September 20, 2021

In-Depth Issues:

Islamist Plot to Attack German Synagogue on Yom Kippur Foiled - Kirsten Grieshaber (AP-Washington Post)
    German officials received "very serious and concrete information" that there could be an attack on the synagogue in Hagen during Yom Kippur, said Herbert Reul, the interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia state.
    The tip pointed to "an Islamist-motivated threat situation." A Syrian national who lives in Hagen was detained. He acknowledged having had contact with a bomb-building expert via Telegram.
    Der Spiegel reported that the tip came from a foreign intelligence service. It said the Syrian told someone in an online chat that he was planning an attack with explosives on a synagogue.

Islamic State Leader in Sinai Surrenders to Egyptian Authorities (Al-Monitor)
    Islamic State commander in Sinai Mohamed Saad Kamel, also known as Abu Hamza al-Qadi, turned himself in to the Association of Sinai Tribes, a Bedouin tribal union loyal to the Egyptian military, on Sept. 10.
    Security analyst Nasr Salem noted a "marked deterioration" in IS' capabilities and its gradual collapse.
    Analyst Muneer Adeeb said, "Attacks by IS militants against the tribes - among other things - caused the tribes to start viewing them as an enemy. The coming together of the military and the tribes will surely speed up the eradication of IS."

French Forces Kill ISIS Chief in Sahara - Ellen Francis (Washington Post)
    A French drone strike in August killed Adnan Abu Walid al-Sahrawi, the leader of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, believed to be the mastermind of attacks in Niger that claimed the lives of four U.S. soldiers in 2017 and six French aid workers in 2020.
    France has 5,100 troops in West Africa, but plans to slash its military presence there by half over the next year.

Indonesia Kills Most Wanted Islamic State-Linked Militant - Mohammad Taufan (AP-ABC News)
    Indonesia's most wanted militant with ties to the Islamic State was killed Saturday in a shootout with security forces, the Indonesian military said.
    "Ali Kalora was the most wanted terrorist and leader of MIT," said Brig.-Gen. Farid Makruf, referring to the East Indonesia Mujahideen network that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in 2014.
    The MIT has claimed responsibility for several killings of police officers and minority Christians.

Qatar Resumes Aid to Needy Gazans (AP)
    Qatar resumed its distribution of aid to Gaza on Wednesday for the first time since the May war, through a new mechanism that does not involve suitcases full of cash.
    Some $40 million is being disbursed through supermarkets, money exchange shops, and other retail stores.

Prospects for Rebuilding the Syrian Military - Anat Ben Haim (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
    After a decade of fighting, the Syrian military is being rebuilt as a motorized infantry army, capable of moving combatants quickly around the country.
    However, the ongoing economic crisis, the continued fighting inside Syria, the competition between Russia and Iran over rebuilding the Syrian military, and the poor recruitment potential in Syria all have a negative impact on military buildup efforts.
    The Syrian army's helplessness, as shown in recent clashes in the Daraa district, highlights the regime's dependence on both Russia and Iran and its proxies.

Islamic State Women Blamed for Dozens of Killings at Syrian Detention Camp - Louisa Loveluck (Washington Post)
    Since January, officials report, more than 70 people have been killed inside northeast Syria's al-Hol camp, run by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.
    The camp houses 62,000 family members of Islamic State fighters who were detained more than two years ago.
    Some of the camp's most radical women are trying to reimpose the Islamic State's rules on the families around them. Killings are blamed on hard-line women who enforce their strictures and settle scores with those who are not as fanatical.

We wish our readers a Happy Sukkot Holiday!

