World View: Reports Indicate Egypt, Italy, Russia Planning Military Action in Libya

Reuters

Reuters

Breitbart, by JOHN J. XENAKIS, March 1, 2015:

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Reports indicate Egypt, Italy, Russia planning military action in Libya
  • Egypt court declares Hamas to be a terrorist organization
  • Egypt and Turkey may try to create a ‘Sunni front’ with Saudi Arabia

Reports indicate Egypt, Italy, Russia planning military action in Libya

Russian warships in the Mediterranean (Russia Today)
Russian warships in the Mediterranean (Russia Today)

Various unconfirmed reports are emerging indicating that there may be joint international action planned in Libya as early as next week.

Egypt is already conducting air strikes against ISIS-linked targets in Derna, close to where Egyptian Coptics were massacred recently, as displayed in a gruesome video. Debka reports that Egypt’s president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi is planning further action in Libya, including more air strikes and possible ground troops, within a few days. According to the report, Egyptian commando and marine forces are preparing for sea landings to seize Derna and destroy the terrorist elements there. If this attack is actually launched, it will be the first time in modern times that an Arab country has sent ground forces into another Arab country.

Al-Jazeera television reports that the Italian navy is getting ready to carry off sophisticated military drills off the coast of Libya as early as Monday. Although Italy claims that it will be a regular exercise, there are many more vessels taking part in this year’s exercise than have in the past, which Italy explains by saying that they are testing out sophisticated new technologies.

There are several reasons why Italy is pursuing this show of force:

  • Italy considers the flood of migrants from Libya into Italy to be an existential threat to Italy itself, because there may be ISIS-trained terrorists smuggled in, along with the other migrants. Italy may be planning some kind of military action in Libya in conjunction with Egypt’s air strikes and other operations.
  • The GreenStream pipeline is a gas pipeline running underneath the Mediterranan Sea from Libya to Sicily. The pipeline is vital to economic relations between Italy and Libya. In recent months, there have been attacks by gunmen on oil installations in Libya, forcing some ports to shut down. The new show of naval force may be related to threats of attack or sabotage on the pipeline.
  • For over a year, Italy ran a search and rescue program called “Mare Nostrum” (“Our Sea”) that saved the lives of thousands of migrants attempting to travel from Libya to Italy. This program required Italian naval vessels near the Libyan coast. In November, the program ended and an EU program called Triton replaced it, but Triton restricts its operations to only 30 miles off the Italian coast. Triton has been considered unsatisfactory because many more migrants are drowning. Italy’s new show of naval force may be an attempt to restore a portion of the Mare Nostrum program.
  • Related to the last point, on Saturday there were large demonstrations in Rome by Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League party for the government to do more to keep immigrants out. The naval show of force may help to mollify the protestors.

Some reports indicate that Russia has hinted at a willingness to participate in a naval blockade of Libya to prevent arm supplies from leaving Libya for other countries. Russia could play a role in this because it already has a naval fleet in the Mediterranean.

These are all unconfirmed reports of possible military action in Libya by Egypt, Italy and Russia. There are no reports of possible participation by Nato or the United States. Debkaand Cairo Post

Egypt court declares Hamas to be a terrorist organization

Egypt on Saturday became the first Arab country to name Hamas as a terrorist organization. The U.S. and the European Union have named Hamas as a terror group. An EU court took Hamas off the list in December 2014, ruling that the designation was not based on solid legal evidence, but the EU is appealing the court’s decision.

According to a decision on Saturday from the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters:

It has been proven without any doubt that the movement has committed acts of sabotage, assassinations and the killing of innocent civilians and members of the armed forces and police in Egypt.

It has been also ascertained with documents that [Hamas] has carried out bombings that have taken lives and destroyed institutions and targeted civilians and the armed forces personnel. It has also been ascertained that this movement works for the interests of the terrorist Brotherhood organization [which Egypt has already declared to be a terrorist organization].

About a month ago, the same court declared Hamas’s military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, to be a terrorist organization. Saturday’s ruling makes the political wing a terrorist organization as well.

A Hamas spokesman denied all the charges and said that the ruling was “dangerous”:

History has recorded Egypt’s support to national liberty movements in the Arab world and Africa, particularly in Palestine. … This ruling serves the Israeli occupation. It’s a politicized decision that constitutes the beginning of Egypt evading its role toward the Palestinian cause. This is a coup against history and an Egyptian abuse of the Palestinian cause and resistance, which fights on behalf of the Arab nation. We call on Egypt to reconsider this dangerous decision.

Al Jazeera and Al Ahram (Cairo) and CS Monitor and Al Resalah (Palestine)

Egypt and Turkey may try to create a ‘Sunni front’ with Saudi Arabia

By coincidence or by planning, the presidents of both Egypt and Turkey will be in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this week. Egypt’s Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan will both be visiting King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, the new king of Saudi Arabia, who has replaced King Abdullah, who died last month.

It is not known whether Erdogan will ever be in the same room as al-Sisi. The two have been bitter enemies ever since a coup by al-Sisi ousted Egypt’s elected president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, and later declared MB to be a terrorist organization. Erdogan’s own political party, the AKP, is an Islamist party like the Muslim Brotherhood, and they had good relations while Morsi was in power.

There has been some speculation that King Salman is going to completely reverse King Abdullah’s policy on the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) had branded MB as a terrorist organization, but some are wondering if Salman is going to shift from that policy. The Saudi foreign minister recently said that his government has “no problem with the Muslim Brotherhood; our problem is with a small group affiliated to the organization,” suggesting that shift is in the works.

Other problems make an Egypt-Turkey rapprochement unlikely: Erdogan vitriolicly hates Israel and supports Hamas. Al-Sisi vitriolicly hates Hamas and works closely with Israel on military matters, especially in North Sinai. It does n0t seem likely that any meeting, if one even occurs, will be pleasant.

If King Salman is able to pull off a miracle and mediate a new relationship between Egypt and Turkey, then it would appear to be the establishment of a new “Sunni front” in the Mideast, to oppose Iran, Hezbollah and the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Al Arabiya and Kurdistan and Arab Times

Secure the Border!

aisis-426x350Frontpage, February 19, 2015 by Raymond Ibrahim:

Originally published by PJ Media.

In a move reminiscent of “ancient history,” Saudi Arabia is building a 600-mile-long “Great Wall”  –  a combined fence and ditch  –  to separate itself from the Islamic State to the north in Iraq:

Plans for the 600-mile wall and ditch Saudi Arabia will build with Iraq in an effort to insulate itself from the chaos engulfing its neighbors.

Much of the area on the Iraqi side is now controlled by Isil [the Islamic State], which regards the ultimate capture of Saudi Arabia, home to the “Two Holy Mosques” of Mecca and Medina, as a key goal….

The irony here is that those Muslims that Saudi Arabia is trying to keep out are the very same Muslims most nurtured and influenced by a Saudi — or “Wahabbi,” or “Salafi” — worldview.

Put differently, Saudi Arabia is again appreciating how jihad is a volatile instrument of war that can easily backfire on those who support it.  “Holy war” is hardly limited to fighting and subjugating “infidels” — whether the West in general, Israel in particular, or the millions of non-Muslim minorities under Islam — but also justifies fighting “apostates,” that is, Muslims accused of not being Islamic enough.

Indeed, the first grand jihad was against Muslim “apostates” — the Ridda [“apostasy”] Wars.  After Muhammad died in 632, many Arab tribes were willing to remain Muslim but without paying zakat (“charity”) money to the first caliph, Abu Bakr.  That was enough to declare jihad on them as apostates; tens of thousands of Arabs were burned, beheaded, dismembered, or crucified, according to Islamic history.

Accordingly, the Islamic State justifies burning people alive, such as the Jordanian pilot, precisely because the first caliph and his Muslim lieutenants burned apostates alive, and is even on record saying that “false Muslims” are its first target, then Israel.

This is the problem all Muslim nations and rulers risk: no one — not even Sharia-advocating Islamist leaders — are immune to the all-accusing sword tip of the jihad.  If non-Muslims are, as “infidels,” de facto enemies, any Muslim can be accused of “apostasy,” instantly becoming an enemy of Allah and his prophet.

A saying attributed to the Muslim prophet Muhammad validates this perspective: “This umma [Islamic nation] of mine will split into seventy-three sects; one will be in paradise and seventy-two will be in hell.”  When asked which sect was the true one, the prophet replied, “al-jama‘a,” that is, the group which most literally follows the example or “sunna” of Muhammad.

This saying perfectly sums up the history of Islam: to be deemed legitimate, authorities must uphold the teachings of Islam — including jihad; but it is never long before another claimant accuses existing leadership of not being “Islamic enough.”

Enter the Saudi/Islamic State relationship. From the start, the Arabian kingdom has been a supporter of the Islamic State.  It was not long, however, before IS made clear that Saudi Arabia was one of its primary targets, calling on its allies and supporters in the kingdom to kill and drive out the Saud tribe.

Nor is this the first time the Saudis see those whom they nurtured — ideologically and logistically — turn on them.  Back in the 1980s, the Saudis were chief supporters of the jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan and helped create al-Qaeda.

But once the “distant” infidel was subdued, al-Qaeda and its Saudi-born leader Osama bin Laden came home to roost, doing the inevitable: pointing the accusatory finger at the Saudi monarchy for not being Islamic enough, including for its reliance on the great American infidel during the First Gulf War.

Moreover, Saudi Arabia is not only a chief disseminator and supporter of the Salafi ideology most associated with jihad, but the Arabian kingdom itself was forged in large measure by articulating and calling for holy war in the 19th and -20th centuries, including against Turks and fellow Arab tribes (both Muslim).

The Saudi argument then was the very same argument now being made by the Islamic State — that the rulers of Islam’s holiest mosques in Mecca and Medina (in this case, the Ottoman Turks) were not “Islamic” enough.

Such is the double-edged sword of jihad.   All Islamic governments, regimes, and kingdoms must always try to direct this potent instrument of war against enemies or neutral targets — preferably ones far away from their borders (Afghanistan, America, etc.). For they know that the longer the jihad waxes in strength and goes uncontained, the more it becomes like an all-consuming fire indiscriminately scorching all in its path.

And this explains why Saudi Arabia is a chief funder and supporter of external jihads: to send its own zealots out of its borders to fight distant infidels (a “better them than me” mentality).  It also explains why nations like Saudi Arabia, which were forged by the jihad, continually find themselves threatened by the jihad — or, to paraphrase a young Jewish rabbi: “Those who live by the sword will die by the sword.”

UAE Strikes ISIS in Iraq – Jordan Masses Troops to Prevent Retaliatory Attacks

February 11, 2015 / /

As we’ve stated in yesterday’s article titled “IA Preps to Retake Mosul as King’s Rage Continues,” the UAE and Jordanian Air Forces had appeared to have initiated a series of airstrikes inside Iraq that was in support of the IA’s coming Mosul offensive. In yesterday’s piece we also stated that the Islamic State would probably try to launch a series of attacks in Baghdad and quite possibly attempt to target Jordan and Saudi Arabia in order to open up another front in response to Jordan’s air campaign. Apparently the Jordanian government seems to agree, since they’ve massed thousands of troops along the Jordan-Iraq border with POE Trebil being heavily reinforced. POE Trebil is important due to the fact that its the gateway to Jordan and the most direct route to Amman other than the highway leading from Deraa of Southern Syria. These troops are likely deployed to serve as a blocking force to keep IS fighters from entering the country to stage attacks. We assess that any Jordanian ground operation inside Iraq will be limited to Jordanian Special Operations Forces (JSOF) forces conducting search and rescue OPs in the event IS shoots down any of their aircraft.

Jordan masses ‘thousands’ of troops on Iraqi border to counter IS
http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Jordan-masses-thousands-of-troops-on-Iraqi-border-to-counter-IS-390619

IA Preps to Retake Mosul as King’s Rage Continues
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4699

JSOF

JSOF: Drawing the line in the sand against IS
Source: militaryphotos.net

The support hub that will likely have the most affect on IS’ ability stage operations into Jordan (or Saudi Arabia for that matter) is Ar Rutbah. The ISF’s border checkpoint at POE Trebil had already fallen to IS in JUN 14, which resulted in Jordan increasing security at the border checkpoint on the Jordanian side of the border. We assess that future Jordanian/UAE airstrikes will include targets in the Rutbah-area to degrade IS’ ability to send supplies and reinforcements to forward-deployed units. However, we will likely begin to start seeing the Jordanian Air Force decreasing their daily sorties in order to conserve ammo and not place their airframes under too much stress. However, they will eventually be forced to request more material support from the US government to sustain even a minimal strike capability. Without it, we don’t see the Jordanian’s effectiveness lasting beyond this month.

rutbah

The graphic above depicts how IS fighters stage from Rutbah to conduct attacks targeting IA border checkpoints along the Jordan and Saudi borders.
Source: Veoz

With that said, the Jordanian government is concerned that IS fighters from Rutbah will be dispatched to assist sleeper cells that are already operating inside Jordan to launch attacks – which is why the Army has massed troops along the border. The disrupted 2012 plot IS – still known at the time as AQI/ISI (as in the Islamic State of Iraq) – had planned to launched a Mumbai-style attack remains firmly lodged in the minds of all senior General Intelligence Directorate (GID) official’s minds. A big reason for their concern is the fact that the sleeper cell in question had received considerable support from IS fighters in Iraq’s Anbar Province. The attack planned called for an 11-man assault force executing diversionary attacks targeting two shopping malls with suicide bombers. While security forces were responding to the bombings, the main force would move on to their primary targets in the Aboun District, which is the home for many western diplomats and their families who were also on the target deck. The gunmen were to have engaged security forces and bystanders with small-arms while wearing SVESTs with the intent of fighting their way to the objective at which time they would detonate themselves. This attack was to have been culminated with mortars being fired into the district by a separate support element. By the way, this also happens to be one of the game plans IS sleeper cells inside the US may be planning. For more info on the Mumbai Attack model see the following article from our Target America series:

ISIS: Target America
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1196

Jordan ‘foils major al-Qaeda plot’
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/al-qaeda/9624264/Jordan-foils-major-al-Qaeda-plot.html

jordan terror plot

The 11-man sleeper cell that Jordanian security forces arrested in 2012.
Source: The Daily Telegraph (UK)

JSOF and other Jordanian security forces will have their hands full in securing the border and disrupting IS sleeper cell attempts at executing attacks inside major population centers such as Amman. The 2012 plot was only a taste. In fact, the past year saw several security sweeps in the country targeted IS support nodes. Already we’re seeing indicators that JSOF units stationed near Amman are on full-alert, which suggests a series of counter-terror operations may be executed in the near-future. JSOF personnel are also operating along both the Syrian and Iraqi borders. We expect Jordan’s conventional ground forces and JSOF units to maintain a defensive posture along both borders and interdict infiltration attempts by jihadists. However, we’re not so sure they will be able to completely stop the cells already located inside Jordan’s major population centers – and there will be attempts by ISIS to launch attacks inside Jordan. They won’t try to “invade” Jordan as some have speculated since they have plenty of fighters already in the country. You can also expect for IS’ propaganda machine to increase videos and postings targeting Jordan’s refugee population to incite further unrest – and we’re not just talking about the refugees from Syria either. We may see IS make a direct appeal to Jordan’s Palestinian population (some of which are Syrian refugees themselves), which would likely be an extension of their Gaza IO operations. We assess the conditions at the refugee camps and treatment of the Palestinian community in the country – both real and perceived – will become recurring themes in IS’ IO messaging. Last summer’s riot at the Zaatari Camp is a possible indicator of what may be in store for Jordan. The next few months are going to get very, very interesting…

Jordanian escalation against ISIS may lead to surge in terror attacks in Kingdom
http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Jordanian-escalation-against-ISIS-may-lead-to-surge-in-terror-attacks-in-Kingdom-390175

Worried about terror attacks at home, Jordan steps up arrests of suspected Syria jihadists
http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/worried-about-terror-attacks-at-home-jordan-steps-up-arrests-of-suspected-syria-jihadists/2014/04/25/6c18fa00-c96d-11e3-95f7-7ecdde72d2ea_story.html

Why Jordan Doesn’t Want More Palestinians
http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4615/jordan-palestinians

Jordan admits to barring entry of Palestinian refugees from Syria
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/07/jordan-palestinians-syria-refugees-unrwa-hrw.html

Jordan fears new wave of Palestinian refugees
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4591284,00.html

Syria crisis: Deadly clash in Jordan’s Zaatari camp
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26908587

For more info on how Jordan fits into the scheme of things, check out the following articles:

Jordan Steps Up Attacks Against ISIS, Egypt Launches New Sinai Offensive

Rage of the King: Jordan Strikes Back

The Islamic State Burns Jordanian Pilot Alive

The ISIS-Held Japanese and Jordanian Hostages: The Bergdahl Factor

Jordanian Fighter Jet Crashes in Syria – Pilot Taken Prisoner by ISIS

Trouble in Jordan and Jordanian ISIS Connections

Islamic State Using Social Media and Expanding Campaign to Jordan and Saudi Arabia

The Strategic Importance of Egypt to ISIS

Additional info on IS’ Gaza efforts:

ISIS in Gaza Update

Islamic State’s Presence in Gaza

Egyptian Army Hits Back at ISIS in Sinai

ISIS Efforts to Open Up an Egyptian Front

Egyptian Army and the IDF Take on ISIS Supporters in the Sinai

Scandal Rocks Fox News Over Saudi Terror Link

timthumb (10)AIM, Cliff Kincaid  —   February 6, 2015

Fox News Correspondent James Rosen reported on Wednesday night that a “major investor in the parent company” of Fox News has been implicated in financing the terrorist group al-Qaeda. Rosen made the embarrassing disclosure in a story on the channel’s “Special Report” show hosted by Bret Baier.

The alleged al-Qaeda financier, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, is a very close friend of Rupert Murdoch and his family, who control major media companies like News Corp and 21st Century Fox. The latter is now the parent company of the Fox News Channel.

The second largest shareholder in the Fox News parent company after the Murdoch family, Alwaleed has been addressed as “Your Highness” during his appearances on the network. His recent appearances have made him sound moderate, while denouncing Islamic extremism and the ISIS terrorist group.

Fox News is to be congratulated for reporting on a developing scandal that puts its chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Rupert Murdoch, in a very bad light.

A video posted by Alwaleed’s company, Kingdom Holdings, shows Alwaleed and Murdoch warmly embracing at one of several intimate meetings they have held over the years. Alwaleed has also met regularly with Murdoch’s liberal son, James Murdoch, the co-chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox.

Shortly after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, Alwaleed offered a $10 million contribution to a 9/11 fund for families and victims. Then-New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani rejected the money because Alwaleed had blamed the terror attacks on U.S. Middle East policy.

Rosen, a hard-charging investigative reporter, really had no alternative but to cover the damaging disclosures. The allegations were made by Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker of 9/11, and provided in the form of a sworn statement to attorneys for families of 9/11 victims for their lawsuit against Saudi Arabia. He is serving a life sentence at a supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.

Fifteen of the 19 terrorist hijackers involved in the 9/11 attacks came from Saudi Arabia, and the role of the Saudi government and its top officials and citizens in the massacre of nearly 3.000 Americans on that day has been a matter of controversy ever since.

Rosen said Moussaoui’s sworn statement named Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal,“a leading Saudi businessman and major investor in the parent company of this network,” as one of the financiers of al-Qaeda.

But Alwaleed is much more than just an investor in Murdoch’s companies. He is also a personal friend of Murdoch’s who boasted in 2005 that a phone call to Murdoch resulted in the Fox News Channel altering its coverage of Muslim riots in France, in order to eliminate references to the religious affiliation of the Muslim extremists.

“I picked up the phone and called Murdoch and said that I was speaking not as a shareholder, but as a viewer of Fox. I said that these are not Muslim riots, they are riots,” Alwaleed reportedly said. “He [Murdoch] investigated the matter and called Fox and within half an hour it was changed from ‘Muslim riots’ to ‘civil riots.’”

I asked Murdoch about this at the 2006 annual meeting of News Corporation. Heconfirmed that a call from Alwaleed had resulted in the change. Murdoch said the change was made after it was determined that there was also a Catholic role in the riots. I had never heard or seen it reported anywhere that there was a Catholic role in the riots.

In 2002, it was revealed that Alwaleed had contributed $500,000 to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim Brotherhood front that has boasted of influence over Fox entertainment programs. The bio for Nihad Awad, CAIR’s Executive Director and co-founder, describes how he “has successfully led negotiations with Fortune 500 companies and Hollywood film corporations on issues of concern to American Muslims. These issues include religious discrimination in the workplace, racial and religious profiling, negative stereotypes about Muslims in major Hollywood films, and products that are offensive to Muslims.”

In recent years, however, Alwaleed has postured as an opponent of the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist groups. In 2013, for example, he announced the sacking of Tarek Al-Suwaidan as director of one of his TV channels because of his Muslim Brotherhood ties. Alwaleed said at the time that he was opposed to “the Brotherhood terrorist movement.”

The channel is a part of Alwaleed’s Rotana Group, an Arab media conglomerate based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that is partly owned by News Corp.

On the October 26, 2014, “Sunday Morning Futures” Fox News Channel program hosted by Maria Bartiromo, Alwaleed declared that Saudi Arabia was opposed to the terrorist group ISIS, regarded by many experts as a spin-off from al-Qaeda.

The following exchange took place:

Bartiromo: Prince Alwaleed, what do you say to those out there who say that Saudi Arabia has had a history of supporting and funding some extremists, particularly in Syria, for example? Do you believe Saudi Arabia should take some responsibility for ISIS even being formed?

Alwaleed: Well, the whole world has to take responsibility, not only—I mean, there is no doubt there are some Saudis, like there are some people in the United States, like in Europe, in some other Arab countries, who really are (INAUDIBLE) and support these terrorist groups.

Alwaleed didn’t explain who these Saudis or other people were. He went on to tell “Maria” that she should “rest assured” because Saudi Arabia “right now has enacted laws” against supporting terrorist groups.

During another appearance with Bartiromo, Alwaleed called ISIS a “disease” that has to be eradicated.

While Alwaleed is now putting the best face on what the Saudis and other “moderate” Muslims are supposedly doing around the world to counter terrorism, his behind-the-scenes influence on the Murdoch empire continues to generate controversy. Speculation emerged recently that Alwaleed’s influence was a factor in the Fox News Channel’s apology for covering Muslim-dominated “no-go zones” in Europe where non-Muslims and police fear to enter.

The unwarranted apology dismayed conservatives who were counting on Fox News to cover the growing problem of the Islamization of Europe.

It is curious that as the Moussaoui allegations against Alwaleed and other Saudi officials and citizens were making news, it was suddenly disclosed that Alwaleed was reducing his stake in News Corp while maintaining his investment in 21st Century Fox.

Alwaleed’s organization, Kingdom Holding, discussed the change in stock ownership in an announcement featuring a photo of Alwaleed and Murdoch walking through what appears to be a newsroom. It said Alwaleed remains “fully supportive of Rupert Murdoch and his family.”

The disclosures of a Saudi role in financing al-Qaeda is a subject that deserves more follow-up from Fox News and other media organizations.

To its credit, the Fox News website is now running a follow-up story noting that the new charges are prompting calls for the declassification and release of 28 classified pages of the full report on 9/11. The role of Saudi Arabia in the attacks is said to be a major topic covered in the 28 pages.

Also see:

Murder of Pilot Sparks Tough, New Question

jordanian-pilotWND, By F. Michael Maloof, Feb. 5, 2015:

WASHINGTON – The gruesome murder of captured Jordanian F-16 pilot Lt. Muath al-Kasabeh by ISIS may have strengthened the resolve of the Jordanian government to launch all-out assaults against the jihadist army as members of the U.S.-led coalition.

But it also could have a boomerang effect as Jordanians question why their country should further engage ISIS, according to Middle East sources.

Meanwhile, the killing also has raised concerns that members of the coalition – Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates – will be emboldened to launch more attacks against ISIS targets in Syria, where their interest has been primarily on overthrowing the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, sources add.

One indication of that concern is that following the capture of the pilot in December, the United Arab Emirates suspended its air operations over Syria as a part of the coalition bombing ISIS targets in Syria.

U.S. officials have confirmed to WND that the UAE has halted its participation because there was no contingency plan to rescue downed aircrew.

One Middle East source told WND that when Kasabeh was downed by ISIS last December, the leader of the squadron of F-16s was Maj. Mariam al-Mansouri, the first UAE female fighter pilot. Reports confirm she was in the squadron, but WND could not independently confirm she was the leader.

Whether the killing of the Jordanian pilot will mean an Arab commitment of boots on the ground by these Arab countries also was questionable as Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Joudeh said the reaction would not be ground troops but a greater commitment to assist the Syrian Kurds and Iraqi Peshmerga Kurds.

However, there were unconfirmed reports out of Jordan Tuesday night that Jordan could send troops to Syria to fight ISIS.

‘Wave of anger and frustration’

Despite the Jordanian government’s hanging of two convicted al-Qaida prisoners and the pledge of an “earth-shaking” response, there is concern that the pilot’s killing actually may increase popular opposition to the coalition efforts against ISIS.

“I think it will be business as usual,” Jeb Babbin, a former under secretary of defense, told Fox News, referring to Arab countries’ reaction to the killing of the Jordanian pilot.

Clare Lopez a former CIA operations officer and current Middle East expert at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, told WND that ISIS “is trying to create chaos to invade Jordan.”

“ISIS has supporters in south of Jordan, (in the) north and (in) Palestinian camps; (and) on more than one occasion demonstrators challenged the regime and declared Amman is the Fallujah (Iraq) of Jordan,” Lopez said. “Palestinians in camps across Jordan are supporters of ISIS. ISIS is desperate for a sea port. A port of Aqaba will give them access to the Red Sea.”

Middle East expert Raymond Ibrahim, Shillman fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, believes that more “moderate” Muslims ultimately will prevail in the fight against ISIS.

“The burning of the pilot,” Ibrahim said, “will continue to create a “rift among Muslims — from the many who cannot tolerate such acts, cannot tolerate the idea that their religion condones such atrocities, to those who are willing to accept reality, willing to accept that Islamic texts and history are littered with such barbaric behavior — beginning with the prophet of Islam.”

Ibrahim said it’s “interesting to watch the debates now a days between Muslims — the ‘moderates’ are becoming much more vocal and courageous, which does not necessarily translate into anything concrete, but is a start,.”

“The Islamic State has really driven home the true nature of debate — that is, what is Islam and what does it teach, and it’s making many Muslims uncomfortable having to deal with these questions which for long have been ignored but … with every day ISIS brings them to the fore,” Ibrahim said.

“And yes, while once cannot really account for what U.S. leadership will do, I do believe that these continuing atrocities will drive the governments of various Arab countries to work closer together.”

Middle East expert Osama al-Sharif said that the killing of the Jordanian pilot will trigger “a wave of anger and frustration” that could spark a political crisis for Jordanian King Abdullah II. The king cut short a visit with President Obama Tuesday to return to Jordan after ISIS released a 22-minute video purportedly showing the pilot being burned alive.

“It will strengthen the position of those who believe Jordan should withdraw from the fight against ISIS,” Sharif said.

Before knowing the fate of the pilot, his father, who comes from a prominent Jordanian tribe, had told CNN Arabic that the king “had no business with the coalition, and those who had sent my son to fight beyond Jordan’s border must now bring him back.”

Even before the pilot’s capture, Abdullah was under fire internally from the country’s Palestinian population, the Muslim Brotherhood and a growing number of ISIS backers.

Islamist opposition groups had voiced opposition to joining the anti-ISIS coalition when it was first announced.

As Sharif pointed out, Abdullah defended his position and insisted that the war against ISIS was “our war.” This was especially apparent when ISIS fighters moved up to the Jordanian border last year, in Iraq’s Sunni Anbar province, where they have remained.

An ISIS invasion of Jordan could jeopardize a critical buffer against ISIS access to the rest of the Levant.

As WND recently reported, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has designated Jordan as the next target of his caliphate. The government was split over joining the anti-ISIS coalition, however. The internal dissension comes from growing support for ISIS from a myriad of jihadist groups and the country’s poor economic conditions.

At the time, Jordanians were seen on videos burning their passports. ISIS even threatened to “slaughter” the king after invading Jordan.

“It is ISIS’ objective to destabilize its neighbors,” according to syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, an expert on the Middle East.

“Jordan is a miracle in the region. It has the most stable regime, yet it’s the weakest, it has no oil and yet since – for the last 70 years it has had only three rulers, but it has huge divisions internally; it’s got a lot of Muslim Brotherhood, it has some ISIS sympathizers, and I think the objective here was to draw Jordan into a war where it was a peripheral player,” Krauthammer said.

“This highlights, I think, the danger we all worship at the shrine of multilateralism, broad coalitions to bring everybody in as a way to restrict American action. Obama’s now involving the UAE, the Saudis and of course the Jordanians and now we see the result.

Krauthammer said Jordan “being drawn into a direct war with ISIS is not a good thing” for the U.S.

“Jordan will not defeat ISIS on its own. It even wouldn’t defeat ISIS even if it had some coalition partners,” he said.

“It’s the United States essentially which is – or Turkey, perhaps – the only partners,” he said. “So, here we are bringing in Jordan for symbolic reasons. Yet, a real pilot is shot down in real time and then executed in this horrible way, causing a reaction in Jordan where the king is now on the spot.

Krauthammer said Abdullah “will have to do something intense, important, punishing and that will draw him in.”

“And he’s got – he’s got refugees from of course Palestine but of course Syria, Iraq. He’s got a lot of internal dissent which we have seen over the years, and this is a way to stir the cauldron in a country that is stable, was stable, but is easily destabilized, and that is what ISIS is after.”

Underscoring the internal dissension and the increasing support for ISIS, the founder of the forerunner to ISIS – Al-Qaida in Iraq – was founded by the Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. A deputy to Zarqawi was Baghdadi, who would go on to create the Islamic State of Iraq, which then morphed into the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, and then the Islamic State, once he had taken over portions of Syria and Iraq to create the caliphate.

“ISIS sympathizers feel injustice and anger at America and Israel and always felt that Islam was under attack by crusaders,” Murin Khoury, a leading Jordanian pollster, recently told the Guardian newspaper of London. “And now they don’t agree with Jordan being involved in the coalition.”

The killing of the Jordanian pilot, however, also is seen as a means to polarize Jordanian society, especially among the tribes, which Sharif says are often considered the backbone of the support for Abdullah’s government.

ISIS, he said, is conducting psychological war against Jordan.

Also see:

Saudi’s Kingdom Holding sells 5.6 percent stake in News Corp

Owner of Saudi Arabia's Kingdom Holding, billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal attends the traditional Saudi dance known as 'Arda', which was performed during Janadriya culture festival at Der'iya in Riyadh February 18, 2014. CREDIT: REUTERS/FAYEZ NURELDINE/POOL

Owner of Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding, billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal attends the traditional Saudi dance known as ‘Arda’, which was performed during Janadriya culture festival at Der’iya in Riyadh February 18, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/FAYEZ NURELDINE/POOL

(Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding 4280.SE, the investment firm owned by billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, sold most of its stake in media giant News Corp (NWSA.O) as part of a portfolio review, it said on Wednesday.

The sale of a 5.6 percent stake in News Corp generated 705 million riyals ($188 million) of cash for Kingdom and leaves it with a one percent holding, according to a bourse statement. The amount of profit or loss booked on the investment was not disclosed.

Kingdom has held a stake in Rupert Murdoch’s media conglomerate since 1997, according to its website.

It has been a turbulent few years for the media company, after it emerged in 2011 that one of its British tabloid newspapers, the now-defunct News of the World, had been hacking phones and bribing public officials.

News Corp said on Tuesday it would face no charges in the United States over the matter, although it still faces multiple investigations and court cases in Britain.

“We remain firm believers in News Corp’s competent management, led by chief executive Robert Thomson, and are fully supportive of Rupert Murdoch and his family,” Alwaleed said in a separate emailed statement.

The action would not impact on Kingdom’s 6.6 percent holding of Twenty-First Century Fox (FOXA.O), the emailed statement added.

Both News Corp and Twenty-First Century Fox were part of the same company until they were spun off into separate listed entities in June 2013, representing the previous firm’s publishing and broadcasting businesses respectively.

SALE PROCESS

The sale of shares by Kingdom was “predominantly executed” in the first half of 2014 and finalised by the end of the year, the statement said.

News Corp hit its highest level since the stock was split on Mar. 5, 2014, when it traded intraday at $18.53, and was as high as $18.29 on July 24 before slipping to an intraday low of $14.28 on Oct. 16, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The media firm, which is due to report second-quarter earnings on Friday, closed on Tuesday at $15.61.

Kingdom’s stake decreased from 13.18 million class B shares, representing approximately 6.6 percent ownership, to 2 million class B shares, representing around 1 percent ownership.

The funds generated from the sale will be reinvested elsewhere, the English-language bourse statement said.

However, in an Arabic-language statement on the bourse website, Kingdom also said part of the proceeds will be used to reduce some of the company’s debts.

(Additional Reporting by Nadia Saleem and Sami Aboudi in Dubai and Marwa Rashad in Riyadh; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

The Islamic State’s Arabian Peninsula Campaign

February 2, 2015 / /

As stated in our previous articles the death of King Abdullah and transition to the reign of King Salman and collapse of the Yemeni government has destabilized the Arabian Peninsula considerably. In our last two pieces on the region we covered how AQAP and the Iranian regime seek to capitalize on the instability. Here, we will be taking a look at how the Islamic State (IS) will attempt to exploit the situation – and what it means to the Americans living in the region.

Saudi Arabia faces ISIS threats during transition of new king
http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/01/31/saudi-arabia-faces-isis-threats-during-transition-new-king/

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

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

saudiborder

IS fighters along the Saudi-Iraq border
Source: International Business Times

Since the start of the Syrian regional war, IS has preferred to keep Saudi Arabia “quiet” so as to maintain high levels of financial and material support coming out of the country by wealthy financiers.  However, recent events indicate that they may have shifted towards leveraging their access to fighters in Iraq and sympathetic locals to extend their kinetic reach into Saudi Arabia.  Early-JAN 15 saw IS claiming – through their Anbar-based media outlet – responsibility for an attack on a Saudi border post that resulted in the deaths of three guards.  This is same IS network led by Abdullah bin Sayid al-Sarhan that was also responsible for the deaths of five Shia locals in Eastern Saudi Arabia for allegedly operating as proxies for the IRGC-Qods Force in NOV 14. Reporting also suggests that this network was also responsible for the attack on two US citizens and a Danish national.

ISIS Claims Attack On Saudi Arabia Border, Signals Strategy Change In Militant Infiltration
http://www.ibtimes.com/isis-claims-attack-saudi-arabia-border-signals-strategy-change-militant-infiltration-1773754

Masked gunmen kill five in Saudi Arabia
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/04/masked-gunmen-kill-five-saudi-arabia

Saudi Arabia Shia-linked gun battles ‘leave nine dead’
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29895160

American injured in shooting in Saudi Arabia
http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/30/world/saudi-arabia-american-shot/

Two U.S. citizens shot in Saudi Arabia
http://www.albawaba.com/news/two-us-citizens-shot-saudi-arabia-650630

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

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 10.54.37 AM

IRGC-Qods Force insignia
Source: http://www.crethiplethi.com

The Saudis clearly see the threat for what it is and launched last year launched a series of security sweeps that led to the detention of 150 IS fighters, facilitators and financiers over the past year (some of which originated from Southeast Asia btw).  Last month’s border post attack was likely in response to the increased patrols and troop numbers along the Iraqi border in addition to the construction of a wall to keep out the “undesirables.” However, IS had established a foothold along the border area as far back as JUN 14 during the multi-pronged offensive in Iraq that saw the fall of Mosul and most of Anbar Province.

Saudi Arabia arrests first ISIS-related terror cell (this article has pics in it)
http://www.aawsat.net/2014/05/article55332025

Saudi Arabia Builds Iraq Border Wall To Protect Against ISIS
http://www.npr.org/2015/01/20/378660034/saudi-arabia-builds-iraq-border-wall-to-protect-against-isis

Revealed: Saudi Arabia’s ‘Great Wall’ to keep out Isil
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/saudiarabia/11344116/Revealed-Saudi-Arabias-Great-Wall-to-keep-out-Isil.html

Islamic State sets sights on Saudi Arabia
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30061109

Filipinos Among Arrested in Saudi Terror Sweep
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4318

Large-Scale Saudi Security Sweep Detains 88
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1561

saudi-border

Graphic depicting the proposed border security measures for both the Iraq and Yemeni borders
Source: homelandsecurityresearch.com

The Iranians aren’t the only ones looking to make Yemen into a base of operations to launch operations in the region.  Elements within AQAP have defected to IS and have aided in the establishment of networks along the Saudi-Yemeni border.  Although AQAP remains the dominant Sunni terror group in the country, IS leaders are beginning to gain traction by promising cash incentives for fence-sitters.  We previously wrote about this subject during the summer.  Reporting suggests that low-to-mid-level AQAP members may be working with IS to counter the Houthi attempts at expanding into Southern Yemen with support for IS beginning to emerge in Aden and Lahij. A Saudi national has reportedly been appointed by IS to serve as the “Emir” of Yemen, and has been working extensively with the IS leadership in Saudi Arabia.

Possible Cracks to The AQ Armor.
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=52

ISIS gaining ground in Yemen, competing with al Qaeda
http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/21/politics/isis-gaining-ground-in-yemen/

How Yemen Is Making ISIS and al-Qaeda Even More Dangerous
http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2014/10/29/How-Yemen-Making-ISIS-and-al-Qaeda-Even-More-Dangerous

Report: ISIS Actively Gaining Ground Amid Chaos in Yemen
http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2015/01/23/report-isis-actively-gaining-ground-amid-chaos-in-yemen/

All of this comes on the heels of the message Baghdadi released in mid-NOV 14, where he put the Saudi kingdom on notice that they’re on the “short list” for being the next target. This should surprise no one as Saudi Arabia is one of the two “big prizes” that IS has been eyeing for their long-term goals. Israel is the other, but they have chosen not to target them due to the realization that they don’t yet have the strength to confront the Israeli response that would follow any such targeting. Saudi Arabia, however, is under increasing pressure coming from AQAP, the Iranian regime and IS. The death of King Abdullah at this critical juncture amplifies these vulnerabilities.  The deteriorating situations in Iraq and Yemen are the likely reasons that prompted IS to shift their strategy and begin attacking Saudi Arabia outright. The increased Iranian presence in Yemen along with a resurgent AQAP and IS working to gain a foothold in the country will force the Saudi government into making some hard decisions. Whatever the Saudis choose to do will be dependent on how they prioritize the collapse of the Yemeni government, the anti-Assad campaign and the growing threats inside the kingdom itself – which are directly tied to what the deteriorating situations in Iraq and Yemen…

Islamic State sets sights on Saudi Arabia
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30061109

Saudi Arabia’s New King Helped Fund Radical Terrorist Groups

King Salman, Saudi Arabia's newly enthroned monarch / AP

King Salman, Saudi Arabia’s newly enthroned monarch / AP

Washington Free Beacon, By Adam Kredo, Jan. 26, 2015

King Salman, Saudi Arabia’s newly crowned monarch, has a controversial history of helping to fund radical terror groups and has maintained ties with several anti-Semitic Muslim clerics known for advocating radical positions, according to reports and regional experts.

Salman, previously the country’s defense minister and deputy prime minister, was crowned king last week after his half-brother King Abdullah died at the age of 90.

While Abdullah served as a close U.S. ally and was considered a reformer by many, Saudi Arabia has long been criticized by human rights activists for its treatment of women and its enforcement of a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to travel to the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Tuesday to pay respects to Abdullah and meet with Salman, who also has been seen as a moderate friend of the United States.

However, throughout his public career in government, Salman has embraced radical Muslim clerics and has been tied to the funding of radical groups in Afghanistan, as well as an organization found to be plotting attacks against America, according to various reports and information provided by David Weinberg, a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

In 2001, an international raid of the Saudi High Commission for Aid to Bosnia, which Salman founded in 1993, unearthed evidence of terrorist plots against America, according to separate exposés written by Dore Gold, an Israeli diplomat, and Robert Baer, a former CIA officer.

Salman is further accused by Baer of having “personally approved all important appointments and spending” at the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), a controversial Saudi charity that was hit with sanctions following the attacks of September 11, 2001, for purportedly providing material support to al Qaeda.

Salman also has been reported to be responsible for sending millions of dollars to the radical mujahedeen that waged jihad in Afghanistan in the 1980s, according to Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who is now director of the Brookings Intelligence Project.

