Archive for April 9, 2017

PA defies US, will raise payments to Martyrs’ families

April 9, 2017

PA defies US,  will raise payments to Martyrs’ families, Palestinian Media Watch, Itamar Marcus, April 9, 2017

In defiance of the US, which is demanding that the Palestinian Authority completely stop financial rewards to families of terrorist “Martyrs” (Shahids), the PA is now raising the payments to the “Martyrs'” families. These PA payments include lifetime monthly allowances to families of suicide bombers, and other murderers who were killed during or after committing their crimes.

Muhammad Sbeihat, the Secretary-General of the National Association of the Martyrs’ Families of Palestine, which is the PLO organization dealing with the PA’s payments to “Martyrs'” families, explained last week:

“In the upcoming period the allowances of the Martyrs’ families will be linked to the cost of living index, which will cause an improvement in these allowances, if only slightly.”

[Al-Quds, April 4, 2017]

The fact that the PA is raising the amount of the allowances to Martyrs’ families, even slightly, at this time is in direct defiance of the United States. Palestinian Media Watch exposed in 2011  that the Palestinian Authority pays salaries to imprisoned terrorists and allowances to families of terrorist Martyrs, and in 2016 exposed that the PA was lying when they claimed to have stopped payments to prisoners.

After years of international condemnation of the PA, the United States Congress recently proposed The Taylor Force Act to cut off financial all aid to the Palestinian Authority because of these payments to terrorists and their families. When Taylor Force, an American citizen, was murdered last year in Tel Aviv, American legislators were incensed to learn that the family members of the dead terrorist would be rewarded with lifetime payments, thus benefiting either directly or indirectly from American financial aid.

Similar legislation was proposed in the Israeli parliament last month, to deduct the equivalent amount that the PA pays to terrorists and their families from the tax revenues that Israel collects on the PA’s behalf.

The following are the payment amounts, mostly based on PA law signed by former PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in 2011:

1- Immediate (one-time) payment: 6,000 shekels2- Monthly (life-time) payments: 1,400 shekels/monthly, plus additions 2A: Addition for spouse: 400 shekels 2B: Addition for each child: 200 shekels 2C: Addition for residents of Jerusalem: 300 shekels >2D: Addition for residents of Israel: 300 shekels

2- Monthly (life-time) payments: 1,400 shekels/monthly, plus additions 2A: Addition for spouse: 400 shekels 2B: Addition for each child: 200 shekels 2C: Addition for residents of Jerusalem: 300 shekels >2D: Addition for residents of Israel: 300 shekels

3- Monthly payments to families abroad: $350

3B: Addition for each child: $50

Total expenditure per year (2016 budget): 660,315,772 shekels ($180,839,067)

[Official PA 2016 budget]

In 2016, more than 32,500 Martyrs’ families received payments.

Raising the allowances at this time is a sign of the PA’s direct defiance of the US and other Western countries that fund the PA, many of whom have condemned the PA’s financial reward payments to terrorists and their families.

Note: Payments to Martyrs families go to families of all Palestinian terrorists killed during the act of terror including suicide bombers, or in any combat with Israel, as well as families of those killed during riots, or disturbances, including non-combatants.

In addition, at the ceremony where Sbeihat spoke, laptops were distributed to children of Martyrs including the daughter of a terrorist who murdered 9.

The following is an excerpt from the article in the Palestinian daily, Al Quds:

“The National Association of the Martyrs’ Families of Palestine distributed laptops to the Martyrs’ (Shahids) sons and daughters in the [Tulkarem] district who successfully completed high school studies last year, and are currently in their first year of university studies.

This was during a ceremony that was held under the auspices of Tulkarem District Governor Issam Abu Bakr, who provided considerable financial aid to fund the computers…

The Secretary-General of the [National] Association [of the Martyrs’ Families of Palestine Muhammad Sbeihat] mentioned the issue of stopping the allowances (mukhassasat) of many of the civilian Martyrs’ families (i.e., a few dozen families stopped receiving payments in February 2017, Ma’an [independent Palestinian news agency]) , and of some of the Martyrs’ wives who married the Martyrs’ brothers. He emphasized that the issue has been raised to [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas, and that the Association and the [PLO] Families of the Martyrs and Wounded Institution are investing intensive efforts to deal with the issue as quickly as possible. He emphasized that Abbas and [PA] Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah are following the issue with the relevant parties, and expressed optimism about its resolution in a few days.

