Despite Clampdown on Foreign Fighters, Extremists' Ranks Swelling - Felicia Schwartz (Wall Street Journal)
The number of militants taking up arms for Islamic State and other extremist groups more than doubled in the past year, a report by the security consulting firm The Soufan Group released Monday found.
"The appeal of the Islamic State appears to be as strong as before, despite - or in some cases because of - the multiplying examples of its horrific violence and increasing totalitarianism," the report said.
"A search for belonging, purpose, adventure and friendship appear to remain the main reasons for people to join the Islamic State."
Most recruits to Islamic State come from the Middle East, including Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey.
But the number of foreign fighters from Western Europe has more than doubled since June 2014, while foreign fighters from Russia and Central Asia have increased up to 300%.
See also Foreign Fighters: An Updated Assessment of the Flow of Foreign Fighters into Syria and Iraq (Soufan Group)
See also U.S. Intelligence: ISIS Is Not Contained - Kimberly Dozier (Daily Beast)
A new U.S. intelligence report on ISIS, commissioned by the White House, predicts that the Islamic State will spread worldwide and grow in numbers unless it suffers a significant loss of territory on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, U.S. officials said.
A Global Strategy for Combating Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State - Mary Habeck et al. (American Enterprise Institute)
If we fail to stop the extremists from taking territory and undermining states, al-Qaeda or ISIS will obtain weapons of mass destruction, and then it will be too late to act.
See also Islamic State vs. Al-Qaeda: Strategic Dimensions of a Patricidal Conflict - Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Jason Fritz, Bridget Moreng and Nathaniel Barr (New America)
The Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda are currently
involved in an intense competition. Al-Qaeda pursues a
cautious military strategy, and adopts a gradualist,
population-centric approach which stands in stark
contrast to IS' hyper-aggressive strategy.
Germany Announces Support for EU Labeling of Settlement Products - Benjamin Weinthal (Jerusalem Post)
A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday she supports labeling of Israeli settlement products from the disputed territories of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.
Israel had sought Germany's help in convincing EU member states to reject implementation of labeling.
In Battle with IS, Marines Bolster Jordanian Military - Matthew L. Schehl
During a six-month deployment to Jordan, U.S. Marines worked side-by-side with Jordanian troops to train the kingdom's elite 77th Marine Reconnaissance Battalion and help stand up a brand-new, quick-reaction force to meet threats along the kingdom's borders.
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- Iran Tests Another Ballistic Missile in Breach of UN Resolutions - Jennifer Griffin and Lucas Tomlinson
Iran carried out a new medium-range ballistic missile test on Nov. 21 in breach of UN Security Council resolutions, a senior U.S. official said Monday. The missile, known as a Ghadr-110, an improved version of the Shahab 3,
has a range of 2,000 km. and is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. UN Resolution 2231, which was passed one day after the nuclear accord was signed, compels Iran to refrain from any work on ballistic missiles for 8 years. (Fox News)
- FBI: San Bernardino Killers Had Been Radicalized "for Quite Some Time" - Adam Nagourney
The couple who carried out the deadly attack in San Bernardino that killed 14 people last week had long been radicalized and had been practicing at a target range days before their murder spree, the FBI said Monday. "We have learned and believe that both subjects were radicalized and have been for quite some time," said David Bowdich, the assistant director of the FBI's Los Angeles field office. He said the couple honed their shooting skills at ranges across the Los Angeles region. People who knew Syed Rizwan Farook said that he had militant views for several years before he met Tashfeen Malik and married her in Saudi Arabia. (New York Times)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Expert: Palestinian Terror Is Directed from Above - Simona Weinglass
Young Palestinians, many of them teenagers, are setting out to stab random Israelis, frequently losing their lives in the process. What are they hoping to achieve? MK Anat Berko (Likud) spent two decades as a criminologist specializing in suicide terrorists. So great were her listening skills that prisoners would talk to her for hours, hug her, cry and even give her their babies to hold.
Berko says the attackers are committing these acts for the sake of "glory" on social media and in Palestinian society, and they compete over who can be the biggest hero. The terrorists do not think death is the end, but fully believe they will enter paradise. Berko says many young Palestinians live in communities with a tremendous amount of social pressure, prohibitions and shame. In paradise, they can experience all the things that are forbidden in real life.
Berko says there is a normalization of violence in Palestinian society, with children's television praising martyrs while al-Qaeda and Islamic State have upped the ante for brutality among would-be terrorists. "I don't accept the idea that these are lone wolves. This wave of terror is directed from above. The incitement is insane. It's on TV, satellite broadcasts, in mosques, on the street and in schools, including east Jerusalem....It's so bad that it's a surprise that not everyone is a terrorist." (Times of Israel)
- Palestinian Stabs Israeli in Hebron on Monday - Elisha Ben Kimon
A 40-year-old Israeli was critically wounded in a stabbing attack by a Palestinian near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron on Monday afternoon. The terrorist was shot and killed by border police.
- Poll: 71 Percent of Israeli Jews Say Signing Peace Agreement with Palestinians Wouldn't End Terror
71% of Israeli Jews believe that signing a peace agreement with the Palestinians would not bring a stop to Palestinian terror against Jews, while 25% believe it would, according to the latest Peace Index Survey conducted on Nov. 30-Dec. 1.
While 61% of Israeli Jews favor conducting peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, only 21% said they believed negotiations will lead to peace, while 78% said they would not.
