Andrew C. McCarthy on Russiagate, Clinton-Trump Investigation Double Standards, Mueller’s Mandate, DOJ-FBI-CIA Politicization (Part II)

My Guest

Andrew C. McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, contributing editor of National Review and author most recently of essential books on the threat of Islamic supremacism including Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the JihadThe Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America and Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy.

In Part II of my in-depth interview with Andy, we discussed Russiagate, the pervasive unethical and at times lawless behavior of law enforcement and the intelligence community with respect to Donald Trump and Russia versus Hillary Clinton and her e-mail server, the apparently limitless mandate of Robert Mueller’s special counsel, obstruction of justice and much more.

If you missed Part I of my conversation with Andy on his experience prosecuting the jihadist mastermind of the first World Trade Center attack and what it taught him about the Islamic supremacist threat America faces, the primacy of religion and why Islamic supremacists choose jihadist savagery over assimilation, willful blindness in American national security and foreign policy, folly in American foreign affairs from Syria to Libya, and the imperative to collapse the Khomeinist Iranian regime, be sure to catch up here.

What We Discussed

  • Russia’s historical attempts to “interfere” with U.S. elections, and its imperceptible impact on the 2016 U.S. presidential vote
  • McCarthy’s dissection of the double standard in the DOJ/FBI’s handling of its investigation of Hillary Clinton versus that of Donald Trump, and the unwillingness to bring Clinton to justice over Clinton Foundation impropriety if not worse and destruction of State Department emails
  • Former FBI Director James Comey’s monumental error in testimony on the counter-intelligence investigation implicating the Trump campaign that ultimately served as the basis for Robert Mueller’s special counsel
  • Mueller’s limitless special counsel mandate and brazen tactics against Paul Manafort
  • Politicization of law enforcement and the intelligence apparatus, and its detrimental long-term impact on American national security
  • How to root out corruption in the FBI, CIA and DOJ, and the suspicious if not lawless acts of Obama DNI Chief James Clapper and CIA Director John Brennan
  • The disingenuous nature of the Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian meddling in the 2016 election
  • The double standard in the treatment of Paul Manafort versus Hillary Clinton and her email server
  • McCarthy’s obliteration of the obstruction of justice theory
  • President Obama’s involvement in Russiagate

Full Transcript (go there for the audio also)

Also see McCarthy’s article at NRO yesterday: 

New Center Occasional Paper Documents how the Kremlin Fosters Destabilizing Refugee Flows into Europe

For Immediate Release

Contact: Clare M. Lopez 202-719-2423

Center for Security Policy, May 29, 2018:

Refugees the world over fleeing economic hardship, natural disaster, and warfare have long looked to Europe as a prime destination.  The impact of their mass migration there has, predictably, been deeply traumatizing for the host nations and their citizens.  That is especially true of the hijra – the Islamic practice of migrating Muslim populations to spread the faith and its supremacist doctrine known as Sharia – that followed the outbreak of the so-called “Arab Spring” across the Middle East in 2011-2012.  What ensued in much of the European Union was a tidal wave of predominantly single, military-age young men, in numbers unseen there since the invasions of the Ottoman Empire.

It is an open secret that Vladimir Putin has sought to rebuild and exercise Russia’s influence for the purpose of exacting revenge against those he holds responsible for the “greatest catastrophe of the 20th Century” – i.e., the fall of the Soviet Union.  Preeminent among them is Western Europe and the NATO alliance.

Putin’s desire to get even can only have intensified with Europe’s imposition of sanctions against Russia for its seizure of Crimea and ongoing intervention elsewhere in Ukraine.

In a new Occasional Paper issued by the Center for Security Policy entitled “Vladimir Putin’s Revenge: Russia as a Catalyst for the Refugee Crisis that is Destabilizing Europe,” co-authors Jeff Nyquist and Dr. Anca-Maria Cernea offer evidence that suggests that the Russian government is deliberately contributing to the world’s worst refugee crisis and exploiting its geostrategic effects.

For example, the impact of the Russian offensive in Syria – much of it delivered by massively destructive air strikes – was felt quickly in the targeted areas and greatly exacerbated the human suffering experienced by those who lived there.  As would have been expected by the Kremlin and its allies in Damascus and Iran, a sizeable proportion of them would flee and for most the destination of choice would be Europe.

