Al-Qaeda Plot to Blow Up 5 Jets during Christmas - Donal MacIntyre
Terrorists are plotting to blow up five European passenger jets in a Christmas "spectacular," security experts say.
An airport security source told the Sunday Express: "We've been told that five planes are being targeted in a high profile hit before Christmas....The threat is still alive and real."
The plot, which has been known about for the past two months, is thought to involve Islamists smuggling bombs on to planes bound for major European destinations.
The latest threat is understood to have been uncovered by American intelligence officers.
Egypt: Islamic State Planned to Hijack Israeli Ship - Yasser Okbi (Maariv Hashavua-Jerusalem Post)
On Nov. 12, Islamic State fighters hijacked an Egyptian navy missile boat from Damietta Port in northern Egypt. Egypt then sent reinforcements to the scene, and the hijacked ship was neutralized after an exchange of fire.
Arab media reported on Monday that the insurgents had also planned to hijack an Israeli ship and use it as leverage for the release of Palestinian prisoners.
Germany Says 300 Islamic State Supporters Facing Trial (Reuters)
Nearly 300 people are facing prosecution in Germany for supporting the Islamic State, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas has said.
"Whoever supports IS can already be prosecuted under existing laws," he told Welt am Sonntag.
On Friday, a state prosecutor demanded a prison term of more than four years for a German man accused of fighting with Islamic State insurgents in Syria. Dozens more trials are due to begin in coming months.
Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan Accused of Planning Attacks on Israelis - Elhanan Miller (Times of Israel)
Jordanian security forces arrested 20 men for planning to smuggle arms into the West Bank to be used in terror attacks against Israelis, Al-Jazeera reported this week.
The men, all members of the Muslim Brotherhood or Jordan's engineers guild, were arrested after two members returned from a solidarity visit to Gaza where they received military training.
Adding Turkey to the "State Sponsors of Terrorism" List - Daniel Pipes (National Review)
According to Israeli intelligence, Hamas has moved its outside-Gaza headquarters from Damascus to Istanbul; it is headed by Saleh al-Arouri, whom Israel Hayom calls "an infamous arch-terrorist believed to be responsible for dozens of attacks against Israelis."
Arouri recently plotted at least two very ambitious but foiled operations, including "an attack on Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, and an attack on the light rail train in the capital."
The claim of Hamas planning destruction from its Istanbul base needs to be investigated by the U.S. government and, if found accurate, the Republic of Turkey then placed on the "State Sponsors of Terrorism" list.
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- U.S. Troops Warned of Islamic State Attacks on American Soil
ABC News reported Sunday it had obtained a joint intelligence bulletin sent to law enforcement agencies by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security warning that Islamic State forces may be targeting American military troops inside the U.S. The bulletin warns those who serve in uniform to erase from their online social media accounts anything that would draw attention from "violent extremists" or reveal service members' identities.
- Iran Bombing Islamic State in Iraq, U.S. Confirms - Akbar Shahid Ahmed
Iranian planes are bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq, a U.S. defense official confirmed Monday.
He noted that the Iranian bombing has been taking place near the Iranian border, in a different part of Iraq than most U.S. and coalition activity.
- U.S. Weighs Creating a Safe Zone in Syria - Karen DeYoung
The Obama administration is weighing the opening of a new front in the air war against the Islamic State in Syria by creating a relatively safe zone along part of Syria's border with Turkey for U.S.-backed Syrian rebel forces to move in.
Under the plan, U.S. aircraft flying from Turkey's Incirlik air base would target positions along the border north of Aleppo, eastward toward the besieged town of Kobane, with the targeting assisted by Turkish special forces. The plan was developed during extensive meetings between U.S. and Turkish diplomatic and military officials.
The proposal would at least partly address Turkey's long-standing desire for a protected buffer zone inside Syria. In exchange, the U.S. would gain access to Incirlik for the use of manned warplanes and armed drones throughout Syria. Aircraft currently striking Islamic State positions in northern and eastern Syria fly from bases in the Persian Gulf, a distance of about 1,000 miles.
President Obama has not yet approved the proposal. Many officials, particularly in the White House and within the military, remain distrustful of Turkey's desire to draw the U.S. into a direct confrontation with Assad. Turkey agreed in recent weeks to allow the establishment in its territory of a training base for Free Syrian Army fighters. Turkey is also training about 1,300 Iraqi Kurdish fighters to fight against the Islamic State. (Washington Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Abbas: Egypt Right to Create Buffer Zone on Gaza Border - Jack Khoury
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he cannot ask Egypt to stop demolishing houses and create a buffer zone in Rafah, on the Egyptian side of the border with Gaza, because he is fully aware of Egyptian security needs. Abbas told the Egyptian newspaper Al-Akhbar that 1,800 millionaires were created in Gaza who benefited from the smuggling tunnels. Since those tunnels were used for smuggling weapons, drugs, cash and equipment for forging documents, Abbas believed the destruction of the tunnels was the best solution.
Abbas said Hamas is an inseparable part of the Muslim Brotherhood and takes orders from the Brotherhood's international leadership. He also noted that Hamas never stops lying, citing the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank last summer. The Hamas political leadership denied any connection, while senior Hamas leader Saleh al-Arouri accepted responsibility for the kidnapping in a speech he made in Turkey.
