Senior Iranian Official Boasts of IRGC Presence Abroad

Iran will not back down from supporting terrorist proxies in the region and spreading its Islamic ideology abroad, a senior official in Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has reiterated.

IRGC's operations "are not limited to Iran," Ali Fadavi, the IRGC's naval commander, said in an interview Monday with the Farsi language Jamaran site and reported by Al Arabiya.

Fadavi openly discussed the fact that IRGC operatives are currently "fighting the enemy thousands of kilometers away from our borders" – an offensive force posture seen as "necessary" to spread Iran's revolutionary ideology.

"Guarding the Islamic revolution does not only mean guarding one country and one government, i.e. Iran. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps does not have any appendage attached to it and these were the orders of Imam Khomeini," Fadavi said.

The IRGC's primary objective is not protecting Iran's national security, he said, but to spread Shi'a Islamist ideology across the entire Middle East and Muslim world.

Iran has flat out rejected any efforts to renegotiate the nuclear agreement, amid reports of European efforts last month to constrain Iran's regional expansion and ballistic missile program.

Speaking in Tehran earlier this month, Ayatollah Khamenei proclaimed that Europe and the United States have no right to discuss Iran's regional activities. The region, Khamenei said in the same speech, belongs to Iran, not Europe.

Last month, the European Union reportedly was mulling new sanctions over non-nuclear related activities in an effort to keep the United States from terminating the nuclear agreement.

In response, Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said that Iran "will not accept any changes, any interpretation or new measure aimed at limiting" the 2015 nuclear deal.

After a meeting in Tehran last month, Iran's foreign minister rejected his French counterpart's call to rein in Iran's missile program in an effort to preserve the nuclear agreement.

French President Emmanuel Macron and President Trump met Tuesday to discuss the Iran nuclear deal's future. Trump called the agreement a "terrible deal" because it did not include restrictions on Iran's ballistic missile program or destabilizing regional activities.

Recent statements from senior Iranian officials indicate that the Islamic Republic will not stop pursuing their quest for regional hegemony.

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By IPT News  |  April 24, 2018 at 2:49 pm  |  Permalink

Iran and Hizballah Prioritize Terrorism Funding Over Societal Development

Despite facing growing unrest and a weakening economy, Iran continues to funnel massive amounts of money and resources to its main terrorist proxies, especially Hizballah, in order to expand its reach.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's recent budget allocates far more funds to regime-controlled religious charities and regional terrorist activities at the expense of domestic social and economic programs, according to an analysis Sunday in Al-Arabiya English.

Rouhani's government claims to be focused on reducing poverty and improving employment opportunities, yet it continues to cut subsidies on basic commodities and financial transfers to poor families amid rising fuel and food prices.

Instead of supporting its own people, Iran is devoting $7.4 billion to the military – primarily toward its ballistic missile program and Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)'s regional expansion.

Iran has flat out rejected any efforts to renegotiate the nuclear agreement, amid reports of European efforts last month to constrain Iran's regional expansion and ballistic missile program.

The Lebanese terrorist organization Hizballah is a major beneficiary of the latest budget. Iran "is believed by some analysts to fund it [Hizballah] to the tune of $300 million a year, although many now believe the sum is more like $1 billion," writes Tony Duheaume.

Combined with its international criminal enterprise and drug-smuggling network, Hizballah has no shortage of resources to continue consolidating operating bases to target Israel.

Hizballah's involvement in the international drug trade is well documented.

It cultivates a major base of operations in the Tri-Border Area (TBA), straddling Brazil and Argentina and Paraguay. With a large Muslim population featuring significant numbers of Hizballah sympathizers, the terrorist organization uses this area for recruitment, arms smuggling and drug trafficking, and logistics planning for terrorist operations.

The TBA remains "an important regional nexus of arms, narcotics, pirated goods, human smuggling, counterfeiting, and money laundering – all potential funding sources for terrorist organizations," the U.S. State Department has said.

