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.

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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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ISIS and the Tijuana Drug-Smuggling Tunnels

Gotcha! A soldier of the Mexican Army walks along a trans-border tunnel found near Tijuana Airport, in Tijuana, Baja California State, in the Mexican border with San Diego in the US http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2025612/Drug-tunnel-stretching-Tijuana-Mexico-U-S.html#ixzz3cEOaKgGL

Gotcha! A soldier of the Mexican Army walks along a trans-border tunnel found near Tijuana Airport, in Tijuana, Baja California State, in the Mexican border with San Diego in the US
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2025612/Drug-tunnel-stretching-Tijuana-Mexico-U-S.html#ixzz3cEOaKgGL

American Thinker, by Dan Gordon, June 5, 2015:

The United States faces a clear and present danger. It is not theoretical, it is actual. The pieces are in place. The relationships are established. The will and capability have been clearly demonstrated. And, if that’s not enough to keep you up at night, a full dress rehearsal was staged less than a year ago. Indeed, to be more precise, some half a dozen full dress rehearsals were staged less than a year ago. My name is Dan Gordon.

I am a screenwriter and author by trade, but I am also a Reserve officer in the Israel Defense Forces, and a veteran of six Middle Eastern conflicts, including last summer’s Hamas/Israel terrorist tunnel war, in which Hamas demonstrated their capability to attempt a mass-casualty terrorist attack by means of tunnels dug beneath the internationally recognized border from Gaza into southern Israel.  If you’d like to see what the first one looked like, click here for a link to a video. You will see thirteen Hamas terrorists rising up, like zombies coming out of their graves, in a recently harvested wheat field only a few hundred meters from the children’s house of the civilian agricultural community they intended to attack. Each one of them was armed with anti-tank missiles, machine guns, grenades, thousands of rounds of ammunition, handcuffs, and tranquilizer shots. The latter two were for the men, women and children, civilian hostages, they meant to take, and drag back through the tunnels, into underground cells in Gaza.

Happily, you will note three things; first, they are coming up in a wheat field which they had every reason to believe would camouflage their advance to the civilian community. Unfortunately for them, and by the grace of a merciful God, the wheat field had been harvested only a few days before, making the terrorists instantly visible to the myriad Israeli observation posts along the border with Gaza.

The second thing you will note is that, upon seeing that their wheat field had disappeared, and perhaps hearing the Israeli aerial military asset that was on patrol and instantly dispatched towards them, the terrorists decided that today was perhaps not the right day, after all, to carry out mass murder. And thus, having risen up from their terrorist attack tunnel, they made a hasty retreat back to what they hoped would be the safety of one of the dozens of tunnels they had spent five years building in preparation for last summer’s war.

The third thing you will note is that the Israeli military aerial asset fires a rocket, and the terrorists, and their tunnel opening, go boom. None of that, however, alters the fact that Hamas had a spectacular plan, prepared for it meticulously for five years, and almost pulled it off. If you are a person of faith, you can attribute their failure to accomplish their goal to the above mentioned gracious and compassionate deity. If you are not a person of faith, you can attribute it to blind luck, and the professionalism and ever-present vigilance of the IDF.

But, here’s the scary part. That attack wasn’t the original plan. The original plan didn’t call for a dozen terrorists attacking one civilian target after an eight-day limited war with Israel. The original plan called for a sneak attack not preceded by any hostilities, in which literally hundreds of terrorists would have been dispatched through ALL of the terrorist attack tunnels in September, on a Jewish holiday, where literally thousands of people would have been gathered in each of the agricultural communities they intended to strike. It was the political leadership of Hamas that vetoed such an attack.

That veto was not issued out of humanitarian concerns; it was issued because the plan violated a basic tenet of Hamas doctrine, which always calls for Hamas to be able to claim victimhood while carrying out terrorist rocket and land-based attacks. Such a sneak attack, the political leadership decided, would rob Hamas of the PR mantle of victimhood that enables them to reap literally tens of billions of dollars in “reconstruction aid” from an ever-gullible international community, which buys the victim thing hook, line, and sinker. Thus, the political leadership opted instead to kidnap and murder three Israeli schoolboys, in the hopes of dragging Israel into a war in which the terrorist tunnel attack could be seen as an answer to the Israeli Air Force’s genocidal bombardment of the helpless Palestinian people. As my Southern Christian friends are wont to say, “Thank you, Jesus.”

