Archive for January 2018

Former MK says Iran stole specs of Israeli submarines in hack

January 31, 2018

This file photo taken on December 11, 2012 shows a general view of the headquarters of German heavy industry giant ThyssenKrupp AG in Essen, Germany. (AFP/Patrik Stollarz)

By Shoshanna Solomon January 31, 2018 The Times of Israel

Source: Former MK says Iran stole specs of Israeli submarines in hack

{Sounds like an inside job. – LS}

Erel Margalit notes German shipyard that is building vessels for Israel was owned by family of Lebanon’s former defense minister

A former Knesset member claimed Wednesday that blueprints for submarines that were being built for the Israeli military were stolen in a cyberattack on a German shipyard.

In December 2016, heavy industry giant ThyssenKrupp said it fell victim to a hacking attack in which the perpetrators sought to steal company secrets, but there was no indication at the time that the plans for the Israeli submarines had been taken.

“When Israel is ordering strategic submarines from Germany, a hacker… gets into ThyssenkKrupp and is able to steal the secrets and blueprints of the submarines that were developed in Germany for Israeli use,” high-tech entrepreneur Erel Margalit, a former MK, said at a cybersecurity conference in Tel Aviv.

Margalit noted that the shipyard in Kiel, Germany, that is building the ships for the Israel Navy was owned by the family of Samir Moqbel, who was Lebanon’s defense minister.

“We know that the boats, the Corvettes that Israel is buying to protect… its waters… are bought from a shipyard that is owned by a Lebanese family, one of which was the Lebanese defense minister, who has intimate dealings with Iran,” he said. “And so you are asking yourself whether the new blueprint of Israel’s boats is in the hands of Iran.”

In announcing the attack in 2016, a ThyssenKrupp spokesman said hackers believed to be from Southeast Asia were trying to obtain “technological know-how and research results” from the steel conglomerate. He said that the attack was over and had been repelled.

ThyssenKrupp also made headlines in Israel after it was revealed that the Iran Foreign Investment Company held a 4.5 percent stake in the Germany conglomerate.

At the Tel Aviv conference, Margalit also cautioned that “while the world is trying to delay and prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, Tehran has already become a cyberpower, with attacks against Israel, the US, Saudi Arabia and others.”

In any future confrontation with Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, he said, Israel will have to contend with Iranian capabilities “that we have not yet encountered in the cyber arena, especially in light of the lack of protection for civilian infrastructure in Israel.”

Last year, Margalit, who was an MK for the opposition Zionist Union faction at the time, petitioned the High Court of Justice to demand an investigation of reports Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have been involved in suspected shady dealings with ThyssenKrupp.

An ongoing Israel police investigation, known as Case 3000, has focused on suspicions that state officials were bribed to influence a decision to purchase four patrol boats and three Dolphin-class submarines, at a total cost of 2 billion euros (NIS 8.4 billion), from ThyssenKrupp, despite opposition to the deal from the Defense Ministry.

On Friday, Hadashot TV news reported that Netanyahu would be asked to give testimony in the coming weeks, adding that he will be questioned generally and then, later, possibly as a suspect.

Police suspect that Yitzchak Molcho, Netanyahu’s chief negotiator and personal envoy for over a decade, tried to push the submarine deal during his diplomatic trips abroad, while Shimron, Molcho’s legal partner, sought to promote the interests of the German shipbuilders within Israel.

Shimron has already been questioned several times as part of the investigation by Lahav 433, the police anti-corruption unit. In addition to his work with Netanyahu, he served as a lawyer for Ganor, who was ThyssenKrupp’s local representative and turned state witness in July. He is considered a key suspect in the case.

According to a report Tuesday in the Yedioth Ahronoth daily, Ganor told investigators that he had hired Shimron because of his ties to senior government officials, especially Netanyahu. He said Shimron had told him he had involved Netanyahu in the affair.


Russia to the Rescue…for Iran

January 31, 2018

by Reuters Wednesday Jan 31, 2018 12:35pm Via The Foreign Desk

Source: Defying U.S., Russia says no case for U.N. action against Iran

{Seeing is believing. – LS}

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia does not believe there is a case for United Nations action against Iran, Russia’s U.N. ambassador said on Wednesday after traveling to Washington to view pieces of weapons that Washington says Tehran gave Yemen’s Houthi group.