A significant portion of the profit earned from Hizballah's illegal activities is laundered via car sales to Africa, in addition to used car dealerships in the United States.

With Iran's help, Hizballah has evolved from a clandestine terrorist group to a full-fledged guerilla organization and is now one of the most powerful hybrid terrorist-militaries in the Arab world. Iran continues to equip Hizballah with the latest sophisticated and advanced weaponry that poses a direct threat to Israel's national security.

Beyond military and terrorist capabilities, Hizballah enhances its propaganda infrastructure worldwide, publishing its own newspapers, magazines, and books promoting the Islamic Republic's ideology. Iran helps cover the $15 million per year required to sustain Hizballah's Al Manar satellite television network intended to broaden its ideological reach to Shi'a communities worldwide.

Hizballah's devotion to Iran's revolutionary ideology takes precedence over Lebanon's constitution, Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said in a March 10 speech delivered to Iranians in Lebanon. Hizballah adheres to Ayatollah Khamenei's orders, Nasrallah added, and avoids engaging in any behavior that irritates the supreme leader. While Hizballah claims to be Lebanon's protector and vanguard, the speech reaffirms Hizballah's primary commitment to carrying out Iran's directives, even at the expense of Lebanese domestic interests.

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By IPT News  |  April 11, 2018 at 11:27 am  |  Permalink

Israeli Airstrikes Target Iran's Presence, Drone Program in Syria

In recent months, Israel-Iran tensions have evolved from covert and proxy battles to direct confrontations. Early Monday, Israel targeted the Syrian regime's T-4 military air base in Homs, killing at least seven Iranian personnel. One of the fatalities was a colonel with Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC), responsible for overseeing Iran's unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) unit. The IRGC ordered Iranian state-affiliated media outlets to retract articles describing the incident.

Iran's drone program is a growing threat to Israeli national security. The Islamic Republic is assisting its terrorist proxies – mainly Hizballah and Hamas – in acquiring and developing sophisticated drones to challenge Israel. Militant drones have been used to test Israel's air defenses and conduct surveillance over sensitive sites. In 2014, Hizballah reportedly was the first terrorist group to utilize an attack drone to kill rival militants in Syria and continues to incorporate aerial capabilities in its offensive operations.

Now, bypassing its proxies, Iran directly challenges Israel through its UAV program. In early February, Israel shot down an Iranian drone that infiltrated Israel's airspace. Israeli jets subsequently bombed several military targets in Syria, including some under Iranian control. In the process, Syrian air defenses downed an Israeli jet – the first time an Israeli military aircraft had been taken out by enemy fire since the 1980s.

That escalation marks the first direct confrontation between Israeli and Iranian forces. Iran may have been provoking an Israeli response, demonstrating a growing willingness to use Syria as a base to challenge Israel directly.

Israel has set red lines throughout the Syrian civil war, focused on preventing "game-changing" weapons from landing in Hizballah's hands and a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria. In late February, reports emerged proving that Iran constructed another military base in Syria with the ability to host missiles that can strike any part of the Jewish state.

Iran already oversees a military compound near the Damascus airport and other high-profile airbases and permanent military sites across the country.

In 2015, Israeli airstrikes in the Syrian Golan killed 11 members of the Hizballah-Iranian axis including senior Hizballah leaders and an Iranian general who were attempting to set up a base of terrorist operations to target Israel.

Israel's airstrike on Monday comes amid another high-casualty, Syrian regime chemical weapons attack targeting civilian neighbourhoods in Douma – a Damascus suburb. The timing of Israel's airstrike suggests that Israel is holding the Assad regime accountable for such a gruesome attack. However, Israel primarily is signaling to the Iranian regime that its neighboring drone program and permanent foothold in Syria is unacceptable.