Now, why does this pose a threat to the United States?

Because; A – ISIS has announced boldly, clearly, definitively and proudly, their intention to launch not just “Lone Wolf” attacks against the United States, but mass-casualty terrorist attacks, which will dwarf 9/11, and establish them as the preeminent terrorist army in the world, as befits the reborn Caliphate.

B – Unlike Hamas, ISIS possesses no such doctrine of insisting upon the mantle of victimhood to justify their acts of barbarism. Indeed, the opposite is the case. ISIS rejoices in, glories in, is expert in, and uses as a recruiting tool, terrorist attacks that are the very height of barbarism. From beheading Christians, to burning a Moslem Jordanian pilot alive inside of a cage, ISIS knows no constraints in its barbarity.

C – Unlike Hamas, ISIS does not need to dig tunnels between Tijuana and San Diego, or portions of Northern Mexico and Arizona and/or Texas. Those tunnels already exist, and are used by Mexican cartels to smuggle huge quantities of drugs beneath the international border, from Mexico, into the United States. The few tunnels that have already been discovered are easily capable of launching masses of terrorists, as well. Indeed, numbers of them bear signs of Middle Eastern construction. They feature reinforced concrete walls, electricity, airconditioning and, in some cases, railroad tracks, to transport heavy loads.

D – The existence of close ties between terrorist networks and Mexican and South American drug cartels is a matter of record, and not conjecture. They have joined efforts for the sale of narcotics and military-grade weapons.

The clearest example of this is Hezb’allah’s ties with numerous South American cartels. Just as the United States opposes Iran and its proxies in some areas of conflicts, and supports them in others, so too do the various terrorist organizations which, in certain areas, are at each other’s throats, join forces in other areas against the Great Satan. Namely, us. 9781498430982_p0_v1_s260x420I have recently published a book, which is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in both print and e-book formats, and which will soon be a major motion picture from the same studio that did Act of Valor. The book is called Day of the Dead Book One: Gaza. If you’d like a fun, Tom Clancy-esque great summer read, I highly recommend it. I recommend it even more, however, if you care to see exactly how realistic the scenario of a mass-casualty terrorist attack, carried out by hundreds of ISIS terrorists against the United States of America via existing drug-smuggling tunnels, actually is.

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How Far Do Iran’s Tentacles of Terror Reach?

A fighter from the Iranian backed Iraqi shiite militia group Asaib Ahl al Haq (The League of the Righteous). (Photo: © Reuters)

A fighter from the Iranian backed Iraqi shiite militia group Asaib Ahl al Haq (The League of the Righteous). (Photo: © Reuters)

Clarion Project, by Elliot Friedland, June 4, 2015:

The Islamic Republic of Iran operates a global network of terrorism, as far away from Iran as South America and the U.S.

It has carried out attacks worldwide on American and Jewish targets. The current defense minister orchestrated the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon which killed 241 American troops.

Iran’s Lebanese proxy Hezbollah was also behind the 2012 Burgas bus bombing in Bulgaria which killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver, according to an inquiry led by the Bulgarian government.

In May 2013, a 500-page report by an Argentine state prosecutor named Alberto Nisman said Iran has an “intelligence and terrorist network” in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Trinidad, Tobago and Suriname and elsewhere.

He had been investigating a terrorist bombing of a Jewish community center in 1984 that killed 84 people. Iran and Hezbollah are believed to be behind the attack.

Nisman was found shot in the head in his apartment in January 2015, hours before he was due to present evidence that the President of Argentina was complicit in covering up Iran’s involvement in the attack.

So far police have been unable to determine if his death was murder or suicide. Many suspect that it was an organized assassination.

Iran has been on the State Department’s list of State Sponsors of Terrorism since 1984 and has consistently ranked as the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world.

It supports a plethora of groups of different ideologies and sizes, trying to position itself as a pan-Islamic regional power. Iran has varied support for different groups over the years, depending on which best align with their strategic interests.

Among them are:

·         Al-Qaeda (International: SalafistWahhabi) – Since the early 1990s Iran has allowed members to operate freely in Iran and traffick fighters and materials through Iranian territory.

