Bosnia and the Global Jihad Revisited

August 23, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

I find it amazing that so many policy-makers have been in denial about the truth in Bosnia: that Saudi and Iranian money and proselytizers have been working for decades to radicalize Islam in that region and create a base for jihad — in Europe’s heartland. Self-delusion is a powerful thing.

Originally posted on The XX Committee:

Back in 2007, my book Unholy Terror ruffled quite a few feathers by pointing out the unpleasant truth that, in the 1990s, Bosnia-Hercegovina became a jihadist playground and a major venue for Al-Qa’ida, thanks to malign Saudi and Iranian influences. This was off-message, to put it mildly, to critics eager to defend failed Western (especially American) policies in the Balkans, as well as the usual coterie of jihad fellow-travelers and Useful Idiots, plus those eager, for personal reasons, not to have anyone look too deeply into where Saudi money goes in Europe.

However, my essential message — that Islamist extremism, though a largely imported phenomenon in Bosnia, has put down local roots and is likely to metastasize further due to that country’s intractable socio-economic problems — has been proven sadly accurate over the last seven years. For years, the debate over Islamism in Bosnia, and Southeastern Europe generally, was divided…

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Who finances Hamas’s rockets?

July 14, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

Almost anywhere you look in Mideast terrorism, you find the fingerprints of Iran.

Originally posted on Money Jihad:

Short answer: Iran.

Iran manufactures missiles, loads them up at its Bandar Abbas port, ships them to Sudan, where they are transported by ground to the Sinai for final transfer through smuggling tunnels to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

Smuggling was rampant particularly when the Muslim Brotherhood controlled Egypt under Muhammad Morsi, making a significant contribution to Hamas’s 10,000 missile stockpile. “Under Morsi it was almost a highway,” said one observer.

Shorter-range missiles are built in Gaza itself. Technical expertise lent by Iran is helping develop Hamas’s homegrown rocket program, although even as recently as two years ago one analyst observed that Hamas lacks the capacity within Gaza to build a banana plantation, much less a missile factory.

Some missiles, such as the M-302, are manufactured by Syria “under license” from China, which designed it. Assad would not be able to produce these weapons or remain…

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Gaza air raids a message from Israel to Iran

July 10, 2014
x

Memo to the mullahs

Photo credit: PressTV

For the last three days, Israel has been launching air raids against Hamas targets in Gaza in retaliation for the murder of three Israeli teens (one an American citizen) and the hundreds of rockets fired at Israelis towns and cities — and at a nuclear plant. (1)

But Hamas isn’t the sole target of these attacks. Writing at National Review, analyst Tom Rogan points out that Iran and its increasingly likely acquisition of nuclear weapons, and the destabilizing consequences of that for the region, are very much on Jerusalem’s mind, even as they battle Hamas. And so the heavy air assaults on Gaza are also a message to Tehran:

Meeting Hamas and [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] rocket teams with decisive force, Netanyahu hopes to signal Israel’s unwillingness to cede its traditional security supremacy. This intent is encapsulated in Israel’s mobilization of ground-force deployments: Netanyahu seems determined to take major risks in pursuit of grand strategic objectives (in this case, the military dismemberment of Hamas). Nevertheless, Israeli operations in Gaza aren’t solely about damaging Hamas. They’re also about broadcasting specific capabilities. In this regard, the scale of Israel Defense Forces air sorties in Gaza has been notable. Advertising its conducting of hundreds of missions each night, the IDF is demonstrating its capability for large-scale operations: the kind of air campaign necessary to attack Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Here, Netanyahu wants Iran to understand his willingness to gamble — even at potentially high cost. By extension, Netanyahu is also warning U.S., European, and Russian diplomats that he won’t accept any deal with Iran that he regards as weak.

Emphasis added.

It would be much better for the region and the world if this message were sent in conjunction with American and European efforts to encourage and support the opposition to the mullahcracy, a brittle, vulnerable regime that fears its own people. What worked against the Soviet empire –a clear willingness to defend oneself coupled with measures to support dissidents– would surely work here.

But, as our foreign policy under Obama is a feckless wreck that sees a diminution of American power as something desirable, while administration officials simultaneously urge restraint on Israel and praise allies of Hamas, Prime Minister Netanyahu is left on his own to make sure Ayatollah Khamenei gets the message loud and clear:

“Don’t push us.”

