Terror Fears as Iran Frees Al-Qaeda Members (Sky News-UK)
Iran has released five senior al-Qaeda operatives from detention and will soon allow them to leave the country, prompting fears they will join other terrorists in Syria planning attacks on the West.
Three are members of al-Qaeda's ruling Shura Council.
They were released in exchange for an Iranian diplomat kidnapped in Yemen earlier this year.
Those released include Abu al Kheir al Masri, the former head of al-Qaeda's "external relations" committee, who was once seen as a possible replacement for bin Laden.
Also released was Saif al Adel, considered no. 3 in the al-Qaeda hierarchy. "In the past, he headed up the organization's military and security committees and served for years as its leading strategist," an intelligence report said.
"As far as Western intelligence organizations are concerned, the release by Iran of senior al-Qaeda commanders and operatives represents a significant threat. These are dangerous and experienced operatives with a proven track record in executing deadly terror attacks."
See also The Bin Laden Papers - Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
Report: Hamas Terrorist Leader Leaves Turkey - Natasha Bertrand and Michael B. Kelley (Business Insider)
Saleh Al-Arouri, the commander of Hamas' Qassem Brigades in the West Bank, was released from prison in Israel in 2007 and found refuge in Turkey, where he continued to oversee operations against Israel.
Last week Arouri was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for his role in organizing and inciting terrorism in the West Bank and Israel.
Turkish President Erdogan, who has long advocated that the international community recognize Hamas as a legitimate political entity, has provided at least $300 million to Hamas, effectively sponsoring a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.
Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, noted that "Erdogan's Hamas policy - this idea that Turkey could be an external headquarters for senior Hamas figures - has collapsed."
"A few weeks ago, we started to see reports that Arouri had fled Turkey, so Erodgan must have been given warning to get him off Turkish soil."
"Al-Arouri may be out of Turkey, but he's been moved to another country, and the sanctions likely won't have a significant impact on his finances," Schanzer concluded.
Egypt Security Forces Accidentally Kill Mexican Tourists - Liam Stack (New York Times)
Egyptian security forces opened fire on a caravan of tourist vehicles in the country's Western Desert on Sunday night, killing at least 12 people visiting from Mexico and injuring 10 others, among them Mexican tourists and their Egyptian tour guides.
A "joint force from the police and armed forces" had been pursuing "terrorist elements" in the area, according to Egypt's Ministry of Interior.
Report: Rocket Fired from Gaza Falls Inside Gaza (Times of Israel)
A rocket fired from Gaza at Israel on Wednesday fell in the central Gaza city of Deir el-Balah, the Gaza website "Gaza Now" reported.
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- "2 in 100" Syrian Refugees May Be IS Members, Cameron Told - John Stevens
Two in every 100 Syrian migrants smuggled into Europe are Islamic State-trained fanatics, David Cameron was warned Sunday by Lebanese education minister Elias Bousaab, who met the prime minister during his lightning visit to the region. He said the extremist group is sending trained jihadists "under cover" to attack targets in the West. Bousaab said, "It's a very dangerous situation and the world should wake up and do something about that. ISIS will not stop at the border with Lebanon. Before you know it, ISIS will be in Europe." (Daily Mail-UK)
See also IS Said to Recruit Migrants in Germany
The German intelligence community has concluded that
Islamic State-aligned agents were meeting Middle East refugees as they arrived in the country. "They are trying to approach the young, unaccompanied refugees, who
arrive in our country without their families and are particularly looking
for contacts and support," a German intelligence community
(Middle East Newsline)
- Reports on Islamic State Plans in Europe Fuel French Moves in Syria - Matthew Dalton
France's move to prepare airstrikes against Islamic State in Syria reflects new intelligence reports warning that the Islamist group increasingly aims to use European recruits to carry out attacks back home, particularly in France, officials in Paris say. Intelligence from France and its allies shows a new profile of jihadist recruits emerging from Europe: those who travel to Syria for weapons training to commit attacks back in Europe.
(Wall Street Journal)
- U.S.: Russia Positioning Tanks at Syria Airfield - Phil Stewart
Russia has positioned seven Russian T-90 tanks as well as artillery at an airfield in Syria, U.S. officials said Monday. Moscow has been sending about two military cargo flights a day to the airfield over the past week.
"We have seen movement of people and things that would indicate that they plan to use that base there, south of Latakia, as a forward air operating base," Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said.
- Gazans Protest Power Cuts - Majd Al Waheidi
For three days, hundreds of Palestinians have demonstrated in central and southern Gaza over increasing power cuts which have left them with four to six hours of power a day. The latest shortages appear to have occurred after deterioration in the lines from Egypt, said Nathan Thrall, an analyst with the International Crisis Group. (New York Times)
See also Hamas Leaders Refuse Deal with Israel for More Electricity - Gershon Baskin
The people of Gaza should know that they are sitting in the dark because the leaders of Hamas refused a deal to provide them with more electricity in exchange for releasing two Israeli civilians: Abera Mengisto and the [unnamed] Bedouin and the two bodies of [IDF soldiers] Hadar Goldin and Oran Shaul. This is not the only offer they have turned down. The leaders of Hamas don't give a **** about the people of Gaza - and I say that with a lot of knowledge to back it. The writer, founder and co-chairman of IPCRI - Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information, was involved in efforts leading to the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Rock-Throwing Palestinians Murder Israeli in Jerusalem on Rosh Hashanah
Alexander Levlovitz, 64, lost control of his car on Sunday night after it was struck by rocks thrown by Arabs in the Armon Hanetziv neighborhood, adjacent to the Arab village of Sur Bahir, while driving home from a Rosh Hashanah dinner. His two daughters, both in their 20s, were wounded in the crash.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said Tuesday night: "The murder that took place on Rosh Hashanah is further proof that rock-throwing is a terrorist attack like any other." Rock attacks have become endemic in Jerusalem neighborhoods such as A-Tur, Isawiya, Silwan and Shuafat, where Arab boys routinely target Jewish vehicles and homes.
(Times of Israel-Jerusalem Post)
- Three Days of Temple Mount Clashes in Jerusalem
In three straight days of clashes on the Temple Mount, Israel Police said dozens of Palestinian youths stayed overnight in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and prepared firebombs, rocks, fireworks and other means to attack police and Jewish visitors to the holy site. Israeli security officials blamed the Muslim authorities at the site for allowing it to be abused.
The clashes began Sunday morning, when security forces seized pipe bombs at the site hours before Jews prepared to celebrate the Jewish New Year.
From Sunday to Tuesday, Israeli security forces arrested 26 Palestinians, while 14 Israeli police officers were injured. (Times of Israel)
- Handling Rock-Throwing Terrorists - Ron Ben-Yishai
The rising tide of clashes at the Temple Mount and increased incidents of rock throwing in Jerusalem's eastern neighborhoods are no coincidence. The leading cause is the growing incitement on social networks to "defend" the Al-Aqsa mosque. The incitement is also spread by imams, like the notorious Shiekh Raed Salah.
The murder of Alexander Levlovitz on Rosh Hashanah
makes it very clear that stones and firebombs are deadly weapons.
Most rock-throwers are between the ages of 10-20. The 14-year-olds and above have the strength to take a rock or heavy boulder, sometimes a block of concrete, and slam it into the windshield of a Jewish-driven car that passes by.
See also The "Al-Aqsa Is in Danger" Libel - Nadav Shragai (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- The Next Iran Legislative Challenge - Robert Satloff
Soon, the Iran debate will move on to its next phase, when legislators table numerous proposals to plug holes in the agreement and strengthen broader deterrence against Iran. This doesn't refer to proposals for increased military assistance to Israel and Gulf states threatened by Iranian adventurism; they will pass with huge margins.
Rather, these include calling on the president to brief Congressional leaders on details of understandings U.S. officials claim to have with European partners on how to penalize Iran for various types of violations of the deal, defining new sanctions to deter Iran from sending sanctions-relief funds to terrorist groups, transferring to Israel the mountain-busting Massive Ordnance Penetrator, and establishing as official policy a U.S. commitment to use "all means necessary" to prevent Iran's accumulation, now or in the future, of the highly enriched uranium whose sole purpose is for a nuclear weapon.
These fixes would repair some of the most serious flaws in the Iran deal. They can be implemented without opening the deal to renegotiation.
The writer is executive director of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
- Netanyahu's Victory over Iran - Jeffrey Goldberg
For more than a decade, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has played by far the largest role in focusing the attention of the great powers on the threat of a nuclear Iran. His single-minded, insistent lobbying led to the application of crippling, multilateral sanctions on Iran that brought Iran to the negotiating table where Iran's leaders eventually agreed to a set of limitations and controls on the country's nuclear program which, if properly implemented, reduce the chance that Israel will find itself the target of an Iranian nuclear weapon for many years to come.
Netanyahu, of course, doesn't see this agreement as a victory for Israel. His complaint is with the notion that one can deal with Iran. (Atlantic)
Appeal for Unity after Iran Vote - Stephen M. Greenberg and Malcolm Hoenlein (Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations)
- For more than a decade, the Conference of Presidents has been addressing the dangers posed by the extremist Islamist regime in Iran. We have been sounding alarms about Iran's drive for regional hegemony, support for terrorist organizations including Hamas and Hizbullah, gross violations of human rights, its long-standing drive for nuclear weapons, efforts to undermine U.S. allies and other governments in the region, and its repeatedly declared intention to seek the destruction of Israel.
- Despite any differences, there is a shared goal among all of our member organizations, the larger community, the Administration, Congress, and our allies that Iran not be allowed to secure or have the ability to produce nuclear weapons. There can be no time limit on this. Iran must never be allowed to have nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.
- Week after week, polls showed increasing concern regarding the negotiations with the Iranian regime. They question if the agreement will provide the safeguards necessary to achieve the intended purpose. They see the expected financial windfall for Iran as likely to be used for terrorism and other destructive activities. Moreover, they are concerned that the UN Security Council Resolution appears to allow for early termination of the restrictions on conventional and ballistic weapons.
- Israel should not, is not, and cannot be a partisan issue. The American people in every poll show overwhelming support and understanding for Israel. They recognize it as a key democratic ally with shared values and objectives. We hope and trust that the assurances offered during recent weeks regarding Israel's security needs will be met. The mutual support and cooperation between the U.S. and Israel are vital to both. It is essential for those, particularly Iran, who might seek to harm the U.S. and Israel to see that the two countries remain aligned.
- It is essential that the Iranian government understand, and believe, the determination of the U.S. and our allies to use "all means" to assure full Iranian compliance and cooperation. The calls for death to America still echo at Friday prayers, sometimes led by Khameini himself. History has long taught us to take the threats of dictators seriously.
- We do not want lingering disputes to inhibit or detract from the need to continue to address the challenges posed by Iran and other vital issues that we will face in the near future.
Everyone should now be looking to come together on "the day after." We must emerge stronger and in a better position to ensure that the nefarious goals of the Iranian regime be challenged effectively and with determination. We must continue to educate and alert the American people and the world to the dangers posed by Iran and especially an emboldened Iran.
Stephen M. Greenberg is chairman and Malcolm Hoenlein is executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents.
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