The Trump administration has for months been lobbying for Iran to be held accountable at the United Nations, while at the same time threatening to quit a 2015 deal among world powers to curb Iran’s nuclear program if “disastrous flaws” are not fixed.

“We only heard some vague talk about some action,” Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Wednesday. “If there is something (proposed) we will see. How can we pass judgment prematurely before we know what it is about?”

Asked if there was a case against Iran at the United Nations, Nebenzia answered: “No.”

{How can he say ‘No’ prematurely before he knows what it is about? – LS}

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley took her 14 Security Council colleagues to a military hangar near Washington on Monday to see remnants of what the Pentagon said was an Iranian-made ballistic missile fired from Yemen on Nov. 4 at Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh, as well as other weapons.

A proxy war is playing out in Yemen between Iran and U.S. ally Saudi Arabia. Iran has denied supplying the Iran-allied Houthis with such weaponry and described the arms displayed in Washington as “fabricated.”

“Yemen hosts a pile of weapons from the old days, many countries competing to supply weapons to Yemen during the time of (former) President (Ali Abdullah) Saleh, so I cannot give you anything conclusive,” Nebenzia said. “I am not an expert to judge.”

Independent U.N. experts reported to the Security Council in January that Iran had violated U.N. sanctions on Yemen because “it failed to take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer” of ballistic missiles and other equipment to the Houthi group.

Nebenzia questioned whether there was conclusive evidence. He said it was up to the Security Council’s Yemen sanctions committee – made up of diplomats from the council’s 15 members – to address the report by the U.N. experts.

Kazakhstan U.N. Ambassador Kairat Umarov, Security Council president for January, also suggested the evidence shown to council envoys in Washington may not be enough for U.N. action.

“Unfortunately we don’t know how this weaponry was delivered to Yemen,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

Haley has said the United States was considering several possible U.N. options for action against Iran, including tightening ballistic missile restrictions on Tehran or imposing targeting sanctions on Iranian individuals or entities.

Diplomats have said Haley has not signaled which accountability option she might pursue or when.

Getting more use out of Gitmo

January 31, 2018

A holding area at GITMO (Photo: Petty Officer 1st class Shane T. McCoy/U.S. Navy)

By Clarion Project Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Source: Trump Keeps Gitmo Open

{Preventing radical Islamo-conversions in general prison populations. – LS}

President Trump signed an executive order rescinding Obama’s order to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

Guantanamo Bay, colloquially known as Gitmo, has been used to detain terrorist suspects since 2002. Prisoners held there have frequently not been formally charged but have been deemed too dangerous to release. Although the order was issued in 2009, the camp was never closed.

“In the past, we have foolishly released hundreds of dangerous terrorists, only to meet them again on the battlefield,” Trump said during the Tuesday night State of the Union address, in which he announced the move. He told Congress he had decided “to reexamine our military detention policy, and to keep open the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay.”

There are currently 41 detainees in Guantanamo Bay. Of these, 26 are held indefinitely under the law of war and are not due for transfer. No new inmates have been added so far under Trump’s tenure, according to Slate.

High profile Gitmo detainees include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of 9/11.

Many Gitmo prisoners who were released resumed their terror activities. Shortly before Obama left office, he transferred 10 prisoners to Oman, prompting Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) to introduce legislation requiring the government to declassify and publicly release information on the terrorist records of all Gitmo detainees who were released since the November 8, 2016 presidential election.

Ending North Korea nukes would be seen as act of peace, says me

January 31, 2018

Reuters January 31, 2018 Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Writing by Polina Ivanova; Editing by Richard Balmforth Via One America News Network

Source: Ending North Korea oil supplies would be seen as act of war, says Russia

{Of course, threatening to use nukes on the USA would never be construed as an act of war..right? – LS}

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The delivery of oil and oil products to North Korea should not be reduced, Moscow’s ambassador to Pyongyang was cited as saying by RIA news agency on Wednesday, adding that a total end to deliveries would be interpreted by North Korea as an act of war.

The U.N. and United States have introduced a wave of sanctions aimed at curbing North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, including by seeking to reduce its access to crude oil and refined petroleum products.