PS: Yes, a Palestinian teen was murdered, probably in retaliation for the killing of the three Jewish teens. But note the difference: the evening of the day the boy’s body was found, Netanyahu was publicly denouncing the killing and calling for a swift investigation. Six Jewish Israelis have been arrested as suspects, and the nation is horrified. What was the reaction in Hamas-controlled Gaza to the kidnapping of the three Jewish teens? People handed out candy in celebration. You tell me who the real savages are.

Footnote:
(1) Unbelievably idiotic. Last I checked, radioactive fallout didn’t discriminate between Muslim and Jew.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Benghazi massacre an Iranian operation?

June 23, 2014
Qassem Suleymani

Qassem Suleymani

That’s the assertion of journalist Kenneth Timmerman in a forthcoming book, “Dark Forces.” In a summary article in the New York Post, Timmerman discusses Qassem Suleymani, the head of Quds Force, Iran’s external special operations forces that have conducted operations against us in Iraq and Afghanistan, helped establish Hizbullah, and carried out terrorist strikes around the world. He then talks about Iran’s concern over our presence in Benghazi, where we were monitoring jihadist groups (and, according to rumor, shipping guns to the Syrian rebels, who were fighting Iran’s client, President Assad), groups that Iran, per Timmerman’s sources, had a hand in creating and supporting. The Iranians were so concerned, in fact, that Suleymani set up an operation in which a Quds Force hit team, disguised as Red Crescent workers, were to kidnap Ambassador Stevens and destroy the CIA annex in Benghazi. The idea was to hit us hard to prove to Washington that there was no safe place for American personnel in the Middle East.

Trouble was, from the Iranian point of view, we were intercepting their communications, knew when the hit team arrived, and had them followed by Libyan militia members in our pay. That’s when things got weird:

Then at 1 in the morning, it happened.

All of a sudden, the deputy chief jumped up from where he had been dozing off. His guys were going nuts.

The ruckus got the chief’s attention. “What’s going on? What are they saying?” he asked.

The deputy translated the excited shrieks from the trackers. It seemed the Red Crescent team had been headed back to the Tibesti Hotel when they were ambushed by a half dozen Toyota pickups with .50-caliber machine guns mounted on the beds.

The militia guys forced the Iranians to get out, cuffed them, then bundled them into a pair of Jeep Cherokees and sped off.

Our guys decided it was more prudent not to follow them, he said.

So they’re gone, the chief said. That’s it. Kidnapped.

Based on information that came in later, the station chief and his deputy assumed the Iranians had been kidnapped in some Sunni-Shia dispute and were being held until they could be shipped back to Tehran.

But, what they didn’t know, per Timmerman’s sources, is that the Iranians were intercepting the CIA annex’s communications and knew we were on to them, so they staged the kidnapping of their team as a bluff, to make us think their operation was thwarted by sectarian rivalries. And it worked; the CIA station chief and his deputy bought it. In other words, we knew what the Iranians were up to, they knew we knew, but we didn’t know that they knew we knew. And that allowed them to play us for suckers, get us off our guard, and for their proxies in Ansar al Sharia (again, per Timmerman) to carry out the attacks on September, 2012. Which, by the way, the Iranians had changed to a straight “kill the ambassador” operation, since we had blown the cover of their original kidnapping squad.

Is it true? The trouble with Timmerman’s account is that it relies on anonymous sources. That’s not surprising in intelligence work, but it makes it impossible for the average person to verify.

On the other hand, I do find it at least plausible. The Iranians have considered themselves at war with us since 1979, a war we’ve only fitfully recognized. They were responsible for the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, and there’s widespread opinion that they were somehow involved in the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996 (1). Iran has killed and maimed hundreds, if not thousands of Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, via the IEDs they supplied their proxies in both places. That a commander as daring and dedicated to his cause as Qassem Suleymani appears to be might order a hit on his enemy’s embassy is not outside the bounds of reason, however.

I suppose, until and if the Iranian government falls and their records become available, this will remain one of the mysteries of the shadow war between the US and Iran.

