FBI Foils ISIS-Inspired Attack on U.S. Capitol - Kimberly Atkins (Boston Herald)
Christopher Lee Cornell, 20, who went by the name Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, was arrested Wednesday for what the FBI called a foiled terror plot to bomb the U.S. Capitol and open fire on members of Congress.
The suspect had posted several pro-ISIS statements and videos on social media sites, and purchased two semiautomatic rifles and 600 rounds of ammunition in Ohio.
Cornell said he was following the directives of violent jihadists abroad.
Six Canadians Killed in Syria Fighting with IS - Stewart Bell and Adrian Humphreys (National Post-Canada)
Six Canadian extremists were reported killed in Kobani, Syria, over the past two month.
Three Edmonton men, members of the same ethnic Somali family, died in November and two Calgary brothers were also killed.
On Wednesday, John Maguire of Ottawa, a Muslim convert who appeared in a menacing ISIS propaganda video, was also reported killed.
Hizbullah's Firepower Exceeds that of Most European Armies Combined - Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaacov Amidror (BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
Hizbullah represents Iran's long reach against Israel.
Its arsenal numbers some 150,000 missiles and rockets, several thousand of which have a range that covers the entire State of Israel.
This substantial firepower exceedes the firepower possessed by most of the European states combined.
Hizbullah also has long-range, surface-to-sea missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, and modern anti-tank missiles.
Murder of Jews at Prayer Promoted in Hamas Video - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
Hamas' Islamic Bloc at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem has produced a video promoting
the murder of Jews at prayer.
The video opens with two Jews in prayer shawls talking and praying near a model of the
Al-Aqsa Mosque. A masked man stabs one of the Jews to death. Other masked
fighters appear with rifles and shoot the second Jew.
The song in the video encourages Palestinians to "open fire, have no mercy, shoot the Zionists!"
Muslim Charity Stripped of UK Funding over Extremism - Tim Ross (Telegraph-UK)
The Muslim Charities Forum (MCF), a leading Muslim charity, has been stripped of UK funding after the Telegraph uncovered links to a group alleged to fund Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, said he was determined to cut off funding to any group that is linked to "individuals who fuel hatred, division and violence."
Several member charities of the MCF were early members of the Union of Good, a fundraising body with close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which was created to raise money for the terrorist group Hamas.
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- Islamic State Losing Grip on the Syrian Border Town of Kobani
With more than a thousand militants killed, the Islamic State is losing its grip on the Syrian border town of Kobani under intense U.S.-led airstrikes and stiff resistance by Kurdish fighters.
It is a stunning reversal for the Islamic State, which just months ago stood poised to conquer the entire town.
More than 80% of all coalition airstrikes in Syria have been in or around the town.
Analysts credit the air campaign and the arrival of heavily armed Kurdish peshmerga fighters from Iraq, who neutralized the Islamic State's artillery advantage. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimates the Kurds now control 80% of Kobani, despite more than 35 Islamic State suicide attacks there in recent weeks.
"An IS defeat in Kobani would quite visibly undermine the perception of unstoppable momentum and inevitable victory that IS managed to project," said Faysal Itani, a fellow at the Atlantic Council. It would also rob the group of a "psychological edge that both facilitated recruitment and intimidated actual and potential rivals, as well as the populations IS controlled." (AP-Washington Post)
- West Struggles to Halt Flow of Citizens to War Zones - Eric Schmitt and Michael S. Schmidt
For more than a decade, Western governments have struggled to stem the flow of their citizens traveling to fight in war zones in Muslim countries, increasing surveillance of those who have expressed an interest in joining extremists, creating computer programs to track suspicious travel patterns and taking other measures. But the number of people traveling abroad to fight continues to grow, with about 1,000 militant recruits joining the fight in Syria and Iraq each month, according to recent U.S. government figures. In the U.S., about 150 people have tried or actually gone to fight in Syria.
Altogether, about 18,000 foreign combatants, including 3,000 Europeans and other Westerners, have traveled to fight in the region since the Syria conflict erupted in 2011, according to American intelligence estimates. More than 500 veterans of the Syria campaign have returned to Europe.
(New York Times)
- Argentine Prosecutor Accuses President and Foreign Minister of "Covering Up" Iran's Involvement in 1994 AMIA Bombing
The prosecutor in charge of the AMIA bombing investigation, Alberto Nisman, has filed a 300-page complaint accusing President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman of "covering up" Iranian involvement in the deadly 1994 attack. He said the Kirchner administration planned to "erase" Iran from the case, deciding to "not incriminate" Iranian officials in the bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 and injured hundreds more.
Argentina signed a deal with Iran in January 2013 to jointly probe the bombing.
(Buenos Aires Herald-Argentina)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Israeli Delegation of Gaza Border Residents Testifies before UNHRC Commission - Shirly Seidler and Gili Cohen
A delegation of Gaza border community residents Wednesday testified in Geneva before the UN Human Rights Council commission set up to investigate possible war crimes during the 2014 Gaza war.
