Gülen Movement’s Atlantic Institute Infiltrates Maitland, FL Holocaust Center

20160208_GULENMOVEMENTTERRORISMFamily Security Matters, by Alan Kornman, Feb. 9, 2016:

The Atlantic Institute will be partnering with the Maitland Holocaust Center and the Interfaith Council of Central Florida on a special program entitled, Is History Repeating Itself? Jewish and Muslim Immigrant Experiences in America, scheduled for Thursday February 25, 2016 at the Holocaust Center, 851 N Maitland Avenue in Maitland, FL.

The Atlantic Institute is partnered with the Alliance for Shared Values which is openly affiliated with the Gülen Movements Hizmet social initiatives in the United States.  The Atlantic Institute on their website, praises Mr. Fethullah Gülen as their Imam and political leader.

Fact #1

Recently, FBI agents carried out raids at 19 Gülen Charter schools in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio as part of an “ongoing white-collar crime matter.” The investigations are still ongoing however, this is a clue the Atlantic Institute and the Gülen Movement are not all about interfaith peace and love.

Fact #2

IBTimes, Michael Kaplan reports on 10/29/15,  “Fethullah Gülen has been placed on Turkey’s most wanted terrorist list along with leaders of the Islamic State militant group…the Turkish government seeks Gülen’s extradition from the U.S.”  This is a clue there is a serious terrorist problem with the Gülen movement’s leader, Mr. Gülen.

Fact #3

The Middle East Quarterly reports, in 1999, Turkish television aired footage of Mr. Gülen delivering sermons which revealed his plan to implement Shari‘a Islamiyya (Islamic Law) using deceptive tactics.  This fact is a warning to Jews and Christians, approach Gülen franchises like the Atlantic institute with extreme caution.

In the sermon below, Gülen explains how he is an Islamic Law supremacist without fear or remorse.

You must move in the arteries of the system without anyone noticing your existence until you reach all the power centers … until the conditions are ripe, they [the followers] must continue like this. If they do something prematurely, the world will crush our heads, and Muslims will suffer everywhere, like in the tragedies in Algeria, like in 1982 [in] Syria … like in the yearly disasters and tragedies in Egypt. The time is not yet right. You must wait for the time when you are complete and conditions are ripe, until we can shoulder the entire world and carry it … You must wait until such time as you have gotten all the state power, until you have brought to your side all the power of the constitutional institutions in Turkey … Until that time, any step taken would be too early-like breaking an egg without waiting the full forty days for it to hatch. It would be like killing the chick inside. The work to be done is [in] confronting the world. Now, I have expressed my feelings and thoughts to you all-in confidence … trusting your loyalty and secrecy. I know that when you leave here-[just] as you discard your empty juice boxes, you must discard the thoughts and the feelings that I expressed here.

To date, Huseyin Peker Executive Director of The Atlantic Institute in Orlando, FL has not publicly condemned these problematic statements from their spiritual leader Mr. Fethullah Gülen, the designated terrorist.

Interlocking Directorships

Coincidentally, Pam Kancher, Executive Director of the Maitland Holocaust Center, is also on the Advisory Board of The Gülen Movements Atlantic Institute.  One can only guess she didn’t do a Google search on the Atlantic Institute and Mr. Fethullah Gülen before partnering with them.  Perhaps it is this interlocking Board of Directorships that drives Ms. Kancher to blindly allow The Atlantic Institute to dictate their false narrative there is a moral equivalence between Jewish immigrants from the 1900’s to WW2 and the current Syrian refugee’s.

What The Gülen Movement Is Selling

The Atlantic Institute is promoting the February 25th event this way, “It’s difficult to imagine any political discussion today that does not include some mention of immigration. There are increasing concerns about border security, and ongoing debates about who we will allow in to our country and who we must keep out.  

For the Jewish community, particularly among Survivors and their families, this concern feels in some ways like their own history.  Jewish immigrants to America at the beginning of the 1900s and up to WWII era faced many of the same types of suspicions that Muslim-Americans, particularly immigrants, face today.

Jewish Persecution Has More In Common With The Syrian & Yazidi Christians

Joel B. Pollak, in his 11/17/15 article, Why Syrian Refugees Are Not Like Jewish Refugees in WW2, makes this compelling observation challenging the entire premise of the Feb 25th event at the Maitland Holocaust Center.  Mr. Pollak says, “Jews were singled out for persecution by the Nazis, not (initially) fleeing an ongoing war. If anyone has a unique moral claim that parallels the Jews of Europe, it is the Syrian Christians, Iraqi Yazidis, and other minorities being persecuted by radical Islamist forces in the Middle East. But that is not true of the broader wave of Syrian refugees. That is not to blame them for the war, but it does suggest there is a good moral case for distinguishing among refugees, rather than admitting all who wish to come.”

Conclusion

Publicly, the Gülen Movement and their franchises sell themselves as a peaceful interfaith group.  I’m sorry to tell you this, many American’s gladly buy into these wolves in sheep’s clothing Islamist interfaith partners because they sell coexistence and peace.  Like Mr. Gulen however, many of these Islamist interfaith groups have very close ties to the Global Jihad Movement.

Dig a little deeper into the Gülen Movement and you find FBI raids, Turkey designating Mr. Gülen a most wanted terrorist, and Mr. Gulen’s use of spycraft to violently spread strict Islamic Law after infiltrating governments power centers, as articulated in his sermon above.

The Atlantic Institute scored a big propaganda victory being invited inside the hallowed halls of the Maitland Holocaust Memorial Center in a deceptive effort to raise the status of Syrian refugees off the backs of persecuted Jews from the pogroms to the Holocaust.  I’m confident behind closed doors the Gülen movement and the Atlantic Institute are pleased how easily manipulated the Maitland, FL Holocaust Memorial Center’s leadership is.

If Pam Kancher, Director of the Maitland Holocaust Center, is sincerely looking to dialogue with a true Muslim reform group; I suggest she contact my friend Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD).

Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Alan Kornman is the regional coordinator of The United West-Uniting Western Civilization for Freedom and Liberty. His email is: alan@theunitedwest.org

Former Jihadism Insider Tells All

Dr. Tawfik Hamid

Dr. Tawfik Hamid

Religious Freedom Coalition, by Andrew Harrod, PhD, Feb. 8, 2016:

Inside Jihad:  How Radical Islam Works, Why It Should Terrify Us, How to Defeat It, the autobiographical book by former Egyptian would-be jihadist Tawfik Hamid, has recently appeared in a revised 2015 edition.  This critically important, tremendously insightful insider analysis of Islam, its various threats, and reform possibilities is no less relevant now than the first edition seven years ago.

“A literal interpretation of the Quran, along with mainstream teachings of Islam today, can easily be used to justify” the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) explains Hamid in detail.  Around the world “Denialists,” as he terms them, “typically and stubbornly promote the view that Islam is a peaceful religion,” but “violent injunctions of Sharia are not bizarre, extremist or anachronistic Islamic interpretations.”  “Excusing ISIS as being ‘un-Islamic’ is absurd.”

Hamid justifies his judgments with the experience of an individual born 1961 into a highly-educated “secular Muslim family in Cairo,” Egypt, who turned to religion as a medical student.  His uniquely interesting autobiography documents how the son of a privately atheist doctor participated in the Egyptian Islamist group Jamaa Islamiya (JI) from 1979-1982 before a spiritual transformation turned the younger Hamid away from violence.  In JI he was “prepared to train with jihadists in Afghanistan—to fight and kill the Russian invaders in the name of Allah.”

“Medical students are often more attracted to religion because they see the power of God in nature on a regular basis,” writes Hamid while noting that his life story is no exception.  “Westerners are often astonished to observe highly accomplished Muslim doctors in the terrorist ranks,” he notes while citing the example of Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian surgeon currently leading al-Qaeda.  “Dr. Ayman,” as he was known through his involvement in various Islamist groups to Hamid and his colleagues, “came from a wealthy, well-known and well-educated family and was a top postgraduate student.”  Zawahiri exemplifies for Hamid that, among Islamist leaders, “many if not most emerged from the upper socioeconomic classes,” contrary to “naïve and unrealistic” socioeconomic explanations for jihad such as poverty.

Hamid testifies from personal experience that “[i]t is entirely accurate to refer to Islamic terror as ‘Islamic terror,’” even though for the Arabic jihad a “non-violent interpretation is often advanced by Muslims to avoid criticism of Islam.”  Yet the “dominant sense in Islamic books is violent.  It is misleading and dishonest to claim that the nonviolent understanding is in any way typical today.”   “If you ask a Muslim child in the Arab world to define jihad, in most cases the answer would be ‘war against the infidels.’”

A “large percentage of Muslims today” also practice what Hamid terms “passive terrorism,” a “broad category of enabling behaviors and beliefs, both conscious and unconscious, which serve to exacerbate jihadism.”  Such “support for terror often takes the form of taqiyya,” Islamic doctrinally-justified deception.  “One of the tactics Islamists use to deceive the West is to present the same religious information to non-Muslims in one way and to Muslims in another.”

For Islamic fundamentalists or Salafists (salaf in Arabic means “ancestor”) this deception includes the Islamic doctrine ofabrogation, in which chronologically later Quranic verses annul earlier verses. “Abrogation allows Salafists to deceive non-Muslims into believing Islam is a religion of peace,” Hamid writes.  “To non-Muslims, Salafists present the peaceful verses.  To their own flock, they present the violent verses and teach that they abrogate the peaceful ones.