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By IPT News  |  April 10, 2018 at 1:06 pm  |  Permalink

Hamas Mobilizes 30,000 Terrorists For Two-day Military Drill

Despite a growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Hamas carried out a two-day, large-scale military drill in Gaza earlier this week featuring 30,000 terrorist operatives, according to a Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report.

Operatives from across Hamas' military wing – including air, land, and sea units – participated in the military exercises, demonstrating the terrorist organization's efforts to improve interoperability among its various components.

Fighters practiced attacking armored vehicles depicting IDF tanks, while test firing missiles into the Mediterranean Sea. Hamas also deployed drones with "Ababil" markings – one of Iran's signature unmanned aerial vehicles.

Iran is actively enhancing its terrorist proxies' capabilities, including drone arsenals for groups like Hizballah and Hamas to improve their offensive operations.

Terrorists also practiced emerging from underground tunnels and kidnapping Israeli soldiers.

The drill took place days before Land Day, in anticipation of more Palestinian demonstrations across Israel. The military maneuvers are intended to send signals to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority: that Hamas remains in control of Gaza and has the capacity to inflict considerable casualties against the Jewish state.

This latest development is further proof that Hamas is investing enormous amounts of resources into its military wing, prioritizing its terrorist capabilities over its own population's needs.

Earlier this month, Hamas was caught stealing electricity from a Gaza power line intended for civilian use amid reports of financial and humanitarian crises.

Western media outlets have been recently focusing on a "humanitarian" and "financial" crisis in Gaza Strip – often blaming Israel or internal Palestinian rifts. But a major, and overlooked, factor behind the Palestinian territory's woes is Hamas itself. The terrorist organization and rulers of the Gaza Strip often re-route humanitarian goods and energy intended for civilians to fuel its militant ambitions.

The terrorist group, along with other Palestinian militant organizations, continue to invest heavily in offensive tunnels used for smuggling and to plot attacks inside Israel.

Hamas also systematically exploits charities worldwide to finance its terrorist infrastructure at the expense of needy civilians.

Diverting international assistance and charitable donations help fuel Hamas' military build-up, including the latest two-day military drill.

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By IPT News  |  March 28, 2018 at 1:24 pm  |  Permalink

Defiant Iran Rejects Changes to Nuclear Deal and its Missile Program

Iran has flat out rejected any efforts to renegotiate the nuclear agreement, amid reports of European efforts to constrain Iran's regional expansion and ballistic missile program. Speaking in Tehran earlier this month, Ayatollah Khamenei proclaimed that Europe and the United States have no right to discuss Iran's regional posture, according Dr. Raz Zimmt's latest report for the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

The region, Khamenei said in the same speech, belongs to Iran, not Europe.

The European Union reportedly is mulling new sanctions over non-nuclear related activities in an effort to keep the United States from terminating the nuclear agreement.

In response, Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said that Iran "will not accept any changes, any interpretation or new measure aimed at limiting" the 2015 nuclear deal.

"The ballistic program of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has a defensive nature, will steadfastly continue," said Shamkhani. The senior Iranian official is also close to the supreme leader Khamenei.

Iran's foreign minister rejected his French counterpart's call to reign in Iran's missile program after a meeting in Tehran earlier this month intended to preserve the nuclear agreement.

Click here for to access the full Meir Amit Center report, which also covers other notable Iran-related developments this month.

For example, during a March 4 conference, a senior military adviser to the ayatollah called on the Syrian military to force U.S. troops out from the Euphrates Valley. That same day, a photo of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) commander Qasem Soleimani and Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah in a recent meeting surfaced on social media. Nasrallah has been meeting with high profile terrorist leaders in recent months in a sign of growing cooperation with sworn enemies of Israel.

Hizballah's devotion to Iran's revolutionary ideology takes precedence over Lebanon's constitution, Nasrallah said in a March 10 speech delivered to Iranians in Lebanon. Nasrallah reiterated that Hizballah adheres to Khamenei's orders and avoids engaging in any behavior that irritates the supreme leader. While Hizballah claims to be Lebanon's protector and vanguard, the speech reaffirms Hizballah's primary commitment to carrying out Iran's directives, even at the expense of Lebanese domestic interests.

