Iranian Proxy Hezbollah Says Saudi’s Islam “More Evil than Israel”!

isaud-1

Consider a world in which theology is even more important than oil.

CounterJihad, Sept. 28, 2016:

The head of Iran’s greatest proxy force in the Middle East, Hezbollah, has joined Iranian calls to view Saudi-backed Wahhabi Islam as a perversion and an enemy of true Islam.  Guerrilla leader Hassan Nasrallah said that the form of Islam promulgated by Saudi Arabia is “more evil than Israel,” and that Wahhabi Islam seeks to “eliminate whatever thing that has to do with Islam and its history.”

It is clear that these remarks are no accident.  They follow a declaration from Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that Saudi Arabia was not fit to serve as a guardian for the Islamic cities of Mecca and Medina. Likewise, Iran’s Foreign Minister, M. Javad Zarif, published an op-ed in no less than the New York Times calling for a unified global effort to destroy the Wahhabi form of Islam.  Zarif pointedly referred to it not as “the Wahhabi form of Islam,” but as “Wahhabism,” implicitly denying that it represents a legitimate form of Islam.

The Saudis have responded in kind, with their top religious figure declaring that Iranian Shia Islam is not really a form of Islam at all.

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh said[,]  “We have to understand that they are not Muslims. … Their main enemies are the followers of Sunnah (Sunnis)[.]”… He described Iranian leaders as sons of “magus”, a reference to Zoroastrianism, the dominant belief in Persia until the Muslim Arab invasion of the region that is now Iran 13 centuries ago.

The feud over who represents real Islam occurs alongside two more physical disputes between these nations.  The first is the set of proxy wars that they are fighting in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.  The second is a major dispute over oil production.  The elimination of the sanctions against Iranian oil occasioned by US President Barack Obama’s “Iran deal” has opened the floodgates to Iranian gluts.  The result is a driving down of oil prices for crude, crippling nations across the globe who rely on crude oil exports for their budgets.  Iran and Saudi Arabia walked away from a deal in the last week, leaving no hope but for oil prices to continue to freefall through November at least (when OPEC has its next meeting).

Given the existence of both proxy wars and oil disputes, the theological argument takes on potentially serious ramifications.  From the West, it looks like the gathering of stormclouds over a Middle East already at war.  Yet consider these writings from Malaysian security analyst Mathew Maavak, who is describing how it looks from the Islamic world’s Pacific theater.  He scans as someone whose analysis has a marked preference for Iran, but this is the future he sees:

The US has lost credibility on all fronts. Even its vacuous boast of being a “Christian nation” is belied by omnipresent national symbols such as the Eye of Horus on the dollar note, Ishtar masquerading as the Statue of Liberty and Jezebel reincarnated as Hillary Clinton….  Many are however taking belated note of this devil’s pact between the United States and the Saudi-led Gulf Arab world. Winning hearts and minds and attempting geostrategic pacts like the “Asian pivot” is impossible under current status quo. The Wahhabi and his ilk stand in the way of a reinvigorated US global outreach. The obscurantists need to go. Redacted portions of the official 9/11 report must be released to implicate the Saudis; legislation allowing families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia must be allowed to gain momentum; and former ally Pakistan needs to be declared as a terrorist state….

Iran naturally has been tinkering with age-old plans to break this monopoly and replace Mecca with Karbala as the centre of (Shia) Muslim pilgrimage. Either way, once the Middle East turns into an inferno, the Sunni world may not have the WMDs and military backing of a Pakistan preoccupied with battling India. This scenario is not a chimera, for there is no shortage of spoilers and usurpers in the region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin himself had notably warned of ISIS’ designs on Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. While Jerusalem poses an almost insurmountable obstacle, ISIS may yet be able to level the Saudi cities under the patronage of a new, non-Wahhabi master.

That is an even more apocalyptic vision of the future than Western analysts proffer.  The United States’ moral authority is dismissed as paganism pretending to false Christianity — it is interesting that he feels it important to say this, as it implies that a true Christianity would enjoy some moral force.  All of America’s allies, both the Wahhabi Saudis and the Pakistanis, are likewise false Muslims.  The inferno to come may “level” the traditional holy cities of Islam.  Out of the fire, he expects perhaps Iran, perhaps the Islamic State (ISIS) to emerge as the new face of Islam.

While this vision is in many ways implausible, it is important as a demonstration of what serious thinkers in the eastern Islamic world are considering as possible futures.  In the West we think of theological disputes as merely rhetorical:  what is real, we would tend to say, is the dispute over the price of oil.  That is not the case here.  For these actors, the theological dispute is the really important thing.  That is why it is important to dismiss not only Saudi Arabia’s standing as a Muslim power, but America’s standing as a Christian power.

If Western diplomats and security professionals fail to understand this central place of theology, they will act as if oil were the center of gravity for this dispute.  In doing that, they will lose any capacity to prevent what increasingly looks like a terrible regional war.

Meet the New Authoritarian Masters of the Internet

Getty Images

Getty Images

Breitbart, by John Hayward, Sept. 29, 2016:

President Barack Obama’s drive to hand off control of Internet domains to a foreign multi-national operation will give some very unpleasant regimes equal say over the future of online speech and commerce.

In fact, they are likely to have much more influence than America, because they will collectively push hard for a more tightly controlled Internet, and they are known for aggressively using political and economic pressure to get what they want.

Here’s a look at some of the regimes that will begin shaping the future of the Internet in just a few days, if President Obama gets his way.

China

China wrote the book on authoritarian control of online speech. The legendary “Great Firewall of China” prevents citizens of the communist state from accessing global content the Politburo disapproves of. Chinese technology companies are required by law to provide the regime with backdoor access to just about everything.

The Chinese government outright banned online news reporting in July, granting the government even tighter control over the spread of information. Websites are only permitted to post news from official government sources. Chinese online news wasn’t exactly a bastion of freedom before that, of course, but at least the government censors had to track down news stories they disliked and demand the site administrators take them down.

Unsurprisingly, the Chinese Communists aren’t big fans of independent news analysis or blogging, either. Bloggers who criticize the government are liable to be charged with “inciting subversion,” even when the writer in question is a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Chinese citizens know better than to get cheeky on social media accounts, as well. Before online news websites were totally banned, they were forbidden from reporting news gathered from social media, without government approval. Spreading anything the government decides is “fake news” is a crime.

In a report labeling China one of the worst countries for Internet freedom in the world, Freedom House noted they’ve already been playing games with Internet registration and security verification:

The China Internet Network Information Center was found to be issuing false digital security certificates for a number of websites, including Google, exposing the sites’ users to “man in the middle” attacks.

The government strengthened its real-name registration laws for blogs, instant-messaging services, discussion forums, and comment sections of websites.

A key feature of China’s online censorship is that frightened citizens are not entirely certain what the rules are. Huge ministries work tirelessly to pump out content regulations and punish infractions. Not all of the rules are actually written down. As Foreign Policy explained:

Before posting, a Chinese web user is likely to consider basic questions about how likely a post is to travel, whether it runs counter to government priorities, and whether it calls for action or is likely to engender it. Those answers help determine whether a post can be published without incident — as it is somewhere around 84 percent or 87 percent of the time — or is instead likely to lead to a spectrum of negative consequences varying from censorship, to the deletion of a user’s account, to his or her detention, even arrest and conviction.

This was accompanied by a flowchart demonstrating “what gets you censored on the Chinese Internet.” It is not a simple flowchart.

Beijing is not even slightly self-conscious about its authoritarian control of the Internet. On the contrary, their censorship policies are trumpeted as “Internet sovereignty,” and they aggressively believe the entire world should follow their model, as the Washington Post reported in a May 2016 article entitled “China’s Scary Lesson to the World: Censoring the Internet Works.”

China already has a quarter of the planet’s Internet users locked up behind the Great Firewall. How can anyone doubt they won’t use the opportunity Obama is giving them, to pursue their openly stated desire to lock down the rest of the world?

Russia

Russia and China are already working together for a more heavily-censored Internet.Foreign Policy reported one of Russia’s main goals at an April forum was to “harness Chinese expertise in Internet management to gain further control over Russia’s internet, including foreign sites accessible there.”

Russia’s “top cop,” Alexander Bastrykin, explicitly stated Russia needs to stop “playing false democracy” and abandon “pseudo-liberal values” by following China’s lead on Internet censorship, instead of emulating the U.S. example. Like China’s censors, Russian authoritarians think “Internet freedom” is just coded language for the West imposing “cultural hegemony” on the rest of the world.

Just think what Russia and China will be able to do about troublesome foreign websites, once Obama surrenders American control of Internet domains!

