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October 9, 2017

In-Depth Issues:

ISIS Sympathizers Planned "the Next 9/11" with Attacks on Concerts, Subways and Times Square - Jonathan Dienst (NBC News)
    Three men living outside the U.S. planned to attack concerts, Times Square, and crowded subways in 2016 in an ISIS-inspired attack that one said he hoped would be "the next 9/11," the FBI announced Friday.
    Abdulrahman El Bahnasawy, 19, a Canadian citizen; Talha Haroon, 19, a U.S. citizen based in Pakistan; and Russell Salic, 37, an orthopedic surgeon in the Philippines used chat apps to talk about bringing a car bomb into the Crossroads of the World, gunning down subway riders before detonating vests, and opening fire on concertgoers in the vein of the Paris terror attacks of 2015.
    FBI officials said Al Bahnasawy traveled to Cranford, N.J., in May 2016 and had designs on carrying out the attacks.
    Prosecutors said that El Bahnasawy bought bomb-making materials while in Canada, while Haroon allegedly met with an explosives expert in Pakistan to get more information on how to build bombs.
    See also Unsealing of Charges Against Three Men for Plot to Carry Out Terrorist Attacks in New York City for ISIS (U.S. Department of Justice)

ISIS Calls on Women to Launch Terror Attacks - Lizzie Dearden (Independent-UK)
    ISIS, in a new edition of its Arabic newspaper, told female supporters it was an "obligation" for them to take up arms to wage jihad.
    "Today, in the context of the war against the Islamic State, it has become necessary for female Muslims to fulfil their duties on all this battle" and should "prepare themselves to defend their religion by sacrificing themselves for Allah," citing female companions of the Prophet Muhammed as examples.
    ISIS has previously prohibited women from fighting on the battlefield, but increasing reports started to emerge of female suicide bombers and snipers in Mosul.
    In July, an article from a female ISIS member in its Rumiyah magazine said the time had come for women to "rise with courage and sacrifice in this war...not because of the small number of men, but, rather, due to their love for jihad."

Iran to Block Waze Navigation App Due to Israeli Origin - Fatih Karimov (Trend-Azerbaijan)
    Abdolsamad Khorramabadi, secretary of the Iranian Committee for Determining Criminal Web Content, has demanded that Iranians' access to Waze, a GPS-based navigation application, be blocked due to its Israeli background.