These recent developments show that Iran and its proxies remain defiant in the face of international pressure to cease its destabilizing regional activities, while refusing to consider any alternative to the current nuclear agreement.

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By IPT News  |  March 19, 2018 at 9:58 am  |  Permalink

Deadly Attack Follows Palestinian Factions' Call for Violence

A Palestinian terrorist drove his car into a group of Israeli soldiers on Friday, killing two and wounding two others in the northern West Bank after Palestinian representatives called for yet another "Day of Rage."

Israeli troops apprehended the terrorist, who fled the scene of the attack. Allah Kabha, 26, had minor injuries and was evacuated to a medical center in Hadera.

Friday's deadly attack "makes it clear that the intifada is continuing for the Palestinian people," said Hamas spokesperson Hazam Kasam.

Palestinian representatives called for mass demonstrations Friday to mark 100 days since President Donald Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets to riot. Palestinian stone throwers injured two other IDF soldiers.

Several other Palestinian factions also praised Friday's attack as "heroic" and called for further "resistance [i.e. violence] in all its forms to bring down the Zio-American plot, whose intent is to liquidate the Palestinian Cause," according to an Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) translation of a Quds Press Service article.

In a statement glorifying the attack, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed it "sent a political message. It trampled Trump's decision on Jerusalem after the passage of 100 days. It proved that our people are vigilant, united and ready to thwart this decision or any plan which targets our cause and our existence."

In a series of posts on its official Facebook page, Fatah referred to the terrorist attack as an "operation", IPT translates. This label is Fatah's way of characterizing the car ramming attack as a legitimate military operation.

Fatah promoted "the killing of two Israeli soldiers and the serious wounding of two following the running over operation near the settlement of Dotan southwest of Jenin."

Before the attack, the Palestinian National and Islamic Forces – a coalition of Palestinian factions – called on Palestinians to clash violently with Israeli forces and civilians after Friday prayers. The coalition includes representatives of factions in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

The attacks and violent protests are part of another "Day of Rage," weekly protests that followed Trump's Dec. 6 Jerusalem announcement. The decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would be "opening of the gates of hell in the region, which will spread the terror in it even more than the current situation," the official PA daily newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida wrote.

Palestinians will "never back down," a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said, and promised that "rage" would continue in response to the new U.S. policy. Fatah also announced that Trump had issued "a declaration of war against the Palestinian people."

These violent clashes come as the Palestinian Authority ignores the Trump administration's peace negotiations efforts. On Tuesday, the White House hosted a conference featuring representatives from Egypt, Israel, Jordan Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to focus on alleviating a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Palestinian officials boycotted the event – prioritizing ideological stubbornness over the immediate needs of the Palestinian people.

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By IPT News  |  March 16, 2018 at 3:48 pm  |  Permalink

Colombian Police Arrest Cuban ISIS Suspect Who Threatened U.S. Diplomats

Colombian police arrested a Cuban man earlier this week, saying he plotted to attack U.S diplomats in Bogota in the name of ISIS. Raúl Gutiérrez allegedly plotted to carry out his attack this past Tuesday at a restaurant frequented by the diplomats, reports out of Colombia suggest.

Authorities arrested Gutiérrez working in conjunction with Spanish authorities and the FBI.

He was held without bail after a court appearance Thursday.

Evidence gathered from Gutiérrez' electronic devices indicate that he planned an attack before he was arrested, Gen. Jorge Nieto, head of Colombia's police, told the Associated Press.

Gutiérrez came to the authorities' attention last month when they intercepted communications in which he said he planned to make a bomb and detonate it at the restaurant. He also allegedly expressed his willingness to blow himself up in the name of ISIS and Allah in a comment posted on the Telegram encrypted messaging service.

