Dead Argentine prosecutor was zeroing in on a terror threat to the entire Western Hemisphere

Alberto Nisman

Alberto Nisman

Business Insider, by LINETTE LOPEZ, March 20, 2015:

Iran and its proxies are well positioned in several Middle Eastern countries.

As days go by, the mystery surrounding the death of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman – who was found shot in the head in his locked apartment two months ago – becomes murkier.

But we’re learning a lot more about the explosive findings of his decade-long investigation.

Testimony from journalists and government officials suggest that in addition to describing Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s hand in protecting the perpetrators of a 1994 Buenos Aires terrorist attack, Nisman was also working to blow the lid off the workings of Iran’s terrorist organization in Latin America.

Nisman’s decade of work on the subject pointed to Iran.

And according to the testimonies, it appears Nisman was working to blow the lid off the entire workings of Iran’s terrorist organization in Latin America.

‘Export Iran’s Islamic Revolution’

In a written statement on Wednesday, Brazilian investigative journalist Leonardo Coutinho walked members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs through the findings of his years of work looking into Iran’s penetration of Brazil.

In a statement titled “Brazil as an operational hub for Iran and Islamic Terrorism,” Coutinho discusses not only his findings while working for Brazil’s Veja magazine, but also Nisman’s tireless work.

“Official investigations carried out by Argentine, American, and Brazilian authorities have revealed how Brazil figures into the intricate network set up to ‘export Iran’s Islamic Revolution’ to the West, by both establishing legitimacy and regional support while simultaneously organizing and planning terrorist attacks,” Coutinho said (emphasis ours).

“Despite the fact that Brazil has never been the target of one of these terrorist attacks, the country plays the role of a safe haven for Islamic extremist groups, as explained below.”

He went on to note that Nisman’s 502-page dictum on the 1994 Buenos Aires terrorist attack “not only describes the operations of the network responsible for this terrorist attack, it also names those who carried it out. Consequently, the document lists twelve people in Brazil with ties to [Iran’s Lebanese proxy] Hezbollah, who reside or resided in Brazil. Seven of these operatives had either direct or indirect participation in the AMIA bombing.”

To put these astounding assertions into perspective, consider that Iranian military mastermind Qassem Suleimani recently said, “We are witnessing the export of the Islamic Revolution throughout the region. From Bahrain and Iraq to Syria, Yemen and North Africa.”

Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explains what Suleimani, head of the foreign arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, meant by this:

“When he talks about exporting the Islamic Revolution, Suleimani is referring to a very specific template.

“It’s the template that the Khomeinist revolutionaries first set up in Lebanon 36 years ago by cloning the various instruments that were burgeoning in Iran as the Islamic revolutionary regime consolidated its power.”

And now, according to reporting from Veja and Nisman, Iran and Hezbollah have been attempting the same in Latin America.

Nisman dug deep

Nisman had been working on Iran’s involvement in Latin America since 2005, when Nestor Kirchner, then Argentina’s president, asked him to investigate a 1994 terrorist attack on a Buenos Aires Jewish Center, AMIA. The attack killed 85 people.

Around the same time, according to reports, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013, had allegedly ensured that Iranian and Hezbollah agents were furnished with passports and flights that would allow them to move freely around South America and to Iran.

From there, it was a matter of fund-raising for Iran’s agents – co-opting drug cartels, and sometimes hiding in remote, lawless parts of Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, and other countries that lack the infrastructural, legal, and economic resources to root out Iran’s agents of terror.

“Iran and Hezbollah, two forces hostile to US interests, have made significant inroads in Peru, almost without detection, in part because of our weak institutions, prevalent criminal enterprise, and various stateless areas,” Peru’s former vice interior minister told Wednesday’s House hearing, noting that Peru was not hostile to the US. “These elements are particularly weak in the southern mountainous region of my country.”

AMIA bombing argentina

Remains of the AMIA after the 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Wikipedia

Nisman’s findings alleged that Hezbollah and top government officials in Iran orchestrated the AMIA attack. Nisman’s investigation was lauded by international parties – current President (and Nestor’s widow) Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has said so herself.

But things changed after Nestor left office in 2007. Argentina’s prolonged ostracization from international markets made it a cash-strapped nation, and the popularity of the Kirchners domestically waned below ecstatic.

That meant Fernandez would have to fight to hold on to power, and that fight would take money. According to Coutinho’s work, that’s when things changed. He interviewed three defected officials of Chavez’s regime who said they witnessed a conversation between the Venezuelan president and his then-Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in January 2007.

Ahmadinejad and Chavez reportedly planned to coerce Argentina into sharing nuclear technology with Iran – which Argentina had done in the 1980s and again in the early 1990s after the AMIA bombing – and stopping the hunt for the perpetrators of the AMIA bombing in exchange for cash, some of it to finance Fernandez’s political aims. It’s unclear whether Fernandez knew where this money was coming from, according to Coutinho.

In any case, The New York Times recently reported that intercepted conversations between Argentine and Iranian officials “point to a long pattern of secret negotiations to reach a deal in which Argentina would receive oil in exchange for shielding Iranian officials” from being formally accused of orchestrating the terror attack.

If genuine, The Times noted, the conversation transcripts show “a concerted effort by representatives of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s government to shift suspicions away from Iran in order to gain access to Iranian markets and to ease Argentina’s energy troubles.”

Hugo Chavez, Nestor Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner with her husband, Nestor, right, and, Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez in Buenos Aires in 2007. Reuters

After that, analysts at the US-based think tank Strategy Center note that there was a significant shift in Argentina’s policy toward Iran:

Later in 2012, Ahmadinejad made a speech at the UN, and for the first time in years the Argentine delegation did not walk out. The Argentine administration eventually cast Nisman’s findings on AMIA, Iran, and Hezbollah aside.

AMIA suspects

Moshen Rabbani and another original suspect in the AMIA bombing, Ahmad Reza Ashgari, from a 2006 handout released by an Argentine court. Reuters

Through all of this, Nisman continued digging. He tried to track the network of Mohsen Rabbani, who he believed led Iran’s cell in Latin America and was an architect of the AMIA attack.

>Brazilian authorities tried and failed to arrest Rabbani, whose main contact in Brazil at the time of the attacks, according to Nisman, was a cleric named Taleb Hussein al-Khazraji.

And that connection shows how Iran’s “intricate network set up to ‘export Iran’s Islamic Revolution’ to the West” touched the United States.

Both al-Khazraji and Rabbani were in contact with Abdul Kadir, a former politician from the South American country of Guyana who is now serving a sentence of life in prison in the US for plotting to attack New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport in 2007.

The FBI said Kadir was caught trying to board a plane in Trinidad bound for Venezuela and eventually to Tehran.

Kadir was prosecuted, with some assistance from Nisman, by none other than US attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch.

U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch

US Attorney Loretta Lynch. Reuters

“The sentence imposed on Abdul Kadir sends a powerful and clear message,” Lynch said in a statement at the time. “We will bring to justice those who plot to attack the United States of America.”

All of this suggests Alberto Nisman was a marked man for years. But for years he managed to do extraordinary work uncovering Iran’s terrorist network in Latin America.

It’s no wonder that confusion about what happened, who did it, and why has taken over Argentina’s news cycle. Reports have little to say or do with Nisman’s part in fighting international terrorism in Latin America.

Michael B. Kelley contributed to this report.

Also see:

Obama Whitewashes Iranian Terrorism

Hezbollah-Fighters-300x214Frontpage, March 18, 2015 by Joseph Klein:

The Obama administration is shamelessly whitewashing the Iranian regime’s state sponsorship of global terrorism, no doubt to help soften Iran’s image in preparation for trying to foist a bad nuclear deal on the American people. It also did the same thing for Iran’s jihadist proxy terrorist group, Hezbollah.

The administration’s most recent unclassified version of the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community report published on February 26, 2015, delivered to the US Senate by National Intelligence director James Clapper, conspicuously omitted any reference to the ongoing terrorist threat posed by Iran and Hezbollah. While acknowledging that Iran remains “an ongoing threat to US national interests,” the report noted Iran’s “intentions to dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners, and deescalate tensions with Saudi Arabia.” The report also noted Iran‘s commitment of more resources to the fight against the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State.

In the small section devoted to Yemen, the report made no mention of Iranian support for the Huthi rebels. It simply portrayed Iran as a beneficiary of the Huthis’ rise to power: “Huthi ascendency in Yemen has increased Iran’s influence as well.”

By contrast, in the previous Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community report dated January 29, 2014, Iran and Hezbollah figured prominently under a section entitled “Terrorist Activities Overseas.”

In addition to mentioning the large role played by Iran and Hezbollah in propping up the Assad regime in Syria, which they view as “a key partner in the ‘axis of resistance’ against Israel, the earlier intelligence report said that “Iran and Lebanese Hizballah continue to directly threaten the interests of US allies. Hizballah has increased its global terrorist activity in recent years to a level that we have not seen since the 1990s.”

In the specific section of the January 29, 2014 report devoted to Iran, the report stated: “In the

broader Middle East, Iran will continue to provide arms and other aid to Palestinian groups, Huthi rebels in Yemen, and Shia militants in Bahrain to expand Iranian influence and to counter perceived foreign threats.”

What happened between 2014 and 2015 to merit deleting any association of Iran and Hezbollah with continued global terrorist activity in the most recent intelligence assessment report? Did Iran’s leaders suddenly decide to forswear terrorism and join the family of civilized nations? Obviously not. For example, as Middle East and national security expert Daniel Byman testified on February 11, 2015 before the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, Iran’s proxy Hezbollah continued its terrorist operations in 2014 in far-flung locations:

Iran, often working with Hizballah, has repeatedly tried to use terrorism against an array of Israeli and Western targets and interests, and this pattern has continued in recent years. Recent plots reportedly range from plots against an Israeli shipping company and USAID offices in Nigeria in 2013 to reconnoitering the Israeli embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan, for a possible attack. Hizballah operatives planned an attack in 2014 against Israeli tourists in Bangkok and in October 2014 Hizballah operatives were arrested in Peru for planning attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets there.

With respect to Yemen, Iran’s increased influence in the country was not just a by-product of the “Huthi ascendency,” as the February 2015 intelligence assessment report intimated. Iran’s intervention on behalf of its Shiite allies with arms, training and funding made the Huthi takeover of the Yemen government possible. With Iran also heavily involved in Iraq, the proclamation of an emerging Iranian empire by Ali Younusi, an adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei, rings true, at least as to Iran’s hegemonic intentions. “Iran is an empire once again at last, and its capital is Baghdad,” he declared.

