The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) discovered a cross-border tunnel leading into Israel from the Gaza Strip, proving that Hamas maintains underground terrorist infrastructure dedicated to the kidnapping and murder of Israeli civilians.
"The IDF and security forces thwarted a serious disaster...it is important to note that, this single tunnel had one goal: to murder innocent women and children in Israel," Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, said Sunday.
Lapid also referred to the existence of underground tunnels as an equivalent to a "land invasion of Israel."
The tunnel stretched about 30 yards into Israel, opening up near a farming community. "The working assumption is that this is not the only tunnel penetrating into Israel, that there are others," said IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.
Israeli officials believe the tunnel was built since the summer 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, suggesting that technological means incorporated in Israel's counter-tunnel efforts are somewhat effective.
Since the war ended, Hamas has openly invested significant amounts of resources to the reconstruction of its offensive tunnel capabilities. The terrorist organization devotes roughly 1,000 operatives – working 24 hours a day, six days a week – and millions of dollars per month solely on its underground tunnel network.
During the 2014 war, Hamas sent 13 heavily armed terrorists through a similar tunnel that opened near a kibbutz, hoping to launch a major attack on Israelis. The IDF detected the attempt and was able to kill many of the terrorists.
Despite some Israeli successes in combatting Hamas' underground activities, this latest development suggests that activity continues undetected. Israel's military and intelligence agencies are constantly trying to expose the tunnels. IDF bulldozers continue working at the Gaza border, searching for other offensive tunnels dug into Israeli territory.
Covert attempts at stifling Hamas' activities also play an important role. Palestinian reports claim that a Hamas operative is being interrogated by the Shin Bet, Israel's domestic intelligence service, after crossing into Israel.
According to IDF assessments, Hamas will try to gain control of an Israeli border town through its tunnels in an attempt to kidnap Israeli civilians as hostages. Moreover, the terrorist organization will continue digging tunnels in an effort to overcome its military inferiority with Israel.
A recent World Bank report confirms that only 9 percent of Gaza homes destroyed in the 2014 war have been rebuilt, confirming that Hamas continues to divert cement and reconstruction material to rebuild its terrorist infrastructure at the expense of its civilian population.
A recent "nasheed" – or Islamic chant – posted by ISIS celebrating the Brussels attacks, could serve as a recruitment tool for ISIS to persuade potential jihadists to fight on the continent.
"We Destroyed Belgium" features ISIS's self-proclaimed caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, speaking in the beginning, proclaiming the international nature of his group.
"Allah is our destination. He is our goal. Our Sheikh al-Baghdadi proclaimed the banner of jihad ... With the strength of belief our weapons are raised ... We destroyed Belgium ... Infidels and hypocrites. With slaughter we come to you. No, no agreement And if they say, terrorist. I say, the honor is mine," the nasheed says.
This nasheed comes amid ISIS threats of further attacks. The terror organization released a video last week threatening to strike against London, Berlin or Rome. Other ISIS threats in the wake of the Brussels attacks similarly featured Berlin and London.
"Plans are afoot as we read these words now," said ex-jihadi and counter-terrorism expert Mubin Shaikh. "It is well within the scope of this thinking, to insert coded messages into some of these nasheeds."
ISIS frowns on issuing open orders like "start the job" to sleeper cells in the field to commence operations, which is a lesson it learned from Al-Qaida, according to its manual "Safety and Security guidelines for Lone Wolf Mujahideen." It insists on total silence and lack of communication prior to an operation; however, an innocuous coded message akin to the Japanese message "Climb Mt. Nitaka" sent prior to Pearl Harbor would go largely unnoticed by security services.
ISIS published dozens of nasheeds aimed at urging recruits to join them on the battlefield. This nasheed celebrating Brussels and similar nasheeds that appeared online prior to the Paris and Brussels differ in that they are more narrowly aimed at operations in Europe.
Two weeks before the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, ISIS's Raqqa-based Al-Hayat Media released a French-language nasheed titled "Avance, Avance," which the Middle East Media Research Institute's (MEMRI) French-language service first reported.
It told ISIS's followers in France to "Advance, Advance" and to "Kill apostates that the devil has lost, People with the false war is declared ... Either you kill them or they kill you, that profit ... Finish him with a bullet to the head."
Al-Hayat Media released another French nasheed on Feb. 28 titled "Pour Allah," which could have signaled an impending attack on a European target. It proclaimed: "For Allah we sacrifice, for Allah we terrorize."
"Pour Allah" appeared in an ISIS video celebrating the Brussels attacks was released on March 24, two days after the assault on the Brussels airport and Metro. The same video also included the "Avance. Avance" nasheed.
A source alerted the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) about each of these two nasheeds prior to the Paris and Brussels attacks, warning that in his opinion that preparations for an attack may have been underway.
