July 23, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Iran-Backed Sleeper Cells "Ready to Strike" UK - Robert Mendick (Telegraph-UK)
    Iran-backed terrorist cells could be deployed to launch attacks in the UK, British intelligence sources have warned.
    Intelligence agencies believe Iran has organized and funded sleeper terror cells across Europe including the UK, operated by radicals linked to Hizbullah.
    Iran has also been blamed for cyber attacks in the UK, including the hacking of MPs and peers in 2017 and an attack on the Post Office, local government networks and private sector companies including banks at the end of 2018.

"Hamas Is Iran's First Line of Defense" (Al-Araby Al-Jadeed-UK)
    Hamas deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri said in Tehran on Monday that "Hamas is Iran's first line of defense," after a meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
    Khamenei noted that, "Today Palestinians are equipped with precise missiles rather than stones."

Israel Condemns European Parliament for Hosting Palestinian Terrorist (JNS-Israel Hayom)
    Israel has condemned the European Parliament for inviting Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Central Committee member Khaled Barakat to address the parliament.
    The PFLP is considered a terrorist organization by the EU, as well as the U.S., Japan, Canada, and Australia.
    Israel's Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan noted that Barakat "was recently prohibited by German authorities from speaking at a political event due to his ties to terror."

Houthi Radio Station Raises Funds for Hizbullah (MEMRI TV)
    The Houthi Sam radio station in Yemen held a fundraising campaign for Hizbullah in May and June 2019, raising $295,000.
    On July 20, the station director posted a video showing a large pile of cash as men chanted: "Allah Akbar! Death to America! Death to Israel! Curses upon the Jews! Victory for Islam!"

One Billion Euros Allocated for Importing Essential Goods Disappears in Iran (Radio Farda)
    Mahmoud Vaezi, President Hassan Rouhani's chief of staff, charged that one billion euros ($1.12 billion) in hard currency allocated for importing medicines and essential goods "has disappeared."
    The government provides dollars at a rate three times cheaper to approved importers of essential goods, but there are cases where those receiving cheap foreign currency never import what they have agreed to, or once the goods arrive, sell them at much higher prices.

