Analysis: 2 US cases provide unique window into Iran’s global terror network

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

On June 8, the Department of Justice (DOJ) made an announcement that deserves more attention. Two alleged Hizballah operatives had been arrested inside the United States after carrying out various missions on behalf of the Iranian-sponsored terrorist organization. The plots took the men around the globe, from Thailand to Panama and even into the heart of New York City.

Both men are naturalized U.S. citizens. And they are both accused of performing surveillance on prospective targets for Hizballah’s highly secretive external operations wing, known as the Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO).

Ali Kourani, a 32-year-old who was living in the Bronx, New York (pictured on the right*), allegedly gathered “information regarding operations and security at airports in the U.S. and elsewhere,” while also “surveilling U.S. military and law enforcement facilities in Manhattan and Brooklyn.” Hizballah asked Kourani to identify “individuals affiliated with the Israeli Defense Force” inside the U.S. and locate “weapons suppliers in the U.S. who could provide firearms to support IJO operations” as well. Kourani allegedly conducted all of these missions on behalf of his IJO “handler,” who was safely ensconced back home in Lebanon.

Samer el Debek, a 37-year-old resident of Dearborn, Michigan, is charged with “casing security procedures at the Panama Canal and the Israeli Embassy” in Panama, identifying “areas of weakness and construction at the Panama Canal,” and determining for Hizballah “how close someone could get to a ship passing through the Canal.” His “IJO handlers” also “asked him for photographs of the U.S. Embassy” in Panama, as well as “details” concerning its “security procedures.” (El Debek told authorities he did not provide Hizballah with the information requested on the American embassy.)

The charges brought against Kourani and El Debek have not been proven in a court of law. They remain allegations that have yet to be weighed by the criminal justice system. Still, the legal filings in both cases provide a unique window into how the FBI and the U.S. government are tracking Hizballah’s international terror network, including inside America.

Hizballah’s Islamic Jihad Organization first gained infamy in the 1980s, when it orchestrated various attacks on Americans and Europeans in Lebanon and elsewhere. In some ways, the IJO could be credited with launching the modern jihadist war against the U.S., pioneering the use of near-simultaneous suicide bombings. Such tactics would later be adopted by Sunni jihadists, including al Qaeda, with devastating effects.

The IJO has avoided public scrutiny at times. The public’s attention has been mainly focused on the Islamic State of late. This is understandable as the so-called caliphate inspires, directs and guides terrorist operations around the globe.

But the U.S. government’s recent filings, including the sworn affidavits of two FBI agents responsible for tracking Hizballah, make it clear that the IJO continues to manage a sophisticated, clandestine web of operatives who are trained to carry out Iran’s bidding.

The IJO uses multiple aliases, including “External Security Organization” and “910.” The government describes it as a “component of Hizballah responsible for the planning and coordination of intelligence, counterintelligence, and terrorist activities on behalf of” the terror group “outside of Lebanon.” The IJO’s “operatives” are usually “assigned a Lebanon-based ‘handler,’ sometimes referred to as a mentor,” and this person is “responsible for providing taskings, debriefing operatives, and arranging training.”

The IJO often compartmentalizes its operations, conducting them “in stages” and “sending waves of one or more operatives with separate taskings such as surveillance, obtaining and storing necessary components and equipment, and attack execution.” Indeed, the government explains that the IJO’s handlers keep the procurement of ammonium nitrate-based products used for bomb-making separate from other terror-related tasks so as to avoid generating additional scrutiny.

Neither Kourani, nor El Debek is accused of conspiring to commit an imminent attack. But US officials think their work was part of longer-term planning.

“Pre-operational surveillance is one of the hallmarks of [Hizballah] in planning for future attacks,” Commissioner James P. O’Neill of the New York Police Department (NYPD) explained in a statement.

The surveillance performed in New York City was done “in support of anticipated IJO terrorist attacks,” according to the complaint against Kourani.

Reading through the extensive legal paperwork, totaling dozens of pages, one is left to wonder who else Hizballah may have stationed here inside the U.S. as part of its patient plotting.

The sections that follow below are based on the U.S. government’s complaints and affidavits. In many cases, these same filings say the details cited were originally provided, in whole or in part, by Kourani and El Debek themselves during interviews with the FBI.

