Hamas’s International Triangle of Bases: Gaza, Turkey and Qatar

by Yaakov Lappin
Special to IPT News
December 18, 2014

1104In recent years, the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas has developed into a truly international entity. Today, it enjoys three territorial bases of operation: Gaza, the seat of the Hamas regime, Turkey, and Qatar.

According to Israeli intelligence estimates, each base serves a different purpose. The three branches have worked, alternatively, in harmony and in discord, together and independently, in line with the various terrorist activities they pursue.

“These are not the same leaderships,” one security source said, speaking of the Hamas command structure in each base.

“Qatar is home to Hamas’s political branch, headed by Khaled Meshaal. In Turkey [in the city of Istanbul], Hamas maintains a military branch headquarters, which sets up terrorist infrastructure. This headquarters is comprised partly of former Hamas prisoners who were ejected from Israel during the [2011] Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange. In Gaza, there are both military and political operatives.”

Each branch plays a unique role, and relations between them fluctuate.

Hamas’s headquarters in Istanbul is headed by Salah Al-Arouri, a senior figure in the military wing who is focused on rejuvenating Hamas terrorism cells in the West Bank, and using it as a springboard for orchestrating deadly attacks against Israel.

Gaza is home to the main military wing, the Ezzedin Al-Qassam Brigades, whose operatives focus on building up their offensive rocket capabilities, tunnel networks, and, like Arouri, they also seek to also set up West Bank terrorism cells.

On Thursday, Hamas held what is described as its largest military exercise since the summer war against Israel.

Gaza is also home to Hamas’s political wing, headed by Ismail Haniyeh.

“They all have their own interests. Those in Gaza have one point of view, those abroad have another. There have, in the past, been disagreements,” the source said.

One example of such internal conflict was the dispute between Khaled Meshaal and Hamas in Gaza over when to end the summer war with Israel. Meshaal pushed Hamas to continue the fighting, despite growing calls by Hamas in Gaza to agree to a ceasefire. The conflicting positions were partly the result of geography: Hamas in Gaza had a better real time understanding of the heavy costs Israel was inflicting on it during the fighting than the overseas Meshaal, who, from his luxurious Qatari surroundings, could afford the privilege of calling for more fighting.

Nevertheless, a basic level of cooperation and consent exists among all three branches. Saleh Al-Arouri in Turkey would not have embarked on a major mission to set up a large-scale Hamas terrorist network in the West Bank, plan atrocities against Israel, and aim to topple the Palestinian Authority and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, without approval from Khaled Meshaal and Hamas in Gaza.

Cooperation may not always be close, but it exists.

“There are connections,” the security source said. “Hamas in Gaza is connected to those trying to orchestrate terrorism in Judea and Samaria. There is a circle of cooperation.”

Arouri could seek and receive assistance from Gaza, as he has done, but he can also try to work independently. “There are no laws,” the source stressed.

In recent months, the Shin Bet [Israel Security Agency] uncovered two intricate Hamas terror plots to inflict mass-casualty attacks on Israelis, and to weaken Fatah in the West Bank. Both were tied to Arouri.

This discovery has led Israeli defense chiefs to become more vocal about the Hamas base in Turkey.

“Hamas’s terrorism headquarters are in Gaza and in Istanbul. It is unbelievable that a NATO member is hosting the headquarters of a terrorist organization in its territory,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told his Spanish counterpart earlier this month.

“We have stopped a coup planned by Hamas, which was organized in, among other places, its Turkish headquarters, against [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] Abu Mazen in Judea and Samaria. We saved him from this revolution. Hence, there is much significance and importance in our having freedom to operate security-wise in Judea and Samaria,” Ya’alon stated.

Likewise, at the end of November, the Shin Bet and IDF announced that they had broken up a large-scale international Hamas terrorist infrastructure that was in the planning stages of multiple mass-casualty attacks, including an intended bombing of a soccer stadium in Jerusalem.

The plot included car bombings, bombing Jerusalem’s light rail system, and targeting Israelis overseas.

This case illustrates the growing centrality of Istanbul to Hamas terror activities in the West Bank. Hamas’s headquarters in Turkey has become a key command and planning center.

Earlier this year, the Shin Bet announced the thwarting of another large Hamas network in the West Bank, set up by Saleh Al-Arouri in Istanbul, and headed locally by a Hamas member in Ramallah.

Hamas funneled more than a million shekels [more than $250,000] to terror operatives to prepare a series of attacks, which were designed to allow it to shift attention away from Gaza, and ultimately lead to the fall of the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority, according to Israeli investigation. This would be achieved by provoking Israel into harsh responses in the West Bank, destabilizing the area and leading to the toppling of the PA.

Hamas has come a long way since the days when its founders, Muslim Brotherhood operatives in the Palestinian territories, set up indoctrination and social support centers.

Today, it is an international terrorist organization, which continues to plot new ways to murder and maim Israelis from its various bases, while it dreams of setting up a second Islamist-jihadist regime in the West Bank, as it did in Gaza.

Yaakov Lappin is the Jerusalem Post’s military and national security affairs correspondent, and author of The Virtual Caliphate (Potomac Books), which proposes that jihadis on the internet have established a virtual Islamist state.

EU Removes Hamas from Terror List Due to ‘Paperwork’

mideast-palestinians-hamas-anniversaryjpeg-02b5a_c0-167-5672-3473_s561x327Breitbart, by JOEL B. POLLAK, Dec. 17, 2014:

The European Union has removed Hamas from its list of terror groups after a court ruled that the correct paperwork had not been filed. According to a decision Wednesday, the Palestinian group, which has murdered hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians in suicide bombings, rocket attacks, and executions, was listed as a result of “factual imputations derived from the press and the Internet,” instead of investigation by EU bureaucrats.

As a result, the General Court of the European Union ruled, the military and political wings of Hamas, which were added to the list in 2001 and 2003, respectively, must be dropped from the list of terror organizations until the right “paperwork” is completed, the Times of Israel reports.

However, the decision provides that Hamas funds in the EU remain frozen for three months until the EU decides to list it again based on its own findings, not those of the U.S. or media reports.