However, the Obama administration is willing to fudge the truth to induce Iran to stay at the negotiating table and make some sort of nuclear arms deal that President Obama can trumpet as a major diplomatic achievement. Anyway, in the Obama administration’s calculations, Iran can’t be all that bad since it now helping to fight those truly evil Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria whom we too are fighting.

Max Abrahms, professor of political science at Northeastern University and member at the Council of Foreign Relations, postulated a “quid pro quo” arrangement. “Iran helps us with counter-terrorism and we facilitate their nuclear ambitions and cut down on our labelling of them as terrorists,” he was quoted by Newsweek as saying.

The February 2015 intelligence assessment report does not limit its whitewashing of Iran’s malevolent intentions to the subject of terrorism. It turned a blind eye to Iran’s unwillingness to come clean with international inspectors with regard to the military dimensions of its nuclear program.

The February 2015 intelligence assessment report claimed that the temporary agreement in place with Iran, known as the Joint Plan of Action, has “enhanced the transparency of Iran’s nuclear activities, mainly through improved International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access.”  It ignored the International Atomic Energy Agency’s repeated warnings that Iran has not been cooperating with the IAEA’s inquiry into allegations of Iran’s past nuclear-related military development work.

One would think that unfettered inspections to verify compliance with the terms of any final agreement would be absolutely non-negotiable, especially given Iran’s past record of cheating and defying international inspectors. However, according to a report in the New York Times on March 17th, unnamed officials have indicated that “provisions for extensive verification” are still being negotiated. The other issue where there is reportedly a gap is the timetable for removal of the United Nations sanctions and other sanctions.

The February 2015 intelligence assessment report conceded that Iran has “the ability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so,” but refused to take a position on Iran’s probable intentions. “We do not know whether Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons,” the report stated. “Tehran would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons, if it builds them,” the report added.

Iran has remained free to develop or acquire ballistic missiles and the technology to miniaturize nuclear weapons for delivery by Iran’s “preferred method.”  That apparently won’t change with a final deal, since Iran has refused to allow its missile program to be a part of the negotiations. Thus, while the Obama administration is negotiating everything –  the scope of inspections, the number of centrifuges that Iran will be able to keep spinning from the get-go, the timing of sanctions relief and the sunset date after which any significant nuclear restrictions will go away – it is being outmaneuvered by the Iranian negotiators who stick resolutely to their red lines. And, in the process, the Obama administration is providing Iran and its proxy Hezbollah a measure of respectability in the eyes of the world by whitewashing their terrorism records in an official U.S. intelligence assessment document.

***

Dropping Iran and Hezbollah from Threat Assessment a Strategic Error (centerforsecuritypolicy.org)

It is surprising that Iran and Hezbollah were notably omitted from the list of terror threats inthis year’s Worldwide Threat Assessment. The reason for doing so is likely political, tied to negotiation over the Iranian nuclear program and in due to the Obama Administration’s view that Iran has a constructive role to play in the fight against Islamic State. However, both ideas are unsound; Iran can not be trusted, either to surrender its nuclear program nor as an ally against Islamic State.

Many have warned about further Iranian influence in Iraq, and General Petraeus noted to then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2007 that Iran was seeking to expand influence over Iraq and challenge American power in the region. Such fears are not unfounded with the fact that Iran is backing most Shia militias in Iraq and the propensity for said militias to engage in brutal acts on Sunni Iraqis for the crime of simply being Sunni. Iranian support for anti-Islamic State actions in Iraq has been considerable, as seen in the retaking of Tikrit. No US support was requested in the operation, and two-thirds of the troops involved in the offensive to retake Tikrit were from Iranian-backed Shia militias. The head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, Major General Qasem Soleimani, is personally overseeing operations in Tikrit.

It is quite possible that Iran may itself be encouraging sectarian conflict in Iraq to drive the Iraqi Shia population to support an alliance with Iran to protect them from the Islamic State fundamentalist Sunni threat. This was done during the second Iraq War, when Iran gave weapons and funding to Al Qaeda in Iraq, Islamic State’s predecessor.

Now, recent reports suggest that terrorist organization Hezbollah will send 800 fighters toIraq in order to participate in a future counterattack against Islamic State in Mosul. Iran has already sent military forces to aid in the battle for Tikrit. Hezbollah’s entry in lieu of further direct Iranian military involvement are concerns from Sunni Arab Iraqis over having further Persian troops in country, and due to the similarity between the terrain of Lebanon with that of northern Iraq. Hezbollah previously had advisors in Iraq, but withdrew them after the Israeli military conducted a strike on a Hezbollah position in the Golan Heights this January.

While ignoring Iranian activity with terrorism, the Worldwide Threat Assessment Report did note that Iran’s nuclear and cyberwarfare programs had become quite advanced, citing the 2012-13 DDOS attacks on the financial sector and noting their recent attempts to develop ICBMs:

We continue to assess that Iran’s overarching strategic goals of enhancing its security, prestige, and regional influence have led it to pursue capabilities to meet its civilian goals and give it the ability to build missile – deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so…We judge that Tehran would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons, if it builds them. Iran’s ballistic missiles are inherently capable of delivering WMD, and Tehran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East. Iran’s progress on space launch vehicles — along with its desire to deter the United States and its allies — provides Tehran with the means and motivation to develop longer – range missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

The inclusion of Iran’s nuclear and cyber capabilities, while ignoring their regional strategy of using Islamist proxies and terrorists to advance their interests, which has played so successfully in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, misses the forest for the trees, and provides additional evidence that the Obama administration does not understand the nature of the regime in Tehran.

Qods Force-Led Offensive Hits Wall in Tikrit as IA Gets Overrun in Thar Thar

tikritMarch 18, 2015 / /

As we’ve predicted, the IRGC-Qods Force-led offensive to retake Tikrit has stalled due to the mounting casualties the joint force has experienced during the operation – and they haven’t even entered the city yet. In our last piece on the Tikrit offensive (ISIS Digs-in For Battle of Tikrit as Sunni Populace is Targeted by Iran’s Proxies) we discussed how the Islamic State (IS) were implementing a similar defense strategy to what we encountered during the Second Battle of Fallujah and the USMC’s Operation Steel Curtain. In each instance we saw AQI (what IS was known as back then) lining the avenues of approach with IEDs and VBIEDs, with choke points created by destroying bridges and blocking streets in order to force the US Marines down specific routes. We’re seeing the same playbook being used here, only US Marines aren’t the ones conducting the operation – its the IRGC-Qods Force, their proxies and ISOF.

ISIS Digs-in For Battle of Tikrit as Sunni Populace is Targeted by Iran’s Proxies
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5559

The Tikrit Front: “Not so Rosy” as Claimed by Obama Administration
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5440

Qods Force-Led Assault Force Meets Heavy Resistance in Tikrit
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5352

Iraqi offensive for Tikrit stalls as casualties mount
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/iraqi-offensive-for-tikrit-stalls-as-islamic-state-inflicts-casualties/2015/03/16/258a6dec-cb58-11e4-8730-4f473416e759_story.html

Iraq halts Tikrit operation to limit losses of ‘heroic forces’
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/iraq-halts-tikrit-operation-limit-losses-heroic-forces-861959426

reuters

Source: Associated Free Press

The assault force consists of over 25,000 that are broken down into the following: 19,850 Shia militia personnel, an estimated 150 IRGC-Qods Force operators and 2,000 pro-government tribal forces (which have lost over 20% of their personnel already). This leaves a small brigade-sized IA element of around 3,000 that consists of both ISOF and regular troops. This highlights the following issues that makes the success of the GOI’s long-term objectives unlikely:

1. The ISOF ranks are severely depleted from the high-rate of casualties they’ve experienced over the past year. ISOF personnel are highly-trained troops that can’t be quickly replaced like their regular IA counterparts, who receive a few weeks of the basics and might be able to properly fire and care for their weapon by the time they graduate. Another reason why ISOF are so important is that they usually don’t drop their weapons and flee for their lives. Due to the degradation of ISOF’s capabilities and manpower, a great deal of their tasks now fall on the Shia militias.

ISOF Commandos’ Admiration of their IRGC-Qods Force Embeds
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=122

State of the Iraqi Air Force and Special Operations Forces
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=69

The ones that are still alive openly display their admiration of their Qods Force “advisors” like the trooper in the pic below:

ISOF and ramazan

Source: The ISIS Study Group

2. The increasing reliance on the Shia militias is a red flag of ISOF’s degraded capabilities and the regular IA being effectively “tapped out” on personnel who are available to conduct offensive operations, with most IA units being dedicated to the static defense of Baghdad. Another issue that makes the IA achieving its goal of driving out IS from Tikrit, Bayji, the Zaab Triangle, Ramadi, Fallujah and Mosul is the fact that these Shia militias regularly target the Sunni civilian population – despite the fact that most are caught in the cross-hairs and not IS fighters themselves. The presence of Asaib al-Haq (AAH), Badr Corps and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS) means we can expect to see more villages burned into the ground and fighting-age males taken from their homes and tortured to death. In addition to GEN Suleimani being on the ground, so is AAH leader Qais al-Khazali:

BTW the video posted above shows that Khazali’s men were the ones that found the mass grave of the IA troops that were executed by IS, which also suggests that his men were the ones who burned down the village where the grave was found. Khazali’s presence is of particular concern due to this individual’s history of personally torturing Sunnis. If you want to know more about the Shia militias operating in the country, then check out the following articles:

The Hezbollah Presence in Iraq
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=358

Iran’s Go-To Proxy Group in Iraq
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1480

qais

Qais al-Khazali
Source: voanews.com

3. IS had been fortifying Tikrit and the Zaab Triangle in anticipation of an offensive to retake Mosul. The reason is simple – IS can effectively launch attacks from Zaab, Tikrit and Bayji targeting the lines of communication (LOC) supplying the offensive and quite possibly even cut-off and isolate the force sent to retake Mosul from any reinforcements. This was the primary reason for GEN Suleimani launching the current offensive to retake Tikrit. That said, What happens in Tikrit will be a glimpse into what the future holds for the IA in the subsequent offensives that will have occur before anybody can even think of retaking Mosul. Even if Suleimani’s assault force manages to retake Tikrit, the losses they’ve sustained thus far and have yet to experience would lead to the Shia militias experience a degradation in capabilities and manpower that’s currently plaguing ISOF. Reporting from the ground are putting the casualty numbers at around 40-60 dead per day, with most of the fallen fighters coming from the pro-government tribal forces and Shia militias themselves. That doesn’t bode well for Team Iraq.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 8.53.33 PM

GEN Suleimani: Willing to fight to the last man
Source: The ISIS Study Group

Further South in the Thar Thar-area, the IA’s 26th BDE HQ was overrun by IS late last week. The Thar Thar area is of great strategic importance to both the IA and IS as control of this location would enable the Salafists to launch attacks against government forces traveling between Baghdad, Samarra, Dujail, Taji and Balad. More importantly, this appears to be an attempt at cutting off the forces engaged in Tikrit from any resupply coming by ground from Baghdad or Samarra. Its also worth noting that IS had also recently executed 13 suicide attacks in Ramadi in order to blunt the clearing operations that are currently underway to relieve the pressure being exerted on al-Asad Airbase. Both attacks on the 26th BDE and inside Ramadi saw heavy foreign fighter involvement – some of which came from Australia.

