Israeli authorities foiled a Palestinian cell's plan to conduct a terrorist attack targeting Jewish worshipers at Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank, Israel's domestic security agency Shin Bet announced.
The Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organization reportedly armed and directed the cell to carry out a bombing and shooting attack, featuring people associated with various Palestinian factions and demonstrating a high level of cohesion.
Four Palestinians were arrested, including Nassim Damiri, 30, who is affiliated with Fatah and was arrested on numerous occasions in the past; Mahmed Damiri, 23, a Palestinian Authority police officer; Yasser Tzarawi, 25, a Hamas operative with a prison record; and Adwan Nazel, 24, of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad were also among the detained.
The plan allegedly involved Nazel and Tzarawi providing logistical support, weapons, surveillance and cover, while the Damiri cousins conduct the terrorist attack.
This development comes amid rising tensions between Israel the Islamic Jihad, as the group threatens to retaliate against Israel if Mohammad Allan – the former hunger-striking detainee affiliated with the terrorist group – is harmed.
Last week, the Israel Defense Forces blamed Islamic Jihad operatives in Syria for firing four rockets which landed in the Golan Heights and the Upper Galilee – signalling the first time that rockets from Syria struck Israel proper since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
While the terrorist group denied involvement in the cross-border missile barrage, Israel accused Iran of funding and ordering the attack.
"We have credible information that the attack was carried out by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad organization and was facilitated and directed by an Iranian operative Saeed Izaddhi, who heads the Palestinian unit in the Al-Quds Force of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps," said Israel's Foreign Ministry in a statement sent to the world powers that signed a nuclear agreement with Iran last month.
While touring Israel's northern border with senior military officials, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon warned that part of the Iranian funds to be released in conjunction with the nuclear deal will be transferred to Iranian sponsored terrorist proxies dedicated to Israel's destruction.
Israeli officials revealed that retaliatory air strikes killed at least four operatives from the cell responsible for the rocket attack.
The Islamic Jihad has close ties with Iran and maintains a significant rocket arsenal in Gaza, however these latest developments signal the group's intentions to expand their bases of operations to the West Bank and Israel's northern border at Iran's behest.
The lead attorney for 10 American families who secured $655 million in civil damages against the Palestinian Authority (PA) for past terror support expressed disappointment Monday with a judge's bond order.
Kent Yalowitz, whose clients either lost loved ones or were injured in terror attacks either carried out or aided by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the PA, had asked for $30 million monthly payments to serve as bond while a jury's February civil verdict is appealed.
During a hearing Monday, U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels ordered the PA to deposit $10 million into an account within the next month. After that, the PA must deposit an additional $1 million per month. The money serves as a bond in the event the judgment is upheld after the PA's appeal is resolved.
The installments are so insignificant compared to the PA's resources that Yalowitz likened the amount to a "rounding error."
But the judge acknowledged giving "serious consideration" to a statement submitted earlier this month by a deputy secretary of state urging Daniels to consider the PA's precarious financial state in imposing a bond order. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised the prospect that the PA could collapse under the weight of the payments, which "would undermine several decades of U.S. foreign policy and add a new destabilizing factor to the region, compromising national security.'
The attacks took place between 2001 and 2004. The victims sued under the Anti-Terrorism Act, which includes provisions which tripled the jury's $218.5 million damage award.
The PA's finances are not nearly so fragile, Yalowitz's team argued. A payment plan supporting jailed terrorists and the families of PLO members killed during attacks remains in effect. That payment system was among the items jurors learned about during the trial, along with internal PA and PLO records with information about terror cells and their activities.
Other records included handwritten notes from longtime PLO and PA leader Yasser Arafat approving those payments.
The PA initially argued against any bond requirement pending appeals.
Under an unprecedented secret agreement, the United Nations (UN) will allow Iranian experts to inspect their own country's military site reportedly used to develop nuclear weapons, according to a document obtained by the Associated Press.
Usually, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is tasked with inspecting a member nation's nuclear weapons sites. However, the UN agency reached a separate deal with Iran concerning inspections at the Parchin military site without consent from the United States and the other international powers who signed the broader Iran nuclear agreement.
