Iran: Never Held Accountable

230730e (1)Center for Security Policy, by Christopher Holton, August 30, 2015:

The Obama administration has embarked upon a path to reward decades of bad behavior by the Islamic Republic of Iran in the futile hope that Iran will become benevolent and cease its warlike actions and intentions toward the West in general and the U.S. and Israel in particular.

As futile as the idea of negotiating a nuclear deal with the Ayatollahs seems to sober Americans and our allies today, we must first set the record straight on those policies of the past that Obama and his supporters say that they are determined to change: America has never had a “tough” policy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran has been allowed to kidnap and kill Americans for decades, whether directly or by proxy, without fear of severe repercussions. For years the U.S. State Department has declared that Iran is the world’s “most active” sponsor of terrorism, yet the Ayatollahs have not been forced to pay a significant price. Iran has armed and aided our enemies –including al Qaeda-and threatened our allies and has gotten away with it.
Iran has killed Americans for over 40 years, sponsored Hezbollah, HAMAS and al Qaeda and has repeatedly threatened America and our allies.
Iran was complicit in the Hezbollah Islamikaze attacks on the U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon in April 1983 and the US Marine barracks there in October 1983. In the attack on the Marine barracks, 241 U.S. Marines, sailors and soldiers were killed. In fact, until September 11, 2001, Hezbollah had killed more Americans than any other terrorist organization.
It should be pointed out that Iran is not just a sponsor of Hezbollah. Iran formed Hezbollah and has always trained and continues to train its operatives in Lebanon and inside Iran. Hezbollah basically operates as an Iranian foreign legion.
Worst of all, the Iranians have been developing nuclear weapons in violation of international law (along with the ballistic missiles with which to deliver them) and, still, there has been no tough policy toward Iran.
Though it may seem to many Americans as if the Iranian nuclear program has only come about in the past few years, it has actually been known to policymakers for a very long time.
Consider that over 20 years ago in the January 4, 1994 edition of USA Today, Clinton administration Undersecretary of State Lynn Davis had this to say about Iran’s nuclear program: “Iran’s actions leave little doubt that Tehran is intent upon developing a nuclear weapons capability. They are inconsistent with any rational civil nuclear program.”
What did the Clinton administration do to head off Iran’s nuclear program after this startling admission about Iran’s nuclear intentions? Virtually nothing.
For nearly three decades now since Iranian “students” invaded the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took U.S. hostages, sanctions against Iran have been a widely believed urban legend – and nothing more.
Even during that hostage crisis of 1979-81, President Carter was unsuccessful in convincing our closest NATO allies and Japan to participate in economic sanctions against Iran. Not even Great Britain was willing to cut off trade with Iran during that crisis period.
The U.S. has had to “go it alone” on Iran for decades. But even the U.S. has imposed only limited unilateral sanctions against Iran and never broad, far-reaching sanctions. Three successive administrations, Clinton, Bush and Obama didn’t even bother to enforce our own sanctions against Iran.
The Iran Sanctions Act, authored by Sen. Alphonse D’Amato of New York passed both houses of Congress with virtually no opposition back in 1996. That bill would have placed any foreign oil company with over $20 million in investments in Iran’s oil and gas sector under U.S. sanctions. Companies like Shell and Total would have been forced to choose between doing business in America or in Iran. President Clinton signed it into law – and promptly issued waivers by executive order to every single oil company that would have been affected. Unfortunately, President Bush, on the advice of the geniuses at the State Department, continued that same waiver policy during his eight years in office. Unsurprisingly, Obama has followed suit as the list of foreign oil companies doing business in Iran became more Russian and Chinese in recent years.
Moreover, America has allowed our own corporations to bypass U.S. sanctions laws by using foreign cut-outs and subsidiaries to do business with the Ayatollahs. In fact, during the eight years of the Bush administration, U.S. trade with Iran actually expanded. This is especially shocking given that during much of this period Iran was operating directly in support of Jihadist insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan who were killing American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, providing the terrorists with training, logistics, safe haven and advanced weaponry.
Iran was the primary supplier of deadly EFP-IEDs (Explosively Formed Penetrator-Improvised Explosive Devices) to the insurgents in Iraq and operated training camps for those insurgents inside Iran.
As for sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council, they have been even more limited to certain aspects of nuclear technology and arms, with virtually no impact on the Iranian economy. Even these limited sanctions have no teeth at all, which is why Iran’s largest arms suppliers, Russia and China, were willing to allow them to pass in the first place.
The fact is, Iran has felt little economic pressure due to sanctions since that day 21+ years ago in January 1994 when the Clinton State Department admitted to USA Today that Iran was working on nuclear weapons.
Our government has failed us. Our leaders have failed us.
What is so frustrating to those of us who are worried about the Iranian threat and have for years sought a peaceful means of addressing Iran’s nuclear program and its sponsorship of terrorism, is the fact that there have never been any meaningful measures taken to bring pressure on Iran.
It is especially disappointing that America and the rest of the Free World are not willing to apply economic leverage on Iran right now because now President Obama is poised to hand the genocidal Ayatollahs in Qom a windfall of hundreds of billions of dollars in both sanctions relief and freed assets.
President Obama has declared repeatedly that “there’s been a lot of mistrust built up over the years” between the US and Iran.
Given that Iran has made killing Americans its national sport and sponsoring Jihadist terrorist organizations its national pastime, why should America trust the Ayatollahs?
The next time someone tells you that we need to approve the Iranian nuclear deal “because sanctions haven’t worked,” you should point out that tough, comprehensive sanctions have never been imposed on Iran.
One day, we are all going to wake up, turn on the TV news and discover that the Ayatollahs have The Bomb. Our children and our children’s children will always wonder how we let it happen.
Also see:

Iranian-backed Hizballah and Hamas Bolster Worldwide Terrorist Presence

Lebanese Hezbollah supporters gesture as they march during a religious procession to mark Ashura in Beirut's suburbs. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Lebanese Hezbollah supporters gesture as they march during a religious procession to mark Ashura in Beirut’s suburbs. (photo credit:REUTERS)

by IPT News  •  Jul 1, 2015

While the West extends nuclear negotiations with Iran, the Islamic Republic continues to enhance its international terrorism infrastructure through its proxies. Hizballah has 950 active operatives in the Western European state while Hamas maintains 300 operatives, according to a German intelligence report summarized by the Jerusalem Post.

The number of Islamists in Germany rose from 43,190 in 2013 to 43,890 in 2014, the report said.

Radical Islamists are “the greatest danger to Germany…Germany is on the spectrum of goals for Islamic terrorists,” said Hans-Georg Maassen, president of German’s domestic intelligence agency – the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV).

The report’s chapter on “Islamism and Islamic terrorism” reveals that “Hamas was successful” in organizing people beyond its main support base to participate in anti-Israel protests. There were “more Hamas- supporting events than peace demonstrations, and there was clearly public anti-Semitism” during last summer’s war in Gaza.

