Foreign Fighters and Arms Pour into Syria - Kim Sengupta (Independent-UK)
Sadoun al-Husseini, 36, got his combat experience in Iraq, fighting first against American forces and then as a member of the "Anbar Awakening," when Sunni nationalists turned their guns against foreign fighters affiliated with al-Qaeda.
He says his presence inside Syria, where an overwhelmingly Sunni uprising is taking place against Assad's Alawite-dominated establishment,
is an expression of solidarity with oppressed brethren sharing a common heritage.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's successor as head of al-Qaeda, declared this month that it was the duty of all Muslims to take part in jihad in Syria.
The organization's Iraqi arm was, according to some American officials, responsible for recent bombings in Damascus and Aleppo.
See also As Al-Qaeda Moves Fight to Syria, Violence in Iraq Drops Sharply - Sahar Issa (McClatchy-Christian Science Monitor)
Photo: The Iranians' Bangkok Bombs - Richard Esposito and Brian Ross (ABC News)
An Iranian hit squad used $27 portable radios to hide at least five bombs that Israeli and American authorities say they intended to use against Israeli targets in Bangkok, Thailand.
Photos of one undetonated bomb, obtained by ABC News, show the inside of the radio packed with tiny ball bearings and six magnets. Bomb experts say the magnets indicate the bomb was designed to be stuck to the side of a vehicle.
A surveillance photo of Iranian national Saeid Moradi shows him holding a radio in each hand.
The bomb in the photos is strikingly similar to those used in other attacks last week on Israeli targets in the Republic of Georgia and India. "While there are small differences," said one U.S. expert, "they appear to be factory made."
Azerbaijan Arrests Iranian, Hizbullah Operatives - Barak Ravid (Ha'aretz)
Azerbaijan's national security agency announced on Tuesday that it has arrested several operatives belonging to the Iranian intelligence service and Hizbullah.
The operatives were planning terrorist attacks against foreigners in the capital Baku.
They had begun gathering intelligence and bought explosives, guns and ammunition.
Last month, three men were detained after planning to attack two Israelis employed by a Jewish school in Baku.
Pentagon: Iranian Ship Didn't Dock at Syrian Port (AP-Fox News)
The Pentagon is disputing reports that Iranian ships docked at a Syrian port over the weekend.
Defense Department press secretary George Little said Tuesday the U.S. military saw no indication that the ships docked or delivered any cargo.
Little said Tehran's ships now appear to be going back through the Suez Canal.
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- IAEA: Iran Nuclear Talks a Failure
The UN nuclear agency has declared its latest inspection visit to Iran a failure, with the regime blocking access to Parchin, a military site thought to be used for explosives testing related to triggering a nuclear weapon, and no agreement reached on how to resolve other unanswered questions. The IAEA wants to interview Iranian scientists who took part in research it believes may have been aimed at developing a nuclear weapon. (Guardian-UK)
- Over 100 Dead in Syria Clashes - Lauren Williams
Activists said up to 106 people were killed across Syria Tuesday as security forces continued an onslaught on Homs. The Local Coordination Committees told the Daily Star that 101 civilians, including 10 children, and five defected soldiers had been killed. They said 35 people had been confirmed killed in Homs alone.
Human Rights Watch said it had confirmed the use of Russian-made 240-mm mortars in Homs. "It is by far the most powerful mortar in modern use - most other countries stop at 160-mm mortars," HRW emergency director Peter Bouckaert told AFP. "We have little doubt that those extremely powerful mortars are being fired by the regime forces into civilian neighborhoods of Homs. We are talking about a 250-pound mortar round that can only be fired from a heavy specialized armored vehicle and it requires a nine-person crew to operate," he added.
- McCain: Egypt Working to Resolve NGO Crisis - Sarah El Deeb
Sen. John McCain said on Monday in Cairo that Egypt's military rulers have reassured him that authorities are working "diligently" to resolve a criminal case against U.S. pro-democracy groups. The trial of 16 Americans and 27 others is expected to begin on Feb. 26. Sen. McCain chairs the board of the International Republican Institute (IRI), one of the four American groups targeted.
"The way we approach this issue of NGOs is with some guarded optimism that we will resolve this issue fairly soon," he said. "We don't think it helps progress on this very difficult situation for American citizens to make threats. We are not making threats. There is plenty of time to make threats." (AP-Washington Times)
- U.S. Jewish Leaders Meet with Jordanian King
Jordan's King Abdullah met in Amman on Tuesday with a delegation of nearly 100 Jewish leaders, participants in the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations' annual meeting in Jerusalem.
Presidents Conference Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein said Abdullah expressed "appreciation" to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for taking steps to help in "creating a climate in which negotiations [with the Palestinians] can move forward."
The delegation told the king that it appreciated "the role he is playing in trying to bring the Palestinians to direct negotiations" with Israel.
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- Senators Decry "Daylight" between Israel, U.S. over Iran - Herb Keinon
After meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said Tuesday there was "daylight" and "tension" between Jerusalem and Washington over the Iranian issue.
"There should be no daylight between America and Israel in our assessment of the [Iranian] threat," McCain said in Jerusalem. "Unfortunately there clearly is some."
McCain took strong issue with chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey who told CNN that Iran was a "rational" actor, saying that by pursuing nuclear weapons despite mounting international isolation, growing sanctions, and the "very real threat of conflict, it is hard to see this as rational behavior."
His colleague Lindsey Graham (R-SC) added that anyone who denies the Holocaust, as Iranian President Ahmadinejad has done, and plotted to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington should not be considered rational.