Beyond religious warfare, Hamid warns that “Islamists will use democracy to end democracy.”  Proliferating “Islamist organizations” are a “frequent source of mystification to Westerners, but for all intents and purposes the strategic goal of each organization is the same; they differ primarily in tactical focus.”  Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has shown through the years that it seeks “to infiltrate politics at the grassroots level” in an “insidious strategy that inhibits outsiders from suspecting the brotherhood’s creeping tyranny.

Against such illiberalism a reformed Hamid in Egypt “began to preach a peaceful understanding of Islam” after his abandonment of JI.  He joined “a very small sect of Islam that followed only the Quran” and rejected the hadith or biographical accounts of Islam’s prophet Muhammad and other traditional Islamic canons.  “Tolerating different views was an important creed of the Quranics” and in their rejection of violent Islamic doctrines such as corporal punishment they considered historic Islamic imperial expansions “as immoral and senseless.”

Hamid’s unorthodox understandings of Islam have not gone without opposition, as he learned when he gave a sermon at an Egyptian mosque.  After prayers at the mosque, a mob of violent Muslims confronted him and an accompanying friend; punches to the latter and a shower of stones left the pair running.  Today Hamid worries that “passive terrorists often behave actively by suppressing moderate voices” by “ostracizing the moderate Muslim and his family or by using harsh language, physical threats and even violence.”

Hamid claims that “Islamic writings can be interpreted in a manner that encourages peace and tolerance.”  Yet he doubts the doctrinal authenticity of secular- and mystical- (Sufi) oriented Muslims.  “It pains me to state it, but both Sufi and secular Islam are weak in their theological foundations” and “lack recourse to the doctrinal bedrock in Islam that Salafists enjoy.”

Nonetheless, the Quranic Hamid remains undeterred.  Many “violent tenets in Islam are not sourced in the Quran but in secondary writings” that “are not the Word of God,” he writes.  For the violent Quran verses themselves, his specific hermeneutic “neither cancels nor abrogates them but limits their scope to the historical period within which they were revealed.”

Hamid’s “Relativity of the Quran” justifies a “peaceful version of the faith, one that lives in harmony with other faiths in civilized societies.”  Quran 39:55 means that “Muslims are permitted by Allah to follow the verses that better suit their point in history.”  “I am a Muslim, and I consider much in Islam to be beautiful and worthwhile,” he writes as he struggles to redeem Islam from its orthodox absolutes.

Andrew E. Harrod is a researcher and writer who holds a PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a JD from George Washington University Law School. He is a fellow with the Lawfare Project, an organization combating the misuse of human rights law against Western societies. He can be followed on twitter at @AEHarrod.

CAIR Intertwines with US-based, Terror-Linked Fuqra Group

Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, the radical head of Jamaat ul-Fuqra, a terrorist organization fronted in the U.S. by Muslims of the Americas.

Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, the radical head of Jamaat ul-Fuqra, a terrorist organization fronted in the U.S. by Muslims of the Americas.

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, Feb. 9, 2016:

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its “moderate” image is suffering from a self-inflicted wound now it has become intertwined with the Muslims of the Americas, a radical anti-Semitic front for the Jamaat ul-Fuqra terrorist group.

CAIR’s Massachusetts chapter now shares an official with MOA and two CAIR officials spoke at MOA’s International Islamophobia Conference.

The Massachusetts chapter of CAIR recently chose MOA’s general counsel, Tahirah Amatul Wadud, as a board member. CAIR, a U.S.Muslim Brotherhood entity banned for its own terror links in the UAE, wisely omitted mention of MOA. It described her generically as a “general counsel for a New York Muslim congregation.”

Wadud reportedly posted an article by MOA’s Pakistan-based leader,Sheikh Mubarak Ali Gilani, on her Facebook claiming the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) is a puppet of the British government and a Jewish conspiracy perpetrated the attacks on Pearl Harbor and September 11, 2001. The Clarion Project was the first to report on the inflammatory article.

“There was no need for America to go to war against Hitler. Hitler was not the enemy of America or the American people. There was a mutual animosity between Hitler and the Jews. So, the American people paid a very heavy price for fighting someone else’s war,” Gilani wrote.

Two CAIR officials spoke at MOA’s InternationalIslamophobia Conference, which included a poster featuring the faces of the “American Taliban” that included Clarion Projectnational security analyst Ryan Mauro. They were CAIR-Michigan Executive Director Dawud Walid and CAIR-ArizonaExecutive Director Imraan Siddiqi. Walid was one of the CAIR officials who have questioned whether Muslims should honor fallen U.S. servicemen on Memorial Day, sparking a backlash from Muslims who appreciate the U.S. military.

Jamaat ul-Fuqra is led by Gilani. It is best known for a series of terrorist attacks and plots in the 1980s and early 1990s and for setting up “Islamic villages” across the country, including at least two that were shut down by the authorities. These “villages” are known to have been used for guerilla warfare training. Fuqra now goes primarily by the name of Muslims of the Americas (MOA), among other names. The group says it has 22 such “villages” in the U.S.

The Clarion Project obtained video of female members receiving basic paramilitary instruction in military fatigue at its “Islamberg” headquarters in New York. The date of the footage is cut off, only stating “Jan. 28 20,” presumably meaning it was made in 2000 or after. The best explanation MOA members have come up with is that it was a “self-defense class.”

View the video here:

The Clarion Project identified a Fuqra “village” in Texas in 2014 and retrieved an FBI intelligence report from 2007 that stated MOA “possess an infrastructure capable of planning and mounting terrorist campaigns overseas and within the U.S.” and “the documented propensity for violence by this organization supports the belief the leadership of the MOA extols membership to pursue a policy of jihad or holy war against individuals or groups it considers enemies of Islam, which includes the U.S. Government.”

The FBI also said “members of the MOA are encouraged to travel to Pakistan to receive religious and military/terrorist training from Gilani.” In 2001, ATF Special Agent Thomas P. Gallagher testified in court that “individuals from the organization are trained in Hancock, N.Y., and if they pass the training in Hancock, N.Y., are then sent to Pakistan for training in paramilitary and survivalist training by Mr. Gilani.”

After Clarion Project identified the Texas site and published the FBI report, a dozen Muslim groups have signed a statement calling for Fuqra’s designation as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Of course, CAIR isn’t one of them. CAIR actually came to Fuqra/MOA’s defense.And now CAIR and Fuqra have shared leadership through CAIR-Massachusetts and hold events together.

MOA’s International Islamophobia Conference took place at the Muslim Community Center of the Capital District in Schenectady, New York. CAIR-Arizona Executive Director Imraan Siddiqi is listed as a member of the Board of Directors, indicating he played more than a speaking role in setting the MOA event up.

The MOA’s event featured delegates representing the U.S., Canada, Pakistan, Senegal, India, Taiwan, Bangladesh and Egypt. Siddiqi was the delegate representing India. MOA flyers also list headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela and Las Lomas, Trinidad & Tobago. The MOA claims it had nearly 300 attendees and thousands watched online. It announced it would start a new political coalition named the “International United Muslim Forum.”

Ironically, MOA has tried to excuse itself from its terrorist and criminal history by claiming that it was infiltrated by Wahhabist/Muslim Brotherhood operatives who were sent to undermine Sheikh Gilani. It even claims that one operative was a shape-shifter who could go “through physical changes before speaking to people as if he were Sheikh Gilani.”

And now MOA is collaborating with a known Muslim Brotherhood entity. You can read our documented profiles of CAIR and MOA here and here.

What Happens When a Muslim Dies?

UTT, by John Guandolo, Feb. 9, 2016:

Why are so many Muslims motivated to fight and die as martyrs/shaheeds in Islam?

According to Islamic doctrine, when a Muslim dies for any reason – car crash, heart attack, old age – his body is washed, shrouded, prayed over, and buried in accordance with Sharia (Islamic Law).  Specific details of how the body is washed, who is to wash, specific prayers to be prayed, and how the grave is dug is all a part of the Sharia covering this topic.

Once the deceased is placed in the grave, his soul separates from the body and lingers above it.  Here is a description from What Islam is All About, the most popular text used in Islamic junior high schools in America:

“When you die, your soul is taken from your body by the Angel of Death.  If you were a good person, it is gently drawn out from  your flesh.  If you were bad, however, then your soul is ripped violently from it….

“If you were a believer in Allah, and followed the teachings of your Prophet…your environment will then be softly lighted.  Your resting place in the spiritual dimension will be made roomy and comfortable and you will sleep and dream gently until the Day of Judgment.

“But if you were a bad person, who didn’t believe in Allah, or a hypocrite, then the angels will become horrifying to you.  They will strike you and cause your soul’s resting place to squeeze in upon you until you feel suffocated.  Then you will be tormented and in agony until the Day of Judgment.”

But how does a Muslim know whether he followed the teachings of Islam or not throughout his life? Islam teaches that every Muslim has two beings called “Jinns” which record all of their good and bad deeds throughout life.  If the bad deeds outweigh the good deeds, he goes to hell on the Day of Judgment.  If the good deeds outweigh the bad deeds, he goes to paradise.  But there is no way to know until the Day of Judgment where he is going.

