Archive for July 28, 2017

Early Observations of North Korea’s Latest Missile Tests

July 28, 2017

Early Observations of North Korea’s Latest Missile Tests, 38 North, July 28, 2017

On July 4, 2017, North Korea conducted its first test of a two-stage Hwasong-14 ballistic missile, which reached an apogee of about 2,800 km. If flown on a standard trajectory, this means the Hwasong-14 would have a maximum range in excess of 7,500 km—intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) range—and may be able to reach the US west coast if armed with a warhead weighing 650 kg or less. However, the Hwasong-14 tested on July 4 was not optimally designed to achieve maximum range. Instead, it appears to have been a prototype designed to maximize the probability of a successful maiden flight by relying on flight-proven stages.

The Hwasong-14 tested on July 4 employed a first stage based on the Hwasong-12, but with a slightly larger diameter to carry more propellant. The second stage was similar to the third stage of North Korea’s satellite launch vehicle, the Unha. For an ICBM, however, the second stage was under-sized and under-powered, making it ill-suited for use on a ballistic missile. One would assume that future tests of the Hwasong-14 would require North Korea to reconfigure the second stage for better performance.

On July 28, North Korea launched a ballistic missile that reportedly flew for 45 minutes, reaching a peak altitude of 3,000 km, and a slightly longer range than the previous test. While the type of missile tested is yet unconfirmed, these data, if accurate, are fully consistent with a Hwasong-14 tested with a larger second stage that is powered by a high-thrust engine. If flown on a flatter trajectory, this missile could reach as far as 9,000 to 10,000 km. More information, including videos and photographs, will help identify the new second stage engine, and pinpoint its performance capacity.

However, if the above assessment is correct, North Korea seems to have made a logical step forward, as it tries to perfect the technologies to build and field an operationally-viable ICBM that can threaten the mainland United States. More tests are needed to assess and validate the reliability of the Hwasong-14, so North Korea is sure to follow this launch with many more.

Congress Seeks Wasserman Schultz Testimony in IT Scandal Investigation

July 28, 2017

Congress Seeks Wasserman Schultz Testimony in IT Scandal Investigation, Washington Free Beacon, July 28, 2017

(Please see also, Forget about Trump and the Russians. The real action is with the Awan brothers and Fusion GPS. — DM)

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz / Getty Images.

Lawmakers expressed their concern that some of the information potentially stolen by these staffers could compromise congressional officials.

*************************************

Congressional leaders are interested in conducting their own independent investigation into a growing scandal surrounding IT staffers working for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.), who are accused of stealing sensitive computer equipment from House lawmakers’ offices.

One of these IT staffers, Imran Awan, was arrested this week when trying to travel to Pakistan and charged with bank fraud after a months-long investigation that found he wired nearly $300,000 to that country. Several other staffers tied to Awan are the focus of an investigation into claims they stole sensitive equipment and illegally penetrated the House IT network.

Leading members of the House Judiciary Committee and Government Oversight Committee told the Washington Free Beacon that the appropriate congressional bodies should launch an investigation into the illicit IT activity, which could include asking for testimony from Wasserman Schultz on the situation.

Wasserman Schultz’s testimony is of particular interest as she has come under fire for keeping Awan on the House payroll even after information about his actions became public and not cooperating with the investigation.

Lawmakers expressed their concern that some of the information potentially stolen by these staffers could compromise congressional officials.

“In addition to the criminal case that is now underway, Congress needs to get answers regarding the scope of Imran Awan’s misconduct and the access he had to sensitive material in the United States House of Representatives, including why he remained on the House payroll for so long,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the Government Oversight Committee and chair of its National Security Subcommittee told the Washington Free Beacon.

“The facts as we know them are very troubling and we need a full accounting of his time at both the DNC and the U.S. House,” DeSantis said. “Congressional hearings are in order.”

Asked if Wasserman Schultz could be asked to testify in such an investigation, DeSantis said it is possible.

“If [the Department of Justice] doesn’t think it will interfere with the criminal case then it’s a live possibility,” he said.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R., Texas), a member of the House’s Judiciary Committee, expressed a similar desire when asked about the matter by the Free Beacon.

“Yes, we could ask for her [Wasserman Schultz] to testify and look for either the government reform or judiciary” committees to help an investigation, Gohmert said. “Both have jurisdiction over things in this whole catastrophe.”

Gohmert described the situation and “incredible” and troubling given these staffers’ access to privileged information on the internal House computing network.

“You don’t have to be all that great at hacking to hack into almost anyone’s email and calendar,” Gohmert said. He noted this information is not classified or privileged because it pertains to official Congressional business.

“Our enemies that would like to bring down the U.S. would love to have the calendars of every single member of Congress to see who’s vulnerable to what and how they can be manipulated. There’s a reason that you have to have a background check in order to work on our system,” Gohmert said.

It remains unclear what types of background check Awan and the other staffers were given, if any at all, according to Gohmert.

“We don’t know if someone assured our members who hired them they had had the background check,” Gohmert said.

The investigation into this matter has received little media attention, prompting calls of bias from Republican leaders.

“It’s very sad that the mainstream media is not talking about this at all,” Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said earlier this week. “It shows the bias.”

A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Britain: June 2017

July 28, 2017

A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Britain: June 2017, Gatestone InstituteSoeren Kern, July 28, 2017

Nazir Afzal, a former chief crown prosecutor and one of the most prominent Muslim lawyers in Britain, warned that an “industry” of Islamist groups in the country is undermining the fight against terrorism. He singled out the Islamist-dominated Muslim Council of Britain and also condemned “self-appointed” community leaders whose sole agenda was to present Muslims “as victims and not as those who are potentially becoming radicals.”

Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, charged London Mayor Sadiq Khan with “appeasing jihadists” for authorizing the Al-Quds Day march.

More than 40 foreign jihadists have used human rights laws to remain in Britain, according to an unpublished report delayed by the Home Office.

June 3. Khuram Shazad Butt, a 27-year-old Pakistani-born British citizen, Rachid Redouane, a 30-year-old who claimed to be Libyan and Moroccan and Youssef Zaghba, a 22-year-old Moroccan-Italian, murdered eight people and injured 50 others in a jihadist attack on and around the London Bridge. The three assailants were shot dead by police. It was the third jihadist attack in Britain in as many months.

Floral tributes at London Bridge on June 6, 2017, following the 3 June 2017 terrorist attack. (Image source: Matt Brown/Wikimedia Commons)

June 3. Nazir Afzal, a former chief crown prosecutor and one of the most prominent Muslim lawyers in Britain, warned that an “industry” of Islamist groups in the country is undermining the fight against terrorism by peddling “myths” about the Prevent strategy, the government’s key anti-radicalization policy. He singled out the Islamist-dominated Muslim Council of Britain, and said he was shocked that in the agenda for its annual meeting there was “nothing about radicalisation and nothing about the threat of people going to Syria.” Afzal, who prosecuted the Rochdale sex-grooming gang, also condemned “self-appointed” community leaders whose sole agenda was to present Muslims “as victims and not as those who are potentially becoming radicals.”

June 3. Khalid Al-Mathkour, chairman of Kuwait’s sharia council, and Essam Al-Fulaij, a Kuwaiti government figure known for his anti-Semitic diatribes, are listed as trustees of a UK-registered charity that is building a mosque in Sheffield, according to the Telegraph. They have helped channel almost £500,000 ($650,000) into the project from Kuwait. Another £400,000 ($525,000) has been donated to the charity, the Emaan Trust, by a Qatari organization. The stated aim of the new mosque, which will have a capacity for 500 worshippers, is to “promote and teach Islamic morals and values to new Muslim generations.”

June 4. Prime Minister Theresa May said there was “far too much tolerance of extremism” in Britain and promised to step up the fight against Islamic terrorism after the London Bridge attack. “Enough is enough,” she said. May also claimed the jihadists held to an ideology that was a perversion of true Islam: “It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam.”

June 5. Conservative election candidate Gordon Henderson said that Muslims are duty bound to report extremists in their midst:

“The only people who can defeat the Islamic terrorists are the British Muslims in whose midst they find sanctuary. It is time for peace-loving Muslims to start providing information to the police about those within their community that they suspect of plotting attacks. The only other option is to put all suspected terrorists in internment camps, and that is not a route I would like to go down. We tried it with the IRA and all it did was make the prisoners into martyrs.”

June 6. Khuram Butt, one of the London Bridge attackers, was known to British authorities, according to the Telegraph. He had appeared in a Channel 4 documentary about British extremists called “The Jihadis Next Door.” Butt was also filmed at events attended by questionable Islamic preachers, and had tried to go to Syria to become a jihadist there.

June 7. Three “Asian girls” shouting “Allah will get you” slashed a woman near a nursery in Hermon Hill, London. The victim, named as Katie, was walking along the street when she was ambushed from behind. Police said they were not treating the attack as a terrorist incident.

June 10. Conservative peer Sayeeda Warsi, the first Muslim woman to serve in a British cabinet, said that Britain’s relationship with its Muslim community needs to be reset from scratch:

“When things go wrong with an iPhone or a coffee machine, pressing the restart button is usually a good, safe place to start. Right now, Britain’s relationship with her Muslims is within that frozen, overloaded, splurging episode — we need to press the button….

“Just because you don’t speak English does not mean you’re going to be a terrorist — the majority of terrorists speak good English. Secondly, there’s always a fraction of religious groups that choose to live separate lives and that is not an issue of integration. We have to keep the issue of terrorism and integration separate.”

June 10. Police increased patrols at local mosques in Cambridge after strips of bacon were left on four cars parked at the Omar Faruque Mosque. A 19-year-old man was arrested and charged with religiously aggravated criminal damage.

June 11. Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Cressida Dick said that jihadists do not discriminate between Muslims and non-Muslims in their attacks:

“An attack in London is an attack on all of us. I understand Muslim communities are feeling shattered and there are concerns within the community that it may find itself as a target of hate crimes.

“What I will say to the Muslim communities is that we must all stand up in the face of terrorists. The London Metropolitan Police are here to work with Muslims, to protect them and to work with them to stop crimes. If you are a target, we will work hard to protect you.”

June 13. Mak Chishty, who recently retired as the most senior Muslim police officer in Britain, said it was time for Muslims to stop “skirting around the issues” and have some “very difficult conversations.” He issued a “call to action” to all British Muslims, urging them to launch a social media blitz to let the rest of the country know how strongly they feel about extremism:

“I would like to issue a call for action today for every single Muslim, from a young person all the way through to my mother-in-law who is well in her mid-60s but has got a WhatsApp or a Facebook, to get on there and start to denounce extremism as not theirs.

“All of a sudden, maybe you will find that these extremist voices start to shrink… remove their dominance, starve them of oxygen. Make sure they have got a powerful lobby against them. We can do that now, we can do that today.”

Chishty also said that terrorism and extremism is “hurting” Islam:

“It is the Islamic duty of every Muslim to be loyal to the country in which they live and we are now asking questions to understand how extremism and hatred has taken hold within some elements of our own communities. Muslims must do more to stop such attacks from happening again and we want to know how we can play a greater role in the future.”

