Archive for May 27, 2018

Swift Injustice: The Case of Tommy Robinson

May 27, 2018

by Bruce Bawer
May 27, 2018 at 5:00 am

The swiftness with which injustice was meted out to Tommy Robinson is stunning. No, more than that: it is terrifying.

Without having access to his own lawyer, Robinson was summarily tried and sentenced to 13 months behind bars. He was then transported to Hull Prison.

Meanwhile, the judge who sentenced Robinson also ordered British media not to report on his case. Newspapers that had already posted reports of his arrest quickly took them down. All this happened on the same day.

In Britain, rapists enjoy the right to a full and fair trial, the right to the legal representation of their choice, the right to have sufficient time to prepare their cases, and the right to go home on bail between sessions of their trial. No such rights were offered, however, to Tommy Robinson.

The very first time I set foot in London, back in my early twenties, I kicked up into an adrenaline high that lasted for the entire week of my visit. Never, in later years, did any other place ever have such an impact on me — not Paris, not Rome. Yes, Rome was a cradle of Western civilization, and Paris a hub of Western culture — but Britain was the place where the values of the Anglosphere, above all a dedication to freedom, had fully taken form. Without Britain, there would have been no U.S. Declaration of Independence, Constitution, or Bill of Rights.

In recent years, alas, Britain has deviated from its commitment to liberty. Foreign critics of Islam, such as the American scholar Robert Spencer, and for a time, even the Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders have been barred from the country. Now, at least one prominent native critic of Islam, Tommy Robinson, has been repeatedly harassed by the police, railroaded by the courts, and left unprotected by prison officials who have allowed Muslim inmates to beat him senseless. Clearly, British authorities view Robinson as a troublemaker and would like nothing more than to see him give up his fight, leave the country (as Ayaan Hirsi Ali left the Netherlands), or get killed by a jihadist (as happened to the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh).

On Friday, as reported here yesterday, the saga of Tommy Robinson entered a new chapter. British police officers pulled him off a street in Leeds, where, in his role as a citizen journalist, he was livestreaming a Facebook video from outside a courthouse. Inside that building, several defendants were on trial for allegedly being part of a so-called “grooming gang” — a group of men, almost all Muslim, who systematically rape non-Muslim children, in some cases hundreds of them, over a period of years or decades. Some ten thousand Facebook viewers around the world witnessed Robinson’s arrest live.

Pictured: Police officers pull Tommy Robinson (center) off a street in Leeds, England, where, in his role as a citizen journalist, he was livestreaming a Facebook video from outside a courthouse. (Image source: video screenshot)


The police promptly dragged Robinson in front of a judge, where, without having access to his own lawyer, he was summarily tried and sentenced to 13 months behind bars. He was then transported to Hull Prison.

Meanwhile, the judge who sentenced him also ordered the British media not to report on his case. Newspapers that had already posted reports of his arrest quickly took them down. Even ordinary citizens who had written about the arrest on social media removed their posts, for fear of sharing Robinson’s fate. All this happened on the same day.

A kangaroo court, then a gag order. In the United Kingdom, where rapists enjoy the right to a full and fair trial, the right to the legal representation of their choice, the right to have sufficient time to prepare their cases, and the right to go home on bail between sessions of their trial. No such rights were offered, however, to Tommy Robinson.

The swiftness with which injustice was meted out to Robinson is stunning. No, more than that: it is terrifying. On various occasions over the years, I have been subjected in person to an immediate threat of Islamic violence: I have had a knife pulled on me by a young gang member, and been encircled by a crowd of belligerent men in djellabas outside a radical mosque. But that was not frightening. This is frightening — this utter violation of fundamental British freedoms.

From one perspective, to be sure, Robinson’s lightning-fast arrest, trial, and imprisonment should not have come as a surprise. “There has been a campaign to ‘get Tommy’ — or what looks remarkably like it — for some time,” a source in the UK, whom I will call Scheherazade, told me late early Saturday morning.

The apparent justification for Robinson’s arrest is that he was on a suspended sentence. In May of last year, he was taken into custody while reporting from outside a courthouse in Kent, where another group of Muslim defendants was being tried, also on “grooming” charges. That arrest was also unjustified. At least, however, Robinson was given a suspended sentence. This time, presumably, it was determined that the mere act of reporting yet again from outside another courthouse amounted to a violation of the terms of his suspended sentence.

The official cynicism here is obvious. Scheherazade made a vital point: that often, when one of these “grooming gang” trials is being held, the extended families and friends of the defendants stand outside the courthouse and “heckle and intimidate” the rape victims as well as their families and supporters. “I’ve had reports of children as young as five throwing stones at victims’ families,” Scheherazade said.

“This intimidation by extended community groups also involves going around to houses and harassing people.” She has even heard of witnesses for the prosecution who have needed police protection to use a rest room inside a courthouse. Needless to say, this heckling and harassment is rarely reported on and never punished.

One potentially positive aspect of this ugly turn of events is that it turned heads that should have been turned long ago. Scheherazade noted that many of her Twitter contacts “were tweeting that they didn’t necessarily support Tommy in general but were appalled that someone reporting these [grooming] crimes was arrested.” Some of her acquaintances, she said, “are stunned and in despair.” On Saturday, thousands of Robinson’s supporters rallied in Westminster. But will such public protests make any difference? One British ex-policeman reacted to Robinson’s incarceration with a video urging his fellow countrymen not just to march or rally but to join Ann Marie Waters’ party For Britain and do for freedom of speech in Britain what UKIP did to get British out of the EU.

Scheherazade had more interesting information to offer. While Robinson is being punished for drawing attention to Muslim rape gangs, the Sikh Awareness Society, which has also reported on these “grooming” trials, is left alone. “They are a godsend,” said Scheherazade, “because they pull no punches yet don’t seem to get the intimidation that people like Tommy get.” Of course — British police would not dare arrest a bearded man in a turban. Scheherazade also mentioned an imam who was arrested recently, only to be let go by police after “a large group of supporters demanded his release.” At least one police officer acknowledged that the imam had been freed because otherwise “they would have been facing riots all around the country.” Scheherazade summed up British authorities’ current approach to the Islamic situation as follows: “they have lost control… and are simply going for those who they think will make the least fuss. The classroom bully has terrorised the teacher into punishing the kids who are bullied.”

One assumes that the officials think that perpetrating this kind of injustice will somehow keep the peace. If I were one of their number, I would not be so certain. The people at that Westminster rally on Saturday were angry. How many other British subjects share their anger? Scheherazade expressed concern that this summer in Britain may turn out to be quite restive. Well, maybe that is all for the good.

For my part, I cannot for the life of me fathom why not a single prominent or powerful individual in all of the United Kingdom has come forward to challenge the mistreatment of Tommy Robinson – and thereby stand up for freedom of speech.

Is the whole British establishment a bunch of cowards? I suppose we will know the answer to that question soon enough, if we do not know it already.

i24NEWS – Netanyahu: continuing ‘campaign against Iranian aggression’

May 27, 2018

Source: i24NEWS – Netanyahu: continuing ‘campaign against Iranian aggression’

sraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at an international conference of air force commanders at Tel Nof Air Force Base in Israel on May 23 2018.

Israel has struck weapons convoys believed to come from Iran going to Hezbollah through Syria multiple times

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged on Sunday to continue Israel’s campaign against the “aggression” of Iran, referring to its procuring weapons in Lebanon as well as the acquirement of nuclear arms.

“We are working to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. At the same time, we are working against the establishment of an Iranian military in Syria against us, and we are also working against the transfer of lethal weapons from Syria to Lebanon or manufacturing them in Lebanon. All of these weapons are intended against the State of Israel and our right, by virtue of the right to self-defense, to prevent its production or transfer,” Netanyahu said in a statement on Sunday.

Israel has struck weapons convoys believed to come from Iran going to Hezbollah through Syria multiple times.

On Thursday, Lebanese media claimed that Israeli fighter jets were flying over its airspace and that they were responsible for a strike on an airbase in Homs, Syria.

The head of Israel’s Air Force, Amiram Norkin, last week showed a picture of an Israeli F-35 stealth fighter flying near Beirut, stating that Israel is the first country to use the F-35 in the region.

In his statement on Sunday, the Israeli prime minister also thanked the US for its position on Iran, which Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined last week.

Pompeo demanded that Iran tear down the chief tenets of its foreign policy and vowed to enact the “strongest sanctions in history” on Tehran if it does not negotiate a new bargain with Washington to replace the 2015 nuclear deal.

“At the end of the week I spoke with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. I told him that I greatly appreciate the determined position that the American administration is showing against the nuclear agreement with Iran and against the Iranian aggression in our region. The regime in Tehran is the main element undermining stability in the Middle East. The campaign against its aggression is not over; we are still in the midst of it.”

The tensions between Iran and Israel rose to a new level on May 10 when Israeli strikes on dozens of targets in Syria killed at least 23 fighters, including five Syrian regime troops and 18 other allied forces.

Jack Guez (AFP)
Israeli fighter jets hit two military bases in the Quneitra region of Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group
Jack Guez (AFP)

The Israeli army confirmed that it launched an extensive campaign of retaliatory strikes on Iranian-operated bases in Syria, responding to a barrage of rockets and missiles fired by Iran towards the Israeli part of the Golan Heights only hours before.

“Overnight, IDF fighter jets struck dozens of military targets belonging to the Iranian Quds Forces in Syrian territory,” an army statement said, referring to the special forces unit affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and seemingly the first time Israel attributed an attack directly to Iran rather than its proxies.

Iranian targets said to have been struck by Israel included, “intelligence sites, logistic facilities, military compounds, storage facilities, listening and collection facilities as well as observation posts,” the statement confirmed. In addition “vehicles that served as rocket launchers” responsible for firing towards Israel, were also destroyed.

Netanyahu also addressed last nights air strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza, saying ” We will not tolerate attacks against us from the Gaza Strip. The IAF (Israel’s Air Force) attacked terrorist targets deep inside the Gaza Strip last night. And today, after our forces neutralized an explosive charge on the fence, they again acted against Hamas targets on the line of contact.”

“The IDF and the security forces are working around the clock to defend the State of Israel, to protect the citizens of Israel, and to defend the borders of Israel,” Netanyahu concluded.

Superpower in the Sky: Why Israel Wants F-35s and Deadly New F-15s

May 27, 2018

Source: Superpower in the Sky: Why Israel Wants F-35s and Deadly New F-15s

Zachary Keck


The National Interest
Zachary Keck

Security, Middle East

And why their enemies should be worried.

Superpower in the Sky: Why Israel Wants F-35s and Deadly New F-15s

Although the F-35 saw its first combat duty this week in Israel, the Jewish state has reportedly decided to purchase more of the most advanced version of Boeing’s F-15 rather than buy more Joint Strike Fighters.

On May 16, Flight Global—an aviation-focused news source—reported that Israel is proposing a deal to purchase twenty-five F-15Is in an advanced configuration. This would double the number of F-15Is the Israeli Air Force (IAF) currently operates. As part of the proposed nearly $4 billion deal, Boeing would also modernize Israel’s existing twenty-five F-15Is to bring them up to the same level as the new ones.

Although the Global Flight report doesn’t specify, it seems to be referring to the recommendation made by the head of the IAF, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin.Reports earlier this year said that his recommendation was supposed to come sometime in May. The IAF’s recommendation has to be approved by the General Staff and a ministerial committee. But, according to the previously mentioned Haaretz report, “the recommendation of the air force generally carries the day.”

If accepted, this means that Jerusalem has decided against buying another squadron of F-35s for the time being. As I’ve mentioned before, there has been an ongoing debate within Israeli defense circles about whether the country should purchase more F-35s or else increase its fleet of F-15Is. The debate has basically centered on the value of stealth compared with the value of weapons loads. To the F-35’s credit, it is stealthy and can fly undetected by enemy radars. To do this, however, it can’t carry bombs outside its bay, limiting the amount of munitions it can carry.

In some ways, then, the F-35 and the F-15Is complement each other nicely. Israel’s plan, according to media reports and general logic, is that the F-35s will be used at the start of a conflict to wipe out enemy radar and air defense systems. Once these have been eliminated or greatly diminished, Israel will use its F-15Is and other nonstealthy planes to continue the bombing. Some in the Israeli Air Force believe that the fifty F-35s Israel has already signed on to purchase is sufficient for performing this mission (and other missions where stealth is necessary). Therefore, they believe Jerusalem should prioritize purchasing more of the F-15Is and upgrading its existing fleet while delaying the purchase of another squadron of F-35s. It’s worth noting that Israel wouldn’t be able to later purchase the F-15s if it purchased F-35s first because Boeing is close to shutting down production lines.

Haaretz, a left-leaning Israeli daily, said there are a number of other perceived benefits of the F-15I compared to the F-35. For starters, it can carry larger bombs that could be useful against certain targets. Secondly, the F-15Is have a longer range. Third, they are currently cheaper to operate than the Joint Strike Fighters although it’s unclear if this will still be true after the F-15Is are upgraded. Finally, some in the IAF believe having a mix of planes is preferable to relying overwhelming on one platform like the F-35.

Not everyone agrees with this logic, of course. Retired Brig. Gen. Assaf Agmon, a former IAF fighter pilot who also served in command positions, told Breaking Defense that this view fails to appreciate what a game-changer the F-35 is. “The F-35 is not just another aircraft, it brings a total revolution in the interoperability of air, ground and sea sensors” Agmon said. He also disagreed that Israel needed more planes that can carry large weapons’ loads. “The Israeli defense forces have enough ways to use massive fire power against faraway targets.”

Israel’s current fleet of F-15Is are based on Boeing’s F-15E Strike Eagle variant. They indeed have impressive range. As Global Security, a military information website, pointed out, “In August 2003 the Israeli Air Force demonstrated the strategic capability to strike far-off targets such as Iran [which is 1,300 kilometers away], by flying three F-15 jets to Poland 1,600 nautical miles away.” The F-15E Strike Eagle is also optimized for both air superiority and strike missions.

The modernized F-15Is are expected to be based off Boeing’s latest model of the plane, the F-15 Advanced Eagle. This will bring several new features, including more firepower, as the upgraded version can carry sixteen additional Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM). Other new features found on the F-15 Advanced Eagle, according to Tyler Rogoway, include “full fly-by-wire flight control system, APG-63V3 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, digital electronic warfare and radar warning suite, missile launch detection system, updated flat-panel display cockpits with helmet mounted displays in both cockpits and an infrared search and track system, known as ‘Tiger Eyes,’ built into the left intake targeting pod pylon.” Israel’s fighter jets, including the F-35, typically come with some features that are unique to that country.

Zachary Keck is a former managing editor of the National Interest. He tweets@ZacharyKeck.

US threatens “firm action” for a Russian-led Assad-Hizballah offensive against Daraa 

May 27, 2018

Source: US threatens “firm action” for a Russian-led Assad-Hizballah offensive against Daraa – DEBKAfile

The Trump administration delivered an unmistakable military warning to Moscow and the Assad regime on Saturday, May 26, to hold off from their big offensive to capture the southeastern Daraa region.

The US would respond to such “ceasefire violations” with “firm and appropriate measures,” the State Department said, after Assad government leaflets were dropped on Deraa urging US- and Jordanian-trained and armed rebel fighters to disarm. Washington saw the leaflets to mean that Assad and Hizballah forces were ready to launch their offensive, after gaining a promise of Russian air and other support. US intelligence informants had also reported the arrival of Russian officers and mercenaries to take the lead of the Syrian-Hizballah operation.

Last Tuesday, May 22, DEBKAfile was first to report Syrian and Hizballah forces massing for the Daraa offensive at the southern town of Izra, where also the Iranian command cener for eastern Syria is located. Its objective is to cut south through to the Syrian-Jordanian crossing of Nasib, and so posing an immediate threat to Jordan and reach a jumping-off point for its next operation against Quneitra opposite Israel’s Golan border. Amman and Jerusalem notified Washington that unless this offensive was prevented, both armies would have to intervene.
Citing concern about an impending operation inside a “US-enforced de-escalation zone,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called on Russia to “exercise its diplomatic and military advantage over the Assad regime to stop attacks and compel the Assad regime to cease further military offensives” for “broadening the conflict.” Otherwise, the US would respond with “firm and appropriate measures.”

To make sure the message was understood, a timely reminder of a past incident, which ended badly for the Russian-led Syrian-Hizballah force last February, was dropped onto the pages of the New York Times on Friday. It described the four-hour battle between “Russian mercenaries and US commandos” in the eastern Syria province of Deir ez-Zour. When a Russian-led Syrian government-Hizballah force tried to cross over to the eastern bank of the Euphrates River and overrun the US outpost there, it was thrown back by US marines under heavy air cover and forced to retreat after losing an estimated 200 to 300 dead.

Israel notifies Russia of redrawing of Iran red lines

May 27, 2018

Source: Israel notifies Russia of redrawing of Iran red lines

Abandoning limitations on operating only in southern Syria, Jerusalem reportedly notifies Moscow it will now operate all across its northern neighbor; Arabic Sky News reports 21 people killed in Homs strike Thursday, 9 of them Iranian; Islamic republic’s official press agency denies claim.
Israel has notified Russia of its decision to expand its “red lines”—as it pertains to operations against Iran in Syria—to the entirety of its northern neighbor’s territory rather than just the southern portion of the country as it had so far, the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported Saturday evening.Israel initially offered no comment on the report by the London-based pan-Arab paper.

On a possibly related matter, Arabic-language Sky News reported that in the strike in the Homs province of Syria earlier this week—attributed to the Israeli Air Force—21 people were killed, nine of whom were Iranian. Sky News was the only outlet reporting the figures.

PM Netanyahu (L) and Russian President Putin. Israel was said to have notified Russian it has redrawn its 'red lines' in operating against Iran in Syria (Photo: AP)

PM Netanyahu (L) and Russian President Putin. Israel was said to have notified Russian it has redrawn its ‘red lines’ in operating against Iran in Syria (Photo: AP)

The claim was later refuted by Iran’s official news agency IRNA, which stated the strike led to no Iranian casualties.British-based war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Friday that the overnight strike—seemingly by Israel—targeted a base occupied by Hezbollah operatives and weapons caches.

The Dabaa base, according to the Observatory’s report, also housed combatants belonging to other militias allied to Syrian President Bashar Assad, and that it was unclear whether the strike caused any deaths.

A Syrian jet at the Dabaa military airbase

A Syrian jet at the Dabaa military airbase

The pro-Hezbollah Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, meanwhile, reported that the strike was the most significant since the so-called “Night of Missiles“—when 32 missiles were launched by the elite Iranian Quds Force earlier in the month, prompting a crushing Israeli response that reportedly left eleven Iranians dead.

Despite the Syrian army’s claim that its aerial defense systems shot back at the missiles and jets, several hits to the airfield were documented, the paper further reported.

Al-Akhbar then went on to say no operational airborne activities were being launched from the base, but that it did house several storerooms and command centers. The region of the base was previously targeted by a tripartite American-British-French assault recently, after allegations it was being used to manufacture chemical weapons.

 (Photo: AFP)

(Photo: AFP)

Rami Abdurrahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Thursday that six missiles were fired at the Dabaa military airbase and its vicinity in southwestern Homs, hitting Hezbollah weapons caches.

The base is just north of the city of Al-Qusayr, which Hezbollah overtook in 2013 from Syrian rebel forces. The city’s capture marked a turning point in the Shiite terror group’s involvement in the years’ long Syrian civil war.

21, including Iranians, reported killed in IAF strike in Syria

May 27, 2018

Source: 21, including Iranians, reported killed in IAF strike in Syria – Israel News – Jerusalem Post

The strike was reportedly aimed at Hezbollah members and militias supporting the Assad regime.

 MAY 27, 2018 04:34
Israeli Air Force F15 planes.

Twenty one people were killed, including nine Iranians, in Thursday night’s attack on the Dabaa military airport in central Syria, Sky News reported on Saturday.

The strike was reportedly aimed at Hezbollah members and militias supporting the Assad regime.

According to reports, six strong explosions, allegedly caused by missile strikes, were heard in the Homs region, near the Lebanese border. Syrian air-defense systems reportedly attempted to intercept the missiles.

The Syrian Al-Marsad human rights organization said that the missile attack was carried out by Israel.

On Friday, the Lebanese army announced that a day earlier, five Israeli Air Force planes circled above Lebanese territory for some 15 hours altogether. According to the report, most of the flights took place in the southern and northern regions of Lebanon, but one of the planes was mentioned to have circled above “all regions of the country.” No offensive action or operation was said to have been carried out by the aircraft.

An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment.

In recent months Israel has carried out several air strikes in Syria, targeting Iranian and Iranian-linked targets.  Israeli leaders have repeatedly asserted that Jerusalem would not allow Iran to gain a foothold in southern Syria.

Reuters contributed to this report

I can not help myself, so i have to share this

May 27, 2018

I beg for your forgiveness .