·         Hezbollah (Lebanon: Shiite-Khomeinist) – founded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and used as a proxy force against Israel and more recently, to shore up the ailing Assad regime in Syria.

·         Hamas (Gaza: Muslim Brotherhood) – Iran sends tens of millions of dollars as well as missiles and other armaments as part of its proxy-war against Israel.

·         The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) (West Bank: Secular-Left-wing) – Provided financial and logistical support as part of an effort to strengthen all “Palestinian resistance groups” opposed to Israel.

·         Palestinian Islamic Jihad (Gaza: Muslim Brotherhood splinter group) – Funded and trained the group since its foundation in 1981, but recently cut them off as the group failed to condemn the Arab League’s invasion of Yemen, where Iran is backing the Shiite Houthi rebels.

Iran also funds networks of Shiite militias in Iraq. Initially created to fight against the Americans during the Iraqi insurgency, some of the more powerful groups include Jaish al-Mahdi (Army of the Messiah or Mahdi Army) and its splinter group Asaib Ahl al-Haq (The League of the Righteous), Khitaeb Hezbollah and the Badr Organization.

They carried out attacks against the American forces in Iraq and now fight the Islamic State. They have also massacred Sunni civilians and have been accused of war crimes by rights groups.

An Amnesty International report entitled ‘Absolute Impunity’ details the atrocities perpetrated Iran’s Shiite militias in Iraq.

In some cases, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) directly perpetrates acts of terrorism. Congress has even considered legislation requiring the State Department to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

The IRGC is currently on the Treasury Department’s list of Specially Designated Nationals involved in terrorism. It was added in 2007.

Its support of global terrorism is part of the Islamic Republic’s commitment to jihad, which is enshrined in the constitution. The preamble includes a commitment to “the establishment of a universal holy government and the downfall of all others.”

Unless this commitment changes neither will Iranian support of terror.

Join our campaign to say NO to a nuclear Iran. Join us on the right side of history.

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: www.ibdeditorials.com/cartoons

The Middle East roach infestation has originated from Iran – so who will turn on the light to make them scatter?
Source: http://www.ibdeditorials.com/cartoons

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
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=6853

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.

Read more

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 Islamoriente.com, 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.”

Failed State: Saudi Coalition Increases Ground Presence as Iran Begins targeting the Kingdom, US

yemen+map1May 7, 2015 /

As of this writing most of the Southern Yemeni city of Aden remains contested with heavy fighting all throughout the area. Our sources who remain in the country have informed us that additional UAE SOF personnel have been seen in the city fighting alongside the remnants of the pro-Hadi faction. We’ve also been made aware that the Saudi SOF personnel have also recently conducted a seaborne insertion into the area to bolster the push to seize their main objective: Aden International Airport. UAE SOF personnel on the ground have embedded with what remains of the pro-Hadi faction and appear to be rallying them for an assault on the Houthi forces located at the airport. Central to this strategy is the preservation of the runway, which makes it highly likely that the intent is to use the airport as a hub for bringing in supplies and follow-on forces for a larger ground campaign. We doubt the Houthis will be able to maintain their hold on the Southern part of the country in light of the Saudi-led coalition’s decision to double-down on the ongoing campaign. Already the coalition controls the surrounding airspace, requiring the IRGC-Qods Force to have flights come through Oman (we’re unsure as to why the Saudis haven’t applied more pressure on the Omani government). The Houthis’ hold on the South becomes even less likely if former President Saleh’s forces were to defect. Saleh himself is an opportunist, so if the Saudis were smart they’d be running an effective IO campaign offering economic incentives targeting military units aligned with Saleh. However, this campaign is unlikely to completely reverse the Houthi’s gains. A stalemate is much more likely.

