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  DAILY ALERT Wednesday,
June 15, 2016

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Senior Hamas Officer Defects to Israel - Jack Khoury (Ha'aretz)
    Websites affiliated with Fatah have reported over the past two days that a senior Hamas military officer, Bassam Mahmoud Baraka, has fled from Gaza to Israel with a laptop full of information about Gaza tunnels.
    Baraka reportedly went to the border fence and gave himself up to soldiers who were waiting for him.

Wolf Dens, Not Lone Wolves, the Norm in U.S. Islamic State Plots - Joseph Ax (Reuters)
    A Reuters review of the 90 Islamic State court cases brought by the Department of Justice since 2014 found that 3/4 of those charged were not isolated individuals but rather part of a group of 2-10 co-conspirators who met in person to discuss their plans.
    Even the isolated individuals were almost always in contact with other sympathizers, whether via text message, email or networking websites. Fewer than 10 cases involved someone acting entirely alone.

Report: Reinforcements from Hizbullah and Iran Deploying in Syria (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
    Reports from the Iranian-Russian-Syrian meeting held in Tehran last week highlighted the decision on reinforcing Syrian battlefronts with more Hizbullah militants.
    Lebanon-based Lebanon 24 said Hizbullah has deployed over a thousand militants over the past few days.
    Ali al-Amin, a Shi'ite cleric and opponent of Hizbullah, said the number of Hizbullah members fighting in Syria has exceeded 10,000 and that 95% of Hizbullah recruits have fought in Syria.

Video: Hamas Lauds Tel Aviv Terror Attack (Jerusalem Post)
    Just one day after the Tel Aviv attack, Hamas released a celebratory video on Facebook and YouTube praising the attack and proclaiming the gunmen as "martyrs."
    In a reenactment of the Sarona attack, an Arab man is shown at his home in Hebron dressing up as a religious Jewish man, then loading his assault rifle.
    View the Video (MEMRI-TV)

Japanese Philanthropist Funds Israeli Planetarium - Tom Anstey (Leisure Management-UK)
    Rikoho Madarame, a multi-millionaire Japanese philanthropist, has funded the $3 million development of a new meditation zone and planetarium in Netanya, Israel.
    The building was inaugurated during a recent visit by NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden.
    Madarame said the planetarium would offer visitors the ability to learn more about the universe, a desire shared by all humans.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Orlando Shooter Told Local TV Station: "I Did It for the Islamic State" - Michael E. Miller
    Early Sunday morning, producer Matthew Gentili was staffing the phones at News 13 in Orlando when at 2:45 a.m., a man phoned and asked, "Do you know about the shooting?...I am the shooter." The caller then began speaking quickly in Arabic and Gentili asked him to please speak in English. "I did it for ISIS," the caller said. "I did it for the Islamic State."  (Washington Post)
        See also FBI Director Says Orlando Massacre Gunman Had "Strong Indications of Radicalization"
    FBI Director James B. Comey said Monday that the Orlando shooter made three 911 phone calls from the club during the attack. In the calls, he claimed allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State (ISIL) [Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi], as well as the perpetrators of the 2013 Boston Marathon attack and a Florida man who died as a suicide bomber in Syria for a terrorist group in conflict with ISIL. "There are strong indications of radicalization by this killer and of potential inspiration by foreign terrorism organizations," Comey said.
        Comey said the FBI opened an investigation of the shooter in May 2013 when, as a contract security guard, he made some inflammatory comments to co-workers and claimed a family connection to al-Qaeda. The shooter admitted making the statements but said he had done so in anger at his co-workers, who he believed were discriminating against him. The case was closed after 10 months. "I don't see anything in reviewing our own work that our agents should have done differently," Comey said. (FBI)
  • Islamic State Shows It Can Still Inspire Violence as It Emphasizes Attacks Abroad - Greg Miller
    In its early expansion phase, the Islamic State called on Muslims across the world to join its ranks in Syria, to take part in the historic restoration of the caliphate. Now, Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani said in a recording issued May 21, don't bother coming to Syria because "the smallest action you do in their heartland is better and more enduring to us than what you would do if you were with us." Those inside the caliphate's borders "wish we were in your place to punish the crusaders day and night."
        The devastation in Orlando represents a danger that many U.S. counterterrorism officials warn will be harder to contain than the Islamic State's aspirations for an extremist haven in the Middle East. CIA Director John Brennan told al-Arabiya just days before the shooting in Orlando, "Countries around the world are having to be concerned about the potential for individuals or groups of individuals to act on their own, without the direct contact with organized terrorists or groups." The shooting in Orlando is the deadliest example to date of the terrorism model Brennan described.
        Counterterrorism experts believe that the Islamic State may only be in the early stages of demonstrating its ability to incite a kind of violence that doesn't require penetrating the post-9/11 defenses of the U.S. (Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Netanyahu to NATO: Israel Prepared to Share Intelligence and Experience to Defeat ISIS
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ambassadors from NATO members in Jerusalem on Tuesday: "Terror knows no bounds, and that is why our cooperation in the battle against terrorism must know no bounds as well. One day ISIS kills gays, the next day Yazidis and then Jews and Muslims and Christians....We, the people of the civilized world, have to band together to defeat it. We stand ready to help NATO in this collective struggle. We are prepared to share our intelligence and our experience to help in this common effort....If we work together, we can roll back this terror, and I have no doubt that we can defeat ISIS."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • "Hero in Blue Shirt" Jumped on Tel Aviv Terrorists, Treated Wounded - Yehuda Shlezinger
    Security camera footage of last Wednesday's terrorist shooting at the Sarona Market complex in Tel Aviv shows Haggai Klein - known among the survivors of the attack as "the guy in the blue shirt" - tackling the two terrorists, wielding a chair as a weapon and likely preventing more casualties. Klein is currently hospitalized with gunshot wounds sustained while he was trying to subdue the shooters. Klein served as a combat soldier in the IDF and has recently been working in security.
        According to his family, Klein "walked in from outside the restaurant, saw what was happening and tried to engage [the terrorists]. We're hearing that after he was shot, he treated [other] people thanks to his training as a combat medic."
        A Facebook user noted: "You saw him in the footage, going after the terrorists with a chair. And at that moment, they got confused, and maybe that confusion saved the lives of one or two people."  (Israel Hayom)
  • White House Opposes Proposed Increase in Military Aid for Israel - Jacob Kornbluh
    Last month, the Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $600 million in funding for Israel's missile defense program for FY2017 - $455 million over President Obama's request. On Tuesday the White House said it opposes the addition. AIPAC noted that Congress has increased this funding above the administration request every year for well over a decade and was "deeply disappointed" that the administration was objecting.
        "These cooperative programs - including the Arrow, David's Sling, and Iron Dome - are critical for Israel's defense against a growing array of missile threats and make an important contribution to U.S. missile defense programs. We applaud Congress for consistently supporting these key programs and urge their full funding," AIPAC said. (Ha'aretz-Jewish Insider)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • Orlando Aftermath: Welcome to Israel's Reality - David French
    America is slowly moving into Israel's security reality - the dilemma where external power projection leads to domestic discord and international condemnation, while a purely defensive strategy allows terrorists to recruit, re-arm, and inspire a new wave of jihadists. Israel's answer is a permanent defensive struggle punctuated by periodic bursts of offensive activity - all of which help keep life in Israel livable and peaceful for the vast majority of its citizens, but at great cost.
        Americans hate the notion that there are no good answers to jihad. Something has to work. But reality is showing us what a permanent struggle looks like. Western powers have been fighting jihad for more than 1,300 years.
        Here's the bottom line - in the absence of an effective offense, our defensive challenge will grow more difficult. But because there is no way to eradicate jihadist theology from Islam, defense will always be necessary. Welcome to the permanent war. Israel's been here for a while. (National Review)
  • Lessons of Orlando - Thomas L. Friedman
    Year after year, we keep seeing young Muslim men drawing inspiration and permission from Islam to kill large numbers of civilians in the West and, even more so, killing other Muslims in Muslim lands. I've lived too long in the Muslim world, and experienced the decency of Muslim communities, to believe that this is the essence of Islam. But I have seen too much of this suicidal violence for too long to believe that it has nothing to do with the puritanical, anti-gay, anti-female, anti-religious-pluralism versions of Islam that are too often promoted by sources in the Arab world.
        The websites, social networks and mosques that promote these intolerant ideas can "light up" lost souls anywhere in the world. Until that stops, we're just waiting around for the next Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino or Orlando. And the only thing that can stop them is from the inside: a meaningful mass movement by Muslim governments, clergymen and citizens to delegitimize this behavior. (New York Times)

After Orlando: What America Can Learn from Israel's Culture of Preparedness - Kevin Reagan (National Interest)

  • The Orlando massacre and last December's San Bernardino attack highlight the unsettling reality that there are a plethora of soft targets in the U.S. and that ISIS and their ilk will not hesitate to engage them.
  • In 2009, the Homeland Security Institute (HSI) published a report for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) contrasting the U.S. and Israeli approaches to informing and engaging their civilian populations on counterterrorism and national security. While acknowledging the differences in the nature of the terror threats faced by the two states, the report suggested a number of ways in which the U.S. could benefit from emulating the Israeli example.
  • Terrorism preparedness in Israel is "a joint responsibility whereby government provides proper education to inform its citizens about the threat and survival tactics while the citizens assume responsibility to operationalize a national culture of preparedness as an able and willing partner in emergencies."
  • In fostering a sense of civic responsibility and a culture of preparedness for terrorism from an early age, Israeli society is more accepting and proactive in preparing for attacks and thereby more resilient in recovering from them.

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