He emphasized that in the upcoming period the allowances of the Martyrs’ families will be linked to the cost of living index, which will cause an improvement in these allowances, if only slightly. He emphasized that the Association will continue its efforts and demands to improve the allowances of the Martyrs’ families, and deal with the issue of the allowances of the families of the Martyrs of the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip in 2014 (i.e., 2014 Gaza War)…

At the end of the ceremony, the computers were distributed to Ahmed Ali Ja’ar (PMW was unable to find additional information -Ed.), Badour Ibrahim Al-Ajami (PMW was unable to find additional information -Ed.), Bisan Fawaz Badran (i.e., daughter of terrorist Fawaz Badran) [and additional children of Martyrs].”

[Al-Quds, April 4, 2017]

Fawaz Badran – 27-year-old terrorist and top official in the Hamas Izz A-Din Al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas’ military wing), according to Israeli sources responsible for the planning of two terrorist attacks in Netanya in which 9 people were murdered, and dozens injured. On July 13, 2001, Badran was killed in a car explosion. Hamas blamed Israel for the car bombing, but Israel denied responsibility. PMW has been unable to confirm which attacks he was responsible for.

Russia, Iran, Hizballah set up joint command in Syria

April 9, 2017

Russia, Iran, Hizballah set up joint command in Syria, DEBKAfile, April 9, 2017

(Trump, also known as “Putin’s Puppy,” has been nasty to Iran by declining to wag his tail whenever Khamenei whistles. Obama did, so Trump should too. Tsk tsk. The DEBKAfile article linked in the last paragraph is also available here. It deals with the transfer of substantial U.S. military air assets from Iraq to Syria.– DM)

The joint command center also said the presence of U.S troops in northern Syria where Washington has hundreds of special forces helping the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to oust Islamic State was “illegal” and that Washington had a long-term plan to occupy the area.

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A new joint command center made up of the forces of Russia, Iran and the pro-Iranian Shiite militias supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad accused America Sunday of waging aggression on Syria and crossing red lines. The center issued this warning: “From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is [against the Assad regime] and America knows our ability to respond well,” said the statement. It was issued in response to the US missile attack Friday on a Syrian air base from which chemical weapons were launched against civilians.

The joint command center also said the presence of U.S troops in northern Syria where Washington has hundreds of special forces helping the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to oust Islamic State was “illegal” and that Washington had a long-term plan to occupy the area. Read DEBKAfile article.

U.S. airstrikes in Syria a smackdown for Iran’s mullahs

April 9, 2017

U.S. airstrikes in Syria a smackdown for Iran’s mullahs, American ThinkerReza Shafiee, April 9, 2017

(According to Iranian President Rouhani, “today all terrorists in Syria are celebrating the U.S. attack.” Rouhani evidently does not view Assad’s enforcers, Khamenei’s Revolutionary Guard or Iranian proxies such as Hezbollah as “terrorists.” The Syrian in this video must, according to Rouhani, be a terrorist. — DM)

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani strongly defended Assad regime’s recent sarin attack on his own people. He blasted President Trump for his decision for airstrikes. Rouhani said in a televised speech referring to the U.S. president: “This man who is now in office in America claimed that he wanted to fight terrorism, but “today all terrorists in Syria are celebrating the U.S. attack.” He also said: “Why have you attacked the Syrian army which is at war with terrorists? Under what law or authority did you launch your missiles at this independent country?”

To put more teeth to what U.S. means in terms of ending Iran’s influence in Syria, an even more effective step forward would be to expel the IRGC and all its proxies from Syria. It would certainly help with the broader war in the region against Islamic fundamentalism in all its shapes and forms. To get rid of terrorism, get rid of the Iran’s proxies.

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The deadly chemical attack on innocent Syrian men, women and children in Idlib, which killed at least 100 and injured 400 was little more than Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad crossing the “red line” again. It wasn’t his first chemical attack, he launched a similar attack in summer of 2013, which left at least 1400 dead, according the opposition sources. At that time, the world stared in disbelief as Assad commit atrocities in Syria without paying a price.  