Footnote:
(1) This was later also attributed to al Qaeda, but there’s nothing that says Iran and bin Laden couldn’t have been working together.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


(Video) Hitler and Chamberlain, Putin and Obama

June 2, 2014

Obama as Chamberlain

(Photo via Israel Matzav)

I’ve been saying for years, almost since the Jihadi War began, that the state of international relations gives me a “1930s vibe,” a feeling that we may be on a path toward another World War. That feeling has come and gone as the years passed, as I’m sure it did for those living in the 30s, but it’s never quite gone away. In fact, Russia’s predatory moves toward Ukraine have brought that feeling roaring back, the parallels being striking.

Bill Whittle has noticed the same trends and, in this video for Truth Revolt, compares a lion, a bear, and two lambs:

But it’s not Russia that worries me most, unless it’s in combination with other powers. Russia is a dying state, its demographic trends signalling serious future decline. Its military, outside of special elite units, just isn’t all that good, and, while they’ve made steps to rebuild, they’re still  a long way off. (They had trouble mobilizing the limited forces they used to assault Georgia in 2008.) Their economy is far too dependent on natural resources, especially oil, but Russian oil is notoriously expensive to extract. Fracking technology in the West promises to cut the legs out from under Putin and his successors as it drives the price of oil and gas down, making Russia’s less marketable.

China concerns me more: a rising power with a strong hyper-nationalist faction, an aggressive foreign policy, and a strong sense of (as Bill notes about Russia) historical grievance. Some incident in the South or East China Seas could easily be the spark for a major conflagration.

And then there’s Iran: a fascist theocracy that has promised to destroy Israel and is desperately seeking its own nuclear weapons to do just that.

We face a bear, a dragon, and a lion, while we are lead by lambs.

Yep. I have a bad feeling about this.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Why Iran’s mullahs should never have nuclear weapons

May 12, 2014

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In the words of Bret Stephens below in the Prager University video, we must never allow Iran to get “the bomb,” because they are likely to use it:

All of what Stephens says is true, but the key is that the real power in Iran is held by millenarian fanatics who see it as their duty to bring about the Shiite “End Times.” To these people, the temptation to use nuclear weapons in fulfillment of what they see as a religious duty might well be irresistible.

What’s so very frustrating in this situation is that all too many see only a binary choice: either accept Iran as a nuclear power, or preemptively invade the country at a potentially tremendous cost in blood and treasure. There is a third way, though we’ve wasted much time.

My friend Michael Ledeen has often written about the brittleness and vulnerability of the Iranian regime, which lives in desperate fear of the people it rules. (If you’ve read any Iranian history, you’ll know why.) Here’s an example from a recent column:

The wreckage of the Iranian state is not just the result of corruption and incompetence;  it also derives from the intense infighting within the elite.  Unconfirmed stories have appeared in the Iranian press reporting phone taps organized by the Revolutionary Guards Corps against members of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s inner circle, as well as against one another within the Guards.  There are documented fractures within the ranks of Hezbollah.  Assassinations continue apace, as in the case of Mojtaba Ahmadi, the head of the Cyber Army, in October.  The Iranian Embassy in Beirut was bombed in November by a terrorist group the Iranians had actually created.   And, in a telling blow to the regime’s ideology, Christianity is booming, and the regime is resorting to public meetings to warn the people about its dangers.

The regime does not seem to know how to cope with this crisis.  On the one hand, it increases repression.  The tempo of executions has famously increased since Rouhani’s election, and the recent brutality in Evin Prison–discussed by Ben Weinthal–shows that regime leaders are even afraid of prisoners.  For good reason:  last year many leading political prisoners refused to join the regime’s call for easing sanctions, despite torture and isolation.

It’s a hollow regime.  Its internal opponents hold it in contempt and do not fear it, and it is palpably failing.  

Between acquiescence to a nuclear Iran and outright invasion lies the choice of aiding the democratic opposition, which is large and growing. In the 1980s, we undertook a similar program in Poland, aiding the anticommunist resistance both with non-lethal aid (radios, etc.), but also open, loud public support for the rights of the people against the regime they hated. It was part of a broader American-led effort to resist Soviet aggression, and it worked. The fall of Communism in Poland was the crack that eventually lead to the collapse of the whole Soviet Empire.