"I would suggest monitoring the nasheed sharing places and doing content analysis of the lyrics," Shaikh said. "It is possible that they have not thought of this yet but then again as an analyst I ask: why would you wait until they did and you could have prevented a major attack?"
A growing number of Islamist radicals are infiltrating Germany's military, the Bundeswehr, with an estimated 30 former soldiers later joining international terrorist organizations, reports German press agency DPA International.
Germany's military counterintelligence service (MAD) says 65 active soldiers are under investigation for suspected Islamist tendencies. Since 2007, 22 soldiers designated as Islamists have been discharged or left the military. Moreover, 29 former soldiers have left for Syria and Iraq to join Islamist terrorist organizations.
"We perceive a risk that the Bundeswehr may be used as a training ground for potentially violent Islamists," says MAD leader Christof Gramm.
German intelligence believes that the Islamic State is actively recruiting operatives with a military background. Moreover, Germany's Ministry of Defense expressed concern that no background checks are required for soldiers in unclassified positions.
"Like all armies, the Bundeswehr can be attractive to Islamists seeking weapons training...," Hans-Peter Bartels, the parliamentary commissioner for the military, told the DPA. Bartels added that Islamists in the German army pose "a real danger that needs to be taken seriously."
Following the January 2015 Paris attacks targeting the Charlie Hebdo satirical publication, Gramm became increasingly concerned since the terrorists appeared to have professional military training.
"It would be negligent of a MAD president not to ask what would happen if a Bundeswehr-trained Islamist did something like this, and we had failed to notice anything," Gramm said.
In one case, a German convert to Islam, called Sascha B for anonymity, gradually began exhibiting signs of increased religiosity and extremism. He began growing his beard, wearing Middle Eastern attire, and even going AWOL at times.
Sascha B eventually refused to train reservists after soldiers in his unit were deployed to Afghanistan. He justified his position by arguing that weapons could be used against other Muslims. During interrogation by MAD officials, Sascha B proclaimed that sharia law should override Germany's constitution.
Several prominent examples of Islamist infiltration within the U.S. military also have caused immense concern.
A Muslim army soldier killed two comrades and injured 14 others after throwing a live grenade in a tent in Kuwait prior to the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. In 2009, U.S. Army major and psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hassan shot and killed 13 people at Fort Hood because he believed that no Muslim could faithfully serve in the U.S. military.
Hassan exhibited signs of increased radicalism for a significant period of time prior to the terrorist attack. "It's getting harder and harder for Muslims in the service to morally justify being in a military that seems constantly engaged against fellow Muslims," Hasan said during a 2007 presentation at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Three years later, Army Pvt. Naser Jason Abdo was arrested for planning an attack on a popular restaurant frequented by Fort Hood troops. He plotted to set off an explosives device in the restaurant, then shoot and kill as many survivors as possible.
When his mother asked her son why he would commit the terrorist attack, Abdo replied: "The reason is religion, Mom."
The former head of Britain's Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Trevor Phillips, argued that Muslims are establishing "nations within nations" in the West and admitted that he "got almost everything wrong" about immigration, in a column for the Sunday Times.
Phillips analyzed the findings of the most comprehensive study on Muslim attitudes in the United Kingdom (U.K.), which will serve as the foundation for a documentary commissioned by Britain's Channel 4 entitled "What British Muslims Really Think."
Many Muslims maintain significantly different values from the rest of society and prefer to live in separation, Phillips claimed.
The Channel 4 program is based off an ICM poll. It finds that more than 20 percent of British Muslims believe the country should be governed by sharia law, while close to 40 percent of Muslims – both male and female – believe a woman should always be obedient to her husband. About a third of Muslims respondents say it is okay for a man to have more than one wife, while more than half want homosexuality outlawed.
Moreover, two-thirds of British Muslims surveyed would not inform the police if they believed that someone they know became involved with terrorists. The findings also show that more than 100,000 Muslims in Britain sympathize with terrorists and suicide bombers.
Click here to see the ICM survey data on British Muslim attitudes.
The poll also revealed that British Muslims were more likely to have anti-Semitic beliefs than other British citizens. Over a third of Muslims in Britain believed that "Jews have too much power in the U.K." and dominated the media and financial institutions. More than 25 percent questioned believe Jews are responsible for most of the world's ongoing wars and 27 percent reported that people "hate" Jews because of their behavior.
In 1997, Phillips commissioned a report about Muslims in Britain which introduced and popularized the 'Islamophobia' label that is now synonymous with any criticism of Islam or Muslims. He now admits that report failed to predict many individuals within Muslim communities hold radical views and do not seek to integrate into British society.
"It's not as though we couldn't have seen this coming. But we've repeatedly failed to spot the warning signs," Phillips wrote in the Times.
In a Daily Mail article, Phillips describes a "life-and-death struggle for the soul of British Islam," arguing that extremists have infiltrated in some Muslim communities and drowned out moderate Muslim voices.
