that the American army was wrong to prevent an intellectual debate on Muslim ideology.
Witnesses of the shootings agreed that he shouted Allahu Akbar while firing.
There is also evidence that he worshipped at the same Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Great Falls, Virginia as two of the 9/11 hijackers and was an admirer of its imam Anwar al-Awlaki their mentor.
The army's commander, Gen. George Casey, was finally obliged to say an act of terrorism could not be ruled out. But he cautioned against speculation. "We must let the investigation take its course," he said, while expressing concern that speculation could result in a "backlash" against Muslim soldiers.
DEBKAfile's Washington sources report growing impatience in the army and country over what is seen as official hedging. The "speculation" which has filled the vacuum left by the absence of official information leads inescapably to tough conclusions. An independent congressional probe may well raise hard questions about how nine years after the September 2001 atrocity, the army missed red flags and failed to apply to itself the lessons learned from fighting two wars against Islamist extremists in Afghanistan and Iraq.
US commander-in-chief President Barack Obama is already taking some heat for refusing to address any of these sensitive issues until the federal and military inquiries end.
The investigation is said to be held up by the alleged killer's medical condition. Earlier reported in a coma, he was disconnected from the ventilator Sunday, which means Maj. Hasan may soon be well enough to give his own version of his deeds and stand trial.
A confession would put an end to the controversy developing in the US, as conservatives, independents and some military rank and file accuse the Obama administration and its supporters of equivocating on the Islamist factor of the Fort Hood crime in a way that could encourage radical Muslim Americans in and outside the army to emulate Maj. Hasan's act.
In anticipation of efforts to suppress the findings of the official investigations by a news blackout or other means and conduct the trial or court martial behind closed doors, Lieberman has acted to make sure the entire episode and its ramifications see the light of day in an open congressional inquiry. Hence also his demand for an independent probe to be launched by the Department of Defense.
The double lives of Jewish converts in IsraelIlana has been living a double life in Israel. Though her first visit was as a Catholic, she ultimately decided to convert to Judaism, and following her conversion in Italy in 2006, she moved to Israel. Incredibly, despite the fact that the (Orthodox) Chief Rabbinate certifies her conversion, the civil organs of the State of Israel continue to deny her basic rights as a citizen.
J'lem Mayor Receives Bi-Partisan Support in U.S.
JERUSALEM, Israel - Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat's vision of a united Jerusalem was exceptionally well-received by U.S. congressmen from across the political spectrum in Washington, D.C., last week.
Barkat presented his vision of Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the Jewish state, open to people of all faiths to enjoy, to 15 members of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and other key government officials.
Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the U.S., accompanied the mayor during his 24-hour stay in Washington, which was a part of a 10-day tour to the U.S.and Canada.
The mayor also met with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA).
Sen. Lieberman said six senators had submitted a bill to bypass the requirement for presidential confirmation to implement the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which was passed by both the House and Senate in 1995.
The bill states that "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.
Successive U.S. administrations have blocked implementation of the law, citing "security concerns."
"We will continue to work together to bring the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, which I believe will be the first step in bringing additional embassies to the capital, as is the case with all other capitals around the world," Barkat said.
Later, the mayor addressed a standing-room only crowd at George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs.
"Jerusalem has many friends in Washington," the mayor stated in a press release. "Members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, stand as one in their support for Jerusalem as the united capital of the State of Israel," Barkat said.