Reports: ‘Limited’ ground force arrives in Yemen’s Aden
http://www.dw.de/reports-limited-ground-force-arrives-in-yemens-aden/a-18426013

Yemen’s foreign minister: Aden troops were Gulf-trained locals
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/04/yemen-security-idUSL5N0XV1VI20150504

GCC SOF Teams Alerted For Deployment, AQAP Gains Strength and Iran Preps For Attacks Against Saudi Arabia
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=6056

Yemen isn’t on Verge of Civil War – It Already is – and the Saudi Arabia Will Get Involved
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5810

Rising Smoke

Aden fighting in the distance
Source: Getty Images/AFP/Saleh al-Obeidi

We’ve been covering the Saudi-led coalition’s SOF operations for some time now – and we’ve also been covering the IRGC-Qods Force’s activity in the country. In our piece titled “AQAP and Qods Force Make Their Moves in Yemen as Saudis Struggle to Maintain Coalition,” We mentioned the presence of a senior member of the IRGC-Qods Force’s External Operations Division setting up shop in Sadah. This individual has been identified as BG Abdolreza Shahlai. Never heard of him? Don’t feel bad, most people haven’t – but you’ve probably heard about the operations that he had intimate involvement. He was the architect of the IRGC-Qods Force’s program that provided lethal aid to Shia proxy groups in Iraq during OIF in addition to being one of the primary planners for the 2007 attack on the Karbala Provincial Joint Coordination Center (PJCC) that killed five US Soldiers (check out “The Hezbollah Presence in Iraq” for more details). Indeed, the OIF-era put this guy on the map and led to the start of a strong friendship with Qods Force commander GEN Suleimani. Shahlai is currently a member of Suleimani’s inner circle and holds considerable sway in advocating the more “outside the box” proposals. In fact he gained the most notoriety from his involvement in planning the failed plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US in New York City. That particular operation called for the Qods Force to facilitate a third party – which was the Mexican drug cartel known as Los Zetas – to carry out the operation. His family member Mansur Arbabsiar was the primary facilitator.He’s also a strong advocate of taking more direct action against the US and serves as “Suleimani’s Fist” in overseeing operations inside American borders, Europe and Africa. He’s also no stranger to Yemen, having deployed to the country several times since 2011 to oversee training on the production of Explosively-Formed Projectiles (EFPs) and their implementation. Shahlai’s African connections have also been put to good use with his efforts to establish alternate facilitation ratlines into Yemen coming from Djibouti and Sudan. Needless to say, he’s become quite close to Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi.

AQAP and Qods Force Make Their Moves in Yemen as Saudis Struggle to Maintain Coalition
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=6078

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

Who is IRGC Commander Abdolreza Shahlai, mastermind of attack on Camp Liberty
http://www.ncr-iran.org/en/news/terrorism-a-fundamentalism/12861-who-is-irgc-commander-abdolreza-shahlai-mastermind-of-attack-on-camp-liberty

Treasury Sanctions Five Individuals Tied to Iranian Plot to Assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States
http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/pages/tg1320.aspx

Man Sentenced in Plot to Kill Saudi Ambassador
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/31/nyregion/mansour-arbabsiar-sentenced-for-plot-to-kill-saudi-ambassador.html?_r=0

mansur Abrbsiar

Mansur Arbabsiar
Source: Associated Press

Like his colleagues, Shahlai entered Yemen via Oman (YES, he flew Mahan Air). Since setting up shop in Sadah, he’s been accelerating the program to establish a Houthi intel proxy to serve as an action arm for operations inside Saudi Arabia. In fact, he’s already got the ball rolling on targeting the Kingdom. Currently, Saudi Arabia is under heavy threat from cyber attacks targeting critical infrastructure like the infamous “Shamoon” virus that was unleashed by the IRGC-Qods Force Cyber Warfare Division against ARAMCO (check out “Iran Steps Up Cyber Attacks Against the US and its Allies” for more details). We assess that the Saudi oil, gas, telecommunications and aviation sectors are at the most risk for a repeat of the Shamoon incident. Our contacts in the oil industry report that as recently as MAR 15 ARAMCO was made aware of malicious activity against their infrastructure and were reassessing security practices in addition to working on identifying where they may have been compromised. We believe this malicious activity were probing operations being conducted to identify exploitable opportunities.

