Iran, Syria, Hizballah gear up to provoke summer war
DEBKAfile Special Report April 28, 2010, 1:31 PM (GMT+02:00)
Syrian Fateh A-110B for Hizballah
Hizbullah: Our Missiles are Honorable, not Aggressive
by Gil Ronen
Senior Hizbullah official Hassan Fadlallah said Wednesday that his militia's weapons were of the “honorable” type and could not be compared with those of the United States and Israel.
“Our choice was and still is to secure all the arms of resistance that we can,” Fadlallah told the Lebanese daily As-Safir. “There is a great difference between weapons that only serve invasions, occupations and aggressions, such as those of the United States and its ally Israel … and weapons of an honorable resistance that liberates, protects, and defends.”
He was responding to statements made by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates
Tuesday after his meeting with his Israeli counterpart on Washington. “We are at a point now where Hizbullah has far more rockets and missiles than most governments in the world,” Gates had said.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak met United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon Wednesday at the UN's headquarters in New York City. He informed the UN leader of his meetings this week with President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Gates and Middle East Special Envoy George Mitchell, regarding restarting negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
Barak renewed the call for effective and timely sanctions against Iran. (IsraelNationalNews.com)
Islamic Influence in U.S. Prisons
by Hillel Fendel.
Douglas J.Hagmann, Director of the Northeast Intelligence Network, has written of “extensive” Islamic infiltration into American prison systems. Excerpts from his most recent article
on the topic:
“Most recent statistics available show that one out of three African-American inmates in U.S. prisons convert to Islam while incarcerated. The type of Islam to which they convert teaches the same ideology as the 9/11 hijackers, which is the ‘Wahhabi’ or ‘Salafi’ form of Islam that originated in and is continually being exported from Saudi Arabia… he ideology behind this ‘fundamentalist’ form of Islam is completely incompatible with the culture, politics, and social fabric of the West. Nonetheless, it is being embraced by numerous groups, agencies and individuals inside the United States. “The high rate of conversion of inmates to Islam, and specifically the Wahhabi brand of Islam is no accident. The lack of oversight of teaching materials brought in to prisons to facilitate their conversion is no accident. The influx of Wahhabi chaplains into our prison system and military is no accident. The entire process is by design, and consists of a sophisticated combination of personnel placement, funding, and an active support structure of numerous interrelated entities and individuals.
“The indoctrination of American inmates is a well known strategy detailed in al Qaeda training manuals. The manuals state that non-Muslim prisoners should be eyed for conversion to ‘religious jihad’ as they are likely to be ‘disenchanted with their country’s policies’ and feel disenfranchised from society. They also can make perfect operational assets for Islamic terrorist groups because of their ability to more easily blend into American society.”
In 2003, when Muslims comprised well under 1% of the American population, it was estimated that 17-20% of the prison population was Muslim. An oft-quoted statistic states that 80% of the prisoners who "find faith" in prison convert to Islam.
This month, this phenomenon led to violence. A man who converted to Islam in a U.S. prison before he was freed has confessed to killing his wife and three others in Chicago because she refused to wear Muslim garb and adopt his new-found faith.
The confessed murderer is James A. Larry, 31, who confessed to the crime and expressed no remorse. During his most recent prison term, between 2002 and 2007, he began receiving visits by imams through the Islamic prison outreach program. “He became increasingly radicalized with orthodox Islamic beliefs," a detective on the case said, "ultimately demanding compliance to fundamentalist Islam by his wife and family. He killed his wife because she would not wear Muslim attire, and would not follow his beliefs. It was an honor killing, pure and simple…”
In addition to shooting his 19-year-old pregnant wife to death, Larry also stands accused of murdering three other relatives, all aged 16 and under, as well as injuring his mother and nephew and shooting at his niece.
