Kenya: Terrorists Included "Two or Three" Americans (CBS News)
Two or three Americans and one Briton were among those who attacked a Nairobi shopping mall, Kenya's foreign minister, Amina Mohamed, said Monday.
The Americans were 18 to 19 years old, of Somali or Arab origin, and lived "in Minnesota and one other place" in the U.S. The attacker from Britain was a woman who has "done this many times before," Mohamed said.
Historically, al-Shabab in Somalia has been al-Qaeda's most effective recruiter of American jihadists. Intelligence sources say at least 15 American recruits have already died in various terror operations, including suicide bombings.
Egypt Bans Muslim Brotherhood (AP-CBS News)
An Egyptian court on Monday ordered the Muslim Brotherhood to be banned and its assets confiscated.
The verdict came in a suit raised by the Tagammu party, accusing the Brotherhood of being "terrorist" and "exploiting religion in political slogans."
Suicide Bombers Kill 81 Christians at Pakistan Church - Saima Mohsin and Emma Lacey-Bordeaux (CNN)
Choir members and children attending Sunday school were among 81 people killed in a suicide bombing at a Protestant church in Peshawar in northwest Pakistan. 120 people were wounded.
"Suicide bombers entered the church compound from the main gate and blew themselves up in the midst of the people," a statement said.
See also Open Season on Christians across the Muslim World - Matthew Fisher (National Post-Canada)
Private Donations Give Edge to Islamists in Syria - Joby Warrick (Washington Post)
The stream of U.S. weapons heading to moderate rebel groups in Syria is being offset by a fresh torrent of cash for Islamist extremists, much of it from small networks of Arab donors who see the Syrian conflict as a step toward a broader Islamist uprising across the region, U.S. and Middle Eastern officials say.
The private donors are providing crucial backing for Islamist militias that appear to be gaining ground in northern and eastern Syria.
The flow of private cash has enabled the extremists to retain their battlefield edge despite the loss of support from Qatar, which cut off aid to the most radical groups under pressure from the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
At Least 86 Israeli Prisoners of War Were Killed after Surrendering in Yom Kippur War - Amir Oren (Ha'aretz)
At least 86 Israeli soldiers taken captive during the 1973 Yom Kippur War were murdered after surrendering, almost all of them before reaching prison in Cairo or Damascus.
This was revealed in classified briefings to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in November and December 1973, whose minutes were recently declassified.
At least 42 Israeli POWs were killed while in Syrian hands, while 42-44 Israeli soldiers were killed by Egyptian soldiers after capture.
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- Iran Takes Charm Offensive to UN, Agrees to Nuclear Talks - David Brunnstrom and Arshad Mohammed
Iran's new government took its diplomatic charm offensive to the UN on Monday and agreed to new talks this week on its nuclear program with top diplomats from six world powers, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. U.S. officials have also said a meeting is possible this week between President Barack Obama and Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani. Obama and Rouhani will both address the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.
See also Iranian Newspaper Close to Khamenei Warns Against Meeting with Obama
Iran's hard-line Kayhan newspaper warned in a commentary that shaking hands with President Barack Obama would be a "big mistake" and would represent a concession to Washington without any direct benefit for Iran. It further denounced Obama as a "war criminal" for the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and its bases in the Gulf and elsewhere in the region. "This is the same evil hand that signed the economic punishments against Iranian nations," it said. Kayhan typically reflects the views of hard-liners close to Ayatollah Khamenei.
- Iran Directing Assad's War in Syria - Dexter Filkins
Maj.-Gen. Qassem Suleimani, 56, took command of Iran's Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force 15 years ago, and in that time he has sought to reshape the Middle East in Iran's favor: assassinating rivals, arming allies, and, for most of a decade, directing a network of militant groups that killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq. "Suleimani is the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today," John Maguire, a former CIA officer in Iraq, told me.
Suleimani began flying into Damascus frequently so that he could assume personal control of the Iranian intervention. "He's running the war himself," an American defense official told me. In Damascus, he is said to work out of a heavily fortified command post in a nondescript building, where he has installed a multinational array of officers: the heads of the Syrian military, a Hizbullah commander, and a coordinator of Iraqi Shiite militias, which Suleimani mobilized and brought to the fight.
Late last year, Western officials began to notice a sharp increase in Iranian supply flights into Damascus airport. Instead of a handful a week, planes were coming every day, carrying weapons and ammunition along with officers from the Quds Force. A Middle Eastern security official said that the number of Quds Force operatives, along with the Iraqi Shiite militiamen they brought with them, reached into the thousands.
- Syria Submits Further Details of Chemical Weapons to Monitoring Group - Karen DeYoung and Colum Lynch
Syria has submitted a second statement containing details of its chemical-weapons stockpiles, the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons reported Saturday, after an initial document was submitted Friday.
The announcement indicated that Syria has fulfilled its initial obligation under a U.S.-Russia disarmament agreement.
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- Israel Protests to U.S. over "Palestinian Authority Incitement" - Tovah Lazaroff and Khaled Abu Toameh
In the wake of Palestinians killing two IDF soldiers in separate incidents this weekend, Israel complained to the U.S. on Monday that the Palestinian Authority had failed to stop violence and incitement against its citizens. A senior Israeli official said the PA had not done enough to prevent the sniper fire that killed a soldier in Hebron.
A senior Israeli security official said the PA is not effectively dealing with terror, and that all recent actions to prevent terror attacks have been at the hands of the IDF. The PA's arrests are cosmetic and those arrested do not stand trial, he added.
- Abbas in New York Condemns Soldiers' Killings - Yoel Goldman
Speaking to a group of Jewish leaders in New York on Monday, PA President Mahmoud Abbas commented for the first time publicly on the killing of two Israeli soldiers in recent days. Answering a question posed by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at a dinner hosted by the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, Abbas condemned the murders of Sgts. Gal Gabriel Kobi and Tomer Hazan. He added that he expected Israel to condemn the deaths of four young Palestinians at the hands of the IDF in recent weeks, according to Israel Radio.
Earlier Monday, Fatah central committee member Abbas Zaki claimed that Prime Minister Netanyahu and "his extremist government" were the cause of the soldier's death. (Times of Israel)
- Palestinian Murderer Tried to Lure Victims with Tale of "Buried Treasure" - Danny Brenner
Nidal Amar, the Palestinian murderer of Israeli soldier Sgt. Tomer Hazan, tried for months to lure several of his restaurant co-workers to his village near Kalkilya in the West Bank by telling them there was buried treasure underneath his building and that he needed help in digging it out, Israel Hayom has learned.
- The Burden of Proof Is on Iran - Ephraim Asculai and Emily B. Landau
Iran's new president Hassan Rouhani has said nothing so far to indicate that he has any intention to reverse course in the nuclear realm. Quite the contrary: He has said Tehran will not even discuss uranium-enrichment suspension. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been hailed for calling for flexibility in dealing with the international community, but his full sentence was that Iran may exercise flexibility for a tactical reason, while not losing sight of its rival and goal.
In the next round of negotiations, Iran's potential for nuclear breakout must be on the table. Stopping activities at Fordow, discontinuing enrichment to 20% and removing stockpiles from the country are a first step. Equally important are dealing with stocks of low-enriched uranium and creating mechanisms to closely monitor and inspect all of Iran's nuclear activities, including the plutonium route.
Words are not enough - it is deeds that count. And the deeds must come quickly, or the world will know that Iran has been using the time-buying tactic all over again. Dr. Ephraim Asculai is a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, after 40 years at the Israel Atomic Energy Commission.
Dr. Emily B. Landau is director of the Arms Control and Regional Security program at INSS.
- Playing by Iran's Rules - James Jay Carafano
Hassan Rouhani has one mission: to get the Europeans to back off sanctions while preserving Iran's option to go nuclear whenever it wants. The way to do that will be to 1) appear less threatening to the West, 2) offer to help the U.S. on some thorny geo-political problems, and 3) slow-walk Tehran's weapons programs while the regime perfects its long-range missiles.
So the deal looks like this. Iran helps perpetuate the Administration's face-saving fiction in Syria and its rush to the zero-option in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Tehran says less threatening things about Israel and goes slow on its nuclear program. For our part, the White House slow rolls sanctions and ignores European countries as they quietly ease their sanctions on Iran.
Meanwhile, the entire region will remain clouded by the shadow of the danger of a Tehran-triggered nuclear war.
The writer is vice president of defense and foreign relations policy for the Heritage Foundation.
- Syria's Lessons for the Iran Nuclear Talks - Michael Singh
The Obama administration has asserted that the chemical weapons deal with Syria was made possible only due to the credible threat of force. Thus the administration is now committed to the principle that credible threats of force facilitate diplomatic breakthroughs.
The inspections regime for Syria will inevitably be seen as a test case for the value of transparency measures in addressing threats of weapons of mass destruction. Syrian misbehavior will not just sour Washington on the Syria deal, but should also make the Obama administration wary of the value of monitoring and verification as substitutes for farther-reaching limits on Iranian nuclear work.
The U.S. must maintain and reinforce the pressure that has gotten it this far, lest its tactical gains give way to strategic failure.
The writer, former senior director for Middle East affairs at the U.S. National Security Council,
is managing director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
The Big Problem in Jerusalem Isn't the Jews - Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary)
- The New York Times tells us that troublemaking Jews are breaking the rules on Jerusalem's Temple Mount where they are making coexistence, if not peace, that much more difficult. With increasing numbers of Jews wanting to visit the site and perhaps even surreptitiously utter a prayer, the conceit of the Times piece appears to be that this is just one more instance in which Israelis are giving their Arab neighbors a hard time.
- However, the Jews are not the problem in Jerusalem. The dispute isn't really about who controls the Temple Mount but about the Muslim effort to deny the Jewish history that is literally under their feet. Were it just a question of sharing sacred space, reasonable compromises that would give full Muslim autonomy over their holy sites while allowing Jewish prayer at the spiritual center of Judaism would be possible.
- Yet as long as the official position of both the Muslim Wakf religious authority, which has been allowed by Israel to govern the place since the 1967 Six-Day War, and the Palestinian Authority is that the Temples never existed and that Jews have no rights to their ancient capital, that will constitute the real obstacle to peace.
- As with other sacred sites to which Muslims lay claim, their position is not one in which they are prepared to share or guarantee equal access. The Muslim view of the Temple Mount is that they want it Jew-free, the same way they envision a Palestinian state. It is in that same spirit that the Wakf has committed what many respected Israeli archeologists consider a program of vandalism on the Mount with unknown quantities of antiquities being trashed.
- In the face of their intransigence and the fact that such intolerance is mainstream Palestinian opinion rather than the view of a few extremists, the desire of many Jews to visit a place that is the historic center of their faith (the Western Wall is, after all, merely the vestige of the Temple's outer enclosure) doesn't seem quite so crazy.
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