“We can’t lower deliveries any further,” Russia’s envoy to Pyongyang, Alexander Matzegora, was quoted by RIA as saying in an interview.

Quotas set by the U.N. allow for around 540,000 tonnes of crude oil a year to be delivered to North Korea from China, and over 60,000 tonnes of oil products from Russia, China and other countries, he was quoted as saying.

“[This] is a drop in the ocean for a country of 25 million people,” Matzegora said.

Shortages would lead to serious humanitarian problems, he said, adding: “Official representatives of Pyongyang have made it clear that a blockade would be interpreted by North Korea as a declaration of war, with all the subsequent consequences.”

Last week, the United States imposed further sanctions on North Korea, including on its crude oil ministry.

In his first annual State of the Union speech to the U.S. Congress on Tuesday, President Donald Trump vowed to keep up the pressure on North Korea it from developing missiles which could threaten the United States.

North Korea on Saturday condemned the latest U.S. sanctions. and Russian deputy foreign minister Igor Morgulov said Russia had no obligation to carry out sanctions produced by the U.S.

The ambassador also denied charges by Washington that Moscow, in contravention of U.N. sanctions, was allowing Pyongyang to use Russian ports for transporting coal.

“We double-checked [U.S.] evidence. We found that the ships mentioned did not enter our ports, or if they did, then they were carrying cargo that had nothing to do with North Korea,” he is cited as saying.

Reuters reported earlier that North Korea had shipped coal to Russia last year which was then delivered to South Korea and Japan in a likely violation of U.N. sanctions.

News You Will Not See on Mainstream Media

January 31, 2018

January 31, 2018 Eliot Bakker Front Page Mag

Source: The Horrific Plight of Congolese Christians

{Peace loving Christians under attack again, and again, and again. – LS}

During the final mass of his Latin American tour this past week, Pope Francis highlighted one of the most devastating crises currently affecting Christians: the ongoing atrocities being committed by Joseph Kabila’s unconstitutional government in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). In an emotional appeal in Lima, the leader of the Catholic Church demanded that Congolese authorities do everything possible to stop the constant escalation of violence against peaceful protesters.

Over the 12+ months that President Kabila has refused to step down since his term officially ended, Pope Francis and the Catholic Church have been among the strongest voices calling for Kabila to allow free and fair elections to choose his successor. When Kabila visited the Vatican in September 2016, as concerns intensified that he would delay the elections then scheduled for December of that year, Francis pointedly received him in his library, rather than the reception room in which he usually greets heads of state. The pope used their conversation to urge Kabila to ensure a peaceful transition of power.

Yet in more than a year since that meeting, a transition of power has yet to take place. Instead, Kabila has taken progressively more extreme measures to cling to power, from attempts to change the constitution to increasingly violent crackdowns on protests. In late 2016, the influential and widely respected Catholic Church of Congo brokered an agreement to allow Kabila to remain president until the end of 2017, provided that he refrain from amending the Constitution or staying in office beyond December 31, 2017. The passage of that date marked not only Kabila’s failure to stick to his side of the bargain, but one of the Congolese authorities’ most egregious violations of human rights yet.

At least seven civilians, including children, were fatally shot during peaceful demonstrations, called for by the Catholic Church, on New Year’s Eve. The government prepared for the protests by blocking the internet and setting up roadblocks and checkpoints throughout the capital, Kinshasa. Citizens wearing visible religious symbols like crosses were barred at the checkpoints and ordered to return home.

As thousands of the faithful heeded the church’s call to march after Mass on December 31, Bibles and rosaries in hand, Congolese security forces moved in, opening fire on kneeling protestors while they sang hymns and deploying tear gas in churches. In one Kinshasa parish, the police used more than 6 rounds of tear gas to target children and elderly worshippers taking shelter in the sanctuary. They ransacked the church searching for valuables to steal, and even attempted to set fire to a statue of the Virgin Mary. The police shot out another church’s stained-glass windows, beating and robbing the worshippers inside. Twelve altar boys were detained, still in their liturgical robes. Throughout this appalling carnage, the perpetrators left little doubt as to who was responsible. As a soldier was battering and robbing one journalist who had joined the protests, he taunted him: “You play with Kabila, but he’s the one who has the weapons.”

This horrific violence has only grown worse in the new year. On January 12, armed officers greeted mourners at a memorial mass for those killed on New Year’s Eve, firing warning shots into the air. The DRC again blocked access to the internet and sent armed officers to man roadblocks ahead of protests on January 21. Thousands defied the government’s threats and once more took to the streets, only to be met with a repeat of New Year’s barbaric brutality. At least six people were shot by security forces, with dozens more injured. Bloomberg reporters witnessed two priests being beaten and subsequently detained. At least 10 priests in total are detained in poor conditions, while two nuns are missing. The military police even punched, kicked and used tear gas against uniformed UN personnel observing the protests.

While on the whole, the DRC’s grinding humanitarian crisis remains disgracefully underreported and underfunded, numerous international observers have recognized the extraordinary nature of this repression. The tragedies of New Year’s Eve marked the first time “in the 57-year history of independent Congo that the government has attacked Christians while they prayed in church.” Ida Sawyer, the Central Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, insisted that “Congolese security forces hit a new low by firing into church grounds to disrupt peaceful services and processions.” Congolese opposition leader Moïse Katumbi, who has been living in exile since he was convicted in absentia on charges widely recognized to be politically motivated, tweeted soon after the January 21 attacks: “Faced with the repressive lunacy of the #Kabila regime, the people displayed their heroism. We pray for the victims. Democracy and justice in the #DRC will be born from the sacrifice of these martyrs. ‘After the shadows, light’. We will remain mobilized until the end of this inhumane regime.”

Katumbi is right to point out the astounding heroism and bravery shown by the Congolese people over the last few weeks. One Kinshasa priest remarked after having seen the considerable armed presence surrounding his church, “I was sure that the faithful would be too afraid to go to Mass the next day. But I see now that the Congolese people are determined.”

This determination and courage deserves more support from the international community. Fellow Christians, in particular, can no longer turn a blind eye to this cruel persecution. Catholic leaders in the Congo have shown their willingness to put themselves on the front lines of this fight “to save the Congo”, as the call to march on December 31st made clear. It is time for Christians elsewhere in the world to follow their example, as well as Pope Francis’s, and demand a return to the respect of fundamental rights in the DRC.

State of the Union: Trump vows support for street protests in Iran

January 31, 2018

By Reuters/AFP/mn January 31, 2018 Via Channel News Asia

Source: State of the Union: Trump zeroes in on North Korea, Iran threats

{Not endorsed by Barack Barry Sotero Obama. – LS}

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump used his biggest stage on Tuesday (Jan 31) to warn of the nuclear threat from North Korea, as fears grow again in Washington that conflict may be looming.

In recent weeks, US officials have laid the groundwork for a pivot to strategies for a world of renewed great power competition with the likes of Russia and China.

In his first State of the Union address to Congress and the nation, Trump described Moscow and Beijing as challenging “our interests, our economy, and our values.” But he saved his harshest words for Iran and North Korea.

“North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland,” he warned, implying he has a narrow window to respond to Pyongyang’s ambition.

Branding North Korea’s leadership “depraved,” President Donald Trump vowed a continued campaign of maximum pressure.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis have been pushing a diplomatic strategy to convince North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to come to the table and negotiate away his nuclear arms.

But other senior figures have reportedly endorsed the idea of a “bloody nose” strike to damage Kim’s nuclear sector and show the US means business, hopefully without provoking a wider war.

“Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation,” he declared.

“We need only look at the depraved character of the North Korean regime to understand the nature of the nuclear threat it could pose to America and to our allies.”

Trump also upped the ante in his stand-off with Iran, vowing US support for street protests against Tehran’s clerical regime.

And again he compared himself favorably to his predecessor Barack Obama, suggesting that it had been a mistake not to back the failed 2009 Green Revolution in Iran.

“When the people of Iran rose up against the crimes of their corrupt dictatorship, I did not stay silent,” he declared.

“America stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom,” he promised, to applause from assembled lawmakers.

The president also highlighted gains made against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, while warning that “there is much more work to be done” in the war against the jihadists.


On the domestic front, President Donald Trump made a pitch for national unity and strong borders, calling for “one American family” after a year plagued by acrimony, division and scandal.