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Report: Iranian Nuclear Scientist Slain with Remote-Control Gun - Ronen Bergman and Farnaz Fassihi
    Iran's top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was killed on Nov. 27, 2020, by a remotely operated, Belgian-made, FN MAG machine gun attached to an advanced robotic apparatus in a pickup truck and operated by a sniper more than 1,000 miles away. The entire operation took less than a minute. Fifteen bullets were fired. This report is based on interviews with American, Israeli and Iranian officials, including two intelligence officials familiar with the details of the planning and execution of the operation.
        The operation's success was the result of serious security failures by Iran's Revolutionary Guards, extensive planning and surveillance by Israel's Mossad, and Fakhrizadeh's own lack of diligence. American officials briefed about the plan supported it, according to an official who was present at the meeting.
        According to the Mossad, Iran's bomb-building program had been deconstructed in 2003 and its component parts scattered among different programs and agencies, all under Fakhrizadeh's direction. In 2008, when President George W. Bush was visiting Jerusalem, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert played him a recording of a recent conversation between Fakhrizadeh and a colleague. According to three people who heard the recording, Fakhrizadeh spoke explicitly about his ongoing effort to develop a nuclear warhead. (New York Times)
        See also Iran Denies New York Times Report on Nuclear Scientist's Death (Jerusalem Post)
  • Dozens of Afghan Women Rescued from Kabul in Israeli-Emirati Aid Mission - James Rothwell
    Israeli aid workers and the UAE earlier this month completed a daring rescue mission that saw 41 Afghans spirited to safety in Abu Dhabi, including 19 cycling team members, three robotics team members, their relatives, including some men, and a number of human rights activists. The evacuation bussed the Afghans through Taliban checkpoints and over the northern border into Tajikistan.
        Yotam Polizer, the CEO of IsraAID, said the team had to collect the Afghans from hiding without alerting the Taliban. (Telegraph-UK)
  • With Eye on Iran, Israel Steps Up Naval Presence in Red Sea - Josef Federman
    Israel's navy has stepped up its activities in the Red Sea "exponentially" in the face of growing Iranian threats to Israeli shipping, Vice Adm. Eli Sharvit, who just retired as navy commander, said in an interview. "We have increased our presence in the Red Sea most significantly," Sharvit said. "We are operating there continuously with main ships, that is to say missile frigates and submarines. What in the past was for relatively short periods of time is now done continuously."
        "If there were an attack on Israeli shipping lanes or Israeli freedom of navigation, Israel would have to respond." That has not yet happened. The cargo ships believed to have been targeted by Iran in the Persian Gulf had Israeli connections but were owned and operated by businesses based elsewhere. He said such attacks merit an international response.  (AP-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Captures Last Two Palestinians Who Escaped from Prison - Yoav Zitun
    Israeli forces on Sunday captured the last two of six Palestinian militants who had tunneled out of an Israeli prison on Sep. 6. The two Islamic Jihad terrorists were apprehended without resistance in the West Bank city of Jenin. (Ynet News)
        See also Capture of Escaped Prisoners Shows Israeli Intelligence Prowess - Khaled Abu Toameh
    The recapture of the last two Palestinian prisoners who escaped from Gilboa Prison shows that Israel has very good intelligence sources in the West Bank, residents of Jenin said Sunday. The Islamic Jihad members surrendered to the IDF after the house where they were hiding was surrounded by dozens of soldiers.
        Over the past few days, gunmen belonging to Fatah and Islamic Jihad warned that Israel would "pay a heavy price" if the IDF entered Jenin to recapture the prisoners. But most of the gunmen were nowhere to be seen when Israeli security forces entered Jenin. (Jerusalem Post)
        See also Escaped Palestinian Prisoners Became Overconfident and Careless - Jack Khoury
    Prisoners within Gilboa Prison concluded that the clue that led to the arrest came when the fugitives reached out to their families. A Palestinian activist who spoke to inmates said: "It's known that...in the past week the two men...were careless and made several phone calls to immediate family members, including brothers and cousins....The fact that they were already in the Jenin area and a week to 10 days had passed since they escaped made them overconfident."  (Ha'aretz)
  • Palestinian Reactions to the Prisoner Escape
    After six Palestinian terrorists broke out of an Israeli prison, the Palestinian media instructed the public to defend and protect the fugitives. Palestinian social networks called for mass marches at friction points in Judea and Samaria to keep IDF forces occupied instead of searching for the terrorists. Social networks also directed Palestinians to vandalize Israeli security cameras to keep them from detecting the fugitives.
        The Palestinian Authority supports terrorists of all the organizations, including those with the blood of women and children on their hands. The PA provides the prisoners, released prisoners and their families with generous financial support and they are honored in public ceremonies attended by the senior PA leadership. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center)
  • Israel Upgrades Defenses Against Hizbullah on Lebanese Border - Amos Harel
    Hizbullah has more than 70,000 rockets, (and if we include mortars, the number is almost double). The rockets cover every spot in Israel - and dozens are equipped for precision strikes within meters of the target. Hizbullah has also upgraded its Radwan commando force, a unit of several thousand fighters with long combat experience in the Syrian civil war. If war breaks out, its fighters will try to seize an Israeli town near the border.
        In recent years, the IDF has taken steps to improve its defense against Hizbullah. It has renovated segments of the border fence and has opened a new training ground near the border to field another unit on constant alert. In addition, a new reserve unit is being formed to operate as a swift intervention force if Hizbullah attacks, comprised of several hundred combat soldiers, all Galilee residents. The soldiers will keep their guns and gear at home, to be deployed to literally defend their homes. (Ha'aretz)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • America Is Sending the Wrong Signals to Iran - Faisal J. Abbas
    Do U.S. foreign policy advisers know who their friends in the Middle East actually are? The recent withdrawal by the U.S. of its most advanced missile defense system and Patriot batteries from Saudi Arabia at a time when Houthi terrorists in Yemen regularly and deliberately target civilian areas in the Kingdom is the equivalent of America denying Israel its Iron Dome technology while it was under attack from Hamas.
        The Houthis, whose official slogan is "Death to America" and who targeted the U.S. Navy during the Obama era, have actually had their terrorist designation removed by the Biden administration. The claim is the removal helps facilitate the flow of aid into Yemen; strangely, aid still goes into Gaza despite Hamas remaining on the U.S. terror list.
        A bigger concern is the message these moves send to the Houthis and their Iranian backers. It beggars belief that the U.S. would extend an olive branch to an Iranian regime whose official doctrine is to support and export terror.
        The writer is the editor-in-chief of Arab News. (Arab News-Saudi Arabia)
  • The Durban Hate-Fest Rears Its Ugly Head Again - Melanie Phillips
    In the wings of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York this month, it is to hold a 20th anniversary summit of its so-called World Conference against Racism that took place in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. Durban was a terrifying circus of psychotic anti-Jewish hatred whose sole purpose was to demonize and delegitimize Israel under the Orwellian banner of "human rights." Durban IV is being boycotted by at least 16 countries, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Hungary, Israel, the UK and the U.S.
        As the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has observed, the Durban conference documents "have in fact become the 'road map' guiding the BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] movement." The venomous belief that the Jews alone were not entitled to self-determination in their own historic homeland, which had only ever been theirs alone and from which they had themselves been ethnically cleansed, spread through Western progressive circles.
        Under the imprimatur of the UN, Durban normalized the demonizing of Israel and Jew-baiting - the apartheid libel, the insane claim that Israel was committing genocide, and the grotesque equation of Israelis with the Nazis.
        The writer is a columnist for The Times-UK. (JNS)
  • Israel's Democracy Is What Jihadis Really Worry About - Ohad Zemet
    In the wake of events in Afghanistan, I was astonished to see the Financial Times publish a letter on Sep. 14 claiming that "a key driver behind the appeal of" jihadi ideology is "the systemic injustices to Palestinians." This claim is not based on factual data and it's dangerous.
        Anyone who has listened to jihadist groups understands that they do not refer to a "deal" for the Palestinians. These are people who see our democratic way of life and values as a threat and want to bring the region back to the Middle Ages, free from all minorities and human rights. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where there is an increase in the number of Christians, where rights of women and LGBT+ people are preserved, and Israel, therefore, poses a threat to the ideology of these groups.
        Most Israelis want peace, and are willing to go to great lengths to reach it. We hope there will be a brave Palestinian leader who can walk with us in this joint path. Thinking that the actions of the Jewish state is the catalyst for jihadism blames the victims.
        The writer is spokesperson of the Israeli Embassy in London. (Financial Times-UK)
  • Lebanon's New Hizbullah Government - Tony Badran
    After a year of political bickering, Hizbullah has determined that the time had come for a new Lebanese government to arise. Through this government, Hizbullah will now lead Lebanon's engagement with the outside world. In the new government, Hizbullah and its immediate allies hold 2/3 of the governing portfolios.
        The writer is a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. (Newsweek)

U.S. Pledges to Expand Abraham Accords between Israel, Arab States - Secretary of State Antony Blinken (U.S. State Department)

At a Zoom event to mark the one-year anniversary of the signing of the Abraham Accords, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday:
  • "This administration will continue to build on the successful efforts of the last administration to keep normalization [between Israel and Arab states] marching forward."
  • "First, we'll help foster Israel's growing ties with Bahrain, with Morocco, with the United Arab Emirates - as well as with Sudan, which has also signed the Abraham Accords, and Kosovo, which established ties with Israel at the beginning of the year."
  • "Second, we'll work to deepen Israel's longstanding relationships with Egypt and Jordan - partners critical to the United States, Israel, and Palestinians alike."
  • "Third, we will encourage more countries to follow the lead of the Emirates, Bahrain, and Morocco. We want to widen the circle of peaceful diplomacy, because it's in the interests of countries across the region and around the world for Israel to be treated like any other country. Normalization leads to greater stability, more cooperation, [and] mutual progress."
  • "Many people are eager to rekindle longstanding connections that had been cut off - until now. More than a million Israelis have Moroccan heritage, including five ministers in Israel's current government."

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