Ohio Man Gets 30 Months in Prison for Attacking Man He Thought Was Jewish - Josefin Dolsten (JTA)
    Izmir Koch, 34, was standing outside a Cincinnati-area restaurant in 2017 asking people if they were Jewish. Paul Marshall, who is not Jewish, answered in the affirmative.
    Koch then beat him up. Koch, who is originally from Turkey, was convicted in December 2018 and was sentenced on July 9 to 30 months in prison.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Britain Seeks European Maritime Force to Counter Iran's "Piracy"
    Britain will seek to establish a European-led maritime protection mission to ensure safe shipping through the Strait of Hormuz after Iran seized a British-flagged vessel. "Under international law Iran had no right to obstruct the ship's passage - let alone board her. It was therefore an act of state piracy," Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Parliament. Britain will ask all British-flagged ships to give the government notice before passing through the Strait of Hormuz, Hunt said. (Reuters)
  • Israel Demolishes Illegal Palestinian Construction in Jerusalem after Years-Long Court Battle - Isabel Kershner
    Israel on Monday began demolition of ten mostly unfinished and uninhabited Palestinian apartment blocks in eastern Jerusalem that were illegally built too close to the security barrier. Israel's Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan said the government had acted after an Israeli court ruled that the construction constituted "a severe security threat and can provide cover to suicide bombers and other terrorists hiding among the civilian population." Palestinian officials condemned the move as a "war crime."
        The buildings sit on the Jerusalem side of the security barrier in an area the Israeli military had declared a buffer zone and prohibited building in. Israel's High Court rejected an appeal against the demolition orders by residents in June, and on Sunday dismissed another petition asking for a postponement, paving the way for the demolitions. The court "ruled unequivocally that those who built houses in the area of the security fence knew that building in that area was prohibited, and took the law into their own hands," Erdan said. (New York Times)
  • Israeli Intelligence Unmasks Hizbullah Terrorist Plot in Uganda
    On July 7, Ugandan security forces arrested Hussein Mahmood Yassine, a Lebanese national and a suspected Hizbullah agent, at Entebbe International Airport. The arrest was made in consultation and cooperation with Israel's Mossad intelligence agency. The subject had been tracked and followed for months.
        According to an intelligence source, Hizbullah instructed Yassine to identify U.S and Israeli targets in Uganda and the region, recruit Lebanese living in Uganda for Hizbullah operations, and recruit Ugandan Muslims who traveled to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj to act as Hizbullah intelligence assets. (Kampala Post-Uganda)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Bahraini FM: If Not for Iran's Support of Hamas, We'd Be Closer to Mideast Peace - Adam Rasgon
    Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa told an Atlantic Council event in Washington last week: "If it wasn't for Iran being present - Iranian soldiers, Iranian money, Iranian support for Hamas and jihadis that take control of Gaza - we would have been much closer to achieving a better peace between the Palestinians and Israelis."  (Times of Israel)
  • Palestinians Call for Blacklisting Arab Journalists for Visiting Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Six journalists from Iraq and Saudi Arabia arrived in Israel on Sunday for meetings with Knesset members, Foreign Ministry officials and academics, and to tour the country. The Fatah-dominated Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) on Monday condemned the visit as a blow to its "anti-normalization position." It called on the Federation of Arab Journalists to "blacklist" Arab journalists who visit Israel. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Video: Palestinians Attack Saudi Journalist in Jerusalem (Twitter)
        See also Saudi Journalist: "Israeli People Are Similar to Mine"
    Mohammed Saud, a Saudi man visiting the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, was part of a six-member Arab delegation of journalists officially hosted by the Israel Foreign Ministry. Saud told Israel Army Radio, "Israeli people are similar to mine, they are like my family. I love Israel and it was always my dream to visit Jerusalem."  (Al Jazeera)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Assad's Nuremberg Moment: NGO Builds Case for Syrian War Crimes - Mark MacKinnon
    Over the past seven years, veteran Canadian war-crimes investigator William Wiley and his team at the Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA), the non-profit organization he established in 2012, have smuggled hundreds of thousands of pages of evidence out of Syria and Iraq - documents that are now being used to build war-crimes cases against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his henchmen, as well as senior figures in the Islamic State. Western governments, including Canada's, collectively provide $8 million in annual funding for the group's 150 investigators.
        Wiley, 55, is a veteran of the efforts to bring justice to Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. He views the evidence against Assad as "much, much better" than what was presented in court against Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic. CIJA files prove that Assad himself had knowledge of, and approved, the actions of his subordinates. "It's pretty clear that Assad was not a figurehead. He was in charge, and the senior guys deferred to him." Wiley says his group also has more than enough evidence to help convict ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (Toronto Globe and Mail-Canada)
  • Catholic Peace Group Affirms "Logic" of Killing American Jews for What Israel Does - Dexter Van Zile
    In an interview on the YouTube channel of Catholics Against Militarism (CAM), E. Michael Jones argued that the deaths of Palestinians at the "March of Return" riots organized by Hamas at the Gaza-Israel border logically justifies the murder of Jews in synagogues in the U.S. CAM's Ellen Finnigan responded, saying, "Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense."
        Without challenge, Jones blamed American Jews for the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 despite the fact that American Jews showed lower levels of support for the war than the rest of the country. He also blamed Israel for the Iraq war even though numerous Israeli security officials warned against an invasion, declaring that Iran was more of a threat.
        Why is Catholics Against Militarism promoting vicious anti-Semitism on its YouTube channel? Is demonizing Jews truly the path to peace? The writer is Christian Media Analyst for CAMERA. (CAMERA)
  • Washington Should Wake Up to the Fact that Hizbullah Runs Lebanon - Tony Badran
    The U.S. State Department invited Lebanon's Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil to Washington last week to participate in a conference to advance religious freedom. Prior to the meeting, Bassil met with newly sanctioned Hizbullah security chief Wafiq Safa, with whom Bassil has a close relationship. Following Hizbullah's designation as a terrorist group by the UK, Bassil declared the group would "remain embraced by state institutions and all Lebanese people."
        Hizbullah's grip on Lebanon is comprehensive. It exercises decisive influence on the security sector, but also directs the entire political order. Washington's long-standing policy that distinguishes between Hizbullah and the Lebanese state is sorely misguided. An investment in Lebanon's "state institutions" is an investment in the Hizbullah state. The writer is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Al Arabiya)

Has Iran Complied with the Nuclear Deal? - Emily B. Landau (Times of Israel)
  • Supporters of the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) note that according to the reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has been entirely compliant with its commitments. But how compliant has Iran really been? Evidence shows that Iran has hardly been fully compliant with serious nuclear-related issues.
  • A recent report of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, headed by former nuclear weapons inspector David Albright, has concluded that the underground and heavily fortified uranium enrichment facility at Fordow has not been reconfigured as stipulated by the JCPOA.
  • The IAEA found traces of radioactive material from soil samples that were taken from a nuclear warehouse in Tehran in April 2019. This warehouse was revealed by Prime Minister Netanyahu in his September 2018 speech to the UN. Incriminating evidence of radioactive material being stored there up until 2018 is clearly a post-JCPOA violation.
  • Several reports from German intelligence services over the past few years involve Iran's continued efforts to procure equipment and materials that can be used in a nuclear weapons program. The efforts were thwarted, but it is not clear why these ongoing Iranian efforts are continuing.
  • Iran has admitted to lying about the facility at Arak. The Arak heavy water reactor was supposed to be rendered inoperable, according to the terms of the JCPOA, by pouring cement into its core. In the end, cement was poured only into the surrounding piping. But the Iranians had already purchased new piping before the JCPOA - piping that they can now install.
  • The picture of Iran as the innocent party complying with the JCPOA is thus clearly inaccurate. The current tensions are not due to the U.S. leaving the deal, but rather to the serious flaws in the deal that led the U.S. to withdraw, as well as Iran's non-cooperative and bad faith behavior that has continued since that time.

    The writer heads the arms control program at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University.