There is only one exception.

The martyr or shaheed – the one who dies in battle in Allah’s cause (Jihad) – immediately goes to the highest level of paradise the moment his first drop of blood hits the ground, and he receives the promise of sensual pleasures.  The shaheed avoids all punishments of the grave and is sure of his reward in paradise. The shaheed does not feel the pain of death.

Jihad (6)

“It is unlawful to wash the body of a martyr or perform funeral prayer over him. A martyr means someone who died in battle with non-Muslims.  It is recommended that war gear be removed from the body, and it is best to bury the martyr in the rest of his bloodstained clothes since it is the effect of worship.” [Um dat al Salik, 14th Century Islamic Sacred Law, certified by Al Azhar as authoritative Sunni Islamic Law]

To die as a shaheed against non-Muslims is the highest form of worship in Islam.

The Koran promises shaheeds go to the highest level of paradise above all other Muslims:

“Not equal are those believers who sit at home and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons.  Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit at home. Unto all in Faith Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward.” [Koran 4:95]

“Those who leave their homes in the cause of Allah (jihad) and are then slain or die, on them will Allah bestow verily a goodly Provision; truly Allah is he who bestows the best Provision.” [Koran 22:58]

This is why in Islamic schools across the world, and in America, 7th graders are taught:  “If anyone dies in a Jihad they automatically will go to Paradise.  A Shaheed, or Martyr, is described this way by Allah, ‘Don’t think that those who were killed in Allah’s Cause are dead.  No, they are alive, finding their bounty in the presence of their Lord.’ (Koran 3:169)” [What Islam is All About, pg 164]

In Islam “The Cause of Allah” is Jihad.

It is clear to all Muslims, which is why it is taught to Muslim children in mosques and Islamic schools across America, that to die fighting non-Muslims is the highest form of worship in Islam and the only way to guarantee paradise when a Muslim dies.

Former ISIS sex slaves now army of ‘Sun Ladies’ ready to defeat terror group

Fox News, by Hollie McKay, Feb. 8, 2016:

They witnessed the slaughter of their families on Mount Sinjar, and then were forced by ISIS into sexual slavery. Now the “Sun Ladies” are ready to fight – for veangeance as well as survival.

Some 2,000 Yazidi women who were captured in the brutal August 2014 attack on their mountain stronghold have escaped and have taken up arms against their former tormentors. Driven by the fresh memories of unspeakable atrocities and the survival of their people, hundreds have signed up to fight the black-clad terrorist army.

“Now we are defending ourselves from the evil; we are defending all the minorities in the region,” Capt. told FoxNews.com from the unit’s makeshift base in Duhok, Iraq. “We will do whatever is asked of us.”

Khider is one of 123 Yazidi women who have undergone training and taken their place alongside the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, as they skirmish almost daily with ISIS and prepare for a looming assault on the terrorist army’s Iraqi base in Mosul. The women range in age from 17 to 37, and there are another 500 who are awaiting training.

Khider, (r.), leads more than 100 Yazidi women, many of who escaped sexual slavery. On left is one of her fighters.

Khider, (r.), leads more than 100 Yazidi women, many of who escaped sexual slavery. On left is one of her fighters.

They call themselves the “Force of the Sun Ladies,” a name that reflects the culture’s solar reverence. Monotheistic and embracing elements of several religions, Yazidi once numbered 650,000 in Iraq, nearly all on the northern Nineveh Plain. ISIS’ genocidal campaign to “purify” Iraq of non-Muslims led to the slaughter of thousands and displaced at least 200,000.

“Women were throwing their children from the mountains and then jumping themselves because it was a faster way to die,” Khider recalled. “Our hands were all tied. We couldn’t do anything about it.

“Whenever a war wages, our women end up as the victims,” she added.

The Yazidi women are fighting for their people, and for revenge aganst the terrorists who enslaved them.

The Yazidi women are fighting for their people, and for revenge aganst the terrorists who enslaved them.

Some managed to escape when coalition forces pounded ISIS from the air and broke its siege of Mount Sinjar. But thousands starved to death or died of heatstroke, and ISIS later systematically killed men, as well as women, deemed too old or too young to be sold into sexual slavery. Boys who could be brainwashed and conscripted as child soldiers were kidnapped.

Women taken as captives were ordered to convert to Islam, subjected to forced marriages and repeatedly raped. Several escaped after being sold off to low-level fighters, while others were ransomed back to their families.

Khider had no experience with weapons or combat when she approached the Peshmerga senior command and proposed the idea of a specialized all-female Yazidi force after having survived the assault on Mount Sinjar. She hopes that in forming the force, the women will be able to protect themselves and inspire other minority groups to follow suit.

“Our elite force is a model for other women in the region,” she said. “We want to thank all the other countries who help us in this difficult time, we want everyone to take up weapons and know how to protect themselves from the evil.”

The women willfully stepped into the line of fire as a support force to the Peshmerga on Nov. 13, the day the Kurdish forces took back their hometowns and villages from ISIS occupation. The newly formed unit engaged in direct combat and later helped clear streets and buildings rigged with explosives.

As with the Christians, Kurds and Iraqi military, they know the imminent battle to retake Mosul will be the real test. Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul is the terrorist group’s regional base. Most of the Yazidi women who escaped ISIS were held in Mosul and can help provide valuable intelligence, as well as boots on the ground. And fighting to free those left behind provides added motivation.

“We have a lot of our women in Mosul being held as slaves,” Khider said. “Their families are waiting for them. We are waiting for them. The liberation might help bring them home.”

ISIS has taken girls as young as 8 and traded them at the market for a few dollars. One mother who gave birth while an ISIS slave told FoxNews.com she was not permitted by her captor to feed her newborn son. When the baby cried, the Muslim militant beheaded him, she said.

“It’s important to us to be able to protect our dignity and honor,” a 19-year-old “Sun Lady” named Mesa told FoxNews.com. “My family is very proud; they encouraged me to join.

“I’m very proud to protect my people,” she said. “And after all that has happened to us Yazidis, we are no longer afraid.”

But one prospect frightens the Yazidi women as they prepare to fight ISIS. Yazidi boys kidnapped from Mount Sinjar have been drugged and brainwashed, and could now be fighting their mothers and sisters under the black flag of ISIS.

“Now there will be terrorist Yazidis, something that never used to be,” Khider added. “But we have many missions left. We will do whatever is needed.”

Mylee Cardenas contributed to this report.

PEGIDA in Europe: Irish leader hospitalised; French General Arrested

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

Breitbart, by  DONNA RACHEL EDMUNDS, Feb 7, 2016:

The PEGIDA demonstration against political Islam passed off peacefully in both Birmingham, England and Canberra, Australia yesterday, but other meetings in Europe were met with scenes of violence. The leader of PEGIDA Ireland was hospitalised with injuries, while in Calais a former Foreign Legion General was arrested and charged with taking part in a banned protest.

The PEGIDA rally in Canberra, Australia was the first to kick off thanks to the significant time difference, under the banner of Reclaim Australia. Canberra organiser Daniel Evans thanked his 250 “fellow patriots” for making the journey; they in turn cheered as he jeered the 40 counter-protestors, shouting “we outnumber them and our voice is louder”, the Canberra Times has reported.

Following a peaceful march unhindered up Federation Mall and onto the Parliament House Lawn, South Australian lawyer John Bolton addressed the crowd, warning of the risks of “Islamic barbarity” and fervently encouraged protesters to openly “insult and vilify Islam five times a day if you want to”.

Mr Evans said “We are a multi-ethnic country but we have one culture, Australian culture. I’m not against Muslims. I’m against the ideology of Islam. We have extremists here preaching hate. These are the ones we need to get rid of.”

The Australians opted not to march in silence, instead chanting: “Everybody’s welcome, Sharia is not.”

The former Foreign Legion General Christian Piquemal was among 20 people arrested in Calais yesterday for taking part in the only PEGIDA march to be officially prohibited.

Despite the ban, approximately 150-200 PEGIDA supporters took to the port town to chant slogans including “We must not let Calais die!”. Among them was Julian Wysocki, a lorry driver from Saint-Omer who told Nord Littoral “I’ve already been assaulted by a migrant in Calais wielding a knife.” He said that taking part in the march despite the ban was a no-brainer as “they [PEGIDA] make things happen.”

Tension was high throughout the event, however, with clashes between PEGIDA and the police, and even with reporters as protestors accused them of being collaborators. Much of the French press has taken to referring to PEGIDA as “Islamophobic”. The left were also present, some of whom were arrested.

Five of those arrested have been summoned to court tomorrow, four charged with carrying weapons illegally. General Piquemal will also appear in court as he has been accused of taking “the leading role” in the proscribed assembly. He has been charged with “participation in an unlawful assembly which was not dissolved after summons.”

In one of the largest demonstrations, 1,500 PEGIDA protestors turned out at Prague Castle, significantly outnumbering the few hundred counter-protestors who had turned out, NU.nl has reported. Others put the figure as high as 4,000 for the whole city, as smaller demonstrations also took place in Wenceslas Square and Loretánské náměstí, according to the Prague Post.

Martin Konvicka, the leader of PEGIDA in the Czech Republic, addressed the crowd calling the influx of migrants an “invasion” which poses a “huge threat for us all.”

