Archive for March 27, 2018

Informant provided FBI evidence Russia aided Iran nuclear program during Obama years

March 27, 2018

By John Solomon and Alison Spann – 03/26/18 06:39 PM EDT via The Hill

Source Link: Informant provided FBI evidence Russia aided Iran nuclear program during Obama years

{It figures. – LS}

A former undercover informant says he provided evidence to the FBI during President Obama’s first term that Russia was assisting Iran’s nuclear program even as billions in new U.S. business flowed to Moscow’s uranium industry.

William Douglas Campbell told The Hill his evidence included that Russia was intercepting nonpublic copies of international inspection reports on Tehran’s nuclear program and sending equipment, advice and materials to a nuclear facility inside Iran.

Campbell said Russian nuclear executives were extremely concerned that Moscow’s ongoing assistance to Iran might boomerang on them just as they were winning billions of dollars in new nuclear fuel contracts inside the United States.

“The people I was working with had been briefed by Moscow to keep a very low profile regarding Moscow’s work with Tehran,” Campbell said in an interview. “Moscow was supplying equipment, nuclear equipment, nuclear services to Iran. And Moscow, specifically the leadership in Moscow, were concerned that it would offset the strategy they had here in the United States if the United States understood the close relationship between Moscow and Tehran.”

A spokesman for former President Obama did not return multiple requests for comment.

Congressional Democrats have written a memo questioning Campbell’s credibility and memory while Republicans say his story calls into question the favorable treatment the Obama administration gave Russia.

Notes of Campbell’s FBI debriefings show he reported in 2010 that a Russian nuclear executive was using “the same kind of payment network” to move funds between Russia and Iran as was used to launder kickbacks between Moscow and Americans.

Campbell worked from 2008 to 2014 as an undercover informant inside Rosatom, Russia’s state-controlled nuclear giant, while posing as a consultant. He helped the FBI put several Russian and U.S. executives in prison for a bribery, kickback, money laundering and extortion scheme.

He said he became concerned the United States was providing favorable decisions to the Russian nuclear industry in 2010 and 2011 — clearing the way for Moscow to buy large U.S. uranium assets and to secure billions in nuclear fuel contracts — even as he reported evidence of Moscow’s help to Iran.

“I got no feedback. They took the reports and the reports, I assume, went to specific people assigned to analyze the reports and that was the last I heard of it,” he said.

In 2012, FBI agents asked Campbell to press a top Russian nuclear executive about the Iran assistance, providing a list of detailed questions. The Russians became suspicious about Campbell’s inquiries and fired him from his consulting job, he said

“It raised a red flag almost immediately and within a matter of weeks thank God I was out of harm’s way,” he said.


ISIS: Surging Again in Syria?

March 27, 2018

The Middle East After the Defeat of the Islamic State

March 27, 2018

By Daniel Byman Tuesday, March 27, 2018 via Lawfare

Source Link: The Middle East After the Defeat of the Islamic State

{When the smoke clears, the people must be served. – LS}

The collapse of the Islamic State’s caliphate and the military campaign that drove the group underground is a win for the Trump administration, the United States and the world as a whole. Even by the standards of terrorist groups, the Islamic State is bloody, extreme and toxic. However, even if the Islamic State isn’t revived——the Middle East as a whole is likely to remain broken. The region will still suffer massive civil wars, jihadist terrorism, a lack of regime legitimacy, economic weakness, and constant meddling by neighboring powers. Moreover, the Islamic State’s defeat may make several problems worse, or at least more complex.

Let’s start with some good news. Should peace negotiations in the Syrian civil war start to gain traction, the destruction of the Islamic State removes, or at least weakens, an important “spoiler”—the group would have opposed any negotiated peace and would have fought against any actor, including other Islamists, who would consider negotiations. Negotiations, however, have a sad history in the Syrian conflict, and the Assad regime, along with its Russian and Iranian backers, appears bent on winning rather than willing to accept some sort of deal.

