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March 28, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Al-Qaeda Has Surface-to-Air Missiles - Bill Law (Independent-UK)
    Al-Qaeda has acquired sophisticated Russian-made SA-7, shoulder-fired, surface-to-air missiles, which were used to shoot down a French-made Mirage in the UAE's air force in Yemen.
    The incident raises the specter of other jihadist branches accessing sophisticated surface-to-air missiles in Syria, Iraq and further afield.
    A source said that "cooperative army officers" were making it easy for the jihadists to get weapons, many of them supplied by the Americans to the Yemeni army during the presidency of Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was forced out in 2012.
    Al-Qaeda has made significant territorial gains in south Yemen, while the Saudi coalition attempts to quell the Houthi uprising have thus far met with little success.

Israeli Intelligence Has Prevented Terrorist Attacks throughout the West - Gadi Golan (Israel Hayom)
    The former head of IDF military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, said Saturday that Israeli intelligence shared with intelligence agencies throughout the West had prevented terrorist attacks and bloodshed.

U.S. NSA Chief in Israel to Discuss Iran, Hizbullah Cyber-Warfare (Times of Israel)
    The director of the U.S. National Security Agency, Admiral Michael Rogers, who also heads the U.S. Cyber Command, reportedly paid a secret visit to Israel last week to discuss cooperation in cyber-defense, in particular to counter attacks by Iran and Hizbullah.

Israel Urges Citizens to Leave Turkey, Cites Islamic State Threat (Times of Israel)
    Israel's Counter-Terrorism Bureau at the Prime Minister's Office on Monday called on the public to avoid visiting Turkey and urged Israelis currently there to leave as soon as possible.
    "Terrorist infrastructures in Turkey continue to advance additional attacks against tourist targets - including Israeli tourists - throughout the country," the Bureau said in a statement.
    On Saturday, Turkish police warned of possible Islamic State attacks against Christians and Jews.

PA: Israel Behind Terror in Brussels, Punishing Europeans for Supporting Palestinian State - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
    PA Security Forces Spokesman Adnan Al-Damiri suggested Thursday on his Facebook page that Israel is behind the terror attacks in Brussels.
    Similarly, Fatah Revolutionary Council member Muwaffaq Matar, writing in the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on Thursday, noted that the attacks in Paris and Brussels happened precisely at a time when Europe's support for the Palestinians is great.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Syria: Islamic State Driven from Ancient Palmyra - Steph Solis and John Bacon
    Syrian government forces backed by Russian airstrikes recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra from Islamic State militants on Sunday, the Syrian army announced. (USA Today)
        See also Russian Special Forces near Palmyra Assist in Its Recapture - Joshua Nevett
    A spokesperson for the Russian military said: "An officer of Russian special operations forces was killed near Palmyra while carrying out a special task to direct Russian airstrikes at Islamic State group targets....The officer died as a hero, he drew fire onto himself after being located and surrounded by terrorists." Last week IS-linked media said that five Russian special forces were killed near Palmyra. (Mirror-UK)
  • Dozens of Terror Plots Thwarted across Europe - Josh Meyer
    In the UK, at least seven terror plots were stopped. In Germany, at least one was thwarted. Belgian authorities foiled numerous plots, and French authorities tell NBC that they have foiled dozens more, including one Thursday. But these efforts by European officials since the rise of ISIS two years ago have far from curbed the terror group's threat on the continent. (NBC News)
  • Canada Urges UN to Rethink Appointment of Anti-Israel Professor to Key Mideast Post
    Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion is calling on the UN Human Rights Council to review the appointment of Canadian law professor Michael Lynk as its special rapporteur on human rights in Palestine. The minister's office said Dion is concerned about past statements Lynk has made and that "this candidate was not put forward by Canada and does not represent the views of this government."
        Canada's Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs issued a statement Thursday condemning Lynk's appointment, and Conservative MP Tony Clement noted that Lynk has called for the prosecution of Israel for war crimes. (Canadian Press-Huffington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Islamic State Cell Uncovered in East Jerusalem - Yair Altman
    Four east Jerusalem residents were indicted on Friday for attempting to join the Islamic State group in Syria. The cell planned to carry out terrorist attacks near foreign embassies and consulates in Jerusalem. (Israel Hayom)
  • Top IDF Officer Dies in Light Plane Crash
    The head of the IDF Civil Administration, Brig.-Gen. Munir Amar, 47, was killed Friday when his light plane crashed in northern Israel. A resident of Julis, a Druze village, Amar had served as commander of the Herev infantry battalion, comprised of Druze soldiers. He later served as head of the Home Front Command for the Haifa area, and then commander of the Hermon Brigade, based along Israel's northern border. (Times of Israel)
  • More Golan Druze Are Accepting Israeli Citizenship - Moshe Arens
    In the four Druze villages in the Golan Heights, 30% of the residents of Majdal Shams have taken out Israeli citizenship, and the rest of the Druze villages seem to be following suit after many years of the community's anticipation that the Golan Heights would be turned over to Syria by Israel. Watching from afar the bloodbath taking place in Syria, many consider themselves to be fortunate to be part of Israel. The writer served as Israel's Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Dealing with Terrorism in Europe - Yoram Schweitzer and Oded Eran
    Both the March 22, 2016, terrorist attack in Brussels and the November 2015 attack in Paris involved a single terrorist network. These attacks were carried out at the order of the Islamic State in Syria through its unit for international terrorism, which prepared and trained the terrorists. Western volunteers who streamed into Syria in recent years were trained purposely to carry out terrorist attacks in the West.
        These and other attacks in the past year in Western Europe should push European leaders into adopting a concrete policy of taking preemptive measures before more attacks occur. The struggle will require closer supervision of religious institutions, heightened monitoring of charity organizations, and strengthened security systems at public facilities such as airports and other public transportation venues.
        The recent arrangements between Turkey and the EU in an attempt to lock Europe's gates against the flow of refugees from Syria and other areas of the Middle East and North Africa indicate a material change in Europe's attitude. Yoram Schweitzer is head of the research program on Terror and Low-Intensity Conflict at the INSS, following a distinguished career in the Israeli intelligence community. Dr. Oded Eran served as Israel's ambassador to the EU and Jordan. (Institute for National Security Studies)
  • Video: Will ISIS Seek to Deter Russia after Losses in Syria? - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser
    The victory of the Syrian army backed by Russian aircraft in Palmyra on Saturday is a significant victory and more proof that ISIS is losing ground both in Syria and in Iraq. It is a trend that is reshaping the Middle East. The problem with that is they are losing ground to the Iranian Empire, which is comprised of Iran, Hizbullah, and Assad, with the support of the Russians.
        It's a zero-sum game. The ultra-radical Sunni party led by the Islamic State is losing ground to the ultra-radical Iranian party led by people like Qassem Suleimani [commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force] who threaten the stability and well-being of the world just the same.
        If someone believes that we will see fewer attempts by the Islamic State to carry out terror attacks in Western Europe or elsewhere just because it is losing in certain regions of Syria and Iraq, this is not the case. At the same time, Islamic State may make greater efforts to deter the Russians who, despite their saying they are withdrawing their forces from Syria, are continuing to operate there. ISIS may consider working against the Russians as a higher priority because of what has happened in Palmyra and elsewhere. Gen. Kuperwasser is former head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Palmyra Victory Shows Assad, Putin Finally Confronting Islamic State - Avi Issacharoff
    The victory at Palmyra is important mostly at the symbolic level. Conquered by ISIS ten months ago, Palmyra has served as a western forward position for the terror group. Its recapture was not particularly arduous or prolonged, as ISIS fighters withdrew east, toward Deir a-Zur and Raqqa, its power centers. (Times of Israel)