Although the rally passed of mostly peacefully, there were some clashes with counter-demonstrators – bottles were thrown in Thunovská Street although there were no injuries or arrests; another confrontation took place on Mains Bridge, although police kept the groups apart.

In total there were 13 arrests, including of a 21-year-old man who fired a blank round at the PEGIDA protestors, and a woman who had an axe. The man may face charges.

Hours later a group of about 20 people torched a migrant centre in the city by throwing Molotov cocktails at it. Police Spokeswoman Iveta Martinkova said it was not clear who was behind the attack and that police are investigating, AP News has reported.

PEGIDA’s march in Dublin had to be called off and the demonstrators removed from the city for their own safety after a barrage of violent left wing demonstrators, many flying socialist flags, turned out to meet them.

Violent scuffles broke out between gardaí (police) dressed in riot gear and leftist crowds chanting “Off our streets Nazi scum,” while on O’Connell street a group of about ten young men, some of whom look to be teenagers were chased down the street by a large gang of leftists chanting “fascist scum”. It is not known whether the group of young men were actually Pegida demonstators.

The leader of PEGIDA Ireland, Peter O’Loughlin, was hospitalised due to injuries sustained in an attack by left wingers.

Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan was present at the counter-demonstration, where she told the crowd “We must also be extremely vigilant to the insidious creeping of racist policy into the mainstream.

“It is each and everyone of our responsibility to call out racism where and when we see it. That includes discriminatory policies against Travellers.”

People Before Profit, the Workers Solidarity Movement and Irish Muslim organisations were also part of the counter-demonstration, the Irish Times has reported.

Pegida were also prevented from marching in Amsterdam thanks to the heavy presence of the left. They had originally planned to convene in a square outside Stopera, where City Hall is based. However, they were unable to do so as a suspicious package – later found to contain fireworks – was found at the square.

The Pegida demonstrators then tried to march but were prevented from doing so by police, including mounted police, NU.nl has reported.

As frustration built and the left continued to hurl abuse, violence broke out. 20 were arrested, the majority of whom were from the left wing counter-protest.

At 4.15pm police herded the PEGIDA demonstrators onto busses for their own safety and removed them from the city centre. The left wing were allowed to continue their counter-protest into the evening, playing live music and giving rally speeches from a stage.

According to the Telegraaf, left wing politicians were among those taking part in the counter-protest, including the Amsterdam Green Left leader Groot Wassink, who called Pegida “a gang of political hooligans led by Nazis.”

By far the largest protest took place in Dresden, the home of PEGIDA, where some 8,000 people turned out to march along the banks of the river Elba. They were met by 2,000 counter-protestors including Saxony’s deputy premier.

See pictures from Dresden’s protest here.

The UK demonstration in Birmingham passed off peacefully thanks to careful forward planning which kept the protest and counter-protest out of sight from one another.

Among those addressing the crowd was Mohammed Fiaz, a Christian convert from Islam who spoke up about the persecution that apostates like him face from Muslims in the UK. “There’s one thing I want to say to the far left: where were you when people like me needed your help? People who have turned away from Islam who are being made a target”.

The crowd numbered approximately 300, with around 70 counter protestors.

PEGIDA leader Paul Weston said: “The next meeting we have is going to be double or treble the numbers. By the end of this year, and I’m been quite serious, I want to see 100,000 decent people on the street”.

Tommy Robinson said: “The growing influence Islam has on society is not good for society. The more Islam the less freedom, that’s a reality.”

See Breitbart London’s full coverage of yesterday’s events in Birmingham here.

Also see:

MCCAUL RELEASES FEBRUARY TERROR THREAT SNAPSHOT

Homeland Security Committee, Feb. 8, 2016:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The February Terror Threat Snapshot was released today by Homeland Security Committee (HSC) Chairman Michael McCaul. The “snapshot” is a monthly Committee assessment of the growing threat America, the West, and the world face from ISIS and other Islamist terrorists.

Chairman McCaul: “The Islamist terror threat remains alarmingly high as recent arrests and terror plots demonstrate. ISIS recruits wage war in our communities, while thousands of deadly fighters trained in Syria stream back into the West – some of them infiltrating massive refugee flows. ISIS continues its global expansion on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and the still-dangerous al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula seizes greater territory in Yemen. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin and the revitalized Iran-Assad-Hezbollah terror axis are further destabilizing the Syrian crisis in the absence of U.S. leadership. This year is on track to be as dangerous as – if not worse than – 2015 for the American homeland and our national security.”

Key takeaways in this month’s Terror Threat Snapshot include:

  • The Iranian regime gained access to $100 billion in cash from the disastrous nuclear deal and is poised for further economic relief that will fuel its global network of terror.
  • An increasing number of battle-hardened fighters from Europe are returning from jihadist training grounds. Nearly 2,000 Europeans – among an estimated 6,600 Western fighters who have traveled to Syria and Iraq – have snuck back into Europe. A French counterterrorism official recently warned, “We are moving towards a European 9/11: simultaneous attacks on the same day in several countries…We know the terrorists are working on this.”
  • Islamist terrorists are exploiting global refugee flows to infiltrate and target the West. Germany’s domestic intelligence chief recently said terrorists “have slipped in camouflaged or disguised as refugees. This is a fact that the security agencies are facing.” A suspected ISIS terror plotter arrested in Germany this week snuck into Europe posing as a refugee. The European Union also recently assessed there is a “real and imminent danger” of Syrian refugees inside Europe being radicalized and recruited by Islamist extremists.
  • ISIS and al Qaeda are expanding their sanctuaries from North Africa to South Asia. ISIS is reinforcing its foothold in Libya, where it has amassed as many as 6,500 fighters and controls coastal territory on the Mediterranean Sea. Al Qaeda is making further gains in Yemen and its key ally in Afghanistan controls more territory than it has at any point since 2001.
  • The Obama Administration has surged the release of terrorists from Guantanamo Bay despite alarming rates of recidivism. The intelligence community has assessed that 30 percent of Guantanamo detainees released are either known to have or suspected of having rejoined the fight. The potential transfer of detainees to the United States, prohibited under law, would also pose a threat to the American people.
  • The United States faces the highest Islamist terror threat environment since 9/11. ISIS is waging war here in the homeland, where there have been 21 ISIS-linked plots to launch attacks. Law enforcement authorities have arrested 81 ISIS-linked suspects, including five thus far in 2016.

TerrorThreatSnapshot_February_Social-Media-862x1024The complete February Terror Threat Snapshot is available, here.

View the Committee’s interactive Terror Threat Snapshot map, here.

Dr. Sebastian Gorka HASC Testimony on Emerging Threats

UNREAL: U.S. ISIS recruits claim they have “immunity”; just wait until you see why…

New-ISIS-recruits-300x180By Allen West, Feb. 6, 2016:

One of the problems with the current battlefield on which we find ourselves engaged is that we’re treating it with police action rather than combat operations. The battle against Islamist terrorists is not a law enforcement endeavor. Combat troops on this battlefield don’t have the time to read anyone their Miranda rights or collect evidence. Furthermore, our rules of engagement (ROE) are giving away the initiative to the enemy. Consider the recent testimony of the Afghanistan operational theater commander, General Campbell, before the House Armed Services Committee. When asked by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), a Navy fighter pilot, if he’s authorized to attack the Taliban simply for being the Taliban, Gen. Campbell responded, no. That means, the enemy who seeks to kill our men and women deployed in Afghanistan cannot be attacked — our troops have to sit back and wait to be engaged.

 And folks, if you’ve ever been in a firefight, that ain’t right. Just wanna remind you about what retired Marine 1st Sgt. Jim Reifinger says, “if you ever find yourself in a fair fight, it’s because your tactics suck.” And thanks to this current administration, our tactics REALLY suck.

However, it’s not just in Afghanistan where we find the theater of the absurd, it’s also right here in America — in Minnesota.

As reported by the Star Tribune:

Five Twin Cities men accused of plotting to go to fight alongside ISIL in Syria are asking a federal judge to drop murder conspiracy charges on grounds that they have “combatant immunity” under both common and international law. 

They say combatants are immune from criminal prosecutions for acts of war, including murder, against military targets. 

The five — Hamza Ahmed, brothers Adnan and Mohamed Farah, Abdirahman Daud and Guled Omar — are scheduled to appear in federal court in Minneapolis next week for a hearing on that and other motions in the case, which is set to go to trial May 9. 

The men were charged last year with conspiring to leave the United States to fight with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).  [Folks, note that only liberal progressives who refuse to acknowledge Israel’s existence refer to ISIS as ISIL.] In October, the government filed a new indictment that added a charge of conspiracy to commit murder, which attorneys for the men say should not apply. 

“ISIL has engaged in atrocious acts,” attorneys for the five said in one motion. “But however one might describe it as an entity, it has an organized professional army engaged in traditional military warfare — an army with which the defendants are alleged to have intended to join in ‘combat.’”

Federal prosecutors who brought the case argued in a court filing last month that the men were “grossly mistaken” in claiming ISIL fighters are combatants as part of a regularly constituted military force.

OK, let me explain what the defense lawyers for these wannabe barbarians are trying to do. They’re seeking to classify ISIS as a legitimate entity — a state — with a military force. Basically, these very slick chucklehead lawyers want to rewrite the Law of Warfare. They’re seeking to legitimize Islamic terrorists — these non-state, non-uniform belligerents. What they’ll seek next week is for these five men to be classified as “legitimate” combatants, rather than unlawful enemy combatants.