June 13. Lugman Aslam, 26, was sentenced to five years in prison for plowing his van into five men in Leicester after an argument during Ramadan. Aslam admitted to dangerous driving and attempting to inflict intentional grievous bodily harm. Recorder Justin Wigoder said:

“You quite deliberately drove your van at that group who were walking along the pavement. I’ve seen it on CCTV and you deliberately mounted the pavement and drove straight at them and right through the middle of them at speed…. I accept it was completely out of character. You’re of very positive good previous character and I’ve received a considerable number of references setting out all the good that is in you. You’re a good family man with a young daughter and I take that very much into account.”

June 14. Shamim Ahmed, a 24-year-old Bangladeshi from Tower Hamlets, East London, was sentenced to six years in prison for trying to join the Islamic State in Syria. During his trial, Ahmed pointed his finger at Judge John Bevan QC and warned him he, Ahmed, would continue to “wage jihad”: “Give me 20 years, I will come out the enemy.”

June 15. New statistics showed that in the year to March 2017, police arrested 304 people for terrorism-related offenses — a 20% increase compared to the previous 12 months. Combined with those held since March, the total arrests in 2017 may top the previous record of 315, set in 2015.

June 18. Hundreds of anti-Israel protesters carrying Hezbollah flags marched through the streets of London to mark Al-Quds Day (Jerusalem Day), an annual event initiated by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, ostensibly to support the Palestinians, but undoubtedly to promote hatred of Jews. At a rally outside the U.S. Embassy after the march, one speaker blamed the fire at London’s Grenfell Tower public housing project on so-called Zionists. “Some of the biggest supporters of the Conservative Party are Zionists,” the speaker ranted. “They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell. The Zionist supporters of the Tory Party.” Col. Richard Kemp, former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, charged London Mayor Sadiq Khan with “appeasing jihadists” for authorizing the march.

June 19. Darren Osborne, a 47-year-old unemployed father of four, drove a van into a group of worshippers close to the Finsbury Park Mosque in North London. One person was killed and eight others were injured in the attack, which police said was premeditated. Osborne was “self-radicalized into his extremist hatred of Muslims,” according to the Guardian.

June 20. Armed police were deployed to the Neolithic Stonehenge to protect thousands of pagans celebrating the summer solstice from jihadist attacks. David Spofforth of the Pagan Federation said it was “very sad” that armed police were necessary: “I am not saying I am welcoming this, I sadly accept it. But you just have to look at the events such as at Finsbury Park, a peaceful religious gathering where people suffered so much by the actions of one hate-filled individual.”

June 22. A Muslim woman sued her former employers after allegedly being ordered to remove her black headscarf because the garment had “terrorist affiliations.” The estate agent had been working for Harvey Dean in Bury for almost a year when she says managers took issue with her hijab. A complaint filed at the Manchester Employment Tribunal said the woman was told that moving from a back office into public view meant “that it would be in the best interest of the business for her to change the color of her hijab, due to the supposed terrorist affiliation with the color black.” The woman said she felt “singled out” as the only Muslim woman in the office and claimed the company discriminated against her on the basis of both religion and gender.

June 23. Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted, the schools regulator, vowed to crack down on Islamic extremism in British schools. She said that school children must be equipped with the “knowledge and resilience” required to combat the violent rhetoric “peddled” by hate preachers who “put hatred in their hearts and poison in their minds.” She added:

“One area where there is room to improve is the active promotion of fundamental British values in our schools. Recent attacks in Westminster, London Bridge, Manchester and Finsbury Park have brought into stark relief the threats that we face.”

June 24. More than 40 foreign jihadists have used human rights laws to remain in Britain, according to an unpublished report delayed by the Home Office. The study, a copy of which was leaked to the Telegraph, describes how lawyers, funded by legal aid, have successfully prevented foreign-born terror suspects from being sent back to their home countries.

June 25. Michael Adebolajo, who together with Michael Adebowale murdered British soldier Lee Rigby outside Woolwich barracks in south-east London in May 2013, is now regarded as the most dangerous prisoner in the British penal system, according to prison sources. A prison officer described him as “violent, unpredictable and a major danger to other prisoners.” He has also radicalized dozens of inmates, including non-Muslim prisoners who are said to have converted to Islam and sworn allegiance to the Islamic State. One prison official said:

“Adebolajo spends most of his waking hours preaching his distorted form of Islam to anyone who will listen. He sees every inmate as a potential Islamic State soldier whether they are Muslims or not. He has a big personality and is very charismatic and some of the more vulnerable prisoners will fall under his spell. He is a very dangerous individual.”

June 27. Muslims launched an online petition to oppose a new veil policy at John Thursby Community College, in Burnley, Lancashire. The school announced plans for a universal-length headscarf that some Muslims said is too short and not sufficiently modest. Previously girls were free to choose any length they pleased. Some feel that the move is aimed at deterring girls from wearing headscarves at all. Local councilor Shah Hussain said: “The whole point is that it is supposed to protect the wearer’s modesty, and that does not happen.” The school’s head teacher David Burton said he may reconsider the policy. “We are sorry there have been suggestions that the school is against headscarves. This is not true. We fully respect the wishes of girls to wear a headscarf.”

June 28. The trial began in London of four jihadists — Naweed Ali, 29, Tahir Aziz, 38, Khobaib Hussain, 25, and Mohibur Rahman, 32 — for allegedly plotting a knife rampage on British soil. The men, who called themselves “The Musketeers,” were accused of sharing “the same radical belief in violent jihad.” Prosecutors said the terror plot involved a samurai sword and a meat cleaver with the word “Kafir” (unbeliever) scratched onto the blade. The four men were arrested after a stash of weapons, ammunition, and a pipe bomb were found in Ali’s car during a counter-terrorism operation in Birmingham.

