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.

***

> 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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Israel’s next tunnel threat to the north

hamas-tunnelWND, By AARON KLEIN, 08/07/2014:

TEL AVIV – Israel, at great cost, believes it has destroyed the complex tunnel network built by Hamas to smuggle arms and other contraband into Gaza and send suicide bombers into the Jewish state, but the possible existence of a similar and perhaps even greater underground system remains a threat to its national security.

The Israeli government is quietly concerned the Iranian-backed Hezbollah organization has excavated tunnels that snake under the Jewish state’s northern communities in the Golan Heights.

A Hezbollah tunnel network under Israel could mirror or even dwarf the Hama terrorist tunnels in the county’s south, along the Gaza Strip border.

Such tunnels could enable Hezbollah to carry out previous threats to use commandos to storm northern Israeli communities in an attempt to hold positions within the country.

After Israel’s nearly month-long military campaign in Gaza aimed in large part at destroying Hamas’s tunnels, Israeli officials seem careful to avoid publicly addressing the potential for Hezbollah tunnels.

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on Hezbollah’s possible tunneling in the north.

The Shiite terrorist organization is known for its vast, sophisticated tunnel networks in Lebanon.

Indeed, Hezbollah taught Hamas its tunnel-warfare tactics and helped supervise the construction of its network.

It therefore must be assumed Hezbollah has at least attempted to tunnel under Israel in the north. The organization may not have drilled any openings into Israeli cities yet, however, fearing discovery or retaliation from Israel.

Northern Israeli residents have for years reported hearing drilling sounds underground. However, the Israeli military has said it has not discovered any tunnels.

Last week, the mayor of Kiryat Shmona, a city near Israel’s border with Lebanon, reportedly asked the IDF to investigate the possibility of Hezbollah tunnels.

Asked by WND for more information on the Hezbollah tunnel threat, an Israeli security source speaking on background said there is fear that after the Gaza conflict, Hezbollah will attempt to convert its defensive tunnels into offensive networks that can snake under Israel.

The source said that while no tunnels were yet discovered under Israeli towns, the working assumption is that Hezbollah will attempt to tunnel there.

The source said Hezbollah is bogged down with the ongoing insurgency targeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria and that Israel does not believe Hezbollah wants a direct conflict with the Jewish state any time soon.

However, the source added the assumption within the Israeli defense establishment is that Hezbollah has incorporated into its future war plans the potential to raid Israeli cities via tunneling, learning lessons from the most recent Gaza conflict.

Hezbollah’s underground highways

Knowledgeable sources told WND that Lebanon is virtually catacombed with sophisticated tunnels from the northern part of the country into the Bekaa Valley, throughout Beirut and in southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah has specialized in tunnel boring to move fighters and supplies in various conflicts with Israel.

Some of the tunnels, especially in mountainous areas, not only are used to store military supplies but to move more sophisticated weaponry undetected from overhead surveillance, the sources said.

Updates were made for the tunnels to host missile launch pads after the 2006 Lebanon War, when Israel took out scores of above-ground Hezbollah missile and rocket launchers.

Throughout the Bekaa Valley, there are tunnels known to hide military equipment from continuous Israeli and U.S. surveillance.

Sources say the Hezbollah tunnels in Lebanon, which are capable of withstanding some aerial bombings, store missiles and rockets and other military hardware to respond to an Israeli attack.

Even under Beirut itself, especially in the Hezbollah stronghold of south Beirut, military supplies are stored in bunkers and tunnels estimated to be some 40 to 50 feet below the ground. Up above, there are regular businesses masking the existence of the tunnels.

Because Hezbollah controls south Lebanon, sources say the region has been the subject of extensive tunneling, some of which can be bored quickly to allow troops to move secretly into Israel.

At its Museum for Resistance Tourism, for example, Hezbollah has demonstrated its tunneling capability and conducts tours through underground bunkers. A 200-meter tunnel displays complete living and working quarters for fighters, replete with kitchens, electrical generators and communications equipment.

The war museum, which is operated by Hezbollah near the village of Mleeta in southern Lebanon, is the site of a former Hezbollah base utilized to ambush Israeli troops.