Islamic State Overruns Iraqi Army Brigade Headquarters North of Fallujah
http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/03/islamic-state-overruns-iraqi-army-brigade-headquarters-north-of-fallujah.php

Foreign Suicide Bombers Launch Assault on Ramadi
http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/03/foreign-suicide-bombers-launch-assault-on-ramadi.php

Iraqi forces push into Tikrit, bombers hit Ramadi
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/11/us-mideast-crisis-iraq-tirkit-idUSKBN0M713X20150311

Shia Militias Sent to Reinforce al-Asad Airbase – IA on Verge of Collapse
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2758

The Continuing Flow of Foreign Fighters From Australia
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2889

The Increasing Role of Aussie Jihadists in ISIS Efforts to Expand into Southeast Asia and Strike the West
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5388

australi

Abu Abdullah al-Australi, who has been identified as Australian citizen Jake Bilardi
Source: Long War Journal

In keeping with Ayatollah Khameini’s fatwa authorizing the total destruction of Tikrit, Saddam’s tomb has been destroyed and there are multiple reports of the surrounding villages being set ablaze. This will only galvanize the anti-Shia sentiments of the Sunni community (there are a lot of former Baathists who live in the area that were among the “elite” in the days of the former regime), with many of the “fence-sitters” likely choosing to side with anybody who defends them against the Qods Force and their proxies – even if it means being aligned with IS. The fact that the pro-government tribal forces are being used as little more than canon fodder for the Shia militias gives the Sunni populace even more reason to distrust the GOI. Worse, its abundantly clear that no matter how much makeup GEN Suleimani puts on this pig – its still a pig. What we mean by that is the IA simply isn’t ready for “prime time” and it probably never will be. Tikrit serves as a gauge to test the viability of an offensive to retake Mosul. Thus far, the Iraq front has proven to be every bit the war of attrition that we assessed it would be – which goes against the overly-optimistic views of the Obama administration.

GEN Suleimani has every intention to completely destroy Tikrit in order to “make an example” out of the population center in much the same way that the late-Hafiz al-Assad did with Hama when he snuffed out the Muslim Brotherhood in what became known in that part of the world as “Hama Rules.” The current pause in the operation possibly means heavier weapons will be brought in, such as Iranian-made Zelzal-3 missiles to shell the city. With losses mounting in this campaign before government forces even enter Tikrit and the KRG Peshmerga making the decision to fortify Kirkuk instead of continuing to clear the Zaab Triangle, we assess that any planned operation to retake Mosul would end in failure. Furthermore, resistance against the IA advance will only stiffen in the aftermath of this offensive, regardless of whether or not Suleimani’s forces can seize Tikrit. Only a few weeks ago GEN Dempsey said that it would “be a good thing” for Iran to take on a greater role in the Iraq front. Well, they are, and those words are coming back to haunt him…

Saddam Hussein’s tomb destroyed, but Babylon is safe as ISIS targets antiquity
http://www.cnn.com/2015/03/16/middleeast/iraq-isis-babylon-safe/

Links to Other Related Articles:

ISIS Shaping Operations Against IA Blunts Mosul OP Before it Starts

Incoherent Strategy Delays Mosul Offensive, Administration Touts Hashtag Victory

IA Struggling to Avoid Collapse on Multiple Fronts – Mosul OP in Danger of Failing

GOI Has Big Plans to Retake the Country From ISIS – But Can They Pull it Off???

ISIS: Regained the Initiative in Northern Iraq

IRAN ASCENDANT

 RezaShrine

Philos Project, by Andrew Harrod, March 17, 2015:

Iran is now the rising power of the Middle East.

That’s what Hudson Institute scholar Michael Doran had to say on a February 20 panel commemorating a decade since the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. While Sunni atrocities at the hands of ISIS have captured the world’s attention, Doran and his fellow panelists argued that the Iranian-led Shiite alliance now expanding in the region is actually a far greater threat.

Doran’s colleague Lee Smith opened the panel by noting that Hariri’s Hezbollah “murderers still walk free” while the Obama administration cooperates with the Hezbollah’s patron, the Islamic Republic of Iran.  He noted that Persian Iran currently dominates four Arab capitals in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Obama’s heavy focus on countering Sunni extremism “left the door open” to Iranian regional domination, Doran observed.

How is Iran making such tremendous gains? Doran described Iran’s “winning formula” of projecting its revolutionary power around the region through its Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an organization that specializes in a mix of special operations, intelligence gathering, and aid distribution.  While the United States had difficulty channeling America’s “awesome power” during the 2006 Iraq war surge, the IRGC has successfully mounted similar operations all around the region. Doran pointed out that the Iranians “are just smarter than we are” in the Middle East, and are more willing “to kick you in the groin.” Meanwhile, Lebanese journalist Hussain Abdul Hussain recalled that the United States has “always been willing to bail” on allies, especially in his country.

What is the IRGC doing exactly? Foundation for the Defense of Democracies analyst Tony Badran explained that Iran’s export of revolution entails not so much the creation of a wider Islamic republic but the creation of a “militia movement…parallel to the state.”  This movement becomes an interlocutor with the outside world while also infiltrating existing state institutions. Take Hezbollah for example. Mythology notwithstanding, Hezbollah now effectively controls the Lebanese armed forces, once dominated by the country’s Christian population, and ensures that only an Iran-based policy will succeed in the country. The real power in Lebanon, Doran concurred, lies in militias like Hezbollah.

Badran explained how Iran wields Hezbollah, the “crown jewel” of the IRGC, as an “expeditionary force” around the region. Hussain elaborated that in this “Iranian era,” when states are collapsing everywhere, Syria’s dictator Bashir al-Assad has become an “Iranian viceroy” who is “totally dependent” upon Hezbollah.  Doran noted that the security sector in Iraq is now totally under the thumb of the Iranians, making that country’s elected officials almost irrelevant.

But Iran’s growing influence doesn’t stop at the borders of the Middle East. Doran also analyzed how Iranian influence prevented Obama from pursuing regime change in Syria despite consistent urgings from his National Security Council (NSC).  Overthrowing Assad could prompt Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq to turn from fighting ISIS to fighting the Americans.  Iran might also cancel its nuclear nonproliferation agreement with the United States. Thus, it is Iranian red lines, not American ones, that are dictating America’s activity (or non-activity) in Syria.

The view from Israel is a complex one. Badran noted that Israeli policymakers are divided over whether ISIS or the Iranian coalition is the greater threat in Syria.  Therefore, the Israelis have refrained from attempting to shift Syria’s internal power balance. But if the Israelis did ultimately move against Assad, Doran felt “almost certain” that they would find themselves at loggerheads with the Obama administration.

Doran saw “only one choice” of American policy towards Iran — opposition and not accommodation — but worried about finding regional allies who would prove up to the task.  Who would stand against Iran? ISIS?  Talking about confronting Iran, Badran said, means “you really are talking about Israel” since the Gulf States are still too weak and disorganized to be taken seriously.

All hope is not lost, however. Doran emphasized that Americans “are a great power,” even though “we may not feel like it.” At any rate, we’re a “hell of a lot stronger” than Iran. Hussain considered “far-fetched” the prospect of two million Alawites under Assad in Syria and one million Shiites in Lebanon, only one-third the population, controlling these two countries as minorities.  Hezbollah, Badran observed, is “very small” with only about 5,000 fighters, 1,000 of whom are now dead after fighting in Syria.

Hussain considered the 2006 Iraq surge a “brilliant model” that could be applicable to Lebanon and Syria.  Aided by the US, Sunni tribes in these countries, as well as Shiite tribes in Lebanon opposed to Hezbollah, could confront Iranian alliance together. In the meantime, Hussain found Obama’s NSC so incompetent that he advocated abolishing it.

The Hudson Institute panel demonstrated once again that the West has many foes and few friends in the Middle East.  While the  Sunni jihadists of ISIS transfix the world with decapitations, an even more powerful Iranian-led Shiite alliance endangers the delicate balance of the region.  Trying to counter both of these threats at the same time presents numerous dilemmas, and inexperienced outsiders must beware the Middle East’s shifting political sands.

Also see:

Obama Removes Iran from Terror List, Praises it for Fighting Terrorism

obama-iran-450x286Frontpage, March 16, 2015 by Daniel Greenfield:

The mask is coming off faster than ever.

You know the country responsible for killing hundreds of marines, which provided sanctuary to Al Qaeda and whose terrorist proxies helped give Al Qaeda the skills to carry out 9/11?

They’re no longer terrorists. Sure their terrorist groups currently control parts of Lebanon and Yemen, but they’re not terrorists. Because if Iran was a state sponsor of terror, then Obama letting them have the bomb might look bad. This way it’s fine.

An annual report delivered recently to the US Senate by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, removed Iran and Hezbollah from its list of terrorism threats, after years in which they featured in similar reports

In describing Iran’s regional role, the report noted the Islamic Republic’s “intentions to dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners, and deescalate tensions with Saudi Arabia,” but cautioned that “Iranian leaders—particularly within the security services—are pursuing policies with negative secondary consequences for regional stability and potentially for Iran.

The only time the report mentions Hezbollah is when describing it as a victim of attacks.

Lebanon faces growing threats from terrorist groups, including the al-Nusrah Front and ISIL. Sunni extremists are trying to establish networks in Lebanon and have increased attacks against Lebanese army and Hizballah positions along the Lebanese-Syrian border. Lebanon potentially faces a protracted conflict in northern and eastern parts of the country from extremist groups seeking to seize Lebanese territory, supplies, and hostages.

That clarifies that Obama no longer considers Hezbollah an enemy (not that he ever did). Instead it’s an ally that is classed together with Lebanon, rather than a threat to it.

Here’s what Obama chose to turn his back on.

“The worst part for me is that nobody remembers,” Mark Nevells said last year on the anniversary of the Hezbollah bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut.

A Marine had thrown his body in front of the truck to try stop the vehicle and afterward for five days, Nevells and other Marines had dug through the rubble for the bodies of the men they had served with.