"Prisons are Recruiting Grounds for Islamic Fundamentalism"
“This didn’t have to happen,” the detective said. “But it did, and it will probably happen again in another community, to another family. The reason it happened here and the reason it will happen again is that we’ve allowed our prisons to become recruiting grounds for Islamic fundamentalism that teaches this twisted . And our system has become too lenient, too ‘PC,’ and too afraid to confront this problem, so now we have nearly an entire family murdered by a guy quoting Allah and the Qur’an.”
In a 2004 report, the Justice Department faulted the prison system for failing to protect against “infiltration by extremists.
US: Hizbullah Has One of World’s Largest Missile Arsenals
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
Syria is helping Hizbullah stockpile “far more rockets and missiles than most governments in the world,” U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday at a joint press conference with visiting Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Without specifically mentioning the Scud missile, which Hizbullah reportedly is adding to its arsenal with Syria’s and Iran’s help, Secretary Gates stated, "Syria and Iran are providing Hizbullah with rockets and missiles of ever-increasing capability… and this is obviously destabilizing for the whole region.”
His comments came at the same time that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has tried to assure Lebanon that Israel has no intention of attacking Hizbullah. The latter's forces have blended in with the Lebanese army to the level that Prime Minister Netanyahu said it is hard to distinguish between the two.
Defense Minister Barak (pictured at left with Gates)
also tried to soothe fears, saying at the press conference that "we do not intend to provoke any kind of major clash in Lebanon or vis-a-vis Syria.” Israel and Hizbullah fought the 34-day Second Lebanon War in 2006, which ended with United Nations guarantees that Hizbullah would be disarmed. However, commanders of UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said at the outset that they were not able to carry out the mandate.
The United Nations has ignored most of Israel’s appeals to put a stop to Hizbullah’s smuggling of missiles, which now number three or four times the 20,000 missiles it possessed before the war and which are far more sophisticated. The Scud missile, used by Iraq against Israel in the 1991 Gulf War, can easily strike Tel Aviv from Lebanon.
Although the United States has not confirmed that Hizbullah has Scuds, the reports on their being shipped by Syria actually may have been leaked by the United States in order to put pressure on UNIFIL. Hizbullah’s dominance in southern Lebanon and its alliance with the Lebanese government would make any counterterrorist measures or diplomatic moves ineffective.
Following the report last week, which was confirmed by President Shimon Peres, the U.S. State Department summoned Syria’s chief of mission for a warning of Damascus’ “provocative behavior,” but Syria has rejected all accusations. (IsraelNationalNews.com)
Barkat backs east J'lem building
By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER , JERUSALEM POST CORRESPON
Mayor also dismisses pluralism at Kotel as a major issue.
Obama's 'Lost Year' in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
WASHINGTON – Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat carried an uncompromising message on east Jerusalem with him on his visit Wednesday to the US Capitol, declaring that there was no freeze on construction and pushing back against government interference in local projects.
“There’s no freeze,” he declared on the heels of reports that a de facto freeze had been imposed to allow peace talks with Palestinians to commence. “There’s a demand from Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem to build, and we’re not going to stop it. It’s illegal to stop it.”
Capital braces for Beit Yehonatan evacuation
He acknowledged a “slowdown” following the “shock” of the US “campaign” over east Jerusalem, when the Obama administration condemned Israel for approving 1,600 housing units in Ramat Shlomo during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit – an issue that set off a crisis in US-Israel relations.
Barkat, speaking to reporters after a meeting with Republican congressmen, said that the government and municipality had paused construction out of respect for the US and to consider its reaction, but that it was now “back to business.”
The mayor also appeared to push back against interference by the Prime Minister’s Office in the permitting process – including a new mechanism the latter is said to be setting up, whereby there will be some level of notification and involvement with the office so the prime minister isn’t surprised by housing decisions as he was during Biden’s trip.
“There’s no new process,” Barkat said, adding that while “I’d be more than happy to get the government’s input... we don’t report to the prime minister. It doesn’t work like that.”
On another contentious issue, that of religious pluralism at the city’s holy sites, Barkat was also dismissive.