Iranian Regime Consolidates Yemeni Gains, Begins Work on Forming Houthi Intel Proxy
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5580

Iran Steps Up Cyber Attacks Against the US and its Allies
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3560

The recent attack launched by the Houthis against the Saudi border town of Najran that killed at least two civilians led to the capture of five Saudi military personnel was merely the opening act of this new phase of the campaign that we’ve been warning about. The next step of this new phase in the Yemen portion of Iran’s campaign may involve the targeting of US citizens stuck in Yemen. Some were lucky and able to leave the country, but many others remain trapped. It would be quite the coup for the Houthis to kidnap a few of them to demonstrate how the Obama administration abandoned them – then pressure the US into ending its support of the Saudi campaign. The five Saudi military personnel were possibly abducted with this in mind as well, although we doubt the Saudis will meet any demands. This country has been a failed state for quite some time, only US Secretary of State John Kerry is in denial. He recently made the claim that Yemen can “avoid ending up a failed state.” The problem with this statement is that Yemen is engaged in a civil war with military personnel from multiple regional powers operating on the ground alongside select factions. He hopes that there will be a “political” solution to this war. Unfortunately, The Iranians and Saudis are already in the process of escalating the violence. Only in the world of “Hope and Change” can a nation at war with itself and experiencing shortages in food, fuel, medical supplies be considered a “success story.” We can assure you that the Obama administration is every bit as wrong about Iran as they are about Yemen. The $1 million dollar question is whether they’ll figure it out before it’s too late? We doubt it.

Washington to Americans Stuck in Yemen: You’re on Your Own
http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/04/21/washington-to-americans-stuck-in-yemen-youre-on-your-own-evacuation/

Deaths as Yemeni rebels fire rockets into Saudi Arabia
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/05/cloneofcoalition-considers-yemen-humanitarian-tr-150505130815877.html

John Kerry: Yemen not yet a failed state, may ‘hold itself together’ with peace talk
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/may/2/kerry-yemen-not-yet-failed-state-may-hold-itself-t/

qods force_houthi

Iraqi Shia during a pro-Houthi rally in Baghdad carrying portraits of Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi and IRGC-Qods Force commander GEN Suleimani
Source: Rudaw

Other Related Articles:

The Yemen Octagon: GCC vs Iran vs Houthis vs AQAP vs Islamic State
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5931

Today’s Middle East: The Burning Fuse of the 21st Century’s “Great Game”
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=6193

President Obama’s Yemen “Success” Story
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4751

Poised to Fill Yemen’s Power Vacuum: Iran Tightens Grip on The Peninsula
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4517

IRGC-Qods Force: The Arabian Peninsula Campaign and Failure of Obama’s Foreign Policy
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4478

Shia Proxy Threat to US ISIS Strategy in Saudi Arabia
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1837

Yemen’s Houthi Rebels: the Hand of Iran?
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1992

State Department Won’t Rule Out $50 Billion ‘Signing Bonus’ For Iran

AP

AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, April 20, 2015:

The State Department on Monday would not rule out giving Iran up to $50 billion as a so-called “signing bonus” for agreeing to a nuclear deal later this year, according to comments made to journalists following reports that the Obama administration had formulated a plan to release tens of billions of frozen Iranian funds.

Experts have said this multi-billion dollar “signing bonus” option, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, could be the largest cash infusion to a terror-backing regime in recent memory.

A cash release of $30 to $50 billion upon reaching a final nuclear agreement would come in addition to the more than $11 billion in unfrozen assets that Iran will already have received under an interim nuclear accord reached in 2013.

When asked to address these reports on Monday, State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf attempted to dodge the issue and then accused reporters of getting “spun up” on the issue.

Asked whether Iran could receive $50 billion “on day one after signing” or verbally agreeing to a nuclear deal, Harf told reporters that she would “look into it.”

When pressed to provide an answer about the Journal’s initial report, Harf declined “to go line by line in the story.”

Harf said sanctions relief to Iran will continue through June 30.

“They’re getting access to money throughout this period as well,” she said. “Throughout the extension they’re now getting some sanctions relief, which will continue through June 30.”

Jonathan Schanzer, a top terrorism-funding expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), said such a cash release to Iran would enable the regime to continue backing various terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

“This could be the largest cash infusion to a state sponsor of terrorism in modern history,” Schanzer said.

Reports of this “signing bonus” come following concessions to Iran—which range from sanctions relief to continued nuclear work at military sites—during the most recent round of negotiations in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Lawmakers and experts critical of the Obama administration’s diplomacy with Iran have warned that a slew of recent concessions in the talks would enable Iran to continue many aspects of its nuclear program.