One of the first Marines on the scene heard voices coming from underneath the rubble. “Get us out. Don’t leave us.”

The Marines lost more people that day than at any time since Iwo Jima and the number of Americans murdered that day by a terrorist group was a record that would stand until September 11.

And more of it still.

The Marines who died in the bombing were lucky. Another Marine did not die as quickly.

Colonel William R. Higgins was captured by Hezbollah, the terrorist group acting as Iran’s hand in Lebanon, and tortured for months until his body was dumped near a mosque.

An autopsy report found that he had been starved and had suffered multiple lethal injuries that could have caused his death.  The skin on his face had been partially removed along with his tongue and he had also been castrated.

Fred Hof, a diplomat who had been a friend of the murdered man, said, “I am one of a small handful of Americans who knows the exact manner of Rich’s death. If I were to describe it to you now – which I will not – I can guarantee that a significant number of people in this room would become physically ill.”

Like Higgins, William Francis Buckley, the CIA station chief, was also captured and tortured for months. On video tapes released by his Hezbollah captors, he was incoherent and his mind had been broken by the horrors inflicted on his ravaged body and his soul.

“They had done more than ruin his body,” CIA Director William Casey said. “His eyes made it clear his mind had been played with. It was horrific, medieval and barbarous”

Robert Stethem, a Navy diver, was brutally murdered when Hezbollah terrorists took over TWA flight 847. The Iranian-backed terrorists, one of whom was Imad Mughniyah, beat and kicked him to death.

“They were jumping in the air and landing full force on his body. He must have had all his ribs broken,” Uli Derickson, the stewardess, described. “I was sitting only 15 feet away. I couldn’t listen to it. I put my fingers in my ears. I will never forget. I could still hear. They put the mike up to his face so his screams could be heard by the outside world.”

Obama wants you to believe that the 47 Senators who stood up to him on Iran are traitors. The truth is he’s the traitor.

Also see:

Iran’s Expansive Role In The Middle East And Latin America, And The Nuclear Negotiations

333893762CSP, by Nancy Menges Luis Fleischman, Feb. 26, 2015:

As negotiations move forward on a nuclear arms agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the United States along with the P5+1 appears to be oblivious to activities of Iran in the Western Hemisphere and other regions of the world.

In the Middle East, Iran has most recently supported insurgencies in both Bahrain and Yemen. The pro-Iranian Houthis just overthrew the American backed government in Yemen which we were working with on terrorism related issues.

In Syria, Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah, continue to support the Bashar Al Assad regime with Hezbollah fighting together with Assad’s forces. So far 200,000 people have been killed in Syria with millions dispersed in refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey. Hezbollah now has a perfect excuse to be involved in supporting Assad by invoking the need to defeat the bloody Islamic State. Hezbollah may think that this card could play well in the West which is trying to avoid direct intervention to defeat ISIS and would prefer that local forces to do the fighting.

In Iraq, hundreds of thousands of young Shiites are fighting as part of Iranian-backed militias, with a Shiite sectarian orientation likely to aggravate the sectarian strife prevailing in the country. These militias outnumber the Iraqi security forces, and in addition members of the Iranian revolutionary guards, the pro-Iranian Badr organization, and the pro-Iran Katain Hezbollah are heavily involved, mostly operating outside of Iraqi government control.

In Latin America ever since the election of the late Hugo Chavez to the presidency of Venezuela in 1998, Iran has become more embedded in the region in an effort to spread its influence. Several episodes and activities are illustrative of this point.

A few years ago the late Argentinean prosecutor, Alberto Nisman reported in a 500 page document the presence of Iranian and Hezbollah cells in twelve countries in South America.

For at least ten years if not longer, there have been direct airline flights from Caracas to Tehran. Though these are commercial airlines no passengers are allowed and no one seems to know the cargo they carry but it is believed that weapons and members of Hezbollah or the Iranian Revolutionary Guards might be on those flights. Hezbollah has reportedly trained Venezuelan and other guerillas and has strengthened relations with a number of revolutionary regimes in the region. Likewise, tunnels built across the Mexican-American border are akin to those built by Hezbollah along the Israeli/Lebanese border.

In 2011, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder accused the Iranian Quds Force of plotting to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States. Though Iran vehemently denied complicity, the American government pointed to high officials in the Iranian hierarchy with having approved the plan.

Another Iranian activity that goes largely unnoticed is Iran’s outreach to several small Caribbean nations. In return for financial assistance, these nations have issued passports to Iranian citizens who wish to enter the United States but could not do so using their Iranian passports. Venezuela and a number of other countries connected directly or indirectly to ALBA countries are providing passports to Iranians. One of those holding such a passport is Moshen Rabbani, the man believed to be behind the terrorist attacks against the Argentinean Jewish Community Center (AMIA) in 1994.

Iran has also been the recipient of uranium from Venezuela.

Most recently the government of Uruguay confirmed that an Iranian diplomat left the country after Uruguayan security suspected him of collecting intelligence about the Israeli embassy in Montevideo.

The diplomat was thought to have placed an explosive device near the Israeli embassy early in January. The device was not particularly powerful but investigations carried out by Uruguayan intelligence indicated the possibility of Iran’s involvement in this serious incident. It was not clear to the authorities whether the device was intended to do harm or was just testing their ability to respond.

But what is astonishing about this story is that two months earlier another incident occurred which was intentionally kept out of the public eye by the Uruguayan government. Indeed, on November 24, somebody placed a suitcase near the building that belonged to the old Israeli embassy in Montevideo. Although the suitcase was empty, cameras located a car belonging to the Iranian embassy nearby. Inside there was a man that the police could not identify immediately but it was assumed he was an Iranian diplomat. The police concluded that the empty suitcase was aimed at testing Uruguayan security forces’ ability to respond.

The Uruguayan government apparently decided to expel the diplomat, who himself, is an appointee of the former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That appointee was a vocal anti-Semite, a Holocaust denier and apparently served as a translator in the conversations between Ahmadinejad and the late Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez. Furthermore, the man was reportedly working in Uruguay with Muslim converts that have been activists in a radical left wing party. These individuals could well have been potential candidates for terrorist recruitment; an activity Iran has been systematically performing.

Interestingly enough, Uruguay has been and is a friendly country towards Iran (without being a close ally like Venezuela and the other ALBA countries). Uruguay’s outgoing president, Jose Mujica, declared in the past that his country would pursue relations with Iran because it is good and convenient for the country. The Uruguayan foreign minister Luis Almagro was a commercial attaché in Teheran for about five years and under his watch commercial relations between the two countries flourished. Likewise, a Uruguayan parliamentary delegation visited Teheran to strengthen relations and Almagro himself defined Uruguay and Iran as “two countries that fight against injustice and oppression”. (Almagro is the most likely candidate to be the next Secretary General of the Organization of American States).

The incident in Uruguay is another instance where Iran once again displays its nature as a terrorist entity that does not hesitate in using its embassies and the good faith of the host countries to apply its lethal methods. This is what Iran did in Argentina previous to the two deadly terrorist attacks against the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish community center.

Why shouldn’t Iran be doing so if there is no demand for Iran to stop supporting and encouraging terrorism? After all, a year ago Argentina signed a memorandum with Iran where representatives from that country would be part of the investigation into a terrorist attack where Iran remains the main suspect. By the same token, the chief investigator of the terrorist attack, Mr. Nisman, is dead because he dared to investigate a suspected cover up by the Argentinean government-a government that allegedly wanted to exonerate Iran.

Furthermore, the Argentinean foreign minister Hector Timerman summoned the American and Israeli Ambassadors and asked that these two countries stop meddling in Argentinean internal affairs and stop bringing Middle East conflicts to Argentina. The irony of this statement is that Iran chose Argentina as the target of its’ own intense hatred and violence.

Iranians probably laugh at these events where they are being given a pass over and over again. So, the fact that Iranians may have considered an attack on the Israeli Embassy in a country that is friendly to them such as Uruguay shows the ruthless nature of the regime and how little relations or agreements mean to them.

The negotiations between Iran and the P 5 +1 are mainly focused on Iran’s nuclear program. Thus, Iran is treated as a partner in a negotiation over a specific issue but Iran’s terrorist and treacherous nature is not a factor being considered in this equation.

At this point the U.S. strategy could well be to try to reach an agreement with Iran where the latter would be allowed to enrich uranium at a low level. However, there could be a possibility that if Iran decides to develop nuclear weapons, it could take the Iranians a short time to develop them from the moment they make the decision to do so.

The examples of Iran’s activities show several negative signs. First, if Iran can betray friendly countries like Uruguay, why wouldn’t it betray the P5+1? Likewise, what makes us think that we can live with a terrorist subversive Iran that not only has good chances of having a dominant role in a post-ISIS Syria and Iraq but also expands its influence and activities beyond the Middle East including regions as far as Latin America (from where Iran can strike the U.S. via a terrorist attack or by placing missiles in friendly countries such as Venezuela or Nicaragua)?

Iran presents a very complex challenge. Iran’s non –nuclear, threat is not being discussed, nor considered. This possible nuclear arms agreement should not be treated, as if it were something comparable to a commercial transaction. After all, as a nation state, Iran for the last thirty five years has been the foremost exporter of terrorism.. As the United States along with the P5+1 continues with its negotiations with Iran, they might question whether as a non-nuclear power, Iran presents a threat to world peace and stability and if so how will that play out once they were to become a nuclear power.

Why the CIA Killed Imad Mughniyeh

It was paying back a generation-old blood debt.

The CIA doesn’t assassinate often anymore, so when it does the agency picks its targets carefully. The story uncovered last weekend by the Washington Post and Newsweek the CIA’s reported role in the February 2008 assassination of Hezbollah master terrorist Imad Mughniyeh is the stuff of a Hollywood spy thriller. A team of CIA spotters in Damascus tracking a Hezbollah terrorist wanted for decades; a custom-made explosive shaped to kill only the target and placed in the spare tire of an SUV parked along the target’s route home; intelligence gathered by Israelis, paired with a bomb built and tested in North Carolina, taking out a man responsible for the deaths of more Americans than anyone else until 9/11.

And yet, while the ‘what,’ ‘where,’ ‘when’ and ‘how’ of the story shock and amaze, the ‘who’ should not. Most people—including Hezbollah—assumed it was the Israelis, acting alone, who killed Mughniyeh. The Israelis certainly had the motive, given Mughniyeh’s role in acts of terrorist targeting Israelis and Jews around the world, from infiltrating operatives into Israel and shooting rockets into Northern Israel, to terror attacks targeting Israeli diplomats and local Jewish communities in places like Buenos Aires. Speaking by video teleconference at Mughniyeh’s funeral in 2008, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah quickly threatened Israel with “open war” for the killing of Hajj Radwan (aka Mughniyeh).