He sought to put the spotlight on a robust Trump economy, while pointedly calling on a packed joint session of Congress to enact hardline curbs on immigration.

“Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve,” he said.

“Tonight, I want to talk about what kind of future we are going to have, and what kind of Nation we are going to be. All of us, together, as one team, one people, and one American family.”

Trump’s opening tone was uncharacteristically conciliatory, although it bridged no compromise on his drive to reduce immigration – which he painted as responsible for a plethora of social ills.

Trump’s State of the Union was the third longest on record at one hour twenty minutes.

Among those looking on were dozens of cross-armed Democratic lawmakers, some decked in black to honor the victims of sexual harassment and still others wearing butterfly stickers in support of immigrants – two social issues that more than any others have roiled America in the age of Trump.

Lawmaker: FBI Memo Will ‘Shock Americans,’ Warrant Removal of ‘FBI, DOJ Officials’

January 30, 2018
Sean Duffy

Sean Duffy / Getty Images


A classified memo alleging abuses by the FBI and Department of Justice in its handling of a surveillance operation against President Donald Trump and his associates will “be shocking to many Americans” and likely prompt the removal of “a high number” of senior officials in these agencies, according to one member of Congress who has viewed the highly classified document.

Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted along party lines late Monday to declassify the hotly contested memo, which outlines alleged surveillance abuses by senior FBI and DOJ officials pursuing what many have described as partisan campaign against Trump.

Following that decision, the president has several days to decide whether he will allow the memo to be released to the American public or kept classified.

Rep. Sean Duffy (R., Wis.), speaking about the decision, said allegations in the memo “will be shocking to many Americans and warrant the removal of a number of high [level] FBI and DOJ individuals as well as at least one of those individuals being prosecuted,” according to comments made in the lawmaker’s podcast, an advanced copy of which was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

“There is a lot of smoke blowing around the FBI, the DOJ,” Duffy said during a chat with his colleague, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R., N.Y.), on national security issues and Trump’s upcoming State of the Union address.

Zeldin, one of just two Jewish Republicans in Congress, said he expects Trump to discuss the rising threats posed by Iran and North Korea, particularly the ballistic missile programs being operated by both rogue nations.

Zeldin also praised Trump’s recent decision to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv.

“He is not only fulfilling his own campaign promises, but the promises of candidates in the past,” Zeldin said. “Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the U.S. should be recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

“It shouldn’t be controversial and should have happened a long time ago,” Zeldin said.

The two lawmakers also discussed the growing threat posed by North Korea and its nuclear weapons program.

Discussing a recent flare up over Trump’s reference to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as “little rocket man,” Zeldin disclosed that Trump is not the only diplomat to refer to Kim Jong Un in that manner.

“We have heads of other countries who, I’ve been in the room when its happened, they call Kim Jong Un ‘little rocket man’ and it’s amusing to hear, especially when you hear it with a British accent.”

On Iran, both Duffy and Zeldin agreed that Trump is pursuing a much better course than the Obama administration, which provided Iran with billions of dollars in sanctions relief in pursuit of the landmark nuclear deal.

The lawmakers both took aim at entrenched State Department officials who they say are continuing to push policies first introduced by the Obama administration.

“These are the same people that administration after administration give the same bad advice that leads to the same bad results,” Duffy said, noting that Trump is willing “to do things differently.”

The intelligence community, which remains stacked with officials from the former administration, is leading Trump down the wrong path when it comes to Iran, according to Zeldin.

“There are products that are formulated by the deep state that come to him [Trump] and say, ‘Mr. President Iran is not violating the letter of the [nuclear] deal,'” Zeldin said.

“You have this deep state product that’s working its way up that could wind up on the president’s desk and it might not be getting filtered” through the proper vetting channels, Zeldin said. “The president really needs to question some of the advice that he might be getting from these agencies, from these career diplomats who are so invested in creating this fatally flawed deal.”

The lawmakers also expressed concerns about how close North Korea is coming to a capable nuclear weapon, an outcome that would likely warrant a military response from the United States.

“If the red line is that North Korea cannot acquire a nuke weapon capable of hitting the U.S. at all, if that’s the red line, we’re getting really, really close to using that military option and I don’t want to,” Zeldin said.