Iran is pushing to prohibit international inspectors from accessing possible military sites until after the United States provides substantial relief from economic sanctions.

Nuclear experts such as David Albright, founder of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), have warned that premature sanctions relief could gut the tough inspections and oversight regime on Iran promised by the Obama administration.

Under the framework agreement, Iran also would be permitted to store around 1,000 advanced nuclear centrifuges at an underground and fortified one-time military site known as Fordow, according to the Associated Press.

By keeping Fordow active, Iran would potentially be able to produce weapons-grade material in just a few weeks, according to Albright.

The New York Times reported that Iran is refusing to give up its stockpile of enriched uranium, the key component in a nuclear bomb. Under previous conditions, Iran would have had to ship these materials out of the country.

These stockpiles would also give Iran the ability to produce highly enriched weapons-grade uranium in less than six months, according to experts.

One congressional aide apprised of the ongoing talks with Iran said the administration continues to relent on key demands in order to keep Iran at the bargaining table.

“This is a disturbing yet unsurprising development in a failing series of negotiations,” the source said. “Once again, it seems the administration is prepared to make drastic concessions to Tehran in its desperate attempt to reach a deal. As a result, the United States will gamble away its remaining negotiating leverage with nothing to show for it.”

Also see:

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.

Yemen isn’t on Verge of Civil War, It Already is – And Saudi Arabia Will Get Involved

March 21, 2015: Members of a militia group loyal to Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, known as the Popular Committees, chew qat as they sit next to their tank, guarding a major intersection in Aden, Yemen. (AP)

March 21, 2015: Members of a militia group loyal to Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, known as the Popular Committees, chew qat as they sit next to their tank, guarding a major intersection in Aden, Yemen. (AP)

March 25, 2015 / /

Once again the American media is a day late and a dollar short in covering foreign policy matters. Now every major media outlet in the country is openly asking the question of whether or not Yemen is “on the edge of a civil war.” The problem with that is they’re still behind the power curve. Why? Because Yemen already is in a civil war and it has been going on for the last several months, only you wouldn’t guess from American media outlets since they were focused on more important things like Bruce Jenner’s transition into “womanhood” – but we digress. Follow-on forces continue to be flown into Taiz for the main Houthi push to take Aden, which we assess can begin within days. This will be a multi-pronged offensive, as we’re already seeing with forces elsewhere moving to isolate pro-Hadi forces in other areas. Hadi’s forces were able to temporarily halt the Houthi advance – although this will change as Hadi’s forces continue to get worn down. Those areas weren’t even one of the major objectives. If anything the forces currently advancing have the port of al-Mukha as one of their primary objectives prior to the main push for Aden being initiated.

What Yemen’s Coming Apart at the Seams Means to Arabian Peninsula

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5737

Forces Loyal to President Hadi Halt Houthi Push Towards Yemen’s Aden

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/mideast/hadi-forces-check-houthi-push-towards-yemens-aden-n329681

hadi faction

Pro-Hadi forces manning a checkpoint in Aden
Source: al-Jazeera

The Gulf nations led by Saudi Arabia are reported to have agreed to a possible deployment of ground troops to support Hadi’s faction and confront the growing Iranian influence on the Arabian Peninsula. The Gulf nations had previously sent a multi-nation ground force to support the Bahraini government against Iranian proxies a few years ago, so there’s a precedence for this sort of thing. Also, Saudi Arabia has waged limited air campaigns along the Yemeni border off and on in the past for lesser reasons. The current buildup of Saudi ground forces suggests that they may be planning a proactive defense of the border region to keep the Houthis on their side of the border, but will likely initiate a ground campaign if Aden is perceived to be on the verge of falling – which might happen in the coming days. We assess that the violence will exceed anything the Saudis dealt with in previous operations that they conducted against the Houthis in 2009 and 2010. If it comes to that (and let’s be honest, does anybody truly think “negotiations” with Iran and its proxies will succeed?), we expect the initial ground deployments to consist of SOF personnel to perform an advise and assist role. That ground presence will likely grow in both role and numbers as the violence continues to escalate. Currently, the Saudis are providing financial support to Hadi’s faction and may be looking to provide lethal aid to keep the loyal military units in Aden propped up.