June 29. Three men were arrested in the Armagh and Coalisland areas of Northern Ireland for displaying anti-Muslim posters and stickers. Police said the material — which included the slogan “Rapefugees Not Welcome” — was likely to stir up “racial hatred.”

June 30. Tarik Chadlioui, a 43-year-old Moroccan cleric living in Birmingham with his wife and eight children, was accused of recruiting jihadists for the Islamic State. Chadlioui, a Salafist, is wanted in several European countries and is believed to be the spiritual leader of an Islamic State cell in Spain. Chadlioui, also known as Tarik Ibn Ali, is said to have formed links with jihadist groups which aim to impose Sharia law in Europe.

U.S. Islamists Promote Nationwide Protests Despite Israeli Concessions

July 28, 2017

U.S. Islamists Promote Nationwide Protests Despite Israeli Concessions, Investigative Project on Terrorism, July 28, 2017

(Their cause for anger is not Temple Mount but the existence of Israel. — DM)

In solidarity with Palestinian factions and terrorist groups, pro-Palestinian Islamist organizations in the United States are gearing up for more anti-Israel protests today, even though the original cause for their anger has been rescinded.

Israel removed metal detectors Tuesday which were installed near an entrance to Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque in response to a deadly July 14th terrorist attack. Terrorists managed to smuggle their guns into the mosque the morning of the attack. Yet Israel’s acquiescence has not silenced its main detractors.

Still, rallies planned throughout the country are being pushed by American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and Jewish Voice for Peace. Similar gatherings last week featured harsh anti-Israel rhetoric.

In a published set of talking points, AMP claimed the removal of metal detectors “doesn’t mean that the sanctity of the Noble Sanctuary is guaranteed, nor that Israel will not try other methods in the future to alter the status quo in the Aqsa mosque.”

This message builds on years of false Palestinian claims that Israel is keeping Muslims from praying at the mosque.

The metal detectors were installed only after Palestinian terrorists attacked and killed two police officers.

U.S.-based Islamist figures and groups are even challenging Israel’s right to install additional surveillance cameras on the Temple Mount – the compound that houses the mosque and site of the last Jewish temple. While enhanced surveillance measures often follow terrorist attacks, any action to improve Israel’s national security – no matter how minor – is met with a disproportionate anger from groups opposed to Israel’s existence in any form.

AMP held an “All Out for Al Aqsa” rally last Saturday in Times Square, featuring speakers who called for Israel’s destruction and radical chants from the crowd.

“You [Israel] are a hypocrisy state that will eventually be, will eventually go away. Israel will not last long,” said AMP-New Jersey president and national board member Sayel Kayed.

The rally featured similarly threatening chants made in Arabic.

“With life, with blood/we sacrifice for you Al Aqsa” and “the gate of Al Aqsa is of iron [Hadid], no one can open it but a martyr [Shahid].” These chants, translated by the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), show how U.S. Islamist groups cultivate an atmosphere where terrorism and violence against Israel is openly encouraged.

“There is only one solution; Intifada, revolution… “Long live the Intifada”.

Other anti-Israel student groups are joining the fray. Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign (UIUC) posted a statement on Facebook last Friday inciting violence, the Algemeiner reported.

“Long live the Intifada!,” the group exclaimed, adding in Arabic “Long live resistance,” words commonly invoked by anti-Israel activists referring to violent uprisings and terrorism against Israel.

The growing anti-Israel hysteria permeated the Islamic Center of Davis in California July 21, when American imam Ammar Shahin delivered an anti-Semitic sermon.

“Oh Allah, liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews. Oh Allah, destroy those who closed the Al-Aqsa Mosque…Oh Allah, count them one by one and annihilate them down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them,” preached Shahin, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reports.

Council on American-Islamic Relations Executive Director Nihad Awad did not comment on the Shahin sermon. But he did urge all imams to talk about the issue, saying “Israeli occupiers are suppressing religious freedom in #Jerusalem.”

Again, this is purportedly over metal detectors and security cameras following a deadly terrorist shooting.

CAIR’s St. Louis chapter organized a march last Sunday that cast metal detectors and security cameras as a “siege” of the mosque and featured chants of “free Al-Aqsa.”

CAIR’s Georgia chapter is co-hosting an anti-Israel event, with the far-left Jewish Voice for Peace outside the Israeli Consulate in Atlanta.

AMP alerted its network to additional nationwide protests, including today at noon outside the Israeli embassy in Washington D.C. There is also a planned demonstration the same day in downtown Chicago at 4:30 p.m. and in New York City. On Sunday, a “March for Al Aqsa” is scheduled to take place at the Wilshire Federal Building in Los Angeles at 3:00 p.m.

U.S.-based Islamists are joining Palestinian factions from across the political spectrum who continue to call on Palestinians to protest against Israel on Friday.

For the second straight week, Hamas has called for a “day of rage” while Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah incites violence by encouraging its supporters to “intensify”confrontations with Israeli authorities throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem. Abbas went a step further on Wednesday and gave the green light for Fatah’s Tanzim terrorist group to organize mass demonstrations on Friday.

On July 14, the Muslim Brotherhood led the way with calls for an “Islamic Intifada” – a violent uprising – against Israel following the day’s deadly Palestinian terrorist attack.

“The Muslim Brotherhood calls upon the sons of the Islamic Umma (nation), its Ulema (Muslim religious scholars), figures and blocs for an Intifada in order to stop the (alleged Israeli) violations of holy sites…,” the Brotherhood wrote on its official Arabic-language website and translated by the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT).