A reminder about Hizballah’s reach came this week in a Cyprus criminal court, where an operative was sentenced to six years in jail following a guilty plea to all eight charges levied against him in connection with a plot to attack Israeli and Jewish targets. Authorities seized nine tons of ammonium nitrate from Hussein Bassam Abdallah, a Lebanese-Canadian. Prosecutors revealed that Abdallah was recruited into Hizballah’s military wing roughly five years ago and visited Cyprus approximately 10 times since 2012. This incident marks the second time a Cypriot court sentenced a Hizballah operative to prison for planning attacks against Israeli targets in the last three years.

These developments demonstrate that Iranian backed terrorist organizations continue to bolster their presence internationally and plot attacks throughout the world. Over the last few years, Hizballah has planned attacks against Israeli and Western targets in Thailand, India, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Nepal, and Nigeria among others. In 2012, the terrorist group was responsible for a deadly suicide bus bombing which killed five Israeli tourists and the bus driver in Bulgaria.

Hamas, a terrorist group with long-standing Iranian support, is also enhancing its international terrorist infrastructure. For example, recent reports show that Hamas is actively recruiting Palestinians studying in Malaysia, who are then sent to train in Turkey, to conduct terrorist attacks against Israelis upon returning to the West Bank.

Concerns Raised Over US Co-existence with Iranian-Backed Militias in Iraq

Iraqi fighters of the Shiite group Asaib Ahl al-Haq (The League of the Righteous) gesture upon their return to the southern city of Basra, on June 14, 2015. The group is fighting alongside Iraqi security forces against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in an attempt to try to retake the strategic northern town of Baiji. At least 11 members of the Iraqi security forces were killed the previous day near the town of Baiji in a series of suicide attacks claimed by IS jihadists. AFP PHOTO / HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI

Iraqi fighters of the Shiite group Asaib Ahl al-Haq (The League of the Righteous) gesture upon their return to the southern city of Basra, on June 14, 2015. The group is fighting alongside Iraqi security forces against the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group in an attempt to try to retake the strategic northern town of Baiji. At least 11 members of the Iraqi security forces were killed the previous day near the town of Baiji in a series of suicide attacks claimed by IS jihadists. AFP PHOTO / HAIDAR MOHAMMED ALI

Center for Security Policy, by Jennifer Keltz June 30, 2015:

Last week, news reports surfaced that US troops in Iraq have been sharing the Taqqadum military base with Iranian-backed Shia militias, some of which have killed US troops in the past. The Pentagon said that US forces are separated from the militias, which are operating on a different part of the base, though liaisons that are members of the militias have been working with the US and Iraq.

Iran has been a key contributor to the Iraqi fight against the Islamic State (IS), and this fact has been acknowledged by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. In recent a conversation with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Abadi told Khamenei that Iran’s support of Shia militias fighting IS is essential to defeating the organization.

Iraq has also greatly benefited from US involvement in the fight against IS, as the US has been providing training and supplies to Iraqi and Kurdish forces. In March, the US officially began to provide more concrete support, beyond simply training Iraqi troops, for the offensive against IS in Tikrit. The US began providing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance at the request of the Iraqi government.

Throughout the fight against IS, the US has maintained a military presence of 3,100 troops in Iraq. After the fall of Ramadi, the US decided to deploy approximately 400 more troops, signifying its investment in staying involved in the fight. Along with these additional troops to supplement those already in Iraq, senior members of the military have advised expanding the operational capacities of the US troops to allow them to conduct on-the-ground missions.

An escalation of US involvement in Iraq, coinciding with increased coexistence and cooperation between US and Iranian-backed Shia militias, raises some questions.

The first issue that must be addressed is that of the safety of US forces sharing space with the Shia militias. According to the Pentagon, Shia militias left the base before the US troops arrived. However, they are actually staying in a different area on the base, though the base is reportedly very large (larger than Vienna, VA, a town in the Washington, D.C. suburbs). Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), an Iraq War veteran, is apprehensive of the arrangement because many Americans were killed in Iraq as a result of bombs supplied by Iran. Adding to this concern, the militias are headed by the leader of Hezbollah in Iraq, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and include the League of the Righteous, which still boasts about a roadside execution of five US soldiers near Karbala in 2007. US troops have not clashed with the militias in the 11 months that US special operations forces will be in Iraq, but a senior administration official said that “there’s no real command and control from the central government. Even if these guys don’t attack us … Iran is ushering in a new Hezbollah era in Iraq, and we will have aided and abetted it.”

The second issue regards the potential for an armed offensive jointly led by US, Iraqi, and Iranian-backed forces. The US gives weapons to the Iraqi government only, but knows that many end up being used by the Shia militias. Additionally, some militia commanders have been allowed to be present at US military and intelligence briefings for the Iraqi government-controlled Iraqi Security Forces. As previously stated, the Shia militias have a history of violence toward US troops, which could prove disastrous if they turn on the US on the battlefield.

Additionally, the US is still engaged in nuclear negotiations with Iran. A short-term military alliance between the US and Iranian-backed forces in Iraq could lead to US officials developing a false sense of security over the veracity of Iran’s commitment to peace.

In reality, Iran will almost certainly use the nuclear capabilities it will gain in the deal with the US for military purposes while continuing to spread weapons to Hamas and Hezbollah, terrorizing the Middle East and the world. Iran views itself as a lostempire and the leader of a global Islamic revolution. The Iranian regime seeks to seize territories formerly controlled by the Persian empire, including Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. Iran recently trumpeted its control of four Arab capitals, including Baghdad, San’aa, Damascus and Beirut.

A battlefield alliance with US forces gives an unacceptable appearance of legitimacy to all of Iran’s military and foreign policy goals. The United States must find a strategy to advance its efforts against the Islamic State without empowering Iran’s Islamic revolution.

Also see:

U.S. Arms Sales to Lebanon Empowering Hezbollah, Iran

Hezbollah fighters on parade / AP

Hezbollah fighters on parade / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, June 12, 2015:

Newly announced U.S. arms sales to Lebanon coincide with an Obama administration order to cut funding for an anti-Hezbollah Lebanese group, a move foreign policy insiders describe as empowering the Iranian backers of the terrorist group.

Critics are viewing the cut to anti-Hezbollah efforts as another concession by the administration to Iran—which controls and funds Hezbollah—ahead of attempts to finalize a nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic ahead of a June 30 deadline.

Newly disclosed documents reveal that the Obama administration quietly decided in April to cut funds for Hayya Bina, a leading anti-Hezbollah group in Lebanon, “due to a recent shift in Department of State priorities in Lebanon,” according to a letter notifying the group of the funding cuts.

Soon after this move, the United States announced that it would deliver a slew of new weapons to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), which has come under intense criticism for its close relationship with Hezbollah and its efforts to bolster the group’s activities in Syria.