Before the Islamic State declared a caliphate in 2014—and otherwise electrified the broader jihadist movement—terrorist groups ran amok in the Middle East, and they persist despite the Islamic State’s decline several years later. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula plagues Yemen, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is a force in Algeria and neighboring states, is deeply embedded within the Syrian opposition, and a host of smaller groups operate in these and other countries. Some that al-Qaeda has used the Islamic State’s ascendance to quietly rebuild and now poses a serious threat.

The fall of the Islamic State will likely aid these groups as would-be Islamic State recruits and funders will support others. In addition, the Islamic State often acted as a divisive force within the jihadist movement, fighting as much with rival groups as against the governments it ostensibly opposed. Its collapse may strengthen unity within the overall jihadist movement and allow these groups to divert attention to new targets.

However, no group would likely assume overall leadership of the jihadist movement, and none would match the appeal of the Islamic State. The al-Qaeda core led by Ayman al-Zawahiri has been for several years, its leadership decimated by drone strikes and arrests. In response, al-Qaeda delegated more authority to its regional branches, hurting its global image when they killed Muslim civilians or otherwise discredited the cause. Many regional groups endorse at least part of what al-Qaeda embraces, but their regionalism limits their broader appeal: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, for example, will not inspire Maghrebis, while the more limited horizons of these groups are unlikely to attract the hordes of Europeans, central Asians, and others who flooded to the Islamic State’s ranks during the 2013–2016 period.

From the U.S. perspective, these shifts represent positive developments: The jihadist groups will weaken and focus more locally and regionally. However, the groups will not disappear, and some may become stronger.

Regimes in the Arab world suffer from a deep legitimacy crisis. With the , no government maintains even a hint of a popular mandate. In the past, regimes in the region from their revolutionary legacies and social and economic growth. These sources have dried up. The anti-colonial struggles are a distant memory for even older citizens of the Middle East. Rather, such “republican” regimes are military dictatorships with only a hint of representative window dressing. Arab monarchies enjoy slightly greater legitimacy from their traditions and more obvious succession mechanisms. However, much of their survival depended on their successful transformation of their societies due to oil wealth, foreign support, or other forms of “rents” that enabled them to greatly improve the lives of their citizens. In the last fifty years, life expectancy in Saudi Arabia increased from nearly 46 years to 75 years, and primary school completion rates increased by 172 percent from 1979 to 2015. However, a generation has emerged accustomed to some degree of wealth and social services, and indeed they enjoy fewer opportunities than their parents who grew up when oil price surges could be spent on a smaller population. The governments all perform poorly in bolstering economic growth and providing services, further decreasing their legitimacy. This lack of legitimacy led to the “Arab Spring” in 2011, the revolutions’ rapid spread, and the civil wars that often followed.

The collapse of the Islamic State may highlight and even exacerbate the legitimacy deficit. Area regimes have pointed to civil wars and the Islamic State’s excesses as proof of the danger of revolution and even reform. With this threat diminished, area regimes will have fewer excuses for their own failures.

Perhaps the biggest change in the region would be a further U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East. The threat of Islamic State terrorism motivated the Obama administration, which was eager to avoid the Middle East quagmire, to intervene militarily and engage in high-level diplomacy. The threat also motivated the Trump administration to continue those efforts. Even then, both administrations tried to keep their distance from the region, rejecting calls for larger interventions or sustained diplomatic efforts to end the wars. The collapse of the Islamic State diminishes the rationale for the U.S. military presence particularly in Syria but also in Iraq. President Trump also seems opposed to a massive intervention in Syria, perhaps because it would h.

Even if opportunities for peace arise in Yemen or Syria, or if a miracle happens and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is again ripe for resolution, Washington is unlikely to seize the opportunity. The Trump administration’s focus on “American first” would suggest that negotiating political settlements no longer is a U.S. national interest. In addition, U.S. bureaucratic weakness will make it less likely to negotiate effectively. These weaknesses include the dismantling of the State Department, the refusal to nominate or appoint key positions through the agencies, and the Trump administration’s difficulty in coordinating policy across government. Washington would also be less likely to act as the negotiator to restrain regional allies from fighting each other or intervening in ways that exacerbate existing conflicts—a shift that U.S. policy toward the dispute between Qatar and its neighbors and regarding Turkey’s intervention in Syria suggests is already underway.

Instead, the absence of perceived threats allows other parts of the world—or problems at home—to take precedence. Whether this is the rise of China, a more aggressive Russia, or simply a desire to keep American forces and dollars out of a perennial trouble spot, many American leaders in both political parties would see little reason to increase or even sustain U.S. involvement in the Middle East.

Although the enduring collapse of the Islamic State is a step forward, the Middle East’s troubles run deep, and new dangers will likely emerge or worsen. From an American point of view, much depends on defining U.S. interests. Washington would have a greater ability to wash its hands of a troubled region, but such a move may increase the region’s many tribulations.



Hamas fires rockets into Israel, UN demands Israel pay for damage in Gaza

March 27, 2018

By – on


Hamas is launching rockets into Israel, Israelis are running to shelters, and the UN is hounding Israel to pay for damage in Gaza that came about because Hamas deliberately launched attacks against Israel from civilian areas.

There is NO end to the UN’s anti-Semitic bias. Why is Israel still part of the UN at all?

Yet just days ago, CNN “journalist” Andrew Kaczynski was hitting John Bolton for agreeing with me that the UN was anti-Semitic. This is what passes for “journalism” today.

“Israel needs to pay for damage to Gaza facilities, UN says,” by Tovah Lazaroff and Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, March 27, 2018:

United Nations has demanded that Israel pay compensation for damage done to seven of its Gaza facilities by the IDF during the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.

“On 22 March, the UN submitted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel a claim for reimbursement for the losses that the UN had sustained in seven incidents in 2014,” UN spokesman Farhan Haq told The Jerusalem Post in response to an email query.

The UN “also submitted a claim for the losses sustained by the dependents of one of its staff members who was killed in one of the incidents,” Haq said.

A UN board of inquiry looked “into the matter found that the seven incidents in which UN premises were hit were all attributable to the IDF,” he said, adding that the board had finished its work in February 2015.

Israel’s Mission to the UN in New York said it had received a demand for $528,725 for the facilities and $64,449 for the death.

The question of compensation had been a bone of contention between Israel and the UN when the board of inquiry examined the incidents, particularly because Israel has claimed that Hamas hid weapons in weapons in UN facilities and attacked its force from or near those facilities.

The facilities had also served as emergency shelters for Palestinians in Gaza during the war and as such, were supposed to be immune from IDF shelling.

Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said it was “unacceptable” that the organization should make demands for compensation from Israel, and not from Hamas.

“Everyone knows our intention was to protect our citizens, and not harm anyone else, while Hamas uses UN facilities to hide behind,” Danon told the post, noting the terrorist tunnels built underneath UN schools.

“The blame should go on Hamas,” he said.

“Israelis Run to Bomb Shelters as Iron Dome Rockets Launched Around Gaza,” by Avi Abelow, Israel Unwired, March 26, 2018 (thanks to David):

Last night Israelis on the Gaza border were surprised to hear air raid sirens go off, warning them to run to their bomb shelters. Israel then launched Iron Dome rockets to shoot down the projectiles and protect Israeli citizens.

Thankfully no rockets were fired into Israel and nobody was injured.

Israeli citizens from various Southern communities recorded the rockets being launched, before running to their shelters.

What Happened?

It ends up that Hamas did not shoot a barrage of rockets at Israel. Rather, Hamas was conducting a live-fire drill, which mostly consisted of machine gun fire as well as rocket fire.

The IDF also responded to the Hamas drill with tank shells fired on Hamas posts in Northern Gaza….