“In the early years of the war—before the U.S. and the Kingdom ramped up their secret financial support for the anti-Soviet insurgency—this private Saudi funding was critical to the war effort,” according to Riedel. “At its peak, Salman was providing $25 million a month to the mujahedeen. He was also active in raising money for the Bosnian Muslims in the war with Serbia.”

Salman also has embraced radical Saudi clerics known for their hateful rhetoric against Israel and Jews.

Salman has worked closely with Saleh al-Moghamsy, who tweeted in August 2014 that “Allah only gathered Jews in the land of Palestine to destroy them.”

Al-Moghamsy also stated in a 2014 television interview that “the hatred of Jews toward Muslims is an eternal hatred.” He also claimed in 2012 that Osama bin Laden had died with more “sanctity and honor” than any infidel, or non-Muslim.

Despite this rhetoric, Salman has maintained close ties to al-Moghamsy.

Salman chairs the board of an organization run by al-Moghamsy and has sponsored the cleric’s public events, including a 2013 festival. Salman and al-Moghamsy were pictured many times together at that event, according to regional reports.

Al-Moghamsy also has been an adviser to two of Salman’s sons, one of whom posed for a selfie with the cleric in July.

Salman also has reached out to other hardline preachers, including Safar Hawali, a one-time mentor of Osama bin Laden who has called for non-Muslims to be expelled from Saudi Arabia.

In 2005, Salman called Hawali to inquire about his health and in 2010 praised him upon the release of a book.

While crown prince, Salman also made a point of phoning Aidh Abdullah al-Qarni, a Saudi author currently on the U.S. Terrorist Screening Center’s No Fly List who has praised Hamas and calledIsraelis “the brothers of apes and pigs.”

Additionally, Salman, in his role as crown prince, has recently visited Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti, the nation’s highest religious authority, who has asserted that 10 is an appropriate age of marriage for girls and called for the destruction of all churches in the Arabian Peninsula.

Weinberg, who has been tracking Salman closely, said that the new monarch is taking up his predecessor’s mantle of moderate reform.

“Just like King Abdullah tried to present himself as a reformer, some are trying to suggest that the new king, Salman, is a moderate who will continue his half-brother’s so-called progressive policies,” Weinberg said. “But just look at where Saudi Arabia is after Abdullah: people are being decapitated and flogged by the state in the streets.”

“Women are systematically oppressed by their own government, and the regime continues to propagate incitement and intolerance,” he continued. “Salman’s background funding mujahedeen abroad and embracing hateful clerics suggests that he is at best a political opportunist who will tolerate continued religious extremism, even if he does not hold such views himself.”

Death of Saudi King & Coup in Yemen: Signs in Iranian Prophecy

Foreground: Iranian Revolutionary Guards, banner in background: the late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

Foreground: Iranian Revolutionary Guards, banner in background: the late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

By Ryan Mauro:

The coup in Yemen by Iranian proxies and the death of Saudi King Abdullah must be seen through the eyes of Iranian regime elements focused on the “end-of-times” prophecies. These huge developments are seen not only as strategic opportunities by the Iranian regime; they are seen as fulfillments of prophecy signaling the imminent appearance of the Mahdi to bring final victory over the enemies of Islam.

THE END-OF-TIMES WORLDVIEW

The Iranian regime’s view of the world is centered around the appearance of the Mahdi, also known as the Hidden 12th Imam in Shia Islam. It also explains its strategy in the context of prophecies surrounding the Mahdi’s arrival on the scene, including issues related to Yemen, Saudi Arabia and other countries.

Former President Ahmadinejad famously displayed his belief that the Mahdi’s return is very near to the point that other regime elements derided him and his clique as “deviant” for believing that the Mahdi is directly guiding them.

Ahmadinejad was not doing this for domestic political reasons. If anything, it hurt him politically. He’s continued the rhetoric even after leaving the office. In April, he said the Iranian regime will “provide the setting for the Hidden Imam’s world revolution” and it’s the “prime goal” to facilitate the “beginnings of the emergence of the Hidden Imam.”

Supreme Leader Khamenei’s beliefs are not different. He likewise preaches that the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran is the fulfillment of prophecy to set the stage for the Mahdi to defeat Iran’s enemies.

Like Ahamdinejad, Khamenei believes Iran has a responsibility to consciously fulfill prophecy in order to trigger this event. His representative in the Revolutionary Guards said in June that Iran needs to shape the necessary “regional preparedness” for it to happen.

In July 2010, a senior Iranian cleric said that Khamenei told his inner circle that he had met with the Mahdi, who promised to “reappear” during his lifetime. A sermon by a top cleric in Qom and shown on state television claimed that Khamenei said “May Ali protect you” the second he was born.

The most vivid explanation of the end-of-times prophecy in the Iranian regime’s calculations came in 2011 when a terrifying videowas leaked titled, “The Coming is Upon Us.” It was obtained by Reza Kahlili, a former CIA spy within the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. The Iranian regime did not contest its authenticity.

The basis of the video was that the Iranian regime is fulfilling specific prophecies to trigger the appearance of the Hidden 12th Imam. Supreme Leader Khamenei, President Ahmadinejad and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah are depicted as the incarnations of figures foretold in prophecy.

Kahlili said the production of the film was overseen by President Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff and it ends with a list of endorsements from clerics. A portion was shown on the regime-controlled media.

The blowback was fierce even from within the regime. A major seminary in Qom even condemned the comparison of Ahmadinejad to the military commander who will lead the final war. Significantly, it did not condemn the comparison of Khamenei to the political leader who will ally with the Mahdi known as “Seyed Khorasani.”

The regime tried to distance itself from the video, but the filmmakers said it was shown to Khamenei and Ahmadinejad for approval. They also pointed out that prominent clerics and Revolutionary Guards commanders call him “Seyed Khorasani” to his face. Khamenei’s representative in the Guards told a state newspaper on April 12, 2011 that ayatollahs agreed that Khamenei is Khorasani.

The Iranian regime’s foreign policy is based on a fusion of these strategic and ideological goals. It rationally pursues these extremist objectives. The mistake that many Western analysts make is conflating the two. The regime appears Soviet-like in its strategic calculations, but they are made for a highly ideological end.

DEATH OF SAUDI KING & COUP IN YEMEN

The full significance of the death of Saudi King Abdullah can only be understood through the Iranian prophetic framework.

Read more at Clarion Project

World Leaders Lavish Praise on Saudi King Despite Rights Record Plus Tarek Fatah with the Truth

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz with then US President George W. Bush.

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz with then US President George W. Bush.

Clarion Project, BY ELLIOT FRIEDLAND, January 25, 2015

Official flags at government buildings in the United Kingdom have been lowered to half-mast as per a request put out by the office of the Queen as a sign of respect for the late King of Saudi Arabia Abdullah.

This display, along with the long line of world leaders flocking to Saudi Arabia to pay their respects has seen a backlash as commentators, politicians and ordinary people have pointed out Saudi Arabia’s dismal human rights record.

A formal request to lower the flags was put out by officials in the office of the Queen. Officials from the government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport sent out the request to other government departments and told reporters that the request had come from the Queen’s palace. It was described as “a matter of protocol.”

The Scottish parliament refused to lower flags, stating “We offer the people of Saudi Arabia our condolences following the passing of King Abdullah.” The spokesman added “Flags are not routinely flown at half-mast from Scottish government buildings to mark the deaths of foreign heads of government or state.”

The flag is flying at half-mast at Westminster Abbey, the most important church in the UK (along with Canterbury Cathedral) and at Buckingham Palace, the Queen’s official residence in London.

As Ed West of the Spectator asked “Why is Westminster Abbey honoring the king of a country where Christianity is banned?

Rather than a “patient and skillful moderniser of his country” as Tony Blair described him, King Abdullah was a staunch conservative who’s advisory council (solely appointed by him) refused a petition of women to end (among other things) male guardianship under which women are forbidden from travelling, doing business, marrying, divorcing, opening a bank account  – even undergoing certain medical procedures – without the permission of their male guardian.

Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, said that King Abdullah was a strong advocate for women “in a very discrete way.” The reality was quite different. Along with refusing women the right to drive, the king also kept four of his own daughter imprisoned in a royal compound for 13 years.

US President Barack Obama praised the king for having “the courage of his convictions” while previous President George W. Bush called him “a man I admire and was honored to work with” adding that he had “very fond memories of my visits to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” During his visit to Saudi Arabia, the former President would not have been able to visit Mecca, the holiest city in Islam, as non-Muslims are banned from entering.

These comments by world leaders are surprising in the light of Abdullah’s policies. King Abdullah has imprisoned hundreds of civil dissidents and oversaw the beheading of at least 79 people in 2013 alone, leading The Independent to ask “Who Beheads More People, ISIS or Saudi Arabia?” Two weeks ago the Saudi government gaveRaif Badawi the first 50 out of 1,000 lashes in spite of international pleas for clemency and an offer by leading religious freedom activists to take the lashes in Raif’s place.

Read more at Clarion Project

***

Tarek Fatah eulogizes Saudi King Abdullah - with the truth

Published on Jan 23, 2015 by AlohaSnackbar01

 

Also see:

Abdullah is Dead. ISIS has an opportunity to flip the Kingdom. Here’s how

Global Guerrillas, by John Robb, January 22, 2015 (h/t @ClareMLopez)

Last week I wrote that ISIS would attack Saudi Arabia this spring.  This week the opportunity to attack with a high likelihood of success arrived: The King of Saudi Arabia died today.  Unfortunately for the Saudi’s, King Abdulla died before his Kingdom’s gambit to gain control of ISIS paid off.   Here’s what they were trying to do but failed to pull off in time:

  • Saudi Arabia has been pumping oil like crazy to drive the price of oil down.  It worked.  Prices dropped.  Lower oil prices are undercuting the funding ISIS gets from its illicit oil sales across the region.
  • Given time, the Saudis believed that this reduction in funding from oil sales would eventually force ISIS to approach Saudi Arabia for financial support.  When it did ask for financial help, the Kingdom would be able to gain the leverage necessary to neutralize the threat it posed (as it did with al Qaeda decades earlier).
  • Needless to say, this gambit didn’t work.  ISIS proved much more resilient financially than al Qaeda and other non-state groups are.  ISIS has many, many more sources of income than donations from sympathisers and oil sales.

The failure of this gambit means that with the death of the King, ISIS may have a golden opportunity to pivot south to take Mecca and Medina.  A southern pivot would capitalize on the increased fragility (of an already fragile country) caused by the succession.  It would also allow ISIS to continue the its impressive string of victories in the field.  However, this won’t be a conventional war.  It’s going to be an open source war to win a moral victory.  Here’s a taste for how they would do it:

  • ISIS would pivot forces from Syria and Iraq for a push south (indications are that this is apparently already underway), and then use these forces to rapidly overwhelm numerous border posts to create widespread confusion within the Saudi security forces.  If done correctly, the rapid advances of black flags will cause a mass rout that will yield significant equipment and a considerable number of new jihadis (as troops flip to join the ISIS jihad).
  • Simultaneous with the drive south, cells of ISIS jihadis and lone sympathizers will activate across the Kingdom, causing disruption and confusion.  With this, lines of authority and communication within the kingdom will begin to break down.
  • The advancing jihad will connect with local forces along a massive front moving south, jumping from city to city.  The speed of this will depend on how willing the population is to accept ISIS.  However, since Saudi Arabia has already indoctrinated its population with a religious ideology that is sympathetic to ISIS, the speed of the advance may be very rapid.

KSA map

What will this attack on Saudi Arabia mean?  Here are the worst potential outcomes.

  • The borders of Saudi Arabia might be completely rewritten within the next couple of months.   >> Once humpty dumpty is broken, all the kings horses and all the kings men won’t be able to put it together again.
  • In desperation, US ground troops would be deployed to defend the oil fields in the east (Ghawar, etc.).  This deployment would radically increase the ability of ISIS to recruit and potentially turn this into a regional jihad.
  • The advance of ISIS would result in massive refugee populations of Shia (towards Iraq) due to a religious cleansing of towns and cities across the kingdom.

PS:  If this doesn’t occur, ISIS missed the opportunity, and we’re all better off for their mistake.

PPS:  ISIS is a theocratic network of networks that is both entrepreneurial and dynamic.  The KSA is a theocratic hierarchy that’s risk averse and inflexible.  Which one wins?

Saudi King Abdullah Dead at 91…

BN-GO662_abdull_M_20150122171919CSP, by Kyle Shideler, Jan. 22, 2015:

Saudi state media has reportedly confirmed that the King of Saudi Arabia, Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, is dead. Abdullah was long known to be in ill-health. According to reports, Abdullah has been succeeded by Prince Salman, Abdullah’s half-brother, and a son of Saudi founder Ibn Saud. Salman is in his 70s. Salman is a member of the so-called “Sudairi Seven,” after their mother, whose powerful al-Sudairi clan hails from the Nejd region of Saudi Arabia. The faction is considered a powerhouse within internal Saudi palace politics. In recent years reports have noted that Salman suffers from dementia.

King Salman

King Salman

His death comes at a particular bad time for Saudi Arabia, as just today Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have apparently forced the Yemeni president to resign, throwing the country into chaos.  Saudi Arabia has always viewed Yemen as a sort of vulnerable soft underbelly to their own Kingdom, and instability there has been viewed as a threat, which has led to Saudi military interventions in Yemen on multiple occasions, most recently in 2009 against the very same Houthis that now dominate Sana’a.

Of the major threats facing the Kingdom both Iran, and The Islamic State are likely to place particular significance on both of these events and their timing. Yemen plays a role in both Shia Twelver and Sunni Jihadist ideology, and Saud’s death and chaos in Yemen will no doubt be a highly motivating factor for both.

While Salman is clearly not in the best position to exert strong leadership for the House of Saud given his own health issues, he can rely on the internal networks of the Sudairi Seven within the government establishment. Whether that, taken together with the pressure of the external threats will be enough to insure a united Saudi response  remains to be seen.

Also see:

Meet the honor brigade, an organized campaign to silence debate on Islam

Asra Q. Nomani

Asra Q. Nomani

January 16 at 8:01 PM

Asra Q. Nomani, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, is the author of “Standing Alone: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam.”

“You have shamed the community,” a fellow Muslim in Morgantown, W.Va., said to me as we sat in a Panera Bread in 2004. “Stop writing.”

Then 38, I had just written an essay for The Washington Post’s Outlook section arguing that women should be allowed to pray in the main halls of mosques, rather than in segregated spaces, as most mosques in America are arranged. An American Muslim born in India, I grew up in a tolerant but conservative family. In my hometown mosque, I had disobeyed the rules and prayed in the men’s area, about 20 feet behind the men gathered for Ramadan prayers.

Later, an all-male tribunal tried to ban me. An elder suggested having men surround me at the mosque so that I would be “scared off.” Now the man across the table was telling me to shut up.

“I won’t stop writing,” I said.

It was the first time a fellow Muslim had pressed me to refrain from criticizing the way our faith was practiced. But in the past decade, such attempts at censorship have become more common. This is largely because of the rising power and influence of the “ghairat brigade,” an honor corps that tries to silence debate on extremist ideology in order to protect the image of Islam. It meets even sound critiques with hideous, disproportionate responses.

The campaign began, at least in its modern form, 10 years ago in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, when the Organization of Islamic Cooperation — a mini-United Nations comprising the world’s 56 countries with large Muslim populations, plus the Palestinian Authority — tasked then-Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu with combating Islamophobia and projecting the “true values of Islam.” During the past decade, a loose honor brigade has sprung up, in part funded and supported by the OIC through annual conferences, reports and communiques. It’s made up of politicians, diplomats, writers, academics, bloggers and activists.

In 2007, as part of this playbook, the OIC launched the Islamophobia Observatory, a watchdog group based in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, with the goal of documenting slights against the faith. Its first report, released the following year, complained that the artists and publishers of controversial Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad were defiling “sacred symbols of Islam . . . in an insulting, offensive and contemptuous manner.” The honor brigade began calling out academics, writers and others, including former New York police commissioner Ray Kelly and administrators at a Catholic school in Britain that turned away a mother who wouldn’t remove her face veil.

“The OIC invented the anti-‘Islamophobia’ movement,” says Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and a frequent target of the honor brigade. “These countries . . . think they own the Muslim community and all interpretations of Islam.”