Israel has officially refused to cooperate with the commission, headed by Canadian Professor William Schabas.
Irit Kohn, president of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, said: "We hesitated whether to appear before the commission, following the insufferable things it published - three pages saying Israel had committed criminal offenses - so why appoint a commission? But we reached the conclusion that the people suffered such great distress that the commission must hear them before publishing its report."
"We decided to bring a delegation here to talk mainly about the traumatic and economic aspects of the operation....I'm not sure it will have an effect, but the commission will not be able to say it didn't know." (Ha'aretz)
See also Mother of 4-Year-Old Killed by Mortar During Gaza War Testifies in UN Inquiry - Matan Tzuri and Itamar Eichner (Ynet News)
- U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem to Arm Palestinian Guards in Breach of Agreement - Itamar Eichner
The American Consulate in Jerusalem is planning to hire 35 armed Palestinian guards, who are currently undergoing weapons training in Jericho. Their operating base will be at the consulate in western Jerusalem, as well as six other facilities around the city belonging to the consulate, five of which are in western Jerusalem.
The plan is a breach of a 2011 agreement between the consulate and the Israeli government, which determined that only former IDF combat soldiers hired by the consulate would be allowed to carry weapons. Sources said some of the Palestinian guards had been arrested in the past for throwing stones at Israelis, or have relatives who were convicted of terrorist activity. (Ynet News)
- Senior Hamas Official Said to Be Behind Gaza Bombings - Avi Issacharoff
Fathi Hamad, a former Hamas interior minister, has been running secret armed cells to carry out attacks against Fatah and Western targets in Gaza over the past few months, in part to thwart any moves toward unity between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
Sources said the cells were responsible for a series of bombings at the homes of 13 senior Fatah officials in Gaza two months ago, the bombing at the French Cultural Center in Gaza City, and, most likely, the bombing last week near the home of unity government spokesman Ihab Bsiso.
(Times of Israel)
- Winning the Battle, Losing the War - David Wood
Every few days, the headquarters of the U.S.-led war against the Islamic State militias issues a communique on how the war is going, listing the number of coalition air attacks and targets. The attacks are framed as progress, but we know from 13 years of painful experience in Iraq and Afghanistan that accounts of combat strikes don't necessarily reflect a war that's being won. "Winning" doesn't mean a continuous stream of air strikes, but building outposts of stability. It requires helping nations to build their economy, government and civil society to enable them to stand independently against the tide of radical, ruthless Islam.
In short, the hard-won American battlefield victories and costly air strikes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria and perhaps elsewhere may count for little if those gains are not consolidated off the battlefield.
The writer, a journalist since 1970, is the senior military correspondent for the Huffington Post. His series on severely wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize.
- Paris Attacks Underscore Deep Threat Still Posed by Al-Qaeda - Bruce Riedel
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took credit for last week's attacks in France. The AQAP's religious authority, Harith Al Nazari, hailed the attack on the French cartoonists as a religious duty and promised more attacks against French, British and American targets. Nazari has denounced the self-proclaimed Islamic State caliph Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and his caliphate as illegitimate. The Paris attacks serve to burnish al-Qaeda's claims to be the legitimate leadership of the global jihad and the true heirs of Osama bin Laden.
Open Letter to the French President by a Palestinian Journalist in Ramallah (Gatestone Institute)
See also Hamas, Palestinian Authority Step Up Human Rights Violations - Khaled Abu Toameh (Gatestone Institute)
- Dear Mr. President, many Palestinians nearly fell off their chairs upon seeing their president march at the front row of a rally in your capital to protest against terrorism and assaults on freedom of the media.
- Undoubtedly, you are unaware that President Abbas is personally responsible for punishing Palestinian journalists who dare to criticize him or express their views in public. Every day we see that the Western media, including French newspapers and magazines, does not care about such violations unless they are committed by Israel.
- Palestinians like me will now pay a heaver price because Abbas has been emboldened and will now step up his assaults. France will be helping to establish another corrupt and repressive Arab dictatorship - one that glorifies and rewards terrorists no different from those who carried out the Paris attacks.
- I hope now your Excellency understands why I am too scared to reveal my identity.
- Both the PA and Hamas know that they can continue to violate the human rights of their people because the international community simply does not care about Palestinians who are being targeted by their own governments. The international community cares about human rights violations only when Israel could be held responsible.
- Last week, Hamas authorities arrested several Fatah leaders in Gaza and stripped them to their underwear, forcing them to stand in the cold for several hours. According to Palestinian writer Hisham Sakallah, Hamas interrogators also severely beat the Fatah officials with plastic hoses.
- During the past two weeks, the PA has summoned for interrogation more than 20 Palestinians over their postings on Facebook.
Most are university students suspected of posting comments in favor of Hamas or criticizing the PA. In recent weeks, PA security forces in the West Bank have arrested more than 25 university students on charges of criticizing Palestinian leaders in Ramallah or voicing support for Hamas.
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