This time, things were different. On April 7 the U.S. launched an airstrike on an airfield believed to have been used by his forces to drop chemical bombs on Idlib. It was a clear sign of shift in the U.S. attitude toward his regime. Other nations announced support, too, making the attitude shift more than just unilateralism.

President Donald Trump said after the U.S. airstrike: “Tonight, I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.”

The airfield bombed is significant, because it is also used by members of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Quds Force, according to a report from Asharq Al-Awsat Arabic language website. The field has been used for a long time by IRGC to operate not only in Syria but also in Iraq.

Since the start of the bloody six-year-old Syrian war, Bashar al-Assad and his allied goons, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), including Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani, thought that they could get away with anything.

They relied on the notion that the international community is too divided to take any firm action against the massacre of innocent Syrian people. So they thumbed their noses at every element of international law. Soleimani was caught on camera many times in Iraq and later in Aleppo walking around unencumbered as if he was a tourist there and not the international thug he was, blacklisted by UN resolutions banning him from traveling.

The reaction of the world’s leaders to the attack was a stark contrast to previous years in the Syrian conflict, too. Instead of knee-jerk opposition to Trump, there as almost a consensus about the fact that Assad must face the consequences of his actions; something long overdue.

In a joint statement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande laid the blame for the U.S. airstrikes on Assad’s Al-Shayrat airfield solely on Assad.

They said: “President Assad alone bears responsibility for this development.”  and “His repeated use of chemical weapons and his crimes against his own population had to be sanctioned.”

The Syrian opposition welcomed the airstrikes with joy and almost disbelief that after so many years of inaction, despite repeated calls on the U.S. to act against Assad regime, the moment finally arrived with the Tomahawk missiles.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the UN Security Council: “The United States took a very measured step last night. We are prepared to do more, but we hope it will not be necessary.”

One of the few big exceptions to this moment of moral clarity was in the predictably repellant reaction from Iran.

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani strongly defended Assad regime’s recent sarin attack on his own people. He blasted President Trump for his decision for airstrikes. Rouhani said in a televised speech referring to the U.S. president: “This man who is now in office in America claimed that he wanted to fight terrorism, but today all terrorists in Syria are celebrating the U.S. attack.” He also said: “Why have you attacked the Syrian army which is at war with terrorists? Under what law or authority did you launch your missiles at this independent country?”

The United States Senate was quick to reciprocate President Trump’s action on behalf of the Syrian people by introducing a new bill to ensure further extend measures safeguarding human rights for innocent Syrian citizens.  The bill, titled the Syrian War Crimes Accountability Act was introduced on April 6 to instruct the Secretary of State to report on war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Syria, as well as to authorize assistance for investigations and other credible transitional justice efforts, including a potential hybrid tribunal, in a bid to hold Assad and his regime accountable for their heinous acts.

A durable solution to Syrian crisis is something hardly disputable by anyone. The U.S. administration through its UN Ambassador Nikki Haley reiterated again on an interview with CNN on Sunday that a long term solution for Syria with Assad in the picture is not possible to imagine. She also pointed to Assad’s main sponsor, the mullahs in Iran, as a major obstacle to peace in the war-torn country and the need to end the Iranian regime’s “influence” in Syria.

The mullahs’ “influence” is something which should not be taken lightly. The Syrian people’s peaceful uprising against the Assad’s dictatorship in 2011 could have taking a different turn had it not been for the IRGC and Quds Force stepping up in full support of the regime in Damascus.

The Assad regime was on the edge in 2013 and outside the capital it had no control over the rest of the country. With the aid of mullahs who spent billions in Syria while their own people at home were hungry, and the inaction of Obama administration by turning a blind eye to Assad’s crossing its established “red line,” the Syrian dictator survived.

Now it seems that a new plan is unfolding in Washington to stop the genocide in Syria with the U.S. administration’s firm respond to Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his people. The attack may not have a major military significance but it has firm political tone to it. The action no doubt has resonated as far east as Tehran.

To put more teeth to what U.S. means in terms of ending Iran’s influence in Syria, an even more effective step forward would be to expel the IRGC and all its proxies from Syria. It would certainly help with the broader war in the region against Islamic fundamentalism in all its shapes and forms. To get rid of terrorism, get rid of the Iran’s proxies.

Trump’s ‘Wag the Dog’ Moment

April 9, 2017

Exclusive: President Trump earned neocon applause for his hasty decision to attack Syria and kill about a dozen Syrians, but his rash act has all the earmarks of a “wag the dog” moment, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert ParryJust two days after news broke of an alleged poison-gas attack in

Source: Trump’s ‘Wag the Dog’ Moment – Consortiumnews

Exclusive: President Trump earned neocon applause for his hasty decision to attack Syria and kill about a dozen Syrians, but his rash act has all the earmarks of a “wag the dog” moment, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Just two days after news broke of an alleged poison-gas attack in northern Syria, President Trump brushed aside advice from some U.S. intelligence analysts doubting the Syrian regime’s guilt and launched a lethal retaliatory missile strike against a Syrian airfield.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. (Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ford Williams)

Trump immediately won plaudits from Official Washington, especially from neoconservatives who have been trying to wrestle control of his foreign policy away from his nationalist and personal advisers since the days after his surprise victory on Nov. 8.

There is also an internal dispute over the intelligence. On Thursday night, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. intelligence community assessed with a “high degree of confidence” that the Syrian government had dropped a poison gas bomb on civilians in Idlib province.

But a number of intelligence sources have made contradictory assessments, saying the preponderance of evidence suggests that Al Qaeda-affiliated rebels were at fault, either by orchestrating an intentional release of a chemical agent as a provocation or by possessing containers of poison gas that ruptured during a conventional bombing raid.

One intelligence source told me that the most likely scenario was a staged event by the rebels intended to force Trump to reverse a policy, announced only days earlier, that the U.S. government would no longer seek “regime change” in Syria and would focus on attacking the common enemy, Islamic terror groups that represent the core of the rebel forces.

The source said the Trump national security team split between the President’s close personal advisers, such as nationalist firebrand Steve Bannon and son-in-law Jared Kushner, on one side and old-line neocons who have regrouped under National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, an Army general who was a protégé of neocon favorite Gen. David Petraeus.

White House Infighting

In this telling, the earlier ouster of retired Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser and this week’s removal of Bannon from the National Security Council were key steps in the reassertion of neocon influence inside the Trump presidency. The strange personalities and ideological extremism of Flynn and Bannon made their ousters easier, but they were obstacles that the neocons wanted removed.

Though Bannon and Kushner are often presented as rivals, the source said, they shared the belief that Trump should tell the truth about Syria, revealing the Obama administration’s CIA analysis that a fatal sarin gas attack in 2013 was a “false-flag” operation intended to sucker President Obama into fully joining the Syrian war on the side of the rebels — and the intelligence analysts’ similar beliefs about Tuesday’s incident.

Instead, Trump went along with the idea of embracing the initial rush to judgment blaming Assad for the Idlib poison-gas event. The source added that Trump saw Thursday night’s missile assault as a way to change the conversation in Washington, where his administration has been under fierce attack from Democrats claiming that his election resulted from a Russian covert operation.

If changing the narrative was Trump’s goal, it achieved some initial success with several of Trump’s fiercest neocon critics, such as neocon Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, praising the missile strike, as did Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The neocons and Israel have long sought “regime change” in Damascus even if the ouster of Assad might lead to a victory by Islamic extremists associated with Al Qaeda and/or the Islamic State.

Wagging the Dog

Trump employing a “wag the dog” strategy, in which he highlights his leadership on an international crisis to divert attention from domestic political problems, is reminiscent of President Bill Clinton’s decision to attack Serbia in 1999 as impeachment clouds were building around his sexual relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky.

President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at joint press conference on Feb. 15. 2017. (Screen shot from Whitehouse.gov)

Trump’s advisers, in briefing the press on Thursday night, went to great lengths to highlight Trump’s compassion toward the victims of the poison gas and his decisiveness in bombing Assad’s military in contrast to Obama’s willingness to allow the intelligence community to conduct a serious review of the evidence surrounding the 2013 sarin-gas case.

Ultimately, Obama listened to his intelligence advisers who told him there was no “slam-dunk” evidence implicating Assad’s regime and he pulled back from a military strike at the last minute – while publicly maintaining the fiction that the U.S. government was certain of Assad’s guilt.

In both cases – 2013 and 2017 – there were strong reasons to doubt Assad’s responsibility. In 2013, he had just invited United Nations inspectors into Syria to investigate cases of alleged rebel use of chemical weapons and thus it made no sense that he would launch a sarin attack in the Damascus suburbs, guaranteeing that the U.N. inspectors would be diverted to that case.

Similarly, now, Assad’s military has gained a decisive advantage over the rebels and he had just scored a major diplomatic victory with the Trump administration’s announcement that the U.S. was no longer seeking “regime change” in Syria. The savvy Assad would know that a chemical weapon attack now would likely result in U.S. retaliation and jeopardize the gains that his military has achieved with Russian and Iranian help.

The counter-argument to this logic – made by The New York Times and other neocon-oriented news outlets – essentially maintains that Assad is a crazed barbarian who was testing out his newfound position of strength by baiting President Trump. Of course, if that were the case, it would have made sense that Assad would have boasted of his act, rather than deny it.

But logic and respect for facts no longer prevail inside Official Washington, nor inside the mainstream U.S. news media.

Intelligence Uprising

Alarm within the U.S. intelligence community about Trump’s hasty decision to attack Syria reverberated from the Middle East back to Washington, where former CIA officer Philip Giraldi reported hearing from his intelligence contacts in the field that they were shocked at how the new poison-gas story was being distorted by Trump and the mainstream U.S. news media.

Former CIA officer Philip Giradi. (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Giraldi told Scott Horton’s Webcast: “I’m hearing from sources on the ground in the Middle East, people who are intimately familiar with the intelligence that is available who are saying that the essential narrative that we’re all hearing about the Syrian government or the Russians using chemical weapons on innocent civilians is a sham.”

Giraldi said his sources were more in line with an analysis postulating an accidental release of the poison gas after an Al Qaeda arms depot was hit by a Russian airstrike.

“The intelligence confirms pretty much the account that the Russians have been giving … which is that they hit a warehouse where the rebels – now these are rebels that are, of course, connected with Al Qaeda – where the rebels were storing chemicals of their own and it basically caused an explosion that resulted in the casualties. Apparently the intelligence on this is very clear.”

Giraldi said the anger within the intelligence community over the distortion of intelligence to justify Trump’s military retaliation was so great that some covert officers were considering going public.

“People in both the agency [the CIA] and in the military who are aware of the intelligence are freaking out about this because essentially Trump completely misrepresented what he already should have known – but maybe he didn’t – and they’re afraid that this is moving toward a situation that could easily turn into an armed conflict,” Giraldi said before Thursday night’s missile strike. “They are astonished by how this is being played by the administration and by the U.S. media.”

One-Sided Coverage

The mainstream U.S. media has presented the current crisis with the same profound neocon bias that has infected the coverage of Syria and the larger Middle East for decades. For instance, The New York Times on Friday published a lead story by Michael R. Gordon and Michael D. Shear that treated the Syrian government’s responsibility for the poison-gas incident as flat-fact. The lengthy story did not even deign to include the denials from Syria and Russia that they were responsible for any intentional deployment of poison gas.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ross fires a tomahawk land attack missile from the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. (Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert S. Price)

The article also fit with Trump’s desire that he be portrayed as a decisive and forceful leader. He is depicted as presiding over intense deliberations of war or peace and displaying a deep humanitarianism regarding the poison-gas victims, one of the rare moments when the Times, which has become a reliable neocon propaganda sheet, has written anything favorable about Trump at all.

According to Syrian reports on Friday, the U.S. attack killed 13 people, including five soldiers at the airbase.

Gordon, whose service to the neocon cause is notorious, was the lead author with Judith Miller of the Times’ bogus “aluminum tube” story in 2002 which falsely claimed that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was reconstituting a nuclear-weapons program, an article that was then cited by President George W. Bush’s aides as a key argument for invading Iraq in 2003.

Regarding this week’s events, Trump’s desperation to reverse his negative media coverage and the dubious evidence blaming Assad for the Idlib incident could fit with the “Wag the Dog” movie from 1997 in which an embattled president creates a phony foreign crisis in Albania.

A fake war scene in the dark 1997 comedy “Wag the Dog,” which showed a girl and her cat fleeing a bombardment in Albania.

In the movie, the White House operation is a cynical psychological operation to convince the American people that innocent Albanian children, including an attractive girl carrying a cat, are in danger when, In reality, the girl was an actor posing before a green screen that allowed scenes of fiery ruins to be inserted as background.

Today, because Trump and his administration are now committed to convincing Americans that Assad really was responsible for Tuesday’s poison-gas tragedy, the prospects for a full and open investigation are effectively ended. We may never know if there is truth to those allegations or whether we are being manipulated by another “wag the dog” psyop.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

Double Bombing Hits Egypt on Palm Sunday

April 9, 2017

Double Bombing Hits Egypt on Palm Sunday, Clarion ProjectElliot Friedland, April 9, 2017

At least 37 people were killed and more than 100 injured in two separate bombing attacks that struck churches in Egypt. The blasts ripped through services for Palm Sunday on April 9.

The Islamic State terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

A bomb placed under a seat in the main prayer hall of St. George’s Coptic Church in Tanta, northern Egypt, ripped the hall apart, killing at least 26 and wounded 60 others.

“Everything is destroyed inside the church,” eyewitness Peter Kamel told media outlets after the attack.

A suicide bombing hit Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria a few hours later. According to state TV reports, police officers prevented the suicide bomber from entering the Church, and he detonated his device outside.

At least 11 people were killed and 35 others wounded in that attack. Pope Tawadros II, the head of the Coptic Church in Egypt, had just lead mass for Palm Sunday but is unharmed as he reportedly had just left the building.

Grand Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, The head of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, the most prestigious institution of learning in Sunni Islam, condemned the attack, calling it a “despicable terrorist bombing that targeted the lives of innocents.”

The Coptic community in Egypt has long faced discrimination, but that has worsened since the 2011 revolution that overthrew longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak and replaced him first with the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood’s president Mohammed Morsi and then with former general, President Abdefattah el-Sisi.

Breakaway Muslim Brotherhood factions and ISIS affiliates have been targeting Coptic Christians in an effort to destabilize the state and cleanse Egypt of non-Muslims.

In February, ISIS released a propaganda video featuring a terrorist who carried out a previous attack on St Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria, threatening to eliminate Egypt’s Christians and “liberate Cairo.”

Why Does the West Keep Colluding with Terrorists?

April 9, 2017

Why Does the West Keep Colluding with Terrorists? Gatestone InstituteDouglas Murray, April 9, 2017

What, after all, is the acceptable discourse — or “narrative” — on which we can agree to speak about the attacks in Stockholm, Berlin, Nice and elsewhere? Can the discussion be allowed to include the Islamic portion? Can anyone be allowed to say that the attackers act in the name of Islam, or must we continue to present all jihadist terrorists as people suffering from any affliction apart from that one?

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Like other criticisms of Hirsi Ali, the effort was to portray her as the problem itself rather than as the response to a problem.

That this type of campaign can succeed — that speakers can be stopped from speaking in Western democracies because of the implicit or explicit threat of violence — is a problem our societies need to face.

There is a whole pile of reasons why Islamists want to stop her explanations from being aired. But why — when the attacks keep on happening — do our own societies collude with such sinister people to keep ourselves the dark?

Only a fortnight after a vehicular terrorist attack in Westminster, London, another similar attack took place in Stockholm, Sweden. On one of the city’s main shopping streets, a vehicle was once again used as a battering-ram against the bodies of members of the public. As in Nice, France. As in Berlin. As so many times in Israel.

Amid this regular news there is an air of defeatism — a terrible lack of policy and lack of solutions. How can governments stop people driving trucks into pedestrians? Is it something we must simply get used to, as France’s former Prime Minister Manuel Valls and London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan have both suggested? Must we come to recognise acts of terror as something like the weather? Or is there anything we can do to limit, if not stop, them? If so, where would we start? One place would be to have a frank public discussion about these matters. Yet, even that is easier said than done.

There is a terrible symmetry to this past week in the West. The week began with the news that the Somali-born author and human-rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali had been forced to cancel a speaking tour in Australia. “Security concerns” were among the given reasons. A notable aspect of this issue, which has been made public, is that one of the venues at which Hirsi Ali was due to speak was contacted last month by something calling itself “‘The Council for the Prevention of Islamophobia Incorporated”. Nobody appears to know where this “incorporated” organisation comes from, but its purported founder — Syed Murtaza Hussain — claimed that the group would bring 5000 protestors to the hall at which Hirsi Ali was scheduled to talk. This threat is reminiscent of the occasion in 2009 when the British peer, Lord Ahmed, threatened to mobilise 10,000 British Muslims to protest at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster if the Dutch politician Geert Wilders were allowed to speak. On that occasion — as on this one — the event was cancelled. Promises to mobilise thousands of angry Muslims can have such an effect. But the long-term implications often get lost in the short-term outrage.

Other attacks on Hirsi Ali began, in fact, weeks before her now-cancelled tour had been due to start. On the web, for instance, a widely-watched video was disseminated showing a group of headscarf-covered Australian Muslim women. All were attacking Hirsi Ali and protesting her appearance in the country. Addressing her directly, they complained that, “Your narrative doesn’t support our struggles. It erases them.”

Like other criticisms of Hirsi Ali, the effort was to portray her as the problem itself rather than the response to a problem. Once again, mixing up (deliberately or otherwise) the arsonist and the firefighter, such groups present a homogenous, agreed-upon opinion — or “narrative” — as the only necessary answer to any problems that may or may not exist. Hirsi Ali, according to them, thinks the “wrong” things and says the wrong things. Therefore she must be stopped.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author and human-rights activist. (Image source: The Aspen Institute)

That this type of campaign can succeed — that speakers can be stopped from speaking in Western democracies because of the implicit or explicit threat of violence — is a problem our societies need to face. But in the meantime, we also have to face the reality that a shut-down of opinion has on our public policy as well as our public discourse.

What, after all, is the acceptable discourse — or “narrative” — on which we can agree to speak about the attacks in Stockholm, Berlin, Nice and elsewhere? Can the discussion be allowed to include the Islamic portion? Can anyone be allowed to say that the attackers act in the name of Islam, or must we continue to present all jihadist terrorists as people suffering from any affliction apart from that one?

In the middle of the week, at a memorial service in Westminster Abbey, the Very Reverend John Hall, Dean of Westminster, said that the UK was “bewildered” after the terrorist attacks of a fortnight earlier. He went on in his sermon to ask:

“What could possibly motivate a man to hire a car and take it from Birmingham to Brighton to London, and then drive it fast at people he had never met, couldn’t possibly know, against whom he had no personal grudge, no reason to hate them and then run at the gates of the Palace of Westminster to cause another death? It seems likely that we shall never know.”

If it is true that our societies are “bewildered”, as the Dean says, might it be because we have not heard a wide-enough range of possible explanations for such outrages — because we have deliberately cut ourselves off, by choice,- from the warnings of ex-Muslims such as Hirsi Ali? Amid the “narratives” that are acceptable and to be tolerated, perhaps we have failed to listen to the explanations that outline the sheer scale of the religious and societal problem now in front of us?

Of course, for many Muslims, such as those critics of Hirsi Ali in Australia, there is a clear reason why they want to stop her speaking. Were people to hear her, they would realise the vast enormity of the challenge ahead of us and the depth and breadth of its nature. Her audiences would discover the defensive play around the world in which many Muslim organisations are engaged — a campaign to limit speech precisely in order to protect their own interpretation of their religion and keep out any other.

It is, however, the dissenting, silenced voices such as Hirsi Ali’s that are precisely the voices the world needs to hear at present. How tragic that a week that began with a silencing, should end with yet another all-too-predictable terrorist attack — one which Sweden will do as much to fail at comprehending as Britain did two weeks before her.

Hearing from voices such as that of Hirsi Ali could lift the fog of our “bewilderment” and explain, for instance, what does motivate some people to drive a car or truck into crowds of people going about their lives. There is a whole pile of reasons why Islamists want to stop her explanations from being aired. But why — when the attacks keep on happening — do our own societies collude with such sinister people to keep ourselves in the dark?

Iran’s Mullahs: Dead Syrian Children are Fakes!

April 9, 2017

Iran’s Mullahs: Dead Syrian Children are Fakes! Power LineJohn Hinderaker, April 8, 2017

(Are they auditioning for positions as CNN and MSNBC writers? Why did they neglect to mention that the “White Helmets” are “vile Zionists?”– DM)

Do you think President Trump has gotten the mullahs’ attention? Do you think they realize they aren’t dealing with a willing dupe like Barack Obama? That is how it looks to me.

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How nervous are Iran’s rulers, sponsors of the Assad regime, about President Trump’s missile strike on Syria? This nervous: Iran’s semi-official FARS news service headlines, “Swedish Medical Associations [sic] Says White Helmets Murdered Kids for Fake Gas Attack Videos.”

President Trump is now threatening to take America into a war against Syria, Iran and even Russia, a war he says is justified by “evidence” he has received from the Syrian White Helmets.

Ridiculous. President Trump has made no such threat.

We will prove beyond any doubt that this is a “Deep State” organization, a melding of CIA, al Qaeda and Britain’s intelligence services. We now have “slam dunk” proof that Trump and the “fake news” MSM are and always have been in lockstep, playing us all.

Heh. Who knew the “deep state” includes al Qaeda? The Iranians are hysterical.

Google itself is involved, at war with this group and others, censoring them from their search engines. The information here will be new to Americans.

Huh? This is never explained.

The White Helmets, supposedly an independent NGO, receives up to $100m from the CIA and UK Foreign Office, “dark project” funding. Murdering children is their stock and trade as we will prove. Sharing headquarters with Turkish Intelligence in Gaziantep, Turkey, this organization is far more “death squad” than civil defense. …

The Iranians’ theory is that those dead children in widely-seen photos and videos had been alive, and weren’t gassed by Assad’s forces, but were murdered for political reasons:

Swedish Doctors For Human Rights (swedhr.org) analysed videos, the rescue after an alleged attack by Syrian government forces. The doctors found that the videos were counterfeit, where even Arabic stage directions were overheard, and that the alleged “Rescue” in actuality is a murder. On first analysis, it looked as though the doctors working on the child assumed he was already dead.

More:

However, after broader investigation, our team ascertained that the boy was unconscious from an overdose of opiates. The video shows the child receiving injections in his chest, perhaps in the area of the heart and was eventually killed while a clearly fake adrenaline injection was administered.

This was a murder.

There is much more, but you get the drift. After eight years of treating Barack Obama like…I can’t say it, this is a family site…the mullahs are hysterical over President Trump’s assertion of American interests and values. FARS News, the regime’s more or less official news outlet, talks of little else. Here are FARS’s current headlines:

* ‘Emergency’ Protests across US Demand ‘Hands off Syria’

* Swedish Medical Associations Says White Helmets Murdered Kids for Fake Gas Attack Videos

* Syrian Army Chief Visits Airbase Hit by US Missiles before Resumption of Operation

* Anti-War Group Protests against US Strike in Syria

* Russia: US Fails to Prove Existence of Chemical Weapons at Syrian Airfield

* Top Iranian, Russian Security Officials Discuss US Missile Strike on Syria

* Hezbollah Condemns US Blatant, Foolish Attack on Syria

* Russian Ground Force to Take Part in Anti-Terrorism Operation in Syria’s Hama

* Blustering Toward Armageddon: How Trump Is Upsetting China While Antagonizing Russia

* Top Iranian, Russian Security Officials Discuss US Missile Strike on Syria

* Arab Analyst: US Attack against Syria Not to Topple Assad

* Syrian Fighter Jets Restart Combat Flights over Terrorists’ Centers from Shayrat Airbase in Homs

Do you think President Trump has gotten the mullahs’ attention? Do you think they realize they aren’t dealing with a willing dupe like Barack Obama? That is how it looks to me.