The timing of these decisions by the Obama administration has prompted Middle East leaders and foreign policy insiders to accuse the administration of endorsing Hezbollah and shifting the United States’ regional priorities to be more in line with Iran’s.

The State Department, in its letter, ordered that “all activities [by Hayya Bina] intended [to] foster an independent moderate Shia voice be ceased immediately and indefinitely.”

This directly affects the group’s efforts to provide an alternative to Hezbollah, which is an extremist Shiite Muslim militant group.

On Wednesday, the State Department marked the delivery of more than 200 TOW-II missiles and “dozens of launchers to the LAF,” according to a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.

The military hardware cost more than $10 million and was jointly funded by the United States and Saudi Arabia, according to the State Department.

Around $82.5 million in weapons and ammunition have been provided to the LAF since August 2014.

Additionally, the Pentagon announced this week that it is considering selling Lebanon six A-29 Super Tucano aircraft and support equipment as well as logistical support.

The sale is estimated to cost $462 million, the Pentagon said.

“The Government of Lebanon has requested a possible sale of six A-29 Super Tucano aircraft, eight PT6A-68A Turboprop engines, eight ALE-47 Countermeasure Dispensing Systems, two thousand Advanced Precision Kill Weapon Systems, eight AN/AAR-60(V)2 Missile Launch Detection Systems, non-SAASM Embedded Global Positioning System/Initial Navigation System (EGIs), spare and repair parts, flight testing, maintenance support, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, ferry support, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support,” according to the Pentagon.

The sale “will provide Lebanon with a much needed Close Air Support (CAS) platform to meet present and future challenges posed by internal and border security threats,” according to the Pentagon. “The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

However, regional experts disagree with this assessment. They argue that given the LAF’s close relationship with Hezbollah, the arms will support the terror group’s military efforts to bolster Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s embattled president.

The LAF is “basically protecting Hezbollah’s rear and flank on the Lebanese side of the border, which in turn allows Hezbollah to run its operations more freely across the border in Syria,” said Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) who first broke the news of the anti-Hezbollah funds being cut.

“They are essentially acting as an auxiliary force for Hezbollah in Lebanon,” he said, adding, the LAF has “taken on the role of securing the same areas Hezbollah is trying to secure. There’s an overlap and it goes to help sustain Hezbollah’s effort in Syria.”

U.S. assistance to the LAF helps Hezbollah continue its fight in Syria, Badran said.

America is “helping the Lebanese seal the border only in one direction, not both directions,” Badran explained. “We’re helping Lebanon, and thus Hezbollah, against anything coming in from the Syrian side, but not to totally seal the border, which would prevent Hezbollah from continuing its war” in Syria.

“We’re facilitating this war in a way,” Badran explained.” That’s the context of the arms. They’re being deployed in a manner that relieves Hezbollah and assists its war effort.”

All of this activity ultimately boosts Iranian interests in the region, where Hezbollah has been propping up Assad at Tehran’s behest.

The Obama administration is “appeasing [Iran] in order to get the nuclear agreement,” said Michael Doran, a former senior director for the White House’s National Security Council (NSC) under George W. Bush.

“The agreement is [Obama’s] absolute top priority, but it is not the strategic goal” said Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. “The goal of the talks was always détente with Iran and that’s what we’re seeing. The nuclear goal is a means to a larger end.”

Badran also warned that ongoing U.S. military support to the LAF is bolstering Iran’s interests.

There is a “consistent attempt by Obama to assure the Iranians that their regional holdings and spheres of influence are recognized and respected,” he said. “He will not cross them and not jeopardize them. That includes in Syria, but by definition, includes it in Lebanon.”

“What we’re doing indirectly is helping Iran secure its strategic objective in Lebanon and Syria,” he said.

U.S. Strategy in Lebanon Stirs Fears

People in Nabatiyeh, Lebanon, holding images of Syria’s president watch Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on a screen during his televised speech last month commemorating the 15th anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon. PHOTO: ALI HASHISHO/REUTERS

People in Nabatiyeh, Lebanon, holding images of Syria’s president watch Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on a screen during his televised speech last month commemorating the 15th anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon. PHOTO: ALI HASHISHO/REUTERS

WSJ, by JAY SOLOMON, June 9, 2015:

AMMAN, Jordan—The U.S. cut funding for a civil society program in Lebanon that seeks to develop alternative Shiite political voices to Hezbollah, the powerful Iranian-backed militia and political party.

The group that received the U.S. support and critics said that the Obama administration was curtailing its efforts to counter Hezbollah to avoid confronting Shiite Iran, with which it is negotiating to conclude a historic nuclear accord this month.

These people say the funding cut imperils a program that underpinned criticism in Lebanon of Hezbollah’s growing role in supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war.

“We are more immediately worried about the message this sends to Shia communities, in Lebanon and the region, about their options for the future,” said Lokman Slim, director of Hayya Bina, the organization that lost the funding.

State Department officials denied pulling U.S. support for the development of alternative Shiite voices in Lebanon, saying the program wasn’t succeeding in its objectives. They said the administration still funds other programs run by Hayya Bina, including one that teaches English to Lebanese Shiite women.

“The U.S. continues to support groups and individuals who share our goal of a democratic, peaceful, pluralistic, and prosperous Lebanon,” said Edgar Vasquez, a State Department spokesman.

But the U.S. move feeds into an alarmed narrative held by many Arab leaders who say that U.S. and Iranian interests appear increasingly aligned—at their expense. Both Washington and Tehran are fighting Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria, with U.S. conducting airstrikes against the militants, but notably not against Mr. Assad’s Iran-backed regime.

Hezbollah, which the U.S. classifies as a terror organization, receives extensive funding and arms from Iran. It has deployed 10,000 soldiers in Syria to back Mr. Assad’s forces and counter Islamic State, U.S. officials estimate.

Saudi Arabia’s leadership, which supports the exiled leader of Yemen, was concerned when the U.S. last month met secretly with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels there that caused him to flee.

Most significantly, the Obama administration is seeking to conclude a deal with Iran by June 30 to curb its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions.

Some pro-democracy activists in Washington also voiced concern that cutting Hayya Bina’s funding will send a message that the U.S. is tacitly accepting Hezbollah in an effort to appease Iran.

“At best, the decision shows poor political judgment,” said Firas Maksad, director of Global Policy Advisors, a Washington-based consulting firm focused on the Middle East. “Coming on the heels of an expected deal with Iran, it is bound to generate much speculation about possible ulterior motives.”

The U.S. government has continued to pressure Hezbollah financially, including teaming with Saudi Arabia in recent months to jointly sanction some of its leaders. “Disrupting Hezbollah’s far-reaching terrorist and military capabilities remains a top priority for the U.S. government,” Mr. Vasquez said.

But the Obama administration has also cooperated with Lebanese institutions—including the armed forces and an intelligence agency—that are considered close to Hezbollah and combating Islamic State and Nusra Front, an al Qaeda-affiliated militia in Syria.