Spanish police say that his online profile showed signs of Islamic extremist indoctrination. He described himself as a "jihadist" on several social media accounts.

Gutiérrez used Telegram to converse with a Spanish extremist and with a contact in Morocco, the Colombian news website Las 2 Orillas reported.

"Allah will receive you in paradise with his arms open. Do it in the name of ISIS. Look at the brother of the United States in New York who ran over the infidels. He did it without the help of the organization. The brothers in England who slashed and ran over did not do it with the help of ISIS, but they did it in their name. I only ask you to do it in the name of ISIS," one of Gutiérrez' contacts reportedly told him on Telegram.

Gutiérrez pleaded not guilty, yelling at journalists near the court that he was not a terrorist.

But Gutiérrez denied being Muslim, and said he only disliked the "new world order," a Bogata radio station reported on its Facebook page. ISIS instructs its lone jihadists to deny they are Muslim.

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By John Rossomando  |  March 16, 2018 at 3:26 pm  |  Permalink

Turkey Refusing to Release Detained Greek Soldiers

Turkish forces lead captured Greek soldiers into custody.

A Turkish court on Monday refused to release two Greek soldiers who strayed across the border into Turkey last week. Turkey accuses the soldiers of being spies. Greece claims the border crossing was accidental due to heavy snow and fog. This is just the latest example of Turkey threatening its neighbors under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's rule.

A Turkish government spokesman said Monday the soldiers were being held because they wandered into the military zone. He denied they were being held as a bargaining chip to exchange for eight Turkish soldiers who fled to Greece following the 2016 coup attempt as some press reports speculated. Erdogan repeatedly demanded the soldiers be returned to Turkey.

The Greek soldiers told Turkish prosecutors they were "following footprints in the snow in an attempt to stop migrant smuggling." Turkish authorities remanded the soldiers into custody because they aren't resident in Turkey and could flee the country. They also noted they planned to examine the soldiers' digital data.

This latest action risks inflaming tensions between Greece and Turkey. The two NATO allies have become locked into a war of words in recent weeks, starting last month when a Turkish vessel rammed a Greek ship off a disputed island in the Aegean Sea. Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias warned that the Turks had "touched on the red line and in some sense it overstepped it." Greece would meet any Turkish "aggression" with an equal response.

"Test our resolve. We are kindly asking Greece to set foot on the Imia islets. If that happens, we will defend them to the death, from the moment that Erdogan gives the order," said Erdogan adviser Yigit Bulut.

Erdogan recently claimed that Turkey is a continuation of the Ottoman Empire and vowed to recapture influence in areas once ruled by its caliphate. Much of northern Greece, where most ethnic Turks live today, remained part of the empire until 1913. Erdogan's Neo-Ottomanist allies proudly speak of jihad and used such terms to describe Turkey's recent invasion of the Afrin region of Syria.

Turkish armed forces also conducted war games in the vicinity of the Evros River, where the Greek soldiers were arrested. That exercise included crossing a river, which the Greek media insinuated meant learning how to invade a neighboring country.

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By John Rossomando  |  March 6, 2018 at 8:55 am  |  Permalink

Hamas Continues to Steal Energy From Gaza's Residents

Hamas was caught stealing electricity from a Gaza power line intended for civilian use amid reports of financial and humanitarian crises, according to a video released by Israel's military liaison to the Palestinians.

Maj-Gen. Yoav Mordechai posted the video on Sunday showing Hamas members attaching cables to electrical wires and illegally diverting electricity for their own terrorist purposes.

Israeli military surveillance cameras captured the footage a day earlier near Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

"The Hamas terror group continues stealing from the people of Gaza," Mordechai wrote in Arabic on his Facebook page adding: "this power was intended for hospitals and schools, but Hamas is uninterested in the populace and even exploits it. Watch the daylight robbery."

Mordechai also accused Hamas of stealing and re-selling fuel delivered to Gaza for economic gain.

Western media outlets have been recently focusing on a "humanitarian" and "financial" crisis in Gaza Strip – often blaming Israel or internal Palestinian rifts. But a major, and overlooked, factor behind the Palestinian territory's woes is Hamas itself. The terrorist organization and rulers of the Gaza Strip often re-route humanitarian goods and energy intended for civilians to fuel its militant ambitions.

Immediately after the 2014 summer war with Israel, Hamas began diverting cement and construction material meant for civilian rebuilding efforts.

The terrorist group, along with other Palestinian militant organizations, continue to invest heavily in offensive tunnels used for smuggling and to plot attacks inside Israel.

It seems that there is nothing Hamas won't do to enrich itself. It systematically exploits charities worldwide to finance its terrorist infrastructure at the expense of needy civilians.

In 2016, Shin Bet revealed that Hamas diverted "tens of millions of dollars" from World Vision, a U.S.-based Christian charity. Hamas reportedly siphoned 60 percent of the charity's resources in Gaza to reconstruct Hamas' tunnel network and military installations, in addition to buying weapons intended to kill Israelis. This amount translated to roughly $7.2 million per year.

Hamas operatives even falsely listed their children as injured to collect money intended to help children in Gaza who were actually wounded.

In this backdrop, it should be no surprise that Hamas steals basic necessities from its own people.

Siphoning electricity from Gaza's residents is just one of so many episodes reaffirming the terrorist group's priority fighting Israel over the well-being of its own citizens and societal development.

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By IPT News  |  March 5, 2018 at 2:07 pm  |  Permalink

Proposed Anti-Tank Missile Sale to Turkey, Qatar Raises Concern

Advanced anti-tank missiles that Raytheon and Lockheed Martin plan to sell to Turkey and Qatar could end up in the hands of jihadists, a member of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT).

Defense Department officials announced last week that the two companies won a $95 million contract to sell sophisticated Javelin anti-tank missiles to Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, France, Taiwan, Jordan and Lithuania.

"This is very dangerous. Give these people weapons today. Never know if they end up using it in the West and Europe. These guys want back [the] Ottoman Empire," said Bassam Ishak, a member of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC)'s political bureau. That is the political wing of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces that form the backbone of the Trump administration's strategy against ISIS in Syria.

Recently, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to attack SDF forces – and possibly U.S. troops who are stationed in Manbij, Syria in support of the SDF. Turkey also has recently threatened to invade NATO ally Greece.

Erdogan's government has a track record of arming jihadists in Syria. Turkey and Qatar provided arms to Libyan rebels, much of which ended up in the hands of the "more antidemocratic, more hard-line" groups.

Turkey served as the main source of arms in Libya, a March 2016 United Nations Security Council panel of experts found. Exiled Turkish journalist Abdullah Bozkurt reported that U.N. experts tracked the weapons to companies linked to the Turkish government.

Turkish intelligence, known by its Turkish acronym MIT, also armed hardline jihadists in Syria.

"At this point, any arms provided to Turkey under Erdogan['s] leadership is potentially dangerous," Bozkurt said. "It is the most anti-Western political leader that is on par with Iran's Mullahs."

U.S. officials seem oblivious to Turkey's role arming and supporting jihadists who attacking Sunni Syrian Arabs and Kurds who share America's secular, democratic values in the Afrin region, Ishak said.

He contrasts SDF supporters with the forces Turkey supports, saying the SDF wants a peaceful pluralistic Syria that is open to all regardless of religion or ethnicity, while Turkey wants a Syria ruled under shariah.

"They are acting like a bully in the neighborhood. They have regained the Ottoman bully spirit. If the world allows them to do this, you have a powerful Muslim Sunni state that is supporting religious extremists," Ishak said.

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By John Rossomando  |  March 1, 2018 at 9:37 am  |  Permalink

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