North Korea

Hezbollah has a relationship with North Korea’s communist dictatorship, which is known to have constructed tunnels that snake underneath the demilitarized zone with South Korea.

The northern Israeli landscape, with its rocky hills and mountains, is geographically different than beachfront Gaza. However, numerous geologists told Israeli media outlets in recent years that Hezbollah has the capability to tunnel under the Israeli north.

Just last week, geologist Col. Yossi Langotsky, a former adviser on terror tunnels, explained to Israel National News that the ground in Israel’s northern Galilee is easier to dig than in the Koreas.

“For nine years I raised hell, and said [terrorists are] digging tunnels into Israeli territory, and the state security system is not organized with enough seriousness required to deal with the intensity of the threat,” Langotsky said.

Fighting for us: The Real stakes in Israel’s war

Israeli soldiers sleep atop a tank during a small truce between Israel and Hamas near the Gaza Strip on July 28. Photo: AP

Israeli soldiers sleep atop a tank during a small truce between Israel and Hamas near the Gaza Strip on July 28.
Photo: AP

By John Bolton:

Israel’s effort to destroy Hamas’ underground Gaza Strip infrastructure is about defeating terrorism, yes — but even graver issues are involved.

Hamas’s long record of indiscriminate rocket attacks (over 11,000 since Israel left Gaza in 2005), its suicide bombers and its determination to destroy the Jewish state are all too real.

This is more than ample justification for Israel not just to retaliate against Hamas, but to destroy it.

But in Gaza today, Israel is also battling the existential peril of Iran’s nuclear program.

Despite Hamas’ 2011 refusal to support Assad in Syria, Iran never forgot Hamas’ potential usefulness against “the little Satan”; Tehran and Hamas have resumed their strategic partnership.

By confronting Hamas, Israel is simultaneously also striving against the fear of a new holocaust courtesy of Iranian nuclear weapons.

Removing or at least substantially degrading this mortal threat is the key imperative in Gaza, and could take considerable time to accomplish.

Appreciating this objective requires understanding the interwoven layers of deterrence and military capability involved in Israel’s war on Iran’s nuclear threat.

Of course, a nuclear Iran is not simply Israel’s problem, but America’s as well. Unfortunately, Washington and its allies have abdicated their responsibilities.

President Obama says repeatedly that “all options are on the table,” but no one really believes he’ll ever order military strikes against Iran’s nuclear program, and few think the endless talks with Iran will even slow Tehran’s progress. Israel is the only power that may act.

Yet Iran’s most likely response to an Israeli attack would be to unleash Hamas and Hezbollah against the Israeli civilian population.

A direct Iranian attack on Israel is unlikely, since Tehran wouldn’t want to risk an Israeli nuclear response. Retaliating indirectly through its terrorist surrogates is safer, while providing an air of plausible deniability.

Other options (closing the Strait of Hormuz; attacking US forces in the region) are highly unlikely, since they’d prompt an American military response, even from Obama.

(Incidentally, an Israeli strike would not prompt a broader Middle East war, because key Arab states also oppose a nuclear Iran.)

Thus the Hamas and Hezbollah arsenals in Gaza and southern Lebanon are crucial.

Most of Hamas’ rockets are short-range and not terribly accurate. If they hit civilian targets, they are of course lethal, but for Hamas their main use is as a weapon of terror.

After the 2006 Hezbollah-Israel war, however, Tehran not only replenished Hezbollah’s more muscular missile stockpiles, but also substantially upgraded Hamas’ assets. Longer-range missiles began appearing in Gaza, smuggled in courtesy of Iran, such as the Fajr-5 and the Khaibar (Syrian-built from Iranian design).

As recently as March, Israel intercepted the Klos-C in the Red Sea carrying Khaibar missiles, mortars and assault-rifle ammunition, which Israel credibly says were Gaza-bound. Although shipping records were counterfeited, Iran was undoubtedly the source.

Thus Iran could order the launching of longer-range, more accurate missiles from both Lebanon and Gaza, substantially increasing the threat to Israel.

Despite Israel’s huge strides in missile defense, especially Iron Dome, such systems can still be defeated by overwhelming them with large numbers of rockets arriving simultaneously on a given target, especially if they’re launched from two disparate locations.