This unprecedented move transfers the IAEA's investigative authority of a key component in Iran's nuclear program to Iran itself – directly contradicting advocates of the nuclear deal who claim the agreement is transparent and forces the Islamic Republic to be accountable for their actions.
The White House denies that a secret "side deal" exists, but Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged that no one from the Obama administration has had access to the secret document.
"We are aware of what the basics of it are... [the agreement] is not shared with the world, but we do get briefed on it," said Kerry.
Olli Heinonen, a former deputy IAEA director general tasked with monitoring Iran's nuclear activity, said that he cannot recall a time when a country under investigation was allowed to conduct its own inspections.
In congruence with U.S., Israel, and other intelligence reports, the IAEA believes that Iran experimented with high-explosive detonators for nuclear weapons at the Parchin military base, siting evidence based on satellite images and Iranian attempts to clear the site of nuclear activity.
The document, called "separate arrangement II," implies that there is another secret deal between Iran and the IAEA and suggests that the IAEA's role is diminished to monitoring Iranian inspectors at the military site.
Under this confidential agreement, Iran will give IAEA experts photos and videos of sensitive nuclear activities, "taking into account military concerns." Iranian technicians will also be tasked with conducting environmental samples for evidence of nuclear activity – a role traditionally reserved for IAEA inspectors.
Not only will the Iranian experts take the lead on the investigations, it also is only obliged to provide selective information at its own discretion.
"Activities will be carried out using Iran's authenticated equipment consistent with technical specifications provided by the agency," the agreement says. The IAEA "will ensure the technical authenticity" of Iran's inspection, but fails to lay out exactly how the procedure will be enforced.
This separate agreement reinforces concerns that the complex deal fails to provide the necessary transparency and accountability to assure Iran's pathway to nuclear weapons is effectively obstructed.
Police in Bangladesh arrested three men Tuesday suspected of hacking to death at least two secular bloggers this year, including American Avijit Roy.
British national Touhidur Rahman, 58, is pegged as the "main planner" and financier of the attacks. He was arrested along with Sadek Ali Mithu, 28, and 35-year-old Aminul Mallik. The three are said to be members of Ansarullah Bangla Team, a radical group banned by Bangladesh last May in response to the attacks on the secular writers.
Ansarullah claims to be affiliated with al-Qaida's Indian branch.
Reports indicate the men were part of a five-man team involved in plotting the attacks and scouting the victims, but that two other Ansarullah members hacked Roy and Ananta Bijoy Das to death.
Rahman and Mithu allegedly admitted their roles in the killings, an official with the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) force told reporters.
Roy, a naturalized citizen who lived in Georgia, returned to Bangladesh with his wife for a book fair in February when they were attacked by masked men wielding machetes. He was a frequent critic of radical Islamic doctrine who was the subject of death threats.
Das was murdered in a similar attack in May. Two other secular bloggers have been hacked to death in Bangladesh this year, the most recent coming Aug. 7 when a blogger who wrote under the name Niloy Neel was attacked and killed in his own home.
Farabi Shafiur Rahman, another Ansarullah Bangla Team member who made the threats against Roy, was arrested in March.
A deputy secretary of State has asked a federal judge to consider a host of potential calamities which might result from enforcing a civil terrorism against the Palestinian Authority (PA) for the deaths and injuries of American citizens.
The Authority is appealing a February jury verdict, awarding $218.5 million in damages to 10 families who lost relatives or suffered injuries themselves in terrorist attacks involving PA officials and support between 2001 and 2004. Under the Antiterrorism Act, those damages triple to $655 million.
Normally, defendants would have to take out a bond worth more than those damages while they appealed the judgment. But the PA asked the court to waive that requirement, pleading dire financial circumstances. In response, the plaintiffs recommended "an equitable middle road" requiring $30 million in monthly installments into a kind of escrow account through the court.
In a declaration filed late Monday, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken did not directly endorse that figure, or the PA's position that no bond should be required. Rather, Blinken asserts that U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels should "carefully consider the impact of its decision on the continued viability of the PA in light of the evidence about its financial situation ... the collapse of the PA would undermine several decades of U.S. foreign policy and add a new destabilizing factor to the region, compromising national security.'
The bond requirement would undermine U.S. investments aimed at facilitating a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Blinken wrote, and the breakdown in the Palestinian economy and security apparatus would open the door to more radical elements and terrorist recruitment.
Attorneys for the families in Sokolow v. PLO argue that the PA is "crying wolf" about its finances and that their suggested installment plan avoids any collapse. During the trial, jurors saw internal PA and Palestine Liberation Organization records describing a payment plan to support families of those who died carrying out attacks on Israeli civilians and to support those imprisoned by Israel for terrorist activity.
Other records included handwritten notes from longtime PLO and PA leader Yasser Arafat approving those payments.
Those payments continue today, the Shurat HaDin, or Israel Law Center, noted Tuesday.
In Monday's government filing, Blinken said the administration supports the Antiterrorism Act and the efforts of victims to seek justice via civil litigation. Such lawsuits "can also advance U.S. national security interests. A civil judgments against "those who commit or sponsor acts of terrorism is an important means of deterring and defeating terrorist activity" and cuts funds that could support other terrorism.
He offered no specific suggestion about how to balance that quest for justice against the concerns over the PA's potential collapse if the damages are upheld.
The question of whether to intervene created "tremendous friction" between the Justice and State departments, the New York Times reported Tuesday. DOJ did not want to get involved in creating an obstacle for terror victims trying to collect judgments, the report said, citing "federal officials involved in the discussions." But State insisted, arguing "the United States has seen a viable Palestinian Authority as essential to maintaining stability in the region."
A Hamas operative provided a treasure trove of intelligence during Israeli interrogation concerning the terrorist group's rebuilding efforts and future terrorist plans, Israel's intelligence agency Shin Bet disclosed on Tuesday.
The terrorist, Ibrahim Adal Shahada Sha'ar, 21, described about Hamas' tunnel reconstruction efforts, planned terrorist attacks against Israel, military strategy, and coordination with Iran, the Jerusalem Post reported.
He admitted working on rebuilding underground tunnels and described how some would be used in future attacks against Israel. Sha'ar disclosed the location of digging sites, tunnel entrances and underground routes, and reportedly said that a road built along the border with Israel is intended partly for terrorist attacks involving vehicles charging into Israeli territory.
He admitted that he stored several 50 kg explosive charges in his home and said that fighters kept explosives and other material in their own homes since Hamas commanders worried that the organization's weapons depots would be targeted by Israel.
Israeli authorities arrested Sha'ar last month at the Erez Crossing after he attempted to enter Israel for "personal or humanitarian reasons." Officers were aware of Sha'ar's terrorist background and immediately detained him.
During last summer's war between Israel and Hamas, Sha'ar participated in specific battlefield operations, including field logistics, transferring terrorists and weapons, and even admitted to setting up an anti-tank improvised explosion device (IED).
Sha'ar provided details of Iranian-Hamas military cooperation, including how Iran transfers funds and supplies weapons and electronics to the terrorist group. Those supplies include devices intended to jam radio frequencies to bring down Israeli drones deployed over Gaza. Furthermore, Sha'ar described how Iran trained Hamas terrorists to use hang gliders for attacks against Israel – a tactic revealed by previous Israeli interrogations of captured terrorists.
Critics of the recent Iran nuclear agreement argue that newly released funds to the Islamic Republic will bolster their regional hegemonic ambitions and global terrorist activities, including transferring more money and weaponry to its terrorist proxies.
According to Israeli intelligence, the Sha'ar detailed plans using tunnels to conduct cross-border attacks against Israeli targets, akin to Hamas' attempts during last summer's war. The Hamas operative confirmed that the terrorist group is diverting civilian reconstruction material for the purposes of rebuilding its terrorist infrastructure and underground tunnel network.
Sha'ar was indicted July 31 in the Beersheba District Court for being a member and engaging in activities with a banned organization, attempted murder, and forbidden military training.
Part of the Iran nuclear agreement enables the removal of individual terrorists from Western sanctions, including notorious Lebanese assassin Anis Naccache.
In a column published in Monday's Wall Street Journal, Hooman Bakhtiar revisits Naccache's role leading a 1975 terrorist mission taking 11 OPEC oil ministers hostage in Vienna. The assault was ordered by the notorious terrorist Carlos the Jackal.
As a close friend of slain Hizballah leader Imad Mugniyeh, Naccache also facilitated Iran's terrorist operations in the Mediterranean.
Bakhtiar recalls how Naccache attempted to kill his great uncle, and Iran's last prime minister under the Shah's rule, Shapour Bakhtiar.
As a liberal reformer, Bakhtiar requested that Ayatollah Khomeini refrain from establishing a theocracy after the Shah was overthrown. That call signed Bakhtiar's death sentence.
Five Lebanese, Iranian, and Palestinian assassins under Naccache's leadership posed as journalists dispatched to interview Shapour Bakhtiar, intending to kill him.
But the plot failed after the assassins killed a police officer and mistakenly executed an elderly French woman in a neighboring apartment. Naccache and three assassins were caught after an ensuing gunfight with French police. They were convicted of murder and received life sentences in 1982.
Iran subsequently unleashed a terrorist campaign to secure Naccache's release, including a string of deadly bombings in Paris during the 1980s, while ordering Hizballah to kidnap 16 French citizens in Lebanon. The Islamic Republic's strategy worked and France released Naccache to Tehran in 1990.
In 1991, another group of assassins eventually killed the former Iranian prime minister in Paris.
In 2008, the European Union sanctioned Naccache and his business, Bazargani Tejarat Tavanmand Saccal, due to his involvement in Iran's nuclear proliferation operations, not his terrorist past.
Now, Naccache and several other Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps leaders will be removed from the EU sanctions list. Many of these individuals were responsible for killing Iranian dissidents, American personnel in Iraq, and civilians in other countries.
In a 2008 interview with Iran's Fars News Agency, Naccache showed no remorse over the Bakhtiar assassination plot.
"There has been no change in my line of thinking. I stand by everything I have done in the past. If I had the experience I have now, I would have changed the planning of the plot to kill Bakhtiar. We were pressed for time, and we rushed to kill him, causing missteps along the way," said Naccache.
Critics of the Iran nuclear deal assert that the agreement does nothing to alleviate concerns surrounding Iran's regional hegemonic ambitions and global terrorist activities. Relieving known Iranian-led terrorist leaders from stringent financial and diplomatic pressure only reinforces those concerns.
Five men posing as prospective tenants stormed the Dhaka apartment of blogger Niloy Neel Friday afternoon, hacking him to death.
Neel, 40, is the fourth secular blogger murdered in Bangladesh this year.
American Avijit Roy, 45, was killed in February when he returned to Bangladesh for a book fair. The next month, 27-year-old Oyasiqur Rahman Babu, was murdered on his way to work. In May, masked assailants chased down 33-year-old Ananta Bijoy Das on a street near his home and hacked him to death.
"The nature of the attack is very similar to those on other bloggers murdered earlier," Dhaka Metropolitan Police Detective Branch Joint Commissioner Krishnapada Roy told reporters.
All four men criticized religious fundamentalists and extremists. Neel also advocated the death penalty for Islamists convicted of war crimes at the end of Bangladesh's 1971 war for independence from Pakistan. One of those convicted, Ashrafuzzaman Khan, lives in New York and is a past secretary general of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA).
Neel sought police help after receiving Islamist death threats, secular Bangladeshi writer Taslima Naseem said in a Twitter post. Police suggested he leave the country, but he wasn't able to do so. He reportedly took his pictures off his Facebook page in an attempt to lie low.
In a separate post, Naseem described an open season on Bangladesh writers who criticize Islam.
Islamists have a list of 84 "atheist bloggers" they wanted arrested for blasphemy, the BBC reported. Others describe it as a "hit list."
Neel was described as "the voice against fundamentalism and extremism and was even a voice for minority rights - especially women's rights and the rights of indigenous people" by Imran Sarkar, leader of the Bangladesh Blogger and Activist Network.
A deal to provide Iran with as much as $150 billion in sanctions relief over its nuclear weapons program should be blocked until the Islamic Republic pays court-awarded damages to American victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism, a lawsuit filed Wednesday in New York federal court said.
The plaintiffs, victims of attacks by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, have judgments worth $152 million that they have been unable to collect. Similar lawsuits in U.S. courts have generated billions of dollars more in damages. Iran, the lawsuit said, should not see a dime of sanctions relief until those victims are compensated.
By law, the lawsuit said, Iran should not be granted any relief until there is "a certification by the President that Iran is no longer a financier and sponsor of terror. That terrorism condition has not been satisfied."
Even the White House admits that Iran continues to sponsor international terrorism.
The lawsuit, facilitated by Shurat Hadin, or Israel Law Center, names the departments of State and Treasury, along with their respective secretaries, John Kerry and Jacob Lew. The two departments are responsible for enacting and enforcing the sanctions against Iran.
Releasing the frozen Iranian assets strips victims of "their last remaining opportunity to pressure Iran to satisfy their judgments,' the lawsuit said. And it violates terms of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, passed by Congress in 2002. The law aimed to help victims enforce their judgments by pursuing blocked assets belonging to terror sponsors. It contains the phrase "Notwithstanding any other provision of law," which should prevail over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal name of the Iran deal, negotiated by the U.S. and the P5+1 allies, the lawsuit said.
The Iran deal therefore undermines "both (i) the intent of Congress to allow Plaintiffs, who are victims of Iranian terrorism, to enforce their judgments against a broad range of blocked assets and (ii) Plaintiffs' judgments themselves, each of which was issued by a United States federal court, the lawsuit said.
The victims recently investigated funds held in foreign banks which belong to the Central Bank of Iran, one of the many financial institutions which stand to gain sanctions relief. But discovery efforts have been difficult, the lawsuit said. Once the sanctions are lifted, victims' hopes of securing any of the money owed to them likely disappear.
Wednesday's lawsuit comes as the Justice Department considers intervening in a separate case that resulted in as much as $655 million in damages against the Palestinian Authority for terrorist attacks that killed or wounded Americans between 2001 and 2004.
Read the full lawsuit about Iran's sanctions here.
Hamas is calling for the resumption of suicide bombings targeting Israelis in the wake of Friday's arson attack that killed a Palestinian toddler. Israeli extremists, perhaps from a nearby illegal settlement outpost, are suspected in the attack. Police appealed for public help Tuesday to find those responsible.
Two homes in Duma, a Palestinian village, were torched in the attack. The fire killed 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha. The arsonists reportedly spray painted "Revenge" and "Long live the king messiah" in Hebrew on the house.
Senior Hamas leader Hamad Al-Rakav called for Palestinians in the West Bank to take "revenge" and attack Israeli and even Palestinian Authority (PA) security personnel, referring to them as "traitors and collaborators."
Friday's attack prompted widespread condemnation from Israelis of all stripes and acknowledgement for the need to address Jewish extremism more seriously.
"I am shocked by this horrific, heinous act. This is a terror attack in every respect. The State of Israel deals forcefully with terror, regardless of who the perpetrators are," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Naftali Bennet, Jewish Home party leader, said that the attack was not "a 'hate crime' or a 'price tag' – it's murder ... Terror is terror is terror."
In contrast, Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis – including those which kill children – often are celebrated and result in people handing out treats to people on the street. The documented glorification of terrorists and martyrdom is widespread and institutionalized in schools and the media.
For example, after a Palestinian terrorist killed a three-month-old Israeli baby in a vehicular attack last October, Palestinian leaders praised the attack and urged others to "escalate the confrontations" against Israel.
A senior adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas referred to the terrorist as a "heroic Martyr" and a Hamas statement glorified the "operation of running over the settlers...which led to the death of a female settler and the injury of 8 others."
Whereas Israeli authorities actively pursue and arrest Jewish extremists following terrorist attacks, the Palestinian Authority pays salaries to convicted terrorists.
Terrorism – political violence targeting civilians – should be condemned and combatted in all forms. In context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, however, there is no moral equivalence with respect to how each side addresses the threat of terrorism.