He was asked to square his stated commitment to access for all religions to the Old City sites with the arrest of non-Orthodox women wearing prayer shawls, or tallitot, at the Western Wall. Though the practice offends ultra-Orthodox sensibilities, it’s in keeping with the practice of the vast majority of the American Jewish community.
“It’s not such a big issue,” he responded.
Barkat – who was flanked by Minority Whip Eric Cantor and Representative Peter Roskam, co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus, at the Capitol Hill press conference – received a warm public reception from Republicans.
“We’re here today listening to the mayor’s vision for a Jerusalem that enjoys bipartisan support on Capitol Hill,” said Cantor.
But Democrats took a lower-profile approach to his visit. There were no press conferences or public statements planned following his events with Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and the Democratic Israel Working Group.
A Hoyer press aide explained that “it’s our standard procedure with his meetings. We keep them private and don’t open them up to press.”
And while Cantor and Roskam praised Barkat’s stance on Jerusalem, some Democratic members appeared more conflicted in their response to the policies he was pursuing.
“Although they would like to be sympathetic with the Israeli government, they would like to see more movement toward a peace deal,” said one Democratic aide to a representative on the working group, speaking about east Jerusalem. “If we’re going to seriously talk about peace in the context of a two-state solution, you have to at least talk about Jerusalem.”
He predicted that when the Democratic working group met with Barkat later Wednesday, “they’re going to give a strong message, because they’re frustrated. They value the US-Israel relationship very strongly, and if you believe that peace is attainable and it’s a goal, you have to talk about Jerusalem.”
Some advocacy groups took an even stronger line. In preparation for Barkat’s Capitol Hill visit, Americans for Peace Now circulated a statement critical of many of his positions on Jerusalem.
JERUSALEM, Israel - President Barack Obama's attempts to push the Israeli-Palestinian political process forward by pressuring Israel during his first year in office were based on wrong assessments, making his first year a "lost year," a former Israeli chief negotiator said Monday.
Many Israelis believe the Obama administration has been the least pro-Israel American administration in decades. Recent friction between Israel and the U.S. over Israeli building in eastern Jerusalem as well as Obama's apparent slight of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his recent visit have added to that perception.
Many right-wing activists have accused Obama of taking the Palestinian side against Israel. But Gilad Sher, a former chief of staff and policy coordinator for Defense Minister Ehud Barak, also said current U.S. pressure on Israel has been wrong.
During a meeting of foreign journalists in Jerusalem, Sher was asked whether he thought the pressure the American administration is putting on Israel is helpful or wrong.
Initially the pressure was "lousily put together" because of the "wrong direction the administration took," Sher said.
According to Sher, the U.S. administration did not assess "in the right way, the correct way what should be done during the first year of Obama's tenure here."
Sher pointed to the fact that there was only one "photo-op" of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Netanyahu together. There were no American-sponsored meetings.
"This is due, I think, to the wrong direction that the administration took," he said.
In contrast, Sher said the Obama administration has not pressured the Palestinian Authority. But it did pressure Netanyahu to say "the right words" during a major foreign policy speech last June. The administration has also tried to impose a complete building freeze on construction in the West Bank (biblical Judea and Samaria) and Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem, where Palestinians want the capital of a future Palestinian state, he said.
"If you do not differentiate between putting pressure on both parties in order to get back to the negotiation room and to have some kind of dialogue between them, and the kind of pressure that you put on one party or the other in order to obtain political support of the international community or Congress or whatever, then you're not assessing the situation correctly," Sher said.
"If you don't differentiate between blocs of settlements and those neighborhoods in Jerusalem that under no circumstances would be part of the Palestinian state, and the other areas in which a freeze of settlement would be acceptable because those are isolated settlements…that are not going to be, to form part of the state of Israel, then you're wrong again," Sher said.
Netanyahu imposed a 10-month building limited freeze on some settlements in Judea and Samaria but has not agreed to halt building in Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem.