Graham also said, "I just want to tell our Israeli friends that my advice to you is never lose control of your destiny. Never allow a situation to develop that would destroy the Jewish state."
Graham referred to the current impasse with Iran as a "never again" moment.
- Islamic Jihad Prisoner Ends Hunger Strike - Jack Khoury
Islamic Jihad operative Khader Adnan announced Tuesday the end of his 66-day hunger strike, less than an hour before his case was discussed at the Israel Supreme Court. The Justice Ministry said the state will not request to extend Adnan's administrative detention, which is due to end on April 17.
Israeli military officials generally use administrative detention to hold Palestinians who they believe are an imminent risk to the country's security. They say if the evidence against the accused was made public, it would expose Israeli intelligence-gathering networks. The process is under full judicial review by Israel's military and the Supreme Court.
- IDF Foils Terror Attack on Egypt Border - Yoav Zitun
IDF forces patrolling the Israel-Egypt border overnight Tuesday detected and defused a powerful explosive device placed on the border fence. The IDF said that while the route is a known arms and drug trafficking path, it was the first time it was ever used for terror activity. The military has increased its surveillance near the border due to intelligence indicating an imminent threat.
See also Bomb at Egyptian Border Was Cellphone-Activated Explosive Belt - Yoav Zitun (Ynet News)
- The Test of Talking to Iran - Editorial
A Feb. 14 letter from Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili says that "talks for cooperation...on Iran's nuclear issue could be commenced," in contrast to its previous position when Iran refused even to discuss its nuclear program. The immediate question is whether Iran is using diplomacy - as it has several times before - as a way of buying time, even as it presses ahead with steps toward a bomb.
A test of Iran's seriousness was underway this week as a delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency visited the country. Yet on Tuesday, the IAEA reported another Iranian failure to cooperate. In fact, it appears likely that Tehran perceives talks as an opportunity to undermine sanctions.
A bipartisan group of a dozen senators dispatched a letter to President Obama last Friday opposing "any proposal that caps or limits sanctions" in exchange for "anything less than full, verifiable and sustained suspension of all enrichment activities." If Iran is serious about a deal, it will meet the senators' terms.
- Why Talks with Iran Are Worse than Futile - Amir Taheri
Last week, Catherine Ashton - the EU's foreign policy representative - announced she'd received a letter from Tehran accepting another round of talks.
The process suits Iran fine. It gives "hostile powers" something to chew on while Iran does what it wants. It also enables U.S. and European leaders to tell their respective publics that they are "doing something" about the threat that Iran poses. And it helps Russia and China to claim that, because diplomacy is working, there is no need for tougher action.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared last week, "Our nuclear program is not a subject for negotiations." So what is Ashton to talk about when she meets Tehran's chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili?
In a letter to Ashton, Jalili suggests an agenda to discuss eradicating world poverty, ending "domination by the American Great Satan" and, generally, improving the future of mankind.
To Tehran, talks with the 5+1 are nothing but a maneuver to buy time. (New York Post)
- How Come No One Wants to Help Gaza? - Khaled Abu Toameh
In the past, the Arab League promised $4 billion in aid to the residents of Gaza. However, Palestinians say that so far they have seen almost nothing from the Arab and Islamic countries. When there is no electricity in Gaza, both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority often rush to blame Israel.
But the Palestinian Center for Human Rights announced this week that Palestinians - not Israel - were to blame for the latest electricity crisis.
Until recently, fuel used to be smuggled from Egypt through underground tunnels. Before that, the fuel was bought from Israel, and the PA in the West Bank used to cover the costs. But because of the dispute between Hamas and Fatah, the PA stopped its contribution.
So if anyone is to blame for the fact that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been left without electricity, it's both Hamas and Fatah.
The main reason the Arabs and Muslims are not eager to transfer billions of dollars to Gaza is that they know the money will go to purchasing missiles and ammunition instead of building new schools and hospitals. (Stonegate Institute)
Put Palestinian Tactics, Not Israeli Military Justice, On Trial - Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary)
- On Sunday, the New York Times devoted considerable space to the story of Islam Dar Ayyoub, a 15-year-old Palestinian. Though the purpose of the story was to indict Israel, anyone reading between the lines could see the real villain of this tale is not Israel's military but the Palestinian "activists" who have exploited their children.
- They are recruited into gangs explicitly tasked with starting violent confrontations with Israelis by throwing stones and using other lethal weapons, hoping the soldiers will defend themselves and kill one of the kids.
- Ayyoub is depicted as a victim because he gave up his confederates to the Israelis.
Getting arrested and questioned by the Israeli military was probably no picnic for Ayyoub. Yet, as the Times reported, he was not tortured. His interrogation was videotaped and reveals nothing the Palestinians could claim was an atrocity.
- Like many another culprit, he got scared and talked. The result was not an injustice but the arrest of an adult Palestinian named Bassem Tamimi who exploited Ayyoub and other village kids in an effort to keep the war against Israel alive. Tamimi and other Palestinian terror facilitators are not promoting non-violence but instead are deliberately placing teenagers into harm's way so as to provide more martyrs for their cause.
- Until the Palestinian leadership is prepared to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state and make peace, Israel will be forced to keep order in the region and to do its best to fend off terrorism and the orchestrated riots that were at the core of the Ayyoub case. The real scandal is the willingness of Palestinians to sacrifice children like Islam Ayyoub on the altar of hate for Israel.
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