"Indeed, a significant minority of Britain's three million Muslims consider us a nation of such low morals that they would rather live more separately from their non-Muslim countrymen, preferably under sharia law," Phillips says.
Phillips also warned of Islamist hardliners taking over UK schools and imposing a radical agenda, as evidenced by the 'Trojan Horse' case in Birmingham. These developments led Phillips to call for more robust measures and strict monitoring to mitigate the emergence of "ghetto villages," or ethno-religious enclaves that remain separate from the remainder of society.
Radical sentiments among Britain's Muslim community reflect research from across Europe that suggests Muslim attitudes are becoming more extreme, particularly among younger generations.
The fate of a $655 million judgment against the Palestinian Authority (PA) is in the hands of a federal appellate court.
Judges at New York's 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Tuesday in the case of Sokolow v. PLO, et al., in which jurors found the PA and the Palestine Liberation Organization liable for a series of terrorist attacks in 2001-2004 that were part of the Palestinian intifada.
Those attacks killed or wounded members of 11 American families who filed the lawsuit under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). During a six-week trial last year, jurors saw internal PLO and PA records showing payments to terror cells that were part of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which was created by the PLO. Families of PA and PLO employees killed carrying out terrorist attacks, or who were imprisoned after attacks, also received monthly payments.
The PA's defense hinges on an argument that U.S. courts do not have the jurisdiction to hear such a lawsuit. The United States does not recognize Palestine as a sovereign state, they argued, and the PA's activities here fail to meet the standard for being "at home."
In arguments Tuesday, PA attorney Mitchell Berger said the Manhattan district court was "plainly wrong" to hear the case.
"Their own experts said the brunt of the injury, which is the key question, was on Israel, not the United States," he said. In his brief, Berger also pointed to three similar lawsuits that were dismissed by federal judges in Washington, D.C. for a lack of jurisdiction.
Attorneys for the victims say the PA is within reach of U.S. courts because of its activities here. They also point to internal records which made it clear that the attacks were waged in part to influence American policy. In addition, the PA "chose to enter" the United States and "can be charged with knowledge of its laws" because it appointed a representative under the Foreign Agent Registration Act ('FARA')."
Overturning the judgment threatens to turn the ATA into "a dead letter, inapplicable to the very fact pattern Congress designed it to address. Under Defendants' theory, they may come to the United States to extract funds from our government on the understanding that they will live up to their promise to renounce terror, open a lobbying office in Washington, D.C., then murder U.S. citizens and support U.S. designated FTOs to provide teeth to their U.S. lobbying efforts— and yet avoid facing justice in the U.S. courts. That position is as meritless as it is offensive, and this Court should reject it."
Pamphlets left at London's Stockwell Green Mosque threaten death to Ahmadiyya Muslims unless they convert to mainstream Sunni Islam. Opponents have accused this mosque of helping promote acts of terror and hate in Pakistan in 2011, prompting a denial from a mosque trustee.
The mosque lists itself on official United Kingdom government documents as the official "overseas office" of Khatme Nabuwwat, a Pakistani Islamist movement known for its strong anti-Ahamdi sentiment, the BBC reports. It also is listed as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Muslim Council of Britain.
Ahmadis suffer intense persecution in Pakistan and are regarded as heretics due to their belief that their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmed of Qadian, was a prophet after Muhammad. They also differ from Sunnis by rejecting offensive jihad and believing that military jihad no longer is applicable in the modern world. In a 1983 ruling, the sheikh of Al-Azhar, one the most highly respected authorities in Sunni Islam, declared the Ahmadis "apostates."
The English-language Khatme Nabuwwat pamphlets found at the Stockwell Green Mosque derisively refer to the Ahmadis by the epithet "Qadiani" and say they should be killed as apostates.
"Those who refuse to convert to mainstream Islam within three days should face a 'capital sentence' — or death penalty," a pamphlet cited by the BBC says.
"Khatme Nabuwwat do not inflict violence themselves, but they provide an enabling environment for a number of actors to do so," Human Rights Watch official Saroop Ijaz told the BBC.
"There are enough violent groups in Pakistan, enough radical population in Pakistan, that if accusation is made enough times and loudly enough – that is murder. Khatme Nabuwwat do this with the very clear desire of leading to that outcome."
The mosque denied placing the pamphlets in its literature rack, with a spokesman saying they may have been planted by someone with malicious intentions.
The pamphlets' discovery comes in the wake of the murder of Asad Shah, an Ahmadi, in Glasgow last month. Tanveer Ahmed of Bradford, England, said he killed Shah for disrespecting Islam and falsely claiming to be a prophet.
The MCB responded to the attack against Shah, saying that Muslims should not be forced to classify Ahmadis as Muslims if they do not wish to do so and for Muslims to "respect all people irrespective of belief or background."
The MCB statement represented the sentiments that fueled the growth of intolerance and extremism in Pakistan, an Ahmadi spokesman said in response.
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.