Israeli Wins Silver Medal at Artistic Gymnastics World Championships - Allon Sinai (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's Artem Dolgopyat, 20, won a silver medal in the floor final at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships on Saturday in Montreal, Canada.
    See also 3 Israeli Judokas Take Gold at Tashkent Grand Prix (Times of Israel)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Warns U.S. Against Designating Revolutionary Guards a Terrorist Group
    Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said, "If the news is correct about the stupidity of the American government in considering the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group, then the Revolutionary Guards will consider the American army to be like Islamic State all around the world, particularly in the Middle East....If America's new law for sanctions is passed, this country will have to move their regional bases outside the 2,000 km. range of Iran's missiles."  (Reuters)
  • More than 1,000 ISIS Fighters Surrender in Iraq - Rod Norland
    More than a thousand Islamic State fighters surrendered last week to Kurdish authorities after they fled their crumbling Iraqi stronghold of Hawija. They said the Islamic State governor of Hawija told them to turn themselves in to the Kurdish forces and to flee the advancing Iraqi Army and its Shiite militia allies, notorious for killing Islamic State prisoners and their families. (New York Times)
  • U.S. Approves $15 Billion Thaad Missile Defense Package for Saudi Arabia - Anthony Capaccio
    The U.S. State Department has approved a potential $15 billion sale of Lockheed Martin's Thaad anti-missile interceptors, launchers and radar, part of the package of weaponry that President Trump promised for the kingdom during a visit in May. (Bloomberg)
  • Belgium Suspends PA Construction Projects after Palestinian School Renamed for Terrorist - Shiri Moshe
    The Belgian government is suspending any efforts to construct or furnish Palestinian schools, after one built with Brussels' aid was renamed in honor of Dalal Mughrabi, who led a massacre of 38 people - including 13 children - near Tel Aviv in 1978.
        Didier Vanderhasselt, a spokesperson for the Belgian Foreign Ministry, confirmed that the school's construction was supported by the Belgian government between 2012 and 2013. "When the school building was handed over to the local community in 2013 it was called 'Beit Awwa Basic Girls School.' Subsequently the name was changed to 'Dalal Mughrabi Elementary School,'" he said. Belgium "will not allow itself to be associated with the names of terrorists in any way."  (Algemeiner)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Murder of Jewish Man in Arab City Was Terrorism, 2 Arrested - Alexander Fulbright
    The Israel Security Agency on Sunday said two Palestinians from the West Bank city of Qabatiya were arrested last week in connection with the murder last Wednesday of a Jewish man in the Arab Israeli city of Kafr Qassem, confirming that the killing was a terror attack. Reuven Schmerling, 70, had a business in Kafr Qassem's industrial area and was found dead in a storage unit by one of his sons, covered in stab wounds. (Times of Israel)
  • Arab States Backtrack on UNESCO Resolutions Criticizing Israel - Barak Ravid
    For first time since 2013, a group of Arab countries, headed by Jordan and the PA, have backtracked on presenting resolutions critical of Israel at the UNESCO executive board session in Paris this week. A senior official in the Israel Foreign Ministry said the decision to delay for six months a vote on the resolutions was made following quiet diplomatic talks last week between the UNESCO committee chairman, Michael Worbs, Israel's UN ambassador, Carmel Shama Hacohen, and the Jordanian ambassador to UNESCO, Makram Queisi. Jason Greenblatt, President Trump's adviser on Israel, was personally involved.
        The official said Israel had not pledged anything in exchange. "The Arab countries realized that every time there is a vote, the support is less and they simply did not want to be humiliated," he said. (Ha'aretz)
  • IDF Retaliates for Rocket Fired from Gaza
    IDF tanks destroyed a Hamas observation post in Gaza on Sunday following a rocket launch toward Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
  • The Iran Nuclear Deal Isn't Worth Saving - Michael B. Oren
    "The only alternative to the Iran nuclear deal is war." That is what the Obama administration and proponents of the nuclear deal with Iran claimed in 2015. Such scare tactics were dishonest enough in 2015. Today, in view of the agreement's ruinous consequences, they are morally indefensible.
        The alternative was never war, but a better deal. Rather than lifting sanctions on Iran, allowing it to retain its nuclear infrastructure and develop more advanced centrifuges, a better deal would have stripped Iran of capacities like uranium enrichment, which is unnecessary for a civilian energy program, and linked any deal to changes in Iran's support for terrorism, its regional aggression, and its gross violation of human rights at home.
        A better deal also would not have removed restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in 2025. In a mere eight years it can reactivate its nuclear plants and rapidly enrich enough uranium for dozens of nuclear bombs. Instead of blocking Iran's path to nuclear weapons, the agreement paves it. Rather than reducing the likelihood of war, the agreement has made many wars inevitable.
        The agreement's apologists say that altering or negating the agreement will irreparably harm America's prestige. Yet it is difficult to see how America's status is served by a refusal to stand up to Iran's complicity in the massacre of half a million Syrians and its efforts to annihilate American allies. Revisiting the agreement will send an unequivocal message to the world that Iran's state-funded terrorism and its attempts to establish a Shiite empire will not be tolerated. The writer, Israel's deputy minister for diplomacy, was the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. from 2009 to 2013. (New York Times)
  • Is Israel Headed toward a Conflict with Iran in Syria? - Alex Fishman
    The Iranian regime isn't taking the public warnings issued by Israeli defense establishment heads seriously and is searching for a military airport near Damascus that would serve as a base for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards combat squadrons. At the same time, the Iranians and the Syrians are making progress in the talks for an autonomous Iranian military pier in Tartus port.
        Israel, however, has made it clear both to the Iranians and the Syrians, as well as to the Russians, that it will not allow any Iranian presence in Syria, especially warplanes or an Iranian pier in Tartus port. When Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu arrives in Israel later this month, Israel will ask the Russians to prevent the establishment of Iranian bases in Syria and the renewed activity of a missile production facility in Syria that was hit in a mysterious bombing several weeks ago.
        Israel will also ask the Russians to ensure that the permanent agreement in Syria would include a return of the Golan Heights to the 1974 disengagement agreements, which require full demilitarization of a 5-km. strip from the border and a dilution of forces inside Syria. So far, the Russians have rejected the Israeli requests on all issues related to the Iranian deployment in Syria. (Ynet News)

Israel Contributes to the Defeat of ISIS - Interview with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot (Ynet News)

  • Viewing the threat of Hizbullah in the north, Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, the IDF Chief of Staff, said, "I can't guarantee there wouldn't be an infiltration into Israel's territory and into a community. I can guarantee high efficiency in defense; I can guarantee that if anyone infiltrates the State of Israel, we would kill them. We would prevent (Hizbullah) from having any significant achievements. Both Hizbullah and Hamas understand the unbearable price they would have to pay for infiltrating an Israeli community and harming civilians."
  • Eisenkot has become identified with the Dahiya doctrine: The use of disproportionate force to destroy Hizbullah's Dahiya stronghold in Beirut. "We tried to get [Hizbullah leader] Nasrallah at the beginning of the [2006] war. We attacked the building he was living in and the one that served as his bunker....He's been living in a bunker for 11 years. He doesn't dare go outside."
  • During Eisenkot's tenure, the IDF has stepped up "operations between wars" - missions designed to thwart Hizbullah and Harmas' efforts to arm themselves with advanced weaponry. "Our forces operate overtly and covertly every night to complete their missions....Our 'operations between wars' have not led to escalation because our enemies understand we're hitting the capabilities that need to be targeted. We carry out many types of operations, some of them violent, and only a small portion becomes known."
  • Iran's "long-term strategic goal is to obtain nuclear capabilities. There is no doubt about it. The IDF's challenge of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear capabilities has been at the top of our list of priorities over the past decade. This mission will continue being a top priority, since we understand this is a threat on a different scale."
  • "Since our intelligence capabilities are the best in the area, and certainly in Israel's close vicinity, we contribute to the effort to defeat ISIS and the Nusra Front....We pass on information to countries when we know something is in the works (in those countries). The (Israeli) intelligence community contributes greatly to thwarting terror attacks in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe."

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