Something similar could well work in Iran, whose people are desperate for the only genuinely revolutionary nation on the planet to lend its still vast moral authority on behalf of a nation that wants to free themselves from the schemes of the mad mullahs.

We missed a great chance to do this in 2009, when massive street demonstrations brought the regime to the edge of collapse. When the world needed the moral clarity of Ronald Reagan, there was instead the diffidence of Barack Obama.

And now, five years and one farcical agreement later, Iran is that much closer to having a nuclear weapon. We had better hope that they don’t achieve it before 2017, when, we again hope, a new and competent administration comes takes over. One that will not fool itself about the dangers of an Iran with a nuclear bomb.

Because, otherwise, they will use it.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Why on Earth are we selling spare aircraft parts to Iran?

April 8, 2014
No way!!

You did what??

This is an unbelievably stupid decision. I’ll let my friend Michael Ledeen explain why:

Somebody on Twitter posted an upbeat message saying the US delegation to the latest round of talks with Iranian officials was quite optimistic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a born optimist and I love optimism, but I’d rather revel in victory than hope for good news, and the Iranians have every reason to revel. The Obama crowd has just ok’d something the Tehran tyrants have desperately wanted since the eighties: spare parts for their long-grounded American passenger aircraft. Boeing and General Electric were given export licenses by the Treasury Department and everyone involved has been chanting “we take aircraft security very seriously,” in order to cloak this latest gift to the Khamenei-Rouhani regime in humanitarian hues.

Frankly I’d rather they took national security very seriously. Iran uses its commercial aircraft for military purposes (one of the reasons that eery flight between Tehran and Caracas is so worrisome), and the mullahs have been limited by the degradation of the national fleet. The Boeing planes and GE engines date to the 1970s, and very few of them are in service. Back in the mid-eighties, when I spent quite a bit of time with Iranian officials, they repeatedly asked for spare parts, both for the passenger planes and for the aging military craft, the F4s and F5s. Secretary of Defense Weinberger of course vetoed any such discussions, and the embargo has held until just now.

Now we’re arming Iran.

Emphases added.

The idea that a state-sponsor of global terrorism like Iran would adhere to understandings to keep the civilian and military functions of their aircraft separate is self-delusional nonsense. They’ll no more do that than they have to keep their civilian and military nuclear programs apart. (Really, I have a bridge for anyone who believes they’re honoring the recent nuclear agreement.)

What these fatuous dunderheads at State and in the White House refuse to see is that Iran has regarded itself as being at war with the United States since 1979. A deal like this, when Iran could easily ferry troops or equipment on “civilian” flights is tantamount to selling them the rope they’ll use to hang us.

This is part of a larger, global war of tyrannies against democracies. George W. Bush was mocked for his “Axis of Evil” comment, but he was right. The players have changed a bit since then, but still include Pyongyang, Moscow, Beijing, Havana, Caracas — and Tehran. And they’re taking advantage of the openings we’re giving them. More Michael:

And so it is, indeed the war has been on for some time, and it’s a bit hotter than Cold War 1.0 was for most of the twentieth century.  Kiev burned, and may burn again soon.  Caracas is burning, as are many of Venezuela’s cities and towns.  Crimea has been annexed, and Syria is still aflame, as is Iraq, and also Yemen.  Estonia and Finland are seriously frightened, as well they should be.  If we pull back from the crisis du jour, we can see it’s a global conflict.  Iran and Russia are fighting in Syria, sometimes with and sometimes against the jihadi marauders.  Cuba is fighting in Venezuela, a country the Castros largely command, and Hezbollah is in there, too.  And for those of you who follow Africa, know that the Iranians are up to their necks in Nigeria, buying influence and supporting the mass murderers in Boko Haram.

The West needs to wake up and smell the smoke from the fires starting to burn all around it, before it turns into a real conflagration. Our foes are vulnerable, and the West can win, but only if with American leadership. The US government is the only one that can convince the other nations to take the steps necessary to push back against Putin, Khamenei, and the others. As John Schindler recently wrote:

We will have many allies in resisting Russian aggression if we focus on issues of freedom and sovereignty, standing up for the rights of smaller countries to choose their own destiny.

It would help if we had leaders who saw themselves as the heirs to Churchill, rather than Chamberlain.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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