The Brotherhood admitted its main motivation for “our intended uprising” is to “pressure all Western governments, Arab regimes and international organizations to intervene to stop violations by gangs of the Zionist entity…”

Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups in the U.S. are heeding this call, organizing nationwide protests, inciting violence, and seeking to pressure the U.S. government into forcing more Israeli concessions.

Forget about Trump and the Russians. The real action is with the Awan brothers and Fusion GPS.

July 28, 2017

Forget about Trump and the Russians. The real action is with the Awan brothers and Fusion GPS., The American SpectatorScott Mckay, July 28, 2017

From a press release that hit on Thursday…

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Judiciary Committee Republicans today sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein calling for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate unaddressed matters, some connected to the 2016 election and others, including many actions taken by Obama Administration officials like Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The letter follows yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee approval of H. Res. 446, as amended, to request documents pertaining to the FBI’s investigation of former Secretary Clinton.

In their letter, the Judiciary Committee members express concern that the directive given to Special Counsel Robert Mueller is narrow in scope and many concerns arising out of the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath are not being investigated. The members call for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate grave concerns such as former Attorney General Lynch’s directive to former FBI Director Comey to mislead the American people on the nature of the investigation into former Secretary Clinton; the FBI and Justice Department’s investigative decisions related to the Clinton email investigation, including the immunity deals given to potential co-conspirators; selected leaks of classified information that unmasked U.S. persons incidentally collected upon by the intelligence community; and the FBI’s reliance on “Fusion GPS” in its investigation of the Trump campaign, among many others issues.

If you’re sick and tired of the never-ending “Trump And The Russians” scandal, which for all its hype has produced scant little actual evidence of anything other than desultory cooperation on the part of the president’s camp with an investigation it quite reasonably believes is a kangaroo court, this letter from Goodlatte’s committee might just be what the doctor ordered.

Because as Washington scandals go, Trump And The Russians doesn’t even make it out of Double-A ball. What Goodlatte and the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee want is a special counsel to take us up to the Triple-A or major league scandal level, because there are opportunities for playing time available.

The unmasking issue still has a lot of undiscovered meat on its bones; we’ve already seen a little evidence of that. The Lynch-Comey-Phoenix Airport nexus deserves a lot more scrutiny than it’s received, as do those immunity grants. And the leaks without a doubt deserve a full investigation, and some smug SOB’s from the Deep State surely deserve lengthy prison terms.

But the Fusion GPS business — and the long-simmering and now-burgeoning Awan brothers scandal — are monsters hiding in D.C.’s closet. Here’s to both those scandals continuing to crackle and spark over the next several months, on the way to full explosions the legacy media can no longer contain.

Readers of this column already have an understanding of the Awan brothers scandal, as this space covered a substantial amount of the background of it back in February when things first started happening. Click here to see that background; we’ll give a very short summary of it now.

The central figure in this scandal is a Pakistani national named Imran Awan, who appears to be connected in some way to his country’s intelligence service. Awan is an IT professional who was hired in 2004 to handle computer equipment for Florida Democrat congressman Robert Wexler, and he then picked up a job as a shared staffer to work for Wexler’s colleague Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Awan rode along with Wasserman Schultz as she ascended to the top of the Democratic Party structure, and soon not only was his boss the chair of the Democratic National Committee but Awan’s relationship with her led to his building a client list of some 80 Democrat House members who were using either Imran or other members of his family (a pair of brothers, one of their wives, his own wife) in a sizable little empire he’d built.

And in the meantime, the Awan family was engaging in a pattern of financial activities that looked a whole lot like a mafia operation — questionable real estate deals, bank fraud, kidnapping and extortion, a used-car dealership that might well have been a front for moving stolen cars to Pakistan for sale, and so on. Awan was arrested at Dulles International Airport on Monday as he tried to flee the country while the FBI and Capitol Hill Police were closing in on a bank fraud indictment. In January he had wired some $283,000 from the Congressional Federal Credit Union to two individuals in Pakistan; he was trying to board a flight to Lahore when he had the cuffs put on him.

But the real juice with the Awans isn’t the bank fraud or the possible stolen cars. The real scandal here is the stolen computers — and the stolen information. It’s alleged that the Awans illegally downloaded documents from their clients, some of whom were on the House Intelligence Committee and other sensitive committees, and even walked off with congressional computers. The FBI, in fact, seized a number of CPU’s and hard drives found at a house owned by Imran that he was renting to a military couple after the tenants had found the equipment partially destroyed in the garage and called the authorities. We don’t know what was on those hard drives.

There are even allegations the Awans were blackmailing their clients with information they’d found in their e-mails. Your imagination can likely conjure up all kinds of entertaining scenarios around that theme.

But the piece de resistance with the Awan brothers scandal is the revelation that Imran Awan, with his foreign intelligence connections, his criminal appearance and his persistent financial problems despite apparently not lacking in the ability to make a buck, had the password to Wasserman Schultz’ iPad from which she answered her e-mail… as DNC chair.

Forget about the Russians and their supposed hacking of the DNC e-mails. If you’re really curious about who got to that information and would have been in a position to shop it to the highest bidder, Imran Awan is the most likely culprit in the room.

Things are moving very quickly on this case, and it’s somewhat telling that Awan was released on bond after being caught trying to flee the country. He has a tracking bracelet on his ankle, but what makes more sense is that he may have turned states’ evidence in exchange for being let out of jail. Awan’s attorney is former Bill Clinton go-fer Chris Gowen, and the lawyer’s statement after he’d been arrested reads like a press release from a campaign operative rather than a criminal attorney; bizarrely so, one might say. It might be that Awan is rolling on Wasserman Schultz and the Clintons have decided to hang her out to dry in order to insulate themselves from whatever blowback the DNC e-mails might generate for them.

Or maybe that isn’t possible anymore. Former Washington police detective Rod Wheeler, who you’ve probably seen on Fox News from time to time and who most recently was in the news as having done some private snooping in the Seth Rich case, has intimated there is a connection between that case and that of the Awan brothers. We’re not going to try to connect those dots without more information, but one’s imagination might run riot with those.

Meanwhile, Republicans in both the House and the Senate are exceptionally curious about Fusion GPS, and with good reason. In case you’re not familiar with this outfit, it’s the “opposition research and strategic communications” firm co-founded by former Wall Street Journal reporters Peter Fritsch and Glenn Simpson which played a significant role in the 2016 election. It was Fusion GPS which commissioned the infamous and debunked “pee pee dossier,” written by former British spy Christopher Steele, sourced largely from Steele’s Russian contacts and containing a mountain of scurrilous and implausible allegations about Donald Trump’s misbehaviors. Fusion GPS was initially contracted by anti-Trump Republican donors, but after Trump got the GOP nomination it was Democrats paying the freight for their work product… and before it was over it looks like James Comey’s FBI, amazingly, was picking up the tab.

That last part is of special interest to Sen. Charles Grassley and the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has made a priority out of Fusion GPS, and had called Simpson to testify. He did, but only in private, and only after threatening to take the Fifth. That’s his right, but what does an oppo researcher need the Fifth Amendment for?

But there’s more with Fusion GPS. On Wednesday Tucker Carlson had as a guest on his show one Thor Halvorssen, a Venezuelan native of Norwegian descent who runs a watchdog outfit called the Human Rights Foundation, and Halvorssen told a harrowing story of Fusion GPS attempting to destroy his life with a smear campaign because he’d blown the whistle on a crooked contract one of Fusion’s clients had with the Venezuelan government to build power plants. That story also got told in a letter Halvorssen sent to Grassley’s committee. And then there is Fusion’s other client, Natalia Veselnitskaya, the “Russian lawyer” whose meeting with Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Jr., and Paul Manafort has been bandied about as some sort of smoking gun proving collusion with the Russians. It turns out that Veselnitskaya had hired Fusion to help her push to overturn the Magnitsky Act, a sanctions bill targeting crooked Russian oligarchs and human rights abusers. In none of these cases did Fusion bother to register under FARA, the Foreign Agent Registry Act, which would put them on the wrong side of the law.

Grassley’s committee, and Goodlatte’s committee, would like to know if this entire Russian business was a setup cooked-up by Fusion’s dirty-tricks shop with the collusion of a few actors in the Obama administration. It’s hard to blame them.

There’s a lot of debate about Trump’s “drain the swamp” mantra these days, but nobody is really denying the swamp exists. And nobody can — not with Fusion GPS and the Awan brothers skulking around in the muck.

Countering contemptuous Palestinians

July 28, 2017

Countering contemptuous Palestinians, Israel Hayom, David M. Weinberg, July 28, 2017

(In the present environment, “two state solution” would a precursor to the death of Israel. — DM)

Israel should unsheathe its sovereign power and put the extremists down; decisive action that one day might allow for Palestinian moderates to emerge.

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The Palestinian Authority and its fiendish intra-Palestinian Islamic rivals seem hellbent on brinkmanship; on being belligerent adversaries with escalating, maximalist demands of Israel.

They really think they can roll Israel back by recourse to street brawls and international courts; by browbeating Israel through aggression, isolation and criminalization; by demonizing Israel with outrageous lies like “Al-Aqsa is in danger.” They think they can conduct guerilla and diplomatic warfare against Israel with impunity.

It’s time to disabuse Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and these gangs of such delusion, through resolute Israeli action.

The holy war over the Temple Mount that Abbas is promoting tells Israelis that Palestinian society has gone crazy-radical-rogue Islamic — just like much of the Arab Middle East. This spells the end of the two-state solution as Israelis (and most Western policymakers) understood it. Because the one thing that Israel absolutely cannot countenance is the emergence of a madcap Islamic caliphate in Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria.

Sinai-stan, Hamas-stan, Hezbollah-stan, and Syria-stan already have emerged on Israel’s southern and northern borders. This is more than enough for Israel to handle. A Pales-stan on Israel’s eastern border would be unbearable. Israel can’t and won’t let it rise.

The only Palestinian state in the West Bank that Israelis ever contemplated was a mature entity willing to reconcile ideologically with Israel, leading to the reasonable sharing of land, airspace, natural resources, and historical and religious sites.

The sharing includes the Temple Mount. Indeed, for there to be peace, Jewish prayer would have to be facilitated on the Temple Mount, alongside the prayers of other faith-traditions.

Alas, Abbas has made it clear that the Palestinian national movement is far from understanding this.

The only Palestinian state that Israelis ever envisioned would not threaten Israel’s security, obviously. This means that it would be truly demilitarized with Israeli supervision on all borders and at all holy places. It would not form hostile foreign alliances or allow radical Islamic groups to dictate the internal agenda. It would not rev up violent insurrection when it has a difference of opinion about management of a city or holy site.

Alas, Abbas has made it clear that the Palestinian national movement is far from accepting this.

The only Palestinian state that Israelis ever thought of tolerating in Judea, Samaria and Gaza would declare a permanent end to the conflict and all claims against Israel. This means recognizing Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and recognizing ancient Jerusalem as its capital. It means renouncing the so-called right of refugee return, and inculcating respect, not anti-Semitism, on Palestinians airwaves and in Palestinian schools.

Alas, Abbas has made it clear that the Palestinian national movement is far from internalizing this.

On the contrary, Abbas has made it clear that the Palestinian liberation movement will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state nor forgo refugee return. In other words, he wants his state, but without an end to the conflict. He seems to want a Palestinian state to continue the conflict.

Professor Ahmad Khalidi, a Palestinian ideologue close to Abbas, scorns the two-state solution as a “sovereign cage.” “The concept of Palestinian statehood is nothing but a punitive construct devised by our worst enemies — the United States and Israel — to constrain Palestinian aspirations and territorial ambitions,” he has written.

Until now, Israeli governments have sought to co-opt Palestinian leaders into peace and to mollify Palestinian masses through compromise and concession, including the provision of Israeli money, guns, water, electricity and many aspects of national sovereignty.

This could have been a path to enhanced Palestinian national power in cooperation with Israel. But the kleptocratic Palestinian Authority has pocketed these goodies without showing any true willingness to meet Israeli needs and expectations.

As a result, tactical Israeli restraint, like the decision to retreat from justified security measures at the Temple Mount, comes off as capitulation to Palestinian terrorism. It reinforces the rejectionist and triumphalist Palestinian narrative. It looks and smells like appeasement.

Winston Churchill warned that “an appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” So it’s time for a different strategy. Palestinian overreach and superciliousness should be countered by strong Israeli and international countermeasures.

Palestinian leadership must be disabused of the notion that it can drive Israel off the Temple Mount and out of east Jerusalem by violence, or coerce Israel into withdrawals by appealing to international tribunals.

This will require perseverance and the flexing of muscle.

To begin with, Israel can stop doing favors for the Palestinian Authority like absorbing its mushrooming debt for electricity and fuel, or selling it water at discount prices. Then Israel should stop facilitating the business interests of Abbas’ cronies, whose cartels control the Palestinian economy. The international donor community, too, might usefully rethink the huge sums of cash it pours into Abbas’ coffers every year.

Then Israel can and should revoke the VIP permits that allow Abbas and his ministers to fly in and out of Ben-Gurion International Airport on their luxury private jets. Let them beg King Abdullah in Amman for travel privileges.

Simultaneously, Israel should arrest the activities in east Jerusalem of rabble rousers like Sheikh Ekrima Sa’id Sabri, the former the grand mufti of Jerusalem and the lead agent in the city for Erdogan’s Turkey and the Moslem Brotherhood; Sheikh Issam Amira, the lead agent in the city for the Islamic Liberation Party (Hizb ut-Tahrir); and Abbas’ handpicked henchmen, the intemperate Grand Mufti Muhammad Ahmad Hussein and the fanatic former chief justice of the PA’s religious court, Sheikh Tayseer Al-Tamimi.

Their sermons, “charitable” enterprises and educational programs glorify terrorists and explicitly call for violent resistance to Israel. Their networks (along with Fatah social media) also are the source for the libel that Al-Aqsa mosque is at risk.

It’s also not too hard to arrest 2,000 of their key street activists — those leading the riots in the city.

Israel should unsheathe its sovereign power and put the extremists down; decisive action that one day might allow for Palestinian moderates to emerge.

David M. Weinberg (www.davidmweinberg.com) is director of public affairs at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

The Deep State War on Trump’s Foreign Policy Agenda

July 28, 2017

The Deep State War on Trump’s Foreign Policy Agenda, Front Page MagazineJoseph Klein, July 28, 2017

(Please see also, State Dept. in ‘Open War’ With White HouseA State Department Gone Rogue on Iran and Feds Spends Millions on Failed Program to Combat Extremism in America. — DM)

The State Department’s own “deep state” is trying to sabotage President Trump’s foreign policy agenda. From the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Iran, Qatar and climate change, the State Department, under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, is reported to be in “open war” with the White House. Key high level positions remain vacant as Obama holdovers “continue running the show and formulating policy, where they have increasingly clashed with the White House’s own agenda,” according to the Free Beacon. Secretary Tillerson has reportedly run interference to protect the Obama holdovers from being removed, allowing resistance to President Trump’s foreign policy agenda to flourish within the State Department.

The first casualty of this internal coup by the State Department’s deep state is Israel. The shadow of the Obama administration’s anti-Israel bias was reflected in a report the State Department released on July 17, 2017 entitled Country Reports on Terrorism 2016. It praised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for reiterating “his commitment to nonviolence, recognition of the State of Israel, and pursuit of an independent Palestinian state through peaceful means.” The report referred to what it called “significant steps during President Abbas’ tenure (2005 to date) to ensure that official institutions in the West Bank under its control do not create or disseminate content that incites violence.”

The State Department report brushed aside clear evidence of a continuing barrage of incendiary rhetoric appearing on official Palestinian Authority and Fatah social media outlets and of inflammatory statements by Palestinian officials, including Abbas himself. Instead, it claimed that the Palestinian Authority “has made progress in reducing official rhetoric that could be considered incitement to violence.”

The State Department report conveniently skipped over the fact that Abbas remains committed to paying regular salaries to Palestinian terrorists imprisoned for killing Jews and to terrorists’ families. Their perfidiously named “Martyrs Fund” has a treasure chest of about $300 million dollars. That blood money comes in part from foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority, some of which is contributed by American taxpayers. President Trump has spoken out against the ‘pay to slay Jews’ terrorist payments, but the State Department has turned a blind eye. Obama holdover Stuart Jones, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, is reported to have steered Secretary Tillerson into making the erroneous claim that the Palestinian Authority had ceased spending U.S. taxpayer funds to pay terrorists, according to the Free Beacon’s sources.

After reciting the litany of Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis, the State Department report held Israel largely responsible:

“Continued drivers of violence included a lack of hope in achieving Palestinian statehood, Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount, and IDF tactics that the Palestinians considered overly aggressive.”

Just a few hours after three members of an Israeli family were massacred by a Palestinian terrorist, a State Department official tried to defend the report’s conclusions on the drivers of Palestinian violence. The official sounded like a clinical psychologist or a social worker, declaring that there is “no one single pathway to violence—each individual’s path to terrorism is personalized, with certain commonalities.” This is the same type of irresponsible rhetoric used by the Obama administration in discussing the supposed root causes of what it called “violent extremism.”

The State Department has also carried over the Obama administration’s soft pedaling on Iran. Instead of presenting options to President Trump supporting a refusal to re-certify that Iran has complied with all of its obligations under the disastrous Obama nuclear deal with Iran, the State Department took Iran’s side. It recommended twice that President Trump sign certifications of Iran’s compliance. Deprived by the State Department of any analysis to the contrary, as he had requested, the president reluctantly signed the certifications in April and July. However, he has reportedly decided to sidestep the State Department going forward and rely instead on a White House team to prepare the way for refusing to sign the certification the next time it is presented to him. CIA Director Mike Pompeo, senior strategist Steve Bannon, and deputy assistant to the president Sebastian Gorka opposed the State Department’s recommendation.

“The president assigned White House staffers with the task of preparing for the possibility of decertification for the 90-day review period that ends in October — a task he had previously given to Secretary Tillerson and the State Department,” a source close to the White House told Foreign Policy.

Foreign Policy quoted one senior State Department, speaking on condition of anonymity, as saying, “The White House, they see the State Department as ‘the swamp.’”

The State Department is a swamp infested with Obama holdovers such as Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, the former Iran director for Obama’s National Security Council, who helped push through the Iran deal. When she moved over to the State Department during the waning months of the Obama administration, she was assigned to oversee the Persian Gulf region policy planning portfolio, which included issues related to Iran. She continued in that high-level advisory position until April of this year, when she was re-assigned to the Office of Iranian Affairs. In other words, a strong supporter of the Iranian nuclear deal with a vested interest in its continuation was on Secretary of State Tillerson’s policy planning team. Secretary Tillerson no doubt relied on this tainted team for input into his decision to recommend the first certification signing last April. Ms. Nowrouzzadeh is still working on Iranian-related issues for the State Department where she can do some damage. However, at least she is no longer part of the Secretary of State’s brain trust.

The State Department has also sought to undercut President Trump’s sharp criticism of Qatar, a major state sponsor of Islamic terrorism. The president had tweeted that Qatar funds radical Islamists, which is demonstrably true. Nevertheless, the State Department contradicted President Trump’s observation.

“We recognize that Qatar has made some great efforts to stop financing of terror groups,” said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert at the June 6, 2017 briefing. “Our relationship with Qatar is strong.”

Dana Shell Smith, ambassador to Qatar until she left in late June, who believes that Qatar is a “great country,” was another Obama holdover. She was still the ambassador when the row over Qatar erupted. The day before Heather Nauert’s news briefing extolling Qatar’s supposed “great efforts to stop financing of terror groups,” the U.S. embassy in Qatar, still led by Dan Shell Smith, retweeted the following, which was originally tweeted during the Obama administration: “U.S. supports #Qatar’s efforts in combating terrorism financing & appreciates its role in coalition against ISIL.”

These sentiments are in direct contradiction to the views expressed by President Trump. Indeed, Smith had little use for President Trump and was not shy about saying so. Stationed in an autocratic country ruled by sharia law, she tweeted in May while still ambassador: “Increasingly difficult to wake up overseas to news from home, knowing I will spend today explaining our democracy and institutions.” Did this Trump-hater ever once think that the very idea of democracy, religious tolerance and equal rights for women are alien concepts to begin with in a country like Qatar that she called “great”?

After Smith’s departure, the State Department continued its praise of Qatar for supposedly being a partner in the fight against terrorism. In the same Country Reports on Terrorism 2016, which praised Abbas and blamed Israel for creating the conditions that fostered Palestinian terrorism, the State Department lauded Qatar for collaborating “to foster closer regional and international cooperation on counterterrorism, law enforcement, and rule of law activities.”

Finally, there is the issue of climate change. President Trump decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change because it disadvantaged America economically. However, the Paris Agreement was the pride and joy of Secretary of State John Kerry’s State Department. Obama holdovers have remained at the State Department, in a position to do mischief to President Trump’s plans to extricate the United States from the bad climate change deal.

Within the bowels of the State Department, for example, is the Office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change, which, according to its website, is responsible for developing, implementing, and overseeing U.S. international policy on climate change. Its website still boasts how it led the way “in the negotiations in Paris at the 21st Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC (COP21).” The website goes on to praise the Paris Agreement as the “most ambitious climate accord ever negotiated.”  This website remains operational even though President Trump has reportedly decided not to name a special envoy for climate change. The United States deputy special envoy for climate change, Trigg Talley, who served as head of the U.S. delegation for negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, remains in office, however. The opportunity for the State Department to conduct a deep state war against the president’s climate change policies is a real threat unless the Office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change is completely shut down.

There are other potential pockets of resistance to President Trump’s climate change policies inside the State Department, such as the Office of Global Change. It too should be shut down or sharply curtailed.

President Trump, not State Department bureaucrats, was elected by the American people. He should have the final say on policy matters within his scope of executive authority, which includes the setting of foreign policy priorities. Deep state saboteurs within the State Department and other government agencies need to be rooted out at once and removed from positions of influence where they can do harm to the president’s agenda.