61% of Israeli Jews said the current wave of terror arose with the planning and
involvement of the Palestinian leadership, while 59% of Israeli Arabs said it arose spontaneously from the Palestinian population. 89% of Israeli Arabs said the majority of the Arab citizens of Israel don't support the Islamic State. (Tel Aviv University and Israel Democracy Institute)
- Why Jenin Is Staying Out of Current Wave of Terrorism - Elior Levy
Jenin, once a stronghold of suicide bombers, is the quietest town in the West Bank these days. There were four attempted terror attacks at the nearby Jalamah checkpoint in late October and early November. All four were teenagers, all wielding knives, all from the Jenin-district town of Qabatiya - they even all went to the same school. But no teens have been seen on the Palestinian side of the checkpoint for the past month.
The reason is that 100 meters away from the checkpoint are plain-clothed Palestinian policemen who have already managed to stop three different women who each wanted to perpetrate a stabbing attack.
"The Palestinian security forces are indeed on the Palestinian side of the checkpoint and they prevent kids from coming to it, since we don't want these kids to die," says Jenin Governor Ibrahim Ramadan.
Moreover, Hisham Massad, a prominent Jenin businessman, explained: "A delegation of senior government members and respected community members visited the schools in Qabatiya to speak with the students and their parents....The goal was to lower the tensions and take a strong stance against the terrorist attacks."
In addition, a meeting with the Qabatiya community leaders took place, led by Governor Ramadan. Sources say it was the people of Qabatiya who asked the governor to take steps that would prevent the youths from reaching the checkpoint and perpetrating attacks. (Ynet News)
- Israeli-Russian Coordination in Syria - Nadav Pollak
Last month saw numerous reports about Israeli airstrikes in Syria targeting Hizbullah arms transfers to Lebanon. These included an Oct. 30 attack on a ballistic missile facility near al-Qutayfah run by the Syrian army, a Nov. 11 strike close to Damascus International Airport, and strikes on Nov. 23 that killed eight Hizbullah fighters and five Syrian soldiers in the Qalamoun area.
On Dec. 1, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated, "We operate in Syria from time to time to prevent it turning into another front against us. We act, of course, to prevent the transfer of deadly weaponry from Syria to Lebanon." The reported Israeli strikes suggest that the Russian presence in Syria has not significantly limited Israel's ability to target Iranian arms shipments to Hizbullah.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- The Origins of ISIS: A Radical Brand of Islam at War with Modernity - Shlomo Ben-Ami
The Islamic State (ISIS) is a symptom of a deeper malady. The fundamental problem consists of an existential struggle between utterly dysfunctional states and an obscenely savage brand of theocratic fanaticism. With most Middle East regimes having exhausted their limited stores of legitimacy, Israel, Iran, and Turkey - all non-Arab-majority countries - are probably the region's only genuinely cohesive nation-states.
For years, key states in the region like Saudi Arabia and Qatar have essentially paid protection money to jihadists. The Arab fundamentalist monarchies played a role in reviving the seventh-century vision that ISIS (and others) seek to realize. ISIS' army of psychopaths and adventurers was launched as a "startup" by Sunni magnates in the Gulf who envied Iran's success with its Lebanese Shia proxy, Hizbullah.
The Arab Middle East is not susceptible to quick fixes. It requires profound indigenous change that might take the better part of this century to produce. For now, turning the caliphate into yet another failed state in the region seems to be the best possible outcome. The writer, a former Israeli foreign minister, is vice president of the Toledo International Center for Peace in Spain.
Ignoring Iran's Past Deceptions Dooms Nuclear Deal - Emily B. Landau (The Tower)
- Iran's secret work on the development of a nuclear bomb encapsulates the deceptive behavior that lost Iran the trust of the international community, and justified the demands that eventually culminated with the "Iran deal."
- The final report of the International Atomic Energy Agency on the possible military dimensions (PMD) of Iran's nuclear program - issued Dec. 2 - was shallow and inconclusive. Iran had not cooperated fully with the IAEA on the 12 outstanding questions that Tehran had been stonewalling on for years.
- So the report is a far cry from a full and final picture of Iran's military-related activities, but PMD is now off the agenda as far as implementation of the Iran deal is concerned.
- The IAEA report - however lukewarm - does break Iran's narrative of having done no wrong in the nuclear realm. The report assesses that Iran did conduct a "range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device...prior to the end of 2003 as a coordinated effort, and some activities took place after 2003."
- Iranian officials should no longer be allowed to spread their narrative of nuclear innocence without being firmly challenged. Iran actually has done wrong in the nuclear realm by working on a military nuclear capability for decades.
The writer is Head of the Arms Control Program at the Institute for National Security Studies.
See also Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program Confirmed - Elliott Abrams
The newest IAEA report on the Iranian nuclear program says Iran was in fact working on nuclear weapons until at least 2009, and has refused to "come clean." First, we see that all the Iranian propaganda about never, ever building a weapon, and about the mysterious "fatwa" barring Iran from having a nuclear weapon, was a pack of lies. Second, we see that the nuclear deal, however weak its terms, will not in any event be enforced.
The lesson this teaches Iran is that the U.S. has too much invested in the agreement to demand full Iranian compliance with it. The writer, a senior fellow at CFR, was a deputy national security advisor in the George W. Bush administration.
(Council on Foreign Relations)
See also Tehran Hides Its Past Weaponization Work; the UN Gives Up - Editorial
The nuclear deal has already become a case of Iran pretending not to cheat while the West pretends not to notice. (Wall Street Journal)
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