- Rain and Vigilance Reduce Jerusalem Violence - Mitch Ginsburg
The Israeli security forces dispatched to quell the recent disturbances in Jerusalem are convinced that there is no intifada or organized uprising, and that the unrest of recent weeks is very nearly extinguished. The Border Police say the security measures put in place - aided by the wet weather - have worked to restore calm to the city.
Border Police Chief Superintendant Aviad Ketafi said the deployment of nearly 1,000 additional Border Police troops, combined with undercover units, 320 cameras in the Old City alone, and four surveillance balloons have contributed to a 30% drop in the number of protests in recent weeks and a reduction in their intensity. If in the past each demonstration lasted for hours and included dozens of fireworks launched at officers, today many of the disturbances are characterized by a few stones and are over within minutes.
Community leaders cautiously agreed. Bassem Eid, a human rights activist and resident of Beit Haninah, an Arab neighborhood in northeast Jerusalem, said that nowhere on the horizon is there "anything resembling an intifada."
The small-scale riots are not organized, are devoid of ideology, and are sapped of power by the Palestinian understanding that violence "doesn't attain a thing," he said.
(Times of Israel)
- UNESCO Seeks to Save Jewish Sites from Islamic State
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization will hold a special session in Paris this week to discuss ways to save Jewish heritage sites in Iraq from being destroyed by the Islamic State group. UNESCO recently announced an emergency plan to safeguard Iraq's cultural heritage sites following media reports that the jihadist terrorist group has been systematically destroying ancient sites.
Jewish heritage sites in Iraq include the tomb of the prophet Ezekiel outside Baghdad, Daniel's Tomb in Mosul, and Nahum's Tomb near Kush. UNESCO has asked Professor Shmuel Moreh of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to brief it in Paris. (Israel Hayom)
- Iran's Not-So-Hidden Agenda - Michael Rubin
While the U.S. and Europe may lament the failure to reach a final agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, for Iranian officials, all is going according to plan. After all, while the West may engage in diplomacy to resolve conflict, for Tehran, the process has always been about winning concessions and relieving economic pressure, not coming to an agreement.
Hassan Rouhani's efforts to remake the Islamic Republic's image are window-dressing, meant to distract attention from Tehran's true aims. Thirty-five years since Iranian radicals seized the U.S. Embassy, the Iranian message has not changed: Death to America. Death to Britain. Death to Israel. The writer, a former Pentagon official, is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
(Dallas Morning News)
- Islamic State Targeting Saudi Arabia - Zvi Bar'el
Yusuf al-Dini, writing in the international Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, analyzes a recent speech by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, outlining the group's new strategy.
Baghdadi is attempting to build bases all over the Middle East, with his main objectives being Arab regimes - first of all, Saudi Arabia.
While efforts to capture more territory in Iraq and Syria appear to have been blocked for now, the new strategy envisions terror attacks in other Arab countries, with the aim of recruiting more and more supporters who will establish movements that will conquer territories within those countries. According to this analysis, attacks against Western nations are not at the top of ISIS' list. (Ha'aretz)
- Palestinians Must Lead the Fight to Reform UNRWA - Bassem Eid
The UNRWA refugee camps were created 65 years ago for the sole purpose of keeping Palestinian Arabs in "temporary" conditions under the false pretense and specious promise of the "right of return" to pre-1948 villages that do not exist.
The UN rakes in more than $1.2 billion a year as an "incentive" to continue the Palestinians' status as refugees.
The reform of UNRWA should include the introduction of UN High Commissioner for Refugees standards to encourage permanent refugee settlement. UNRWA schools must cancel their war curriculum, which is based on the principles of jihad, martyrdom and right of return by force of arms. UNRWA employees affiliated with Hamas, defined by the donor nations to UNRWA as a terrorist entity, should be dismissed.
It is the responsibility of the Palestinian people to rebel against the arbitrary administration of UNRWA, which seeks to perpetuate Palestinian refugee status instead of helping our people to strive for a better future. The writer is the founder and director of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group.
Zionism Is Not in Decline - Amos Yadlin and Uri Sadot (Ha'aretz)
- Israel is more secure and prosperous now than ever in its history. It wields the strongest military power in the Middle East; the economy is on a steady rise and rich with gas reserves; our demography is healthy; our people are some of the happiest in the world and our society, as exemplified this summer, is close-knit and resilient in times of trial.
- In 2013, 19,200 new immigrants decided to relocate their homes to Israel, demonstrating that Zionism is not at all on the decline.
- Adding to its security, Israel now enjoys a wide network of alliances. Security cooperation with the U.S., military aid levels, support in Congress, as well as trade volumes and tourism have never been better.
China and India are now increasingly cooperative both in trade and diplomatically. Similarly, trade volumes with Europe have risen steadily.
- Also worth noting are Israel's improving ties with Canada, Central European states, many countries in Africa, the republics of central Asia, and the once-menacing Russian Federation.
- Israel's two longest borders, with Jordan and Egypt, have long been pacified by treaties that have endured turbulent periods.
- The grave threat of conventional armies against Israel has disintegrated together with the Syrian and the Iraqi states.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, former Chief of Defense Intelligence, is director of the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), where Uri Sadot is a research fellow.
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