The program in question was budgeted to receive $640,000 between June 2013 and December 2015, according to Hayya Bina. The funding was halted this spring, $200,000 short of the total amount, though the group continues to receive a smaller amount of U.S. funding for the other programs, as it has since 2007.

Two years before, in 2005, a popular uprising, sparked by the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, drove Syrian forces out of Lebanon. U.S. officials believed at the time the uprising would weaken Hezbollah and Iran in Lebanon since both were close Assad allies. Instead, Hezbollah strengthened itself politically and militarily, U.S. and Arab officials say.

The Hayya Bina program in question was funded through the International Republican Institute, which promotes democracy overseas. It sought to support diverse Shiite voices through workshops, publications and public opinion polling. But in April, the institute notified Hayya Bina that the Obama administration was terminating its support for that program.

The State Department “requests that all activities intended [to] foster an independent moderate Shiite voice be ceased immediately and indefinitely,” said the April 10 letter to Mr. Slim, according to a copy seen by The Wall Street Journal. “Hayya Bina…must eliminate funding for any of the above referenced activities.”

Mr. Slim and other Hayya Bina officials said the State Department expressed no reservations about their program’s effectiveness and that the loss forced them to scramble for new funding.

“As Hayya Bina continues to receive State Department support for other projects, we believe the action taken regarding these objectives reflects reservations over the nature of the programming, rather than our organizational integrity,” said Inga Schei, the group’s program director.

Hezbollah has voiced growing criticism of Shiite political leaders and organizations in Lebanon opposed to the militia’s role in supporting Mr. Assad.

Hezbollah’s leader, Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, has publicly branded some of his Shiite political opponents as “Shia of the American Embassy,” in recent speeches, as well as “traitors” and “idiots.”

Mr. Slim said he has been one of those Shiite leaders singled out by Mr. Nasrallah.

“None of us will change our beliefs,” Mr. Nasrallah said in a late May speech, according to the pro-Hezbollah newspaper, Al Akhbar. “From now on, we won’t remain silent [in the face of criticism]; we will accommodate no one. This is an existential battle.”

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obama-iran-450x286 (2)

Hezbollah Imam is Father of US Marine

il-313x350Frontpage, June 3, 2015 by Joe Kaufman:

Mohamad al-Halabi, the imam of the American Islamic Center of Florida and father of a United States Marine, has been using his Facebook page to propagate the same type of hatred and fanaticism that his center had forced on the community one decade ago. But the big question is, was he also involved in an international terrorist group?

The American Islamic Center of Florida or AICF was founded in the city of Boca Raton, Florida, in 2003, as the Assidiq Islamic Educational Foundation. Unlike the Sunni mosques which had already been established in Boca, Assidiq was of the Shiite variety.

In April 2005, Assidiq attempted to broaden its following by inviting the community to a free dinner banquet that the mosque was sponsoring at the Boca Center Marriott. But instead of gaining support for Assidiq, the mosque succeeded in alienating a good number of residents by featuring a neo-Nazi as a speaker at the event and a representative of a Hamas-related group as a ‘Guest of Honor.’

The neo-Nazi that the mosque brought to speak was William W. Baker.

In 1984, William Baker was National Chairman of the Populist Party, a white supremacist organization founded the same year by notorious Holocaust denier Willis Carto. Officials from the party included neo-Nazis and former leaders of the Ku Klux Klan. The previous year, in 1983, Baker had given a speech at a function run by the Christian Patriot Defense League, also a white supremacist outfit. Baker’s speech targeted Jews, referring to Reverend Jerry Falwell, a staunch supporter of Israel, as “Jerry Jewry” and discussing a trip he had taken to New York where the first people he came in contact with were “pushy, belligerent American Jews.”

The Hamas-related group was the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

CAIR was established in June 1994 as being part of the American Palestine Committee, an umbrella organization acting as a terrorist enterprise run by then-global Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzook, who was based in the U.S. at the time. In September 2001, right after the 9/11 attacks, under a graphic of a burning World Trade Center, CAIR asked its followers to donate money to Hamas charity Holy Land Foundation (HLF) via a link on the CAIR national website. CAIR later was named a co-conspirator for two federal trials dealing with HLF and the raising of millions of dollars for Hamas.

Following the mosque’s neo-Nazi banquet, a little over a year later, Assidiq Islamic Educational Foundation incorporated under a new name, Florida Islamic Education Center. Two years after that, in June 2008, the mosque reincorporated using the name, Al-Huda Islamic Center. And in December 2012, the mosque reincorporated under its most recent name, American Islamic Center of Florida.

From the time the American Islamic Center of Florida (AICF) was founded, there have been three imams leading it. The latest has been Mohamad al-Ali al-Halabi, a radical cleric who was born and raised in Syria and received his Islamic education in Iran beginning in 1987.

Since immigrating to the United States in 1999, Al-Halabi has become a very important figure in the American Shiite community. He is the head of the Education and Research Department of the Imam Mahdi Association of Marjaeya (IMAM), and he sits on the Executive Committee for the Council of Shia Muslim Scholars in North America (CSMSNA).

On al-Halabi’s Facebook page, there are a number of disturbing posts.

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Iran Implicated in Foiled Hezbollah Attacks on Europe

Iranian Basij volunteer militia members (Photo: © Reuters)

Iranian Basij volunteer militia members (Photo: © Reuters)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, June 2, 2015:

The arrest of a Hezbollah terrorist in Cyprus is believed to have foiled attacks in Europe, probably against Israeli or Jewish targets. The plots show that Iran is as committed to international terrorism as ever and is not the least bit dissuaded by the prospect of a lucrative nuclear deal.

The terrorist came to Cyprus last month and had nearly two tons of ammonium nitrate—a substance commonly used for making bombs—in his basement. That’s about the amount that was used to carry out the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 that took down a federal building and killed 168 people.

It is suspected that he was planning on attacking Israelis, and there is evidence linking the operative to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. It is also believed that the operative belonged to a network planning on using Cyprus as a “port of export” for additional terrorist plots in Europe.

The National Council of Resistance in Iran, an opposition group, says that a Cyprus newspaper reported that he was trained in Iran by the Revolutionary Guards Corps.

In 2012, a Hezbollah terrorist was arrested and later found guilty of planning attacks on Israeli tourists in Cyprus. His possession of a Swedish passport enabled him to conduct surveillance on targets in Europe. It was discovered that he was tracking flights from Israel to Cyprus, researching bus routes used by Israeli tourists and assessing a hospital parking lot. He also traveled to France and the Netherlands for Hezbollah.

The foiled plot helps make an important point about the nature of the Iranian regime. If there was any time for the regime to resist its impulses to engage in international terrorism, it is now.

An Iranian-sponsored plot could unravel the nuclear deal that could strengthen its “Islamic Revolution,” bolster the regime and allow it to dramatically increase its sponsorship of terrorism. And yet, even under these conditions, the Iranian regime can’t help but orchestrate terror plots in Europe with the objective of killing hundreds of innocents.