Iran fully understands the deterrent effect these missiles have on any Israeli government contemplating a pre-emptive strike. The Khaibar’s range of about 200 miles means it can strike Israel’s port of Haifa from Gaza.

With its 50-mile range, the Fajr-5 can hit Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor. (Missile ranges rise or fall depending on the weight of the weapons payload being carried.)

Israel needs to feel confident it can successfully attack Iran’s nuclear program without risking unacceptable civilian losses when Tehran retaliates via Hamas and Hezbollah.

Thus, Israel should destroy Hamas’ missile capabilities now, as well as any unmanned aerial vehicles in Gaza that might disperse biological or chemical weapons.

Ideally, Israel would do the same to Hezbollah — which helps explain why Hezbollah has held back during the current hostilities.

But there is little doubt that Iran and Hamas desperately hope John Kerry or others will manage to impose a cease-fire in Gaza before their stocks of long-range missiles are uncovered and destroyed.

This is why it is so important that Israel continue its Gaza operations for as long as it deems necessary, precisely to destroy those missiles.

In so doing, Israel is acting not only in its own legitimate self-defense, but in America’s as well.

Some Facts and Notes About The Situation on the Border: From the Jihadi Threat Perspective

h2Terror Trends Bulletin, By Christopher Holton, July 27.2014:

• Hezbollah has a major presence in North, Central and South America.

• Hezbollah is embedded in the Lebanese Muslim community in the US and enjoys protection from a neighborhood watch-type program that serves as a countersurveillance and counterintelligence operation. They also are embedded in multiple Shia mosques, some of which are directly tied to the Iranian regime.

• In 2003, then-CIA director George Tenet testified before Congress that 12 Hezbollah cells has been identified as operating in the US conducting surveillance.

• A Congressional Research Service report published in 2011 indicated that Hezbollah was present in 15 US cities, including Houston and Nashville.

• Hezbollah’s activities in the US primarily center around drug trafficking and criminal schemes and scams.

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Picture-117

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• In Operation Smokescreen from 1995-2002, a Hezbollah cell in North Carolina that was bootlegging cigarettes to raise money was broken up. This was detailed in the excellent book, “Lightning Out of Lebanon.”

• In Operation Tobacco Road, 16 Muslim in the US were indicted for trafficking bootleg cigarettes in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and New York. The proceeds are believed to have gone to Hezbollah and/or HAMAS.

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• In 2011, 70 car dealerships in Florida and elsewhere were uncovered laundering cars for sale in West Africa to raise money for Hezbollah.

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• Hezbollah has two major networks operating in Latin America:

1. The Hojjat al-Eslam Mohsen Rabbani Network

2. The Ghazi Atef Salameh Nassereddine Network

• Rabbani is an Iranian diplomatic official who was formerly the cultural attache’ to Argentina when Hezbollah attacked two Jewish targets there in 1992 and 1994. He is wanted on an Interpol Red Notice.

Hojjat al-Eslam Mohsen Rabbani

• Nassereddine was born in Lebanon, became a Venezuelan citizen in 2000-2001 and became Venezuela’s number 2 diplomat to Syria.

Ghazi Atef Salameh Nassereddine

• Hezbollah’s Rabbani network operates in Brazil and Venezuela and is linked to the Sinaloa Cartel and has been identified as operating cocaine labs and providing security for drug operations.

The Southern Border of the US

• Former DEA Operations Chief, Michael Braun, has testified about Hezbollah’s extensive operations in Latin America:

–Hezbollah has exploited America’s porous southern border for years.

–Hezbollah has close relations with Mexican cartels.

• Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman detailed Hezbollah’s Latin American operations in his indictment of Iranian officials for the 1992 and 1994 Buenos Aires bombings:

–9 Latin American countries have Hezbollah deeply embedded.

20130220_hezbollah_south_america

–The origin of Hezbollah’s presence in Latin America was the heavy emigration out of Lebanon from 1975-1990.

–Hezbollah initially set up operations in the lawless “Tri-border” area where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay come together.

The lawless "Tri-Border Area" in South America

• Hezbollah has a particularly heavy presence in Venezuela, especially on Margarita Island, where Hezbollah operates a training camp and has banking assets

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• Hezbollah operates in Mexico and has relations with the Los Zetas cartel.

• In Mexico, Hezbollah’s operations include drug and human trafficking and providing explosives and tunneling training for the cartels. Hezbollah originally provided explosives training to Al Qaeda in Sudan in the 1990s and they have extensive experience in tunneling operations on the Lebanon-Israel border.

Hezbollah tunnel

• In July 2010, acting on intelligence provided by the US, Mexican authorities arrested a Hezbollah operative in Tijuana.

• The two main north-south routes for Hezbollah trafficking operations are I-35 and Highway 59.

interstate-35-map

US Highway 59

• US LE and Border Patrol have reported an increase in detainees with Farsi language tattoos and Hezbollah imagery on tattoos in recent years.

Source: fortressoffaith.org

• It has become increasingly common for Muslims in Mexico to change their Islamic surnames to Hispanic sounding names to facilitate moving across the border. Apologists claim this is simply to avoid discrimination. 

• Cartels have been involved in trafficking Al Qaeda, Al Shabaab and Hezbollah operatives into the US.

• From 2008-2010, an estimated 180,000 OTMs (Other Than Mexicans) were believed to have crossed the border illegaly.

• In that same period, 1,918 “Special Interest” OTMs were apprehended on the border. “Special Interest” means they originated from nations of terrorism concern, such as Middle Eastern Islamic nations.

• In January 2011, a Farsi language book was found on the border in Arizona. It was named “In Memory of Our Martyrs.” It was an anthology of Jihadis killed in martyrdom operations.

English language translation of "In Memory of Our Martyrs" published by Iran's Qods Force and available on Amazon in the UK

• In April 2005, then-FBI director Robert Mueller reported that Hezbollah was involved in human trafficking on the southern border.

• In July of 2012, six Special Interest aliens from Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen were arrested in Laredo, TX. Each had 60,000 Iraqi dinars.

Information on general enforcement conditions on the Mexican border:

• There are constraints on border control. The Border Patrol is forbidden from patrolling on federal land. The Border Patrol reports receiving instructions to avoid detaining and processing illegal aliens.

• The majority of border crossers are NOT economic immigrants.

• Cartels are buying real estate on both sides of the border to set up staging areas and camps.

• The cartels employ high-tech comm gear superior to that in the hands of US LE.

• Cartels and coyotes employ scouts and snipers on the high ground along trafficking routes.

• The Mexican army has in fact provided surveillance and cover fire FOR traffickers on more than one occasion.

• Arizona ranchers are afraid to use their cell phones in the open because cartel snipers might think they are calling in reports to LE and kill them. Even US LE are careful about using comm gear in the open on the southern border. It is believed that the cartels have snipers and scouts in the high ground all the way to Phoenix.

• In 2010, an indictment in San Antonio involved the human smuggling of 100 or more Al Shabaab members from Somalia.

In short, the border is not secure, not at all. Any politician that says otherwise is LYING. In significant portions of the border, for much of the day/night, the border is completely controlled by cartels who have known ties to Jihadis, such as Hezbollah.

Christopher Holton is Director of Education and Outreach at ACT! for America. Holton joined ACT! for America after serving for 10 years at the Center for Security Policy, where he directed the Center’s Divest Terror Initiative and Shariah Risk Due Diligence Program. He has been involved in legislation in twenty states to divest taxpayer supported pension systems from foreign companies that do business with the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Republic of Sudan, and the Syrian Arab Republic as well as passage of American Laws for American Courts and several other forms of state level legislation in dozens of states. In 2005, he was a co-author of War Footing, published by the US Naval Institute Press. Holton’s work has also been published by National Review, Human Events, The American Thinker, Family Security Matters, Big Peace, World Tribune, World Net Daily, and NewsMax. Before joining the Center, Chris was President of Blanchard and Company, a two hundred million dollar per year investment firm, and editor-in-chief of the Blanchard Economic Research Unit.

Iran’s Proxy War Against Israel

ayatollah_2146641b-450x336Front Page, by Majid Rafizadeh:

While the mainstream media has focused solely on Hamas and Israel in the current ongoing war, there has been less attention given to the major role that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been playing in ratcheting up the conflict with its military assistance to Hamas fighters, including Iranian-built Fajr 5 and M-75 with ranges of approximately 75 kilometers.

These are missiles and rockets that can target cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

It is worth noting that the export of arms as well as military and weaponry assistance by the Islamic Republic to Hamas is legally prohibited by the United Nations Security Council, written in UN Resolution 1747.

Although Iranian leaders often deny that they are supporting Hamas militarily, some, including former Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, admitted that the Islamic Republic has been supplying military aid and technology to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. On the Iranian parliament’s website, Larijani stated, “We are honored to provide the Palestinian people with military aid, while all Arabic countries do is hold meetings. Palestinian people do not need lectures and meetings.”

In addition, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Mohammad, Ali Jafari, admitted that Iran is supplying weapons to Hamas and other groups: “Iran provides technical assistance to all Muslims who fight against world arrogance.”

What is Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s stance? Is he truly a moderate? Rouhani’s stance on arming Hamas and standing against Israel is no different from his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Iranian president recently projected Iran’s leadership by calling Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and pointing out that tthe Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, and the international community, ought to take immediate and serious steps to assist Hamas and the Palestinians.

After all, Iranian presidents are all loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

In fact, across Iran’s political spectrum, there is no difference with regard to their position towards arming Hamas and fighting Israel. They all share anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinians views. In addition, whenever the international community or the United States has attempted to broker a peace, Iranian leaders have attempted to scuttle it. Their view is the same as what Ahmadinejad previously conveyed:  “Who gave them [Mahmoud Abbas’ negotiating team] the right to sell a piece of Palestinian land? The people of Palestine and the people of the region will not allow them to sell even an inch of Palestinian soil to the enemy. The negotiations are stillborn and doomed.”

The Iranian leaders hypocritically and frequently point out that the reasons they support the Palestinians and Hamas are humanitarian. Nevertheless, the main reason is advancing Iran’s regional hegemonic ambitions and its strategic, geopolitical and ideological goals.

In addition, the Islamic Republic has been seeking to project its regional hegemonic supremacy by supporting not only Shiite groups such as Hezbollah (Lebanon), Bashar Al Assad (Syria), and Nori Al Maliki (Iraq), but also penetrating the Sunni communities and supporting groups such as Hamas.

Since the Islamic revolution in Iran, the main foreign policy objectives of the Islamic Republic have been rivalry and antagonism towards the United Sates and its ally Israel.

The Islamic Republic attempted to find or create any group possible to stand against US foreign policy in the region (as well as those of Israel), in order to advance Tehran’s ideological, strategic and geopolitical objectives in the region.

The major force in Iran supporting Hamas are the Quds forces, an elite branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps which fight abroad, under the leadership of Khamenei and headed by Qasem Suleimani.

Another admission from the Islamic Republic on arming Hamas came from its own press, surprisingly. Last week, Javan newspaper, an Iranian state newspaper, stated, “The Islamic Republic of Iran is the only country in which a consensus on the Palestinian issue exists between the regime and its people. Together with popular support for the Palestinian fighters, the [Iranian] regime also provides important aid to the Palestinian fighters, including military weaponry… This measure by the Islamic Republic – arming the Palestinian groups – is carried out publicly, and not in secret, and has even been publicly emphasized by the leader [Khamenei],” according to Algemeiner and MEMRI’s translation of the Persian text.

Accordingly, the Islamic Republic has also provided Hamas with Fajr 5 missiles and Abadil drones before the war.

Across Iran’s political spectrum, Iranian leaders follow the words of the founder of this theocratic regime, Iran’s former Supreme Leader, Ayatollah and Ali Khomeini, who repeatedly attempted to rally people against Israel and the United States, “To liberate Qods [Jerusalem], Muslims should use faith-dependent machine guns and the power of Islam and keep away from political games which reek of compromise… Muslim nations, especially the Palestinian and Lebanese nations, should punish those who waste time indulging in political maneuvers.”

Under the presidency of Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s foreign policy has not shifted and it is crucial to draw attention to Iran’s intervention and military assistance as the Islamic Republic is major player in ratcheting up the ongoing war.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a senior fellow at the Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington, DC and is a member of the Gulf project at Columbia University. He can be reached at rafizadeh@fas.harvard.edu. Follow Dr. Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.

