A Game of Chicken in the Gulf of Aden

shipsNER, by Jerry Gordon and Ilana Freedman, April 24, 2015:

On the morning of April 21, 2015,   newspapers and media reporters trumpeted a headline that the Saudis were ending their month long air campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen.  The halt reflected concerns of the Obama Administration over the deteriorating situation in Yemen and the increasing role of Iran. The operation, named “Decisive Resolve”, allegedly led by the Saudi coalition with US administration backing, had destroyed a missile base, armored vehicles, and planes held by Houthi forces. The Houthi militias were allegedly allied with Yemeni strongman and former president of Yemen for over thirty years, 73-year old Ali Abdullah Saleh.  Saleh, who has survived political isolation, sanctions, civil war, and assassin attempts, created an alliance with the Houthis, his former enemies, in a bid to return to power in Yemen. Latest reports indicate that Saleh has left Yemen, perhaps to join party members in discussions with Saudi Arabia and coalition members of the Gulf Cooperation Council about resolving the conflict.

Saudi Air Strikes in Yemen WSJ 4-22-15

Since the Saudi air strikes began on March 26, more than 1,000 civilians have been killed. The Saudis were seeking to restore the internationally-recognized and US-backed President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who served as president of Yemen from February 2012 until January 2015, when he was forced to resign after Houthi rebels raided his home and put him under house arrest. He subsequently escaped and fled to Saudi Arabia just as the Kingdom-led coalition began an air campaign against Houthi rebels on March 26, 2015.

Only hours after the first announcement of the cessation of Saudi air strikes, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Washington Adel al-Jubeir appeared at an Embassy press conference to announce the resumption of limited air attacks.  The Ambassador told reporters:

The Houthis should be under no illusion that we will continue to use force in order to stop them from taking Yemen over by aggressive action. We are determined to protect the Yemeni people and counter any aggressive moves that the Houthis may undertake. When the Houthis or their allies make aggressive moves there will be a response. The decision to calm matters now rests entirely with them.

In view of continued Houthi fighting in the central city of Taiz and against secessionist forces in Aden on the southern coast. This phase of the Saudi operation in Yemen was named “Renewal of Hope”, and was launched amid reports that the Houthis have surrounded the city of Aden on three sides.  In a later press conference on April 22nd, al-Jubeir said, “We will not allow them to take Yemen by force.”

The Houthis quickly put out a statement seeking the lifting of Saudi air and naval operations, and offering to hold political talks under UN auspices.  The defiant Houthi threatened to invade Saudi Arabia if the bombing continues.

A flotilla of nine Iranian vessels, seven commercial vessels escorted by two Iranian frigates, exited the Persian Gulf slow steaming down the Sea of Arabia towards a rendezvous in the Gulf of Aden. Nine US vessels were already positioned there. Nevertheless, that group has been joined by the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), an aircraft carrier capable of carrying 90 F/A-18 fighter jets and helicopters. The Roosevelt was accompanied by the USS Normandy (CG-60), a guided-missile escort ship. They came from the Fifth Fleet base in Bahrain in the Gulf, presumably to shadow the Iranian flotilla.

The Saudis, with the aid of Egyptian naval vessels, have established a virtual blockade of Yemen preventing deliveries of food, civilian goods, and weapons from Houthi ally, Iran.   The UN Security Council passed a resolution barring the supply of advanced missiles to Yemen.

Pentagon Chief Ashton Carter made his first comments on the dispatch of the US carrier and guided missile cruiser to the Arabian Sea while on a trip to California.  Carter told them that “he was not prepared to say whether the U.S. would be willing to forcibly stop and board one of the Iranian ships if it tries to cross into Yemen.”  Further, he said:

We have options. We’re not at that point. We’re at the point of trying to get the parties back to the table.

Still, he said the U.S. is making it clear to Iran that “obviously fanning the flames or contributing to it by any party is not welcome to us.”

President Obama in an MSNBC interview said:

Right now, their ships are in international waters. What we’ve said to them is that if there are weapons delivered to factions within Yemen that could threaten navigation, that’s a problem. And we’re not sending them obscure messages — we send them very direct messages about it.