But the CIA had motive too, and for the many within the agency—indeed, as a matter of institutional memory—the hunt for Imad Mughniyeh was personal. Mughniyeh was behind the 1983 bombing of the US embassy in Beirut, which took out the entire CIA station there as well as the visiting head of the agency’s Middle East analysis branch. (In fact, word of the CIA’s role in Mugniyeh’s killing first leaked in a biography of that officer, Robert Ames, by Kai Bird, published last year.) Mughniyeh reportedly planned the 1984 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks and watched the attack unfold through binoculars from the top of a nearby building. His hand touched Hezbollah plots from Germany to Kuwait and from Argentina to Thailand.

This bloody history alone would have placed Mughniyeh in a league of his own, but there was something else that made the hunt for Mughniyeh a deeply personal vendetta. There was a reason more than one CIA operative reportedly refused reassignments and passed up on promotions to remain on the Hezbollah account. His name was Bill Buckley.

Long before ISIL’s current kidnapping and hostage spree has swept up a media frenzy, Hezbollah originated the high-profile Middle East hostage crisis. Hezbollah’s kidnapping spree in Lebanon lasted almost a decade, and it was not always a straightforward business. Some kidnappings were carried out by Hezbollah factions or clans—each with its own alias—in an opportunistic fashion to secure, for example, the release of a jailed relative. Others involved poorly trained muscle to grab people off the streets; several people were kidnapped because they were mistaken for American or French citizens. Captors assigned to guard the Western prisoners were often “unsophisticated but fanatic Muslims,” as one captive put it. In contrast, the March 1984 abduction of CIA station chief William Buckley indicated careful target selection and operational surveillance, likely supported by Iranian intelligence. According to one account, some of the intelligence Hezbollah used to identify Buckley as the local CIA chief was provided by Iran based on materials seized during the US embassy takeover in Iran in 1979.

As for Buckley, he was sent to Beirut in 1983 to set up a new CIA station after the previous one had been decimated in the April US embassy bombing. His kidnapping was a devastating blow to the CIA. “Bill Buckley being taken basically closed down CIA intelligence activities in the country,” commented one senior CIA official. But the CIA had adequate sources to determine within six months that Hezbollah was holding Buckley. For CIA director William Casey, finding Buckley was an absolute priority, the CIA official added. “It drove him almost to the ends of the earth to find ways of getting Buckley back, to deal with anyone in any form, in any shape, in any way, to get Buckley back. He failed at that, but it was a driving motivation in Iran-Contra,” the official said. “We even dealt with the devil . . . the Iranians, who sponsored Hezbollah, who sponsored the kidnapping and eventual murder of Bill Buckley.”

Frustrated with its inability to achieve its goals through hijackings and kidnappings, Hezbollah sent pictures of six hostages to several Beirut newspapers in May 1985. “All of the hostages in the photographs looked fairly healthy,” the CIA noted, “except U.S. embassy political officer Buckley who has been held longer than any of the others.”

Read more

African Nations to Send 7,500 Troops to Combat Boko Haram – Why is Iran so Interested?

The African Union (AU) has agreed to send a multi-nation force of 7,500 troops to Nigeria to assist the Nigerian military in combating Boko Haram. Interestingly enough, the Iranian regime has offered their “services” to assist this multi-nation force. Apparently Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian has been involved with African nations affected by Boko Haram to provide assistance. Specifically, the regime informed the AU that they’re willing to share their experiences and intelligence gained over the years in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Africa – Nigeria and Somalia in particular. Its also worth noting that Iran had representatives at the two-day summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that the announcement of the troop deployment was made. They were there as “observers.”

7,500 troops to fight Boko Haram

http://www.thecourier.co.uk/news/international/7-500-troops-to-fight-boko-haram-1.818195?utm_content=buffer2aada&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Iran Offers to Help Fight Boko Haram

http://www.nigerianeye.com/2015/02/iran-offers-to-help-fight-boko-haram.html

So why is Iran so interested in Africa? Well, the IRG-Qods Force and Hezbollah have both been very active on the continent over the past decade, so this isn’t a new phenomenon at all (remember, the IRGC has arms production factories in Sudan). Their expansion into the continent began to really expand when the first indicators of foreign fighters were making their way into Syria in the early days of the “Arab Spring.” Since then their objectives have been the following:

1. Keep tabs on the foreign fighter networks providing personnel and weapons to anti-Shia efforts in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

2. Eliminate the key personnel in those foreign fighter networks.

3. Conduct target development for when (and it will happen) the Qods Force and Hezbollah cells in Africa receive the green light to begin attacking American, Israeli and British diplomatic facilities, military personnel and civilians.

IRGC-Qods Force Insignia Source: iranwatch.org

IRGC-Qods Force Insignia
Source: iranwatch.org

The 2011-2013 time period saw a sharp increase in Qods Force and Hezbollah activity in Nigeria with Nigerian security forces having made several arrests of individuals associated with both organizations on terrorism charges. Nigeria is an anomaly, as other African nations have kept their mouths shut on the expansion of the Qods Force/Hezbollah networks in the western and eastern parts of the continent. Much of this has to do with Iran’s increased involvement in the economic, political and cultural fields, thus creating a co-dependent relationship (as the regime has been looking for ways to circumvent sanctions, although this may well be moot now that the Obama administration is on the job). However, there was one incident in JUN 12 where two Iranian nationals – identified as Ahmed Abolfathi Muhammad and Sayid Mansur Mousavi – who were arrested in Nairobi, Kenya for possessing explosive material. Apparently they had a lot more that was shipped into the country that Kenyan security forces weren’t able to find. The two individuals were suspected of plotting to conduct attacks targeting the Israeli, US, British and Saudi diplomatic missions. They received life sentences.

Out of Iran, into Africa: Hezbollah’s scramble for Africa

http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/.premium-1.530327

Nigeria has long been known for being a major hotbed of Qods Force and Hezbollah activity, going as far back as 2004 when an Iranian diplomat was arrested of casing the Israeli embassy in Abuja. In FEB 13, Nigerian security forces arrested Abdullahi Mustapha Berende and two other Nigerians for attempting to establish a proxy group that was reportedly trained in Iran. They were said to have been planning to attack American targets in Lagos. Berende himself allegedly first traveled to Iran in 2006, where he received his Islamic education and returned again in 2011 for weapons and explosives training. His Qods Force handlers tasked him with collecting intelligence on hotels and public places frequented by Americans and Israelis to identify potential targets for future attacks. Berende himself admitted that he worked with the Iranians and had received $30,000 USD to carry out the operations. A few months later, his associate Iranian national Azim Aghajani and another Nigerian accomplice were sentenced to five years for their involvement to smuggle a shipment of weapons into West Africa. The case was opened on them when Nigerian security forces opened 13 containers at Apapa Port in OCT 10 and found the weapons to include 107mm rockets, among other things. The shipment was bound for Gambia. The US government has linked Aghajani to the Qods Forces’ Department 400 External OPs Division. In keeping with the usual Qods Force TTPs, Aghajani was moving the weapons throughout Africa with the use of front companies such as Behineh Trading Co.

Read more at The ISIS Study Group

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2743059668Iran in Africa: A Tutorial Overview (centerforsecuritypolicy.org)

Iran’s activity in Africa is a model of their strategic conduct that allows them an asymmetric advantage over the United States in terms of diplomacy and statecraft. This pattern of behavior is adaptable and observable in Latin America as well as in Africa. Where there are weak governing institutions and fertile soil for anti-American sentiment of any form, the Iranian regime will seek global allies, revenue streams, resources, and capabilities that serve them well on the world stage.

This is an introductory overview meant to give a broad picture of behavior and intention. The open source record of Iranian, Hezbollah, and Quds Force activity in Africa is extensive.

Click here to download pdf of complete overview. See video presentation.

CIA and Mossad killed senior Hezbollah figure in car bombing

MughniyahWashington Post,  January 30, 2015:

On Feb. 12, 2008, Imad Mughniyah, Hezbollah’s international operations chief, walked on a quiet nighttime street in Damascus after dinner at a nearby restaurant. Not far away, a team of CIA spotters in the Syrian capital was tracking his movements.

As Mughniyah approached a parked SUV, a bomb planted in a spare tire on the back of the vehicle exploded, sending a burst of shrapnel across a tight radius. He was killed instantly.

The device was triggered remotely from Tel Aviv by agents with Mossad, the Israeli foreign intelligence service, who were in communication with the operatives on the ground in Damascus. “The way it was set up, the U.S. could object and call it off, but it could not execute,” said a former U.S. intelligence official.

The United States helped build the bomb, the former official said, and tested it repeatedly at a CIA facility in North Carolina to ensure the potential blast area was contained and would not result in collateral damage.

[Read: Who was Imad Mughniyah?]

“We probably blew up 25 bombs to make sure we got it right,” the former official said.

The extraordinarily close cooperation between the U.S. and Israeli intelligence services suggested the importance of the target — a man who over the years had been implicated in some of Hezbollah’s most spectacular terrorist attacks, including those against the U.S. Embassy in Beirut and the Israeli Embassy in Argentina.

The United States has never acknowledged participation in the killing of Mughniyah, which Hezbollah blamed on Israel. Until now, there has been little detail about the joint operation by the CIA and Mossad to kill him, how the car bombing was planned or the exact U.S. role. With the exception of the 2011 killing of Osama bin Laden, the mission marked one of the most high-risk covert actions by the United States in recent years.

U.S. involvement in the killing, which was confirmed by five former U.S. intelligence officials, also pushed American legal boundaries.

Mughniyah was targeted in a country where the United States was not at war. Moreover, he was killed in a car bombing, a technique that some legal scholars see as a violation of international laws that proscribe “killing by perfidy” — using treacherous means to kill or wound an enemy.

“It is a killing method used by terrorists and gangsters,” said Mary Ellen O’Connell, a professor of international law at the University of Notre Dame. “It violates one of the oldest battlefield rules.”

Former U.S. officials, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the operation, asserted that Mughniyah, although based in Syria, was directly connected to the arming and training of Shiite militias in Iraq that were targeting U.S. forces. There was little debate inside the Bush administration over the use of a car bomb instead of other means.

“Remember, they were carrying out suicide bombings and IED attacks,” said one official, referring to Hezbollah operations in Iraq.

The authority to kill Mughniyah required a presidential finding by President George W. Bush. The attorney general, the director of national intelligence, the national security adviser and the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department all signed off on the operation, one former intelligence official said.

The former official said getting the authority to kill Mughniyah was a “rigorous and tedious” process. “What we had to show was he was a continuing threat to Americans,” the official said, noting that Mughniyah had a long history of targeting Americans dating back to his role in planning the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.

“The decision was we had to have absolute confirmation that it was self-defense,” the official said.

There has long been suspicion about U.S. involvement in the killing of Mughniyah. In “The Good Spy,” a book about longtime CIA officer Robert Ames, author Kai Bird cites one former intelligence official as saying the operation was “primarily controlled by Langley” and it was “a CIA ‘black-ops’ team that carried out the assassination.”

In a new book, “The Perfect Kill: 21 Laws for Assassins,” former CIA officer Robert B. Baer writes how he had considered assassinating Mughniyah but apparently never got the opportunity. He notes, however, that CIA “censors” — the agency’s Publications Review Board — screened his book and “I’ve unfortunately been unable to write about the true set-piece plot against” Mughniyah.

The CIA declined to comment.

“We have nothing to add at this time,” said Mark Regev, chief spokesman for the prime minister of Israel.

A theory of self-defense

The operation in Damascus highlighted a philosophical evolution within the American intelligence services that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Before then, the U.S. government often took a dim view of Israeli assassination operations, highlighted by the American condemnation of Israel’s botched attempt in 1997 to poison the leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, in Amman, Jordan. The episode ended with Mossad agents captured and the Clinton administration forcing Israel to provide the antidote that saved Meshal’s life.

The Mughniyah killing, carried out more than a decade later, suggested such American hesi­ta­tion had faded as the CIA stretched its lethal reach well beyond defined war zones and the ungoverned spaces of Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, where the agency or the military have deployed drones against al-Qaeda and its allies.

A former U.S. official said the Bush administration relied on a theory of national self-defense to kill Mughniyah, claiming he was a lawful target because he was actively plotting against the United States or its forces in Iraq, making him a continued and imminent threat who could not be captured. Such a legal rationale would have allowed the CIA to avoid violating the 1981 blanket ban on assassinations in Executive Order 12333. The order does not define assassination.

In sanctioning a 2011 operation to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen andan influential propaganda leader for al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, the Justice Department made a similar argument. Noting that al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula had targeted U.S. commercial aircraft and asserting that Awlaki had an operational role in the group, government lawyers said he was a continued and imminent threat and could not feasibly be captured.

“It’s fairly clear that the government has at least some authority to use lethal force in self-defense even outside the context of ongoing armed conflict,” said Stephen I. Vladeck, a professor of law at American University’s Washington College of Law. “The million-dollar question is whether the facts actually support a determination that such force was necessary and appropriate in each case.”

The CIA and Mossad worked together to monitor Mughniyah in Damascus for months prior to the killing and to determine where the bomb should be planted, according to the former officials.

In the leadup to the operation, U.S. intelligence officials had assured lawmakers in a classified briefing that there would be no collateral damage, former officials said.

Mughniyah 2

 

Implicated in multiple cases

At the time of his death, Mughniyah had been implicated in the killing of hundreds of Americans, stretching back to the embassy bombing in Beirut that killed 63 people, including eight CIA officers. Hezbollah, supported by Iran, was involved in a long-running shadow war with Israel and its principal backer, the United States.

The embassy bombing placed Hezbollah squarely in the sights of the CIA, a focus that, in some respects, foreshadowed the targeting of Mughniyah. In his 1987 book “Veil,” Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward reported that CIA Director William Casey encouraged the Saudis to sponsor an attempt to kill a Hezbollah leader. The 1985 attempt on the life of Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah with a car bomb failed, but killed 80 people, and he fled to Iran. Mughniyah’s brother was among those killed.

Former agency officials said Mughniyah was involved in the 1984 kidnapping and torture of the CIA’s station chief in Lebanon, William F. Buckley. The officials said Mughniyah arranged for videotapes of the brutal interrogation sessions of Buckley to be sent to the agency. Buckley was later killed.

Mughniyah was indicted in U.S. federal court in the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847 shortly after it took off from Athens and the slaying of U.S. Navy diver Robert Stethem, a passenger on the plane. Mughniyah was placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list with a $5 million reward offered for information leading to his arrest and conviction.

He was also suspected of involvement by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials in the planning of the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. servicemen.

For the Israelis, among numerous attacks, he was involved in the 1992 suicide bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires that killed four Israeli civilians and 25 Argentinians, and the 1994 attack on a Jewish community center in the city that killed 85 people.

“Mughniyah and his group were responsible for the deaths of many Americans,” said James Bernazzani, who was chief of the FBI’s Hezbollah unit in the late 1990s and later the deputy director for law enforcement at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center.

The Bush administration regarded Hezbollah — Mughniyah, in particular — as a threat to the United States. In 2008, several months after he was killed, Michael Chertoff, then secretary of homeland security, said Hezbollah was a threat to national security. “To be honest, they make al-Qaeda look like a minor league team,” he said.

Beginning in 2003, Hezbollah, with the assistance of Iran, began to train and arm Shiite militant groups in Iraq, which later began attacking coalition forces, according to Matthew Levitt, who recently wrote a book about Hezbollah and is director of the Washington Institute’s Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.

The Hezbollah-trained militias proved to be a deadly enemy, wounding or killing hundreds of American troops. As the situation in Iraq deteriorated and coalition casualties spiked in 2006, the United States decided it had to stanch the losses.

The Bush administration issued orders to kill or capture Iranian operatives targeting American troops and attempting to destabilize Iraq. It also approved a list of operations directed at Hezbollah, officials said. The mandate applied directly to the group’s notorious international operations chief.

“There was an open license to find, fix and finish Mughniyah and anybody affiliated with him,” said a former U.S. official who served in Baghdad.

In January 2007, Bush, in an address to the nation, singled out Iran and Syria, two countries with the closest ties to Hezbollah.

“These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq,” Bush said. “Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.”

Read more with details of the operation

Mughniyah's death

Adam Goldman reports on terrorism and national security for The Washington Post.

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Hezbollah commanders killed in suspected Israeli airstrike 

Hezbollah announced the death of six of its commanders and fighters, including the son of its slain former military chief Imad Mughniyah, in what is believed to be an Israeli airstrike in southern Syria.

The Lebanon-based Iranian proxy claimed “the martyrdom of a number of Mujahideen by the Zionist bombing in Quneitra, Syria,” on Al Manar, the group’s official news outlet. The Hezbollah fighters “came under rocket fire from helicopters” of “the Israeli enemy,” the Hezbollah propaganda outlet noted.

B8sElQ9CEAARE38Among the six Hezbollah operatives killed in the airstrike was Jihad Imad Mughniyah, the son of Imad, who was one of the founders of Hezbollah who served as the group’s military and intelligence commander up until he was killed in a car bombing in Damascus in 2008. Imad, who masterminded some of the most deadly terror attacks against the US, Israel, France, Argentina and Iraq, is believed to have been assassinated by Israeli intelligence.

Jihad Mughniyah is said to have been leading a group of Hezbollah fighters in a reconnaissance operation in Quneitra. The Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, the Islamic Front, and allied Free Syria Army units are currently operating in and around Quneitra. The jihadist groups have controlled the Quneitra border crossing.

Al Manar identified the other five Hezbollah commanders and operatives as Mohamed Ahmed Issa (he was identified as a “leader”), Abbas Ibrahim Hijazi, Muhammad Ali Hassan, Ghazi Ali Dhaoui, and Ali Hassan Ibrahim.

The Israeli government and military have not commented on the reported airstrike in southern Syria. But the Israeli Air Force has launched several airstrikes against the Syrian regime and Hezbollah’s network inside Syria since the civil war broke out in 2011. The Israelis have targeted weapons systems that were being transferred to Hezbollah as well as weapons facilities in Damascus, Latakia, and Jamraya [See LWJ report, US officials: Israel struck targets near Damascus and Latakia.]

Senior Iranian and Hezbollah commanders have been killed during the fighting in Syria. In February 2013, Hassan Shateri, a top commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps who is also said to have served on Hezbollah’s advisory council, was killed in an ambush while traveling from Damascus to Beirut. A senior Iranian official eulogized Shateri, who was listed by the US as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, as “no less than [Imad] Mughniyah.”

Hezbollah’s Stealth Invasion Of A Christian Heartland

20150129_hezbollahinvadechristianFamily Security Matters, by Walid Phares, Jan. 29, 2015:

Christmas greetings from Hezbollah? That what some, including the Daily Star of Beirut, would have us believe about a series of visits by the Shia terrorist group to the heartland of the Christian Mount Lebanon during the holiday season. Hezbollah, armed and funded by Iran and part of Bashar al-Assad’s genocidal arsenal in the Syrian civil war – do not have peace and goodwill in mind, even as they pass out handshakes, smiles and holiday greetings to Christians. Slowly but surely, Hezbollah members are normalizing their physical presence in the “Christian wilaya” in what amounts to a soft invasion of an area crucial to dominating the whole of Lebanon.

Even though Hezbollah is fighting today in Iraqi and Syrian battlefields, its eyes are focused on every inch of land in Lebanon. Hezbollah was formed in early 1982 as part of the Iranian regime’s expansion in Lebanon. Its leaders were followers of Iran’s radical fundamentalist leader Ayatollah Khomeini, and its forces were trained and organized by a contingent of 1,500 Iranian Revolutionary Guards that arrived from Iran with permission from the Syrian government. Iran remains Hezbollah’s key backer and spiritual guide, pouring billions of dollars and increasingly sophisticated weaponry into the group, which the U.S. Institute of Peace rightly calls “the most successful example of the theocracy’s campaign to export its revolutionary ideals.”

According to the National Counterterrorism Center, “Hezbollah has been involved in numerous anti-US terrorist attacks, including the suicide truck bombings of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in April 1983, the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in October 1983, and the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut in September 1984, as well as the hijacking of TWA 847 in 1985 and the Khobar Towers attack in Saudi Arabia in 1996.”

If that doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy, neither should the group’s holiday well-wishes in the Christian enclaves of Jbeil and Kesrwan. According to civil society groups’ reports, armed Hezbollah patrols are roaming these same Lebanese villages by night.

Christian Mount Lebanon is crucial to Hezbollah – and to Iran. It is among the last holdouts in their domination of Lebanon, giving them a way not only to challenge and threaten Israel, but to create a line of defense against Sunni extremists like ISIS.