Let me explain the danger. But first let me remind you these Islamic jihadists reside in the congressional district represented by one Keith Ellison. A study of Rep. Ellison’s background should cause y’all much concern. Then again, Ellison was right there this past Wednesday with another Islamist sympathizer and enabler, Barack Obama, in Baltimore, at the very questionable Islamic Center of Baltimore mosque.

Now, here’s the danger: if these men are allowed to be classified as a legitimate combatants, then will we be able to deter any future ISIS recruits from leaving this country? If these lawyers are successful, the argument becomes one of ISIS not being a terrorist organization, but the legitimate and “organized professional army” of a state that’s conducting “traditional military warfare.”

Something tells me that if we follow the money, perhaps we’ll find out who’s funding this legal team — wouldn’t surprise me if it’s the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). You know, that unindicted co-conspirator in the largest Islamic terrorist funding case in U.S. history, the Holy Land Foundation trial.

Herein lies the problem in treating this as a law enforcement act; this is why we need a declaration of war against Islamic terrorism, not just ISIS or al-Qaida. Under that scenario, if you’re an American citizen seeking to join this terrorist group — not an organized professional army — your rights as a U.S. citizen would be revoked. You’re joining forces with the enemy, an unlawful enemy; you’re not a legitimate combatant and therefore not recognized by the Geneva Convention.

If we head down the path the lawyers in this case are pushing, then Hezbollah, Hamas, the Quds Force, Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, Islamic Jihad, Al Aqsa and Al Quds Martyrs Brigade, Boko Haram, Al Shabab, al-Qaida, the Taliban, Jemaat al-Islamiyah and all the others must be recognized as organized professional armies. This is a very dangerous slippery slope, combined with our releasing the enemy back to the enemy — as Obama continues to do in releasing enemy combatants from Guantanamo Bay.

Prosecutors also wrote that the current fighting in Syria has been determined a noninternational armed conflict — a battle between a nation-state and an insurgent group or between two rebel groups within the borders of a single country — which would invalidate any claims of combatant immunity. And even if the fighting in Syria were considered an international armed conflict, they said, the men can’t be considered combatants anyway. 

“They are, if they must be categorized within the international law of armed conflict, best categorized as aspiring war criminals,” the prosecution said.

Let us never forget, in the history of warfare, armed conflict, there’s a reason why those captured on the battlefield not in uniform were tried and summarily executed. It was to protect civilian populations from being caught in the crossfire of battle. And if you’ve seen the recent drone pictures of Homs Syria, you know what happens. And then these uninformed combatants flee and come to other nations, where the enemy can infiltrate because they don’t declare themselves by wearing uniforms and openly carrying their arms.

The 21st century battlefield will require leaders who won’t succumb to insidious, and deadly, games of political correctness. Here we are with unconscionable rules of engagement on the battlefield, and these lawyers are about to provide legitimizing status to barbaric war criminals. Funny, I don’t recall Rep. Ellison or President Obama addressing this last Wednesday. So, if this categorization were to be accepted in the court next week, then ask yourself, were Syed Farouk and Tashfeen Malik legitimate combatants, soldiers, who conducted a military operation in San Bernadino?

No, they were just savage butchers, unlawful enemy combatants who attacked innocent civilians. If we don’t get serious and let this enemy know we’re dead set on killing them and crushing their theocratic-political totalitarianism, we will not win. Remember Hillary Clinton said we should “empathize” with our enemy. And Bernie Sanders, heck, he’ll be too busy redistributing the wealth and resources of America. Neither of them could be trusted to protect our republic and its citizens. And based on the actions and rhetoric of folks like Obama and Rep. Ellison, we don’t have anyone safeguarding us now.

DHS Ordered Employee to Scrub Records of Muslims with Terror Ties

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PJ MEDIA, BY DEBRA HEINE, FEBRUARY 8, 2016

Back in December, Philip Haney, a former DHS investigator and now whistle blower, publicly stated what many of us have suspected for years: “the Obama administration is more concerned with the rights of non-citizens in known Islamist groups, than with the safety and security of the American people.”

During an appearance on Fox News, he also alleged that an investigation his team was working on could have stopped the San Bernardino terrorist attack.

In an explosive article in The Hill on Friday, Haney now claims that DHS ordered him to actually scrub records of Muslims with terror ties.

It begins with a recounting of the 2009 Christmas bombing terror plot to slaughter 290 innocent travelers on a flight from the Netherlands to Detroit, Michigan. Nigerian Muslim Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (aka the Underwear Bomber) failed to detonate Northwest Airlines Flight 253 because the explosives in his underwear malfunctioned, and passengers were able to subdue him until he was arrested.

Following the attempted attack, President Obama threw the intelligence community under the bus for its failure to “connect the dots.” He said, “this was not a failure to collect intelligence, it was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had.***

Just before that Christmas Day attack, in early November 2009, I was ordered by my superiors at the Department of Homeland Security to delete or modify several hundred records of individuals tied to designated Islamist terror groups like Hamas from the important federal database, the Treasury Enforcement Communications System (TECS). These types of records are the basis for any ability to “connect dots.”  Every day, DHS Customs and Border Protection officers watch entering and exiting many individuals associated with known terrorist affiliations, then look for patterns. Enforcing a political scrubbing of records of Muslims greatly affected our ability to do that. Even worse, going forward, my colleagues and I were prohibited from entering pertinent information into the database.

A few weeks later, in my office at the Port of Atlanta, the television hummed with the inevitable Congressional hearings that follow any terrorist attack. While members of Congress grilled Obama administration officials, demanding why their subordinates were still failing to understand the intelligence they had gathered, I was being forced to delete and scrub the records. And I was well aware that, as a result, it was going to be vastly more difficult to “connect the dots” in the future—especially before an attack occurs.

Haney concludes that “it is very plausible that one or more of the subsequent terror attacks on the homeland could have been prevented if more subject matter experts in the Department of Homeland Security had been allowed to do our jobs back in late 2009.”

United Nations: ISIS Has 34 Affiliates Worldwide

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The Islamic State has spread its wings internationally including the Philippines, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Libya and Nigeria.

Clarion Project, Feb. 7, 2016:

By the end of last year, 34 organizations had sworn allegiance to the Islamic State, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said February 5. That number will continue to rise in 2016, he warned.

“The recent expansion of the [Daesh] sphere of influence across west and north Africa, the Middle East and south and southeast Asia demonstrates the speed and scale at which the gravity of the threat has evolved in just 18 months,” he said.

The secretary general added ISIS is the wealthiest terrorist organization, with revenues of up to $500 million in 2015.

The private counter-terrorism company IntelCenter puts the number of affiliates and supporters at 43:

1.       al-I’tisam of the Koran and Sunnah [Sudan] – 1 Aug. 2014 – Support

2.       Abu Sayyaf Group [Philippines] – 25 Jun. 2014 – Support

3.       Ansar al-Khilafah [Philippines] – 14 Aug. 2014 – Allegiance

4.       Ansar al-Tawhid in India [India] – 4 Oct. 2014 – Allegiance

5.       Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) [Phillippines] – 13 Aug. 2014 – Support

6.       Bangsmoro Justice Movement (BJM) [Phillippines] – 11 Sep. 2014 – Support

7.       Jemaah Islamiyah [Philippines] 27 Apr. 2015 – Allegiance

8.       al-Huda Battalion in Maghreb of Islam [Algeria] – 30 Jun. 2014 – Allegiance

9.       The Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria [Algeria] – 30 Sep. 2014 – Allegiance

10.   al-Ghurabaa [Algeria] – 7 Jul. 2015 – Allegiance

11.   Djamaat Houmat ad-Da’wa as-Salafiya (DHDS) [Algeria] 19 Sep. 2015 – Allegiance

12.   al-Ansar Battalion [Algeria] 4 Sep. 2015 – Allegiance

13.   Jundullah [Pakistan] – 17 Nov. 2014 – Support

14.   Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) [Pakistan/Uzbekistan] Video – 31 Jul. 2015 – Allegiance

15.   Tehreek-e-Khilafat [Pakistan] – 9 Jul. 2014 – Allegiance

16.   Leaders of the Mujahid in Khorasan (ten former TTP commanders) [Pakistan] – 10 Jan. 2015 – Allegiance

17.   Islamic Youth Shura Council [Libya] – 22 Jun. 2014 – Support

18.   Jaish al-Sahabah in the Levant [Syria] – 1 Jul. 2014 – Allegiance

19.   Martyrs of al-Yarmouk Brigade [Syria] – Dec. 2014 – Part of IS – Allegiance

20.   Faction of Katibat al-Imam Bukhari [Syria] – 29 Oct. 2014 – Allegiance

21.   Jamaat Ansar Bait al-Maqdis [Egypt] – 30 Jun. 2014 – Allegiance

22.   Jund al-Khilafah in Egypt [Egypt] – 23 Sep. 2014 – Allegiance

23.   Liwa Ahrar al-Sunna in Baalbek [Lebanon] – 30 Jun. 2014 – Allegiance

24.   Islamic State Libya (Darnah) [Libya] – 9 Nov. 2014 – Allegiance

25.   Lions of Libya [Libya] (Unconfirmed) – 24 Sep. 2014 – [Support/Allegiance]

26.   Shura Council of Shabab al-Islam Darnah [Libya] – 6 Oct. 2014 – Allegiance

27.   Jemaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT) [Indonesia] – Aug. 2014 – Allegiance

28.   Mujahideen Indonesia Timor (MIT) [Indonesia] – 1 Jul. 2014 – Allegiance

29.   Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSCJ) [Egypt] – 1 Oct. 2014 – Support