Russian President Vladimir Putin has “chipped away at Internet freedom in Russia since he returned to the Kremlin in 2012,” as International Business Times put it in a 2014 article.

One of Putin’s new laws requires bloggers with over 3,000 readers to register with the government, providing their names and home addresses. As with China, Russia punishes online writers for “spreading false information,” and once the charge is leveled, it’s basically guilty-until-proven-innocent. For example, one of the “crimes” that can get a blogger prosecuted in Russia is alleging the corruption of a public official, without ironclad proof.

Human-rights group Agora estimates that Russian Internet censorship grew by 900% in 2015 alone, including both court orders and edicts from government agencies that don’t require court approval. Censorship was expected to intensify even further throughout 2016. Penalties include prison time, even for the crime of liking or sharing banned content on social media.

Putin, incidentally, has described the entire Internet as a CIA plot designed to subvert regimes like his. There will be quite a few people involved in the new multi-national Internet control agency who think purging the Web of American influence is a top priority.

The Russian government has prevailed upon Internet Service Providers to block opposition websites during times of political unrest, in addition to thousands of bans ostensibly issued for security, crime-fighting, and anti-pornography purposes.

Many governments follow the lead of Russia and China in asserting the right to shut down “extremist” or “subversive” websites. In the United States, we worry about law enforcement abusing its authority while battling outright terrorism online, arguing that privacy and freedom of speech must always be measured against security, no matter how dire the threat. In Russia, a rough majority of the population has no problem with the notion of censoring the Internet in the name of political stability, and will countenance absolutely draconian controls against perceived national security threats. This is a distressingly common view in other nations as well: stability justifies censorship and monitoring, not just physical security.

Turkey

Turkey’s crackdown on the Internet was alarming even before the aborted July coup attempt against authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey has banned social media sites, including temporary bans against even giants like Facebook and YouTube, for political reasons. Turkish dissidents are accustomed to such bans coming down on the eve of elections. The Turkish telecom authority can impose such bans without a court order, or a warning to offending websites.

Turkey is often seen as the world leader in blocking Twitter accounts, in addition to occasionally shutting the social media service down completely, and has over a 100,000 websites blacklisted. Criticizing the government online can result in anything from lost employment to criminal charges. And if you think social-media harassment from loyal supporters of the government in power can get pretty bad in the U.S., Turks sometimes discover that hassles from pro-regime trolls online are followed by visits from the police.

Turkish law infamously makes it a crime to insult the president, a law Erdogan has already attempted to impose beyond Turkey’s borders. One offender found himself hauled into court for creating a viral meme – the sort of thing manufactured by the thousands every hour in America – that noted Erdogan bore a certain resemblance to Gollum from Lord of the Rings. The judge in his case ordered expert testimony on whether Gollum was evil to conclusively determine whether the meme was an illegal insult to the president.

The Turkish example introduces another idea common to far too many of the countries Obama wants to give equal say over the future of the Internet: intimidation is a valid purpose for law enforcement. Many of Turkey’s censorship laws are understood to be mechanisms for intimidating dissidents, raising the cost of free speech enough to make people watch their words very carefully. “Think twice before you Tweet” might be good advice for some users, but regimes like Erdogan’s seek to impose that philosophy on everyone. This runs strongly contrary to the American understanding of the Internet as a powerful instrument that lowers the cost of speech to near-zero, the biggest quantum leap for free expression in human history. Zero-cost speech is seen as a big problem by many of the governments that will now place strong hands upon the global Internet rudder.

Turkey is very worried about “back doors” that allow citizens to circumvent official censorship, a concern they will likely bring to Internet control, along with like-minded authoritarian regimes. These governments will make the case that a free and open Internet is a direct threat to their “sovereign right” to control what their citizens read. As long as any part of the Internet remains completely free, no sector can be completely controlled.

Saudi Arabia

The Saudis aren’t too far behind China in the Internet rankings by Freedom House. Dissident online activity can bring jail sentences, plus the occasional public flogging.

This is particularly lamentable because Saudi Arabia is keenly interested in modernization, and sees the Internet as a valuable economic resource, along with a thriving social media presence. Freedom House notes the Internet “remains the least repressive space for expression in the country,” but “it is by no means free.”

“While the state focuses on combatting violent extremism and disrupting terrorist networks, it has clamped down on nonviolent liberal activists and human rights defenders with the same zeal, branding them a threat to the national order and prosecuting them in special terrorism tribunals,” Freedom House notes.

USA Today noted that as of 2014, Saudi Arabia had about 400,000 websites blocked, “including any that discuss political, social or religious topics incompatible with the Islamic beliefs of the monarchy.”

At one point the blacklist included the Huffington Post, which was banned for having the temerity to run an article suggesting the Saudi system might “implode” because of oil dependency and political repression. The best response to criticism that your government is too repressive is a blacklist!

The Saudis have a penchant for blocking messaging apps and voice-over-IP services, like Skype and Facetime. App blocking got so bad that Saudi users have been known to ask, “What’s the point of having the Internet?”

While some Saudis grumble about censorship, many others are active, enthusiastic participants in enforcement, filing hundreds of requests each day to have websites blocked. Religious figures supply many of these requests, and the government defends much of its censorship as the defense of Islamic values.

As with other censorious regimes, the Saudi monarchy worries about citizens using web services beyond its control to evade censorship, a concern that will surely be expressed loudly once America surrenders its command of Internet domains.

For the record, the Saudis’ rivals in Iran are heavy Internet censors too, with Stratfor listing them as one of the countries seeking Chinese assistance for “solutions on how best to monitor the Iranian population.”

North Korea

You can’t make a list of authoritarian nightmares without including the psychotic regime in Pyongyang, the most secretive government in the world.

North Korea is so repressive the BBC justly puts the word “Internet” in scare quotes, to describe the online environment. It doesn’t really interconnect with anything, except government propaganda and surveillance. Computers in the lone Internet cafe in Pyongyang actually boot up to a customized Linux operating system called “Red Star,” instead of Windows or Mac OS. The calendar software in Red Star measures the date from the birth of Communist founder Kim Il-sung, rather than the birth of Christ.

The “Internet” itself is a closed system called Kwangmyong, and citizens can only access it through a single state-run provider, with the exception of a few dozen privileged families that can punch into the real Internet.

Kwangmyong is often compared to the closed “intranet” system in a corporate office, with perhaps 5,000 websites available at most. Unsurprisingly, the content is mostly State-monitored messaging and State-supplied media. Contributors to these online services have reportedly been sent to re-education camps for typos. The North Koreans are so worried about outside contamination of their closed network that they banned wi-fi hotspots at foreign embassies, having noticed information-starved North Korean citizens clustering within range of those beautiful, uncensored wireless networks.

This doesn’t stop South Koreans from attempting cultural penetration of their squalid neighbor’s dismal little online network. Lately they’ve been doing it by loading banned information onto cheap memory sticks, tying them to balloons, and floating them across the border.

Sure, North Korea is the ultimate totalitarian nightmare, and since they have less than two thousand IP addresses registered in the entire country, the outlaw regime won’t be a big influence on Obama’s multi-national Internet authority, right?

Not so fast. As North Korea expert Scott Thomas Bruce told the BBC, authoritarian governments who are “looking at what is happening in the Middle East” see North Korea as a model to be emulated.

“They’re saying rather than let in Facebook, and rather than let in Twitter, what if the government created a Facebook that we could monitor and control?” Bruce explained.

Also, North Korea has expressed some interest in using the Internet as a tool for economic development, which means there would be more penetration of the actual global network into their society. They’ll be very interested in censoring and controlling that access, and they’ll need a lot more registered domains and IP addresses… the very resource Obama wants America to surrender control over.

Bottom line: contrary to left-wing cant, there is such a thing as American exceptionalism – areas in which the United States is demonstrably superior to every other nation, a leader to which the entire world should look for examples. Sadly, our society is losing its fervor for free expression, and growing more comfortable with suppressing “unacceptable” speech, but we’re still far better than anyone else in this regard.

The rest of the world, taken in total, is very interested in suppressing various forms of expression, for reasons ranging from security to political stability and religion. Those governments will never be comfortable, so long as parts of the Internet remain outside of their control. They have censorship demands they consider very reasonable, and absolutely vital. The website you are reading right now violates every single one of them, on a regular basis.

There may come a day we can safely remand control of Internet domains to an international body, but that day is most certainly not October 1, 2016.

***

Technology CEOs Shamefully Lubricate Internet’s Surrender by Frank Gaffney

Congress has just showed why so many Americans are sick of their politicians and ready to throw the bums out. The Senate and House leadership have agreed to President Obama’s surrender of your Internet to freedom’s enemies.