How to Defeat Islamic State - Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (Sunday Times-UK-The Australian)

  • The attacks in Belgium were shocking. Unfortunately the attacks are going to keep coming. If you have no compunction about killing wholly innocent civilians and are prepared to die in the act of doing so, societies like ours offer vast possibilities of vulnerability.
  • This threat is global. We require a fundamental change of strategy if we are to defeat it. Otherwise, we will have periodic but increasingly frequent acts of terrorism that will result in many more victims and start to destabilize our political and social cohesion. Eventually the terrorists will commit an act of such size and horror that we will change our posture; but by then the battle will be much harder to win without measures that contradict our basic value system.
  • The threat is not simply the acts of violence, but the ideology of extremism that gives rise to them. Confront only the violence and fail to confront the ideology and we fail. There has been a very deliberate decision to describe the challenge as "countering violent extremism." The risk is we leave the roots untouched.
  • Islam as practiced and understood by a majority of the world's Muslims is an honorable and peaceful faith. But over the past half-century there has developed a narrative within Islam which has changed the character of its interaction with those of different faiths, and is fundamentally incompatible with the modern world.
  • The reality is that the adherents of this view of Islam are numbered in many millions, have, in some countries, elements of official support, and are systematically teaching it to millions of young people across the world. This ideology is not interested in coexistence. It does not seek dialogue but dominance. It cannot therefore be contained. It has to be defeated.
  • Many Muslims are speaking out and as they do, others gain confidence and follow; because the majority of Muslims hate the way their faith has been hijacked. And never forget the majority of terrorist victims are Muslim.
  • We have to realize who are our allies and stand with them. The Arab nations of the region have to know we are with them in the fight against extremism. Saudi Arabia is our ally. Egypt is our ally. Israel also is our ally. The Palestinian issue remains of huge importance and it should be our priority to find a way to a viable Palestinian state next to a secure State of Israel. But Israel's security is our security.
  • Longer term, we must build military capability able to confront and defeat the terrorists wherever they try to hold territory. Ground forces are necessary to win this fight and ours are the most capable.

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