Nyquist and Cernea argue that, in some measure at least, the massive flows of refugees out of areas as far-flung as Afghanistan, the Middle East, and North Africa are actually managed flows, either precipitated or encouraged by Russia – together with its increasingly aligned strategic partner, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey – with a view to destabilizing Europe.

As could have been reliably expected, the incessant influx of predominantly Sharia-adherent Muslims not only burdened European economic and social capacities. It has also served to exacerbate tensions between the EU nations’ political left (that has generally supported open borders and an unchecked refugee flows) and their political right (whose opposition to that immigration sometimes propelled it to closer ties with Russia).

Nyquist and Cernea quote the former Romanian Minister for Communications and Information, Marius Bostan, who said that the interlinked global refugee crises “should be regarded as a hybrid war operation against the West.”  Its principal perpetrator is Vladimir Putin.

The concerns raised in this paper demand serious review by the U.S. and allied governments as they assess – and determine how to respond to – a variety of other Russian threats to the West across a strategic span of warfare techniques that is only sometimes kinetic.

Upon the release of this newest of the Center’s Occasional Paper series, its President, Frank J. Gaffney observed:

There is a growing sense that, as a result of the unassimable masses that have effectively invaded the European Union in recent years, much of the region – especially the nations in its west – are approaching a tipping point.  Some may actually have been so severely destabilized that they are actually beyond the point of no return.

While there are, of course, multiple factors that have contributed to this dire situation, not least the policies of many of the affected countries themselves, it is important to examine Russia’s role and the degree to which it is, at least in the near term, a principal beneficiary of the mayhem now unfolding in Europe.  The evidence in this regard presented by Jeff Nyquist and Dr. Anca-Maria Cernea is compelling.  It demands careful consideration by the Trump administration and our NATO allies – apart, of course, from another of the wellsprings of Europe’s destabilization: Turkey. If validated, appropriate countermeasures must be developed and implemented with the utmost urgency.

“Vladimir Putin’s Revenge: Russia as a Catalyst for the Refugee Crisis that is Destabilizing Europe” is available for purchase in Kindle and paperback.  It can also be viewed and downloaded for free in PDF format below:

Russia_Refugee_05-28-18

Assad’s Horror, and Those Who Enable It

hoto credit: Muhammed es Sami/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.
Demonstrators draw picture on a wall to describe the poisonous gas attack and protest against the Assad regime’s alleged gas attack on Douma in Syria on April 08, 2018

Russia, Iran, and North Korea all play a role in the Syrian regime’s chemical attacks on its own people.

The Weekly Standard, by Thomas Joscelyn, April 8, 2018:

Horrific images from the aftermath of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria are once again circulating online. The scene of this gassing is the eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus. Both the location and the timing of this apparent war crime are symbolically important. And while the immediate focus will be on Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and his willingness to gas his own people, any long-term solution will require understanding the role of the rogue states that enable and support him.

It was one year ago, on the morning of April 7, 2017, that the Trump administration launched punitive airstrikes against Assad’s regime at the Shayrat Airfield in response to a Sarin gas attack days earlier. Those targeted bombings were intended to send a message to Assad: Stop using banned weapons of war against your own people. Assad was undeterred.

He had failed to adhere to a previous deal, negotiated by the Obama administration and Russia, that was intended to end his chemical weapons capability. The concord was struck in the aftermath of the August 21, 2013, nerve agent attack on eastern Ghouta–the same suburb hit in the last 24 hours. The U.S. government determined that the Assad regime was responsible and “that 1,429 people were killed … including at least 426 children.”

Just a few weeks later, in September 2013, the U.S. and Russia agreed to “special procedures” for the “expeditious destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons program and stringent verification thereof.” Secretary of State John Kerry claimed in 2014 that the agreement had worked, saying “we got 100 percent of the chemical weapons out” of Syria. That obviously wasn’t true, or at least highly misleading, as Assad retained the capability to regenerate and use certain weapons.