"So I think that the first year of the Obama administration that coincided almost with the first year of the Netanyahu government is a lost year," Sher said.
France joins US in blaming Israel for lack of peace
French President Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly told Israeli President Shimon Peres when the two met in Paris two weeks ago that the current failure of the Middle East peace process is almost entirely the fault of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Senior Israeli officials were briefed on the meeting recently, and told Ha'aretz
under condition of anonymity that it was a "very difficult" encounter for Peres.
Sarkozy reportedly spent the first 15 minutes of the meeting railing against Netanyahu.
"I'm disappointed with him," the French president reportedly said.. "With the friendship, sympathy and commitment we have toward Israel, we still can't accept this foot-dragging. I don't understand where Netanyahu is going or what he wants."
Sarkozy's increasingly hostile position mirrors that of the Obama Administration, which has made clear that it sees Netanyahu and the right-wing elements in his government as the reason the peace process is not moving forward.
That despite the fact that Netanyahu has already gone against his election platform by publicly accepting the idea of a Palestinian state, has frozen Jewish building in Judea and Samaria and has repeatedly stated that he is ready to immediately restart direct bilateral negotiations with the Palestinians.
That Palestinian leaders outright refuse to sit with Netanyahu and discuss these issues has been almost completely ignored in Western capitals.
US defense secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday night, April 27: "Hizballah has far more rockets and missile than most governments in the world." He and Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak were talking to reporters after their talks in the Pentagon. Military sources did not see his as high commendation for Barak's achievements as defense minister. All he had to contribute on this occasion was: "We do not intend to provoke any kind of major collision in Lebanon or with Syria, but are watching closely these developments."
Gates went on to accuse Syria and Iran of "providing Hizballah with rockets of ever-increasing capability," adding, "This is obviously destabilizing for the whole region and we're watching it very carefully.
Both defense chiefs seemed to think that careful watching would somehow erase the hostile buildup of deadly hardware. In fact, Barak's comment told Iran, Syria and Hizballah they had nothing to fear from continuing their "carefully watched" buildup, even though Syria took it a step forward this month. As debkafile
's military sources reported last week, Syrian instructors have trained two Hizballah brigades in the use of mobile Scud missiles which carry one-ton warheads. It does not matter if those missiles are moved physically across the border to Lebanon, because those brigades can operate them against Israel at short notice from either side of the border.
Our Washington sources report that Syrian president Bashar Assad, under heavy pressure from Washington to keep the Scuds out of Hizballah's hands, explained to the Obama administration through diplomatic channels that as long as they were kept inside Syria, the Scuds must be seen as a defensive and deterrent weapon against a possible Israeli attack on Lebanon and Syria. He thus placed on Israel the onus for any future outbreak of hostilities.
Gates' accusation of Iran and Syria Tuesday was the administration's way of telling Damascus that it does not buy that message.
Unlike the United States, Israel has a ringside seat for watching the rockets and missiles pile up just across its 70-kilometer long border with Lebanon. Gates' comment - and even more Barak's assurance - gave Syria and the Hizballah space to carry on building a mighty arsenal, which is aimed at only one country, Israel.
Barak as defense minister, prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Israel's security chiefs need to explain how Hizballah was allowed in the four years since the 2006 war to pile up tens of thousands of rockets and missiles, which in volume and sophistication have already overtaken the weaponry that battered northern Israel then and which have extended their reach to all parts of Israel.
"Careful watch" - without corresponding action to interrupt the massive flow of weapons shipments constantly smuggled in from Syria to Hizballah - is a repeat of the misplaced self-restraint which invited the Hizballah to launch the last Lebanon conflict in the summer of 2006. Dragging Israeli and its homeland into war in the summer of 2010 would serve the political and military interests of Iran, Syria and Hizballah well. It would generate a Middle East crisis overwhelming enough to focus international efforts on calming the situation, so distracting the world's attention Iran's arrival at the critical stages of its nuclear bomb program and its drive for sanctions against the Islamic Republic.