The deed was done yesterday when Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed through the Senate a funding bill without a prohibition on the Internet give-away.  The House is expected to rubber stamp it today.

Political cover came from something called the Technology CEO Council.  This group of interested parties, whose lobbyists give generously to politicians’ campaigns, blithely assured Congress: “Placing stewardship of these technical but important functions beyond the control of any one government or group of governments will best secure the principles of Internet freedom and de-politicization of technology.”

Shame on the CEOs for disseminating such transnational rubbish – and the Congress for swallowing it.

***

Joint Chiefs Chairman Rejects Obama Plan to Share Syria Intel with Russia

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

Breitbart, by James Zumwalt, Sept. 26, 2016:

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford has just gone where no JCS chairman has ever gone before! Unsurprisingly, it took a Marine general to stand up to President Barack Obama in the wake of yet another of his dubious national security decisions.

The same mindless Obama/Kerry negotiating team that brought us an Iran deal undermining our national security, recently sought to bring us a similarly questionable deal with Russia. This one mandated the Pentagon’s participation in an intelligence-sharing agreement with the Russian Central Command in Syria—built upon a ceasefire paving the way for peace negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland.

But, unlike the Iran nuclear deal where the JCS Chairman did nothing, our current Chairman, General Dunford, publicly voiced his objection.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 22, Dunford made clear the military would refuse to execute what was the central element of Obama’s new Syria policy, i.e., intelligence-sharing with Russia—despite the president’s order it be done.

Calling it a bad idea, Dunford said, “The U.S. military role will not include intelligence sharing with the Russians.” Sitting at Dunford’s side during the testimony was his civilian boss, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who raised no objection.

The implication of his testimony was obvious—the president’s deal with Russia was undermining U.S. national security. Dunford, having freed himself from Obama’s vortex, was having none of it.

During his eight years in office, Obama has demonstrated an uncanny ability to endanger U.S. national security interests without ever being challenged by those responsible for doing so.

Congress completely abandoned its responsibility in this regard, most notably allowing Obama to end run the Senate to make a nuclear agreement with Iran effective. The deal—legally a treaty necessitating two-thirds approval by the Senate—was packaged as a non-treaty, i.e., an executive order, as Obama knew he could not muster such approval.

The agreement with Iran, after both presidential candidate Obama and President Obamapromised over two dozen times not to, paved the way for Tehran to get nukes—legally inten years; sooner if done illegally.

Unbeknownst to Congress was the fact the deal also included secret side deals—one of which allowed Tehran to conduct its own inspections with not even U.S. top negotiator Secretary of State John Kerry knowing the details. It also resulted in the lifting of sanctions against Iran and the transfer of billions of dollars, some of which cash transfers were hidden from Congress.

The Senate votes of those either knowing the details of the nuclear deal with Iran or, despite a responsibility to know them, failing to learn them, ultimately enabled Obama to subvert the U.S. Constitution and pass a treaty with less than the mandated two-thirds majority.

The agreement, which Obama promoted as opening the door to better relations between the U.S. and Iran, has resulted in that door being slammed in our face. Since the Senate passed the agreement, the number of naval confrontations with Iran has doubled, with Tehran now even threatening to shoot down our spy planes operating in international airspace.

But it was not the Senate alone that failed the American people in ensuring our national security interests were given top priority by killing the Iran nuclear deal.

Our Founding Fathers imposed limitations upon our military within the Constitution to ensure it always remained subordinate to civilian authority. For over two centuries now, the Constitution has worked effectively to ensure this.

Thus, last year, when the JCS reviewed the terms of an Iran nuclear agreement negotiated by civilian authority, and then JCS Chairman U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey gained full knowledge of its terms and secret side deals, it became incumbent upon him to act in our country’s national security interests as permitted within the Constitution’s guidelines.

There is no way a responsible military leader could have endorsed this deal, knowing secret side deals paved the way for a nuclear armed Iran. Dempsey had an obligation to advise Obama of such. And, when Obama disregarded his advice, Dempsey should have been driven by ethics to tender his resignation. This would have conveyed the message to the Senate it should reject the deal as well. Dempsey failed to do so, allowing the Senate to pass an unconscionable treaty.

It has become clear, as Obama manages to get Kerry and others in government, as well as in the military, to support his questionable national security initiatives, he wields a mesmerizing ability to lure others into his web of dangerous national security thinking.

Clearly, Obama has created a vortex in Washington spinning in a direction contrary to U.S. national security interests. That vortex has proven capable of sucking into it those in government responsible for ensuring a president’s questionable national security actions do not go unchallenged.

But hope may now lie on the horizon due to Dunford’s principled stance.

It is inconceivable to think our president sought to share intelligence with Russia for two reasons.

Firstly, as an ally of Iran, Moscow would obviously share what it learned with Tehran, compromising future U.S. collection efforts.

Secondly, Dunford, during his July 2015 confirmation hearings, had warned Congress that Russia posed “an existential threat to the United States… if you look at their behavior, it’s nothing short of alarming.”

Fourteen months later, Dunford’s assessment had not changed, testifying, “a combination of their behavior as well as their military capability would cause me to believe that they pose the most significant challenge, potentially the most significant threat, to our national interests.”

Fortunately for us, but unfortunately for the Syrians, the ceasefire failed after 300 violations negating, for the near-term at least, Obama’s intelligence-sharing scheme with Russia and thus sparing us any further compromise of our national security.

It is discomforting to know Obama still has four months remaining in office. It is comforting to know, however, that General Dunford, having successfully freed himself from Obama’s vortex, will be there to challenge any other dubious presidential decision seeking to undermine our national security.

Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of “Bare Feet, Iron Will–Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam’s Battlefields,” “Living the Juche Lie: North Korea’s Kim Dynasty” and “Doomsday: Iran–The Clock is Ticking.” He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.

CAIR Has Always Been Hamas

Understanding the Threat, by John Guandolo,  Sept. 22, 2016:

The Council on American Islamic Relations was created in 1994 by the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee which is Hamas in America.

CAIR is Hamas.  [See the UTT document entitled “CAIR is Hamas” HERE.]

Hamas is a designated Foreign Terrorist organization by the U.S. government and CAIR is a designated terrorist organization by our allies, including the UAE.

A document recovered from CAIR’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. by UTT Vice President Chris Gaubatz reveals Hamas (doing business as CAIR) is willing to work with Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden:

“Attempt to understand Islamic movements in the area, and start supporting Islamic groups including Mr. bin Laden and his associates”  (Proposed Muslim Platform for 2004 dated 3/08/04)

A declassified FBI document from the Indianapolis, Indiana field office dated 1987 stated:

“The Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) is a secret Muslim organization that has unlimited funds and is extremely well organized in the United States…(an FBI source states) that in this phase their organizations needs to peacefuly get inside the United States Government and also American universities….the ultimate goal of the Islamic Revolution is the overthrow of all non-Islamic Government and that violence is a tool…(An FBI source ) has stated that Muslim in the United States have to be prepared for Martyrdom.”

In a separate declassified FBI document dated 12/15/87:

“The leadership of (MB organizations) are inter-related…having been identified as supporters of the Islamic Revolution as advocated by the Government of Iran (GOI).”

Former Iranian President Khatami being served by Shurat Hadin with a $1 billion legal action on behalf of 12 Persians imprisoned in Iran. This took place at a Hamas (CAIR) function in Northern Virginia 2006. Hamas leader Nihad Awad on the right of Iran’s Khatami.

Former Iranian President Khatami being served by Shurat Hadin with a $1 billion legal action on behalf of 12 Persians imprisoned in Iran. This took place at a Hamas (CAIR) function in Northern Virginia 2006. Hamas leader Nihad Awad on the right of Iran’s Khatami.

awadSo when we see CAIR host the former President of Iran Khatami at a Hamas function in Northern Virginia, it is no surprise.

They are terrorists.  That is what terrorists do.

Keep this in mind as they get in front of the TV cameras to tell us all about the bombings in New York, New Jersey.

CAIR is Hamas.  Hamas is a terrorist organization.

Obama’s Cash-for-Jihad Program

(Dreamstime image: Dmitry Rukhlenko)

(Dreamstime image: Dmitry Rukhlenko)

National Review, by Andrew C. McCarthy, Sept. 17, 2016:

The Obama State Department is convinced that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and his regime’s cronies are financing terrorism. How come? Well, because they conduct business in cash.

In fact, in its most recent annual report on state sponsors of terrorism, State frets “that 60 percent of all business transactions [in Syria] are conducted in cash and that nearly 80 percent of all Syrians do not use formal banking services.” This has created a “vast black market,” the components of which are exploited by “some members of the Syrian government and the business elite . . . in terrorism finance schemes.”

Interesting thing about that: There are only three countries on the list of state sponsors of terrorism — Syria, Sudan, and Iran. That last one is worth highlighting. Iran, after all, is not just the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism; it is also the world’s leading state sponsor of . . . Syria — providing it with lots of that cash the State Department is so concerned about.

Oh, I nearly forgot: Iran also happens to be the jihadist regime that President Obama just gave $1.7 billion to . . . in cash.

Or should I say, at least $1.7 billion.

It is hard to decide what is the most appalling thing about Obama’s $1.7 billion payoff to the mullahs: the ransom for the release of American hostages, which has predictably induced Tehran to take more hostages; the pallets of untraceable currency loaded on multiple planes of the national airline regularly used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to arm Assad and facilitate terror; the withdrawals from a shadowy Treasury Department fund structured in a manner designed to conceal that money was being transferred to Iran. The transaction is so shocking, one can easily forget that it is just the latest in a long series of payoffs.

The payoffs were made in Obama’s pursuit of legacy adornment — the nuclear deal with Iran he coveted at any cost. Beginning in January 2014 and continuing for a year and a half — the period during which the president was quietly folding at the negotiation table on every bold campaign-trail vow to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons — the administration released $700 million per month in escrowed oil funds to the jihadist regime.

In congressional testimony last week, Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) did the math: That’s $11.9 billion. But that, literally, may not be the half of it. In July, U.S. government officials told the Associated Press that Iran had repatriated a sum approaching $20 billion in the half-year following implementation of the nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA).

Is that $20 billion from the JCPOA in addition to the pre-JCPOA $11.9 billion in oil revenues? Is it in addition to the $1.7 billion “settlement of a failed 1970s arms deal” (a.k.a. the ransom for American hostages)? The “most transparent administration in history” is not saying. But as Dubowitz runs the numbers, the “worst-case scenario” is that Iran has gotten its mitts on $33.6 billion — and “worst” assumes that we know about every shady backroom deal, which seems unlikely.

That staggering figure would amount to about 8 percent of Iran’s entire annual GDP. Whatever the true amount is, were the billions transferred in cash?

Remember, when the news first broke of the $400 million cash payment on the same day our hostages were released, the president looked us in the eye and told us he had to pay the mullahs that way — he couldn’t wire the funds or send a check because, owing to his professed respect for sanctions in American law, there is no banking relationship between the U.S. and Iran. As I explained at the time, this was simply false: The cash transfer violated the sanctions every bit as much as a check or wire transfer would have. Plus, the sanctions allow for presidential waivers, so Obama could easily have wired the money. He sent cash only because he chose to send cash.

So if the administration loaded up planes with $1.7 billion in foreign currency for the settlement/ransom, was a similar method used in connection with the $11.9 billion in escrowed oil funds? How about the $20 billion in JCPOA sanctions relief? Again, the administration won’t say — apparently relying on a nonexistent privilege of confidentiality in international relations to justify withholding such information from Congress and the public.

One sadly hilarious aspect of this spectacle is the administration’s tortured claims about Iran’s use of its Obama windfalls. The White House and State Department grudgingly admit that they cannot know for certain how much Iran has diverted to the terrorist activities that the administration even more grudgingly admits Iran continues to underwrite. But rest assured, Obama strongly suspects that very little money makes its way to the jihad, since Tehran must prioritize paying down crushing debt and repairing crumbling infrastructure.

How ridiculous. It is pointless to track how particular dollar streams are spent by a terrorist regime. Iran had crushing debt and crumbling infrastructure before Obama started lining its pockets; yet it was committed to exporting revolutionary jihad, so it spent its sparse resources on terrorism anyway. Consequently, if the new dollars Iran is reeling in are ostensibly spent on infrastructure or debt, the dollars that would otherwise have been spent on those activities are freed up for terrorist activity.

The logic is unassailable: Because money is fungible, not a thin dime can safely be given to an entity that supports terrorism. In the case of Iran, however, we need not rely on logical deduction; we know Iran is channeling funds to the jihad. As the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Saeed Ghasseminejad reports, the Iranian regime requires the transfer to its military of funds it receives from settling legal disputes with foreign countries and companies. That means, for example, that the $1.7 billion settlement that Obama paid when the hostages were released has gone to the IRGC.

That brings us back full-circle to the State Department’s annual report on state sponsors of terrorism. As the report explains, the IRGC, through its notorious Qods Force, “is Iran’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad.”

To summarize: The Obama administration explains that when a terrorist regime like Syria prefers to conduct business in cash, that markedly increases the likelihood that its funds will be used to finance terrorism. Concurrently, Obama is providing exorbitant sums to Iran, the world’s worst terrorist regime, and going out of his way to transfer it in the form of cash. And under the Iranian regime’s dictates, a goodly portion of that cash is going directly to the component of the Iranian government that oversees its prodigious international terrorism operations.

Not to worry, though — it’s not like they’re threatening our naval vessels, humiliating our sailors, massing Hezbollah forces on Israel’s border, or chanting “Death to America,” right?

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and a contributing editor of National Review.

***

Report: Obama Admin Provided Iranian Terror Orgs With $37.4 Million in Cash

John Kerry / AP

John Kerry / AP

Washington Free Beacon, Adam Kredo Sept. 14, 2016:

Iran is estimated to have spent at least $37.4 million in recent U.S. cash payments to fund its global terrorism operation, including organizations responsible for the murder of U.S. citizens, according to new research provided to the Washington Free Beacon by analysts.

The recent $1.7 billion cash payment to Iran—which is being described by many in Congress as a ransom payment to the Islamic Republic—will be used in part to fund Iran’s leading military organization, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which is responsible for orchestrating terror attacks that have killed Americans.

The new research comes amid a growing scandal over the Obama administration’s decision to hand Iran billions in cash as part of an effort to secure the release of several U.S. hostages earlier this year.

Leading lawmakers now suspect that the IRGC played a key role in assuming control of this cash, which the White House has admitted to putting directly in Iranian hands, the Free Beacon disclosed Monday evening.

When viewed in light of Iran’s current spending levels, it is expected the Islamic Republic will use at least $37.4 million of this $1.7 billion to fund IRGC operations, which have led to bloody battles in Syria and terrorist attacks across the globe, according to the American Action Forum, a non-profit research organization headed by a former top congressional official.

“Applying the official spending levels to the U.S. payment to Iran, the $1.7 billion would mean $37.4 million for the IRGC,” according to research published by Rachel Hoff, AAF’s director of defense analysis. “Paying ransoms in exchange for Americans held abroad is one bad policy—indirectly funding terrorism is another.”

AAF has determined based on public reports by Iran that the country spends 3.4 percent of its total budget on defense needs, though some experts estimate the number is even higher.

At least “65 percent of that funding [goes] to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the Iranian elite paramilitary force,” according to AAF. “That works out to 2.2 percent of Iran’s total budget for the IRGC, which actively supports terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East. It is unlikely that Iran accurately reports its military or paramilitary spending, but the reported budget figures are useful as a baseline.”

These latest estimates are likely to draw further outrage on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers have launched several investigations into the circumstances surrounding the $1.7 billion payment.

While the Obama administration has been forced to disclose some details about the cash payment, it withheld key information from Congress, including the names and affiliations of the Iranian officials who assumed control over the money when it was handed off earlier this year in Europe.

New admissions by the Obama administration that American officials physically handed some $1.7 billion in cash to the Iranian government are fueling a congressional investigation into still-hidden details surrounding the deal.

Lawmakers suspect the Obama administration may have dealt with members of the IRGC and officials from its intelligence ministry when carrying out the cash exchange, which coincided with the release by Iran of several U.S. hostages.

The Obama administration recently disclosed to Congress that U.S. officials participated in the handoff of at least $400 million to Iranian officials, but has withheld key details about which parts of the Iranian government assumed control of the cash, according to discussions with multiple sources familiar with the ongoing congressional investigation.

Sources familiar with the matter told the Free Beacon it is possible IRGC members participated in the exchange, raising new questions about the Obama administration’s dealings with an organization responsible for facilitating terrorism and killing U.S. citizens.

“On January 17, Treasury disbursed the payment to an official from the Central Bank of Iran, for transfer to Tehran,” the Treasury Department recently informed Congress in a communication obtained first by the Free Beacon. “The funds were under U.S. Government control until their disbursement pursuant to the settlement.”

The Obama administration “withdrew the funds from its account as Swiss franc banknotes and the U.S. Government physically transported them to Geneva” prior to the exchange with Iran, according to the letter, which was sent late last week by Treasury Department official Thomas Patrick Maloney in response to questions submitted by Rep. Sean Duffy (R., Wis.).

At least one leading lawmaker told the Free Beacon on Monday that there is little doubt the IRGC played a key role in this cash exchange.

“For the Obama administration to argue that the IRGC was somehow not involved in the U.S. transfer of $1.7 billion—or more—in cash to Iran is totally unconvincing,” Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told the Free Beacon on Monday. “Given the IRGC’s extensive control of the Iranian economy, and its vast influence with Iran’s regime, it was most likely influential in the set-up and execution of the payment. Like other malicious actors, the IRGC is eager to get its hands on cash to fund its terrorist activities.”

Also see:

Tehran Visit Showcases Role of Iranian-Backed Militias in Iraq

ali-akbar-velayati-and-kabi-in-tehranSheikh Akram al Kabi just completed a high-profile visit to Iran, in which he pledged loyalty not to his native Iraq but to Supreme Leader Khamenei.

CounterJihad, Sept. 9, 2016:

The Long War Journal has an excellent piece on the recent visit to Tehran of Iraqi militia leader Akram al Kabi, of the Harakat al Nujaba militia.

Militia officials frequently travel to Iran, but the publicity surrounding Kabi’s visit is unprecedented. This indicates the rising clout of the Iraqi cleric among the political elite in Tehran.

Kabi boldly proclaimed his allegiance to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, as well as the concept of velayat-e faqih, or guardianship of the jurist, which is the political and theological basis of the Islamic Republic as established by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Kabi echoed Tehran’s propaganda claims, and boasted about targeting American forces during the Second Gulf War. He reiterated his commitment to the “Axis of Resistance,” an alliance of state and non-state actors led by Iran. Kabi vowed that the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), the umbrella organization of Iraqi paramilitary groups that includes Iranian-backed groups such as Nujaba, would participate in the anticipated operation to lay siege to Mosul, which has been held by the Islamic State since 2014. Following Mosul, Kabi called for Iraqi militias to shift resources to Syria and chase the Islamic State into the strongholds of Deir ez-Zour and Raqqah. He also threatened to target Turkish forces stationed near Mosul.

The role of velayat-e faqih in Iran’s control of regional militia forces cannot be overstated.  The core theory of the Iranian revolution, it holds that only a specialized class of Shi’ite clerics can properly manage human affairs through government.  Loyalty is thus not properly given to either the elected officials of the semi-modern states of the region, nor to the tribal leaders who are often the real powers in much of the Middle East.  Rather, both the state and the tribe should be subordinated to properly trained religious leaders.  What constitutes a “properly trained” religious leader?  One trained in Iran’s elite schools, of course, preferably holding at least the rank of Ayatollah.

This does not bar the existence of elected governments, to be sure.  Iran has one itself.  However, every aspect of the elected government is placed under the “guardianship” of some cleric or body of clerics.  Iran’s “Guardian Council,” made up of such clerics, determined who was even allowed to stand for office in the last round of elections.  They dismissed 99% of the proposed candidates from the moderate and reformist parties, requiring that those parties recruit cleric-approved hardliner candidates even to participate in the elections.  Thus, while there was still an election, and the ‘moderate and reformist’ parties did fairly well, actual power became even more concentrated among those hand-picked by the clerical leadership.

Kabi, a US-designated foreign terrorist, will be participating in the attack on Islamic State (ISIS) positions near Mosul.  The United States is deploying nearly five thousand troops in the same assault.  Kurdish forces will also be participating.  The aftermath of the battle against ISIS in Mosul will thus be nearly as contentious as the actual battle itself, as Iran, the Kurds, the Turks, and the United States all scramble to try to sort out what the final disposition of the highly-contested and strategic city happens to be.  As the Long War Journal points out, Kabi is vociferously opposed to the United States’ interests, and describes his militia (here labeled “PMF,” an acronym that means “popular mobilization forces”) as a counterweight to American ambitions in Iraq:

During the meeting with Rezai, Kabi claimed that the PMF’s participation in the Mosul operation would foil a U.S. plan to build permanent military bases there. He claimed that the U.S. opposes PMF participation in Mosul because it intends to build such a base. Kabi touted the Iraqi Prime Minister’s decision to deploy PMF forces to Mosul.

Iran clearly intends to use these forces to limit America’s ability to shape the final outcome.  Khamenei’s loyalists are not in any sense swayed to rethink their relationship to the United States, neither by the so-called “Iran deal” nor by the fact that the Obama administration’s policies are supporting Iran’s own ambitions in Iraq and Syria.  They still regard the United States as the enemy, and are acting accordingly.

Also see:

Why Aleppo Matters: Syrian Army Just Broke Islamist Stronghold

syria-guide-mapDaily Caller, by Saagar Enjeti, Sept 8, 2016:

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad is tightening the noose around the jihadi stronghold city of Aleppo, possibly his greatest victory in the Syrian civil war.

Assad’s move in Aleppo could reverse all the gains a jihadi-led coalition made last month when it broke the regime’s siege. Aleppo has become a focal point of the broader Syrian opposition and involves almost every major player except the U.S. “Pro-regime forces reinstated the siege of Eastern Aleppo City” Sept. 4, the Institute for the Study of War noted Wednesday, explaining that, “new advances demonstrated the critical role played by Russia.”

Russia is pounding opposition-held areas of Aleppo in daily airstrikes. Iran just dispatched its favorite general to help coordinate the ground offensive, and earlier this month Hezbollah sent thousands of fresh troops to fight alongside the Assad regime. The Syrian regime even flouted the international community Wednesday when it likely dropped chlorine gas on civilians.

The only realistic chance of an end to hostilities in Aleppo is a potential deal between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Reports indicate that Obama was considering signing a deal with Putin for an immediate ceasefire in Aleppo, in exchange for military cooperation between the two countries. After months of haranguing over the details, the deal is now unlikely to come to fruition amid continued tensions between the two countries.

Syrian rebel opposition held positions inside Aleppo for nearly five years, but are unlikely to overcome Assad, Iran, and overwhelming Russian firepower. A rebel coalition led by al-Qaida-linked elements broke a government siege of Aleppo in early August, but the effort likely exhausted the military supplies of the groups. The reinstitution of a siege will deprive the group of supplies, and allow the regime and its allies to revert back to the original strategy of attrition warfare.

Despite a devastating five years of civil war, 300,000 civilians remain inside Aleppo. One humanitarian activist told Al Jazeera there are now only two bakeries in Aleppo to serve the remaining 300,000 customers.

Assad, Iran, and Russia have undertaken a concerted campaign to make the rebel position as untenable as possible, by bombing hospitals and cutting off any access to humanitarian assistance. The regime and its allies have tried to bomb as many hospitals as possible within Aleppo to cut off Rebel access to healthcare.

Cutting access to healthcare and food also makes life as miserable as possible for civilians living under rebel occupation.

The Assad regime’s strategy is to maintain control over as much of the civilian populace as possible to ensure perception of legitimacy in the eyes of the world, and bargain with the rebel opposition for peace from a position of strength.

“It is a shame that the world in the 21st century is watching an 8,000-year-old city destroyed on the heads of its inhabitants and bombed with 200 air raids and dozens of barrel bombs daily without doing anything,” President of the Opposition Council Anas Alabdah told The Daily Beast.

***

Iran / Saudi Feud Intensifies Over Takfiri Claims

isaud-1Saudi Arabia’s highest cleric declares Iran’s Shi’ite Islam to be non-Muslim. Iranian leaders including Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei claim it’s Saudi Wahhabis who are not Muslims, and say they’re unfit to guard Mecca.

CounterJihad, Sept. 8, 2016:

The highest ranked cleric in Saudi Arabia has declared that Iran’s Shi’ite Islam is not a true form of the faith.  The two states are already fighting enthusiastically through proxies in Yemen and elsewhere.  The undiplomatic language can only escalate tensions between the countries.

Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh said[,]  “We have to understand that they are not Muslims. … Their main enemies are the followers of Sunnah (Sunnis)[.]”… He described Iranian leaders as sons of “magus”, a reference to Zoroastrianism, the dominant belief in Persia until the Muslim Arab invasion of the region that is now Iran 13 centuries ago.

Following the statements by Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Sheikh, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called into question Saudi Arabia’s right to continue to control the territory containing the cities of Mecca and Medina.  Each are considered holy cities by Muslims, indeed the two holiest places on earth.

“The evil family tree of the Saudi dynasty does not have the competence to manage the holy shrines,” Khamenei said.

Al al-Sheikh’s remarks drew an acerbic retort from Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who said they were evidence of bigotry among Saudi leaders.  “Indeed; no resemblance between Islam of Iranians & most Muslims & bigoted extremism that Wahhabi top cleric & Saudi terror masters preach,” Zarif wrote on his Twitter account.

Ironically, these accusations that the other does not practice a true form of Islam only underlines the degree to which these are both Muslim countries.  As we at CounterJihad pointed out when the Islamic State attacked Medina, the accusations of not being a Muslim — a practice called takfiri — is a classic gambit in radical Muslim movements.  Our resident Islamic scholar explained the history of the practice at greater length on another occasion:

ISIS certainly represents a train of thought in the 1,400 year old Islamic tradition, even if it is an extremist train of thought that has not enjoyed prominence in Islamic history.  As a matter of fact, the takfiri mentality is not a novelty in the 1,400 year old Islamic tradition.  One need only look back to the last century to see this takfiri mentality in the likes of influential thinkers as Abul ‘Ala Maududi (1903 – 1979 A.D.), and his protégé Sayyid Qutb (1906 – 1966 A.D.), the main theologian of the Muslim Brotherhood.  One could look two centuries back and arrive at the takfiri attitude of Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab (1703 – 1792 A.D.). One could go even further back—centuries ago—to the likes of Ibn Taymiyyah (1263 – 1328 A.D.), a darling of Islamists the world over, to see the same attitude.

So the takfiri mentality of ISIS is not a novelty in Islamic history. It should be noted that although it is true that Muslims generally shied away from declaring apparent Muslims as non-Muslims (which is why al-Azhar shies away from declaring ISIS members as non-Muslims),  it is nonetheless true that the takfiri mentality follows a centuries-old strain of thought. And it is not just maverick Islamic jurisprudents who theorized and applied this takfiri attitude; whole Muslim states did as well. As Rudoph Peters, a Dutch scholar of Islam who has written multiple treatises on Jihad, states,

Due to the collapse of Islamic political unity, often two Muslim states would be at war with one another.  In such situations muftis would usually find cause to label the enemies either as rebels or as heretics, thus justifying the struggle against them.

Throughout Islamic history, governments and opposition movements have declared their Muslim adversaries to be heretics or unbelievers (takfir, declaring someone to be a kafir, unbeliever) in order to justify their struggle against them.[21]

Thus, the dispute over who is a ‘real’ Muslim is itself a marker of the fact that both aspirants are indeed part of the Islamic political and theological tradition.  And it is a unified, theological and political tradition.  That fact makes it difficult for opponents of the political tradition, which contains many oppressive elements especially for women, as well as religious and sexual minorities.  The unity of the politics with the theology makes it easy to paint such opponents as if they were objecting to the religion rather than to the politics.  This defensive mechanism often insulates even brutal states like Iran and Saudi Arabia from the full scale of criticism that their oppressive practices deserve.

What in fact is happening is that two nation states are fighting for primacy in the Islamic world.  They are likely to divide it between them, and then to suffer friction all along the borders of their zones of influence.  The takfiri language only marks this out as a conflict within Islam, although one likely to have consequences for anyone involved in the region.

Iran May Have Received as Much as $33.6 Billion in Cash, Gold Payments From U.S.

John Kerry, left, and Javad Zarif / AP

John Kerry, left, and Javad Zarif / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Sept. 8, 2016:

Iran may have received an additional $33.6 billion in secret cash and gold payments facilitated by the Obama administration between 2014 and 2016, according to testimony provided before Congress by an expert on last summer’s nuclear agreement with Iran.

Between January 2014 and July 2015, when the Obama administration was hammering out the final details of the nuclear accord, Iran was paid $700 million every month from funds that had previously been frozen by U.S. sanctions.

A total of $11.9 billion was ultimately paid to Iran, but the details surrounding these payments remain shrouded in mystery, according to Mark Dubowitz, executive director at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

In total, “Iran may have received as much as $33.6 billion in cash or in gold and other precious metals,” Dubowitz disclosed.

New questions about these payments are emerging following confirmation from top Obama administration officials on Thursday that it was forced to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash prior to the release of several U.S. hostages earlier this year. The administration insisted that cash had to be used for this payment.

Top administration officials were adamant that the cash payments were the best way to ensure that Iran got immediate access to this money due to its ongoing difficulty accessing international funds still sanctioned by the West.

Lawmakers and others are now pressing the administration to disclose how a slew of other payments to Iran were made in the years leading up to the final nuclear accord.

“In July, the Associated Press cited U.S. officials who estimated that Iran ‘brought home less than $20 billion.’ Were these funds repatriated to Tehran in cash or in gold and precious metals? Through the formal financial system? Or through some combination?” Dubowitz asked in his testimony before the House Financial Services Committee.

“The administration should also clarify if the $20 billion dollars is inclusive of the $11.9 billion in [Joint Plan of Action] funds, or if the $20 billion was in addition to the $11.9 billion,” he said. “Either way, it is important to understand how funds were sent. The worst-case scenario here is that Iran may have received as much as $33.6 billion in cash or in gold and other precious metals.”

At least some of this money was likely sent in cash and other assets, according to Dubowitz.

The Obama administration was forced to disclose on Thursday that current sanctions and banking restrictions prohibited it from transferring funds to Iran via electronic methods.

The cash payment of $1.7 billion earlier this year was the easiest way to ensure Iran got immediate access to the money, according to these officials.

“Iran had to have it in cash,” Paul Ahern, assistant general counsel for enforcement and intelligence at the Treasury Department, told lawmakers. “Iran was very aware of the difficulties it would face in accessing and using the funds if they were in any other form than cash, even after the lifting of sanctions.”

A cash delivery “was the most reliable way that they received the funds in a timely manner and it was the manner preferred by the relative foreign banks,” Ahren said.

Given the situation, it is likely that the multiple past payments to Iran were conducted in a similar fashion, according to Dubowitz.

“If the White House could only send cash to Iran from the start of the JPOA period through the Tribunal payment that could amount to a grant total of 33.6 billion,” he said. “Did any of this money go through the formal financial system? If so, the administration is not being truthful about the 1.7 billion. If many billions arrived in Iran on pallets [of cash] this would be a pretty astounding revelation.”

Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official and expert on rogue regimes, said that cash payments of this nature are “highly irregular.”

“There’s no reason it needed to be paid now. After all, successive administrations, both Democratic and Republican, have delayed payments so as to avoid funding Iranian terrorism,” Rubin said. “Likewise, if the United States freezes accounts linked to al Qaeda or Hamas, releasing it and saying, ‘It’s their money anyway,’ would not be a tenable explanation. Cash payments are highly irregular.”

The Iranians have been clear that they “perceived the payment to be a ransom” despite the administration’s protestations, Rubin explained.

“Not only has the delivery of the millions of dollars been perceived as a ransom, provided as an incentive to seize more hostages …. but because the money was delivered in cash the payment bolstered the strength of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and augmented its ability to finance and conduct terrorism,” he said.

Iran’s nuclear timetable … right now!

iran-nuclear-missileWND, by Jerome R. Corsi, Sept. 5, 2016:

NEW YORK – Amid the disclosure this week that the Obama administration has allowed Iran to continue secret efforts to enrich uranium and stockpile the heavy water needed to produce a plutonium nuclear weapon, a leading expert on the Iranian nuclear program remains concerned that Tehran could build a deliverable atomic bomb now.

“I believe Iran already has a nuclear weapons capability,” Clare Lopez, a former CIA career operations officer who serves as the vice president for research and analysis at the Washington-based Center for Security Policy and a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, told WND.

Lopez noted that five years ago the International Atomic Energy Agency published a report on Iran’s nuclear program that listed the various technical components in a nuclear weapon that Iran had under development.

“We know for a fact that Iran already has the nuclear-capable missiles, including nose cones configured to carry nuclear weapons,” she said. “We also know that the IAEA years ago reported that Iran was working on forming the hemispheres of a bomb, as well as experiments testing the explosive charges required to set off a nuclear reaction implosion sequence.”

On Tuesday, Iranian officials announced the country is preparing to launch into space three new satellites, prompting U.S. defense experts to speculate the Iranian satellite program is a cover for pursuing illicit intercontinental ballistic missile technology the Islamic Republic could use to deliver a nuclear weapon over long distances.

Help from North Korea

Lopez pointed out that Iran could easily obtain nuclear weapons technology from North Korea.

“We have documented evidence Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) officials have attended North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear tests,” she stressed. “Further, North Korea has offered for sale virtually any technology the country has ever developed.”

On March 10, 2016, retired Admiral William E. Gortney, former commander, United States Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, testified about North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“North Korea’s recent hostile cyberspace activity, nuclear testing, and continued ballistic missile development represent a dangerous threat to our national security,” Gortney told the committee in his prepared remarks. “North Korea’s recent nuclear test and satellite launch demonstrate Kim Jong Un’s commitment to developing strategic capabilities, as well as his disregard for United Nations Security Council resolutions.

He said the North Korean communist regime’s “efforts to develop and deploy the road-mobile KN08 ICBM have profound implications for homeland missile defense, primarily because the missile obviates most of the pre-launch indicators on which we have traditionally relied to posture our defenses.”

“While the KN08 remains untested, modeling suggests it could deliver a nuclear payload to much of the continental United States,” Gortney continued.

The Washington Free Beacon reported in March 2015 Iran is believed to be hiding the development of nuclear weapons technology at a mountain military base in North Korea near the Chinese border as part of a technical cooperation pact signed by Iran and North Korea in September 2012.

Iran ICBM capable by 2020

Gortney also testified that he remained concerned about Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

“Iran poses multiple significant security concerns to the United States, and I remain wary of its strategic trajectory. Last year’s conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was a welcome development, but, Iran’s continuing pursuit of long-range missile capabilities and ballistic missile and space launch programs, in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, remains a serious concern,” Gortney said.

“Iran has successfully orbited satellites using a first- generation space launch vehicle and announced plans to orbit a larger satellite using its ICBM- class booster as early as this year,” he continued. “In light of these advances, we assess Iran may be able to deploy an operational ICBM by 2020 if the regime chooses to do so.”

Lopez also explained she was concerned that North Korea might share with Iran the technology necessary to launch successfully an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) attack against the U.S., even before Iran had an ICBM capable of hitting the continental United States.

On April 24, WND reported that North Korea now has two satellites orbiting over the United States capable of performing a surprise EMP attack at an altitude and trajectory that evade U.S. National Missile Defenses.

An EMP could be triggered by a nuclear weapon detonated at high altitude. The pulse could knock out the U.S. national electrical grid system and all life-sustaining critical infrastructures, including the Internet.

“What A Mess!” – Pentagon At War With CIA In Syria

20160906_syriaZero Hedge, by Tyler Durden, Sept. 6, 2016:

What a mess! In the crazy Syrian war, US-backed and armed groups are fighting other US-backed rebel groups. How can this be?

It is so because the Obama White House had stirred up war in Syria but then lost control of the process.When the US has a strong president, he can usually keep the military and intelligence agencies on a tight leash.

But the Obama administration has had a weak secretary of defense and a bunch of lady strategists who are the worst military commanders since Louis XV, who put his mistress, Madame de Pompadour, in charge of French military forces during the Seven Year’s War. The French were routed by the Prussians. France’s foe, Frederick the Great of Prussia, named one of his dogs, ‘la Pompadour.’

As a result, the two arms of offensive US strategic power, the Pentagon and CIA, went separate ways in Syria. Growing competition between the US military and militarized CIA broke into the open in Syria.

Fed up with the astounding incompetence of the White House, the US military launched and supported its own rebel groups in Syria, while CIA did the same.

Fighting soon after erupted in Syria and Iraq between the US-backed groups. US Special Forces joined the fighting in Syria, Iraq and most lately, Libya.

The well-publicized atrocities, like mass murders and decapitations, greatly embarrassed Washington, making it harder to portray their jihadi wildmen as liberators. The only thing exceptional about US policy in Syria was its astounding incompetence.

Few can keep track of the 1,000 groups of jihadis that keep changing their names and shifting alliances. Throw in Turkomans, Yzidis, Armenians, Nestorians, Druze, Circassians, Alawis, Assyrians and Palestinians. Oh yes, and the Alevis.

Meanwhile, ISIS was inflicting mayhem on Syria and Iraq. But who really is ISIS? A few thousand twenty-something hooligans with little knowledge of Islam but a burning desire to dynamite the existing order and a sharp media sense. The leadership of these turbaned anarchists appears to have formed in US prison camps in Afghanistan.

The US, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey armed and financed ISIS as a weapon to unleash on Syria, which was an ally of Iran that refused to take orders from the Western powers. The west bears heavy responsibility for the deaths of 450,000 Syrians, at least half the nation of 23 million becoming refugees, and destruction of this once lovely country.

At some point, ISIS shook off its western tutors and literally ran amok. But the US has not yet made a concerted attempt to crush ISIS because of its continuing usefulness in Syria and in the US, where ISIS has become the favorite whipping boy of politicians.

Next come the Kurds, an ancient Indo-European stateless people spread across Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. They have been denied a national state by the western powers since WWI. Kurdish rebels in Iraq have been armed and financed by Israel since the 1970’s.

When America’s Arab jihadists proved militarily feeble, the US turned to the Kurds, who are renowned fighters, arming and financing the Kurdish Syrian YPG which is part of the well-known PKK rebel group that fights Turkey.

I covered the Turkish-Kurdish conflict in eastern Anatolia in the 1980’s in which some 40,000 died.

Turkey is now again battling a rising wave of Kurdish attacks that caused the Turks to probe into northern Syria to prevent a link-up of advancing Kurdish rebel forces.

So, Turkey, a key American ally, is now battling CIA-backed Kurdish groups in Syria. Eighty percent of Turks believe the recent failed coup in Turkey was mounted by the US – not the White House, but by the Pentagon which has always been joined at the hip to Turkey’s military.

This major Turkish-Kurdish crisis was perfectly predictable, but the obtuse junior warriors of the Obama administration failed to grasp this point.

Now the Russians have entered the fray in an effort to prevent their ally, Bashar Assad, from being overthrow by western powers. Also perfectly predictable. Russia claimed to be bombing ISIS but in fact is targeting US-backed groups. Washington is outraged that the wicked Russians are doing in the Mideast what the US has done for decades.

The US and Russia now both claim to have killed a senior ISIS commander in an air strike. Their warplanes are dodging one another, creating a perfect scenario for a head-on clash at a time when neocons in the US are agitating for war with Russia.

Does anyone think poor, demolished Syria is worth the price? Hatred for the US is now seething in Turkey and across the Mideast. Hundreds of millions of US tax dollars have been wasted in this cruel, pointless war.

Time for the US to stop stirring this witch’s brew.

*  *  *

And if that didn’t 1) drive you crazy, and/or 2) confuse you, here is UK’s Channel 4 to explain in pictures…

Justice Against State Sponsors of Terror—But Not Iran?

2016-07-18t111421z_2_lynxnpec6h0qu_rtroptp_4_iran-politics-backlash-e1469297327697Daily Caller, by Clare Lopez, Sept. 6, 2016:

When the House of Representatives returns from summer recess on 6 September, among the urgent things it must consider is the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism (JASTA) bill. It passed the Senate in May and is now before the House Judiciary Committee. In lining up support for the bill, JASTA sponsor Sen. John R. Cornyn (R-TX) and backers like Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) appealed to the understandable angst of New Yorkers and others who suffered through the horror of the 9/11 attacks. JASTA aims to limit sovereign immunity for nations and officials accused of being responsible for terrorism inside the United States.

The Iran Lobby, which went into hyperdrive to support the Obama-Kerry nuclear deal with Iran, is now gleefully ramping up support for JASTA as a measure to hold Saudi Arabia to blame for 9/11, hoping it will allow Tehran to continue to evade responsibility for its own documented role in the devastating attacks 15 years ago. The bill’s sponsors also ignore the fallout of JASTA’s curtailing of sovereign immunity: Saudi Arabia may be sued, but the United States will be also sued for claims of terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and a host of other battlefields.

Admittedly, the House of Saud has come late to the counterterrorism battle—and only after its own rule was threatened. There is no doubt that the Saudi government and individuals used their oil billions to fund the Global Islamic Movement by constructing mosques, publishing textbooks, and supporting orthodox Al-Azhar and other top graduates as imams in Islamic Centers across the United States and elsewhere. Riyadh also backs the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood and its swarm of front groups. But when jihad terror took aim at the Saudi royals themselves—with the 2003 bombings, al-Qa’eda attacks, Iranian instigation of unrest in the Shi’ite eastern provinces, and strikes by the Islamic State—their minds concentrated rather wonderfully.

The feared Saudi Mukhabarat security service cracked down hard on internal jihadis, instituted close surveillance of domestic mosques, and arrested imams preaching sedition and violence. Nimr Baqir al-Nimr, a prominent Shi’ite cleric, was executed in January along with 46 others convicted of sedition and promoting terrorism. In 2014, Saudi Arabia even designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

Clearly shaken by surging aggression from Iran and the Islamic State, Saudi Arabia formed a coalition of 34 Muslim states, declared support of President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi’s Egyptian regime, announced its support for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (a democratic opposition group), and are now in talks with Israel. Their U.S.-educated Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is also shaking things up internally and abroad.

So much for Saudi Arabia’s transformation. It is Iran that continues a nuclear weapons program at a breakneck pace that was supposed to have been halted in its tracks. It is the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps/Qods Force with thousands of foreign Shi’ite mercenaries who fight as a Shi’a ‘Liberation Army’ to defend Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus and Yemen proxies. It is Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah who boasts about funds he gets from a topped-off Iranian treasury. And it is IRGC motorboats that harass U.S. Navy vessels in the Persian Gulf and dare to seize and film U.S. Navy personnel.

Recently, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, fresh from diplomatic successes that saved his country’s nuclear program, took a victory lap around a clutch of Latin American countries. They included Cuba and Venezuela, known for their hostility to the U.S. and for helping to expand the Hizballah footprint. Even the schizoid Department of State belatedly recognized Iran’s hostility, and in mid-August issued a warning to Americans traveling to Iran because of the risk the mullahs might kidnap them for more ransom.

Under the nuclear deal umbrella, egged on by the Iran Lobby, and given carte blanche by a slavish media, the Obama administration is racing to complete its blueprint for a Middle East subordinated to Iran’s nuclear-powered hegemony. Even former senior U.S. military commanders are becoming uneasy with the chaos, compounded by the possibility of a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region on earth.

While the Saudis remain adversaries in the global jihad, that should not inhibit a necessary partnership with the Riyadh government. We and they continue to face the menace of a nuclear-capable Iranian regime whose apocalyptic beliefs include accelerating the return of the 12th Imam to usher in Armageddon and the End Times.

Obama’s desire to burnish his legacy must not be allowed to complete the withdrawal of all American influence and power in a region so desperately in need of sober leadership.

Clare M. Lopez is Vice President for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy.

Congress Moves to Block Obama Admin’s ‘Ransom Payments’ to Iran

Marco Rubio / AP

Marco Rubio / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Sept. 6, 2016:

Congress is set to consider new legislation that would block the Obama administration from awarding Iran billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars in what many describe as a ransom payment, according to a copy of the legislation obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) will introduce on Tuesday new legislation that would prohibit the Obama administration from moving forward with all payments to Iran, according to the bill, which would also force Iran to return billions of dollars in U.S. funds that have already been delivered to Tehran by the White House.

Rubio’s bill—a version of which is also being introduced in the House by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.)—would mandate that Iran pay American victims of terrorism some $53 billion in reparations for past attacks planned and coordinated by the Islamic Republic.

The legislation comes amid a growing scandal surrounding the Obama administration’s decision to pay Iran $1.7 billion earlier this year as part of an effort to free imprisoned U.S. hostages. The payment, details of which were kept secret from Congress and the American people, is expected to become the focus of several congressional investigations in the coming weeks.

“President Obama’s disastrous nuclear deal with Iran was sweetened with an illicit ransom payment and billions of dollars for the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism,” Rubio said in a statement provided to the Free Beacon. “The U.S. government should not be in the business of negotiating with terrorists and paying ransom money in exchange for the release of American hostages. Doing so puts more Americans in danger, as President Obama himself admitted.”

The State Department recently reissued a travel warning for U.S. citizens traveling to Iran due to the possibility of kidnapping and imprisonment by the Iranian government.

Rubio said his new bill “would stop the Obama administration from making any further payments to Iran from the [Treasury Department’s] Judgment Fund until Iran returns the ransom money it received and pays the American victims of Iranian terrorism what they are owed.”

“President Obama may have attempted to appease our enemy with pallets of cash secretly delivered on an unmarked cargo plane, but Iran continues to cheat on the nuclear deal, harass our military, hold Americans hostage, and fund terrorism around the world,” Rubio added. “Iran should be held accountable, and the Obama administration’s misguided policies must be stopped.”

Rubio’s bill, called the No Ransom Payments Act, is co-sponsored by Sens. John Cornyn (R., Texas), Mark Kirk (R., Ill.), Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.), John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), and Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.).

“Congress is taking a clear stand—demanding Iran return the more than $1 billion the Obama Administration wrongly gave them and putting a stop to any and all future money this administration, or any administration might want to give to state sponsors of terrorism like Iran,” Pompeo, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told the Free Beacon. “The American people know this is an unacceptable use of their taxpayer dollars and we wholeheartedly agree. It is unprecedented and dangerous for President Obama to be doling out millions to the Islamic Republic of Iran—in the dead of night, under wraps, and in cash. Kansans expect and demand better from their government.”

Rubio on Tuesday also filed a separate piece of legislation that would stop the Obama administration from permitting U.S. corporations and banks from selling Iran aircraft and mechanical parts.

The Obama administration has sought to issue waivers to remove sanctions on companies and banks that could facilitate these transactions with Iran.

Congressional leaders and regional experts have warned that Iran routinely uses its national air carrier, Iran Air, to conduct terror operations and transport military forces into war zones in Syria and elsewhere.

Adam Kredo is senior writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Formerly an award-winning political reporter for the Washington Jewish Week, where he frequently broke national news, Kredo’s work has been featured in outlets such as the Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, and Politico, among others. He lives in Maryland with his comic books. His Twitter handle is @Kredo0. His email address is kredo@freebeacon.com.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Urges Muslim Nations to Take Hajj Away from Saudi Arabia

AFP

AFP

Breitbart, by John Hayward, Sept. 5, 2016:

In a message relayed by Iranian state media, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called on Muslim nations to “fundamentally reconsider the management of the two holy places and the issue of hajj.”

The “two holy places” are the cities of Mecca and Medina, while the hajj is the pilgrimage to visit them, which devout Muslims are supposed to make at least once during their lives. The hajj season begins on September 11.

Reuters notes that Iranian pilgrims will not attend the hajj this year, because talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia broke down in May. The immediate reason for these talks, and Iran’s criticism of the Saudis, was the horrifying stampede that occurred during the 2015 hajj, which killed 769 pilgrims by Saudi Arabia’s count, 131 of them Iranians. (Other sources believe the actual death toll was two or three times higher than Riyadh’s official numbers.)

“Among the suggested causes: pilgrims rushing to complete the rituals, heat, masses of faithful pushing against each other in opposite directions, even confusion among the many first-timers on the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and Mina,” CNN wrote in September 2015, while the bodies were still being counted.

This was not the first deadly incident to occur during the incredibly crowded pilgrimage, which brings over 2 million visitors to the Muslim holy cities. Critics of Saudi Arabia’s management have long complained about inadequate accommodations, insufficient food and shelter for the throngs of pilgrims, and poor crowd control.

The UK Guardian reports that the Saudis are attempting to address some of these complaints, including increased use of surveillance cameras, more staff with better training, better coordination with hajj missions from other countries, and electronic wristbands for visitors, which will help the authorities monitor crowd movements and detect dangerous buildups.

There is, of course, a political dimension to the dispute between Iran and Saudi Arabia as well, with the two nations conducting a sort of Middle East Cold War that isn’t all that cold, in proxy conflicts like Yemen. The Saudis believe Iran planned to use its hajj pilgrims to stage anti-Saudi demonstrations in Mecca and Medina. Iran has suggested Saudi Arabia deliberately sabotaged the 2015 pilgrimage, or is at best indifferent to the safety of non-Saudi (or non-Sunni Muslim) visitors.

“Riyadh accuses Tehran of destabilizing Arab states and spreading sectarianism by backing militias in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen and fomenting unrest in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Iran denies those charges,” Reuters writes.

Khamenei brought Iran’s broader conflict with Saudi Arabia into his hajj remarks, urging the Muslim world not to “let those rulers escape responsibility for the crimes they have caused throughout the world of Islam.”

He threw in a dash of anti-Americanism, too, as quoted by the Trend news agency: “Those who have reduced hajj to a religious-tourist trip and have hidden their enmity and malevolence towards the faithful and revolutionary people of Iran under the name of ‘politicizing hajj,’ are themselves small and puny devils who tremble for fear of jeopardizing the interests of the Great Satan, the US.”

“The heartless and murderous Saudis locked up the injured with the dead in containers- instead of providing medical treatment and helping them or at least quenching their thirst. They murdered them,” Khamenei thundered. “Because of these rulers’ oppressive behavior towards God’s guests, the world of Islam must fundamentally reconsider the management of the two holy places and the issue of hajj. Negligence in this regard will confront the Islamic Ummah with more serious problems in the future.”

The BBC adds Khamenei referring to Saudi Arabia’s rulers as “disgraced and misguided people” who have “blocked the proud and faithful Iranian pilgrims’ path to the Beloveds’ House.”