The Israeli government, which spent the summer defending Israeli civilians in a war Hamas started, was outraged by the EU’s decision. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahustated:

We are not satisfied with the European Union’s explanation that the removal of Hamas from its list of terrorist organizations is a ‘technical matter’. The burden of proof is on the European Union and we expect it to put Hamas back on the list forthwith given that it is understood by all that Hamas–a murderous terrorist organization, the covenant of which specifies the destruction of Israel as its goal–is an inseparable part of this list. We will continue to fight Hamas with strength and determination so that it never achieves this goal.

The EU has often been slow to list violent anti-Israel militias as terror groups, including Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak edits Breitbart California and is the author of the new ebook, Wacko Birds: The Fall (and Rise) of the Tea Party, available for Amazon Kindle.

Also see:

Defining Jihad Downward

Screen-Shot-2014-12-12-at-2.44.37-PM-190x142CSP, By Kyle Shideler:

My colleague Adam Savit has already taken the BBC to task for their write up of a recent report on Jihadist violence in the month of November, which neglected to include the murder of Israelis. This led me to drill down deeper into the report by the International Center for the Study of Radicalisation and Political violence. Not only did the report neglect to include Hamas violence in its study of jihadi attacks, but it does so explicitly and intentionally. The report notes:

This definition excludes Shia militant groups such as Hezbollah that justify fighting in the name of jihad but are located outside the Sunni tradition. Indeed, the jihadists of al Qaeda, the Islamic State and like-minded groups regard Hezbollah as ‘apostates’ and have been among the most vociferous opponents of Shia militant groups in places like Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

The definition also excludes the Palestinian group Hamas which advocates ‘jihad’ and – unlike Hezbollah – is widely recognized as Sunni. Its religious, social and political doctrine, however, is not Salafist.
Jihadist groups such as al Qaeda have repeatedly condemned Hamas for recognizing man-made laws and becoming involved in democratic elections, while Hamas, in turn, has repressed – and fought against – jihadist groups.

This justification is at best ignorant, and at worst mendacious.

While it is true that Hezbollah is fighting Islamic State and Al Qaeda in Syria, Hezbollah also has a long history of cooperation with Al Qaeda. Are the authors of this report unaware that it was Hezbollah which introduced Al Qaeda to the truck bombing techniques used in the Africa Embassy bombings (a role for which they have been held responsible in court) and that relationships between Iran’s terrorist facilitators the IRGC, Hezbollah and AL Qaeda were forged during the Pan Arab and Islamic Conference held by Sudan in the 1990s? Perhaps they are equally unaware that Hezbollah’s patron, Iran, has been held responsible for its role in 9/11 in federal court, due to its role in facilitating the movement of the hijackers, and that the 9/11 Commission notes the role of Hezbollah’s master terrorist Imad Mugniyeh in assisting the 9/11 attacks? One supposes that given its narrow justification the ICSR would not consider the  Embassy bombings or the 9/11 attacks  “jihadist” violence either.

Then there is the ICSR’s statement on Hamas. Hamas is the wing of the Muslim Brotherhood responsible for engaging in jihad terror against Israel. Hamas is completely open about this connection, having documented it in its original founding charter. Hamas was perhaps best described by leading Hamas representative Ismail Haniyeh who remarked that Hamas is the “jihadi movement of the Brotherhood with a Palestinian face.” From its earliest foundation, The Muslim Brotherhood’s own founder Hasan Al-Banna described his movement as consisting of “a Salafiyya message…”  Prior to founding the Brotherhood Al-Banna was himself a member of the Salafi groups, including the Society for the Prevention of the Forbidden.

Further more, Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb’s most important work “Milestones”, was a major inspiration for Osama Bin Laden (according to the 9/11 Commission report again) and consists entirely of a discussion regarding how to restore the world to Islam, while using the methods of the early Muslims (i.e. Salaf).  The original founder of the MAK (Afghan Service Bureau) Abdullah Azzam together with Osama Bin Laden, and the author of “In Defense of Muslim Lands” the doctrinal work which best established Jihad as an fard al-ayn (individual obligation), was both a Muslim Brother and a co-founder of Hamas.  Azzam’s picture is still visible in the offices of Hamas today.

Besides Sayyid Qutb and Abdullah Azzam,  other Muslim Brotherhood members have also played a key role in creating the very doctrine of Al Qaeda, such as Abdul Mjid Aziz Al-Zindani, the leading cleric of the Yemeni branch of Muslim Brotherhood, was a close mentor of Osama Bin Laden and a contact of the AQ-linked Ansar al-Islam.  Al-Zindani was also a board member of the specially designated entity the Union of the Good, an organization run by Muslim Brotherhood cleric Yusuf Al Qaradawi, whose primary purpose is to fund Hamas.

The claim by ICSR that Hezbollah and Hamas should be excluded from an accounting of Jihadist violence merely because they (at times) have disagreed with Al Qaeda or other jihadist groups is utterly inane. After all Al Qaeda and ISIS are currently locked in a struggle themselves (see for example this video released today by MEMRI featuring ISIS members interrogating Jabhat al Nusra members and denouncing them as apostates), and Muslim Brotherhood-linked militias in the Syrian civil war fight alongside Al Qaeda, and yet the ICSR can’t quite bring itself to declare that Al Qaeda is not a jihadist group.

Jihad as religiously-obligatory warfare to establish Islamic law remains a concept which extends across both Sunni and Shia sects, and amongst all schools of Islamic law. There is no legitimate justification for excluding these groups, and to do so is to reduce the term “jihad” or “jihadist violence” until it is becomes meaningless. The reality is that Jihadist violence is a threat larger than simply just the “Salafi-jihadi” matrix which some insist on shoving it into.

Congress Calls for Increased Sanctions on Hamas Allies

Khaled Meshaal , head of Hamas Politburo in Damascus / AP

Khaled Meshaal , head of Hamas Politburo in Damascus / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Dec. 9, 2014:

A bipartisan delegation of foreign policy leaders in Congress are calling on the Obama administration to increase U.S. sanctions on Hamas and its allies, including the terror group’s top financier, Qatar, and its close ally, Turkey, according to a letter sent Tuesday by lawmakers to the Treasury Department and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The administration can and should be doing more to crackdown on Hamas’ top allies, including Iran, Qatar, and Turkey, according to the letter, jointly endorsed by 24 of the 29 members on the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa and its Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade.

The letter—which is signed by the chairmen and ranking members of both committees—follows months of appeals by lawmakers and foreign policy experts to the Obama administration urging it to crackdown on Hamas’ main funders, particularly Qatar, which has kept the terror group financially afloat via major cash infusions.