And now—one year after the U.S. attempted to punish Assad with airstrikes, and in the same neighborhood that was terrorized in 2013— the Syrian regime has seemingly struck again.

Many details concerning this most recent attack remain to be confirmed. But the world has already learned some valuable lessons regarding the behavior of rogue actors when it comes their pursuit and use of banned weapons.

There is no real question that Assad has continued to use chemical weapons even after he agreed to give them up. As the State Department was quick to note yesterday, the U.S. has concluded that he was responsible for the April 4, 2017, Sarin gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun—the same incident which prompted the Trump administration’s bombing. And both the U.S. government and the UN have found that Assad’s goons used other chemical weapons, namely crude chlorine bombs, more than once. While some of these bombs struck areas held by jihadi rebels, they have also indiscriminately killed civilians.

Assad’s principal international backer, Vladimir Putin, hasn’t stopped him from using of them. Nor has Iran, which is deeply embedded in Syria alongside Assad’s forces. In fact, the Assad-Putin-Khamenei axis has a legion of online apologists who argue that the high-profile chemical weapons assaults aren’t really the work of the Syrian “president” at all. This noxious advocacy on behalf of mass murderers is readily available on social media.

It gets even worse, as another rogue state has reportedly facilitated Assad’s acquisition of chemical weapons: North Korea. This facilitation is especially worrisome in light of the two nations’ previous cooperation on a nuclear reactor that was destroyed by the Israelis in 2007.

In March, the U.N. issued a report on North Korea’s active “prohibited military cooperation projects…stretching from Africa to the Asia-Pacific region, including ongoing ballistic missile cooperation with the Syrian Arab Republic and Myanmar, widespread conventional arms deals and cyberoperations to steal military secrets.”

The U.N. traced a number of visits by North Korean officials to Syrian soil, finding that “multiple groups of ballistic missile technicians” have been inside Syria. Citing intelligence received from a “Member State,” the U.N. explained that these “technicians … continued to operate at chemical weapons and missile facilities at Barzah, Adra and Hama.” The Assad regime tried to deflect this accusation by claiming the North Koreans were in town simply for “training athletics and gymnastics.”

But the U.N. documented additional suspicious details, including previously unknown illicit shipments and transfers. The U.N. investigative body’s “investigations into several cases of hitherto unreported arms shipments and cooperation with front companies of designated entities between 2010 and 2017 showed further evidence of arms embargo and other violations, including through the transfer of items with utility in ballistic missile and chemical weapons” programs.

In one such transfer, the North Koreans provided the Assad regime with “special resistance valves and thermometers known for use in chemical weapons” programs. U.N. member states also interdicted suspicious shipments, including bricks and tiles that may be used as part of a chemical weapons program. Although the U.N. found these specific materials weren’t banned, a member state noted that they “can be used to build bricks for the interior walls of [a] chemical factory.”

The U.N. found it especially suspicious that North Korean front companies were doing business with the Syrian government’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), which oversees Assad’s chemical weapons development.

The U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned 271 SSRC staffers in the aftermath of the April 2017 Sarin gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun. Treasury explained that the SSRC is “the Syrian government agency responsible for developing and producing non-conventional weapons and the means to deliver them.” And the sanctioned SSRC employees “have expertise in chemistry and related disciplines and/or have worked in support of SSRC’s chemical weapons program since at least 2012.”

Therefore, the U.N.’s conclusion that North Korea has been working with the SSRC is especially noteworthy.

The U.S. and its allies will continue to face daunting challenges when it comes to restraining rogue nations and their pursuit of banned weapons. As Syria’s ongoing work on chemical weapons shows, such proliferation concerns often involve multiple rogue states. Assad’s chemical weapons attacks inside Syria are principally his own doing, but not solely. He has friends outside of Syria who are willing to help.

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Also see:

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Is John Bolton the Man Who Will Dismantle the Islamic & Marxist Counter-States in America?

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD – FEBRUARY 22: Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton speaks during CPAC 2018 February 22, 2018 in National Harbor, Maryland. The American Conservative Union hosted its annual Conservative Political Action Conference to discuss conservative agenda. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Understanding the Threat, by John Guandolo, March 27, 2018:

How can an American citizen know Ambassador John Bolton, President Trump’s new National Security Advisor, is a good choice for the position?

Because the Marxists are losing their minds.

In fact, John Bolton brings to the table an understanding of a wide variety of threats with strategies to take the fight to the enemy.

UTT’s President John Guandolo interviewed colleagues Philip Haney and Trevor Loudon to weigh in on this issue while the three men spoke together at a panel discussion this past weekend at the Western Conservative Summit in Phoenix, Arizona.

The topic was the Islamic and Marxist Threats.

Former founding member of the Department of Homeland Security, author, Whistleblower and one of the most knowledgable men about the Islamic Movement in the United States, Philip Haney, had this to say about Mr. Bolton:

“I’ve always been a great admirer of Bolton, and I think it’s one of the best choices President Trump has made for his cabinet so far.  He has always stood up for our sovereignty, our Constitutional values, and defended us against great opposition.  He’s outspoken, or I should say, plain-spoken.  People know exactly what he thinks, and he doesn’t equivocate.  He just tells it like it is.  I admire that.  We need some more of that.”

“I think we would all agree Americans put a high value on honesty.  (Mr. Bolton) is always honest.  Foreign leaders know exactly where he stands.  I am very pleased…(with) the appointment of Bolton.”

Responding to the question, “If you could give Mr. Bolton one piece of advice, what would it be?” Mr. Haney replied:

“Focus on the Muslim Brotherhood and start with the domestic arena, but also its connection to the foreign in places like Egypt.  We need to look at the Muslim Brotherhood and get these front groups designated and shut down.  They’re connected to Hamas – that’s been proven.  It is not a theory.  We know it and they have been operating in our face for ten years.  Its time we put an end to that.”

[To get a copy of Philip Haney’s book See Something Say Nothing click here.]

One of America’s greatest resources for information on the Marxist penetration of our government and society is New Zealand native Trevor Loudon.  His movie The Enemies Within tells the tale of the devastating penetration of the American government by avowed Marxists as well as jihadists.

Here are Mr. Loudon’s comments about John Bolton’s new role as the President’s National Security Advisor:

“I’m very very pleased that this is the decision.  I think John Bolton is one of the most knowledgeable and hardcore American Patriots out there.  He understands national security like no one else.  He understands both the external threats and the internal threats, and has no illusions that America has enemies that need to be dealt very, very forcefully.  So I think he’s a perfect choice for President Trump at this time.  I think he will not only confront America’s external enemies, I think he’s a great force for draining the swamp.  I think he will be firing a bunch of people that need to be fired, and I don’t think he’ll take any prisoners.  So, I think that was an inspired choice by President Trump.”

In response to the question “Do you think Mr. Bolton has a good understanding of the Marxist threat in America?” Trevor responded:

“Yeah, I do.  I think he has more understanding than most.  He understands both the threats of countries like Russia and China, but he also understands very much the threat from Islam, the Muslim Brotherhood, and organizations like that.  I don’t think he has any illusions.  I think people in Tehran, Moscow and Beijing will be very, very concerned about this choice, and we should be happy about that.”

Responding to the question, “If you could give Mr. Bolton one piece of advice, what would it be?” Mr. Loudon replied:

“Drain the swamp. Get rid of the bad elements in the State Department and the national security apparatus, stop those leaks.  Deal with the internal enemies first…then you can confront the external enemies.”

Also see:

Muslim Brotherhood Cyber ‘Chaos Ops’ Up There with Russia’s, Says Expert

Egyptian students who support the Muslim Brotherhood take part in a demonstration at Cairo University on Jan. 5, 2015. (Amr Sayed/Sipa via AP Images)

PJ Media, by Bridget Johnson, Jan. 31, 2018:

ARLINGTON, Va. — An expert in cyber influence operations warned that the Muslim Brotherhood’s online campaigns are on par with the vast, meticulous “chaos ops” devised and orchestrated against Americans by Russia and China.

James Scott is a co-founder and senior fellow at the nonpartisan Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, which in October launched the Center for Cyber-Influence Operations Studies in response to the “pandemic” weaponization of digital vectors by nation-states.

At ICIT’s Winter Summit on Monday, Scott said that a center to study malicious influence operations was born out of necessity due to recent election cyber ops and digitized propaganda “coming in from everywhere.”

The manufacturing of dissent that underpins influence ops involves “the weaponization of everything,” with manipulative psychology and propaganda tailored to distinct audiences in a battle for the narrative.

“Traditional media is irrelevant” in this new threat landscape, Scott explained. “The UN is no more relevant than Facebook. Wikileaks knows as much as a CIA analyst. Google is the new gatekeeper to information.”

And it’s a crowded field among influence peddlers with nefarious intent, as “everyone is competing for control of the narrative.”

Russia has run successful influence ops because they “found the vulnerability in the narrative,” Scott said. “If you control the meme, you control the idea … control the narrative, you control the population.”

Technology-based influence operations are especially attractive to malicious actors, he added, because they are “so cheap compared to traditional warfare.”

The biggest type of operation right now is the “chaos op.”

“Chaos is the op; that’s what it is it,” Scott said, describing a skillfully executed digitized propaganda campaign that “granularly injects itself in culture — it’s culturally transformative.”

“We’re focusing specifically on Russia when the reality is we need to be focusing on the process itself,” he added, including “inoculating against process of the meme” that “will manipulate things, then focus in on a target audience” while identifying and exploiting alliance and adversarial relationships.

Memes used in online influence operations are tested first, Scott noted, with the goal of finding a trigger incident and “you create the outcry; you manufacture it.” The meme is tested on platforms such as Instagram and weaponizes hashtags already in use. Twitter use bot technology can then “fan the flame of the organic response.”

In fact, there are services on the dark web that pull together these influence operations for malicious actors, manipulating vectors such as social media, ISPs and even dating sites to “make a digital footprint so deep” that elements of the 2016 campaign ops are still seen online.

“Russia is definitely up there; so is China,” Scott said of key offenders. “So is the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The Muslim Brotherhood’s cyber team stages chaos ops “all the time,” he described, “geared toward fanning flames of illusion that there’s rampant xenophobia here” with the goal to “try to formulate a kinetic impact.” Al-Qaeda has highlighted police shootings of unarmed African-American men in issues of their Inspire magazine, trying to recruit based on sympathy with the plight of minority communities.

After stoking that anger, Scott said, the Muslim Brotherhood will “find those ready to graduate to a new level of extremist ideology.”

Influence operations in future election cycles will include the “normal” cocktail of Russia, China, and Iran, as special-interest groups and PACs are “going to be in and part of the narrative illusions.”

Predicting “memetic skyscrapers,” Scott added, “This is going to be an election unlike anything you’ve ever seen.”

Asked what the inoculation against cyber influence operations would be, he replied, “Unplug.”

“Understand you’re not necessarily getting the correct answer when you type that,” he said, counting “manipulative corporate nation-states” among the online actors feeding selective stories based on a user’s algorithm and metadata.

Center Occasional Paper Exposes a Perfect Storm of Threat

Center for Security Policy, Nov. 2, 2017

CENTER OCCASIONAL PAPER EXPOSES A PERFECT STORM OF THREAT: 
PORT CANAVERAL CONTAINER LEASE TIED TO RUSSIAN CLUB-K MISSILE SYSTEM

 (Washington, DC): A new Center for Security Policy Occasional Paper being released today picks up where our earlier December 2016 paper, “What Could Possibly Go Wrong?” left off. Additional research by the dogged and fearless team of Alan Jones and Mary Fanning now reveals exactly what could go wrong, with potentially catastrophic consequences for U.S. national security.

The original Occasional Paper broke the news that the family of Iraqi nuclear physicist Dr. Jafar Dhia Jafar – known as Saddam Hussein’s nuclear bombmaker – along with the Emir of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (UAE), had been awarded a 35-year lease for cargo container operations at Port Canaveral, Florida after two years of secret talks with the Obama administration. Jones and Fanning continued their research over the following months and now present their updated and even more alarming findings with this new report: “Perfect Storm: Project Pelican’s Gulftainer, Russia’s Club-K, KGB’s Primakov, North Korea, and the Architects of the Islamic Bloc and the Iran Nuclear Deal.”

There is a U.S. government inter-agency review board called the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) whose responsibility is to conduct a thorough review of any commercial acquisition of U.S. infrastructure or property by a foreign entity that may have national security implications. Unfortunately, during a five-year period from 2009-2014, the CFIUS staff chairperson was Aimen Nabi Mir, the son of a Pakistani immigrant from Kashmir with family connections to the Pakistani intelligence service and the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. As we now know, it was during this timeframe that both the Gulftainer lease and the Uranium One deal were permitted to go forward by CFIUS.

Thanks to the remarkable investigative efforts of Mr. Jones and Ms. Fanning, it has now come to light that the implications of the CFIUS failure appropriately to review the Port Canaveral Gulftainer deal go far beyond original concerns about this Middle East-based ports company acquiring such strategic access to all the container operations at this key port along Florida’s Atlantic coast. Indeed, Port Canaveral is near a number of important U.S. facilities—including the Navy’s East Coast ballistic missile submarine base, two U.S. Air Force Space Command bases and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Additionally, Port Canaveral and its container facilities are connected directly to rail and road lines that provide ready transportation access to the entire country.

“The Perfect Storm: Project Pelican’s Gulftainer, Russia’s Club-K, KGB’s Primakov, North Korea, and the Architects of the Islamic Bloc and the Iran Nuclear Deal” now reveals that the danger to U.S. national security may be exponentially more critical. Dr. Jafar Dhia Jafar worked closely with the Russians on Iraq’s full range of Weapons of Mass Destruction programs, including the nuclear one. He succeeded in designing a miniaturized nuclear warhead similar to the model that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un posed with earlier in 2017. Worse yet, Gulftainer, the Iraqi-UAE company that was allowed to obtain the Port Canaveral container facility lease, has entered into a joint venture with the Russian state-owned firm which owns 100% of the shares of Rosoboronexport, the exporter of the Club-K system.

The Club-K is a cruise missile launch system concealed in a container whose external appearance looks identical to standard ISO intermodal commercial cargo shipping containers. Inside each Club-K container, however, are four missiles which can carry biological, chemical, conventional, Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP), or nuclear warheads. The genius of the Club-K system is its ability to evade detection among the millions of shipping containers carried on ships, trains, and trucks all over the world, including inside the U.S. Now, the Russian maker of the Club-K has partnered with the Iraqi-UAE company headed by the nuclear mastermind who designed a nuclear warhead specifically to fit on the nosecone of the Club-K cruise missile. Also, Ras al-Khaimah (RAK), one of the seven UAE emirates, runs a shipping company in partnership with Iran, which essentially controls RAK’s main shipping port. And a broken and possibly corrupt CFIUS just gave them all access to a 35-year lease on the container facilities at one of America’s most critical ports.

A Perfect Storm, indeed.

The Center for Security Policy presents this extremely important Occasional Paper in hopes that those with responsibility to protect U.S. national security will awaken—and quickly—to the mortal peril this confluence of threats poses to our country.

In unveiling the Center’s new Occasional Paper, its president, Frank J. Gaffney, observed:

“This transaction is such an obvious threat to U.S. national security that it must be suspended, if not canceled outright, pending a fresh evaluation of its merits, a rigorous re-evaluation of the CFIUS decision-making process that allowed it to be approved, and an informed and thorough debate on Capitol Hill.”

“The Perfect Storm” is available for free in PDF format

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Clare Lopez Facebook post on Jan. 23:

This one’s important, really important – US is vulnerable, right now, to a company that’s been given container facility access at Port Canaveral, FL…and that company is co-owned by the Emir of Sharjah (UAE) & the family of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear mastermind (yes, he actually did have WMD programs) – and that company, Gulftainer, is in a joint venture w/the Russian firm that makes/markets the Club-K – an ordinary-looking shipping container that conceals within 4 missiles that could be fitted w/any kind of warhead: nuclear, EMP, CW or BW – neither Congress nor the media has paid any attention to this story – need your help to bang on their doors!

Also see from The American Report:

CLUELESS: PORT CANAVERAL SECURITY DIRECTOR BAFFLED ABOUT GULFTAINER NUCLEAR MASTERMIND DR. JAFAR DHIA JAFAR; “I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT”

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Israeli airstrikes target suspected chemical weapons facility in Syria

GETTY

Long War Journal, by Thomas Joscelyn, Sept. 7, 2017:

Israel struck a suspected chemical weapons facility maintained by Bashar al Assad’s regime near Masyaf, Syria earlier today. The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), a propaganda arm for Assad’s regime, quickly confirmed the strikes, claiming that “Israeli warplanes fired several rockets from the Lebanese airspace.” SANA did not mention that Masyaf reportedly houses a chemical weapons facility, but claimed that “two army personnel” were killed and “material damage” was done “to the site.”

The airstrikes were launched less than a day after the United Nations released a report saying it has documented “25 incidents of chemical weapons use in the Syrian Arab Republic” between Mar. 2013 and Mar. 2017. Twenty of these “were perpetrated by government forces and used primarily against civilians.” The UN also held the Assad regime responsible for Apr. 4 sarin attack on civilians in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria. At least 83 people were killed and hundreds more injured in the bombing. Both the Syrian and Russian governments have denied the regime’s culpability, but the UN found that their explanation was not credible.

The facility near Masyaf, which is located in the Hama province, is one of several suspected chemical weapons sites maintained by the Syrian regime. Both the UN and the US say that despite agreeing to give up its chemical weapons, the regime continues to operate a weapons of mass destruction program.

In January, the US Treasury Department sanctioned “18 senior regime officials connected to Syria’s weapons of mass destruction program.” The sanctions were announced after a UN body “found that the Syrian government, specifically the Syrian Arab Air Force, was responsible for three chlorine gas attacks” on Apr. 21, 2014 and Mar. 16, 2015.

Among those sanctioned were several officials who work for the regime’s Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC), which reportedly manages the sites in Masyaf and elsewhere.

In late April, just weeks after the Sarin attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Treasury announced “one of the largest sanctions actions in” history. 271 SSRC employees were sanctioned. Treasury explained that they “have expertise in chemistry and related disciplines and/or have worked in support of SSRC’s chemical weapons program since at least 2012.”

Treasury’s designations did not specifically mention Masyaf as one of the SSRC’s chemical weapons facilities, but other reporting has pointed to the location.

In May, BBC News cited a document prepared by a “western intelligence agency” as indicating that Assad’s men were producing chemical weapons at three primary locations. In addition to Masyaf, two other facilities, Dummar and Barzeh, are reportedly located outside of Damascus. The same document “alleges that both Iran and Russia, the [Syrian] government’s allies, are aware” of the ongoing chemical weapons production, according to the BBC.

Israel has closely tracked the facilities in Masyaf and elsewhere for years, fearing that the Syrian military may transfer some of the know-how to Hezbollah or other Iranian-backed terrorists. This concern has only grown as Hezbollah has increased its footprint inside the country. In 2012, Spiegel Online reported that Masyaf was one of the locations being closely monitored by Israeli intelligence and Israel was “weighing whether to strike.”

Israel has repeatedly bombed other locations inside Syria since the beginning of the war.

In May, for example, the Israeli Air Force struck an apparent weapons shipment to Hezbollah at the T-4 military base near Palmyra. In Dec. 2015, the Israelis reportedly bombed a Hezbollah position, killing a long-wanted terrorist. These are just two of Israel’s suspected bombings in Syria. [See FDD’s Long War Journal reports: Israel’s airstrikes in Palmyra likely targeted Hezbollah weapons shipments
 and Israeli Air Force kills notorious Hezbollah commander in Syria.]

The facilities at Masyaf reportedly store not only chemical weapons, but also the means for delivering them. Jane’s Defence Weekly reported in 2014 that various Syrian regime development projects, including those related to “missile and rocket production,” were relocated to Masyaf as a result of the ongoing war. Projects related to manufacturing Scud missiles, armor, and surface-to-air missiles were already based in Masyaf, according to Jane’s.

In April, the US launched its own airstrikes on a Syrian airbase. The bombings were carried out after the sarin attack in Khan Sheikhoun.

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

Also see: