A group that reportedly has been supplied with American anti-tank guided TOW missiles has issued a statement condemning the U.S.-led airstrikes against ISIS terrorists in Syria.
In an Arabic language social media post Tuesday, the rebel group Harakat Hazm said that, "The aerial bombardments are an assault against the national sovereignty" which only help the Assad regime cling to power. The statement argues that the better move would be to arm "the Free Syrian Army without condition [otherwise] the result will be failure and destruction that reach the whole region."
The United States carried out its first attacks inside Syria against the terrorist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as the Islamic State, early Tuesday. U.S. fighter jets and ship-based Tomahawk missiles bombed targets in Raqaa, an ISIS stronghold, among other targets.
Fighter jets from Bahrain and other regional Arab countries reportedly joined in the attack.
Harakat Hazm is a confederation of rebel groups created in January, and purportedly is among the more moderate Syrian rebel groups. The alliance includes about 7,000 fighters. It has fought alongside al-Qaida linked jihadist groups, including Jabhat al Nusra and Ahrar Al Sham, according to this video posted on YouTube in June by a supporter of the Islamic State.
Ironically, Harakat Hazm's statement further highlights the challenge of finding reliable partners for the United States and its allies among Syrian rebels. In an April interview with the Washington Post, Harakat Hazm leader Abdullah Awda played it coy when asked if the United States directly provided the TOW missiles.
"These missiles are available in the countries of the [Persian] Gulf, they are available in Libya," he said. "The Americans have a long list of countries that they sell weapons to."
Awda also said he wants democracy for Syria, but "any government will have to take laws from Islam, be inspired by Islam, because "at the end of the day Islam is the religion of the country and the religion of most of its people. Thus, the government should consider Islam as a source, but the true, moderate Islam."
Thousands of Palestinians mourned the deaths Tuesday of two Palestinian men suspected of kidnapping and killing three Israeli students in June, the Jerusalem Post reports. A massive funeral procession honoring Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abuysha moved through the streets of Hebron, featuring mourners waving Palestinian and Hamas flags. Both Hamas affiliated terrorists were killed after they opened fire on Israeli troops moving in to arrest them.
Many Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza celebrated the initial kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach, 19, and 16-year-olds Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel, in June. The terrorists were previously jailed in both Palestinian Authority and Israel and actively involved in terrorist activities on behalf of Hamas.
"We promised the families that we would find the murderers. This morning, we did just that," IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said Tuesday morning.
The families of the victims thanked Israeli troops for locating the Hamas suspects today, saying that an "evil circle has been closed" with their demise, the Times of Israel reports.
Israeli politicians also praised the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for carrying out the raid. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement vowing that Israel "will continue to hit terror everywhere."
"This is a clear message to all of our enemies that we will settle the score with any terrorist, no matter where they are hiding," Israeli MK Danny Danon said.
Hamas officials initially denied involvement in the boys' kidnapping and murders, and some media reports accused Netanyahu of taking advantage of the crime to go after Hamas infrastructure and members in the West Bank.
However, a senior Hamas official admitted in August that the terrorist organization was responsible for the abduction and murders. Salah al-Aruri, based in Turkey, praised the "heroic action of the Kassam Brigades (Hamas' military wing) who kidnapped three settlers in Hebron."
Hamas issued a statement after Tuesday's raid, praising Kawasme and Abuysha as martyrs, "and we stress that their assassination will not weaken the resistance."
A New York federal jury on Monday found Arab Bank liable for enabling terrorist attacks by Hamas by routing money to the players involved. It's a landmark decision – in the first trial of its kind against a financial institution under the Anti-Terrorism Act– which advocates already are hoping will have a deterrent effect.
"Every bank, every company and every government in the world now has to decide whether it is willing to continue doing business with an institution proven to have knowingly supported terrorism and proven to have helped murder Americans," said plaintiffs' attorney Gary Osen.
The civil verdict comes after just two days of deliberations, following a six-week trial. The lawsuit was filed a decade ago on behalf of nearly 300 victims of Palestinian terrorist attacks and their families, many of whom are Americans. It alleged that Arab Bank violated the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act by knowingly providing banking services to terrorist groups like Hamas "that allowed those organizations to flourish and to engage in a campaign of terror…" That included money from a Saudi charitable group which allegedly was used as "death insurance" for families of Hamas suicide bombers.
In a move which shows the political obstacles terrorist victims often face in civil litigation, the U.S. State Department waited until after jury deliberations began to release a memorandum saying the U.S. gave Saudi officials evidence in 2003 showing that a charity there "was forwarding millions of dollars in funds to the families of Palestinians engaged in terrorist activities, including those of suicide bombers."
It was information sought by the plaintiffs for six years, attorney Michael Elsner said in a Jerusalem Post report.
"We don't expect the State Department to take sides in a civil case, but by withholding critical evidence until the jury began its deliberations, the State Department continues its unfortunate pattern of siding with foreign interests against American victims of terrorism," Elsner said.
The bank's lawyers promise an appeal, saying, "The trial was infected by scores of errors..."
Damages against the bank, which has $46 billion in assets, will be determined later.
Fresh from congressional approval to arm and train Syrian rebel groups fighting the vicious Islamic State terrorist group, the White House met this week with Syrian American advocates to discuss how to proceed.
But one of the people consulted is on record defending and sympathizing with Syrian rebels tied to al-Qaida.
Mohamad Alla Ghanem, government relations director for the Syrian American Council, touted his White House visit on his Facebook page Thursday.
Last November, Ghanem wrote about a trip to Doha, where he got to meet Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a spiritual guide to the Muslim Brotherhood who has endorsed attacks against American troops in Iraq and suicide bombings against Israelis.
"I love this appreciated scholar very much," Ghanem wrote, "even I adore his jurisprudence. I consider this a great honor. Now, I am over the moon." Qaradawi has been banned from entering the United States and United Kingdom due to his support for terrorism.
But that's not the only time Ghanem has praised jihadists.
In December2012, Ghanem wrote a column in Washington Post in which he criticized the United States for classifying Jabhat Al Nusra as a terrorist organization. Sure, many Jabhat leaders are ideological on par with al-Qaida, he wrote, but not all of its members share that view. And the group "has achieved military successes and has delivered critical civilian aid."
In a column published a week ago by The Hill, Ghanem noted a recent Islamic State attack that wiped out the leadership in the Syrian rebel group Ahrar al-Sham. It is perhaps "the most hardline Syrian rebel group," and founded by al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri's personal representative in Syria, but it is an Islamic State rival nonetheless.
Ghanem said he didn't mention the group to endorse it, but argued it was "a great shame that" American support to Syrian rebels was held back "for fear of rebel groups like Ahrar al-Sham as Syrians were slaughtered by the thousands."
Advocates for increased U.S. support for Syrian rebels acknowledge the steep challenge of ensuring weapons and training don't go to other radical jihadists. Having Ghanem advise the White House on the issue, when it either didn't know about his past statements or didn't care, isn't going to instill confidence.
And Ghanem's organization, the Syrian American Council, sponsored last year's U.S. fundraising visit of Rateb Al Nabulsi. Nabulsi is a Syrian Islamic scholar who labeled all Jews as legitimate targets for suicide bombers. Now Al Nabulsi, along with an imam named Osama Al Rifai, who also came to the U.S with the help of SAC to raise money, are on the Syrian Islamic Council, which issued a statement opposing the American airstrikes against the Islamic State.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan compared Israel to Hitler and predicted that the Jewish state "will drown in the blood that they shed" at a rally prior to his presidential election last month, a Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) translation of his address posted on the Internet on Aug. 3 shows.
"Just like Hitler tried to create a pure Aryan race in Germany, the State of Israel is pursuing the same goals right now," Erdogan told a cheering crowd.
He continued his anti-Semitic rant, accusing Israel of genocide.
"They kill the women so that they will not be able to give birth to Palestinian babies. They kill the babies so that they will not be able to grow up to be men. They kill the men so that they will not be able to defend their homeland."
Given attitudes like that from the political leadership, it's easy to see why Turkey, though a NATO ally, has become a base of Hamas operations. Turkey is considered a top Hamas funder. More than a dozen Hamas officials now live there, the Washington Free Beacon's Adam Kredo reported last month. That includes Saleh al-Aruri, who acknowledged Hamas was responsible for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli yeshiva students in June.
In addition, Aruri reportedly was involved in a coup plot against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that was broken up by Israeli officials during the summer.
Erdogan is notorious for his anti-Semitic statements and worldview. In the past, he has referred to Zionism as a "crime against humanity" and senior Turkish officials have blamed their country's internal problems on the Jews.
Meanwhile, Turkey has balked at joining emerging coalition of countries trying to beat back the terrorist Islamic State which has been terrorizing neighboring Syria and Iraq. As many as 1,000 Turkish citizens have joined the Islamic State, and critics say the country has not done enough to seal its borders to stem that tide.
Turkey's open support for a designated terrorist organization, according to the U.S. and key Western allies, should be scrutinized in light of the fact that Turkey remains a NATO member.
A Yemeni native was indicted in Rochester, N.Y. Wednesday for attempting to provide material support and resources to the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria (ISIS), which calls itself the Islamic State. Mufid Elfgeeh, a naturalized American, also is accused of plotting to kill U.S. soldiers and of firearms violations.
According to court documents, Elfgeeh tried to help three people travel to Syria to wage violent jihad alongside ISIS forces. Two of the three turned out to be FBI informants. He also sent $600 to help someone in Yemen travel to Syria to join ISIS.
When one of the informants expressed reluctance to leave his family behind, Elfgeeh encouraged him to take his family with him. He gave examples of families participating in jihadist expeditions, including "a Saudi woman who left her children behind and went to the war for jihad." He also suggested names of "trustworthy people" the informant should contact, including "someone in Jabhat al-Nusrah [al-Qaida affiliate in Syria] who I told you is from our homeland."
Elfgeeh showed the informant a list of Facebook friends on his iPhone that included a man named Abu Qays, who he "described as a military leader of the Green Battalion in Homs, Syria." Elfgeeh noted "that the Green Battalion used to be affiliated with al-Nusrah Front [aka Jabhat al-Nusrah], but they separated from them," adding "[w]e are coordinating with them [the Green Battalion] on the grounds that they want to pledge allegiance to the State (ISIS), and they would like for the State to support them with ammunition and weapons."
This followed a series of Twitter posts in which he praised al-Qaida and other terrorist groups and said that "the prophet Muhammad preached that people should fight the infidels with the money, their bodies, and their words," an FBI affidavit said.
Elfgeeh was arrested in May after trying to buy handguns, unregistered silencers and ammunition from one of the informants. Last December, he mentioned the recent al-Shabaab shooting massacre in a Nairobi shopping mall, saying he was "thinking about just go[ing] to buy a big automatic weapon from off the street or something ... and just go around and start shooting."
In March, he talked about how getting a gun and silence was "a big step." He talked about posting a video statement "[o]nce we do five or ten already, 15, something like that."
If convicted, Elfgeeh could face 15 years in prison for charges involving material support for terrorists, and a minimum of 30 years for the firearms possession charges.
Hizballah plans to dispatch scores of terrorists into Israel while striking civilian communities with missiles in a future war that could last months, a senior Israeli source told reporters.
The terrorist organization's confidence grew, based on experience gained from its military intervention in Syria on behalf of dictator Bashar al-Assad. That, the Israeli military official believes, has the group considering going on the offensive. A pre-emptive Israeli ground operation could prevent such incursions.
"The battlegrounds of Syria have enabled Hezbollah to upgrade its capabilities. Hezbollah plans to send many combatants into Israeli territory near the border and seize it," said the source, adding that Israel was forced to make "dramatic changes" to its border-defense assessments as a result.
Such a conflict is not considered imminent, as Hizballah still has significant forces in Syria fighting for Assad and against the Islamic State.
According to the officer, there are no known tunnels leading into Israel from Lebanon; however, the terrorist organization has constructed a vast and sophisticated network of tunnels and underground bunkers in southern Lebanon. With Iranian help, Hizballah taught Hamas how to build their own tunnel network in the Gaza Strip.
Hizballah is believed to have tens of thousands of rockets with greater sophistication and power than those Hamas fired into Israel from Gaza.
To eliminate any threat, Israeli officials have said they'll have to launch a ground attack deep into Lebanon. The collateral damage would be significant, the source acknowledged.
Fighting in Syria taught Hizballah about battlefield command and control of its ground forces and intelligence. Israel doesn't expect immediate hostilities, the source said, but is preparing for the possibility and remains confident that "There is no challenge in Lebanon that the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) cannot overcome. There is no village in Lebanon in which the IDF can't overwhelm Hezbollah."
Les apologistes du Hamas ont coutume d'affirmer que celui-ci constitue, depuis sa seule et unique victoire électorale d'il y a huit ans, un mouvement politique légitime et non une organisation terroriste.
Le Hamas s'est réellement engagé dans la voie politique. Et à ce propos, comme le montre un nouveau reportage de l'armée israélienne, il est passé maître dans l'art politique de la tromperie.
Sur les réseaux sociaux, le Hamas diffuse des messages bien différents selon qu'ils sont rédigés en anglais ou en arabe. Quand il s'adresse en anglais aux Occidentaux, le Hamas minimise l'idéologie islamiste fondamentaliste qui sous-tend ses objectifs et préfère mettre en exergue le nationalisme palestinien, comme le montre cette phrase du leader du Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, citée dans le reportage de l'armée israélienne : « Le peuple palestinien s'engage pour obtenir le droit à disposer de sa terre, pour se défendre et lever le siège imposé à Gaza. »
Quand il s'adresse aux arabophones, le Hamas invoque systématiquement les obligations religieuses pour justifier ses attaques. Le lien renvoie à un hymne dont les paroles sont les suivantes : « Nous, qui avons prêté allégeance à Mahomet, nous engagerons dans le djihad aussi longtemps que nous vivrons. »
La charte du Hamas qui a été traduite en anglais [NdT et en français] invoque des versets coraniques pour justifier ses objectifs que sont le massacre des juifs et la destruction d'Israël. Selon le préambule de la charte : « Israël existe et continuera à exister jusqu'à ce que l'islam l'abroge comme il a abrogé ce qui l'a précédé ».
Dans son travail de modification des messages qu'il publie en vue de plaire à la fois aux publics arabophone et anglophone, le Hamas emprunte une page de l'organisation sœur égyptienne des Frères musulmans. Comme nous l'avons montré dans un article publié lors du soulèvement du Printemps arabe en Égypte, la confrérie a retiré de son site en anglais la partie de ses statuts dans laquelle se trouve un appel à « l'établissement d'un État islamique ».
Lorsqu'Oussama Ben Laden a été tué par des hommes de la marine américaine, la réaction des Frères en anglais a été de reconnaître que « l'une des raisons pour lesquelles la violence est utilisée dans le monde a été éliminée. » Par contre en arabe, le fondateur de l'organisation meurtrière Al-Qaïda était décrit comme un cheikh et un martyr, deux termes d'honneur, et le raid américain comparé à un assassinat.
Hamas apologists often argue that, since it won one election eight years ago, it is really a legitimate political movement and not a terrorist organization.
Hamas does engage in politics. And a new report from the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) shows, it is skilled in the political art of deception.
In its social media posts, Hamas offers starkly different messages in English compared to Arabic. Writing for English-speaking Westerners, Hamas minimizes the fundamentalist Islamist ideology at the core of its mission. Rather, it emphasizes Palestinian nationalism, as in this example the IDF report cited from Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal: "The Palestinian people are committed to their right to their land, to defend themselves and to lift the siege imposed on Gaza."
Reaching out to Arabic speakers, Hamas routinely invokes the religious commitment used to justify its attacks. The link refers to a hymn with the lyrics, "We, the ones who have pledged allegiance to Muhammad / Will engage in jihad as long as we live."
The Hamas charter, which has been translated into English, invokes Quranic verses to justify the goal of killing Jews and destroying Israel. Its preamble says that, "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it."
In altering its messages to appeal to Arabic and English audiences, Hamas borrows a page from its parent organization, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. As we reported during the Arab Spring uprising in Egypt, the Brotherhood removed a section of its bylaws calling for "establishing the Islamic State" from its English-language website.
When Osama bin Laden was killed by a U.S. Navy SEAL team, the Brotherhood's English reaction was to acknowledge "one of the reasons for which violence has been practised in the world has been removed." In Arabic, however, the mass-murdering al-Qaida founder was described as both a sheikh and as a martyr, both terms of honor, and the American raid was described as an assassination.
Hamas now publicly admits that it used civilian areas to launch rockets at Israel during the summer war, according to a Times of Israel report.
But in admitting that "mistakes" were made, the terrorist organization claims that it had no choice but to fire from urban areas since Gaza is so densely populated. A BBC map of the Gaza Strip demonstrates that there are open areas in which Hamas could have set up their operations to avoid innocent casualties.
According to Hamas, it is not about whether the terrorists fired from residential areas, but rather exactly how close they were to civilian structures.
"The Israelis kept saying rockets were fired from schools or hospitals when, in fact, they were fired from 200-300 meters [220-328 yards] away. Still there were some mistakes made and they were quickly dealt with," senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told the Associated Press.
That claim is demonstrably false. An Indian television crew showed a rocket launching site adjacent to their hotel. A French television crew showed rockets being fired near a United Nations building. The Israel Defense Forces produced ample evidence throughout the conflict, including a Hamas training manual, showing that civilian buildings – including mosques, schools, hospitals, and private homes – were deliberately chosen as locations for rocket launch pads, weapons storage and to serve as operating bases.
Israel is now compiling evidence of Hamas' use of human shields to prepare for an impending United Nations investigation into possible war crimes on either side. Most of the evidence will come from Israeli intelligence and Air Force footage, especially since journalists in Gaza were prevented from reporting Hamas' conversion of civilian structures into military bases of operations. In fact, there are numerous documented cases of journalists being detained, interrogated, and even exiled for suspicion of filming Hamas' exploitation of human shields. Yet some journalists were able to report of this blatant violation of international law. In one instance, video footage sent out by the Associated Press showed a rocket launched from a lot next to a mosque in Gaza City.
Meanwhile, Gaza may lose out on possible foreign investment for reconstruction if Hamas remains in power.
"As long as Hamas insists on controlling the Gaza Strip and continues to prevent the PA and the national unity government from exercising their duties, there will be neither funds nor investment," Ali Ibrahim, Saudi Arabian-affiliated Asharq al-Awsat's deputy editor in chief wrote in an op-ed Wednesday, the Jerusalem Post reports.