Kourani allegedly admitted he was an IJO “sleeper” operative

Ali Kourani (also known as “Jacob Lewis” and “Daniel”) was born near Bint Jbeil, Lebanon in 1984 and relocated to the U.S. as a young man in 2003. He went on to receive “a Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering in 2009” and a MBA in 2013.

Kourani sat for “multiple voluntary interviews” with the FBI in 2016 and 2017, and much of the evidence cited in the complaint against him is sourced to his own admissions during these sessions. At one point, he apparently said he hoped to exchange information for “financial support and immigration benefits for certain” relatives, but the FBI says it didn’t agree to this quid pro quo proposal.

Kourani allegedly compared his family to the “Bin Ladens of Lebanon,” describing one brother as the “face of Hizballah” in one area of Lebanon. He was first trained at a 45-day Hizballah “boot camp” in the year 2000. He was just 16 years old at the time, but claimed that his “family’s connections to a high-ranking Hizballah official named Haider Kourani” allowed him to attend the camp. Kourani was allegedly “taught to fire AK-47 assault rifles and rocket launchers, as well as basic military tactics.”

His “family’s home was destroyed by an Israeli bombing” during the 2006 Lebanon War. Approximately two years later, according to Kourani, he was “recruited by” Hizballah’s Sheikh Hussein Kourani to serve in the IJO.

Kourani described the IJO as being responsible for “black ops” carried out by Hizballah and “the Iranians.” Kourani also explained that the IJO is “operated” by Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who reports “directly to Ali Khamenei,” the Iranian Supreme Leader.

Kourani told the FBI that he was “recruited to join the IJO in light of his education and residence in the United States.” But there was another sinister motive for Hizballah’s interest in him. The IJO was developing a network of “sleepers” who “maintained ostensibly normal lies but could be activated and tasked with conducting IJO operations,” Kourani purportedly said.

Indeed, Kourani “identified himself” as one of these IJO “sleeper” operatives, “working undercover in the United States” and covertly “conducting IJO intelligence-gathering and surveillance missions” given to him by his handlers in Lebanon.

Kourani identified one IJO handler as “Fadi” (also known as “Hajj”) and explained the elaborate security protocols Hizballah took. In addition to be questioned about his own background, Kourani was trained on “conducting interrogations, resisting interrogations, and surveillance techniques.”

Fadi “typically wore a mask during their meetings,” explaining that the IJO’s “golden rule” is “the less you know the better it is.” Fadi “acted as” Kourani’s handler until about Sept. 2015, when Kourani claims he “was deactivated by the IJO.”

Fadi told Kourani to obtain a U.S. citizenship, a passport and related documents, thereby making it easier for him to travel around the world on behalf of Hizballah. The IJO’s man also instructed Kourani on how they could communicate securely, using code words and other basic tradecraft.

IJO surveillance in New York City, including at John F. Kennedy International Airport

The most striking allegations against Kourani involve his surveillance of potential targets in New York City on behalf of Hizballah.

Fadi “directed” Kourani to “surveil and collect information regarding military and intelligence targets in the New York City area,” the FBI found. Kourani then “conducted physical surveillance” on three locations in Manhattan and another in Brooklyn. The buildings he surveilled include: “a U.S. government facility, which includes FBI offices”; a “U.S. Army National Guard facility”; a “U.S. Secret Service facility”; and a “U.S. Army Armory facility.” Kourani transferred his video surveillance on “at least one” of these targets to “Fadi and other IJO personnel in Lebanon.”

According to the complaint, Fadi had Kourani surveil airports in the New York area. “In response,” Kourani “provided detailed information to Fadi regarding specific security protocols; baggage-screening and collection practices; and the locations of surveillance cameras, security personnel, law enforcement officers, and magnetometers at JFK and an international airport in another country.”

Fadi tasked Kourani with other missions as well. He told Kourani to “obtain surveillance equipment in the United States” – including “drones, night-vision goggles, and high-powered cameras” – “so that the underlying technology could be studied and replicated by the IJO.” He also had Kourani “cultivate contacts” who “could provide firearms for use in potential future IJO operations in the United States” (Fadi allegedly deemed these contacts unsuitable for arms purchases), while also collecting “intelligence regarding individuals…affiliated with the” Israeli Defense Forces.

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

At remote desert garrison in Syria, a US-Iran confrontation is brewing

The Tanf garrison used by the US coalition to train militias to fight ISIS sits on a highway Iran would like to control for its strategic advantage. Forces are gathering and shots have been fired as fundamental interests clash.

CS Monitor, by Nicholas Blanford

JUNE 6, 2017 US-backed forces announced Tuesday that they had begun the long-awaited assault on the northeastern Syrian city of Raqqa, the so-called Islamic State’s main stronghold in the country and its self-declared capital.

But some 170 miles to the south, in a remote corner of Syria’s southeastern desert, another clash is brewing that is pitting the strategic objectives of the United States against those of Iran, and that could soon bring US troops and Iranian-backed forces into direct military confrontation.

Both US and Russian warplanes have been deployed, and some shots have already been fired, including by US-backed coalition forces on Tuesday, the US military said.

The clash is over a military garrison at Tanf, located near a border crossing on a highway that cuts through hundreds of miles of flat desert. It was captured from jihadist forces more than a year ago and is being used by US Special Forces and allies to train Syrian militias to fight ISIS, which controls territory to the northeast.

But if Tanf’s main value to the US so far has been in the war on ISIS, it has also, perhaps unwittingly, become a front-line outpost in the US containment of regional power Iran, whose allies are advancing on the garrison from two directions.

Their interest in the highway is that it links Baghdad and Damascus and serves as a coveted overland route that could provide Iran with access to its strategic Lebanese Shiite ally, Hezbollah.

At a junction on the highway, 50 miles northwest of the garrison in the direction of Damascus, a combined force of Syrian troops, Hezbollah fighters, and Iraqi Shiite militiamen are mobilizing for a southward thrust to seize the Tanf border crossing.

On the Iraqi side of the border, southeast of Tanf, the Hashd ash-Shaabi, an Iran-supported Iraqi Shiite militia sanctioned by Baghdad, is reportedly deploying in readiness to drive ISIS out of Iraqi territory between Tanf and Al-Qaim, another border town 136 miles to the northeast.

And wedged between these two Iranian-backed forces are the US, British, Norwegian, and possibly Jordanian special forces, as well as the Syrian militia groups they have helped to train.

Shots fired

With both sides girding for a fight, the coming days or weeks could see US and allied troops coming into conflict with Iranian-backed forces for the first time in Syria’s six-year civil war.

“I think any assault on Tanf [by Iranian-backed groups] would meet with a vigorous and effective military response,” says Frederic C. Hof, director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council in Washington and previously a State Department liaison with Syrian opposition forces. “I do not know the rules of engagement in effect for US ground forces, but an Iranian-Hezbollah assault on Tanf would, I think, be quite reckless and not likely to succeed.”

The two sides have already come to blows twice. On May 18, US aircraft attacked a convoy of Shiite militiamen speeding southeast along the highway in breach of a deconfliction zone of some 20 miles around Tanf. Several vehicles were destroyed in the air strike and six militants were killed.

And Tuesday, according to an official statement from the US-led coalition, a pro-regime force again entered the deconfliction zone and was fired upon. Two artillery pieces and an antiaircraft weapon were destroyed, the statement said, and a tank damaged. There was no word on casualties among the 60 fighters reported in the pro-regime force.

Clash is coming

In light of the militia build-up north of Tanf, a spokesman for the Baghdad-based anti-ISIS coalition said last week that “we have increased our presence and footprint” in southern Syria, adding that the mobilization of Iranian-backed militia forces near Tanf was viewed as a “threat.” US aircraft have also dropped leaflets on the militia forces, warning them to stay away from Tanf.

But the Iranian-backed forces and the Syrian army appear determined to seize the Tanf border crossing, even if it risks a confrontation with US forces.

“Our people are gathering in the Tanf area right now, so a clash is definitely coming,” says a Hezbollah unit commander speaking on condition of anonymity in Beirut.

Iran has a strategic interest in gaining control over the crossing as it represents the last remaining link in securing an east-to-west land corridor reaching from Iran to Lebanon on the Mediterranean coast via Iraq and Syria. Guarded by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria, the transport link would allow Tehran to ferry fighters to Syrian battlefronts and armaments to its Hezbollah ally in Lebanon.

But the US-led coalition against ISIS appears equally determined to defend its presence in this remote spot to maintain its ability to continue its unconventional warfare campaign against ISIS-held territory to the northeast.

At least three Syrian armed groups are operating alongside the Americans and British at Tanf as part of the “train and equip” program to defeat ISIS: the Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra (Revolutionary Commandos Army), the Ahmad Abdo Martyrs Group, and Jaysh Osoud al-Sharqiya (Lions of the East Army).

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Feds bust Hezbollah sleeper cell charged with plotting NYC attack

jcarillet | Getty Images

IRAN-BACKED TERROR AGENTS TAKEN DOWN BY FBI AND NYPD.

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, June 8, 2017:

The FBI and NYPD announced Thursday that two suspected Hezbollah sleeper cell operatives they recently arrested have been charged with plotting terrorist activities for the Iranian proxy group.

Hezbollah, a Shiite terrorist organization, takes direction from the regime in Tehran. The jihadi outfit was founded in 1985 in Lebanon as a military arm to expand Iran’s caliphatist ideology, and also to conduct attacks against the state of Israel. Since then, the group has expanded to operate as a worldwide terrorist network and has heavily involved itself in the Latin American drug trade.

The two alleged Hezbollah operatives, Ali Kourani, 32, of New York City, and Samer el Debek, 37, of Dearborn, Mich., “received military-style training, including in the use of weapons like rocket-propelled grenade launchers and machine guns for use in support of the group’s terrorist mission,” acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said in a statement Thursday.

According to the FBI complaint, Kourani was tasked with conducting surveillance on military targets in New York City and then delivering that intelligence to his handlers in Lebanon. On behalf of the terrorist group, Kourani allegedly conducted surveillance on an FBI office, a U.S. Army National Guard facility, and a U.S. Army Armory facility. Kourani also cased several overseas diplomatic facilities belonging to the United States and Israel, the complaint says.

El Debek was reportedly trained as a bomb-maker for the terror group. The FBI said he “received extensive training as a bomb maker, has a high degree of technical sophistication in the area, and was trained in techniques and methods similar to those used to construct the improvised explosive device used in Hezbollah’s 2012 Burgas, Bulgaria, bus bombing.”

American intelligence has long been concerned about the presence of Hezbollah sleeper cells in America. The group uses its extensive drug network in Latin America to clandestinely move throughout the Western hemisphere.

Analysts have long feared that the weakness of the U.S. border with Mexico, coupled with Hezbollah’s relationship with the Mexican cartels, could allow for the easy smuggling of people and weapons into the United States.

Hezbollah is currently heavily engaged in the Syrian Civil War in support of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. On Thursday, U.S. forces in Syria shot down an armed drone and bombed militants aligned with the Iran/Hezbollah/Assad regime axis. The pro-regime drone reportedly fired on coalition forces in the area, but missed its target.

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

Also see:

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June 8 Committee on Foreign Affairs Hearing: Attacking Hezbollah’s Financial Network: Policy Options

Trump in Saudi Arabia: Fight ‘Islamic Terror’ & ‘Drive Them Out’

President Donald Trump delivers a speech to the Arab Islamic American Summit, at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center, Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Conservative Review, by Jordan Schachtel, May 21, 2017:

President Donald Trump delivered the first major foreign policy speech of his tenure Sunday evening in Riyadh, discussing his vision for how America should conduct its international affairs.

America will engage with the world through the lens of a “Principled Realism,” Trump explained, “rooted in common values and shared interests.”

The president delivered on a crucial campaign promise to identify the global jihadist movement as one of the key threats to world stability. Speaking in Saudi Arabia, in front of the leaders of dozens of Muslim nations, Trump called upon the world to “drive out” the “Islamic terror” movements that persist within their countries.

“The true toll of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others, must be counted not only in the number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished dreams,” he proclaimed.

In labeling the enemies of world order as “Islamic” terrorists, he diverted from a final prepared transcript of the finished speech that referenced “Islamist” terrorists. The departure is significant. Defining the enemy as “Islamic” signals a call for reform within the religion, while labeling the enemy as “Islamist” refers to a violent supremacist political ideology.

The president demanded that leaders confront “the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamist and Islamic terror of all kinds.”

“And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians,” he added.

Delivering an impassioned plea to his counterparts in the Muslim world, he argued that “a better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists.”

“Drive. Them. Out!” the president exclaimed. “Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land, and drive them out of this earth.

Marking a departure from the Obama administration’s coziness with Iran, Trump highlighted the threat posed by the Iranian regime and its proxies in Lebanese Hezbollah and the Houthis of Yemen. He called on American allies to isolate the Iranian regime and stop it in its quest for global dominance.

“From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror,” President Trump said. “It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.”

The president called upon “nations of conscience”  to “work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.”

Trump will wrap up his visit to Saudi Arabia this evening and depart for Israel, where he will spend the next two days.

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

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Russia’s 4 Syrian ceasefire zones – Kremlin spin

Russian Gen. Sergei Rudskoy

DEBKAfile, May 6, 2017:

The widely reported Kremlin plan to set up four safe or “de-escalation” zones, that were supposed to have gone into effect in Syria Friday night, May 5, turns out to be nothing but a propaganda ploy. The spin factor leaps to the eye from the small print of the plan that was released by Gen. Sergey Rudskoy, head of Russian General Staffs Operations Division, Friday night.  He outlined four steps that may never take off

1. Observation points will be set up to monitor the ceasefire (in the four designated de-escalation zones).

So when the putative safe zones were to have started operating Friday night, there were no observation points to monitor them.

2. The boundaries of the zones will be determined in accordance with the observation points.

This means that the zones don’t exist.

3. By June 4, a working team made up of officers of the three guarantors, Russia, Turkey and Iran, will be created to administer the observation points.

Who can tell what will happen in Syrian in a month’s time.

4. Only after the observation groups of the three sponsor-nations’ armies finish mapping the ceasefire zones can it be determined whether the plan is doable or not.

Still no zones.
The Russian propaganda machine worked overtime this weekend to convince the Western media that the ceasefire zones plan had won the support of the United States and Saudi Arabia.

The truth is that US President Donald Trump did not commit himself one way or another when he talked on the phone with President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, May 2, although most of their conversation was devoted to Syria, rather than the North Korean crisis. There was no agreement between them on any Syrian issue, except for a decision that American and Russian forces in the war-torn country would stay out of each other’s way.
In sum, Moscow’s ceasefire zones plan, though effectively propagandized, has changed nothing in Syria’s bloody predicament.

With so much still up in the air, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson talked by phone Friday to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, after which he gave the following statement: “The secretary looks forward to further meetings with the foreign minister to discuss the respective roles of the United States and Russia in de-escalating the conflict and supporting the talks in Geneva to move the political solution forward.”

Tillerson made no mention of any safe zones which Moscow claims to be setting up with Ankara and Tehran, or of the Russian-sponsored Syrian peace conference in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Rebel groups, supposed to be holding a dialogue with Assad regime representatives, walked out of its fourth round last week. And the Trump administration appears unwilling to throw its support behind the Russian-sponsored peace initiative, preferring to stand solidly behind the UN-sponsored Geneva process.

Turkey and Iran, the other two “sponsors” of the Astana framework, and putative “guarantors” of the safe zones, are strangely silent about the roles assigned them by the Kremlin. And no wonder. As rivals in the Syrian arena, their forces are ranged against each other in both Syria and Iraq. It is hard to see them working shoulder to shoulder alongside Russian officers to monitor safety zones which are still pie in the sky.

The situation at the moment is this: In Iraq, Turkish and Iranian troops – essentially pro-Iranian militias under the command of Revolutionary Guards officers – glare at each other across two warfronts, Tel Afar and Sinjar. In Syria, each of their armies is poised to grab Al-Bab in the Aleppo province.

The only real change in Syria’s military situation is a surreptitious one, which may present a fresh, wide-ranging peril: The Lebanese Shiite Hizballah has agreed to place the 8,000 members fighting in Syria for Bashar Assad under direct Iranian command. This is part of a radical reorganization of all the military outfits Iran has deployed in Syria, whereby all the Shiite militias including Hizballah fall henceforth directly under a single centralized Iranian command.
This fundamental shift in the military balance in Syria was initiated by Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Suleiman, commander of Iranian forces in Syria and Iraq. He convinced supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that there was no other way to safeguard Iran’s military supremacy in the Syrian war arena, guarantee a land bridge to Lebanon, or mobilize tactically for future confrontations with Israel.
The Syrian ruler also submitted to this step. Therefore, Hizballah and the Shiite militias will henceforth operate under the orders of the Iranian military mission which has its seat at Syrian High Command Headquarters in Damascus.

This “reorganization” opens the door for Hizballah officers to assume Iranian army uniforms and act as “ceasefire monitors” if Russia’s fictitious safe zones ever get off the ground.

Iranian Website Specializing In Syrian War Reports: Gas Attack Intended To Save Iranian/Syrian Frontline In Khan Sheikhoun Region From Breakdown

MEMRI, April 13, 2017:

Introduction

The April 4 Sarin gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun, just one day after the U.S. administration changed its position vis-à-vis Syrian President Al-Assad, declaring that his removal from power was no longer a priority, raised questions regarding the underlying motive for the attack. Indeed, the initial Russian claim that the attack had been fabricated by opponents of the Syrian regime was based on its being so clearly against Syrian interests.

While it is now largely accepted that the Syrian regime carried out the attack, the motivation underlying it remains enigmatic, giving rise to conspiracy theories.

Iranian Website Specializing In Syrian War Reports Provides The Explanation: To Prevent Breakdown Of Iranian/Syrian Frontline

On April 7, 2017, WarReports, an Iranian research group dedicated to monitoring and covering Iran’s role in the war in Syria and Iraq,[1] published a report on its Facebook page, explaining why the Syrian regime had carried out the gas attack.[2] It claimed that the attack had been “in support of the Iranian-affiliated ground forces, Hizbullah, and the Syrian army, all of which were stationed several kilometers behind the frontline.” According to the report, in the past three weeks there had been 21 casualties from among the IRGC forces and the Fatimiyun Afghani Shi’ite militia located in Hama.[3] The report included a map of the region, showing the retreat southward of the Iranian-backed forces from the Khan Sheikhoun region, a retreat that threatened to turn into a complete breakdown of the front. The attack, therefore, was intended to curb the rebel thrust in Khan Sheikhoun, thus preventing this breakdown.

The report further stated that hitting the civilian population in the rebel-held areas was a known tactic of the Syrian regime, intended to crush the fighting spirit of the forces and to stop their operations. This was the case in the August 2013 gas attack on Ghouta, Damascus, and the October 2015 cluster-bomb attack on the civilization population of eastern Aleppo.

It should be noted that in a recent White House intelligence briefing, officials gave the same rationale for the Syrian regime attack, without providing further details: “They were losing in a particularly important area. That’s what drove [the attack].”[4]

Map legend:

Red areas:              territory held by Iranian/Syrian-regime forces

Green areas:          territory held by the Jabhat Fath Al-Sham (formerly JNS) armed rebels

Red circle:              Khan Sheikhoun

Red arrows:           distance from Khan Sheikhoun to the Iranian-backed forces

Black dotted line: opposition frontline prior to March 21 operations and Iranian forces retreat

Red dotted line:     current opposition frontline following the Iranian forces retreat

 

[1] https://warreports.org/about-us/; Twitter: @warreports. Facebook: Persian.war.news.

[2] https://www.facebook.com/persian.war.news/posts/1905690939688134.

[3] The website provided a link to the image of one of the IRGC members killed there. https://goo.gl/iunWwn

[4] http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/apr/11/white-house-offers-more-proof-syrian-gas-attack-ci/.

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UTT Throwback Thursday: IRAN is Still a Threat

Understanding the Threat, by John Guandolo, April 6, 2017:

President Jimmy Carter’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young, said “(Ayatollah) Khomeini will eventually be hailed as a saint.”

As a result of the U.S. administration being soft-hearted, soft-minded, and naive, Iran launched an Islamic revolution, and on November 4, 1979 52 American hostages were taken from the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held for 444 days until President Reagan’s Inauguration Day.

The following month, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

President Obama’s administration appeased Iran and provided it billions of dollars in violation of federal law.

This was done despite the recognition by the U.S. government that Iran is the most dangerous state sponsor of terrorism in the world, continues to aggressively pursue nuclear weapons, and makes it’s desire to destroy the United States and Israel clear.

Iran’s constitution states:  “In the organization and equipping of the countries (sic) defense forces, there must be regard for faith and religion as their basis and rules. And so the Islamic Republic’s army, and the corps of Revolutionary Guards must be organized in accordance with this aim. They have responsibility not only for the safeguarding of the frontiers, but also for a religious mission, which is Holy War (JIHAD) along the way of God, and the struggle to extend the supremacy of God’s Law in the world.”

The Iranian constitution then quotes Koran 8:60 which is:  “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of God and your enemies, and others beside.”

This is the same Koranic quote referenced on the International Muslim Brotherhood’s logo.

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah – a designated terrorist organization – reports to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah kisses the sleeve of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a sign of respect and deference.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei stands with Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah under a portrait of Ayatollah Khomeini.

From the Congressional Record dated October 4, 2002:  “Prior to September 11, Hezbollah, through its terrorist wing, the Islamic Jihad Organization, had killed more Americans, by far, than any other terrorist organization in the world. The bombing of U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, the hijacking of TWA flight 847, numerous other brutal kidnappings and murders of Americans.”

From the 9/11 Commission Report:  “In June 1996, a truck bomb demolished the Khobar Towers apartment complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 U.S. servicemen and wounding hundreds.  The attack was carried out primarily by Saudi Hezbollah, an organization that had received help from the government of Iran…In late 1991 or 1992, discussions in Sudan between Al Qaeda and Iranian operatives led to an informal agreement to cooperate in providing support – even if only training – for action carried out primarily against Israel and the United States.  Not long afterward, senior Al Qaeda operatives and trainers traveled to Iran to receive training in explosives…The relationship between Al Qaeda and Iran demonstrated that Sunni-Shia divisions did not necessarily pose an insurmountable barrier…Senior managers in Al Qaeda maintained contacts with Iran and the Iranian-supported worldwide terrorist organization Hezbollah…Al Qaeda members received advice and training from Hezbollah.  Intelligence indicates the persistence of contacts between Iranian security officials and senior Al Qaeda figures after Bin Laden returned to Afghanistan…In October 2000, two future muscle hijackers Mohand al Shehri and Hamza al Ghamdi, flew from Iran to Kuwait…In November (3 other muscle hijackers) traveled in a group from Saudi Arabia to Beirut and then onward to Iran.  An associate of a senior Hezbollah operative was on the same flight that took the future hijackers to Iran…There is strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of Al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers.”

Additionally, senior Al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his family lived in Iran.

FBI officials testified in February 2002 “FBI investigations to date continue to indicate that many Hezbollah subjects based in the United States have the capability to attempt terrorist attacks here should this be a desired objective of the group.”

CIA Director George Tenet testified in February 2003 “Hezbollah, as an organization with capability and worldwide presence, is [Al Qaeda’s] equal, if not a far more capable organization.”

A July 28, 2011 U.S. State Department press release reads:  “The U.S. Department of the Treasury today announced the designation of six members of an al-Qa’ida network headed by Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, a prominent Iran-based al-Qa’ida facilitator, operating under an agreement between al-Qa’ida and the Iranian government.”

In 2012, the U.S. Treasury Department designated the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security – Iran’s primary intelligence agency – for providing material support to Hezbollah and Hamas (TERRORIST organizations), for providing Al Qaeda operatives with documents (passports, ID), facilitating Al Qaeda’s movement in Iran, and providing weapons and money to Al Qaeda in Iraq during the war there.

Approximately one week ago, U.S. Central Command Commander General Votel testified before Congress that “Iran posses the greatest long-term threat to stability in this part of the world.”

It is high time the United States government destroy Iran’s ability to wage war at all levels, including Hezbollah’s operations in Lebanon, Iran, and their cells here in the United States.