Saudis Vow “Necessary Measures” in Yemen if Peace Talks Fail

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/8b9fa25a-d17f-11e4-86c8-00144feab7de.html#axzz3VMsKd8Ml

Exclusive: Saudi Arabia building up military near Yemen border – U.S. officials

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/24/us-yemen-security-usa-saudi-idUSKBN0MK2S120150324

Gulf states send forces to Bahrain following protests

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-12729786

Analysis: What is behind Saudi offensive in Yemen

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/saudi-arabia/091114/saudi-arabia-offensive-yemen-houthis

Saudi Forces Bomb Yemeni Rebels on Southern Border

http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB125746088928732009

KSA capable of deterring attackers: Saudi King

http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2009/11/08/90588.html

Saudi jets bomb Yemeni Houthis

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2009/11/20091151323886933.html

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 6.28.06 PM

The Saudi Army: Ready to rock and roll
Source: thefewgoodmen.com

Saudi Arabia’s actions are hardly surprising given the clear and present threat the Iranian regime and its proxies pose to the region. Houthi fighters are reportedly serving in the ranks of the Iranian regime’s “Foreign Legion” known as the Liwa Abu Fadl al-Abbas (LAFA) in Syria against anti-Assad forces. Those Houthi fighters reportedly received pre-deployment training at Hezbollah camps in Lebanon much like Iraqi proxies such as Kitab Hezbollah (KH) and Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada (KSS). Should the Saudis get involved militarily, and we think its only a matter of time before they do, we could very well see the Houthis applying what they learned from that Hezbollah training. We’ll also likely see more from the IRGC-Qods Force and its proxies like what we saw in 2009 with Hezbollah operatives shot down a Yemeni fighter jet in 2009. Its been a few years since that incident and the Iranian regime now has firm control of Sanaa’s international airport with regular flights coming and going between there and Tehran – meaning more weapons (and Qods Force personnel) are being brought into the fight.

Iranian Regime Consolidates Houthi Gains, Begins Work Forming Houthi Intel Proxy

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5580

Yemen’s Houthi Rebels: The Hand of Iran?

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1992

Shia Proxy Threat to US ISIS Strategy in Saudi Arabia

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1837

Yemeni Fighter Planes Shot down by Hezbollah’s Elements

http://www.yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=1391

Syrian Army Takes Advantage of US Airstrikes in Counter-Offensive

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2788

hezbollah_24 mar

Hezbollah has been operating in Yemen for several years now – and their OP-Tempo is steadily increasing
Source: al-akhbar.com

As of this writing Hadi has the support of roughly 5,000 Yemeni Army personnel against a Houthi force numbering from 13,000-15,000 men. Those pro-Hadi Army personnel suffer from a lack of ammo, equipment and poor morale, so its debatable just how long they can hold out with no external support – which is a big reason why we assess the Saudis will become more involved. Here, air support will be key for both sides and the Saudis and UAE will be the most likely participants of any Gulf-led air campaign. However, the Saudis are not as capable as their UAE counterparts in terms of conducting sustained external operations.

Forming the bulk of Hadi’s supporters are the “Popular Committees” led by Abdul-Latif al-Sayid al-Bafqeeh. His faction had been working closely with the military in combatting AQAP in the Abyan-area when the Houthis launched their offensive to take Sanaa. Hadi didn’t order his security forces to combat the Houthis when they stormed Sanaa because he couldn’t trust his own men and didn’t know how strong his support was in the capital – which ultimately led to his and several Arab nations’ diplomatic missions being relocated to Aden. Bafqeeh is considered a local hero in the South for his opposition to AQAP and the Houthis. Although his estimated 6,700-man force adds much-needed bodies to Hadi’s beleaguered loyalist Army force, they’re not as well-trained as former President Saleh’s forces or even the Houthis. These Popular Committees were able to keep the Houthis from seizing Aden’s airport and are currently engaged in several battles north of the city – but they’re plagued by the same ammo and equipment shortage as the pro-Hadi Army units. There’s also some questions regarding Bafqeeh’s true allegiances, as he’s previously worked with AQAP when Saleh was in power. He claims to have left the group due to the leadership refusing to provide sufficient financial support. He also had this rather interesting comment when describing his reasons for his previous AQAP associations:

“when the regime was oppressive and brutal … People then joined al-Qaida to avenge themselves against the government. I and my men pulled out before we got involved with them.”