Iran General: We Will Hunt Down Israelis House To House

image-e1406512087862Daily Caller, By Reza Kahlili:

The deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards vowed revenge against Israel for its ongoing military incursion into Gaza, which has already killed hundreds of Palestinians and dozens of Israelis.

“You [people of Israel] are trees without any roots which were planted in the Islamic lands by the British,” Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami said at this week’s Friday prayer sermon in Tehran, Fars News Agency reported. That statement referred to the Balfour Declaration, which led to the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire after World War I and the eventual creation of the state Israel in 1948.

“We will chase you house to house and will take revenge for every drop of blood of our martyrs in Palestine,” Salami said. “and this is the beginning point of Islamic nations awakening for your defeat.”

The deputy commander promised that Palestine will no longer remain calm and cited a statement by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic regime: “Imam [Khomeini] with the statement that Israel must be wiped from the face of the Earth gave a true message to the world. This message enlightened the Muslims and became the concept on the streets of Syria, Lebanon and Palestine.”

Salami, recalling previous wars Israel fought against Hezbollah in Lebanon, said: “The end of the Zionist regime [Israel] has arrived. Islamic movements are armed, missiles are positioned, and today we witness how the arms of the resistance in a corner of the Islamic world are controlling the events in the face of the tragic and barbaric attack by the Zionist regime against the oppressed and defenseless Palestinians in Gaza.”

Salami blamed the U.S. and England for Israel’s policies and activities in the region and stated, “The balance of power will change to the benefit of the Islamic world, and we warn the Zionists that you are a rootless society with no land, no race, no history and no element which constitute a nation. Today, no place in the occupied land is safe for the Zionists … today the missiles of the Palestinian resistance cover much farther than the Zionists expected.

“We are confident that Allah’s promises will come true and in the end the Islamic world will be the graveyard of America and the Zionist regime’s policies along with their allies in the region. The flag of Islam will be raised,” Salami concluded.

The Islamic regime has long trained and armed Hezbollah and Palestinian forces for attacks against Israel. In reference to further arming Palestinians, the speaker of the regime’s Parliament, Ali Larijani, said in a statement Wednesday: “The clear need of Palestine is its need for weapons and basic necessities, and Iran plays an important role in meeting the clear needs of the Palestinian people.”

As reported by The Daily Caller on Wednesday, the Islamic regime’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said that the only solution for the region is the destruction of Israel, and that the armed confrontation must expand beyond Gaza.

“These crimes are beyond imagination and show the true nature of the wolfish and child killer regime, (and) the only solution is its destruction,” the ayatollah declared to his audience. “However, until that time, the expansion of the armed resistance of the Palestinians (from Gaza to) the West Bank is the only way to confront this wild regime.”

Tasnim News Agency, which is close to the Revolutionary Guards, reported on Wednesday that in a letter, 40 high-ranking Guard commanders warned America that it will “certainly be held responsible for the consequences of these events [in Gaza].” The commanders included Ali Shamkhani, current secretary of the regime’s Supreme National Security Council; Yahya Rahim Safavi, the former commander of the Guards and current adviser to the supreme leader; and Ghasem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Forces (in charge of terrorist activities outside of Iran).

The regime has been awarded $2.8 billion in sanctions relief by the Obama administration in return for an agreement on a four-month extension to the Geneva talks in finding a peaceful solution to its illegitimate nuclear program. The Islamic regime had received $7 billion in sanctions relief after the negotiated agreement last November with a six-month deadline to finalize the agreement, but it has so far refused to back down from its demand to continue developing its nuclear program. It has also succeeded in excluding from the talks its ballistic missile program, which is under U.N. sanctions.

The Revolutionary Guards announced last week its first anti-radar ballistic missile, named “Hormouz 1,” and claims it can penetrate and destroy missile defense systems and could now destroy Israel’s famed Iron Dome missile defense system, as well as any Patriot missile defense system. The announcement said the missile could be used to attack the radar systems of U.S. warships and aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf.

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and author of the award winning book “A Time to Betray” (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI)

 

Khamenei: Israel a Rabid Dog. The World Should Arm the Palestinians:

 

Former Iranian Official Amir Mousavi: Iran Will Provide Missiles to West Bank Palestinians: