UK Parliament terror tied to Antwerp attack

DEBKAfile, March 23, 2017:

The Westminster attacker, 52-year old British-born Khalid Masoud, was claimed as “a soldier of the Islamic State” Thursday, March 23, after he murdered three people and injured more than forty. Some are still in critical condition. The London Metropolitan Police do not now believe he was acting alone. In pursuit of accomplices, anti-terror police made eight arrests at six addresses in East London and Birmingham on suspicion of “preparation of terror attacks.” More arrests are expected.

In Antwerp, Belgium, 24 hours later, a man wearing military-style uniform, was arrested trying to drive at high speed into a crowd before anyone was hurt. He was identified as 39-year-old Mohamed R, a French national of North African origin living in France. Bomb disposal experts found knives, a shotgun and a gas can in his car.

French and Belgian police say the London and Antwerp terror attacks were linked. The second attack was scheduled to take place Wednesday at the same time as the assault at the British parliament, a twin event to “celebrate”the first anniversary of the Islamic State’s suicide bombing on the Brussels airport and subway which murdered 32 people.

Khalid Masoud began his rampage of terror Wednesday by plowing into a crowd of pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, then crashing his car into the railings of Parliament Yard and ending with a stabbing attack on policemen guarding the entrance to the House.

He had been known to the police and intelligence services, Prime Minister Theresa May revealed to a shocked House Thursday. She told the MPs he had been investigated some years ago, but was not part of the current intelligence picture, which means he was not under the radar at present.

Police said he had a string of convictions for various criminal offensives unrelated to terrorism.
Masoud, who was shot dead by police officers barring his attempt to storm the British parliament, was a married father of three and a former English teacher. Born in Kent outside London, he is believed to have been living in Birmingham.

Read earlier DEBKAfile reports on the incident.

Also see:

 

London terrorist a ‘soldier’ of the Islamic State, group claims

LONG WAR JOURNAL, BY THOMAS JOSCELYN | March 23, 2017

The Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency has issued a statement claiming that the terrorist responsible for yesterday’s attack in London was a “soldier” of the so-called caliphate.

Citing a security “source,” Amaq states: “The attacker yesterday in front of the British parliament in London was a soldier of the Islamic State, executing the operation in response to calls to target citizens of coalition nations.”

Amaq’s claim is similar to a series of statements that were issued after past operations across Europe and the US.

Thus far, Amaq hasn’t provided any specific details about the man responsible for killing at least three people, including an American citizen and a British policeman, and wounding dozens of others. The terrorist drove his vehicle into a crowd, then jumped out and used a blade to assault other people.

The UK Metropolitan Police has identified the terrorist as Khalid Masood, a 52 year-old man who was born in Kent and is believed to have been “most recently living in the West Midlands.” Masood was “known by a number of aliases,” but “was not the subject of any current investigations and there was no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack.

However, the Metropolitan Police says Masood “was known to police and has a range of previous convictions for assaults” and other crimes. His criminal record reportedly extends all the way back to Nov. 1983 and “his last conviction was in Dec. 2003 for possession of a knife.”

Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s propagandists have repeatedly encouraged followers to ram their vehicles into Western citizens. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has also promoted the idea.

Last year, jihadists used trucks during attacks in Nice on Bastille Day and at a Christmas market in Berlin. In both cases, Amaq described the attackers as a “soldier” of the caliphate.

Another similar assault was carried out at Ohio State University in November, when a Somali refugee, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, drove his car into a crowd of people before exiting the vehicle and then using a knife to assault his victims. Artan was quickly shot dead by a campus police officer. Once again, Amaq described him as the Islamic State’s “soldier.”

Amaq has repeatedly described terrorists as “soldiers” of the Islamic State

In addition to the instances mentioned above, Amaq and other Islamic State propaganda outlets frequently describe the terrorists who carry out such deeds as “soldiers” of the caliphate.

An Islamic State claim of responsibility doesn’t prove that the group had direct ties to the attacker. However, authorities have found that terrorists had digital ties, or were at least inspired by the Islamic State, in a number of cases. Islamic State operatives have also orchestrated a series of plots in the West.

For example, the Islamic State described the May 2015 shooters in Garland, Tex. and the couple who assaulted a holiday party in San Bernardino, Calif. as the group’s “soldiers.” The San Bernardino terrorists were also labeled “supporters.”

The shooters in Garland, Tex. reportedly communicated with Junaid Hussain, a key Islamic State operative who was killed in an American airstrike last year. And the husband and wife jihadists responsible for the massacre in San Bernardino pledged their allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi on Facebook prior to their demise.

The team of jihadists that carried out the Nov. 2015 assault in Paris was hailed as “a group of believers from the soldiers of the Caliphate.” In that case, the jihadists were directly dispatched by the Islamic State’s mother organization in Syria. The Paris attacks were different from the other, small-scale attacks claimed by the Islamic State and carried out by individuals in Europe.

Omar Mateen, who repeatedly pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi the night of his shooting at an LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Fla. in June, was described as a “fighter” for the organization.

Amaq said Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who drove a truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France, was “a soldier of the Islamic State.” The same wording was also used to label a young slasher in Würzburg, Germany.

After the Nice, Würzburg, Ansbach (Germany) and Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray (Normandy, France) attacks, Amaq also emphasized that the men responsible had acted “in response to calls to target countries belonging to the crusader coalition.”

And after the operations in Würzburg, Ansbach, Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray and Balashikha (Russia), Amaq disseminated videos of the terrorists swearing allegiance to Baghdadi. The videos were recorded beforehand, demonstrating that the jihadists had at least some digital ties to the Islamic State’s operations.

Indeed, European officials discovered that a series of plots have been “remote-controlled” by the Islamic State’s digital operatives. American authorities have also found that the so-called caliphate’s men had virtual connections to a number of recruits who were intercepted before they could carry out their murderous acts.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.

What’s really behind Trump’s laptop ban

Shabaab, al Qaeda’s branch in Somalia, detonated a laptop bomb on this Daallo Airlines aircraft in February 2016.

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, March 23, 2017:

More than 15 years after the September 11 hijackings, the U.S. government has issued yet another warning about airline security. On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced new restrictions on electronics brought on board certain U.S.-bound flights. Passengers on planes leaving from 10 airports throughout the Middle East and North Africa will no longer be able to carry laptops or similar electronics with them into the cabin of the plane. Cell phones and smaller electronics are unaffected by the new measures, but computers will have to be checked in luggage.

The move instantly generated controversy and questions. Namely, why now? Some dismissed the DHS announcement as a protectionist move aimed at boosting the futures of U.S. carriers, who have complained of unfair competition from Gulf airlines for years. Twitter wags called it a “Muslim laptop ban,” whose secret aim was to discourage travel from the Arab world. But by now it should be clear that the new restrictions are deadly serious, even if there are legitimate questions about how it is being implemented.

Initial press reports, including by the New York Times, cited anonymous officials as saying that the restrictions were not a response to new intelligence. But the DHS announcement implies otherwise. One question on the DHS web site reads, “Did new intelligence drive a decision to modify security procedures?” The answer: “Yes, intelligence is one aspect of every security-related decision.” The British government’s quick decision to follow suit also suggests that something new is afoot here.

Subsequent reports from CNN and The Daily Beast indicate that intelligence collected during a U.S. Special Forces raid in Yemen in January led to the restrictions. That is possible. The raid was highly controversial, but the Trump administration argues the costs were worth it because the U.S. learned key details about al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) plotting. A Navy SEAL perished during the operation, as did a number of women and children. Within hours, jihadists began circulating a photo of an adorable little girl who died in the crossfire. The girl was the daughter of Anwar al Awlaki, a Yemeni-American al Qaeda ideologue killed in a September 2011 drone strike. Al Qaeda immediately called for revenge in her name.

Whether new intelligence led to the decision or not, we already know for certain that al Qaeda has continued to think up ways to terrorize the skies. For years, Al Qaeda operatives in Somalia, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere have been experimenting with sophisticated explosives that can be smuggled onto planes.

DHS points to the “attempted airliner downing in Somalia” in February 2016 as one reason for ongoing concerns. That bombing was carried out by al Shabaab, al Qaeda’s official branch in Somalia. Al Shabaab attempted to justify the failed attack by claiming “Western intelligence officials” were on board the flight, but that excuse may be a cover for something more sinister.

Some U.S. officials suspect that al Qaeda’s elite bomb makers wanted to test one of their newest inventions, a lightweight explosive disguised as a laptop that is difficult to detect with normal security procedures. At the very least, Shabaab’s attack demonstrated that al Qaeda has gotten closer to deploying a laptop-sized explosive that can blow a hole in jetliners. While no one other than the terrorist who detonated the bomb was killed, the plane was left with a gaping hole in its side.

Al Qaeda-linked terrorists have tested their contraptions before. In December 1994, a bomb was detonated on board a Philippine Airlines flight, killing one of the passengers and severely damaging the plane. The device was implanted by Ramzi Yousef, the nephew of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Yousef planned to blow up several airliners at once as part of “Project Bojinka” and he wanted to try out his invention beforehand. Authorities ultimately scuttled his plot, but al Qaeda didn’t forget Yousef’s idea. Instead, the terrorist organization returned to it again in 2006, when a similar plan targeting jets leaving London’s Heathrow Airport was foiled.

Al Qaeda’s failure in 2006 didn’t dissuade the group from pressing forward with a version of Yousef’s original concept, either.

In September 2014, the U.S. began launching airstrikes against an al Qaeda cadre in Syria described by the Obama administration as the “Khorasan Group.” There was some initial confusion over what the Khorasan Group really is, with some opining that it was simply invented by American officials to justify bombings, or a separate terror entity altogether. In reality, it was simply a collection of al Qaeda veterans and specialists who were ordered by the group’s leader, Ayman al Zawahiri, to begin laying the groundwork in Syria for operations against the West.

As far as we know, the Khorasan Group never did attempt to strike the U.S. or Europe. Perhaps this is because a number of its leaders and members were killed in the drone campaign. But there is an additional wrinkle in the story: Zawahiri didn’t give his men the final green light for an operation. Instead, Zawahiri wanted the Khorasan cohort to be ready when called upon. In the meantime, al Qaeda didn’t want an attack inside the West to jeopardize its primary goal in Syria, which is toppling Bashar al Assad’s regime.

The Islamic State gets all the headlines, but Al Qaeda has quietly built its largest guerrilla army ever in Syria, with upwards of 10,000 or more men under its direct command. The group formerly known as Jabhat al Nusra merged with four other organizations to form Hay’at Tahrir al Sham (“Assembly for the Liberation of Syria”) in January. Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the anti-ISIS coalition, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee months earlier, in June 2016, that Nusra was already al Qaeda’s “largest formal affiliate in history” with “direct ties” to Zawahiri. The merger gives al Qaeda control over an even larger force.

Al Qaeda could easily repurpose some of these jihadists for an assault in Europe, or possibly the U.S., but has chosen not to thus far. That is telling. Zawahiri and his lieutenants calculated that if Syria was turned into a launching pad for anti-Western terrorism, then their efforts would draw even more scrutiny. At a time when the U.S. and its allies were mainly focused on ISIS, al Qaeda’s potent rival, Zawahiri determined the West could wait.

But Zawahiri’s calculation with respect to Syria could change at any time. And the organization maintains cadres elsewhere that are still plotting against the U.S. and its interests.

The Khorasan Group included jihadists from around the globe, including men trained by AQAP’s most senior bomb maker, a Saudi known as Ibrahim al Asiri. U.S. officials have fingered al Asiri as the chief designer of especially devious explosive devices. Al Asiri has survived multiple attempts to kill him. But even if the U.S. did catch up with al Asiri tomorrow, his expertise would live on. Some of his deputies have trained still others in Syria.

Al Qaeda now has units deployed in several countries that are involved in anti-Western plotting. Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2016, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned that al Qaeda “nodes in Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Turkey” are “dedicating resources to planning attacks.”

The Pentagon regularly announces airstrikes targeting al Qaeda operatives, some of whom, identified as “external” plotters, have an eye on the West. Incredibly, more than a decade and a half after the 9/11 hijackings, al Qaeda members in Afghanistan are still involved in efforts to hit the U.S. In October 2016, for instance, the U.S. struck down Farouq al Qahtani in eastern Afghanistan. The Defense Department explained that Qahtani was “one of the terrorist group’s senior plotters of attacks against the United States.”

Meanwhile, ISIS has also proven it is capable of downing an airliner. Thus far, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s men have used low-tech means. In October 2015, the so-called caliphate’s Sinai province claimed the bombing of a Russian airliner. If the group’s propaganda is accurate, then a Schweppes Gold soft drink can filled with explosives and equipped with a detonator led to the deaths of all 224 people on board. This beverage bomb was a far cry from the sleek explosives al Qaeda’s bomb makers have been experimenting with, but it was effective nonetheless. All it required was proper placement next to a fuel line or some other sensitive point in the airliner’s infrastructure. ISIS could have more sophisticated bomb designs in the pipeline as well.

The truth is that the threat to airliners isn’t going away any time soon. However, this doesn’t mean that every counterterrorism measure intended to protect passengers is the right one. Some quickly questioned the Trump administration’s policy. Why does it impact only flight carriers in some countries? Were security measures found to be lax in some airports, but not others? Why is the threat of a laptop bomb mitigated if it is in checked luggage, as opposed to on board the plane? And what about the possibility of al Qaeda or ISIS slipping a bomb onto connecting flights, before the planes head for the U.S. homeland?

These are all good questions that should be asked. And the Trump administration should answer them.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal.

Also see:

Report: Intel for Carry-on Electronics Ban Came from Yemen Raid

Five Days and Two ‘Known Wolf’ Terror Attacks, Yet No Apparent Concern from Western Governments

PJ Media, by Patrick  Poole, March 23, 2017:

We’ve seen two more “Known Wolf” terror attacks in the West, and yet Western government authorities seem unwilling to acknowledge, let alone begin to address, the “Known Wolf” terror problem.

I first identified the “Known Wolf” terror trend and coined the term in October 2014 here at PJ Media, noting that many, possibly most, Islamic terrorists who actually committed terrorism in the West were already known to Western law enforcement, national security agencies, and intelligence services. 

Yet sufficient action was not taken to prevent them from conducting terror attacks:

Since then, I’ve chronicled (in nearly two dozen articles) the continuation of the “Known Wolf” terrorism trend, including the Berlin Christmas market terrorist that killed 12 and wounded 56 others:

In September, I noted that 12 of the 14 Islamic terror attacks in the U.S. during the Obama administration were by suspects already known to authorities:

Earlier today, British Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons that yesterday’s still-unnamed Westminster terror killer had already been investigated by MI5 over his extremist views:

The same is true for the Paris Orly airport attacker this past weekend, who was also already known to French authorities:

What’s the use of having a “terror watch list” if all Western authorities are going to do is watch them kill the citizens they are paid to protect?

Even right now, British authorities are invoking the long-discredited “lone wolf” terrorism theory to explain yesterday’s Westminster attack, including British Defense Minister Michael Fallon:

Meanwhile, in a series of raids, British authorities are arresting a number of people in connection with yesterday’s attack:

Naturally, many have had enough of the “lone wolf” myth and would prefer to hear the truth:

If Western authorities continue to ignore the “Known Wolf” terror problem, they will continue to lose legitimacy with the citizens they serve. And some will consider taking matters into their own hands. That’s dangerous for everyone.

Has any Western politician been forced to resign? Has any law enforcement or intelligence official ever been fired for failing to prevent a “Known Wolf” terror attack? How many more citizens need to be killed before Western authorities acknowledge and take action in response to the growing “Known Wolf” terror problem?

If the reaction to the Orly and Westminster attacks in the past week are any indication, the answer to that last question is apparently “more.”

_____________________

Below, find Poole’s prior coverage of the “Known Wolf” scandal:

Oct. 24, 2014: ‘Lone Wolf’ or ‘Known Wolf’: The Ongoing Counter-Terrorism Failure

Dec. 15, 2014: Sydney Hostage Taker Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome

Jan. 7, 2015: Paris Terror Attack Yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome

Feb. 3, 2015: French Police Terror Attacker Yesterday Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Syndrome

Feb. 15, 2015: Copenhagen Killer Was yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism

Feb. 26, 2015: Islamic State Beheader ‘Jihadi John’ Yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism

Apr. 22, 2015: Botched Attack on Paris Churches Another Case of “Known Wolf” Terrorism

May 4, 2015: Texas Attack Is Yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism

June 26, 2015: France’s Beheading Terrorist Was Well-Known By Authorities

July 16, 2015: Report: Chattanooga Jihadist Was Yet Another ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorist, Anonymous Feds Dispute

Aug. 22, 2015: European Train Attacker Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism

Oct 14, 2015: Yet Again: Turkey, Israel Terror Attacks Committed by “Known Wolves”

Nov 14, 2015: One Paris Attacker Was Previously Known to Authorities, Marks Fifth ‘Known Wolf” Attack in France This Year

Feb 16, 2016: Machete Attack in Ohio Yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorism

May 16, 2016: News Reports Yet Another Case of ‘Known Wolf’ U.S. Terrorists

June 12, 2016: Orlando Night Club Attack by “Known Wolf” Terrorist Previously Investigated by FBI

July 14, 2016: Senate Intelligence Committee to Investigate “Known Wolf” Terrorism Problem

July 26, 2016: ISIS Suspect in Normandy Priest’s Killing Already Known to French Authorities

August 10, 2016: Canadian ‘Known Wolf’ Terrorist Planned Suicide Bombing of Major City, Killed in Overnight Police Operation

August 19, 2016: Man Who Stabbed Rabbi Thursday in Strasbourg, France Involved in Prior Attack

Sept. 20, 2016: NY-NJ Bomber Ahmad Khan Rahami Already Known to Law Enforcement Authorities

Sept. 28, 2016:“Known Wolf” SCANDAL: In at Least 12 of the 14 Terror Attacks Under Obama, FBI Already Knew Attackers

Dec. 21, 2016:Suspect Sought for Deadly Berlin Terror Attack, Anis Amri, Yet Another Known Wolf

***

Update:

London Terror Killer Named as Convicted Criminal Khalid Masood

Jihadi Attack in London, UK Vows to Defend ‘Tolerance’

In other words, as the body count piles up, it will be business as usual.

Front Page Magazine, by Robert Spencer, March  23, 2017:

​There is a good deal of confusion surrounding the attack on the Westminster Bridge and at the Parliament building in London on Wednesday. Most notably, the UK’s Independent initially identified the attacker as a well-known jihad preacher in Britain, Abu Izzadeen; then it deleted that story without correction or explanation. Whoever the attacker was, however, the attack bore all the hallmarks of the jihadist modus operandi, just as the official response bore all the hallmarks of business-as-usual in London: the UK’s Home Secretary vowed to protect Britain’s “shared values” of “tolerance.”

If there was only one attacker, as appears to have been the case, he started by plowing his car into a crowd of pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge, killing two and injuring twenty. Then he got out and stabbed a police officer to death at the Parliament building. This follows the pattern of numerous recent jihad attacks. We have seen a spate of attacks recently in which jihadis used their cars as weapons — and a billboard in Nazareth that actually called for them. “Moderate” Fatah called for such attacks. And the Islamic State issued this call in September 2014:

So O muwahhid, do not let this battle pass you by wherever you may be. You must strike the soldiers, patrons, and troops of the tawaghit. Strike their police, security, and intelligence members, as well as their treacherous agents. Destroy their beds. Embitter their lives for them and busy them with themselves. If you can kill a disbelieving American or European — especially the spiteful and filthy French — or an Australian, or a Canadian, or any other disbeliever from the disbelievers waging war, including the citizens of the countries that entered into a coalition against the Islamic State, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be….If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman, or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him….

We have seen large-scale vehicular attacks in Nice and Berlin and elsewhere. And in June 2015, a Muslim in Austria drove his car into a crowd, killing three, and then got out and stabbed passersby. Then in November 2016, a Muslim student at Ohio State University named Abdul Razak Ali Artan drove his car into a crowd, then got out and stabbed several others. The attack Wednesday in London by an “Asian” – British mediaspeak for “Muslim” – followed the same pattern.

Scotland Yard obliquely acknowledged that it was a jihad attack. In a statement, it said: “Officers – including firearms officers – remain on the scene and we are treating this as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise.” A “terrorist” incident means jihad. It wasn’t the IRA. There are no other significant terrorist groups operating today in the UK. This statement from Scotland Yard makes it very likely that this was a jihad attack, and yet another repudiation of the British government’s policy of appeasing and accommodating Islamic supremacists and jihadists while hounding and persecuting foes of jihad terror, and banning foreign ones from the country.

Yet in her own response to the attack, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “The British people will be united in working together to defeat those who would harm our shared values. Values of democracy, tolerance and the rule of law. Values symbolised by the Houses of Parliament. Values that will never be destroyed.”

To speak about “tolerance” with several people dead at the hands of an Islamic jihadist in London is to signal that it will be business as usual in Theresa May’s Britain: nothing will be done to confront the ideology that incites its adherents to violence and hatred. This is clear because “tolerance” is never asked of Islamic supremacists who take to the streets of London to preach the ultimate victory of Sharia; the only people ever accused of “intolerance” are those who speak honestly about the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat.

As Bob Dylan said: “Toleration of the unacceptable leads to the last round-up.” And it’s coming in Britain. The London jihad attack was yet another harbinger of that.

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Iran. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.

Also see:

UTT Throwback Thursday: Britsh Leaders’ Inability to Speak Truth About Islam

Understanding the Threat, by John Guandolo, March  23, 2017:

See UTT’s new video entitled “British Appeasement to Islam” HERE.

Where is Winston Churchill when you need him?

Since 9/11/01, Britain’s leaders have been unable to see the reality of the Islamic threat which is overwhelming them, and, in the face of their own destruction, have been incapable of letting the light of truth in to see the problem they face lies with Islam and it’s destructive and barbaric sharia.

In October 2001, British Prime Minister Tony Blair held a press conference where he stated:  “This is not a war with Islam. It angers me as it angers the vast majority of Muslims to hear bin Laden and his associates described as Islamic terrorists. They are terrorists pure and simple. Islam is a peaceful and tolerant religion, and the acts of these people are wholly contrary to the teachings of the Koran.”

After British Army soldier Lee Rigby was run over and beheaded on the streets of Woolwich, England in May 2013 by two Muslims, British Prime Minister David Cameron stated:  “This was not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life, it was also a betrayal of Islam and on the Muslim communities who give so much to our country.  There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.”

After British aid worker David Haines was beheaded by Muslims in ISIS on video in September 2014, British Prime Minister David Cameron stated:  “They claim to do this in the name of Islam.  That is nonsense.  Islam is a religion of peace.  They are not Muslims.  They are monsters.”

What will Prime Minister Theresa May say about Islam after the jihadi attack in Westminster?

Is she aware “Fight and slay the unbeliever wherever you find them” (Koran 9:5) is a permanent command from Allah for Muslims until the world is under sharia (Islamic Law)?  Is she aware this is taught in Islamic schools all over Britain?

What will London’s jihadi mayor say?

Here is what Sir Winston Churchill said:

“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men…Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it.  No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.  Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.”
[Winston Churchill, The River War (Volume II, 1st edition), pages 248-250]

The US May Get Drawn Into War With Syria, And ISIS Has Nothing To Do With It

Four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters provide air support for Soldiers conducting an air assault exercise as part of the Full Spectrum Training Event in Hohenfels, Germany, Oct. 14, 2011. The UH-60 crews are assigned to the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade-Europe. U.S. Army photo by Richard Bumgardner

Daily Caller, by Saagar Enjeti, March 22, 2017:

Tensions between U.S. ally Israel and the Syrian regime are flaring up after a series of military confrontations, which could escalate into a larger military surge in the already crowded war zone.

Tensions reached their highest level Friday when Syria launched a series of anti-aircraft missiles intended for Israeli jets engaging Hezbollah supply lines. One of the Syrian missiles was destroyed by Israel’s Arrow missile defense system. The incident marked the first known time Syria has fired on Israeli aircraft since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, and prompted a fierce Israeli response.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman declared to Israeli media “The next time the Syrians use their air defense systems against our planes we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu added Friday, “When we identify attempts to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah and we have intelligence and it is operationally feasible, we act to prevent it.”

Russia, the Syrian regime’s main sponsor, also summoned the Israeli Ambassador Friday for an explanation of the strike.

Russia’s concern underscores the interwoven role of multiple global powers in Syria. Other countries involved directly in Syria include the U.S., Turkey, Iran, Russia, multiple rebel groups, al-Qaida, and the Islamic State. Many of these rebel groups have international sponsors including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other gulf countries.

Any military confrontation between Damascus and Jerusalem would almost certainly draw U.S. support, which could in turn endanger U.S. troops inside Syria. Military confrontation could threaten conventional escalation between Israel and Syria, the U.S. and Moscow, the U.S. and Iran, and deepen the already ongoing conflict.

Israel defiantly followed up on Netanyahu and Lieberman’s pledges when it carried out a series of airstrikes against Hezbollah and the Syrian regime Sunday and Monday. The Sunday strike, carried out by an Israeli drone, killed a pro-regime soldier with reported deep ties to Assad.

Israel appears likely to continue its air campaign and Assad increasingly appears emboldened after his victory in the city of Aleppo. This stance could put the two, and their global allies at war.

Follow Saagar Enjeti on Twitter

World Shrugs as Hizballah Prepares Massive Civilian Deaths

by Noah Beck
Special to IPT News
March 21, 2017

Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah recently warned Israel that his Iran-backed terror group could attack targets producing mass Israeli casualties, including a huge ammonia storage tank in Haifa, and a nuclear reactor in Dimona.

Also last month, Tower Magazine reported that, since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, Iran provided Hizballah with a vast supply of “game-changing,” state-of-the art weapons, despite Israel’s occasional airstrikes against weapons convoys.

In a future conflict, Hizballah has the capacity to fire 1,500 rockets into Israel each day, overwhelming Israel’s missile defense systems. Should such a scenario materialize, Israel will be forced to respond with unprecedented firepower to defend its own civilians.

Hizballah’s advanced weapons and the systems needed to launch them reportedly are embedded across a staggering 10,000 locations in the heart of more than 200 civilian towns and villages. The Israeli military has openly warned about this Hizballah war crime and the grave threats it poses to both sides, but that alarm generated almost no attention from the global media, the United Nations, or other international institutions.

Like the terror group Hamas, Hizballah knows that civilian deaths at the hands of Israel are a strategic asset, because they produce diplomatic pressure to limit Israel’s military response. Hizballah reportedly went so far as offering reduced-price housing to Shiite families who allowed the terrorist group to store rocket launchers in their homes.

But if the global media, the UN, human rights organizations, and other international institutions predictably pounce on Israel after it causes civilian casualties, why are they doing nothing to prevent them? Hizballah’s very presence in southern Lebanon is a flagrant violation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1701, which called for the area to be a zone “free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons” other than the Lebanese military and the U.N. Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

The resolution also required Hizballah to be disarmed, but the terror group today has an arsenal that rivals that of most armies. Hizballah possesses an estimated 140,000 missiles and rockets, and reportedly now can manufacture advanced weapons in underground factories that are impervious to aerial attack.

“Israel must stress again and again, before it happens, that these villages [storing Hizballah weapons] have become military posts, and are therefore legitimate targets,” said Yoram Schweitzer, senior research fellow at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).

Meir Litvak, director of Tel Aviv University’s Alliance Center for Iranian Studies, agrees, adding that global attention would “expose Hizballah’s hypocrisy in its cynical use of civilians as… human shields.”

Even a concerted campaign to showcase Hizballah’s war preparation is unlikely to change things, said Eyal Zisser, a senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. Hizballah exploits the fact that “the international community is too busy and…weak to do something about it,” Zisser said. All of “these talks and reports have no meaning. See what is happening in Syria.”

Israel has targeted Hizballah-bound weapons caches in Syria twice during the past week. Syria responded last Friday by firing a missile carrying 200 kilograms of explosives, which Israel successfully intercepted.

If Hizballah provokes a war, Israel can legitimately attack civilian areas storing Hizballah arms if the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) first attempts to warn the targeted civilians to leave those areas, Litvak said. But “it will certainly be very difficult and will look bad on TV.”

While Sunni Arab states are generally united against the Shiite Iranian-Hizballah axis, Litvak, Zisser, and Schweitzer all agreed that Israel could hope for no more than silent support from them when the missiles fly.

Indeed, the “Sunni Arab street” is likely to be inflamed by the images of civilian death and destruction caused by Israel that international media will inevitably broadcast, further limiting support for Israel from Iran’s Sunni state foes.

Rather perversely, the Lebanese government has embraced the very terrorist organization that could cause hundreds of thousands of Lebanese civilian deaths by converting residential areas into war zones. “As long as Israel occupies land and covets the natural resources of Lebanon, and as long as the Lebanese military lacks the power to stand up to Israel, [Hizballah’s] arms are essential, in that they complement the actions of the army and do not contradict them,” President Michel Aoun told Egyptian television last month. Hizballah, he said, “has a complementary role to the Lebanese army.”

Aoun’s declaration means that Lebanon “takes full responsibility for all of Hizballah’s actions, including against Israel, and for their consequences to Lebanon and its entire population, even though the Lebanese government has little ability to actually control the organization’s decisions or policy,” said INSS Senior Research Fellow Assaf Orion.

MK Naftali Bennett, a veteran of Israel’s 2006 war with Hizballah, believes that Lebanon’s official acceptance of Hizballah and its policy of embedding military assets inside residential areas removes any constraints on Israeli targeting of civilian areas. “The Lebanese institutions, its infrastructure, airport, power stations, traffic junctions, Lebanese Army bases – they should all be legitimate targets if a war breaks out,” he said. “That’s what we should already be saying to them and the world now.”

In a future war, Hizballah is certain to try bombarding Israeli civilian communities with missile barrages. Israel, in response, will have to target missile launchers and weapons caches surrounded by Lebanese civilians.

But it need not be so. Global attention by journalists and diplomats on Hizballah’s abuses could lead to international pressure that ultimately reduces or even prevents civilian deaths.

Those truly concerned about civilians do not have a difficult case to make. Hizballah has shown a callous disregard for innocent life in Syria.

It helped the Syrian regime violently suppress largely peaceful protests that preceded the Syrian civil war in 2011. Last April, Hizballah and Syrian army troops reportedly killed civilians attempting to flee the Sunni-populated town of Madaya, near the Lebanese border. In 2008, its fighters seized control of several West Beirut neighborhoods and killed innocent civilians after the Lebanese government moved to shut down Hizballah’s telecommunication network.

Hizballah terrorism has claimed civilian lives for decades, including a 1994 suicide bombing at Argentina’s main Jewish center that killed 85 people. As the IDF notes, “Since 1982, hundreds of innocent civilians have lost their lives and thousands more have been injured thanks to Hizballah.”

If world powers and the international media genuinely care about avoiding civilian casualties, they should be loudly condemning Hizballah’s ongoing efforts – in flagrant violation of a UN resolution – to cause massive civilian death and destruction in Lebanon’s next war with Israel.

Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, an apocalyptic novel about Iranian nukes and other geopolitical issues in the Middle East.

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A leftist State Department official is publicly attacking President Trump on social media

Kambiz Hosseini | Wikimedia Commons

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, March 20, 2017:

Alan Eyre, a high-ranking State Department official known for his pro-Tehran, anti-Israel biases — and a key component of the Iran nuclear deal’s negotiating team— has been using his verified Twitter account to repost articles attacking President Trump, the man who he ultimately answers to.

The postings, shared below, are only a small snapshot of what Eyre has tweeted out over the past month and shared with his 100,000-plus followers. Some mock the president and question his intelligence and integrity (again, Eyre’s boss). Another post calls President Trump’s decisions “senseless” and “heartless.”

Eyre now works at the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources, within its Middle East/Asia department, according to his bio.

Under the Obama administration, Alan Eyre served as the State Department’s Persian language spokesperson. According to reports, he played a critical role in advancing the Iran nuclear deal, which resulted in a cash windfall for the terrorist regime in Tehran.

This is not the first time Eyre has been noticed engaging in controversial social media activities. In 2015, the Washington Free Beacon exposed that he had been promoting anti-Israel conspiracy theories.

From his personal Facebook page, Eyre published stories by anti-Semitic authors and fringe websites that “demonize American Jewish groups and Israel,” the report said. But that was at least from his personal page. His current stream of anti-Trump postings are being distributed from his verified public Twitter account.

As an Obama official, Eyre twice keynoted the annual conference of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a group that many Iranian dissidents and freedom fighters consider to be a front for the regime in Tehran. NIAC is led by Trita Parsi, an Iranian-Swedish national who reportedly acts as a the point of contact for top officials in Iran.

NIAC became very cozy with the Obama administration (Parsi visited the White House 33 times), and coordinated with it to sell Iran deal lies to the American people. In its hell-bent quest to push the deal, NIAC painted opponents of the agreement as “warmongers” and challenged the loyalties of American Jews to the country and president.

Eyre is not the only State Department official who has pushed for policies that directly contradict President Trump’s platform.

Chris Backemeyer currently serves as deputy assistant secretary for Iranian affairs under Secretary Rex Tillerson. He was intimately involved in pushing for the Iran deal and misled the American people about where billions of dollars for the Tehran regime had gone.

Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, an essential advocate for Obama’s Iran deal, is currently in charge of Iran and the Persian Gulf on Secretary Tillerson’s policy planning staff.

And Michael Ratney, who oversaw a group that campaigned to oust Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was one of John Kerry’s closest confidants. He’s now in charge of the Israeli-Palestinian portfolio at the Department of State.

Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for CR. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel. 

Mattis seeks out Soros-funded think tanker for top Pentagon post

Ralph Alswang | Flickr

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, March 22, 2017:

Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis wants to nominate a senior fellow at a Soros-funded think tank as undersecretary at the Pentagon, as the embattled Cabinet official continues to clash with the White House over prospective nominees.

Politico reports that Mattis wants Rudy deLeon — a senior fellow at the far-left Center for American Progress (CAP) — to come on board as undersecretary for personnel and readiness.

DeLeon previously served in the Clinton administration as deputy secretary of defense. During that time, Gen. Mattis served as his senior military assistant.

DeLeon worked for Boeing as senior vice president from 2001 to 2006 and currently serves on the board of major defense company General Dynamics.

This appears to be a peculiar choice for an undersecretary, given that deLeon recently endorsed a letter opposing the president’s immigration moratorium from six terror-linked countries. The letter calls Trump’s national security order “beneath the dignity of our great nation” and advised government workers to apply “discretion,” in an attempt to essentially undermine the president’s initiative.

As a CAP official, he has engaged in campaigns to advance “progressive values.” deLeon advocates for government to take “steps that will be a lasting legacy to the progressive societies for decades to come.” He is also a proponent of President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal with the terror state in Tehran.

DeLeon’s employer is funded by fringe leftist billionaire George Soros. It was co-founded and run by John Podesta, a longtime Obama and Clinton operative. Moreover, CAP is currently funding a “Resist” campaign to undermine the president’s agenda.

Why Sec. Mattis continues to vouch for Obama- and Clinton-era officials to run the Pentagon remains a controversial topic in D.C. Several Republicans are said to be growing frustrated with the retired general’s unwillingness to promote ideological allies of conservatives to top Pentagon posts.

Mattis has attempted to nominate Anne Patterson — the former ambassador to Egypt who became cozy with the Muslim Brotherhood — as one of his deputies, until the White House quashed the idea. Mattis also intended to hire Michele Flournoy, an Obama Pentagon official who co-founded the left-leaning Center for a New American Security, as a top official at the Defense Department.

Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for CR. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel

Smearing Trump’s national-security braintrust

Donald Trump and Sebastian Gorka. Reuters; Getty Images

New York Post, by Paul Sperry, March 21, 2017:

No, Sebastian Gorka is not a goose-stepping Nazi.

This was a revelation to the writers and editors of The Forward, who all but accused him of being one last week, and to the publications that picked up and spread this juicy story before it was debunked by Liel Liebovitz at Tablet magazine. (At issue was whether Gorka is a secret member of a Hungarian group that collaborated with Nazis during World War II. He categorically denies it.)

The personal attacks aimed at Gorka and Michael Anton, both key national-security aides to President Trump, aren’t the only false stories in the left’s smear campaign against these two.

They have been painted in outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Politico and The Atlantic as Islamophobic hardliners hellbent on dragging us into more Mideast wars. But that bears little resemblance to their writing, which the Trump haters haven’t bothered to explore in any depth.

A closer reading of their voluminous writings reveals a cold-eyed realism about global affairs vs. the wild-eyed “extremism” portrayed by the media.

Gorka has cautioned against using “inflammatory” religious terms to describe even terrorism done in the name of Islam, arguing in his largely overlooked Ph.D. dissertation that it offends “law-abiding Muslims everywhere.” Also in his 240-page dissertation, Gorka calls a policy of exporting democracy “totally wrong-headed,” especially in the Middle East. “Any notion that concepts of democracy are universal must be discarded.”

“There is much evidence beyond the core tenets of the Quran and the Muslim world that suggests that our culture has been consciously rejected by other parts of the globe,” he explained, adding that promoting our brand of democracy in those regions often leads to “instability.”

Gorka, whose father was tortured by the Communists as a Hungarian freedom fighter, calls the harsh US interrogation techniques used against Iraqi prisoners a “scandal.” Abu Ghraib, he wrote in 2007, “has provided grist to the mills of the propaganda machine of Salafists.”

Anton, meanwhile, has argued for a middle path between “paleo-isolationism and neocon overreach.”

“Among the many reasons to be hopeful about President Trump’s foreign policy is that he seems to understand that correcting the errors of the neo-interventionists does not require adopting those of the paleo-isolationists,” Anton argues in the current issue of American Affairs Journal.

Both he and Gorka part ways with isolationists like Pat Buchanan when it comes to dealing with Iran. They agree it’s in America’s interest to intervene to deny Tehran nukes. But toppling dictators simply for the sake of promoting democracy is a fool’s errand, the two realists argue.

“In some regions, democracy also correlates highly with instability, which breeds war and chaos that are antithetical to American interests,” Anton writes, adding that opening elections often installs tyrannies worse than what preceded the “democracy” (as with Hamas in the West Bank and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt).

When it comes to battling global terrorism, Gorka knows that “we cannot realistically hope for a perfect victory” against jihadists. At the same time, he asserts that we have to do more than the “whack-a-mole” strategy of the past eight years. The ISIS “caliphate” proves the folly of such a reactionary approach.

Victory demands a more comprehensive strategy, starting with recognizing the connection between Islam and terrorism. While “we are not at war with Islam,” says Gorka, who studied theology at the University of London, our jihadist enemy is using Islamic doctrine to justify its actions. Key to defeating it is understanding that threat doctrine.

A cohesive strategy also means preventing ISIS and other terrorist groups from using our immigration policy as a Trojan Horse to sneak jihadists inside our borders.

Anton, who holds two masters degrees and worked previously (2001-05) at the National Security Council, calls “terrorism and mass illegal immigration” the “two biggest threats of our time.” He’s right, and adjusting foreign policy to respond to them is hardly “xenophobic.” As he notes, “The first priority of every state is to protect its own safety and the safety of its citizens.”

For nearly a decade, Islamofascists have been on the ascendancy around the world. Acts of jihadist terror, aided by liberal immigration policies, have multiplied in Europe. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the most vocal critics of the Trump Doctrine and its architects are the architects or cheerleaders of the failed doctrine it seeks to replace.

Paul Sperry, a former Hoover Institution fellow, is author of several books on national security.

Obama Admin Loyalists, Government Insiders Sabotage Trump White House

Former admin planted series of landmines to subvert Trump team

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam  Kredo, March 22, 2017:

The Obama administration worked in its final weeks in office to undermine the incoming Trump White and continues to do so, according to multiple sources both in and out of the White House.

Behind the effort, these sources say, are senior government officials who previously worked under President Obama and remain loyal to his agenda. These individuals leak negative information about the Trump White House and its senior staff to a network of former Obama administration officials who then plant this information in key media outlets including the Washington Post and New York Times.

Meanwhile, holdovers from the Obama administration are working to undermine the Trump administration’s agenda through efforts to alter official communications, a number of administration officials confirmed in conversations with the Washington Free Beacon.

Multiple sources expressed concern over what they described as an unprecedented effort by the former administration to subvert President Donald Trump’s team. These sources would only speak on background because they were not officially authorized to publicly discuss the situation, which is said to have fostered a level of discomfort and distrust in the West Wing.

The Free Beacon first reported on several portions of this effort earlier this year, including separate campaigns to undermine current CIA Director Mike Pompeo and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, both of whom were subjected to leaks aimed at undermining their credibility.

“We have members of the former administration at the highest levels who through their actions after January 20 have demonstrated their refusal to recognize the results of the general election,” one senior administration official told the Free Beacon. “They have pursued, organized, and managed a comprehensive subversion of the new administration.”

In one instance, Trump administration officials found evidence that the administration’s executive order banning travel from certain Muslim-majority nations had been selectively altered to bring it more in line with Obama-era talking points.

Several hours before the orders were set to be signed by Trump, officials noticed that language concerning “radical Islamic terrorism” had been stripped from the order and replaced with Obama-era language about countering violent extremism.

West Wing staffers quickly scrambled to rewrite the order to bring it back in line with Trump’s rhetoric, sources told the Free Beacon. The alteration of these directives is said to have spooked some senior officials working on the issue.

A series of targeted leaks also has fostered concerns that Obama administration holdovers are seeking to handicap the new administration.

Several weeks before his resignation, former national security adviser Flynn requested staff assemble an in-house phonebook that included contact information for senior White House staff. Before Flynn signed off on the effort, the phonebook was leaked to the press.

Additionally, the previous administration permitted staff to accrue substantial amounts of vacation time in its last year in office. As soon as team Trump entered the White House, it was obligated to pay out all of these hours. White House sources say the cost was in the millions of dollars.

The payout prevented the Trump White House from hiring key staff in its opening days due to insufficient funds, according to those familiar with the situation. Flynn, for instance, was able to hire only 22 people to work on the White House National Security Council, which topped around 420 staffers under Obama.

“They put landmines everywhere,” according to one senior administration official.

Outside of the White House, meanwhile, a team of former Obama administration officials is working to subvert Trump’s agenda.

Former Obama administration officials such as Ben Rhodes, the architect of Obama’s pro-Iran press operation, and Colin Kahl, a senior national security adviser to former Vice President Joe Biden, have engaged in public efforts to “purge” the current White House of officials they disagree with.

Earlier this month, Kahl admitted on Twitter that he is seeking to provoke the firings of Trump’s handpicked team “in the West Wing,” including senior advisers Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Sebastian Gorka, and NSC leaders Michael Anton and KT McFarland.

As part of this effort, Kahl, Rhodes, and others have leaked damaging stories about these officials to allies in the media.

The latest target, Gorka, has been falsely accused of being a Nazi sympathizer and an Islamophobe. The campaign against Flynn unfolded in a similar manner and sources who spoke to the Free Beacon about the matter speculated that these leaks will continue.

“They have a network of journalists for whom they have served as sources and they have fed stuff to these journalists,” one senior U.S. official told the Free Beacon. “That’s what pretty obviously is going on. I’ve never seen this happen before. I’ve never heard of it happening throughout history.”

Putting the current White House in a permanent state of defense is a key objective of this strategy, according to one senior Republican foreign policy operative who is close to the White House.

“Part of this campaign, of course, was the media operation of selective leaks, many of which were illegal and directly targeted the staff and officials of the incoming Trump administration,” the source said.

This targeted media campaign is similar to the method used by Rhodes and others to push the Iran nuclear deal.

“You can tell what’s clearly going on because many of the same media outlets who formed crucial parts of Ben Rhodes’ Iran Deal ‘echo chamber’ are springing to launch coordinated attacks on Sebastian Gorka today,” said one longtime political consultant who is close to the White House NSC. “The way it works is, one highly partisan journalist goes out on a limb in dishonestly characterizing the target. That dishonest story is used to build on the next, in which the original lie is taken as fact, and then repeated in an echo chamber until it becomes conventional wisdom.”

Erdogan’s Caliphate Threatens NATO

The American Spectator, by Jed Babbin, March 21, 2017:

Among NATO’s most serious problems is Recip Erdogan, the president of Turkey. He is more than a political nuisance, because he threatens both the commitment of NATO’s members to defend each other and the Westernized composition of the nation he leads.

In the last half of the 19th century, under the Ottoman Empire’s last caliph Abdulmejid, Turkey was known as “the sick man of Europe.” Abdulmejid’s government was corrupt, dissolute, and entirely vulnerable. That third element led to the Gallipoli Campaign, which, in 1915-1916, saw troops from Australia and New Zealand under British command thwarted in their attempt to land and seize control of the Dardanelles.

One Turkish officer, Mustafa Kemal, found himself at the center of the invasion force. His counterattacks and ability to hold ground were the reasons the invasion failed.

After the war, when the Ottoman Empire fell and Abdulmejid’s reign ended, Mustafa Kemal became the leader of Turkey who was not as much followed as worshiped. In 1934, Mustafa Kemal became known as “Ataturk,” father of Turks. He remade the Islamic Ottoman state into a secular, non-Islamic nation aimed at joining the Western world.

Eighty-three years later, Turkey is led by a man whose principal goal is the re-creation of the Turkish Islamic state, Recip Erdogan.

Erdogan is not a dictator imposed by a military coup (though Turkey has had its share of them). He is highly popular, despite his many despotic actions, primarily because the Turks seem to have forgotten the reason for Ataturk’s success.

If you examine Erdogan’s past, it is no surprise that he is an Islamist. Erdogan is the product of a Turkish imam-hatip school. These are Islamic religious schools that aren’t quite the “madrassas” we’ve heard so much about since 9/11, but they are much like them. The imam-hatip schools reserve 30 percent of their students’ time for religious instruction. They teach Sunni Islamic law — Sharia law — as the exclusive legitimate source of authority. Those schools teach the political ideology we refer to as radical Islam.

Erdogan repeatedly has made clear his allegiance to radical Islam again and again throughout his presidency. He became prime minister in 2002 and has ruled the country ever since. His presidency, which began in 2014, is about to be converted into a pseudo-caliphate by a constitutional referendum that will be voted on next month.

Since Ataturk, the Turkish army has had the duty of maintaining the secularism of the Turkish state. It has had its successes and failures, but as Ataturk recognized, Turkey cannot be an Islamic state and a Western ally. For decades, many (if not most) Turkish officers have been trained in the U.S. and England and have been assigned to officer exchange programs that enabled them to serve with American forces.

From Korea to Afghanistan, Turkish troops have been a strong presence in NATO deployments. Gradually, since 2002, Erdogan has been weeding out non-Islamists from the Turkish armed forces. Graduates of the imam-hatip schools weren’t permitted to become officers in the Turkish army, but that may soon change. Erdogan has said those schools are “the hope of Turkey and the entire Muslim nation.”

Last July’s attempted coup against Erdogan sealed the Turkish army’s fate. Hundreds of non-Islamist senior officers were purged from the military. They and the journalists taken prisoner are among the more than 200,000 people arrested and (or) fired from their jobs in Erdogan’s response to the coup attempt.

Erdogan’s hopes lie in the referendum that will be voted on in April. It’s likely to be approved by the voters. In sum, the constitutional amendments it contains concentrate all executive power in the president and extend his legal term in office for at least another decade.

The referendum has been the source of Turkey’s recent conflict with Germany and Holland. About 1.5 million Turkish citizens live in Germany, but that doesn’t count the numbers who have come as refugees in the past two years. Turks make up the largest alien population in Germany.

At least 400,000 Turks live in Holland. Again, that number doesn’t reflect how many entered in the refugee floods of 2015-2016. All told, about four million ethnic Turks live in the EU nations.

Because those Turkish citizens can vote in the Turkish referendum, Erdogan is eager to get their votes. When he sent Turkish government representatives to hold rallies in Germany, several German cities wouldn’t allow the rallies to be held. Erdogan said the Germans were behaving like Nazis.

Holland went further, banning two Turkish government ministers from entering the country to hold such rallies. Erdogan accused the Dutch of Nazi-like behavior.

Relations are worsening by the day between the EU nations — almost all of which are NATO members — and Turkey. Last year, the EU entered into an agreement with Turkey to stop the flow of refugees from the Middle East and Africa. The EU promised to grant visa-free travel to Turkish citizens, which it hasn’t done based on Turkey’s poor human rights record. Now, Erdogan is threatening to open the floodgates to another million or more refugees to enter the EU. He has threatened to send Europe 15,000 refugees every month.

Last month, in a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Erdogan held a joint press conference in which Merkel referred to “Islamic terrorism.” Erdogan, furious at her statement, insisted that “Islam is peace.”

Turkey has been — in strategic and literal terms — a cornerstone of NATO. But Erdogan’s actions have been entirely inconsistent with that role. He negotiated an agreement with Russia’s President Putin to build a gas pipeline to and through Turkey to reach back into Europe. That’s not nearly the worst of it.

For more than a year, Turkey has reportedly been quietly supporting ISIS. It may have supplied money, arms, and troops. Erdogan has sided with Russia and may have a pseudo-alliance with Putin to help keep Bashar al-Assad in power in Syria. Turkish forces have made attacks against ISIS, but they have concentrated their firepower more on the Kurdish forces with which we are allied.

Last week, Erdogan blocked military exercises with NATO “partner” nations. He is evidently willing to continue to escalate his conflicts with NATO, believing there will be no response, because he has the EU over a barrel on the refugee issue.

Also last week, the Turkish foreign minister, reacting to the Dutch election, said that “holy wars will soon begin” in Europe. Shortly after that, Erdogan gave a speech in which he discussed the EU court ruling that allows EU nations to ban the wearing of the Muslim hijab by women. He said, “Shame on the EU. Down with your European principles, values and justice. They started a clash between the cross and the crescent, there is no other explanation.”

The “cross and the crescent” reference was nothing less than an accusation that the EU was reviving the Crusades.

There is no provision in the NATO treaty that permits throwing a member nation out of NATO. Turkey no longer makes a pretense of being a democratic state. As the Islamic state it has become, it cannot coexist with democracies.

Erdogan’s Turkey has been, for decades, trying to join the EU. It has apparently given up trying and is now more an ally of Russia than part of NATO. That was made most clear, after the July coup when Erdogan cut off electricity to our Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey. Two months ago, Erdogan’s government hinted that he would shut the base down after we refused to support Turkish attacks in Syria.

Incirlik has been our key to the Middle East. Aircraft operating from there can quickly reach Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and pretty much the whole region. If Erdogan tried to shut the base down, it would be very tough to find another base location in the area, and it would cost billions to set it up to function as Incirlik does.

Threatening to cut off our foreign aid won’t be effective because Turkey gets only about $200,000 a year from us. It’s a trifle. Threatening Turkey could bring about a closer Turkish-Russian alliance.

What to do? President Trump has to make it clear to Erdogan that any further interference with Incirlik’s operations will not be tolerated.

Our leverage is not entirely limited. Mr. Trump can begin by turning up the rhetorical heat on Erdogan, saying that NATO cannot tolerate his failure to cooperate and urging the EU to keep the door closed to refugees. Erdogan’s threats to use the refugees as a weapon against NATO nations should be viewed as a breach of the NATO treaty.

At some point, Erdogan’s actions will be a clear breach of the EU treaty. We’re not there yet, but Mr. Trump can and should hint that we’re thinking in those terms.

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U.S. Raid in Yemen Led to Laptop Ban on Flights, Officials Say

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY THE DAILY BEAST

Intel sources fear Al Qaeda can make bombs as small as computer batteries, provoking the ban on carry-on electronics at sensitive foreign airports.

Daily Beast, by JANA WINTER and CLIVE IRVING, March 21, 2017:

Three intelligence sources told The Daily Beast that the ban on carry-on electronics aboard U.S.-bound flights from 10 airports in North Africa and the Middle East was the result of information seized during a U.S. raid on Al Qaeda in Yemen in January. The United Kingdom joined the U.S. ban Tuesday.

Information from the raid shows al Qaeda’s successful development of compact, battery bombs that fit inside laptops or other devices believed to be strong enough to bring down an aircraft, the sources said. The battery bombs would need to be manually triggered, a source explained, which is why the electronics ban is only for the aircraft cabin not checked luggage.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security publicly cited two attacks on flights in the last two years, the downing of a Russian jet over the Egyptian Sinai in October 2015 and an attempt that nearly succeeded in bringing down a jet that had taken off from Mogadishu, Somalia last year and made an emergency landing after an explosion ripped open its cabin. The insurgent group Al-Shababb claimed credit for getting a laptop onboard the flight that had been rigged as a bomb.

“Since they weren’t high enough, the explosion wasn’t catastrophic to the plane and they were able to land,” one source told The Daily Beast. “The bomber got sucked out of the hole, but it was proof of concept.”

The chief bomb maker for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Ibrahim al-Asiri, has been working on packing even smaller devices, the source added.

“You might recall they brought down UPS Flight 6 in 2010 with a bomb hidden inside a copier cartridge,” the source said.

The problem with this theory is that it implies that the security screening of electronic devices at the 10 airports is no better than at the airport in a failed state like Somalia. The pilot of the Airbus A320 involved in that incident said of that airport: “the security is zero.” Airport employees had conspired with the bomber to get the laptop through security.

One source said the foreign countries included in the ban were selected because of their exposure to al Qaeda groups and members who might try to bring a battery bomb on a plane heading for the U.S.

Egyptian intelligence officials were briefed over the weekend, according to one source, and have long been concerned about another plane departing from Cairo being brought down like the Metrojet plane in Oct. 2015. And there is another disaster, EgyptAir Flight 804, from Paris Charles De Gaulle airport to Cairo in May that crashed into the eastern Mediterranean and killed 66 people.

The crash has subsequently been shrouded in mystery. In December the Egyptian authorities announced that a criminal investigation had been opened. They had had six months in which to analyze data from the airplane’s two flight recorders recovered from the wreck. But there was a dispute between the Egyptian and French about the cause. The French air crash investigators said that it was not possible at that stage to draw conclusions about the origin of the accident.

It is known from data transmitted from the Airbus A320 as it spiraled down from its cruise height of 37,000 feet that it suffered a rapid cascade of failures, beginning with an electrical problem in the cockpit. This escalated into a fire in the electronics bay below the cockpit that effectively fried the computers controlling the flight.

There were indications that the disastrous sequence started with some kind of explosion in the passenger toilet immediately above the electronics bay and behind the cockpit. Video taken of the wreck showed heat damage beneath the cockpit.

Before leaving Paris the airplane had flown from Asmara in Eritrea, to Cairo and then onward to Tunis and Paris. That means that investigators would be looking at the possibility of an explosive device being placed on the airplane at any of those airports.

In early March, a Russian passenger on a Turkish Airways flight from Alexandria to Istanbul was arrested after an improvised explosive was found in his luggage, according to a DHS alert in early March citing Egyptian media.

The gravity of the move had been underscored by the political response to it. Representative Adam Schiff, Californian Democrat and ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a statement:

“Over the weekend I received an additional briefing by the Department of Homeland Security and I fully support the new security precautions. These steps are both necessary and proportional to the threat.”

The most consequential impact of the new measures will be on the three airlines operating out of the Persian Gulf states: Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways. In the last decade there has been a major transformation of the connections between inter-continental airline routes. Led by Emirates from their hub in Dubai this has put the three airlines in a dominant position to connect flights from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe and, significantly, to directly fly passengers from those regions to the United States.

Moreover, these airlines have set new standards of service, particularly for business class passengers. Anyone flying business class with these carriers finds the cabins glowing with the glare from many laptops as workaholic executives and managers use their flight time to catch up on work.

The three major U.S. international carriers, Delta, American and United, have found themselves left with fleets of older airplanes that can’t match the quality of cabin amenities of the Gulf airlines, who use latest generation jets like the Airbus A380 super jumbo and the Airbus A350. Over the last few years those airlines have pushed into major U.S. business centers like New York, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and Seattle – scooping up, for example, major players in the energy and tech industries.

Craig Jenks, President of a New York base consultancy, Airline/Aircraft projects, pointed out that the ban’s effects reach far beyond the named airports.

In particular, Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways all have a high volume of passengers originating in Indian cities. Among these are many in high tech industries flying on from hubs in the Gulf directly to U.S. tech business centers like San Francisco, Seattle, Boston and New York.

“Now, all of a sudden, you arrive at a Gulf airport headed for San Francisco with your light carry-on and you discover, no laptop on board nor even while in transit at the hub. Intentionally or not, this is a negative for the Gulf carriers,” Jenkins said.

Now that the ban has been joined by the UK, which has said that passengers on 14 airlines would not be able to carry laptops into the cabin of direct flights to London from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia, the disruption to business travelers has become even more widespread.

Air travel remains a priority target for terrorists. And, once more, the mere threat of terror attacks has proved itself as costly, at least in economic impact, as the act of terror.

For example, one recent casualty has been Turkish Airlines. In 2015 it was following the Gulf airlines’ model to exploit the strategic location of Istanbul as a hub for the Middle East and Africa. In that year it made a profit of $872 million. Last year that became a loss of $463 million. Two events, a terror attack on Istanbul airport and the failed coup in July, as well as fear of new terror attacks, have put the airline into a financial crisis. Istanbul is on both the U.S. and U.K. list of airports covered by the new ban.

Electronic Devices to be Banned in Cabin on Certain U.S.-Bound Flights

A Qatari passenger walks to the check-in area inside Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, on May 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Osama Faisal)

PJ Media, by Bridget Johnson, March 21, 2017:

Two affected airlines leaked the news Monday that the United States will announce a ban on electronic devices other than a cell phone in cabins of U.S.-bound flights from several Middle Eastern and African countries.

Royal Jordanian tweeted that all such devices, including laptops, handheld video games, cameras and tablets, would have to be put in checked baggage starting today. The airline then deleted the message, subsequently tweeting, “Further updates will be announced soon regarding #electronicsban.” Saudi Airlines also posted an announcement with the new guidelines, adding Kindles to the banned list, and the kingdom’s official news agency reported on it as well.

Citing an unnamed U.S. official, the Associated Press reported that the indefinite ban will apply to nonstop flights from international airports in Cairo, Amman, Kuwait City, Casablanca, Doha, Riyadh, Jeddah, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The rules won’t apply to U.S. airlines coming from the Middle East, but only foreign carriers coming from affected countries.

The Transportation Security Administration reportedly was in charge of disseminating the new rules. There was reportedly early confusion about whether flight crews are affected under the ban as well.

A federal official, who said the ban was in response to an unspecified threat assessment, told NBC News that Royal Jordanian leaked the news too early, and may not have relayed the details correctly.

The Department of Homeland Security had not issued any release on the guidelines; a spokesman told the Guardian that “we have no comment on potential security precautions, but will provide any update as appropriate.” An official announcement is now expected today, the same day the rules go into effect.

Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN on Monday evening that his panel had not been briefed on the ban or reason behind it, but “the Department of Homeland Security is looking at this issue.”

“We do all know from other news reports of not just about this, that there has been some concern for some time about electronic items being used to hide explosive devices and their threats to airline traffic,” Turner said.

The congressman added, “When you look at, you know, how, you know, those who seek to do us home have progressed, everything from the shoe bomber forward, you know, this is all about getting the intelligence we need, applying it to, you know, the type of protections and interventions that we can do, and then trying to lessen that threat and this certainly sounds like it can be part of that.”

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U.S. Bans Laptops, Tablets from Cabins on Flights from Middle East – Breitbart

Washington (AFP) – The United States warned Tuesday that extremists plan to target passenger jets with bombs hidden in electronic devices, and banned carrying them onto flights from 10 Middle East airports.

Senior US officials told reporters that nine airlines from eight countries had been given 96 hours, beginning at 3:00 am (0700 GMT), to ban devices bigger than a cellphone or smartphone from the cabin.

Laptops, tablets and portable game consoles are affected by the ban — which applies to direct flights to the United States — but they may still be stowed in the hold in checked baggage.

Passengers on approximately 50 flights per day from some of the busiest hubs in the Middle East, Turkey and North Africa will be obliged to follow the new emergency ruling.

“The restrictions are in place due to evaluated intelligence and we think it’s the right thing to do and the right places to do it to secure the safety of the traveling public,” one US official said.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, refused to discuss the “intelligence information” that led the Transportation Security Administration to issue the order.

But one said that concerns had been “heightened by several successful events and attacks on passenger lanes and airports over the last years.”

– No end date –

The official would not go into detail about which attacks had raised fears, but did cite an incident from February of last year in which suspected Somali Islamists blew a hole in the side of Daallo Airlines passenger jet with a small device. Only the bomber was killed and the plane landed safely.

CNN quoted a US official as saying the ban was believed to be related to a threat posed by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, known as AQAP.

“Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items,” an official said.

The airports touched by the ban are Queen Alia International in Amman, Jordan; Cairo International in Egypt; Ataturk in Istanbul, Turkey; King Abdulaziz International in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; King Khalid International in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Kuwait International; Mohammed V International in Casablanca, Morocco; Hamad International in Doha, Qatar; and the Dubai and Abu Dhabi airports in the United Arab Emirates.

No US carriers make direct flights from these airports, so they are unaffected by the ban, which will hit Royal Jordanian, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways.

The airlines and their host governments have already been informed of the order by US officials, and some of them have begun informing passengers about the restriction.

Airlines will be responsible for policing the cabin ban, and if they fail to do so could lose their rights to operate US routes.

No end date has been put on the order, and officials would not say whether the restriction might spread to other airports.