On the other hand, senior defense and military officials told NBC News that American warships were prepared to intercept the convoy of Iranian ships, because they were suspected of carrying weapons to Houthi rebel forces in Yemen.

Several versions of their mission have already been floated by various government offices. The White House, Pentagon and State Department have issued statements to the effect the US carrier battle group is there to monitoring sea lanes. White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said, “the principle goal is to maintain freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in the Gulf of Aden and in the Red Sea”.

On the other hand, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren suggested that there could be a flight of refugees across the narrow Bab al Mandab that separates Yemen from the horn of Africa. The US naval vessels might be conveniently positioned to prevent a disaster similar to the one last weekend in the Mediterranean that witnessed over 700 people attempting to flee from war-torn Libya, drowned when the overloaded fishing boat capsized.

The stories may be inconsistent, but one thing is clear. If history is any measure, the Iranian flotilla is certain to be carrying weapons and supplies to aid the Houthi forces, not the humanitarian assistance they claim is to alleviate the Saudi and Egyptian blockade of Yemeni ports.  The US administration has been clear that the shadowing US naval forces have not been given orders to enable them to hail and board Iranian vessels. They are concerned that boarding the Iranian ships might create an incident that could threaten a successful outcome in the ongoing nuclear in which President Obama and  Secretary of State Kerry have invested so much effort. The negotiations the Administration appears committed to closing a deal offering so-called signing bonuses of $30 to 50 billion in release of oil revenues.

These statements by Pentagon and Administration spokespersons reflect the quandary in which the Administration now finds itself, and they can’t seem to get their story straight.  In the midst of problematic negotiations on a possible nuclear agreement with Iran, which the Administration appears to want to complete at all costs, the US is also allegedly backing Saudi Arabia with both intelligence and weapons in the fight against the Iran-backed Houthi.  The American position in this conflict is far from clear.

One possibility not mentioned in any of the media is the possibility that the American presence is neither to stop the Iranian ships, nor to board them, but to keep the other countries’ naval officers from boarding them. The purpose of this mission would be to maintain our nuclear negotiations with Iran moving forward without the suggestion of our threatening them in another theater.

The situation in the region is extremely complicated and America’s mission there is uncertain. While appearing to support the Saudi position, the US has also provided intelligence to the Houthi, ostensibly to ward off threat of a resurgent AQAP. And while appearing to be a deterrent to Iranian arms delivery to the Houthis, the massive American presence on the scene may be, in fact, a deterrent to other ships whose mission is to board the Iranian cargo ships should they approach the port in Aden.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is existentially concerned about Iranian expansion of its hegemony into Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, where Iranian Quds Force and Revolutionary Guard “consultants’ have been active in expanding their control. In Iraq, they have been training Shia militia in the war against the Islamic State.

In response to the Iranian threat, Saudi Arabia has undertaken action to subjugate the restive Shia majority in Bahrain, home port for the US Fifth Fleet, and in the oil rich Eastern Province with a large Shia population.  The Saudis are spending billions to complete security fences on its northern and Southern borders, and the Kingdom has reportedly mobilized 150,000 troops for possible action in Yemen.

The situation is the Arabian Sea is fluid. The latest reports indicate that despite the strong words from Iran, their ships have now turned around and are heading back toward the Strait of Hormuz. At this writing, they are reported to be heading east in the Arabian Sea, south of Salalah, Oman.

Failed US Policy    Less than a year ago, President Obama hailed Yemen as a foreign policy ‘success’ story in its drone campaign against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. But with the fall of Yemen’s capital Sana’a to Houthi forces and the flight of ousted President Hadi to Saudi Arabia, the vacuum in the country has been filled by open conflict between Sunni tribes loyal to AQAP, those units loyal to Hadi, and secessionist forces in Aden. America’s precipitous and humiliating departure from Yemen was more than proof that our policy had been anything but successful.

Effectively Yemen is a failed state.  When the mobs attacked it, the US Embassy closed in panic, leaving 4,000 American citizens stranded in a country that was rapidly falling into chaos and bloody fighting. The US special operations contingent decamped to Camp Lemonnier across the Bab al Mandab at AFRICOM headquarters in Djibouti.  The former US special ops Yemen bases were overrun and destroyed. Without local intelligence from within Yemen, the counterterrorism drone campaign against the AQAP was effectively been shut down.

The current game of chicken on the high seas in the Gulf of Aden is a dangerous one, not the least because it is difficult to understand what the end game is supposed to be. The problem now is that the Iranian Ayatollah and his Revolutionary Guards commanders may relish such a confrontation with the US, Saudi and Egyptian naval contingents to see who would blink first in the game of chicken.  Some might consider the Iranian flotilla as a possible causus belli. After all the UN Security Council adopted a resolution barring the shipment of missiles into Yemen.

The dangerous confrontation seems, for the moment, to be averted. Iran’s ships have turned back, perhaps temporarily. We don’t know why, or what their long range game plan may bring.

The irony the Administration found itself in over the looming confrontation in the Gulf of Aden was that the US might have had to rely on the Saudis and the Egyptians, both of whom America had supplied weapons to, but over whom the US now has little to no control.  The looming question is whether a satisfactory denouement with Iran would even be possible were Iran already a nuclear state.

That Iran is on the brink of acquiring nuclear weapons is no longer the question. All evidence points to this being the case, ongoing talks with P5+1 and the so-called 13 year ‘deal’ notwithstanding.  Latest reports say that Iran is on the ‘nuclear threshold’ with less than three months before it has full nuclear weapons capability. The Iranian nuclear threshold concerns the Saudis, Gulf Emirates, Egypt, and Israel. Israel has not been diffident in the past about intercepting and boarding commercial vessels carrying illicit cargoes of missiles from Iran supplying proxies Hamas and Hezbollah.

In the game of chicken still being played out in the Arabian Sea, it remains to be seen whether the Obama Administration has the resolve to stare down this latest move by Iran, or is the President more than likely blink first?

Ilana Freedman is a veteran intelligence analyst, specializing in Islamic and related sources of terrorism and their impact on the Western world. Jerry Gordon is a Senior Editor at the New English Review


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Syrian Rebels Issue Fatwa Against Croissants – But Not Because They’re fattening

The popular French croissant pastry now banned by a sharia rebel committee in Syria. The crescent shape is widely associated with Islam (File photo: Getty)

The popular French croissant pastry now banned by a sharia rebel committee in Syria. The crescent shape is widely associated with Islam (File photo: Getty)

By :

While an appeals court ruled Tuesday that New York City’s limit on the size of sugary soft drinks served in restaurants is unconstitutional, it appears rebels in Syria have also gotten into the act of policing food.

A sharia committee linked to Islamist rebels in Aleppo, Syria has issued a fatwa declaring croissants to be “haram,” that is, forbidden under Islamic sharia law.

Al Arabiya reports that the reasoning behind banning the buttery pastry is that “croissants’ crescent shape celebrates European victory over Muslims.”

A symbol widely associated with Islam, the crescent is often seen atop mosques and is emblazoned on the flags of Tunisia, Algeria and Mauritania.

But according to the religious edict, Europeans eat croissants to celebrate their victory over Muslim rule.

Al Arabiya reports that the ruling is just the latest in a string of fatwas by Syrian rebels. Those rulings include:

  • A fatwa posted on Facebook prohibiting “Muslim women wearing makeup and tight clothes that reveal physical features from going out.”
  • A fatwa ruling one year in jail for those who are discovered not to be fasting during Ramadan. Notably, that fatwa was issued by the Free Syria Army-affiliated Council of the United Judiciary, according to Al Arabiya. The Free Syria Army is considered to be the more moderate armed group fighting the rule of President Bashar Assad.
  • An Al-Nusra Front issued ban on smoking and listening to music as reported by residents in northern Syria.