Hezbollah has had a very successful “clear and hold” strategy of its own in Lebanon. They walked behind the Syrian tanks into Baabda in 1990, subdued the south in 2000, and marched into West Beirut in 2008. The last territory to be secured is northern Mount Lebanon. Overtaking the towns of Kesrwan and Jbeil, together with neighboring Batroun, would allow Hezbollah to control the vital coastal road from Dahiye to Tripoli, which includes two key ports that link Lebanon to the outside world, as well as the road from the sea to the summits overlooking the Bekaa. The problem is that this part of Mount Lebanon – and others as well – has a majority of Christian Lebanese who maintain an historical grievance with the Iranian-Assad-Hezbollah troika. They will fight to the last if it comes to it.

The Christians of Mount Lebanon are increasingly isolated and slowly but unmistakably besieged by forces from without and within. ISIS is a real threat to Lebanon, as it is to the whole of the region. But Hezbollah is already there, walking among them, smiling and plotting. Regardless of ISIS, the people of Mount Lebanon will rise against Hezbollah. Indeed, the million citizens who drove or walked from the towns and villages of Mount Lebanon to Martyrs Square in Beirut in 2005 came to demonstrate against the Assad-Iran axis in Lebanese affairs.

Hezbollah’s strategists are savvy and they know how to maneuver, particularly in Lebanon. They benefit from a large and effective propaganda machine, one that includes, sadly, apologists within the Christian community whose political wounds from an intra-community civil war a quarter of a century ago have never healed. But their deft holiday campaign is nonetheless cynical and very dangerous. They have cleverly concealed an invasion in holiday wrapping. A Trojan horse for an endangered Christian community. We must assure this sacred land does not turn into the Ayatollah’s next battlefield.

A version of this piece previously appeared on The Daily Caller.

Dr Walid Phares is an advisor to the US Congress on Counter Terrorism, and the author of ten books including Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against America and The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East. Dr Phares appears on national, international and Arab media. He teaches at several universities and briefs US Government agencies on Terrorism and the Middle East.

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Iran Promises ‘Crushing Response’ to Israeli Strike

Lebanese Hezbollah supporters shout slogans as they march during Ashoura day in Beirut's southern suburbs, Lebanon, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011 / AP

Lebanese Hezbollah supporters shout slogans as they march during Ashoura day in Beirut’s southern suburbs, Lebanon, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011 / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Jan. 20 2015:

Iran on Monday promised that Hezbollah would deliver “crushing response” to the Israeli attack over the weekend, which killed six Iranian agents, including a top-level commander, and five Hezbollah members.

“The experience of the past shows that the resistance current will give a crushing response to the Zionist regime’s terrorist moves with revolutionary determination and in due time and place,” Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), was quoted as saying.

The Israeli strike came just days after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared that the terror group was preparing for a war in Israel’s northern Galilee region.

It also occurred just a week after Iranian military leaders announced that they are operating missile sites in Syria, which potentially include a nuclear facility.

Senior Iranian and Hezbollah commanders were likely planning a sophisticated invasion of Israel’s northern border in the weeks before they were killed by an Israeli airstrike over the weekend, according to Major General Eyal Ben Reuven, the former deputy head of the Israeli Defense Forces Northern Command.

The accuracy of Israel’s strike and the high-level nature of those Iranian and Hezbollah commanders killed indicates planning for a militant incursion into Israel’s northern region, according to Reuven, who said the airstrike shows a “very high level of intelligence” on Israel’s part.

The high-level nature of the Iranian and Hezbollah operatives targeted by Israel suggests that an attack on Israel was imminent, according to Reuven, who handled top intelligence in the region during his time serving in the IDF.

“If the highest level of Hezbollah commanders were in the Golan Heights and the high level of Iranians, it means that their idea, [what] they’re planning could be a kind of operation, an act against Israel on a high level,” Reuven said during a conference call Monday organized by the Israel Project (TIP). “It’s significant, the high level of this meeting, of this reconnaissance of the Iranians and Hezbollah.”

“It says something about what they plan, what kind of operation they planned,” he added. “If Israel has intelligence that says there is a kind of operation on the way to act against Israel, I think Israel would have a legitimate [reason] to do all we can to prevent it.”

The strike that killed these 11 militants was “very, very professional,” according to Reuven, and would require “very, very high level intelligence” and “very accurate” targeting information.

Iran quickly confirmed that one of its top commanders had been killed in the strike, according to Farsi language reports.

Multiple state-controlled Iranian news agencies confirmed that Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi had been killed by “a military helicopter of the Zionist regime during a visit to the ‘Quneitra’ region of Syria.”

“As a result of this crime, this heroic general along with several members of Hezbollah reached martyrdom,” the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) wrote in a Persian language report independently translated for the Washington Free Beacon by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

Allahdadi had been sent to Syria by top Iranian commanders “so that he could combat the Zionist regime in Lebanon and Syria,” according to the Iranian media.

The IRGC official press organ also confirmed the death in a statement published by Iranian news outlets.

“Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi was of the brave, devoted, and wise commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps whose effective contributions during the Holy Defense (the Iran-Iraq War) and after during his Commanding of the Al-Ghadir IRGC unit of Yazd province will always be enduring and inspiring to the generation of today and tomorrow of the Islamic nation,” read the IRGC communiqué also issued in Farsi.

The IRGC claimed that Allahdadi was in Syria to help embattled leader Bashar al-Assad combat “terrorists” there.

Allahdadi also helped in “neutralizing the atrocities and conspiracies [of] this Zionist-terrorist sedition in Syria’s geography,” according to the IRGC.

The IRGC went on to lash out at Israel for “violating the airspace of the country of Syria” and accused the Jewish state of emboldening terrorists affiliated with the Islamic State (IS), which is battling against Assad.

Israel’s actions against Iran and Syria are being “planned” along with “the cooperation [of] the heads of the White House and the occupying regime of Quds [Jerusalem],” the IRGC said in its statement.

Information about the other Iranians killed remains minimal at this point. Conflicting reports have emerged about whether the top militant killed, Abu Ali Tabatabai, was officially working on behalf of Iran or Hezbollah.

Tabatabai had been linked to Iran’s Al Radwan Special Operations Units, which is known to conduct combat operations, according to TIP.

“His presence would have suggested, and probably indicates, operations aimed at overrunning Israeli border towns,” TIP reported in an email to reporters.

The Hezbollah members killed include Mohammed Issa, a senior Hezbollah figure closely tied to Iran, and Jihad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah’s leading figure in the Golan Heights area near Israel’s border with Syria.

Behnam Ben Taleblu, an Iran expert and researcher for FDD, told the Free Beacon that Iran is expected to boost its presence in Syria and increase its support for Hezbollah.

“Given Iran’s heightened resolve and dedication to keeping Assad in power, we can expect the Islamic Republic to continue, if not deepen its commitment to the Assad regime and Hezbollah by way of such mercenaries,” he said.

Taleblu also noted that Iran continues to blame the rise of IS (also known as ISIL or ISIS) on America and Israel.

“The notion contained in the IRGC’s communiqué in the aftermath of the death of Commander Mohammad Ali Allahdadi, that the Islamic State (or DAESH, in Persian and Arabic) is linked to Israel and the U.S. is a common one promoted by the Islamic Republic’s hardline political elite and regime media,” he explained.

“Beyond narrative, this false linkage underscores an analytical shortcoming, Iran’s military and political class have failed to attribute agency to the Islamic State, be it in Syria or Iraq, and by claiming they are Western agents, misread and misdiagnosed the violent sectarian milieu that was growing in Iraq and Syria before the group’s emergence last summer,” he said.

Senior Qods Force general killed in suspected Israeli airstrike

LWJ, By

A senior general in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps – Qods Force was among six Iranians and six Hezbollah operatives who were killed in yesterday’s airstrike in southern Syria that is thought to have been launched by the Israeli military.

Sepah News, the official online news outlet of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), confirmed that Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Allah-Dadi was killed in the airstrike in Quneitra, Syria. Both Hezbollah and the IRGC claimed that Israeli attack helicopters carried out the attack.

Hezbollah confirmed on Jan 18. that Jihad Imad Mughniyah, the son of the notorious Hezbollah military and intelligence chief who helped found the group, and five other commanders were killed while conducting a reconnaissance operation in Quneitra. The Iranian media has described Jihad, a rising star in Hezbollah who is said to have commanded the group’s units in the Syrian Golan, as the adopted son of Major General Suleimani, the leader of Qods Force. Jihad’s father, Imad, who was closely tied to Iran, is thought to have been assassinated by Israeli intelligence in a car bombing in Damascus, Syria in 2008.

Also reported killed was Mohammad Issa, who is also known as Abu Issa al Eqlim. He has been identified as a member of Hezbollah’s military intelligence branch.

The combined Hezbollah and Qods Force unit is thought to have been scouting jihadist groups, including the Al Nusrah Front and the Islamic Front, two organizations that are known to operate in Quneitra. Iran has supported the Syrian government and Hezbollah against rebel forces since civil war broke out in 2011.

Brigadier General Allah-Dadi is the latest high-ranking Iranian military casualty in the wars in Syria and Iraq. An Islamic State sniper killed Hamid Taqavi, an IRGC brigadier general who was advising Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Samarra, Iraq in late December 2014. In October 2014, General Jabar Drisawi, a general in Iran’s Basij militia, was killed during fighting near Aleppo, Syria. And in February 2013, Hassan Shateri, a top commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps who is also said to have served on Hezbollah’s advisory council, was killed in an ambush while traveling from Damascus to Beirut.

Brigadier General Allah-Dadi may provide clues to Qods Force’s leadership structure

The material released in the Persian and Arabic language material since Allah-Dadi’s death not only provides interesting insight into his career, but also to Qods Force’s recruitment pattern.

According to the IRGC Public Relations Department, Allah-Dadi was a veteran of the Iran- Iraq War, which was fought from 1980 to 1988. He had served as the commander of the Al Ghadir IRGC Ground Forces in Yazd province in eastern Iran. The most detailed biography however, was released by Mashregh News. According to the news agency, Allah-Dadi, a native of Pariz, Sirjan in Kerman province, volunteered for the war effort in 1980 and initially served in the irregular forces of Mostafa Chamran (1932-1981). However, as the IRGC’s 41st Sarallah Division, based in Kerman, was established under the command of Qassem Suleimani, Allah-Dadi joined him and participated in most major operations up to the end of the war with Iraq in 1988.

The ceasefire between Iran and Iraq did not put an end to Allah-Dadi’s military career. For a time, he continued serving under Suleimani in Kerman, but later served for three years as Ramazan Brigade chief of the 27th Mohammad Rasoul-Allah Force based in Tehran. In 2006, he was appointed Al Ghadir Force chief based in Yazd, where he served until June 20, 2011. Systematic references to Allah-Dadi’s work in the local press in Yazd came to an abrupt end after the end of his tenure. This can only be explained by a piece of information released by Mashregh News: “A few years ago, invited by Major General Qassem Suleimani, IRGC QF commander, he joined the Quds Force to fight the Zionist regime in Lebanon and Syria.”

Very little information about Allah-Dadi’s work in Syria has been released to the public. According to the Jan. 19 press release by the IRGC Public Relations Department, Allah-Dadi was deployed to Syria as a military adviser in order to “assist the government and nation of Syria against the takfiri-salafi terrorists [a reference to the Sunni opposition to the Baath regime in Syria].” He was allegedly killed while inspecting Quneitra in Syria, as “a group of fighters of the Islamic Resistance [reference to Lebanese Hezbollah]” were attacked by a “military helicopter of the Zionist regime.” The last recorded instance of Allah-Dadi’s whereabouts before his death appears in a report by journalist Hassan Shemshadi in the Central News Unit. Shemshadi allegedly met the Iranian general at a Shiite shrine in Damascus.

The most important information released about the late Allah-Dadi is the long history of his friendship and service under Suleimani, the current Qods Force commander. A single case does not provide enough material for drawing conclusions concerning Suleimani’s pattern of appointments in his command, but should other former Suleimani associates and friends be identified as current Qods Force officers, that would provide important parts of the puzzle of the unit’s command structure.

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In Latin America, radical Islamic presence flourishes while key countries downplay the threat

86886005CSP, by Luis Fleischman, January 17, 2015:

As a result of last week’s heinous terrorist attack in France that took the lives of 16 innocent people, President Barack Obama has set in motion plans for a counter-terrorism summit to be held on February 18th in Washington DC.

It is likely that mostly North American and European countries will attend this summit meeting despite the fact that there have been recent terrorist attacks in other parts of the world such as those in Ottawa, Canada and Sidney, Australia and the northern region of Nigeria. In other words, simple logic indicates that these types of attacks could take place anywhere.

Before September 11, 2001 , the deadliest terrorist attacks in the Western Hemisphere took place in Argentina against the Israeli embassy in 1992 and then the Argentinean Jewish community headquarters in 1994.

However, we do not have to go back two decades .to stress the very real presence of terrorism in Latin America.

Most recently the Peruvian authorities foiled a terrorist plot against Jews and Israelis. The attacker was a Lebanese member of Hezbollah’s foreign terror operations branch. He reportedly planned to attack locations popular among Israeli backpackers as well as against the Israeli embassy in Lima and other institutions of the Peruvian Jewish community.

As a result of his arrest by the Peruvian authorities early in November, Brazilian police uncovered documents according to which Lebanese traffickers who are members of Hezbollah have helped the Brazilian gang known as First Capital Command (PCC) obtain weapons. Hezbollah provided the PCC with access to arms smugglers. Most of these Hezbollah operatives were based in the tri-border area (where Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina’s borders meet), a place known as being a big center of Hezbollah’s fundraising and other operations.

Of course, the connections between criminal and drug cartels with terrorist groups have been reported for a long time. The problem is not only limited to the fact that terrorist groups and criminal gangs or cartels logistically cooperate to advance their respective goals. The problem is also that criminals and jails are sources of recruitment for future terrorists.

It is enough to look at Amedy Coulibaly, the man suspected of killing a trainee police officer in Southern Paris on January 8th and also the person responsible for the seizing of the kosher supermarket on January 9th. Coulibaly was a petty criminal before he became a monstruous jihadist. He had six previous convictions, one for robbery and one for drugs. While in jail he was mentored by Djamel Beghal, a jihadist imprisoned in 2001 for planning an attack against the U.S. embassy in Paris. It was in jail where he met one of the Kouachi brothers, who were responsible for the attack on the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo.

Given what we have seen so far of the radicalization of criminals, would it not be plausible for criminal elements from the Brazilian PCC to turn into Jihadists? Should it be ruled out that these Jihadists could attack a magazine such as “Veja” known for its’ anti-terrorist views or even carry out an attack on an American or European embassy or institution in Brazil?

So, what has been the attitude of the Brazilin authorities?

Brazil has denied that there is any terrorist activity in Brazil despite the fact that Hezbollah has major cells operating in the country and even some Al Qaeda operatives. They have been the least cooperative country in tracking activities in the tri-border area.

Brazil has been ruled by the leftist Workers Party since 2003. For them counter-terrorist activities are associated with Brazil’s military dictatorship of the mid 1960’s and 70’sthat carried out a heavy war against local guerillas and other subversive and dissenting activists.. Since that war brought about major human rights violations and loss of lives, Brazil has viewed the war on terror as something negative.

Brazil does not consider Hezbollah, Hamas, or even the familiar Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) as terrorist entities. By the same token, an Al Qaeda suspect was released by a Brazilian judge.

Yet, it is interesting that the government of the Workers Party under Dilma Rousseff considered an ill-conceived anti-terorrism law in the wake of the massive anti-government protests in the summer of 2013.

The debate was highly controversial and for very good reasons. The Brazilian anti-terrorist bill was aimed at controlling unrest, particularly as the World Cup was approaching. The bill was aimed at social control. It had nothing to do with terrorism. Terrorism was used cynically. The bill defined terrorism very vaguely such as “provoking or infusing generalized terror or panic through offense or attempt at offense to life, physical integrity, health or deprivation of liberty of a person”. This general definition could easily criminalize social protests and other acts that are significantly below any act of terrorism.

In Argentina, President Cristina Kirchner and her associates seriously tried to apply anti-terrorist laws against American investment funds known as “vulture funds” for causing debt in Argentina and for applying “financial terror”. In fact, Kirchner absurdly tried to impose the anti-terror law against a company that declared bankruptcy since that decision created “economic chaos”.

Even worse than that, on January 15th, the prosecutor for the terrorist attacks against the Jewish headquarters in Argentina, Alberto Nisman, filed a 300-page complaint accusing President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman and other political figures associated with the government of “covering up” for Iranian operatives allegedly involved in the deadly 1994 attack. According to Nisman, the Kirchner Administration attempted to remove Iran from any incrimination related to the terrorist attack that left 85 people dead and hundreds of Argentinean citizens injured. The idea was to strengthen trade relations with Iran in order to alleviate the energy crisis by exchanging “oil for grains”. However, such trade could not be done without removing the accusations against Iran.

Between Brazil’s cynical approach to terrorism and Argentina’s de-facto alliance with it, the situation in the region is very serious.

As terrorist organizations have a strong presence in countries such as Venezuela, Latin America cannot be excluded from the anti-terrorist summit and cannot be ignored. Venezuela and a number of other countries are selling passports to Iranians as well as other individuals from the Middle East. (http://www.theamericasreport.com/2013/10/15/irans-presence-is-multifaceted-and-reaches-remote-places-in-latin-america/ ).

Furthermore, a few years ago Nisman reported in a 500 page document the presence of Iranian and Hezbollah cells in several countries in South America and that Iran plans to establish intelligence bases in every country in order to carry out, promote, and sponsor terrorists.

Furthermore, if there is a campaign to uproot radical Islam from Europe altogether, it is likely that terrorists will shift their operations to other areas where they won’t be bothered and can still do harm to Western targets. Latin America’s neutrality towards Islamic terrorism makes the region one of the most likely areas of choice for them, particularly when terrorists already have a well rooted presence.

President Obama needs to develop a real global strategy on the war against terrorism. The countries of Latin America should not be neglected. The Latin American regional block bears responsibility to protect every resident and institution that exists within their borders. Their cynical and manipulative attitude towards terrorism needs to be challenged. It is in America’s interest.

Dr. Luis Fleischman is a Senior adviser to the Menges Hemispheric Security Project at the Center for Security Policy in Washington DC. He is also an adjunct professor of Political Science and Sociology at Wilkes Honor College at Florida Atlantic University. He is the author of the upcoming book, “Latin America in the Post-Chavez Era: The Security Threat to the United States.”

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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.

Foreign policy FUBAR: US providing intel to Hezbollah

hezbollah-300x180By Allen West:

I simply don’t believe in coincidences, especially when it comes to the Obama administration. Remember when we reported here about President Barack Hussein Obama meeting with pro-Hezbollah clerics on 9-11?

And now some very disturbing news has surfaced about American-Hezbollah coordination — let me remind you that Hezbollah is an Iranian-backed Islamic terrorist group based in Lebanon. It was Hezbollah who was responsible for the 1983 Marine Beirut bombing which killed over 250 American Marines, Sailors, and others. It was Hezbollah who was responsible for the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achilles Lauro and the heinous and barbaric murder of American Jewish citizen Leon Kilnghoffer — a man confined to a wheel chair and pushed off the ship into the Mediterranean Sea.

And despite all this, Hezbollah is indirectly receiving American intelligence aid.

As reported by Arutz Sheva,”Mohammed Afif, the new head of public relations for the Lebanese-based Iranian-backed terror organization Hezbollah, gave a rare New York Times interview as Lebanese experts reveal his group is indirectly receiving American intelligence aid in its fight against Islamic State (ISIS). Following ISIS’s temporary conquest of Arsal last month on the Lebanese side of the Syrian border, the US sent new weapons to the Lebanese army, which coordinates with Hezbollah. Likewise, US intelligence has found its way to Hezbollah according to Lebanese experts. That leaked intelligence may explain some recent impressive achievements against ISIS, including the first known Hezbollah drone strike.”

So let’s have a quick review. The Obama administration released five senior Taliban members to Qatar — where the head of Hamas resides. Obama coordinated with Qatar and Turkey, both major supporters to Islamic terrorist groups. Now apparently Obama is assisting Hezbollah with intelligence — and Hezbollah is a named Islamic terrorist organization.

This ladies and gents is our biggest fear — that the Obama administration would work with nefarious actors in its quest to deal with ISIS — instead of destroying ISIS itself. So Obama may not be dealing with Iran directly, but he’s working with Iran’s proxy terrorist army, Hezbollah.

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> America is providing intelligence aid to Hezbollah, an Islamic terrorist group that is the avowed enemy of our ally Israel.

> Hezbollah is allied fighting in support of Bashar al-Assad whom Obama said must go.

> Therefore, we are providing intelligence support to Hezbollah who is fighting against the Syrian rebels who we want to arm and train to fight against ISIS who are fighting against Assad who is supported by Hezbollah who is supported by Iran who is the largest sponsor of Islamic terrorism who is responsible for countless attacks against our men and women and is marching towards developing a nuclear bomb capability.

Yep ladies and gents, that is Obama foreign policy — FUBAR!

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