This pretty much cuts to the heart of what we’ve been saying about AQAP and the Islamic State (IS) being viewed more favorably by a local populace who feel threatened by the Iranian regime – which is every bit as bad as the two Sunni jihadist organizations. The problem with Bafqeeh is that he’s already shown that his allegiances are subject to change – so what will happen should IS offer him cash incentives to pledge allegiance to Baghdadi like they have with others? Something to think about as the Saudis ramp up their lethal aid to the Pro-Hadi crew. This will become a bigger factor later on as IS continues to gain more momentum in follow-on attacks to last week’s Sanaa Mosque bombings, especially if Hadi’s faction becomes even more weakened than it is. They have everybody’s attention now, and are fashioning themselves as the “protectors of the Sunni populace” against the Iranian regime. In the end people are people and like everybody else, the Yemeni Sunnis want to be part of a “winner.” Unfortunately, the factions they view as being the “strongest” just might be AQAP and IS.

abdul

Abdul-Latif al-Sayid al-Bafqeeh
Source: Associated Press

This great news for Iran’s strategic campaign to dominate the Middle East as it allows the Qods Force’s objective of forcing Saudi Arabia and the terror financiers residing there to divert resources from the anti-Assad war effort in Syria back closer to home. Control of key Yemeni real estate also allows the Iranian regime to have more options in disrupting international shipping if they so desire. Using Sanaa as a major support hub, the Qods Force and Hezbollah will be able to provide greater levels of material support to cells operating inside Saudi Arabia to destabilize the new King’s government while targeting IS support nodes throughout the country. With all the fighting taking place in the country, if this isn’t a civil war already, then what is it? Now think about this – President Obama’s “Yemen Success Story” being touted as the “model for future operations in the War Against Terror” has seen millions of dollars in equipment “disappearing,” Hadi being run out of the capital, parliament dissolved, US embassy evacuated and the last of our troops pulled out of the country. The cherry on top is that IS now has a foothold in the country and Iran emerged as the big winner by supporting terrorism and fomenting regional unrest. What we’re seeing in Yemen is Iran exporting their “Islamic Revolution” to the Arabian Peninsula by implementing the “Lebanon Model.” We were also told during the 2008 US Presidential election that he was going to “fundamentally transform America – and the world.” Is this the “fundamental transformation” he was talking about?

A veteran militia leader in southern Yemen emerges as key ally of president against rebels

http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2015/03/24/in-south-yemen-a-militia-leader-is-presidents-top-ally?page=2

BRIEF CLASHES IN ADEN AS POPULAR COMMITTEES SET UP CHECKPOINTS

http://www.yementimes.com/en/1861/news/4902/Brief-clashes-in-Aden-as-popular-committees-set-up-checkpoints.htm

YEMEN’S USE OF MILITIAS TO MAINTAIN STABILITY IN ABYAN PROVINCE

https://www.ctc.usma.edu/posts/yemens-use-of-militias-to-maintain-stability-in-abyan-province

Millions in U.S. military equipment lost as Yemen heads down Syria’s path

http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/03/24/millions-in-u-s-military-equipment-lost-as-yemen-heads-down-syrias-path/

UPDATE – Reporting that just broke a little while ago suggests that Hadi fled his Aden-based residence. No word yet on his current whereabouts, but if he leaves the country, he could be making a mad dash for either Saudi Arabia or UAE. Should that happen, it would signal the Saudis to initiate the first phase of their military intervention. Oh, and the airfield our troops were stationed at has fallen to the Houthis now. More to follow…

Officials tell AP: Yemen president flees Aden home

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/c55bb2a7eabe4311b2eb40ba1c3f2abd/report-rebels-seize-yemen-air-base-used-al-qaida-fight

Other Related Articles:

Poised to Fill Yemen’s Power Vacuum – Iran Tightens Grip on the Peninsula

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4517

The Islamic State’s Arabian Peninsula Campaign

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4558

President Obama’s Yemen “Success” Story

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4751

IRGC-Qods Force: The Arabian Peninsula Campaign and the Failure of Obama’s Foreign Policy

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4478

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: