Hamas criticized the Palestinian Authority (PA) Monday for coordinating with Israel after the PA arrested three suspected terrorists prior to an imminent attack targeting Israelis. "The cooperation between the PA and Israel in arresting the three fighters is a serious escalation in the coordination between them," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.
Hamas official Hussan Badran also denounced the arrest and claimed that "the leadership of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah are working openly to thwart the popular uprising."
Over the weekend, PA security forces arrested three suspected Hamas operatives west of Ramallah. The terrorists, who were missing since March 30, were found in possession of a large quantity of weapons including, hand grenades and a submachine gun.
The terrorists' families filed a report with the PA security forces after the three men vacated their shared Ramallah apartment and got rid of their cell phones, ID cards, and laptops.
One of the terrorists, 23-year-old Muhammad Harb, sent a text message to his mother: "I want to be alone for a week or two. I might deactivate my Facebook account. Don't worry."
These developments indicate that Hamas is continuing efforts to expand its base of terrorist operations in the West Bank. The terrorist organization is also actively seeking to reinvigorate and hijack the recent popular wave of Palestinian terrorism targeting Israelis, which has largely remained in the realm of individual initiatives.
While PA security forces are reportedly credited with foiling several Palestinian terrorist plots, senior political Fatah and PA officials – including President Mahmoud Abbas – engage in active violent incitement against Jews and Israelis. Increased Palestinian incitement and glorification of terrorism from across the political spectrum largely fueled the latest popular uprising.
Another secular writer has been murdered in a hacking attack in Bangladesh.
Nazimuddin Samad, a law student, was walking home in Dhaka Wednesday when four masked men on a motorcycle yelling "Allahu Akhbar" started hacking him with machetes. As he fell, one of the attackers shot him.
"It is a case of targeted killing," said deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan police Syed Nurul Islam.
While police say they have no suspects, the killing fits the pattern of those killed before him.
Samad was part of a secular activist group called Ganajagran Manch, and his writings often criticized Islamists. "Evolution is a scientific truth," he wrote on Facebook. "Religion and race are invention of the savage and uncivil people."
In an apparent effort to prove they were not savage and uncivil, radical Islamists set upon Samad with machetes.
"He didn't kill anyone. To me he's a good person. He didn't do anything wrong," Mustakur Rahman, a friend, told The Guardian. "He wrote something about a particular religion. I'm a believer, but he wasn't a believer and maybe he was trying to express what he thinks about religion. It is a free world, why should he be killed?"
Samad's murder on a Dhaka street "is a grave reminder that the authorities are failing to protect people exercising their right to freedom of expression," Amnesty International said in a statement.
Bangladeshi officials have not adequately condemned the ongoing slaughter, the statement said, noting they have instead acted to curb actions and statements which might "gravely hurt religious sentiments."
"There can be no justification for the brutal killing of Nazimuddin Samad, who has apparently paid with his life for nothing but being brave enough to speak his mind," said Amnesty International South Asia Director Champa Patel. "This is not just a senseless murder, it is a blatant attack on the right to freedom of expression."
Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas continues to deny Israel's right to exist by referring to the entire Jewish state as an "occupation," reports Palestinian Media Watch.
"We have been under occupation for 67 or 68 years (i.e., since Israel's establishment in 1948). Others would have sunk into despair and frustration. However, we are determined to reach our goal because our people stand behind us," said Abbas on official PA TV on March 11.
Click here to watch the video clip.
Abbas' latest comments come amid reports that the Palestinian president is willing to resume peace negotiations with Israel.
Abbas is notorious for double speak – saying two completely different messages to different crowds. While he consistently denies Israel's right to exist to the Palestinian street, Abbas claims to support the two-state solution to international audiences.
"We strive for peace through the establishment of the Palestinian state, which will live in peace and stability alongside Israel...despite all that is happening, we still hold our hand out to you, in order to establish peace and put an end to the loathing and [spilling] of blood between us. Therefore, we are trying to hold dialogue with all groups of the Israeli society," Abbas told a Jewish delegation, reported by official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on March 29.
However, Palestinian Media Watch extensively reported on Abbas's consistent referral to all of Israel as "Palestine."
In addition, this month's edition of Zayzafuna, a PA-funded youth magazine, features notable Palestinian symbols, including the PA map of "Palestine" that all of Israel represented by the Palestinian flag. The cover also includes a cartoon slingshot and a stone, as well as a key symbolizing the "return of Palestinian refugees" to Israel.
Zayzafuna often demonizes Israel, glorifying jihad and encouraging martyrdom operations against Jews for Allah.
Palestinian officials, including Abbas, systematically praise terrorists who kill Israelis and actively incite others to follow suit, fueling the ongoing Palestinian terrorist campaign over the last half year.
A U.S. naval vessel intercepted a large Iranian weapons shipment, seizing massive quantities of arms and sophisticated weaponry destined for Yemen, the Pentagon announced Monday.
The seizure occurred in the Arabian Sea on March 28, officials said, marking the third interception of an Iranian weapons shipment in recent weeks. The ship was carrying 1,500 AK-47 rifles, 200 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and 21 .50-caliber machine guns. They were en route to Houthi insurgents battling in Yemen's civil war at Iran's behest.
The U.S. Navy let the crew go after seizing the weapons, in line with current rules of engagement, according to a U.S. official speaking with Fox News.
This incident marks another major development in a string of recent Iranian provocations, indicating growing belligerence among the Islamic Republic's decision makers.
Last month, Iran tested missiles in violation of a United Nations Security Council resolution associated with the nuclear deal, which prohibits Iran from developing its ballistic missile program for eight years.
Iran also continues to expand its presence throughout the Middle East in line with its regional hegemonic ambitions.
On Monday, Iranian General Ali Arasteh said that the Islamic Republic deployed special forces to Syria as "advisers." Last month, Arasteh revealed that Iran may deploy commandos and snipers from its regular armed forces as military advisers in Iraq and Syria.
Iran expert Ali Alfoneh told the Jerusalem Post that "the regular army has begged for some time to get involved in Syria because it would be a source of prestige and funding."
The deployment indicates a shift in the army's constitutional mission focused on ensuring Iran's territorial integrity, writes Iran expert Amir Toumaj of The Long War Journal.
These developments support critics of the nuclear deal who argue that financial sanctions relief emboldens Iran to increase its sponsorship of terrorism throughout the region and worldwide.
Update, April 5: Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon described the reports about the U.S. granting Iran better access to U.S. dollars as false "rumors" during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
The Obama administration is considering relaxing financial restrictions that prevent the use of U.S. dollars in transactions with Iran, according to U.S. officials speaking with the Associated Press.
The Treasury Department has created a general license allowing offshore financial institutions to access U.S. dollars for currency trading in conjuncture with legitimate business transactions with Iran, even though this practice is currently illegal.
Some lawmakers are furious, considering Iran's increasingly belligerent behavior. Moreover, the proposed policy was not part of last year's nuclear agreement signed with Iran.
"These reports are deeply concerning, to say the least...As Iran continues to undermine the spirit of its nuclear agreement with illicit ballistic missile tests, the Obama administration is going out of its way to help Tehran reopen for business. The president should abandon this idea," House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday in a statement.
Since the U.S. dollar is the world's dominant currency, it is frequently used in global financial transactions and conversions. Sanctions prevent Iran from exchanging the money on its own, while international banks are threatened with heavy fines and potential cut off from the American financial market if caught facilitating Iranian transactions involving U.S. currency.
Senior administration officials justify additional assistance to Iran.
"We do believe that they are complying [with the nuclear accord]...Ballistic missiles, support for terrorism, destabilizing activities in the region, that's not the nuclear deal...It's a separate set of issues in which we have the ability to respond," Ben Rhodes, President Obama's deputy national security adviser, told reporters on Thursday.
Top Democrats also objected to the new proposal.
In a letter to the president, U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Cal., argued that allowing the dollar for business transactions with Iran "is clearly not required" by the nuclear agreement and would encourage the Iranians to demand more concessions.
"I do not support granting Iran any new relief without a corresponding concession. We lose leverage otherwise, and Iran receives something for free," added Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No.2-ranked House Democrat.
The proposal violates an administration promise to preserve non-nuclear penalties on Iran following the nuclear deal. Critics argue that the large influx of money will help Iran increase its sponsorship of terrorism worldwide and enhance its regional expansion. In light of recent sanctions relief, Iran continues to invest in the murder of Israelis and anti-regime critics abroad.
A private Islamic school in the United Kingdom is propagating radical Islam, promoting anti-Semitic propaganda and teaching that British customs are prohibited, Sky News reports.
In a leaflet, Mufti Zubair Dudha, the founder and head of the Islamic Tarbiyah Academy in Dewsbury, quoted the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notoriously anti-Semitic forgery which accuses the Jews of trying to conquer the world.
Dudha hails from the orthodox Deobandi Muslim sect, which is believed to control half of the Islamic schools and mosques in the United Kingdom.
Other disseminated materials assert that all mixed-gender institutions are evil and prohibit Muslims from watching television. The extremist messages also dictate that women should not work and should be fully covered when leaving the house.
Dudha also calls for Muslims to engage in violent jihad and prepare to "expend...even life" in order to establish a world operating "according to Allah's just order."
Dewsbury, about 35 miles northeast of Manchester, has a history of Islamist radicalization among its youth. Britain's youngest suicide bomber, its youngest convicted terrorist, and one of the bombers from the July 7, 2005 (7/7) attacks all came from Dewsbury.
"After what we have seen in Paris and in Brussels and the way in which the Muslim community has come out so strongly in favour of peace and tolerance, I think these kinds of leaflets serve no purpose but to divide in a poisonous and totally reckless way," Keith Vaz, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, told Sky News.
Members of Parliament are investigating radicalization and the government said that it will seek to regulate madrassas.
"These serious allegations are under investigation. While it would be inappropriate to comment on the specific investigations of these institutions, we are clear that extremism has no place in our society and we are determined to protect children from it," the Department for Education said.
In response, Dudha said he believes the radical publications were "misrepresented to link the Academy with extremism."
The U.K. has grappled with Islamic radicalism among some of its schools in the past, as evidenced by the 2014 "Trojan Horse" teaching scandal in Birmingham. Back then, the U.K.'s Office for Standards in Education confirmed that hardline Islamists attempted to take over some state schools. The report found that staff and teachers felt "intimidated" and bullied in order to conform to strict Islamist teaching principles.
An ISIS commander with a reliable presence on Twitter claimed to be in Scotland or elsewhere in the U.K. this week.
Abu Amer al-Jazrawi posted a photo March 24 under a now-deleted account "Jazrawi_Dar3a," showing Japanese food he claimed he was eating.
Three days later, al-Jazrawi posted a tweet from a different account, "Jazrawi_Joulan" claiming he was in Scotland along with a picture of a barren landscape similar to Scottish moors. "Scotland yesterday. No kuffar around," he wrote. "Just my family and the creation of Allah."
"Journey took 8 hours by plane," he wrote in a separate tweet.
Wednesday, al-Jazrawi tweeted a notice of a meeting for Muslim converts in Crewe, England, which is located 36 miles south of Manchester.
Al-Jazrawi does not appear in the photos, and it is not known whether he was telling the truth about his location. But his tweets come at a time when the world is on alert against the threat from ISIS infiltration of Europe.
The task we face is not unlike that faced by Western intelligence agencies that must pore through thousands of pieces of information looking for facts.
Al-Jazrawi is believed to be a Saudi who, according to Italy's Il Tempo newspaper, is part of an effort by ISIS to transfer operations to Libya with a goal of attacking Europe.
"Among the team of prominent jihadist elements there would be Abu Amer al-Jazrawi, a Saudi commander in the organization," Il Tempo reported in February.
Al-Jazrawi was described by the Libyan newspaper Libya Herald described as ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's personal representative in Sirte, Libya.
Last year, ISIS announced that it created a continent-wide jihadist network to help slip jihadis undetected in and out of Europe, which the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported in December. Intelligence sources have since corroborated much of what ISIS announced in its "Black Flags" publications, evidenced by a New York Times report published this week.
The IPT has observed a pattern of bragging from al-Jazrawi, who tweeted during the Paris attacks last November, "Syrians were sent by Islamic state as special undercover sleeper cell agents."
As it turned out, several of the members of the Paris/Brussels cell fought in Syria and infiltrated the flow of Syrian refugees into Europe.
Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei proclaimed that the Islamic Republic would prioritize its missile program over negotiations, Fox News reports.
"Those who say the future is in negotiations, not in missiles, are either ignorant or traitors," Khamenei said in a speech intended for Western negotiators and posted on his official website.
This declaration comes after Iran's Revolutionary Guard test-fired two ballistic missiles earlier this month, violating a United Nations Security Council resolution in support of the Iran nuclear deal.
The missiles were launched while Vice President Joe Biden visited Israel and the slogan "Israel must be wiped out" was written on the missiles in Hebrew.
Khamenei justified Iran's missile program to improve the country's bargaining position.
"If the Islamic Republic seeks negotiations but has no defensive power, it would have to back down against threats from any weak country," said Khamenei.
However, Iran continues to openly threaten Israel's existence without provocation. The latest missile tests are an attempt to enhance Iran's credibility and bolster its threatening belligerence by demonstrating improvements to capabilities that could one day destroy the Jewish state.
Hard-liners in Iran's military have fired rockets and missiles despite U.S. objections since the deal, and have shown underground missile bases on state television.
In recent months, Iran fired rockets near U.S. warplanes and deployed an unmanned aerial vehicle over a U.S. aircraft carrier.
In light of recent sanctions relief, Iran continues to invest in the murder of Israelis and anti-regime critics abroad. Anticipated financial flows have encouraged Iranian hardliners to consolidate more power domestically and increase support for terrorist proxies, including Hizballah, in the region.
United Kingdom foreign aid directly finances Palestinian terrorists responsible for killing Israelis, including planners of suicide bombings, according to a Daily Mail investigation.
The investigation reaffirms that major Western country donors continue to be misled concerning development assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Concrete evidence of the PA paying convicted terrorists in Israeli jails was presented in a court document during a $1 billion civil trial brought by U.S. victims of Palestinian terrorist attacks in Israel from 2002-2004.
Despite assurances that the PA would cease to pay convicted terrorists, PA officials allow the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to distribute the funds to Palestinian murderers instead.
According to the Daily Mail review, the PLO transferred more than $140,000 to Hamas bomb maker Abdallah Barghouti, who is responsible for masterminding deadly attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Other "salaries" are provided to families of suicide bombers and Palestinians involved in the latest wave of violence against Israelis.
The investigation also uncovered a tremendous amount of waste and corruption. For example, PA President Mahmoud Abbas is building an $11.3 million palace in the West Bank.
Daily Mail reporter Ian Birrel interviewed terrorists to confirm that the PA pays them and their families for attacking Israelis.
Ahmad Musa, convicted for a double murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, was released after five years of his sentence in a "peace deal" and enjoys a monthly salary from the PA.
"Yes, I shot them dead," Musa boasts after Birrell asks him whether he is guilty.
Musa earns roughly $850 a month, for life, while other terrorists receive much more.
Amjad Awad, among the terrorists who slaughtered the Fogel family in their West Bank home, including three young children in 2011, received up to an estimated $22,600.
In another case, the father of two brothers imprisoned for shooting Israelis told the Daily Mail that he receives monthly stipends of $610 from the PA and more than $400 from PLO.
The Department for International Development confirms that the PLO offers "social welfare" payments to terrorist prisoners' families, but denies that UK funds directly reach the murderers themselves.
A 2015 Palestinian Media Watch report outlines how the PA continues to deceive the West by diverting money to terrorists and their families through the PLO.
PA officials explicitly defend the payments.
"It is not a crime to be fighting occupation. These people are heroes," said Amr Nasser, adviser to the PA social affairs minister.
A pro-ISIS propaganda video released Thursday that celebrates the massacre in Brussels is linked to Moez Bin Abdul Qadir Fezzani, aka "Abu Nassim," a detainee released by the Obama administration to Italian custody in December 2009.
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Al-Battar Media, responsible for producing the video, is reported to be the media arm of the Kalibat al-Battar al-Libi, an elite Libyan-based ISIS unit with ties to the Islamists responsible for the Paris and Brussels attacks. Al-Battar is headed by Fezzani, an intelligence source tells the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT).
Confusion reigns over where he was held because U.S. and Italian media reports suggest he was held in Guantanamo Bay. However, U.S. government records suggest he was released to Italian custody from a U.S. detention facility in Bagram, Afghanistan. Fezzani used several aliases, which adds to the uncertainty.
A court in Milan tried and ultimately acquitted Fezzani in March 2012 for his alleged involvement in jihadist activities prior to his initial capture in Afghanistan 2001.
Upon his return to Tunisia, Fezzani joined the Al-Qaida linked Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia, which has been involved in a jihadist insurgency against the country's government in the wake of the Arab Spring. A year later, in 2013, Fezzani traveled to Syria to fight under the banner of Al-Qaida's Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra. He then went to Libya in 2014 where he became a leader of the Kalibat al-Battar militia, which ISIS's elite special forces unit.
Tunisia's Department of the Interior issued an arrest warrant for Fezzani on Feb. 8. He is suspected to have been involved in the planning of last year's ISIS attacks in Sousse and at Tunis' Bardo museum.
"If the information on Fezzani proves to be true, it is very disturbing. Just like the head of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, this was a man we had in our detention facility and let go," terrorism analyst Dr. Sebastian Gorka, who teaches at the Marine Corps University, told the IPT. "More and more it seems that the administration, and their counterparts in Europe, do not understand that the ideologues of global jihadism are far more important than the operational commanders of individual cells or organizations."