30.   Okba Ibn Nafaa Battalion [Tunisia] – 20 Sep. 2014 – Support

31.   Jund al-Khilafah in Tunisia [Tunisia] – 31 Mar. 2015 – Allegiance

32.   Central Sector of Kabardino-Balakria of the Caucasus Emirate (CE) [Russia] – 26 Apr. 2015 – Allegiance

33.   Mujahideen of Tunisia of Kairouan [Tunisia] 18 May 2015 – Allegiance

34.   Mujahideen of Yemen [Yemen] – 10 Nov. 2014 – Allegiance

35.   Supporters for the Islamic State in Yemen [Yemen] – 4 Sep. 2014 – Allegiance

36.   al-Tawheed Brigade in Khorasan [Afghanistan] – 23 Sep. 2014 – Allegiance

37.   Heroes of Islam Brigade in Khorasan [Afghanistan] – 30 Sep. 2014 – Allegiance

38.   Supporters of the Islamic State in the Land of the Two Holy Mosques [Saudi Arabia] – 2 Dec. 2014 – Support

39.   Ansar al-Islam [Iraq] – 8 Jan. 2015 – Allegiance

40.   Boko Haram [Nigeria] – 7 Mar. 2015 – Allegiance

41.   The Nokhchico Wilayat of the Caucasus Emirate (CE) [Russia] – 15 Jun. 2015 – Allegiance

42.   al-Ansar Battalion [Algeria] – 4 Sep. 2015 – Allegiance

43.   al-Shabaab Jubba Region Cell Bashir Abu Numan [Somalia]- 7 Dec. 2015 – Allegiance

Here Ban Ki-moon summarizes the U.N.’s position on ISIS:

ISIS fighters in Libya surge as group suffers setbacks in Syria, Iraq

Getty Images

Getty Images

CNN, By Jim Sciutto, Barbara Starr and Kevin Liptak, Feb. 4, 2016:

Washington (CNN) The U.S. assesses that ISIS is ramping up the numbers of militants in Libya and that it has become harder for the group’s fighters to enter Syria.

The U.S. estimate of ISIS militants in Libya has doubled as it has become harder for them to enter Syria, according to U.S. intelligence assessments.

There may now be up to 6,500 ISIS fighters in Libya, twice the number previously thought, according to several U.S. intelligence officials.

They attributed the increase to the U.S. analysis that ISIS is diverting more fighters to Libya from Syria — and from Turkey when they cannot get into Syria.

“ISIS is investing heavily in Libya,” one U.S. official said.

While the estimate of up to 6,500 is the most recent from military intelligence sources, others in the intelligence community don’t agree and believe the number could be half that.

The trend began to emerge over the last six months of 2015, as indicated by the growth in numbers.

However, the official also strongly emphasized that the estimate is made up of “best guesses with low confidence,” underscoring that the U.S. is not certain at this point how many fighters are there.

The build-up is one of the key reasons the Pentagon wants to increase aerial surveillance and reconnaissance over Libya.

At the same time, the U.S. believes the number of ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq has declined slightly to somewhere between 19,000 and 25,000 — compared to the previous estimate of 20,000 to 31,500 — according to two U.S. officials familiar with the latest information.

Both emphasized that these are all estimates at best.

The U.S. believes the decline is due in part to the rate at which coalition airstrikes are killing ISIS fighters, combined with a decline in the numbers coming into both countries.

The Pentagon has recently noted the rise in reports of ISIS defections and the increase in localized conscription as the group tries to maintain its strength, as well.

But U.S. officials emphasize that ISIS is still capable, for now, of maintaining its strongholds in the Iraqi coty of Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa, despite the decline.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest cited the declining numbers of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria as evidence that the Obama administration’s strategy is working in those countries. He noted that the intelligence assessments show 19,000 to 25,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, down from 20,000 to 31,500 in a previous assessment.

READ: Gen. Dunford wants ‘decisive military action’ against ISIS in Libya

“ISIL is having a more difficult time than they’ve had before in replenishing their ranks,” he told reporters, using a different term for ISIS. “The reason the numbers inside Iraq and Syria are encouraging is that the numbers are moving in the right direction.”

Earnest also denied that there’s consideration of adding Libya as a “new front” in the war on ISIS, saying the administration has long been aware of the terror group’s attempts to gain a foothold outside of Iraq and Syria.

“We’ve been mindful of these other places like Libya and Afghanistan, where ISIL may turn some of their attention,” he said. “But we know they are focused on expanding ISIL’s footprint in Iraq and Syria.”

On a broader scale, the U.S. has recently estimated that more than 36,500 foreign fighters, at least 6,600 from the West, have traveled to Syria from at least 120 countries since ISIS emerged as a force of strength. That number is up from the previous 34,500 estimate. Not all of them have joined ISIS, however. Some, the U.S. believes, have joined al Qaeda-related groups such as al Nusra.

The U.S. also estimates 250 Americans have traveled or attempted to travel to Syria and Iraq to potentially fight or otherwise support the conflict.

Also see:

Assessing Obama’s Mosque Speech on Islam

1350By Daniel Pipes
Special to IPT News
February 8, 2016

Wishing to address growing anti-Islamic sentiments among the American public, Barack Obama ventured on Feb. 3 to the Islamic Society of Baltimore (sadly, a mosque with unsavory Islamist associations) to talk about Islam and Muslims. The 5,000-word speech contains much of interest. Here’s an in-depth assessment of its key points:

OBAMA: a lot of Americans have never visited a mosque. To the folks watching this today who haven’t — think of your own church, or synagogue, or temple, and a mosque like this will be very familiar. This is where families come to worship and express their love for God and each other. There’s a school where teachers open young minds. Kids play baseball and football and basketball — boys and girls — I hear they’re pretty good. Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts meet, recite the Pledge of Allegiance here.

PIPES: All true, but what about the dark side, the unique and repeated role of mosques in parlaying totalitarian ideas and fomenting violence? That goes unsaid in the president’s rose-colored presentation.

as Muslim Americans, you [worry that] your entire community so often is targeted or blamed for the violent acts of the very few.

Obama makes Muslims sound like innocent bystanders when there’s a perfectly reasonable fear of them due to (1) so much violence emanating from this 1 percent of the U.S. population and (2) non-violent Muslims showing sympathy for the violent ones.

The Muslim American community remains relatively small—several million people in this country.

This is a coy way for Obama to walk back his exaggerated 7 million figure of 2009 without explicitly saying so.

recently, we’ve heard inexcusable political rhetoric against Muslim Americans that has no place in our country.

A veiled critique of Donald Trump that Trump deserves.

No surprise, then, that threats and harassment of Muslim Americans have surged.

That’s ridiculous. In so far as there has been a surge of threats and harassment – and this is open to doubt given the disreputable nature of the reporting – this is due to Muslim violence. Reasonably, non-Muslims worry that a co-worker will behead them or attack them at a party, that they’ll be bombed attending a sporting event, or rammed into by planes when working at their offices. To blame non-Muslims for this commonsensical, life-preserving fear is to confuse symptom with cause.

For more than a thousand years, people have been drawn to Islam’s message of peace.

Some converts, to be sure, have been attracted to the peaceable side of Islam but many others have seen it as a militant force and converting as joining a winning team. Look at the Western converts who have gone to ISIS as one subset of these. Again, Obama just focuses on the cheery dimension and ignores the unpleasant one.

the very word itself, Islam, comes from salam — peace.

How can a person in a position of responsibility say something so patently wrong? Islam means submission, and does not derive from peace. As I explained in 2005, “There is no connection in meaning between salām and islām, peace and submission. These are two distinct words with unrelated meetings.” Shame on Obama.

For Christians like myself …

Standing in a mosque, Obama presumably feels a need to remind his audience that he’s not a Muslim. He would be more convincing if he could get his autobiography straight. For example, he sometimes declares he has “always been a Christian” and at other times that he “didn’t become a Christian” until after college. It would also help if he could date this important milestone rather than offer, in the view of Jason Kissner, an associate professor of criminology at California State University, Fresno, there are “two completely contradictory accounts” regarding its time frame.

Muslim Americans keep us safe. They’re our police and our firefighters. They’re in homeland security, in our intelligence community. They serve honorably in our armed forces.

Again true, but again not mentioning the other side – the persistent penetration of American security and military services by Islamist enemies.

it is undeniable that a small fraction of Muslims propagate a perverted interpretation of Islam.

Here we go again, Imam Obama declaiming on what the proper and the perverted interpretation of Islam are. He’s done this before, as have many other non-Muslim leaders, including prior U.S. presidents. It’s silly and embarrassing.

right now, there is a organized extremist element that draws selectively from Islamic texts, twists them in an attempt to justify their killing and their terror.

It would be more accurate to replace this with “right now, there is a organized extremist element that draws on medieval Islamic texts and interprets them in medieval ways to justify their killing and their terror.”

