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  DAILY ALERT Thursday,
February 25, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Report: France, Britain, U.S. Fighting Covert War Against ISIS in Libya (Reuters)
    French special forces and the covert action service of the DGSE intelligence agency are engaged in covert operations against Islamic State militants in Libya in conjunction with the U.S. and Britain, Le Monde reported Wednesday.
    What Le Monde called "France's secret war in Libya" involved targeted strikes against leaders of the radical Islamist group to try to slow its growth in Libya.

Florida Senate Passes Anti-BDS Measure - Eric Cortellessa (Times of Israel)
    Florida's Senate voted 112-2 to approve a measure Wednesday that targets corporate entities from partaking in the BDS campaign against Israel.
    See also Iowa House Votes to Keep State Funds from Companies Boycotting Israel - Brianne Pfannenstiel (Des Moines Register)
    The Iowa House of Representatives voted 70-24 on Tuesday to block the state from investing in companies that are publicly boycotting Israel.

South African Muslim Lawyers Demand Arrest of Israel's Peres (Anadolu-Turkey)
    The South African Muslim Lawyers Association has asked to have former Israeli President Shimon Peres, 92, arrested when he arrives in the country this weekend.
    Attorney Yousha Tayob cited Israel's shelling of the Lebanese village of Qana in 1996 when Peres was Israel's prime minister.
    In June 2015, Egyptian President al-Sisi canceled a trip to South Africa after the same group requested his arrest.

Report: Iran Planning Attack on Saudi Airliner in Southeast Asia - Yasser Okbi (Maariv Hashavua-Jerusalem Post)
    A terrorist plot to hijack or bomb a Saudi Arabian passenger plane in Southeast Asia has reached an "advanced stage," the Manila Times reported Sunday.
    The Saudi embassy in Manila warned that Iranian Revolutionary Guards were planning to mount the attack.
    The implementing and planning team is said to consist of 10 persons, six of them Yemeni nationals. Some had already left Iran for Southeast Asian countries to execute the plan.
    See also Spy Cell with Ties to Iran Goes on Trial in Saudi Arabia - Maayan Groisman (Jerusalem Post)
    A 32-person cell accused of espionage and ties to Iranian intelligence went on trial Sunday in Saudi Arabia, the London-based al-Hayat reported on Monday.
    Cell members are accused of transmitting secret information related to Saudi Arabia's military capabilities to Iranian intelligence and of planning terror attacks against vital economic facilities in Saudi Arabia through high-level security coordination with Iran.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Israel Says Iran Building Terror Network in Europe, U.S. - Menelaos Hadjicostis
    "The Iranian regime through the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is building a complex terror infrastructure including sleeping cells that are stockpiling arms, intelligence and operatives and are ready to act on order including in Europe and America," Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Wednesday in Cyprus. Iran is training, funding and arming "emissaries" to spread a revolution, Ya'alon said. He added that Cypriot authorities had "defeated attempts by Hizbullah and Iran to establish a terror infrastructure" on the island. (AP)
  • Iran to Pay Families of Palestinians Killed in Anti-Israeli Violence
    Iran will pay thousands of dollars to families of Palestinians killed in a wave of anti-Israeli violence, or whose homes have been demolished by Israel, Tehran's ambassador to Lebanon said on Wednesday. "The decision firstly includes giving an amount worth $7,000 to every family of a martyr of the intifada in Jerusalem," Amb. Mohammad Fathali said. Iran would also offer $30,000 to every family whose home was demolished due to the participation of one of its sons.
        The Israel Foreign Ministry said the announcement "demonstrates again Iran's role in encouraging terror."  (Reuters)
  • Islamic State's Secret Banking Network Prospers - Margaret Coker
    A network of financiers in Iraq has for decades provided money transfers and trade finance for the many local merchants who shun conventional banks. When Islamic State seized control of areas in Iraq in 2014, it allowed the financiers to keep their business if they also handled IS money. Abu Omar, whose money-exchange offices in Mosul, Sulimaniyah, Erbil and Hit charge as much as 10% to transfer cash in and out of militant territory - twice normal rates - says, "Islamic State is good for business."
        These financiers ensure that millions of dollars in cash churn in and out of Islamic State's territory every day, muting international efforts to isolate the terror group from the global banking system. The cash travels on at least three routes. One begins in Istanbul and reaches Mosul. Another connects Amman, Jordan, with Baghdad. A third links Gaziantep in southern Turkey with Syrian regions around Raqqa, the administrative capital of Islamic State. (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • IDF Officer Killed by Gunfire Targeting Terrorist during Stabbing Attack - Roi Yanovsky
    Captain Eliav Gelman, 30, an IDF reservist, was killed Wednesday by gunfire targeting a terrorist who attempted to stab Gelman at the Gush Etzion junction south of Jerusalem. The terrorist, Mamduh Amru, 27, was wounded. (Ynet News)
  • Palestinian Arrested for Rahat Stabbing - Ilana Curiel
    A 17-year-old Palestinian residing in Israel illegally was arrested by security forces for a stabbing attack that wounded an Israeli woman in a market in Rahat two weeks earlier, it was announced on Wednesday. (Ynet News)
  • Teachers' Strike in Palestinian Authority a Sign of Greater Discontent - Amira Hass
    A teachers' strike has brought more people into the streets than any protest against Israel over the past five months. Last Tuesday, an estimated 20,000 people attended a teachers' demonstration in Ramallah. This Tuesday the PA security services set up rings of checkpoints to prevent the teachers from attending another demonstration.
        The demonstrators see the unfair distribution of the national income. They see the excessive allocations to the security services, the waste and corruption, the preference given to cronies and the exorbitant salaries of senior officials. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Iran Pledges Cash for Killing Jews - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Which sectors will benefit from the cash windfall that will result from the end of international sanctions on Iran? Iran's ambassador to Lebanon has announced that Iran will now offer new cash bonuses to Palestinian terrorists. The Palestinian Authority already pays pensions to the families of Palestinians that have been jailed by Israel for terrorism, treating them as heroes.
        Of course, Iran is interested in more than just helping Palestinians who kill Jews. They wish to expand their influence among Palestinians as part of their push for regional hegemony. Iran's willingness to inject its financial power into the already toxic Palestinian political culture ought to particularly worry a U.S. administration that has sought to create a new detente with Tehran. (Commentary)
  • Hamas Looks to Mend Ties with Iran - Grant Rumley and Amir Toumaj
    A senior Hamas delegation traveled to Tehran last week to attend celebrations marking the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Relations soured in 2012 when the Hamas leadership - then based in Damascus - publicly sided with the largely Sunni rebels against the Iranian-backed Syrian regime.
        The head of Hamas' international relations, Osama Hamdan, told Iranian media that the visit's main objective was reaching an understanding on the Syrian conflict, and that Hamas now supports a political resolution - a dramatic about-face from the group's previous anti-regime rhetoric. Grant Rumley is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, where Amir Toumaj is a research analyst. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Earthquakes of the Middle East - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
    Extreme fundamentalism together with the brutal and outrageous reality of the civil wars raging in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Lebanon have produced hundreds of thousands of victims, phantom cities, millions displaced and hundreds of thousands of refugees in foreign lands.
        Even with the successes following the Russian military intervention, the Assad regime controls barely 30-40% of the previous Syrian Republic and his regime is totally dependent on the decision-makers in Moscow and Teheran.
        The Kurds in Iraq are now considering a referendum on whether to declare an independent state. Although the Kurds say it is only meant to take the pulse of the people and not to be implemented immediately, Baghdad sees the specter of secession becoming a reality in its northern provinces.
        The Islamic State, under attack by the Russians and the Western military coalition led by the U.S., is feeling the crunch. Thousands of its fighters have been killed or incapacitated by the air raids. IS has enough energy to continue to fight in Syria and Iraq, but sooner or later the traditional forces will destroy it.
        Five years from now, we will likely be confronted with a new map of the Middle East with new entities born or re-born. The writer was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

The Absence of U.S. Leadership Makes the World More Dangerous than Ever - Joseph I. Lieberman (Washington Post)

  • There is more instability in the world today than at any time since the end of World War II. The threats come from emboldened expansionist powers such as Iran, Russia and China, and also terrorist aggressors such as the Islamic State and al-Qaeda. In short, the enemies of freedom are on the march.
  • At the same time, the U.S. has chosen this moment to become more passive in the world. The military and political disengagement of the U.S. has created a vacuum in the heart of the Middle East that has been exploited by the region's most dangerous anti-American forces: totalitarian Sunni fanatics and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  • The result is the creation of a terrorist sanctuary of unprecedented scale and Iranian domination over multiple Arab capitals.
  • In too many places in recent years, the U.S. has treated its adversaries as essential partners to be courted, while dismissing or denigrating its historic allies and partners as inconveniences or obstacles to peace.
  • The U.S. should reassert its historic leadership role - not by acting alone, but in concert with our worldwide network of allies and friends, which is yearning for this.
  • When the leader of a European ally was asked what the U.S. could do to be most helpful to him and his country, his answer was direct: "Elect a president who understands the importance of American leadership in the world."

    The writer served in the U.S. Senate from 1989 to 2013.

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