According to a report in China’s Xinhua News Agency, the Al-Qaeda-linked group has set up its own courts to impose its hardline religious rulings.

Read more at The Blaze


Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Attempting to Re-brand Itself After Meteoric Fall From Power

20110630_gmbdrmedium (1)Well that didn’t take long. They’re changing their name to “Brotherhood without Violence” and even changing the familiar logo to symbolize peace. Reminds me of that TV show “V’ where the aliens said “we come in peace, always”  Trouble is, they can’t hide their true nature. As reported by The Egypt Independent, “The Brotherhood Without Violence movement, founded by a number of young Muslim Brotherhood members, has proposed to stop violence in exchange for the release of Mohamed Morsy, Hazem Abu Ismail, and all Brotherhood leaders.” The group says that the old leadership did not follow  teachings of Imam Hassan al-Banna. I guess they feel Morsi wasn’t gradual enough in their quest for a totallitarian Islamic dictatorship.

via Al Arabiya: Egypt’s young Brotherhoods break away from old leadership:

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood suddenly appears to have begun a phase of disintegration, or renewal as some would argue.

More than 500 young Brotherhoods have decided to break away from the group, holding its senior hawkish leaders responsible for what they see as its failure.

The young members of the group have established a movement they called “Brotherhood without Violence,” seeking to steer the group back onto a course drawn for it by its founder Hassan al-Banna.

The young Brotherhoods also seek to withdraw confidence from the group’s leadership, primarily its Supreme Guide Mohammad Badei and his powerful deputy Khairat el-Shater.

Ahmad Yehia, the movement’s coordinator, told Al Arabiya on Thursday that they “deeply grieve” the situation of the Muslim Brotherhood today.

“The Brotherhood’s leadership is dragging the movement into abyss [after] a long history of struggle for more than 80 years,” Yehia said.

The people “embraced” the Brotherhood throughout history, he added, referring to the social role the group has played since it was established in 1928.

“The current leaders violated the Brotherhood’s principles and the teachings of Imam Hassan al-Banna ,” Yehia said.

Using a technique similar to the one used by the Tamarod campaign that called for Mursi’s ouster, the movement said it aims to collect signatures from members to restructure the group’s governing body.

“The Brotherhood is now dying,” Yehia said. “We won’t accept this.”

The movement said it will call protesters at Rabaa Adawiya mosque, a venue where pro-Mursi supports have gathered since his ouster demanding his recall, to sign the petition and leave the sit-in. Tens have started leaving, Yehia said.

“We will continue our efforts to return the Brotherhood to the moderate, balanced and forgiving principles Islam has called for,” he added.

Yehia said not all those participating in the sit-in are from the Brotherhood. Some belong to Jihadist groups, he explained, who feel insecure after the overthrow of the Islamist president.

In a remarkable difference, the logo of the “Brotherhood without Violence” movement tends to reflect the group’s new views. Although it still resembles the Muslim Brotherhood’s initial symbol with its green background and a Quran in the center, it replaced the swords in the old logo to olive branches and a flying dove with national flag as its wing. It also changed the phrase “be prepared” with “fear God.”

He blamed the current unrest in Egypt on the Islamist group, saying: “If Mursi called for early presidential elections in his last speech or a referendum he would have remained the country’s president and avoided violence.”

A Young Jewish Man’s Lethal Arab Spring Delusion


Andrew Pochter’s murder represents the apotheosis of a Big Islamic Lie mentality, rigidly imposed by academic, governmental, religious, and media elites. It is well past time to hold accountable the hyperactive promulgators of such Big Islamic Lies before additional self-destructively indoctrinated victims of their warped “teachings” meet similar fates.

Cross-posted at The American Thinker

by Andrew Bostom:

Andrew Pochter, then a recent alumnus of the State Department’s National Security Language for Youth Program, published a report June 8, 2011 for Al Arabiya on his impressions of the Arab Spring uprisings in Morocco. Entitled, “The Acquisition of Reality,” the callow Mr. Pochter lauded Moroccan despot King Muhammad VI’s release of 90 imprisoned jihadists (arbitrarily designated “Islamists” and “Sahrawis,” i.e., the latter being “nationalists” cum jihadists), while lamenting,

This seems to be a good start, though it is important to keep in mind that over 100 political prisoners still remain behind bars.

Just two years later, the well-intentioned, if naïve Pochter’s tragic delusions about the ugly reality of the Orwellian-named Arab spring were shattered, instantaneously, by lethal violence. While photographing demonstrations in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria this past Friday (6/28/13), near an office of the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood, Pochter was stabbed, and suffered a fatal chest wound.

Veteran international journalist Jon Williams tweeted that, as per unnamed “intelligence sources,” Pochter’s assailant questioned the young man whether he were an American, before plunging a knife into the victim’s chest. If Williams’ account is confirmed, this would mark the second time in two months that an American was targeted for stabbing in Egypt. On Thursday, May 12, 2013, Chris Stone, an Associate Professor of Arabic, and Director of the Arabic Program at The City University of New York was stabbed in the neck outside the US embassy’s Cairo headquarters. Stone’s attacker, Kafr El-Sheikh, was motivated by his professed hatred of the US, and Americans.  Stone survived the attack, but as Al-Ahram reported, the knife lodged in his neck had to be removed by a surgical operation. Ironically, Stone, who had penned anti-Israel vitriol, and supported demands that the New York Police Department terminate its legitimate (and successful) anti-jihad terror surveillance activities, was recently appointed head of the Center for Arabic Study Abroad by the American University in Cairo, and, as Al-Ahram highlighted, “praised for his pro-Palestine views  and his interest in Arab culture.”

The late youth Andrew Pochter was described in an Al-Arabiya tribute by his former Moroccan Arabic teacher as similarly “filled with the Arabic language and with the Arab world.” Pochter attended Kenyon College, where he was areligious studies major, who co-managed the college’s Hillel, and had just completed his sophomore year. Prior to his fateful sojourn in Egypt, Pochterinterned for AMIDEAST, an American nonprofit that focuses on the Middle East and North Africa, and studied regional politics. His mother, Elizabeth Pochter, maintained that her son read poems to his girlfriend about the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict,”  and insisted that somehow the endless jihad against The Jewish State, “wasn’t just about some detached war to him, but a struggle that he passionately wanted to resolve.” Elizabeth Pochter added, according to a statement by Kenyon College, that her Jewish son,

…was a person who didn’t see the world as separate nations, but a collection of vibrant cultures.

In her encomium,  Marcela Colmenares, an instructor at Kenyon College, who had befriended Pochter,  characterized him  as “absorbing every bit of the Egyptian culture” —just before he suffered an even more horrific fate than the adult Arabic Professor, Stone.

Glaringly absent from these poignant encomia by Andrew Pochter’s mentors—academic, organizational, even parental—is any informed, honest recognition of the dangerous cauldron of Islamic hatredanimated by living doctrines and history—into which he had thrust himself.

Read more 

Also see:

Pathetic Video of Late Andrew Pochter in Immoral Equivalence “Israel-Palestine Poetry Slam” by Andrew Bostom

Egyptian Official: Beating of Naked Man Was Pre-Planned

demonstrators in CairoArutz Sheva:

A former Egyptian presidential candidate told Al Arabiya TV in an interview on Sunday that the brutal dragging and beating of a naked man near the presidential palace last week was previously planned by the interior ministry in an effort to terrorize the public.

Ahmed Shafiq, who lost the presidential race to Islamist President Mohammed Morsi last year, said the widely circulated video of 50-year-old Hamada Saber was intended to send a message of fear to those protesting in the streets against the brutal reign of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The torture is a “new style of exaggerated terrorism used against the Egyptian citizens that will lead only to violence and hatred of the regime,” Shafiq told Al-Arabiya.

Meanwhile, Saber on Sunday blamed police for the abuse after initially claiming they saved him from protesters.

The presidency described the footage as “shocking”, prompting the interior ministry to order a rare investigation.

While Saber first insisted that police had saved him from protesters, he then changed his account– which was bitterly contested by relatives who said he was being coerced– when prosecutors showed him the video footage, the official MENA news agency reported.

The man, who said he was shot in the foot during the clashes, explained that he initially blamed protesters to “contain the crisis,” the agency reported.

Saber, who has been transferred to a public hospital, said he changed his account and told the “truth” after his family “renounced me…and all of Egypt was angry and people made fun of me on Facebook.”

The main opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) has called for the resignation of Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim over Saber’s beating.

The beating was “an inhumane spectacle… no less ugly than the killings of martyrs, which is considered a continuation of the security force’s program of excessive force,” the opposition bloc said, according to AFP.

Ibrahim ordered a probe into the incident and said he would resign if “that’s what the people want,” his office said.

Islam’s Insanities: All Just a ‘Hoax’?

By Raymond Ibrahim:

You read something immensely disturbing concerning the Muslim world—say, that some Muslims seek to legalize sex-slavery or destroy Egypt’s Pyramids or approve of sodomy-suicide-missions or crucify infidels.  Your mind—exclaiming “tell me this is a joke!”—finds it difficult to accept such news. Then, somewhere from the bowels of the Internet, relief arrives.

The much welcomed word “Hoax!” appears, reconfirming your worldview.  All is well again.

But is it?  Are such accounts mere hoaxes?  Or is this just another strategy by those who apologize for Islam’s insanities—a strategy that relies exclusively on the fact that the Western mindset cannot fathom such news, anyway, and thus is all too willing to accept the hoax charge without a second thought?

Recall the news that Salafi parliamentarians in Egypt were pushing for a law legalizing necrophilia.  This information first appeared in Egypt’s most circulated newspaper, Al Ahram, followed by Al Arabiya.  The news went viral, prompting Western dismay.  But then a cutesy Christian Science Monitor article titled “Egypt ‘necrophilia law’? Hooey, utter hooey” tried to return us to the status quo.  Its author, one Dan Murphy, admonished the many websites that disseminated the necrophilia story: “Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet, kids. At least until there’s like, you know, some proof.”

And his “proof” that it was a hoax?  Nothing.  He even confirmed that “there was a Moroccan cleric a few years back who apparently did issue a religious ruling saying that husbands remained married to their wives in the first six hours after death and, so, well, you know [i.e., he permitted necrophilia].  But that guy is far, far out on the nutty fringe.”

Aside from Murphy’s immature tone—“so, well, you know” what?—one fails to see how characterizing a cleric as a “nut” means that his religious ruling is a “hoax”—that it never existed?  Likewise, when it comes to fatwas, it matters not which nation they hail from, so that Egyptians can easily uphold the fatwa of a Moroccan, or vice-versa, because in Islam there is no “national” distinction, only the umma.

And yet, no matter how shallow or lacking in evidence, the hoax charges resonate well, simply because the mainstream Western mentality instinctively rejects, in this case, the idea of codifying necrophilia.

Much of this is exacerbated by the fact that most Westerners, including reporters, cannot independently verify such stories, as they usually originate in Middle Eastern languages.  Which leads to my familiarity with this matter: I get most of my news directly from the Arabic media—knowing that it is better to get my information directly “from the horse’s mouth” than to get it from the limited and filtered Western media.

Accordingly, I am often first to expose stories that go unreported in the West—for instance, the fact that the U.S. embassy in Cairo was being threatened days before the Muhammad movie became a convenient excuse to riot and destroy (the original reason was to coerce the U.S. to free the Blind Sheikh and others).

However, those who prefer to keep such stories suppressed have learned to cry “hoax”—taking advantage of the fact that most Americans cannot read Arabic or verify these accounts for themselves.

Thus, when I documented the indisputable fact that several Islamists were calling for the destruction of Egypt’s Pyramids, the New York Times and Huffington Post cried “hoax”; when I shed light on an obscure “sodomy fatwa” which helped explain the role of intention in Islam (or niyya), Muslims and others cried hoax, including by lying and distorting; and when I reported on how Muslim Brotherhood supporters crucified their opponents, the National Post and others cried hoax.

And yet, none of these naysayers offered any meaningful evidence.  Instead, they banked on the fact that it is simply too hard to believe these stories in the first place.

So what should the objective Western reader do—who is stuck in the middle, does not read Arabic, and cannot independently verify anything—when confronted with absurd news emanating from the Islamic world?

Read more at Front Page




Fire Wars: Arson as Terror Tactic

Syria’s ‘Operation Villagio Blaze’ revealed

By Kerry Patton at the Examiner:

Arson is one of the oldest tactics used by terrorists. It is a tactic often executed by less life threatening terrorist such as animal rights and environmentalists groups.  Rarely do we see the terror tactic of arson conducted by state sponsored terror groups, until today.

There are three basic forms of terror support—state sponsored, state supported, and non-state supported. Some government institutions claim terrorism is either state supported or non-state supported missing the fact that some groups have been formed and directed by countries like Iran and Syria which make them state sponsored.

The majority of domestic terrorist groups such as the Animal Liberation Front are non-state supported. They receive virtually nothing from any nation state—no support or very little support of any worth.

Groups like Al Qaeda weren’t necessarily created by a nation state nor are they necessarily directed to conduct operations per the instructions by a nation state but they often obtain support through intelligence, safe haven, or logistics which would make Al Qaeda a state supported terror group.

In today’s day and age, and with the ongoing threat of Iran and the continued bloodshed coming out of Syria, it is critical to accept that some terrorist groups are not just receiving support by nation states, but many are becoming state sponsored groups.

A state sponsored terrorist group is similar to a state supported terrorist organization merely in the fact that they receive support by a nation state. The difference though is the fact that state sponsored groups are at times created by a nation state and are often directed by a nation supporting them to conduct specific operations. Hezbollah, a Lebanese based terrorist group with global reach is in fact a state sponsored terrorist organization.

Hezbollah was created by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp. Through Hezbollah’s charter, it is known that their supreme leader is the Ayatollah of Iran—even Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, must answer to the Ayatollah.

Groups like Al Qaeda and their Shi’ite counterpart, Hezbollah, have enough support to conduct large scale operations which are often highly sophisticated and complex. They have the support needed by a nation state to procure military grade explosives, sound and executable intelligence, etc.

There are times when nation states perform clandestine operations and those operations are construed as a form of terror. Remember, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” When this happens, the act or tactic would still be construed as state sponsored terror. Syria is indeed a state sponsor of terrorism even though they didn’t necessarily create a known terrorist group.

In May, Doha experienced a terrorist attack which left 19 persons dead. The attack incorporated one of the most elementary yet highly successful tactics—arson. Doha’s Villagio Mall was set ablaze killing 13 children, four school teachers, and two firemen.

Al Arabiya was able to obtain highly classified cables proving the incident in Doha was actually not an accident. It was a state sponsored attack on a civilian target conducted by the Syrian regime. While this may be construed as a clandestine operation, the fact remains that it was still terrorism by all definitions.

In one of the cables obtained by Al Arabiya, Syrian Major General Dhu al-Himma Shaleesh, head of the president’s Special Security Force, named the operation “Villagio Blaze.”

It is apparent that the Syrian regime has capabilities to conduct terrorist operations throughout the Middle East far beyond their own borders. “Villagio Blaze” was an operation of retaliation and more importantly, it was an operation crossing over multiple nation borders far away from Syria.

Qatar assisted the Free Syrian Army through multiple measures which includes their financing. Through support of the Free Syrian Army, Assad and his regime targeted Qatar’s capital. If the US supported Assad’s opposition, could Assad direct similar operations inside our own homeland?

Kerry Patton, a combat disabled veteran, is the author of ‘Sociocultural Intelligence: The New Discipline of Intelligence Studies’ and the children’s book ‘American Patriotism’. You can follow him on Facebook or at kerry-patton.com/.


Economic Warfare Super Panel – William Scott Fire Wars: Arson as Terror Tactic


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