Alongside the honor brigade’s official channel, a community of self-styled blasphemy police — from anonymous blogs such as LoonWatch.com andIkhras.com to a large and disparate cast of social-media activists — arose and began trying to control the debate on Islam. This wider corps throws the label of “Islamophobe” on pundits, journalists and others who dare to talk about extremist ideology in the religion. Their targets are as large as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and as small as me.

The official and unofficial channels work in tandem, harassing, threatening and battling introspective Muslims and non-Muslims everywhere. They bank on an important truth: Islam, as practiced from Malaysia to Morocco, is a shame-based, patriarchal culture that values honor and face-saving from the family to the public square. Which is why the bullying often works to silence critics of Islamic extremism.

“Honor brigades are wound collectors. They are couch jihadis,” Joe Navarro, a former supervisory special agent in the FBI’s behavioral analysis unit, tells me. “They sit around and collect the wounds and injustices inflicted against them to justify what they are doing. Tragedy unites for the moment, but hatred unites for longer.”

In an e-mail exchange, the OIC’s ambassador to the United Nations denied that the organization tries to silence discussion of problems in Muslim communities.

The attacks are everywhere. Soon after the Islamophobia Observatory took shape, Sheik Sabah Ahmed al-Sabah, the emir of Kuwait, grumbled about “defamatory caricatures of our Master and Prophet Muhammad” and films that smear Islam, according to the OIC’s first Islamophobia report.

The OIC helped give birth to a culture of victimization. In speeches, blogs, articles and interviews widely broadcast in the Muslim press, its honor brigade has targeted pundits, political leaders and writers — from TV host Bill Maher to atheist author Richard Dawkins — for insulting Islam. Writer Glenn Greenwald has supported the campaign to brand writers and thinkers, such as neuroscientist and atheist Sam Harris, as having “anti-Muslim animus” just for criticizing Islam.

“These fellow travelers have made it increasingly unpleasant — and even dangerous — to discuss the link between Muslim violence and specific religious ideas, like jihad, martyrdom and blasphemy,” Harris tells me.

Noticing the beginnings of this trend in December 2007, a U.S. diplomat in Istanbul dispatched a cable to the National Security Council, the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency and various State Department offices. The cable said the OIC’s chief called supporters of the Danish cartoons of Muhammad “extremists of freedom of expression” and equated them with al-Qaeda.

Most of the criticism takes place online, with anonymous bloggers targeting supposed Islamophobes. Not long after the cable, a network of bloggers launched LoonWatch, which goes after Christians, Jews, Hindus, atheists and other Muslims. The bloggers have labeled Somali author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a born Muslim but now an atheist opponent of Islamic extremism, an “anti-Muslim crusader.” Robert Spencer, a critic of extremist Islam, has been called a “vicious hate preacher” and an “Internet sociopath.” The insults may look similar to Internet trolling and vitriolic comments you can find on any blog or news site. But they’re more coordinated, frightening and persistent.

Read more at Washington Post

The Missing Pages of the 9/11 Report

William Kratzke/AP; Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

William Kratzke/AP; Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

Daily Beast, by Eleanor Clift, Jan. 12, 2015:

The lead author of the Senate’s report on 9/11 says it’s time to reveal what’s in the 28 pages that were redacted from it, which he says will embarrass the Saudis.
A story that might otherwise have slipped away in a morass of conspiracy theories gained new life Wednesday when former Sen. Bob Graham headlined a press conference on Capitol Hill to press for the release of 28 pages redacted from a Senate report on the 9/11 attacks. And according to Graham, the lead author of the report, the pages “point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as the principal financier” of the 9/11 hijackers.

“This may seem stale to some but it’s as current as the headlines we see today,” Graham said, referring to the terrorist attack on a satirical newspaper in Paris. The pages are being kept under wraps out of concern their disclosure would hurt U.S. national security. But as chairman of the Senate Select Committee that issued the report in 2002, Graham argues the opposite is true, and that the real “threat to national security is non-disclosure.”

Graham said the redacted pages characterize the support network that allowed the 9/11 attacks to occur, and if that network goes unchallenged, it will only flourish. He said that keeping the pages classified is part of “a general pattern of coverup” that for 12 years has kept the American people in the dark. It is “highly improbable” the 19 hijackers acted alone, he said, yet the U.S. government’s position is “to protect the government most responsible for that network of support.”

The Saudis know what they did, Graham continued, and the U.S. knows what they did, and when the U.S. government takes a position of passivity, or actively shuts down inquiry, that sends a message to the Saudis. “They have continued, maybe accelerated their support for the most extreme form of Islam,” he said, arguing that both al Qaeda and ISIS are “a creation of Saudi Arabia.”

Standing with Graham were Republican Rep. Walter Jones and Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch, co-sponsors of House Resolution 428, which says declassification of the 28 pages is necessary to provide the American public with the full truth surrounding the 9/11 attacks. The two lawmakers echoed Graham’s assertion that national security would not be harmed, and point out that on two separate occasions President Obama has told 9/11 families that he wants to see the pages declassified. Jones and Lynch wrote a letter to Obama in April urging him to take action, and have been told by the White House that a response is in the works.

The purpose of the Wednesday press conference was to put pressure on the White House by building bipartisan support in the House and Senate. Any member with a security clearance is able to read the redacted chapter in a closed room, albeit under supervision and with no note taking and no staff.  It’s a cumbersome process, and most members haven’t bothered. The relatively few who have read the pages come away with varying levels of shock and surprise. Lynch said he was so blown away that the information was being kept from the public that he told the two room monitors he would be filing legislation. HR 428 had 27 co-sponsors in the last Congress.

Among the attendees at the press conference was Jack Quinn, formerly a top lawyer in the Clinton White House, who is representing 9/11 families in their effort to gain compensation from the Saudi government. If the redacted pages document complicity in the attacks by the Saudi government, or religious and charitable institutions related to the kingdom, which is relevant to a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York where the Saudis are the defendants. Quinn, who is one of several lawyers involved with the case, previously represented families in the Lockerbie crash in their suit against the Libyan government.

Read more

RECOMMENDED READING: “Saudi Arabia’s Rulers Reconsider Ties To Wahhabi Clergy”

Saudi+Arabia+flagBy , Jan. 9, 2015:

An Arabian business magazine has published an article titled “Saudi Arabia’s Rulers Reconsider Ties To Wahhabi Clergy” that looks at what is said to be an “adjustment” to the Saudi relationship with so-called Wahabbi Islam. The Arabian Business.com report begins:

December 17, 2014 Saudi Arabia’s ruling Al Saud royal family are trying to adjust their relationship with the country’s strict Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam as they increasingly view the teachings of some of its ultra-conservative clergy as a domestic security threat.

Radicalisation of Muslims in the world’s top oil exporter has led to domestic attacks and the involvement of Saudi citizens in jihadist movements in Iraq and Syria, while extreme religious practices have damaged efforts to boost employment.

Over the past decade the House of Saud has not only put in place measures to control clerics and their sermons, but has started to favour more modern clergy for top state positions.

Saudi rulers are also starting to reform areas once the exclusive domain of the clergy, such as education and law, and have promoted elements of national identity that have no religious component.

Saudi Arabia remains one of the most religiously conservative countries on earth, and the royal family are not cutting off the clergy or ditching Wahhabism’s basic precepts, analysts and diplomats say.

They are instead attempting to foster a reading of its teachings that distances it from Islamist militants such as Islamic State, and which better meets the demands of a modern economy. ‘

Read the rest here.

The GMBDW reported in March of last year that Saudi Arabia had formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization and was among a group of Gulf countries that had recalled their envoys from Qatar over the issue. We also reported in May 2014 that the country had arrested nine university professors for their alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood and reported the same month that three well-known imams in Saudi Arabia’s Southern Province had been banned for life from delivering sermons after they were found to be connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.  However, at the same time wediscussed certain inconsistencies related to the Saudi Muslim World League (MWL) which appeared to be operating outside of the new Saudi policy on the Brotherhood by maintaining ties to important figures in the Global Muslim Brotherhood. Should the above report prove to be accurate, it would lend further credence to the idea of a sea change in the relationship of Saudi Arabia to the Muslim Brotherhood

In May 2013, Ahram Online published a useful history of the tumultuous and sometimes difficult to understand relationship between Saudi Arabia and the Global Muslim Brotherhood.