Part of what’s happened in the Middle East and North Africa and other places where we see sectarian violence is religion being a tool for another agenda — for power, for control.

This is typical left-wing materialism, which sees religion as a vehicle for something else, usually connected with economic benefit. No, the Islamists are true believers who engage in violence to pursue their vision, not for power as an end in itself, as Obama insists.

Thomas Jefferson’s opponents tried to stir things up by suggesting he was a Muslim – so I was not the first. No, it’s true, it’s true. Look it up. I’m in good company.

I did look it up – in Jefferson’s Religion, a 2007 book by Stephen J. Vicchio, and found no evidence that Jefferson was called a Muslim. His opponents called him names such as “French infidel,” “confirmed infidel,” “howling atheist,” and “fanatic,” but never “Mahometan.”

just as faith leaders, including Muslims, must speak out when Christians are persecuted around the world – or when anti-Semitism is on the rise – because the fact is, is that there are Christians who are targeted now in the Middle East, despite having been there for centuries, and there are Jews who’ve lived in places like France for centuries who now feel obliged to leave because they feel themselves under assault — sometimes by Muslims.

It’s not a complete or coherent sentence but it does correctly demand that Muslims speak out against religious persecution and it does note that Jews in Europe are “sometimes” (really, nearly always) attacked by Muslims. It’s a relief to see the dark side peek through for an instant.

the suggestion is somehow that if I would simply say, these are all “Islamic terrorists,” then we would actually have solved the problem by now, apparently. (Laughter.)

This is a cheap laugh line. No one thinks the problem of Islamist violence would be solved by Obama using the right wording; many, including me, however, say that he can’t properly address the problem unless he accurately identifies it.

Groups like ISIL are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders and holy warriors who speak for Islam. I refuse to give them legitimacy.

In fact, ISIL (or ISIS, Islamic State, Daesh) could not care less what Obama or other non-Muslims think of it. It cares only about the views of Sunni Muslims. So, Obama can deny it legitimacy all he wants; ISIS won’t notice or care.

the notion that America is at war with Islam ignores the fact that the world’s religions are a part of who we are. We can’t be at war with any other religion because the world’s religions are a part of the very fabric of the United States, our national character.

By this infantile logic, Hitler could not have been at war with Judaism because Jews were part of the very fabric of Germany.

the best way for us to fight terrorism is to deny these organizations legitimacy and to show that here in the United States of America, we do not suppress Islam; we celebrate and lift up the success of Muslim Americans.

No, the best way to fight Muslim violence is by (1) getting out of the way of law enforcement and others on the front line and (2) helping anti-Islamist Muslims find their voice.

we can’t suggest that Islam itself is at the root of the problem. That betrays our values. It alienates Muslim Americans. It’s hurtful to those kids who are trying to go to school and are members of the Boy Scouts, and are thinking about joining our military.

This nicely summarizes the Establishment mentality that one must not publicly connect Islam to violence; just whisper this behind closed doors.

Muslims around the world have a responsibility to reject extremist ideologies that are trying to penetrate within Muslim communities. Here at this mosque, and across our country and around the world, Muslim leaders are roundly and repeatedly and consistently condemning terrorism.

The equation of “reject[ing] extremist ideologies” and “condemning terrorism” reveals Obama’s facile understanding of the Islamist challenge, reducing it merely to wanton political violence. Stop that violence and the problem is solved. Hardly; for lawful Islamism poses a deeper threat than some bomb-totting fanatics.

this is not a clash of civilizations between the West and Islam. This is a struggle between the peace-loving, overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world and a radical, tiny minority. And ultimately, I’m confident that the overwhelming majority will win that battle. Muslims will decide the future of your faith. And I’m confident in the direction that it will go.

I would phrase it quite differently but I endorse these sentiments.

If you’re ever wondering whether you fit in here, let me say it as clearly as I can, as President of the United States: You fit in here – right here. You’re right where you belong. You’re part of America, too. You’re not Muslim or American. You’re Muslim and American.

I endorse this as well.

We are blessed to live in a nation where even if we sometimes stumble, even if we sometimes fall short, we never stop striving for our ideals. We keep moving closer to that more perfect union. We’re a country where, if you work hard and if you play by the rules, you can ultimately make it, no matter who you are or how you pray. It may not always start off even in the race, but here, more than any place else, there’s the opportunity to run that race. …

After more than 200 years, our blended heritage, the patchwork quilt which is America, that is not a weakness, that is one of our greatest strengths. It’s what makes us a beacon to the world.

These are unusually patriotic and warm words for the United States from a leftist who rarely has much good to say about his own country. Good to hear them.

In all, this speech gets much more wrong than it gets right, from factual mistakes to evasions to distortions. It does get a few points right, especially toward the end, but as a whole, it’s a typically shoddy Obama production.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2016 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

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Frank Gaffney discusses the President’s rhetoric while visiting a Jihadist mosque in America on Tipping Point with Liz Wheeler:

Also see:

Airport workers seen with laptop used in Somalia in-flight jet blast

Mogadishu-CCTV-shows-Somali-jet-bomber-being-handed-explosive-hiding-laptopCNN, By Robyn Kriel and Faith Karimi, Feb. 8, 2016:

(CNN)Somali intelligence officials say two airport workers handled a laptop that concealed a bomb that later exploded in a passenger plane.

In a video made public on Sunday by officials, one airport worker takes the laptop and hands it to another employee.

The employees then hand it over to a man who was killed when the laptop explosion blew a hole in the plane’s fuselage, said Abdisalam Aato, a spokesman for the Somali Prime Minister.

Both workers have been arrested.

Somali officials identified the lone fatality as suspect . He was sucked out of the airliner through the hole from the blast Tuesday.

Bomber knew where to sit

Investigators suspect Borleh, a Somali national, carried a laptop computer with a bomb concealed onto the plane, according to a source familiar with the investigation.

He knew precisely where to sit and how to place the device to maximize damage, the source told CNN.

Given the placement, the blast likely would have set off a catastrophic secondary explosion in the fuel tank if the aircraft had reached cruising altitude, the source said.

But the explosion happened at a lower altitude, between 12,000 feet and 14,000 feet, killing the Somali national and injuring two others.

Though preliminary tests showed the bomb contained a military grade of the explosive TNT, the source said, it failed to bring down Daallo Airlines Flight 3159. The pilot turned around and landed the Airbus safely in Mogadishu.

Somalia asked U.S. officials for help with investigations, and several FBI agents are on the ground assisting in Mogadishu, the spokesman said.

“This was a sophisticated attack … so we reached out to our international partners,” Aato said.

Militants behind attack

Investigators believe the attack was orchestrated by Al-Shabaab, although they are not certain Borleh was a direct member of the group, according to the source. No group immediately claimed responsibility.

Al-Shabaab is an al Qaeda affiliate, though some of its it has factions have declared loyalty to ISIS. It has been responsible some of the deadliest violence in recent years in Somalia and surrounding nations, including Kenya and Uganda.

At least 20 people have been arrested in connection with the blast aboard the plane, the spokesman said.

Also see:

Middle East Strategic Outlook, February

Gatestone Institute, by Shmuel Bar, February 7, 2016

  • The EU-Turkey agreement of 25 November, which provided Turkey with 3 billion euros over two years in order to stop the flow of refugees to Europe, has not achieved that goal. Speaking privately, EU officials complain that Turkey has not taken any concrete measures to reduce the flow of refugees. In our assessment, Turkey will continue to prevaricate on steps to stem the flow of refugees as pressure on the EU to give more concessions.
  • During the coming year there will certainly be further terrorist attacks that will push European public opinion further to the right.
  • We assess that Iran will continue in indirect channels with a parallel nuclear program, realized long before the 10-year target of the JCPOA.
  • The demand for unification of Kurdistan — Iraqi and Syrian — will also begin to be heard. It is highly likely that Russia will take advantage of the trend and support the Kurds, effectively turning an American ally into a Russian one.

The announcement by the IAEA that Iran has fulfilled its obligations according to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has triggered “Implementation Day” and the removal of the nuclear-related sanctions on Iran. The JCPOA, however, did not deal with Iran’s ballistic missile program, and the sanctions related to it are still nominally in force. These sanctions are minor and will not have any real effect on the Iranian missile program. The missile program will mature during this period and will include Ghadr missiles with ranges of 1,650-1,950 km, which may be capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The question now is: whither the Iranian nuclear program? After the lifting of sanctions, and taking into account the impracticality of “snap-back” of sanctions, we assess that Iran will now initiate a parallel nuclear program. This will, of course, be far slower than the program that was dismantled by the JCPOA, but it will be realized long before the 10-year target of the JCPOA. One possibility for Iran to continue its nuclear program is through North Korea. The wording of the JCPOA is ambiguous on nuclear Iranian nuclear cooperation with other countries that are not a party to the agreement. North Korea could produce the whole chain of nuclear weapons and put it at Iran’s disposal in return for Iranian funding. North Korea would certainly profit economically from such collaboration and would not risk further sanctions. Such cooperation would be difficult to detect, and even if detected, may not reach the threshold of a material breach of the JCPOA.

The most immediate reward that Iran will receive is the release of frozen Iranian funds ($100-$150 billion). In addition, Iran may now market oil stored offshore in tankers (about 50 billion barrels) and is preparing to increase its production by 500 thousand bpd (from 2.8 million bpd). It is doubtful that Iran can truly increase its production as planned. Even if it does, the addition of Iranian oil is likely to drive prices down even further, counter-balancing much of the potential profit. Sanctions relief also is not a quick fix for the Iranian economy. While it removes legal impediments for investment and business in Iran, the risks that Western companies will face due to residual non-nuclear sanctions (that may be enhanced and enforced by a future American administration), lack of government protection, corruption, and the weakness of the Iranian market cannot be removed by decree. Therefore, European banks and investors may not hurry to invest in Iran at the levels needed to jump-start the Iranian economy after years of sanctions.

The Iranian regime’s goal is not only to block the path to the reformists or reformist-minded, but also to the extremists on the right to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Such a balance could help the Iranian system maintain its “centrist” orientation and guarantee the continuity in the event of Khamenei’s death and the appointment of a new successor (or a triumvirate of several potential leaders). It will also facilitate the eventual takeover of the regime by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) after the demise of Khamenei. The backing that the Guardian Council received from the Supreme Leader for the results of its vetting process, in the face of Rouhani’s condemnation of the disapproval of almost all reformists, is also indicative of the balance of power in the regime.

The Iranian seizure of two US Navy patrol boats on January 12 and the publication of drone pictures of a US Navy aircraft carrier underlined the sense of immunity that Iran has achieved. These actions should be seen in the context of Iran’s attempt to change the rules of the game in the Persian Gulf, while testing the waters of American tolerance and sending to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States an indirect message that Iran is ready and willing to risk conflict with the US and that the US is a paper tiger that cannot be relied upon in a confrontation between the Gulf States and Iran. In our assessment, Iran will continue with shows of force such as seizing of naval vessels of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, stop and search operations of commercial vessels en route to the Gulf States, naval exercises — including missile tests close to Gulf sea-lanes and to the territorial waters of the Gulf States — in international waterways that implicitly interrupt and threaten shipping in the Gulf, “spooking” of Gulf aircraft and even false flag operations of mining, piracy or attacks by proxies in the Gulf and the Red Sea along the Yemeni coast. We may expect as a result possible frontier skirmishes on the shared littoral borders of Iran and Saudi Arabia, gas fields and disputed islands and in the international waters of the Gulf.

The Iranian seizure of two US Navy patrol boats on January 12 underlined the sense of immunity that Iran has achieved.

Saudi Arabia is drawing up its own map of interests and areas of influence that it is projecting as “no-go zones” for Iran — a Saudi “Monroe Doctrine” for the region. The most critical of these are: Yemen (due to the potential for threatening the Bab al-Mandeb Straits), subversion in the Gulf States (primarily Bahrain), the Strait of Hormuz and the international waters of the Gulf. To this list one must add the obvious: any Iranian-inspired or -planned attack on the Saudi homeland itself — government facilities, oil installations etc. — would be perceived as crossing a red line. While neither Saudi Arabia nor Iran is interested in direct conflict, and both would prefer to continue to work through proxies and in areas outside their respective sovereign territories, the dynamic nature of the situation can easily lend itself to misreading of such red lines and such miscalculation may lead to direct confrontation between them. While all-out direct war between Iran and Saudi Arabia remains a low probability, this assessment should be revisited again in the near future.

In Syria, American positions have undergone a strategic shift that reflects the new balance of power created by the Russian intervention. On the military side, the Russian presence imposes a heavy constraint on the American activities, and U.S. officials caution that the success of the Ramadi operation will not be followed by a concerted effort to roll back the “Islamic State” in the Syrian theater. In regards to a political solution, the US has accepted the Russian-Iranian four-point-plan that envisages Bashar al-Assad remaining in office during a transition period and being allowed to run for President in “internationally supervised elections”. In our assessment, the Syrian opposition and their Arab supporters cannot accept any blueprint that would leave any doubt regarding Bashar al-Assad relinquishing power before any process begins. These developments will only feed the sense of the Sunni Arabs that the United States has turned its back on them and is supporting Iranian-Russian hegemony in the region. On this background, the prospects that the Syrian “peace talks” in Geneva will achieve any progress towards resolution or even mitigation of the civil war are close to nil.

Last month’s visit by Chinese President Xi Jin Ping to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran was the first such visit of a Chinese President in the region since 2002, and the first foreign head of state to visit Iran since the announcement of “Implementation Day” of the JCPOA. The Chinese emphasis in all the visits was on economic cooperation, development and stability, but above all — in an implicit stab at the US and Russia — emphasizing that China does not seek proxies, to fill a power vacuum or hegemony in the region. The leitmotif of the visit was the integration of the Middle Eastern partners (i.e. the Arabs in general and Iran) into China’s “Belt and Road Initiative.” In spite of the inclusion of Iran in the visit, President Xi took care not to offend the Arabs. The agreements with Saudi Arabia included nuclear cooperation in a scope far greater than that which was offered to Iran, and the joint statement reflected the Saudi position on Yemen, stating, “both sides stressed support for the legitimate regime of Yemen.”

The “Arab Policy Paper” published on the eve of the visit stresses China’s commitment to “non-intervention and opposition to interference in the affairs of other countries”. This is seen by the Arab policy communities as a sign of implicit Chinese support for their position vis-à-vis Iran’s activities in the region, though they would have welcomed more explicit statements of support. There is no expectation in the region that China is going to play the “Big Power” card in the region. Taking sides in this conflict would be out of character for China. Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states will attempt to convince China to refrain from demonstrations of rapprochement with Iran and to support the Arab positions vis-à-vis Iranian provocations in the Gulf, Syria and Yemen. While China may show a slight implicit leaning towards the Arab position on these issues, it is not likely to take a clear anti-Iranian/pro-Arab position in the near future.

The European Union-Turkey agreement of 25 November, which provided Turkey with 3 billion euros over two years in order to stop the flow of refugees to Europe, has not achieved that goal. Speaking privately, EU officials complain that Turkey has not taken any concrete measures to reduce the flow of refugees. In our assessment, Turkey will continue to prevaricate on steps to stem the flow of refugees as pressure on the EU to give more concessions. Turkey has already signaled that the sum will not suffice for the task of maintaining the refugees inside Turkey alone, and certainly not for other security measures such as blocking the border with Turkey to prevent passage to and fro of “Islamic State” foreign fighters.

Aside from the 3 billion euros, the EU commitments will also not be easily implemented; visa waivers for Turkish citizens in general will encounter massive opposition within the EU. The road to Turkish accession to the EU must also go through complex negotiations on various aspects of compatibility of Turkey to the standards of the EU. All these discussions will encounter a veto by Cyprus, pending a peace deal with Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus. This veto may be resolved if a referendum on unification of Cyprus takes place and supports re-unification later this year. However, the real obstacle towards Turkish accession is not technical or due to the Cyprus question; it revolves around the shift in European public opinion towards absorption of immigrants from Muslim countries. During the coming year, there will certainly be further terrorist attacks that will push European public opinion further to the right. Under these circumstances, Turkish accession or even visa waiver will be very unlikely.

In our assessment, the trend towards Kurdish independence will eventually lead to an independent Iraqi Kurdistan. The events in Syrian Kurdistan will also affect the pace and direction of the independence movement in Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Unification of the parts of Syrian Kurdistan in the face of Turkish opposition and under Russian protection will give impetus to the demand to create a political fait accompli of independence in Iraqi Kurdistan. As the principle of Kurdish independence in Iraq gains more and more support and becomes a reality, the irredentist demand for unification of Kurdistan — Iraqi and Syrian — will also begin to be heard. This is the fulfillment of the Kurdish nightmare that Turkey has always feared. With the deterioration of relations between the AKP government and the Turkish Kurds inside Turkey, such a political reality of independent Kurdistan will add fire to the flames of the Kurdish rebellion in southern Turkey. It is highly likely that Russia will take advantage of the trend and support the Kurds, effectively turning an American ally into a Russian one. If this happens, the US will have lost an important potential ally in the new map of the Middle East.

The large number of players on the ground that may take a part in the campaign for Mosul will only complicate the campaign further and — if the city or part of it is retaken, will increase the chances of internal fighting between the components of the ad-hoc alliance of Iraqi government forces, Shiite militias, Sunni militias, Kurdish Peshmarga, Turks and American forces.

On this background, the Syrian “Peace Talks” in Geneva started (29 January) as “proximity talks” in which the UN representatives shuttle between the rooms of the opposing parties. The Saudi supported High Negotiations Committee (HNC) of the Syrian opposition ceded their original conditions — cessation of the attacks on civilians — though they refuse to meet with the regime representatives while the latter refuse to meet with “terrorists”. The Syrian regime representation is low-level as an indication that there is no intention to hold real negotiations. Furthermore, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), whose military wing, the YPG, is the most effective fighting force on the ground against the “Islamic State,” were not included in the opposition delegation because of the Turkish threat to boycott the Geneva negotiations if it participates. Under these conditions, the prospects that the talks will achieve any progress towards resolution or even mitigation of the civil war are close to nil.

Dr. Shmuel Bar is a senior research fellow at the Samuel Neaman Institute for National Policy Studies at the Technion in Haifa, Israel, and a veteran of Israel’s intelligence community.