“We believe that more can be done, and we urge Treasury to take all necessary measures to sanction individuals or entities that are directly or indirectly financing or materially supporting Hamas,” the lawmakers wrote to Treasury Department Under Secretary David Cohen, who handles terrorism and finance intelligence.

While the United States has navigated a diplomatic tightrope with Turkey and Qatar, who are considered close U.S. allies on many fronts, the lawmakers argue that all of Hamas’ backers should be hit with U.S. sanctions.

“Any entity or nation that continues to back this U.S. designated Foreign Terrorist Organization and provide it material and financial support should be sanctioned,” they wrote.

“We are requesting that Treasury use every tool available to designate all individuals, institutions, entities, charities, front companies, banks, and government officials who clearly violate U.S. laws by assisting Hamas and its proxies,” according to the letter.

Lawmakers also are requesting that the administration provide them with “specific public updates” about conversations taking place with the “Qatari government on previously designated, Qatar-based terrorist financiers that the Qataris have yet to act upon.”

Qatar’s relationship with Hamas has been particularly problematic for the United States.

While lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have called for greater pressure on the nation, the Obama administration has maintained that Qatar should play a key role in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

“Hamas traditionally relied on Iran for much of its financial and political support,” the lawmakers state, noting that Qatar donated $400 million to Hamas in 2012 .

“Qatar’s $400 million donation for Gaza reconstruction in 2012 bolstered Hamas’ credibility in Gaza and may have directly supported Hamas-backed entities,” they write. “Qatar also allows Hamas’ top leader, politburo chief Khalid Mishaal, to operate out of its territory knowingly and with impunity. It was even widely reported in the press that Qatar threatened to deport Mishaal if Hamas had accepted an Egypt-backed ceasefire agreement to end this summer’s conflict in Gaza.”

Turkey also remains one of Hamas’ top enablers.

“Turkey serves as the headquarters for Saleh al-Arouri, who is believed to head Hamas’ terrorist operations in the West Bank,” the lawmakers state. “In August, the media reported that he was behind an allegedly thwarted plot to topple, undermine, or replace the Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank. Also in August, al-Arouri stated that Hamas was behind the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens this June.”

In addition, Turkish charities, front companies, and even some banks are suspected of providing support to Hamas, according to the lawmakers.

“It’s no secret that Turkey and Qatar provide refuge to many Hamas operatives, and that both of these supposed American allies have become major terror financial hubs,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.), chair of the subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.

“While the Treasury Department has taken significant action against Hamas and its supporters, more can be done to halt support for this terrorist group,” she said. “Both Turkey and Qatar have thus far been extremely lax in enforcing their terror financing laws and taking action against U.S. designated individuals or entities.”

Meanwhile, it also has come to light that one of Hamas’ top Iranian allies, Imad al-Alami, has been identified as residing in Turkey, according to a recent report by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

Al-Alami, who has traveled to Iran on many occasions, is designated as a terrorist by the U.S. government, though it is unclear what action the Obama administration will take in light of the recent revelations.

“I would argue now that Turkey is liable like Qatar as the top external headquarters for Hamas,” said FDD vice president for research Jonathan Schanzer. “It may have even surpassed it.”

Also see:

Clifford D. May: Rise of the neo-Ottomans

Turkey supports terror. It imprisons more journalists than any other country. Its president equates Israel to Nazis. And, officially, the country is our ally. ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images

Turkey supports terror. It imprisons more journalists than any other country. Its president equates Israel to Nazis. And, officially, the country is our ally. ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images

National Post, by Clifford D. May, Dec. 5, 2014:

Turkey should have been part of the solution. Instead it’s become part of the problem. The problem, of course, is the spread of jihadism throughout the Middle East, North Africa and beyond.

Turkish policies have been aiding and abetting Jabhat al Nusra, an Al-Qaeda affiliate; the Islamic State (ISIS), which has turned large swaths of Syria and Iraq into killing fields; the Islamic Republic of Iran, still ranked by the U.S. government as the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism and well on its way to becoming nuclear-armed; and the Muslim Brotherhood, including Hamas, the group’s Palestinian branch.

Troubling, too, is the rhetoric we’ve been hearing from Turkish leaders. Fikri Işık, Turkey’s Science, Industry and Technology Minister, claimed last week that it was Muslim scientists who first discovered that the Earth is round. Two weeks earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan insisted that Muslim sailors reached the Americas 300 years before Columbus — only to find that well-established Muslims in Cuba had built a beautiful mosque.

Such myth-making might be dismissed as nothing more than attempts to play to Islamic pride. Less easy to excuse is Mr. Erdoğan’s increasing xenophobia. “Foreigners,” he recently observed, “love oil, gold, diamonds and the cheap labour force of the Islamic world. They like the conflicts, fights and quarrels of the Middle East.” He added that Westerners “look like friends, but they want us dead, they like seeing our children die. How long will we stand that fact?”

If Turkey were just another tin-pot dictatorship none of this would much matter. But Turkey is a Muslim majority (98%) republic with a dynamic economy (not dependent on the extraction of petroleum), a member of NATO (making it, officially, an American ally) and a candidate for membership in the European Union (though that possibility now appears remote).

Just three years ago, President Barack Obama listed Mr. Erdoğan as one of five world leaders with whom he had especially close personal ties. He regarded the Turkish leader as a moderate, his interpreter of — and bridge to — the tumultuous and confusing Islamic world.

And now, as detailed in a new report by Jonathan Schanzer and Merve Tahiroglu, my colleagues at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), Erdoğan is refusing to allow the American-led coalition formed in August to launch strikes against the Islamic State from Turkish soil.

Worse, there is mounting evidence that weapons and fighters are crossing from Turkey into Syria where they are delivered to ISIS. Turkish officials are turning a blind eye — or maybe even facilitating the traffic. Stolen oil is moving in the other direction, sold to raise cash for ISIS. Inside Turkey, as well, Mr. Schanzer and Ms. Tahiroglu write, ISIS has “established cells for recruiting militants and other logistical operations.” Last weekend, Turkey’s main Kurdish party accused the Erdoğan government of allowing ISIS fighters to attack the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani from within Turkey.

The FDD report cites numerous sources alleging that Turkey also has given assistance to A-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra. To be fair: The Turkish government, like the Obama administration, seeks the fall of Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad, satrap of the Islamic Republic of Iran. A Turkish official is quoted as saying that Nusra fighters are essential to that effort, adding: “After Assad is gone, we know how to deal with these extremist groups.”

Do they? Hamas is an extremist group and one of its top leaders, Saleh Al-Arouri, has been permitted to set up his headquarters in Turkey. In August, Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said it had thwarted a Hamas-led plot to topple Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — and that Mr. Al-Arouri was behind it. Mr. Al-Arouri also claimed responsibility — in the presence of Turkey’s deputy prime minister — for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli boys in the West Bank early last summer, an act of terrorism that led to a 50-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Also see:

Emerson on ISIS in Canada, restrictions on RCMP, and the mother of all Islamic terrorist groups; Muslim Brotherhood

White House Statement Ignores Brotherhood’s Continuing Hamas Support

797IPT News
December 5, 2014

The White House this week issued a statement explaining why it does not view the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group. It was in response to an online petition which attracted more than 213,000 signatures in support of designating the Egyptian-based group.

The statement emphasizes a lack of “credible evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood has renounced its decades-long commitment to non-violence.”

The Brotherhood has another decades-long commitment, however, one that clearly endorses and supports terrorist attacks against Israel. That support began with Article Two of the Hamas charter, which clearly identifies it as “one of the wings of Muslim Brothers in Palestine.” It continues today with statements inciting and supporting Hamas attacks.

As the war between Israel and Gaza raged in August, a statement on the Brotherhood’s website translated by the Investigative Project on Terrorism praised “the valiant resistance factions [who] gave them [Palestinians] a lesson in heroism, faith, and courage. They decimated their soldiers and their officers…” Violent confrontation, the statement continued, “is the natural position which must be adopted with the heroes of Palestine, who have proven that the defeat of the Zionists as possible, which is closer when the will of the Umma [people] is united, with God’s will.”

President Obama publicly stood by Israel’s “right to defend itself against what I consider to be inexcusable attacks from Hamas,” including its indiscriminate rocket fire at Israeli civilian communities. The Brotherhood, by contrast, called for more attacks and “the defeat of the Zionists.”

That was not enough for the administration to question its “decades-long commitment to non-violence.” Other Brotherhood statements show that this is consistent rhetoric, even in more peaceful times.

A June message called “resistance to the occupier Zionist enemy” – a sterilized reference to terrorism – “a legitimate right and a sacred duty approved by all laws and customs and constitutions, and it is the only viable way to restore rights and reply to aggression.”

An April 2010 statement, marking the 62nd anniversary of Israel’s creation – what Palestinians call the Nakba, or catastrophe – said the only acceptable path is to continue trying to destroy an existing country.

“T]he Zionist destruction will only be by an Islamic, Arab plan which rejects peace begging initiative proposed since 2002; rejects normalization measures with the Zionist entity; reviews peace agreements and diplomatic relations with it; rejects foolish negotiations between Zionists and Palestinians which are like negotiations between the lamb and the wolf pack,” the Brotherhood statement said.

The United States has considered Hamas a terrorist group since 1995, when President Bill Clinton signed an executive order decrying “grave acts of violence committed by foreign terrorists that disrupt the Middle East peace process” and threaten American national security.

The United States has a record of aggressively pursuing Hamas-support operations within the country. It shut down the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF)’s assets in December 2001, labeling it a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. This action was based on the foundation’s routing of millions of dollars to Hamas-controlled charities in the West Bank and Gaza. Later, the governmentprosecuted and a jury convicted the foundation and five former officials.

Internal records seized by the FBI and entered into evidence in that prosecution showed that HLF operated under the umbrella of a group called the Palestine Committee, which was created by the Muslim Brotherhood and tasked with supporting Hamas politically and financially.

Some might argue that was a long time ago. But a look at Brotherhood actions and rhetoric indicates it continues to be fully supportive of Hamas and its violent attacks against Israelis.

Reports earlier this week indicate that members of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood branch were arrested for trying to smuggle weapons into the West Bank to facilitate terror attacks.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi, considered the Brotherhood’s most influential cleric, urged Muslimsto wage “the greatest battle of liberation” against Israel and the Jews in an online posting last month. Qaradawi, who also has a highly-rated program on Al-Jazeera, has an ever-expanding record of endorsing terrorist attacks and has prayed for the chance to “go to the land of Jihad and resistance” and “shoot Allah’s enemies, the Jews,” before he dies.

Interpol issued a bulletin Friday indicating that Qaradawi, 88, was wanted by Egyptian authorities for “incitement and assistance to commit intentional murder.”

After Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood official, was forced from office in July 2013 in the wake of massive street protests against his rule, the Brotherhood’s political party posted a memo on Facebook inciting followers to take out their frustrations by burning Coptic churches.

“The Pope of the Church (Coptic Pope Tawadros II) took part in the ouster of the first elected Islamist president. The Pope of the Church charges Islamic Sharia with underdevelopment [and] stagnation,” the memo from the Freedom and Justice Party’s branch in Egypt’s Helwan Governorate, near Cairo, said.

“And for the Church to adopt a war against Islam and Muslims is the worst crime. For every action is a reaction.”

Before Morsi’s ouster, the White House welcomed a delegation of Muslim Brotherhood officials, even helping clear their path to avoid standard airport inspections as they landed in the United States.

State Department officials had numerous contacts with Brotherhood officials in the years leading up to Egypt’s Arab Spring revolution.

U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson reported in an April 2010 cable that Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie had “reaffirmed the MB was a non-violent” movement.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper similarly described the Muslim Brotherhood in February 2011 as “largely secular” and said that it “eschewed violence.” Four months later, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. planned to expand dialogue with the Brotherhood as part of a commitment “to engage with all parties that are peaceful and committed to nonviolence.”

Read more

White House Label of Brotherhood as Non-Violent Patently False

Christian Copts protest the killing of their brethren by Muslim Brotherhood supporters after former President Mohammed Morsi took over office in Egypt. Morsi represented the Brotherhood's "Freedom and Justice" party. (Photo: © Reuters)

Christian Copts protest the killing of their brethren by Muslim Brotherhood supporters after former President Mohammed Morsi took over office in Egypt. Morsi represented the Brotherhood’s “Freedom and Justice” party. (Photo: © Reuters)

Facts prove the Brotherhood’s violent history. The White House itself has condemned the organization’s calls to violence.

By Ryan Mauro:

The White House has rejected a request to label the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, describing the group as non-violent. The statement is not only at odds with known facts; it’s at odds with statements made by the White House only one year ago.

The White House statement came in response to a petition with 200,000 signatures citing the Brotherhood’s history of violence and how its preachers, particularly Sayyid Qutb, have bred multitudes of terrorists. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates recently banned the Brotherhood as a terrorist group.

“We have not seen credible evidence that the Muslim Brotherhood has renounced its decades-long commitment to non-violence,” the White House said.

Yet, on July 8, 2013, the White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, “We also condemn the explicit calls to violence made by the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The Alleged Brotherhood Rejection of Violence

Firstly, the White House and many Western officials are misinterpreting an alleged repudiation of violence by the Muslim Brotherhood after the execution of Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb in 1966.

The reason for the use of the word “alleged” is because there is no Muslim Brotherhood manifesto of unequivocal non-violence anywhere to be found. For all the talk of this momentous change, the Brotherhood has never produced  an authoritative declaration explaining this supposed ideological moderation.

The only cited text is a book with a translated title of “Preachers, Not Judges” or “Missionaries, Not Judges.” Sources differ as to whether it was published in 1969 or 1977, and it is said to have been written by the Muslim Brotherhood’s General Guide, Hasan al-Hudaybi, as he sat in an Egyptian prison.

The book is marked as the “moment” the Brotherhood transformed from a militant group to a non-violent educational group. It is often described as a formal rebuttal to the teachings of Sayyid Qutb.

However, top experts have concluded that the text was not even written by Al-Hudaybi, nor is there any evidence that it was written or endorsed by the Brotherhood.

One such expert is Dr. Barbara Zollner, Director of Islamic Studies at Birbeck College, University of London. Zollner wrote her doctoral thesis on the text; she also wrote a book about Al-Hudaybi.

“Overall, my argument is that Preachers, Not Judges was not written by Hassan al-Hudaybi, and secondly, it is not written as a response to Sayyid Qutb,” she says.

Zollner theorizes that the book is a product of the Egyptian government and Al-Azhar University based on the accounts of Egyptian officials and Brotherhood leaders at the time.

In fact, the book doesn’t even mention Qutb or call on Muslims to discard his preaching. Far from casting Qutb aside, the Brotherhood still exalts him and hasn’t lifted a finger to promote this alleged Al-Hudaybi text. Al-Hudaybi himself never promoted it.

On the contrary. “Qutb’s Signposts remains a standard part of the organization’s introductory membership curriculum … while Preachers, Not Judges has not been reprinted in Egypt for more than three decades and hasn’t appeared in print anywhere in the Arabic world since 1985,” explains Patrick Poole.

If this book were so seminal, the Brotherhood would at least have translated it into English and disseminated it. But, it has not, even though the Brotherhood has a frequently updated English-language website and Twitter handle.

One thing the book does is to rebut the Muslim doctrine of takfirism, a practice where Muslims declare another Muslim as an apostate without a trial or proof of treason. As can be seen historically and today, Takfirism leads to Muslim-on-Muslim violence because it enables Muslim extremists to unilaterally judge a co-religionist’s faith and essentially sentence him or her to death.

The Brotherhood and its apologists will counter that this analysis is proof that the Brotherhood proclaims non-violence today.

“The Muslim Brotherhood is committed to peaceful opposition action. It rejects all forms of violence,” it said in September.

The context of this quote is important. It was said by the Foreign Affairs Secretary of the Brotherhood’s political wing in Egypt, the Freedom and Justice Party, about  Egypt and only about Egypt.

A “Non-Violent” Group That Supports Violence Outside of Egypt

Western governments fail to understand that this stance is limited only to Egypt and is in accordance with the Brotherhood doctrine of “gradualism;” a pragmatic strategy of incremental change during periods of weakness.

Contrary to the White House’s statement, the Brotherhood does notrule out violence or terrorism entirely. In fact, it actively encourages violence in places outside of Egypt.

Tellingly, the Brotherhood’s Palestinian wing, Hamas, is officially designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the United States.

Hamas’ charter states in Part 1, Article 2 that it is “one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine. The Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a world organization, the largest Islamic Movement in the modern era.”

In 2006, senior Brotherhood leader Essam El-Erian said, “Hamas is part of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

In 2011, Hamas officially changed its name to include, “a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood—Palestine.” The following year, a video appeared showing Hamas leaders, including Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, declaring allegiance to the Brotherhood and specifically to its jihad.

Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood have never denied their affiliation, nor have they ever condemned each other or severed ties. It is an indisputable affiliation. Former Egyptian President Morsi was actually the main liaison between Hamas and the Egyptian Brotherhood before getting into power.

The Muslim Brotherhood overtly endorses the violent destruction of Israel, suicide bombings and terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. This fact also has never been disputed by the Brotherhood.

These facts not only discredit the White House’s position that the Brotherhood is non-violent, they discredits the White House’s position that the Brotherhood is not a terrorist group.

Read more at Clarion Project

Sisi is not Mubarak

Sisi-300x203By Caroline Glick:

It was due to Mubarak’s refusal to act that the Palestinians in Gaza were able to begin and massively expand their projectile war of mortars, rockets and missiles against Israel. From the first such attacks, carried out 14 years ago, the Palestinian projectile campaigns could never have happened without Egypt’s effective collaboration.

On countless occasions, Palestinian terrorist commanders were able to escape to Sinai and avoid arrest by Israeli forces, only to return to Gaza from Sinai and continue their operations.

Mubarak believed that Israel was his safety valve. By facilitating jihadist operations against Israel from Egyptian territory, he assumed that he was securing Egypt from them. As he saw things, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran would be so satisfied with his cooperation in their jihad against the Jews that they would leave him alone.

It was only in 2009, when Egypt announced the unraveling of a terrorist ring in Sinai comprised of Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hamas and Hezbollah operatives planning attacks against Israel and Egypt, and seeking the overthrow of the regime, that Mubarak began signaling he may have misjudged the situation. But even then, his actions against those forces were sporadic and half-hearted.

Hamas’s continued assaults against Israel in the years that followed, and the build-up of Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaida forces in Sinai, were a clear sign that Mubarak was unwilling to contend with the unpleasant reality that the very forces attacking Israel were also seeking to overthrow his regime and destroy the Egyptian state.

In stark contrast, Sisi rose to power as those selfsame forces were poised to destroy the Egyptian state. The Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power owed in part to the support it received from Hamas.

During the January 2011 rebellion against Mubarak, Hamas operatives played a key role in storming Egyptian prisons in Sinai and freeing Muslim Brotherhood leaders – including Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi – from prison. In 2012 and 2013, Hamas forces reportedly served as shock troops to quell protests against the Muslim Brotherhood regime. Those protests arose in opposition to Morsi’s moves to seize dictatorial powers Mubarak never dreamed of exercising, and his constitutional machinations aimed at transforming Egypt into an Islamic state and hub of a future global caliphate.

Sisi and his generals overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood with Saudi and UAE support in order to prevent Egypt from dissolving into a Sunni jihadist axis in which Hamas, al-Qaida and other jihadist movements were key players, and Iran and Hezbollah were allied forces.

Due to the events that propelled him to power, Sisi has adopted a strategic posture far different from Mubarak’s. As Sisi sees things, Sunni jihadist forces and their Iranian-led Shi’ite allies are existential threats to the Egyptian state even when their primary target is Israel. Sisi accepts that Israel’s fight against them directly impacts Egypt. He recognizes that when Israel is successful in defeating them, Egypt is more secure. When Israel is weak, the threat to Egypt rises.

Like Israel, Sisi acknowledges that the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is shared by Hamas, al-Qaida and all other significant Sunni jihadist groups renders all of these groups threats to Egypt. And because of this acknowledgment, Sisi has abandoned Mubarak’s policy of enabling their war against Israel.

Not only has he abandoned Mubarak’s policy of enabling them, Sisi has acted in alliance with Israel in combating them. This is nowhere more evident than in his actions against Hamas in Gaza.

After seizing power in July 2013, Sisi immediately ordered the Egyptian military to take action to secure the border between Gaza and Sinai. To this end, for the first time, Egypt took effective, continuous steps to block the smuggling of arms and people between the two areas. These steps had a profound impact on Hamas’s regime. Hamas went to war against Israel this past summer in a bid to force Egypt and Israel to open their borders with Gaza in support of the Hamas regime and its jihadist allies.

Hamas was certain that footage of suffering in Gaza would force Egypt to oppose Israel, and so open its border with Gaza. It would also lead to US-led pressure on Israel that would make Israel succumb to Hamas’s demands.

Against all expectations, and previous precedents of Egyptian behavior under both Mubarak and Morsi, Sisi supported Israel against Hamas. Moreover, he brought both Saudi Arabia and the UAE into the unofficial alliance with Israel. The bloc he formed was powerful enough to surmount US pressure to end the war by bowing to Hamas’s demands and opening Gaza’s borders with Egypt and Israel.

Since the cease-fire came into force three months ago, Sisi has continued to seal the border. As a consequence, he has denied Hamas the ability to rebuild Gaza’s terror infrastructure. In its reduced state, Hamas is less able to facilitate the operations of its jihadist brethren in Sinai that are primarily involved in waging an insurgency against the Egyptian state.

To be sure, the most significant strategic development in recent years is the US’s strategic realignment under President Barack Obama. Under Obama the US has switched sides, supporting Iran and its allies, satellites and assets, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, against America’s Sunni allies and Israel.

But the alliance that emerged this summer between Israel and Egypt, with the participation of Saudi Arabia and the UAE , is also a highly significant strategic development. For the first time, a major regional power is basing its strategic posture on its understanding that the threats against itself and against Israel stem from the same sources and as a consequence, that the war against Israel is a war against it.

Israelis have argued this case for years to their Arab neighbors as well as to the Americans and other Western states. But for multiple reasons, no one has ever been willing to accept this basic, obvious reality.

As a consequence, everyone from the Americans to the Europeans to the Saudis long supported policies that empower jihadist forces against Israel.

Sisi is the first major leader to break with this consensus, as a result of actions Hamas took before and since his rise to power. He has brought Saudi Arabia and the UAE along on his intellectual journey.

Sisi’s reassessment of the relationship between the war against Israel and the war against Egypt has had a profound impact on regional realities generally and on Israel’s strategic posture specifically.

From Israel’s perspective, this is a watershed event.

The government must take every possible action, in economic and military spheres, to ensure that Sisi benefits from his actions.

Ex-AP Reporter – Media Imbalance Toward Israel Becomes Rooted

A Reuters truck drives through a bombed refugee camp in Gaza. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

A Reuters truck drives through a bombed refugee camp in Gaza. (Yannis Behrakis/Reuters)

by IPT News  •  Dec 1, 2014

Life as a foreign correspondent often is portrayed as dangerous, sexy work for a journalist.

But it also can be insular – you’re a stranger in a strange land, often dropping in with little knowledge about history, culture and context. That can inhibit the breadth of reporting presented to the world, a glaring flaw when it comes to reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, former Associated Press Jerusalem correspondent Matti Friedman writes in an article for The Atlantic.

Journalists monitor each other’s work and tend to view human rights groups and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as well meaning do-gooders immune from scrutiny. “Are they bloated, ineffective, or corrupt? Are they helping, or hurting? We don’t know,” Friedman writes, “because these groups are to be quoted, not covered.”

Over time, that arrangement helped entrench a narrative among foreign correspondents in Israel, writes Friedman, who reported out of the AP’s Jerusalem office from 2006-11. It is the second essay from the veteran journalist on how the media covers Israel. In August, Friedman provided first-hand examples of stories which were spiked if they made the Palestinians look intransigent, or made Israelis look good.

A “distaste for Israel has come to be something between an acceptable prejudice and a prerequisite for entry,” he writes in the Atlantic piece. “The Israel story” is “a simple narrative in which there is a bad guy who doesn’t want peace and a good guy who does.”

A New York Times editor unintentionally reinforced Friedman’s point last month when he took to Twitter to admit his willingness to ignore Palestinian incitement and bigotry until “they have [a] sovereign state to discriminate with.”

When events conflict with that narrative, Friedman writes, they are under-reported or not reported at all. So a 2013 rally at the West Bank’s Al-Quds University supporting the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and invoking Nazi imagery was widely known among Western journalists but generated little coverage until Brandeis University suspended a partnership program with Al-Quds.

Or, more recently: “The AP staff in Gaza City would witness a rocket launch right beside their office, endangering reporters and other civilians nearby—and the AP wouldn’t report it, not even in AP articles about Israeli claims that Hamas was launching rockets from residential areas. (This happened.) Hamas fighters would burst into the AP’s Gaza bureau and threaten the staff—and the AP wouldn’t report it. (This also happened.)”

Hamas understands this reality and manipulates journalists to further advance it. So some stories hint that Hamas no longer is wed to its founding, anti-Semitic charter and its calls for Israel’s destruction. Others falsely cast Hamas as open to peace and moderation.

Friedman’s essay is important because he writes from experience, not anger. It is packed with too much insight to fully capture here. To read the full essay, click here.

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Turkey’s Hamas ‘bureau’

A masked member of Hamas stands in front of a banner depicting Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a protest in the central Gaza Strip against Israel's interception of Gaza-bound ships, June 4, 2010. (photo by REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

A masked member of Hamas stands in front of a banner depicting Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a protest in the central Gaza Strip against Israel’s interception of Gaza-bound ships, June 4, 2010. (photo by REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

By Shlomi Eldar:

Hamas is a multi-headed movement whose power centers and modalities of influence were shaped and institutionalized by changing realities. Its power centers and decision-making apparatus moved from the Gaza Strip to the control of the Hamas political bureau abroad, following Israel’s pursuit of the movement’s heads and activists in the territories, and the leadership vacuum that was created as a result.

The internal power struggles that waged within the movement secured and institutionalized Hamas’ current well-known structure: the Gaza Strip leadership, the West Bank leadership, the leadership of the prisoners in Israeli prisons and also, over the years, Hamas’ military wing in Gaza. The military wing has developed into an almost autonomous entity that makes crucial decisions on its own.

The relative weight of the political bureau as the movement’s supreme body — in addition to the Shura Council — was, and still is, due to the money raised by its members to fund Hamas’ activities. Its military wing in Gaza — as opposed to the political leadership — established its power and influence by virtue of the large quantity of weapons that flowed into the Gaza Strip under Hamas control.

This is how the movement operates and how it managed to survive the tremors and shocks it has undergone in the course of its 27 years. While the internal balance of power between the movement’s assorted heads has somewhat changed, the structure that was set over the years has been meticulously maintained.

Recently, another chief added himself to Hamas’ leadership: Salah al-Arouri. Arouri amasses significant power within the familiar Hamas structure and even has substantive influence on the functioning of the movement — influence that bends Hamas leadership to his will. Based in Istanbul, Arouri tends to adopt autonomous characteristics similar to those of the Hamas military wing in the Gaza Strip.

Arouri, one of the founders of Hamas’ military wing in the West Bank, lived previously in Ramallah. In May 2007, he was arrested and jailed by the Israeli authorities, and in April 2010 he was expelled from the territories. Arouri asked to move to the Gaza Strip, but Israel preferred to expel him abroad, under the assumption that his presence in Gaza would endanger Israel.

Read more at Al Monitor

Jordanian Security Forces Arrest 20 Muslim Brothers for Arms Smuggling

Hamas operative Saleh al-Arouri (photo credit: YouTube

Hamas operative Saleh al-Arouri (photo credit: YouTube

CSP, By Kyle Shideler:

Jordanian security forces have reportedly arrested 20 members of the Muslim Brotherhood on allegations that they participated in smuggling weapons to Hamas terrorists in the West Bank, according to the Times of Israel, citing Qatar-based Al-Jazeera:

The satellite channel reported Sunday that the men attempted to train others in military operations to be carried out against Israelis in the West Bank. They also collected money for the purchase of weapons to be smuggled into the West Bank, or bought in the Palestinian territory. It was not clear from the report when the 20 were arrested. The arrests come as tensions between the Jordanian regime and the Islamist organization peaked last month, when the Muslim Brotherhood’s deputy secretary-general Zaki Bani Irsheid was arrested on November 21 over derogatory comments he posted on Facebook against the United Arab Emirates.

Hamas’ West Bank operations are reportedly run out of Turkey by Saleh Al-Arouri, who has personally admitted orchestrating the murder of three Jewish students that precipitated the attacks resulting in Operation Protective Edge. Al-Arouri reportedly did so at a meeting between Hamas officials, and the International Union of Muslim Scholars(IUMS), led by Muslim Brotherhood chief jurist Yusef Al-Qaradawi. As the Center has previously reported, Al-Qaradawi’s IUMS played a key role in agitating for- at times violent- protests around the globe in support of Hamas during Protective Edge. Al Qaradawi is the leader of the U.S. designated terrorism funding network the Union of the Good, responsible for raising money internationally for Hamas.

Al-Arouri is a name long known to counterterrorism experts, and he was listed as a co-conspirator in the U.S. Department of Justice case against U.S. Muslim Brotherhood Palestine Committee Chairman, and now deputy political chairman for Hamas Mousa Abu Marzook and Palestine Committee member and Hamas fundraiser Abdel Halem Al-Ashqar.

While Hamas vehemently denies doing so, this is not the first time that Jordanian security officials have targeted Jordanian Muslim Brothers with allegations of weapons smuggling. In 2006, Jordan accused 30 Brotherhood members of smuggling Iranian manufactured rockets to Hamas. This time however, the charges are joined with allegations that the Brothers intended to establish a Jordanian “military wing” for purposes of operating in Jordan itself, and that they had received training from Hamas operatives for that purpose. This mirrors similar charges made by the United Arab Emirates against members of the local UAE Muslim Brotherhood front the Al-Islah party, leading to an aggressive crackdown against the Brotherhood in the Gulf state that began around January of 2013. The result of that effort was the listing by the U.A.E of numerous global Muslim Brotherhood operations, including the International Union of Muslims Scholars, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society (MAS) as terrorist groups.

The United States continues to reject the evidence which demonstrates the role played by the Muslim Brotherhood in funding and fomenting terrorism, even while the Arab world, including countries like Jordan and the U.A.E., which have in the past been considered partners in the War on Terror, are doing the opposite.

WATCH: CAIR ATTORNEYS HARASS PROTESTERS

Breitbart:

(The United West) November 15 was not a good day for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

First, the excitement that Muslim CAIR officials had about their annual south Florida fundraising Banquet was completely devastated by the announcement from the Muslim country the United Arab Emirates who stated that CAIR along with the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram is one of the top terrorist organizations in the world. Second, a group of patriotic Americans was gathered outside their annual HAMAS fundraising event at the Marriott Renaissance Hotel in Fort Lauderdale.

So what did CAIR do? They, true to form, sent out their goon squad of lawyers to intimidate and harass those who were simply repeating what the UAE has listed them as – a terrorist organization. Watch the protesters rip apart the CAIR lawyers as they try to deny that they are indeed fundraisers for global terrorism.

Follow The United West on Twitter @TheUnitedWest

Ryan Mauro Debates CAIR: Is CAIR Linked to Muslim Brotherhood?

Published on Nov 19, 2014 by Ryan Mauro

Clarion Project national security analyst Ryan Mauro debates Nezar Hamze of CAIR-Florida about whether the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas following the United Arab Emirates’ designation of CAIR and Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist groups.

Three Americans among dead in Palestinian attack on Jerusalem synagogue

 

Fox News, Nov. 18, 2014:

Three Americans were among four worshippers killed in a Jerusalem synagogue Tuesday by two Palestinians wielding meat cleavers and a gun and shouting “Allahu Akbar” in a brutal attack that prompted a vow from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “respond harshly.”

The American citizens — identified as Aryeh Kupinsky, Kalmen Levin and Moshe Twersky — were killed along with a Briton when the assailants, identified as cousins, stormed the building and began attacking people. Police said those killed were all immigrants to Israel and held dual citizenship.

Eight others were injured — one critically — before the attackers were killed in a shootout with police. The Times of Israel cited witnesses who said the attackers stormed the synagogue, in the ultra-Orthodox Har Nof neighborhood in the western part of Jerusalem, shouting “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is Great,” and creating a horrific scene of bloody carnage.

“I tried to escape. The man with the knife approached me. There was a chair and table between us … my prayer shawl got caught. I left it there and escaped,” a man who identified himself as Yossi, who was praying at the synagogue at the time of the attack, told Israeli Channel 2 TV. He declined to give his last name.

The attack was the deadliest in Israel’s capital since 2008, when a Palestinian gunman shot eight people in a religious seminary school.

Netanyahu vowed that Israel will “respond harshly” to the attack, which he denounced as a “cruel murder of Jews who came to pray and were killed by despicable murderers.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he spoke to Netanyahu after the assault and denounced it as an “act of pure terror and senseless brutality and violence.”

Kerry blamed the attack on Palestinian calls for “,” and said Palestinian leaders must take serious steps to refrain from such incitement. He also urged Palestinian leaders to condemn the attack “in the most powerful terms.”

Hours after Kerry spoke, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack, the first time he has done so since a recent spike in deadly violence against Israelis began. He also called for an end to Israeli “provocations” surrounding the sacred site.

In a statement, Abbas’ office said he “condemns the killing of the worshippers in a synagogue in west Jerusalem.” The statement called for an end to the “invasion” of the mosque at a contested holy site in the city and a halt to “incitement” by Israeli ministers. But Hamas, the militant group that runs the Gaza Strip, praised the attack as retaliation for what it claimed was the murder of a Palestinian bus driver who was found hanged in his vehicle late Sunday. Israeli police, citing autopsy results, have classified the man’s death as a suicide, but that has not been accepted by the man’s family.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the attackers were cousins from East Jerusalem, which has been the scene of relentless clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in recent months. She identified the assailants as Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal from the Jabal Mukaber neighborhood.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a militant group, said the cousins were members. A PFLP statement did not specify whether the group instructed the cousins to carry out the attack.

Soon after the attack, clashes broke out outside the Abu Jamals’ home, where dozens of police had converged. Residents hurled stones at police who responded using riot dispersal weapons.

Residents in the neighborhood, speaking on condition of anonymity for fears for their own safety, said 14 members of the Abu Jamal family were arrested.

Mohammed Zahaikeh, a social activist in Jabal Mukaber, said one of the relatives of the cousins, Jamal Abu Jamal, was released in a 2011 prisoner swap and re-arrested recently by Israeli police. He did not say why.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said two police officers were among the eight wounded, four of whom were reported in serious condition. He said police were searching the area for other suspects.

Associated Press footage from the scene showed the synagogue surrounded by police and rescue workers following the attack.  Wounded worshippers were being assisted by paramedics and a bloodied meat cleaver lay near the scene of the attack. Initially, police had described the weapons used as knives and axes.

Another witness, identified only as Zohar described panic at the scene.

“I heard shooting and one of the worshipers came out covered in blood and shouted ‘There’s a massacre,'” he told The Times of Israel.

A photo in Israeli media from inside the synagogue showed what appeared to be a body on the floor draped in a prayer shawl, with blood spattered nearby.

Yosef Posternak, who was at the synagogue at the time of the attack, told Israel Radio that about 25 worshippers were inside when the attackers entered.

“I saw people lying on the floor, blood everywhere. People were trying to fight with [the attackers] but they didn’t have much of a chance,” he said.

Jerusalem has seen a spate of attacks by Palestinians against Israelis, most of which have involved cars being driven into pedestrians. At least six people had been killed in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Tel Aviv prior to Tuesday.

Jerusalem residents have already been fearful of what appeared to be lone-wolf attacks, but Tuesday’s early morning attack on a synagogue harks to the gruesome attacks during the Palestinian uprising of the last decade.

Israel’s police chief said Tuesday’s attack was likely not organized by militant groups, similar to other recent incidents, making it more difficult for security forces to prevent the violence.

“These are individuals that decide to do horrible acts. It’s very hard to know ahead of time about every such incident,” Yohanan Danino told reporters at the scene.

Tensions appeared to have been somewhat defused last week following a meeting between Netanyahu, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Jordan. The meeting was an attempt to restore calm after months of violent confrontations, with Israel and the Palestinians saying they would take steps to reduce tensions that might lead to an escalation.

The Jerusalem holy site is referred to by Jews as the Temple Mount because of the Jewish temples that stood there in biblical times. It is the most sacred place in Judaism; Muslims refer to it as the Noble Sanctuary, and it is their third holiest site, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

The site is so holy that Jews have traditionally refrained from going there, instead praying at the adjacent Western Wall. Israel’s chief rabbis have urged people not to ascend to the area, but in recent years, a small but growing number of Jews, including ultranationalist lawmakers, have begun regularly visiting the site.

Click for more from The Times of Israel.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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