If this is the behavior of the Iranian regime when it has every incentive to temporarily play nice, then what will it do when it breaks free of sanctions and uses trade deals to disarm the U.S. of its economic leverage?


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Iranian Regime Gives Green Light to Qods Force, Proxies to Initiate Plans Against US and its Allies

The Middle East roach infestation has originated from Iran – so who will turn on the light to make them scatter? Source:

The Middle East roach infestation has originated from Iran – so who will turn on the light to make them scatter?

June 1, 2015 / / 1 Comment

In Yesterday’s article titled “Arabian Pensinsula Violence Escalates After Second IS Bombing in Saudi Arabia,” we stated that our sources in the region have been reporting back that movement appears to be underway towards targeting westerners – mainly Americans. Specifically, we’ve been informed that the Qods Force may have directed Hezbollah, Kitaib Hezbollah (KH) and the Houthis to begin making plans for conducting William Buckley-style abductions Americans in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Furthermore, reporting from various media outlets have already begun covering the Americans taken hostage by the Houthis and a Hezbollah plot disrupted in Cyprus. None of these are a “coincidence.” Its all by design and timed with the nuclear weapons negotiations. Why do this if the Obama administration is prepared to give them everything without having to sacrifice anything on their end? It all comes down to the fact that the Iranian regime views the US government is weak – and they will be able to be much more “assertive” by escalating their belligerence. Thus far the Obama administration has done nothing to prove otherwise.

Arabian Pensinsula Violence Escalates After Second IS Bombing in Saudi Arabia

We’ve been warning about the Qods Force working to expand their influence in Yemen and model the Houthis after Lebanese Hezbollah. In “Iranian Regime Consolidates Yemeni Gains, Begins Work on Forming Houthi Intel Proxy” we laid out how such work has already been underway. Furthermore, a consistent theme we’ve been touching on in our Arabian Peninsula reporting has been how intelligence collection against US State Department (DoS) personnel and American citizens in the country had dramatically increased with the influx of Hezbollah and Iranian military personnel into the country – so none of this is “new,” although the Obama administration would like to make you think it is, and that the Qods Force doesn’t exercise any control over the Houthis. The inconvenient truth is that they do, and the man calling the shots in the country is Qods Force External Operations Division (Department 400) BG Aboldreza Shahlai.

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Also see:

Iran Rising: Tehran Using Hezbollah in Latin American ‘Cultural Centers’ To Infiltrate West

AP Photo/Iranian Presidency Office, Mohammad Berno

AP Photo/Iranian Presidency Office, Mohammad Berno

Breitbart, by JORDAN SCHACHTEL AND EDWIN MORA,  May 27, 2015:

The rapidly growing number of Shiite cultural centers in Latin America have provided the Islamic Republic of Iran with a means to expand its covert recruitment operations throughout the western hemisphere, leading military officials and experts to provide Breitbart News with statements that directly contradict the Obama administration’s narrative that Iran’s influence in the region is “waning.”

Breitbart News interviewed military and intelligence officials, policy experts, members of Congress, and a former White House official for this report, all of whom warned about the threat posed by Iran’s continuing encroachment into Latin America.

Iran is infiltrating Latin America thanks largely to Hezbollah, a Shiite terrorist group that has sworn loyalty to Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, showing overt preference to the Tehran dictator over its host-state Lebanon. Hezbollah, along with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), have provided the on-the-ground support needed for the proliferation of Iran’s Khomeinist ideology.

Breitbart News’ sources have unanimously refuted the assessment of Obama’s State Department, which has claimed that “Iranian influence in Latin America and the Caribbean is waning.”

A U.S. military official told Breitbart News that the estimated 80-plus Shiite cultural centers backed by Iran are continuously multiplying, and are currently being operated by Hezbollah and Tehran’s Revolutionary Guards-Quds Force.

Hezbollah provides operational and logistical support “for Iran’s covert activities in the region to include coordination and collaboration with Lebanese [Hezbollah’s] external operations arm the Islamic Jihad Organization” through Shiite Islamic centers dubbed “cultural centers,” the official told Breitbart News, contradicting the narrative put forth by the State Department.

Such centers can be found throughout Latin America, according to the official.

“Iranian cultural centers open possibilities for Iran to introduce members of its Revolutionary Guard-Qods Forces (IRGC-QF) to a pool of potential recruits within the centers population of Lebanese Shi’a Muslims and local converts to Shia Islam,” added the defense official.

David Shedd, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), echoed the U.S. military officials comments, telling Breitbart News via email that “the cultural centers may be used as platforms for truly nefarious purposes by the Iranian regime.”

“Iran has expanded its ‘cultural centers’ presence in locations such as Quito [in Peru] and Caracas [in Venezuela] where there is a strong anti-US government sentiment,” Shedd, currently a visiting distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told Breitbart News.

“Iran’s overall expanded presence in the Western Hemisphere is troubling,” the former DIA director added. “The expanded presence in any capacity in the Latin American region should give the U.S. pause given the profound differences between U.S. values and those of a regime in Tehran that supports terrorism as an officially sanctioned tool of national power.”

Shedd warned that Hezbollah, which he described as the most prominent global terrorist group in Latin America, likely has “sleeper cells” in various countries in the Western Hemisphere.

“Hezbollah sympathizers also appear to have a presence in the tri-border area of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil where they are involved in black market commercial activities,” he noted.

The Tri-Border region in South America includes Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil. According to the Treasury Department, the Galeria Page shopping mall in Paraguay– at the heart of the tri-border– serves as central headquarters and a fundraising source for Hezbollah members in the region.

Members of Congress have also sounded the alarm about Tehran’s growing influence in Latin America.

Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), a member of the House Armed Services, said that Iran’s presence was evident when he visited Quito, Ecuador. The congressman described it as a place where anti-American sentiment is strong and jihadist figures appear next to Latin American heroes.

Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC) the chairman of the House Foreign Relations Subcommittee, has been warning against the presence and activity of Iran and its ally Hezbollah in Latin America, holding multiple congressional hearings on the issue, visiting the region, and sponsoring legislation — the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012.

Chairman Duncan told Breitbart News that Iran and its proxy Hezbollah “use many tools to deepen their influence in the region, including diplomatic missions and cultural centers; ties with terrorist organizations and criminal groups; training Latin American youth in Tehran; and exploiting loose border security policies and free trade zones to smuggle contraband.”

Rep. Duncan accused the Obama administration of not paying enough attention to the Iranian threat in Latin America, saying during a March 18 congressional hearing, “I believe this negligence is misguided and dangerous.”

Duncan is not the only one who disagrees with how the Obama administration is dealing the presence of Iran in the Western Hemisphere.

Bud McFarlane, who served as National Security Advisor for President Ronald Reagan, told Breitbart News that Iran continues to expand its influence operations throughout the region, tailoring its message to the Spanish-speaking world. He explained:

Iran’s existing network of agents in place, including members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), function through Iranian cultural centers where they seek to recruit candidates for conversion to Shia Islam and carry out other clandestine, subversive activities.  They also carry out what amounts to a form of brainwashing by encouraging teenagers to access, which features links to Iranian television for Spanish speakers, anti-American propaganda, essays on reasons to convert to Islam, chat rooms and a personal message from the supreme leader of Iran.

Iran’s propaganda and influence operations can be witnessed throughout the globe, not just in Latin America.

Dr. Michael Rubin, an Iran expert and scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), told Breitbart News:

The Iranian use of Hezbullah and Lebanese expatriate populations is actually neither new nor limited to South America. In the aftermath of the 1992 ‘Mykonos Cafe’ assassinations in Berlin, German police captured both Iranian and Hezbollah operatives, the latter of which represented sleeper cells in Germany.

Rubin added that Hezbollah must not be seen as an independent actor, but as a tool of the Iranian regime. He explained:

Hezbollah is a proxy founded and controlled by Iran. Talk of Hezbollah as having evolved to become Lebanese nationalist first and foremost is nonsense. I’ve been in Hezbollah bunkers in southern Lebanon. Pictures are worth a thousand words, and it’s telling that Hezbollah terrorists bunk down under photos of Khomeini and Khamenei. Current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei remains Hezbollah’s religious source of emulation. Any notion that Hezbollah was anything other than an Qods Force proxy should have been put to rest in 2008, when they turned their guns on fellow Lebanese in the center of Beirut, or when they supporter the worst atrocities in Syria since 2011.

But even with the overwhelming evidence that Iran’s influence in Latin America is expanding exponentially, the Obama administration has thus far refused to recognize its deep penetration of the Western Hemisphere.

The State Department, which falls under the purview of the Obama White House, has recently stated that the “Iranian influence in Latin America and the Caribbean is waning.”

But it appears as if other executive branch agencies are sending conflicting messages about Iran in Latin America.

In October 2014, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which serves as the investigative arm of Congress, noted a discrepancy in the assessments provided by the agencies.

Although the State Department claims that key government agencies — including the Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice — agree with its position, the GAO revealed that U.S. Southern Command (Southcom), which oversees most of Latin America and the Caribbean, does not agree that Iran’s influence is “waning.”

Connecting the Dots: Iran, Immigration & National Security

image-450x340Frontpage, by Michael Cutler, April, 6, 2015:

This past week John Kerry, bargaining from a self-imposed position of weakness, continued to negotiate with Iran, the world’s most pernicious state sponsor of international terrorism even after America’s allies walked away. It might be said that Kerry agreed to take “No” for an answer.

Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu left no doubt about his grave concerns about the wisdom of the agreement being hammered out at the behest of the Obama administration that legitimizes Iran’s nuclear program and therefore poses an existential threat to Israel.

Mr. Obama has said that a deal with Iran would be “Historic.”

My concern is that Obama’s statement will be prophetic. History records as many tragedies as successes. The Hindenburg explosion was certainly historic. So was the loss of the Titanic and two of our space shuttles.

In point of fact, every major war has been historic as has been the Holocaust.

Many of the events recorded in history books were written with blood- rivers and, indeed, oceans of blood!

The news media has reported on Netanyahu’s concerns and noted how a nuclear Iran would, indeed, pose a threat to Israel’s survival. What has not been considered is that a nuclear Iran would pose no less a threat to America.

There is a saying that when confronting several adversaries in a dark alley you should not go after the smallest adversary but the largest. The reasoning is that if you beat up the smallest guy first, you will then have to fight your way up until you wind up fighting the largest adversary last. By then your strength and ability would have been largely depleted.

On the other hand, if you successfully take on the biggest adversary first, the other guys will run away and you will prevail.

Undoubtedly when Iran looks at Israel and the United States, the United States is that largest adversary.

Iran is operating in the Western Hemisphere as has been for many years. Their presence in our hemisphere and indeed our country, leaves us vulnerable to a devastating attack.

On April 21, 2010 the Washington Times published a report entitled, “Iran boosts Qods shock troops in Venezuela.”

On February 3, 2012 ABC News which posted an article, “Exclusive: Israel Warns US Jews: Iran Could Strike Here,” that had a clear and unambiguous title.

On March 21, 2012, the Huffington Post published an extremely disturbing article that was entitled: “Peter King: Iran May Have ‘Hundreds’ Of Hezbollah Agents In U.S.”

The basis for the Huffington Post article was a hearing that was conducted that day by the House Committee on Homeland Security that is chaired by Congressman Peter King of New York, the topic of the hearing was, “Iran, Hezbollah, and the Threat to the Homeland.”

Here is how the Huffington Post article began:

WASHINGTON — Iranian-backed Hezbollah agents, not al Qaeda operatives, may pose the greatest threat on U.S. soil as tensions over Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program ratchet up, according to the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

“As Iran moves closer to nuclear weapons and there is increasing concern over war between Iran and Israel, we must also focus on Iran’s secret operatives and their number one terrorist proxy force, Hezbollah, which we know is in America,” said New York Rep. Peter King at a Wednesday hearing of his committee.

The hearing, which featured former government officials and the director of intelligence analysis for the New York Police Department, follows a foiled plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, D.C., and testimony by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper in late January that Iran’s leaders are “more willing to conduct an attack inside the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime.”

Opening the hearing, King said, “We have a duty to prepare for the worst,” warning there may be hundreds of Hezbollah operatives in the United States, including 84 Iranian diplomats at the United Nations and in Washington who, “it must be presumed, are intelligence officers.”

Congressman Peter King focused primarily on the threats posed by Iranian diplomats and, indeed, these diplomats should be of great concern to us. However, these diplomats are readily identifiable. We know their identities and the fact that they are officially connected to the Iranian government. There are other Iranians who are present in the United States whose relationship with the Iranian government and its goals of destroying the United States are not so readily identifiable.

On Friday, May 24, 2013 the newspapers, “The Blaze” and “My San Antonio” reported on the arrest of Wissam Allouche by the FBI and members of the JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force) in San Antonio, Texas, for lying on his application for naturalization to acquire United States citizenship. The article published by “My San Antonio” was entitled: “Alleged member of Hezbollah arrested here” while the article in “The Blaze” was entitled: “Infiltration? The Alarming Details Surrounding Alleged Hezbollah Member’s Arrest in Texas.”

Here is an important excerpt from “The Blaze” article:

The federal indictment revealed Allouche had married a U.S. citizen and was going through the naturalization process when he was arrested. When asked by officials if he had ever been associated with a terrorist organization, he replied no. That apparently turned out to be a lie.

According to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, he was a militant with the Amal militia in Lebanon in the early to mid-1980s. He was reportedly captured as a Israeli prisoner of war, but was later released to become a commander of the Amal militia.

News reports at the time said Hezbollah was formed by religious members of the Amal movement.”

In addition to lying about his terror ties, Allouche is also accused of lying about his relationship with his ex-wife. He falsely claimed on his application forms in 2009 that he and his wife were married and living together for the past three years. In reality, they had no lived together since May 2007 and they filed for divorce in December of 2007.

While Allouche’s allegedly committed fraud in filing his application for naturalization, it must be noted that if the allegations are accurate, that he also gamed the the process by which he had been granted lawful immigrant status years earlier. He had a Green Card (Alien Registration Receipt Card) for at least three years before he applied for United States citizenship. The 9/11 Commission identified such fraud as being an integral part of the strategy terrorists have used to enter the United States and embed themselves.

At the time of his arrest Allouche, was applying for a security clearance in order to work for the Department of Defense and had also applied for naturalization. Allegedly he lied by claiming to have never been a member of a terrorist organization when in fact, according to the FBI, he had not just been a member of Hezbollah, but had been a commander of that terrorist organization.

On May 29, 2013 both of those newspapers published follow-up reports in conjunction with disclosures made by prosecutors during the bail hearing.

The title of the Blaze article was, “God of Death Bombshell Revelations About Alleged Hezbollah Commander Arrested In Texas.”

The article published in My San Antonio, “Accused Ex-Hezbollah Member Referred to as God” included the following excerpt:

Allouche was arrested by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force here last week after being indicted on charges of not disclosing, during his quest to obtain his U.S. citizenship, his membership in the Amal militia and Hezbollah in Lebanon in the 1980s.

He’s also charged with not disclosing his prior membership in those groups when he applied for a security clearance with the Defense Department as he sought a contracting job.

Before 2009, Allouche worked for L-3 Communications, which provides linguistic services for the U.S. military, and he was deployed for several months to Iraq. He has lived in the U.S. since about 2002, and once owned Windcrest Mobil, a gas station at Walzem Road and Interstate 35, his lawyer said.

In view of the charges lodged against Allouche, it would be important to know what the vetting process was that enabled him to be put in a position of trust. He was deployed with American troops in Iraq as a translator. This means that he may have assisted in the questioning and vetting of suspected terrorists and with those applying to work with our military. This raises some obvious and important questions.

What classified documents or people did he have had access to? Did he come to meet with covert officers whose identities must be preserved? Did he meet with suspected terrorists and, perhaps, have the capability to alter what the record reflects that they did or did not say? Might he have learned the identities of foreign nationals who for whatever reason decided to become cooperators? Has this endangered their lives and the operations that they were providing information for? Might he mistranslated statements made by terrorists seeking to gain entry to military bases to subsequently kill American soldiers?

The Allouche case is hardly an isolated one. Furthermore, the threat of terrorism is not just limited to Iranian citizens but may involve terrorists from other countries that are funded and otherwise supported by Iran.

Read more

The diplomatic track to war

Iran negotiations. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Iran negotiations. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Jerusalem Post, by Caroline Glick, April 3, 2015:

The world powers assembled at Lausanne, Switzerland, with the representatives of the Islamic Republic may or may not reach a framework deal regarding Iran’s nuclear program. But succeed or fail, the disaster that their negotiations have unleashed is already unfolding. The damage they have caused is irreversible.
US President Barack Obama, his advisers and media cheerleaders have long presented his nuclear diplomacy with the Iran as the only way to avoid war. Obama and his supporters have castigated as warmongers those who oppose his policy of nuclear appeasement with the world’s most prolific state sponsor of terrorism.

But the opposite is the case. Had their view carried the day, war could have been averted.

Through their nuclear diplomacy, Obama and his comrades started the countdown to war.

In recent weeks we have watched the collapse of the allied powers’ negotiating positions.

They have conceded every position that might have placed a significant obstacle in Iran’s path to developing a nuclear arsenal.

They accepted Iran’s refusal to come clean on the military dimensions of its past nuclear work and so ensured that to the extent UN nuclear inspectors are able to access Iran’s nuclear installations, those inspections will not provide anything approaching a full picture of its nuclear status. By the same token, they bowed before Iran’s demand that inspectors be barred from all installations Iran defines as “military” and so enabled the ayatollahs to prevent the world from knowing anything worth knowing about its nuclear activities.

On the basis of Iran’s agreement to ship its stockpile of enriched uranium to Russia, the US accepted Iran’s demand that it be allowed to maintain and operate more than 6,000 centrifuges.

But when on Monday Iran went back on its word and refused to ship its uranium to Russia, the US didn’t respond by saying Iran couldn’t keep spinning 6,000 centrifuges. The US made excuses for Iran.

The US delegation willingly acceded to Iran’s demand that it be allowed to continue operating its fortified, underground enrichment facility at Fordow. In so doing, the US minimized the effectiveness of a future limited air campaign aimed at significantly reducing Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

With this broad range of great power concessions already in its pocket, the question of whether or not a deal is reached has become a secondary concern. The US and its negotiating partners have agreed to a set of understanding with the Iranians. Whether these understandings become a formal agreement or not is irrelevant because the understandings are already being implemented.

True, the US has not yet agreed to Iran’s demand for an immediate revocation of the economic sanctions now standing against it. But the notion that sanctions alone can pressure Iran into making nuclear concessions has been destroyed by Obama’s nuclear diplomacy in which the major concessions have all been made by the US.

No sanctions legislation that Congress may pass in the coming months will be able to force a change in Iran’s behavior if they are not accompanied by other coercive measures undertaken by the executive branch.

There is nothing new in this reality. For a regime with no qualms about repressing its society, economic sanctions are not an insurmountable challenge. But it is possible that if sanctions were implemented as part of a comprehensive plan to use limited coercive means to block Iran’s nuclear advance, they could have effectively blocked Iran’s progress to nuclear capabilities while preventing war. Such a comprehensive strategy could have included a proxy campaign to destabilize the regime by supporting regime opponents in their quest to overthrow the mullahs. It could have involved air strikes or sabotage of nuclear installations and strategic regime facilities like Revolutionary Guards command and control bases and ballistic missile storage facilities. It could have involved diplomatic isolation of Iran.

Moreover, if sanctions were combined with a stringent policy of blocking Iran’s regional expansion by supporting Iraqi sovereignty, supporting the now deposed government of Yemen and making a concerted effort to weaken Hezbollah and overthrow the Iranian-backed regime in Syria, then the US would have developed a strong deterrent position that would likely have convinced Iran that its interest was best served by curbing its imperialist enthusiasm and setting aside its nuclear ambitions.

In other words, a combination of these steps could have prevented war and prevented a nuclear Iran. But today, the US-led capitulation to Iran has pulled the rug out from any such comprehensive strategy. The administration has no credibility. No one trusts Obama to follow through on his declared commitment to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

No one trusts Washington when Obama claims that he is committed to the security of Israel and the US’s Sunni allies in the region.

And so we are now facing the unfolding disaster that Obama has wrought. The disaster is that deal or no deal, the US has just given the Iranians a green light to behave as if they have already built their nuclear umbrella. And they are in fact behaving in this manner.

They may not have a functional arsenal, but they act as though they do, and rightly so, because the US and its partners have just removed all significant obstacles from their path to nuclear capabilities. The Iranians know it. Their proxies know it. Their enemies know it.

As a consequence, all the regional implications of a nuclear armed Iran are already being played out. The surrounding Arab states led by Saudi Arabia are pursuing nuclear weapons. The path to a Middle East where every major and some minor actors have nuclear arsenals is before us.

Iran is working to expand its regional presence as if it were a nuclear state already. It is brazenly using its Yemeni Houthi proxy to gain maritime control over the Bab al-Mandab, which together with Iran’s control over the Straits of Hormuz completes its maritime control over shipping throughout the Middle East.

Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Eritrea, and their global trading partners will be faced with the fact that their primary maritime shipping route to Asia is controlled by Iran.

With its regional aggression now enjoying the indirect support of its nuclear negotiating partners led by the US, Iran has little to fear from the pan-Arab attempt to dislodge the Houthis from Aden and the Bab al-Mandab. If the Arabs succeed, Iran can regroup and launch a new offensive knowing it will face no repercussions for its aggression and imperialist endeavors.

Then of course there are Iran’s terror proxies.

Hezbollah, whose forces now operate openly in Syria and Lebanon, is reportedly active as well in Iraq and Yemen. These forces behave with a brazenness the likes of which we have never seen.

Hamas too believes that its nuclear-capable Iranian state sponsor ensures that regardless of its combat losses, it will be able to maintain its regime in Gaza and continue using its territory as a launching ground for assaults against Israel and Egypt.

Iran’s Shiite militias in Iraq have reportedly carried out heinous massacres of Sunnis who have fallen under their control and faced no international condemnation for their war crimes, operating as they are under Iran’s protection and sponsorship. And the Houthis, of course, just overthrew a Western-backed government that actively assisted the US and its allies in their campaign against al-Qaida.

For their proxies’ aggression, Iran has been rewarded with effective Western acceptance of its steps toward regional domination and nuclear armament.

Hezbollah’s activities represent an acute and strategic danger to Israel. Not only does Hezbollah now possess precision guided missiles that are capable of taking out strategic installations throughout the country, its arsenal of 100,000 missiles can cause a civilian disaster.

Hezbollah forces have been fighting in varied combat situations continuously for the past three years. Their combat capabilities are incomparably greater than those they fielded in the 2006 Second Lebanon War. There is every reason to believe that these Hezbollah fighters, now perched along Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Syria, can make good their threat to attack and hold fixed targets including border communities.

While Israel faces threats unlike any we have faced in recent decades that all emanate from Western-backed Iranian aggression and expansionism carried out under a Western-sanctioned Iranian nuclear umbrella, Israel is not alone in this reality. The unrolling disaster also threatens the moderate Sunni states including Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The now regional war in Yemen is but the first act of the regional war at our doorstep.

There are many reasons this war is now inevitable.

Every state threatened by Iran has been watching the Western collapse in Switzerland.

They have been watching the Iranian advance on the ground. And today all of them are wondering the same thing: When and what should we strike to minimize the threats we are facing.

Everyone recognizes that the situation is only going to get worse. With each passing week, Iran’s power and brazenness will only increase.

Everyone understands this. And this week they learned that with Washington heading the committee welcoming Iran’s regional hegemony and nuclear capabilities, no outside power will stand up to Iran’s rise. The future of every state in the region hangs in the balance. And so, it can be expected that everyone is now working out a means to preempt and prevent a greater disaster.

These preemptive actions will no doubt include three categories of operations: striking Hezbollah’s missile arsenal; striking the Iranian Navy to limit its ability to project its force in the Bab al-Mandab; and conducting limited military operations to destroy a significant portion of Iran’s nuclear installations.

Friday is the eve of Passover. Thirteen years ago, Palestinian terrorists brought home the message of the Exodus when they blew up the Seder at Netanya’s Park Hotel, killing 30, wounding 140, and forcing Israel into war. The message of the Passover Haggada is that there are no shortcuts to freedom. To gain and keep it, you have to be willing to fight for it.

That war was caused by Israel’s embrace of the notion that you can bring peace through concessions that empower an enemy sworn to your destruction. The price of that delusion was thousands of lives lost and families destroyed.

Iran is far more powerful than the PLO. But the Americans apparently believe they are immune from the consequences of their leaders’ policies. This is not the case for Israel or for our neighbors. We lack the luxury of ignoring the fact that Obama’s disastrous diplomacy has brought war upon us. Deal or no deal, we are again about to be forced to pay a price to maintain our freedom.

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

Alberto Nisman

Alberto Nisman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Export Iran’s Islamic Revolution’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nisman dug deep

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

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

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

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

AMIA bombing argentina

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hugo Chavez, Nestor Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

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

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

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

AMIA suspects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch

US Attorney Loretta Lynch. Reuters

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

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

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

Michael B. Kelley contributed to this report.

Also see:

Obama Whitewashes Iranian Terrorism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dropping Iran and Hezbollah from Threat Assessment a Strategic Error (

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

tikritMarch 18, 2015 / /

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

ISIS Digs-in For Battle of Tikrit as Sunni Populace is Targeted by Iran’s Proxies

The Tikrit Front: “Not so Rosy” as Claimed by Obama Administration

Qods Force-Led Assault Force Meets Heavy Resistance in Tikrit

Iraqi offensive for Tikrit stalls as casualties mount

Iraq halts Tikrit operation to limit losses of ‘heroic forces’


Source: Associated Free Press

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

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

ISOF Commandos’ Admiration of their IRGC-Qods Force Embeds

State of the Iraqi Air Force and Special Operations Forces

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

ISOF and ramazan

Source: The ISIS Study Group

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

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

The Hezbollah Presence in Iraq

Iran’s Go-To Proxy Group in Iraq


Qais al-Khazali

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

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 8.53.33 PM

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

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

Islamic State Overruns Iraqi Army Brigade Headquarters North of Fallujah

Foreign Suicide Bombers Launch Assault on Ramadi

Iraqi forces push into Tikrit, bombers hit Ramadi

Shia Militias Sent to Reinforce al-Asad Airbase – IA on Verge of Collapse

The Continuing Flow of Foreign Fighters From Australia

The Increasing Role of Aussie Jihadists in ISIS Efforts to Expand into Southeast Asia and Strike the West


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

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

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

Saddam Hussein’s tomb destroyed, but Babylon is safe as ISIS targets antiquity

Links to Other Related Articles:

ISIS Shaping Operations Against IA Blunts Mosul OP Before it Starts

Incoherent Strategy Delays Mosul Offensive, Administration Touts Hashtag Victory

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

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

ISIS: Regained the Initiative in Northern Iraq



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

Iran is now the rising power of the Middle East.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see: