Tuesday, September 16, 2014

16-Sep-14: Incoming mortar from Gaza explodes in Israel tonight

Associated Press in the past ten minutes (it's now 20:45 Tuesday night here): "Israeli military says mortar fired from Gaza hits southern Israel, first time since war's end." A report on Israel's Channel One news confirms that that is what the IDF says.

Times of Israel adds that "The Red Alert rocket warning system did not sound and the IDF said it was searching for the impact point that was believed to be somewhere near the border fence in the Eshkol Regional Council. Army Radio reported that Eshkol residents heard an explosion nearby. No injuries or damage were reported."

According to Haaretz: "A mortar shell fired from the Gaza Strip landed in Israeli territory on Tuesday, the first time since the end of the recent war between Israel and the Palestinian factions in Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces confirmed. There was no word of injuries or damages. The shell exploded in an open area near the Gaza border, opposite a town in the Eshkol Regional Council, Channel 2 reported."

16-Sep-14: Why are so many Western jihadists from Britain?

Mohammed el-Araj on the left; Abu Hujama al-Britani on the right.
Both from London, both adopted false names, both killed fighting
for al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups in Syria
[Image Source: Times of London, September 5, 2014]
From a Wall Street Journal op ed published a week ago ["Britain Finally Faces Up to Its Homegrown Jihadist Problem", WSJ, September 7, 2014]
On Monday last week British Prime Minister David Cameron proposed legislation to prevent citizens who joined the Islamic State and other terrorist groups from re-entering Britain to "wreak havoc." His proposal followed the Aug. 19 release of a video showing a jihadist who spoke with a British accent appearing to behead American journalist James Foley. One day after Mr. Cameron's announcement, the Islamic State posted a video showing the murder of American journalist Steven Sotloff, ostensibly by the same Briton. The jihadist's nationality shocked Britain and the world. It shouldn't have. Scotland Yard estimates that at least 500 Britons have traveled to the Middle East to join the Islamic State. British-born terrorists have been the most numerous, violent and influential of European jihadists since well before 9/11. [WSJ]
Theodore Dalrymple, writing  ["Islam’s Nightclub Brawl | Jihadis from Britain are acting out a brutality learned at home"] on the National Review Online website, has some pungently negative analysis about what makes British society distinctive, and how this explains certain deeply disturbing perceptions about Britain's Islamists. He writes under a pen-name chosen, he says, to sound "suitably dyspeptic"; that he achieves in this piece extracted from a longer on-line article:
The South London accent and intonation of the apparent killer of James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and David Haines, and the manner of the murders, have shocked and horrified people in Britain. Very little is known of the man, not even his ethnic origin: In London, a third of whose population was born abroad, there are so many possibilities, even among Muslims. But his joy in his own brutality, his sadistic delight in doing evil with the excuse that it was for a supposedly holy cause, in inflicting such a death under the illusion that it was a duty rather than a crime, was obvious. His “faith” allowed him to act out the fantasy of every dangerous psychopath dreaming of revenge upon a world that was not good enough for him and that otherwise failed to accord him the special notice or place that he thought he merited
Not only is the British contingent the most numerous among the Western jihadists, but by all accounts they are the most brutal of the brutal. That, at any rate, is the conclusion of researchers at King’s College London who have followed the evolution of the jihadi temptation in Britain, the latest instance of what Jean-François Revel called “the totalitarian temptation.” 
Two questions call for answers. The first is why there should be proportionally more jihadis from Britain than, say, from France. The second is why they should be more brutal. Since the premises of the questions themselves are somewhat speculative, depending on information that is itself far from proved beyond reasonable doubt, any answers must be even more speculative. In any case, the uncovering of the why of any human conduct is seldom straightforward. 
Are there more British jihadis, for example, because the condition of Muslims in Britain is worse than elsewhere? In answering this question it is well to remember that Muslims are not just Muslims and nothing else. The Muslims in Germany are mainly of Turkish origin; in France, of North African; and in Britain, of Pakistani or Bangladeshi. Any difference in their collective behavior, therefore, might be attributable to their origin as much as to the country of their upbringing. 
The position of the Muslims in Britain is not “objectively” worse than that of their coreligionists in France; if anything, the reverse. It is considerably easier for a young Muslim man to obtain a job in Britain than in France, and social ascent is easier. Britain is more obviously a class society than France, but also more socially mobile (the two things are often confused, but are different). And there has been no legislation in Britain against the public use of that cherished Muslim symbol of male domination, the veil. But failure is not necessarily easier to bear in a more open society than in a closed one: On the contrary, resentment is all the stronger because of the additional element of personal responsibility for that failure, actual or anticipated. In some ways, life is easier, psychologically at least, when you can attribute failure entirely to external causes and not to yourself or anything about yourself. 
The relative failure of Muslims (largely of Pakistani origin) is evident by comparison with Sikhs and Hindus: Their household wealth is less than half that of Sikhs and Hindus (immigrants at more or less the same time), and while the unemployment rate of young Sikhs and Hindus is slightly lower than that of whites, that of young Muslims is double. Sikh and Hindu crime rates are well below the national average; Muslim crime rates are well above. Racial prejudice is unlikely to account for these differences. 
Jihad attracts ambitious failures, including those who are impatient or fearful of the long and arduous road to conventional success. Jihad is a shortcut to importance, with the added advantage of stirring fear in a society that the jihadists want to believe has wronged them, but that they are more likely to have wronged.
But why should the British be the most brutal of European jihadists, by all accounts the doctrinally most extreme among them (supposing that reports of this are true)? This, I think, is explicable by the nature of contemporary British culture, using the word “culture” in the widest sense. It is the crudest, most aggressive, and most lacking in refinement of any of the Western cultures, at least of any that I have observed.
Nowhere else known to me do so many young men desire to look brutish and as if the slightest disagreement with them, the first thing denied them, the first word they deem offensive, will cause them to become violent. In no other country in the world are so many doormen and bouncers necessary to keep order in places of entertainment; in no other place in the world does collective enjoyment so quickly turn to fight and riot. Eye-to-eye contact is regarded as a challenge and can lead to an attack of murderous intensity, while sexual crudity and incontinence are accompanied by furious jealousy, a common occasion of violence among young men.
The longer piece provides a thought-provoking and painful read, and a viewpoint we have not seen expressed elsewhere.

Meanwhile the UK government has escalated its terrorism alert status ["29-Aug-14: The British now call risk of a terror attack on the UK 'severe'"] to the second-highest possible level, meaning it assesses that an attack is now considered “highly likely.” In The Times of London, they had a curious article entitled "Let us come home, say young British jihadists" in their September 5, 2014 edition. And British news consumers are growing accustomed to reports, like this one published today ["From London banker to ISIS militant - one man's terror trail"]  in which a man, now described as fighting for the Islamic State (ISIS) in western Iraq, says “I look forward to death with a smile.” Not so long, this particular British terrorist, who has adopted the nom de guerre Abu Antaar, was - at least according to his own claim - a business analyst working in London's banking industry. So why is the banker now serving the Islamic State? Because
he hated “being ruled by laws other than Allah’s” and that the territories currently controlled by ISIS are “the only place where the shari’a of Allah is applied fully.” “I hate democracy and the self- indulgence of the rich... I hate inequality... I hate the corporations who are trying to destroy this world because of tyranny...” For him, peaceful protest is not an option. “I hate that Palestine was never freed for 70+ years whilst we ‘peacefully’ held placards on the street”. But now, according to A'ntaar's sacred belief, “IS are leading the way as how we should have acted from the beginning.” [RT, September 16, 2014]
As Dalrymple's thesis puts it: generally it's easier to attribute failure to external factors and not to yourself or anything about yourself.

Monday, September 15, 2014

15-Sep-14: Like a horse and carriage: Qatari money and terror

Back in 2008, Basher and Asma al-Assad hosted
Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani of Qatar and his wife (centre) in Syria
[Image Source]
This past Thursday, the IDF Spokesperson's Office announced that 45 members of a UN border monitoring unit, all of them from the Fijian military forces, abducted by terrorists of the al-Nusra Front on the Syrian side of Israel's Golan Heights frontier, had been released and had crossed the border and arrived safely in Israel.

According to a New Zealand source, "the Fijian soldiers were seized on August 28 after their UN commander told them to surrender rather than fight. 40 Filipino soldiers ignored the order and fought their way to freedom... A UN spokesman said in New York on Thursday no ransom had been requested for the Fijian peacekeepers and none was paid. He said the UN mission in the region remained viable and would continue to fulfil its mandate."

But it now appears, on the basis of a report carried by the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper (published daily in Arabic from London) that the freedom of the Fijians was in fact purchased with a $20 million ransom paid by Qatar.
Syrian opposition forces said on Saturday that Qatar had paid militants from the Nusra front $20 million ransom for their return. This comes a day after Qatar's Foreign Affairs Ministry announced that it had brokered the release of 45 Fijian U.N. peacekeepers "at the request of the government of Fiji." "The efforts of the State of Qatar led to the successful release of the Fijian soldiers... who had been held for two weeks," the Qatari foreign ministry said in a statement. The reports of a ransom fly in the face of earlier statements from the UN that no concessions had been made to secure the peacekeepers' release. [Source]
A Financial Times analysis in May 2013 ["How Qatar seized control of the Syrian revolution"] observed that:
few appear to be aware of the vast sums that Qatar has contributed – estimated by rebel and diplomatic sources to be about $1bn, but put by people close to the Qatar government at as much as $3bn. However, a perception is taking root among growing numbers of Syrians that Qatar is using its financial muscle to develop networks of loyalty among rebels and set the stage for influence in a post-Assad era. “Qatar has a lot of money and buys everything with money, and it can put its fingerprints on it,” says a rebel officer from the northern province of Idlib interviewed by the FT... Qatar’s ruling family, the al-Thanis, have no ideological or religious affinity with the Islamists – they are simply not choosy about the beliefs held by useful friends... Allegations that the Qataris have – directly or indirectly – helped Jabhat al-Nusrah have not gone away. 
In Fiji, they are reporting that
Apart from the UN talks were held with the governments of Qatar, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates to secure their release. [Fiji Times, September 13, 2014]
The al-Nusra Front or Jabhat al-Nusra and sometimes called Tanzim Qa'edat Al-Jihad fi Bilad Al-Sham, is a branch of al-Qaeda operating in Syria and Lebanon that announced its creation on January 23, 2012, during the Syrian Civil War.

Since then, it has been described as "the most aggressive and successful" of the "rebel forces" in Syria. Others give it different names: Al-Nusra is designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Canada, France, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and Turkey.

It's now probably one of the wealthier of the terrorist groups operating in the Middle East. So now they will probably stop doing abductions and focus on gentler deeds. Right?

15-Sep-14: Diplomatic incident on Israel's Gaza border involving semi-trailers

We see from his Twitter account that Australia's energetic ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, is paying a visit to Kerem Shalom, the optimistically-named 'Vineyard of Peace' terminal through which goods-laden trucks pass between the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and Israel.

Ambassador Sharma writes:

Amazing is a word that actually applies well to the actions of any public figure willing to acknowledge the fundamental fairness of Israel's conduct in its war against the forces of darkness and barbarism rooted in miserable Gaza.

Australian ambassador
at Kerem Shalom today
[Image Source: Twitter]
With the smallest degree of fanfare, Sharma - born in Canada and Australia's youngest-ever ambassador at the time he was appointed - has been quietly conveying appreciation for aspects of life here that get little exposure.

A year ago, for instance, he penned an article ["Israeli compassion amidst the atrocities"] for the Times of Israel in which he focused on the very substantial good being done for fleeing, often grotesquely injured, Syrians - victims of one of the largest current instances of Arab-on-Arab savagery - in one of Israel's periphery towns:
At Ziv Hospital they get the best medical care on offer to any Israeli, from surgeons and physicians who are quite literally the best in their field, having authored textbooks on the treatment of injuries from armed conflict... Ziv Hospital is a profound example of humanity and decency at its most compelling. It is Israel at its very best, and a side of Israel that the world too rarely sees or acknowledges. With all the tales of human woe and misery that continue to emerge from Syria, such small stories of hope should be cherished. [Dave Sharma, Times of Israel, August 28, 2013]
And did we say energetic? Last month, the Australian diplomat took a spill while participating in a bike ride in the Judaean Hills. This afforded him an inside look at a different Israeli medical facility:
If the diplomatic corps working in Israel were made of this kind of material, Israel's foreign relations might have a different look to them.

A few words about what the existence and daily reality of Kerem Shalom means in the ongoing reality of a rocket-rich, armed-to-the-teeth Gaza on a perpetual jihadist-war-footing. We visited Kerem Shalom in September 2012, took a close look at the two-way traffic passing through it, and wrote here ["28-Oct-12: What lies behind ongoing efforts to paint Gaza as a region under Israeli siege?"] about the powerful but misleading 'Poor Gaza is a victim of Israeli cruelty' meme that distorts much of the media discussion about what does and does not happen down there. 

Another of our posts ["4-Mar-13: Trucks filled with food and essential goods are lined up outside Gaza. Would it surprise you to know the role that money plays in this?"], points to how the inner circle of Hamas fat cats have done stunningly well via the restrictive importation policies over which they preside and the wealth it generates for them. The price is, of course, paid by the largely impoverished Gazans living under the Hamas jackboots.

It turns out, when you look more closely than most journalists and analysts do, that in fact a good deal of the daily pain experienced by 
Gaza's ordinary Palestinian Arabs is a direct function of money-centred decisions made by Hamas insiders. Lovers of simple black-and-white oppressor -v- oppressed narratives 'explaining' the Israel/Arab conflict have difficulty accepting this, But life is messy and usually made up of shades of grey. What can you do? Thankfully, decent men like Dave Sharma help us remember that.

Friday, September 12, 2014

12-Sep-14: Do open spaces in journalists' heads help explain the media's ongoing acceptance of Gaza myth-making?

Really? No open spaces in Gaza? [Image Source: Peace Now]
An Associated Press article published this morning ["Evidence growing that Hamas used residential areas"] makes a startling observation:
Two weeks after the end of the Gaza war, there is growing evidence that Hamas militants used residential areas as cover for launching rockets at Israel, at least at times. Even Hamas now admits "mistakes" were made. But Hamas says it had little choice in Gaza's crowded urban landscape, took safeguards to keep people away from the fighting, and that a heavy-handed Israeli response is to blame for the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian civilians. "Gaza, from Beit Hanoun in the north to Rafah in the south, is one uninterrupted urban chain that Israel has turned into a war zone," said Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official in Gaza... [AP, today]
Beyond the "no, duh" reaction of those of who actually pay attention to issues like the firing of rockets from locations deliberately close to people, journalists, schools, and UN facilities, the AP writers - Hamza Hendawi and Josef Federman, both of them senior reporters - seem to treat the Hamas terrorist spokesperson as a credible authority about the absence of Gazan open spaces without justification and against all the evidence, while failing to use their own powers of observation.

Do they believe what they wrote? Should their readers? Do they know how much of the Gaza Strip is made up of sparsely populated open, sandy spaces? They should. And they should say so.

In a punchy August 5, 2014 article on the Gatehouse Institute website, prominent Harvard professor and litigation lawyer Alan Dershowitz writes ["The empty spaces in Gaza"] asks the questions that AP's men should have raised. And he suggests answers:
Why don't the media show the relatively open areas of the Gaza Strip? Why do they only show the densely populated cities? 
There are several possible reasons. There is no fighting going on in the sparsely populated areas, so showing them would be boring. But that's precisely the point—to show areas from which Hamas could be firing rockets and building tunnels but has chosen not to. Or perhaps the reason the media doesn't show these areas is that Hamas won't let them. That too would be a story worth reporting. 
Second, why doesn't Hamas use sparsely populated areas from which to launch its rockets and build its tunnels? Were it to do so, Palestinian civilian casualties would decrease dramatically, but the casualty rate among Hamas terrorists would increase dramatically. That is precisely why Hamas selects the most densely populated areas from which to fire and dig. The difference between Israel and Hamas is that Israel uses its soldiers to protect its civilians, whereas Hamas uses its civilians to protect its terrorists. That is why most of Israeli casualties have been soldiers and most of Hamas' casualties have been civilians. The other reason is that Israel builds shelters for its civilians, whereas Hamas builds shelters only for its terrorists, intending that most of the casualties be among its civilian shields. [Dershowitz, August 5, 2014]
Those sparsely populated areas located right around the towns of Gaza are hardly a state secret in the age of Google Maps. Here [click] is an aerial view of the spaces around Khan Younis, just to take one randomly selected example. We captured this image today: sand dunes, undeveloped acres, something pretty close to vast open spaces:

Google Maps image captured today [Link]
Here's how the land south and south-west of crowded Gaza City looks from the air: open spaces aplenty for anyone wanting to minimize the dangers to the civilian population.

Google Maps image captured today [Link]
For the purposes of pushing ahead with its war, the Hamas leadership of Gaza have formulated a winning approach to demonstrating how unavoidable their human-shield strategy is. Just assert your claims to the world's major news agencies and... they're most likely going to believe you and carry your narrative forward until it gets accepted as fact. It's breathtakingly easy once you have laid the groundwork. (Intimidation of reporters, both explicit and more subtle, is key to understanding how this is done.)

Check out Gaza's terrain for yourself. Google Maps makes it easy.

As for the persistence of the Hamas denials that they used their own civilian population to shield their rocket men, here's one of many video files that ought to have put this issue to bed. Still the myth-making goes on. And keep in mind that, according to a Palestinian poll, the firing of rockets from close to where Gazan people live didn't happen: a poll of Palestinian Arabs last month [source] found that "60% say that Hamas does not launch rockets from populated areas, but 30% say it does." And anyway "49% think it is justified for Hamas to launch rockets from populated areas." Now watch:



If we can find evidence of this kind about open spaces and what they might mean using open source images and reports only, and Associated Press's best people cannot, what is actually going on here?

Here's a clue: "5-Aug-14: In Gaza, slowly and reluctantly, reporters - even the French - are agreeing with what the Israelis said all along".

12-Sep-14: In Australia, the focus on home-grown terrorists gets sharper

Islamist "Black Standard" flag, symbol of Jihad and end-of-days philosophy, borne by
anti-Israel philosophers in a "rally" outside Sydney Town Hall,
July 20, 2014 [Image Source]
Follow up to our post ["09-Sep-14: In Australia, terrorism no longer as far away as it once seemed"] from Wednesday:
The Australian government on Friday elevated its terrorism threat level to the second-highest warning in response to the domestic threat posed by Islamic State movement supporters. Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the increase from “medium” to “high” on a four-tier scale on the advice of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization. The domestic spy agency’s Director-General David Irvine warned this week that the terrorist threat level had been rising in Australia over the past year, due in part to Australians joining Islamic State to fight in Syria and Iraq. “I want to stress that this does not mean that a terror attack is imminent,” Abbott told reporters. “We have no specific intelligence of particular plots.” “What we do have is intelligence that there are people with the intent and the capability to mount attacks.” It is the first time that the threat level has been elevated above medium since the scale was introduced in 2003. [Source]
In The Age (Melbourne) today, they add some more detail:
  • Prime minister Abbott is confident that the authorities are "smarter than terrorists and would-be terrorists" and will remain "one step ahead"...
  • The new terrorism threat level will "not make any difference to daily life" for the vast majority of Australians but will mean "more security" at airports, ports, military bases, public buildings and large public events, including the upcoming AFL Grand Finals. But "football fans should not be deterred from attending the games..." Acting Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin: "You may expect to see heightened police presence but it won't be intrusive, I'm sure..." 
  • Irvine of ASIO: "The rhetoric that is now coming out of the Middle East which is encouraging Australians to take violent action … increases the possibility of attacks here, and so we see an increase particularly in intent.. It could manifest itself in a Bali-type attack or it could manifest itself in the various other sorts of attacks from loners through to small groups to large activities..."
  • 60 to 70 Australians are among the 10,000 foreign fighters fighting alongside the terrorists in Iraq and Syria and some had already returned home. 
A report in Wednesday's The Australian says Australian security authorities are "concerned about a handful of Muslim extremists, operating in groups of three or four, who have broken away from mainstream mosques and the broader Islamic community."

That same Wednesday, two days ago, some 180 officers from the AFP and Queensland Police swooped on nine properties across Brisbane in the northern Australian state of Queensland, among them an Islamic bookshop - the Iqraa Islamic Centre - in Brisbane, arresting two men. Both were charged with terrorism-related offences. A television news reporter [here] says one of the two is the brother of Australia's first Islamist human bomb (though he used the inaccurate and unfortunate term "suicide bomber"). He was referring to Omar Succarieh, the brother of Ahmed Succarieh who in September 2013 drove a truck laden with several tonnes of explosives into an army installation at the Deir al-Zour military airport in in northeast Syria. The bomber was named on social media sites at the time as "Abu Asma al-Australi", an alias that the media speculated "could refer to a Brisbane man named Ahmed" [video here]. All that was said at the time was that he "is understood to have a wife, at least one brother, and possibly a child."

Brisbane, Wednesday: The bookstore is on the very far right in both senses; getting distracted
by puppies and golf would be a mistake
Australians' natural but misplaced sense of distance and relative security will likely have been reinforced by the video images of the raided premises given the prominent signs on the facade of the two shopping-strip neighbours [screen shot above; source]. This is a pity because - as the references to Bali and other unmentioned terror attacks indicate - Australia has paid heavily in this ongoing war already.

Australian concern with the scale of the issue can be sensed from an analysis of population growth trends:
The number of Muslims in Australia will grow four times more quickly than non-Muslims over the next 20 years [calculated using fertility, mortality and migration rates]
as the continued instability in developing Islamic countries in Southeast Asia drives migrants and refugees to these shores. A major new [2011] study by the US-based [Pew Research Centre's Forum on Religion and Public Life] has forecast a global surge in the Muslim population, with Australia and New Zealand among the nations expected to see the biggest rises. In Australia, the Muslim community will grow from about 399,000 to 714,000 by 2030, an increase of 80 per cent. In that time the non-Muslim population will increase by about 18 per cent. [Source: The Australian, January 29, 2011]

Thursday, September 11, 2014

11-Sep-14: Freeing terrorists: The price in human lives lost and in justice perverted keeps getting clearer

From left: Three murder victims: Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaer,
Naftali Frankel
Regular readers of this blog probably know that, in our eyes, the posts we publish are more than mere reflections on events. 

Beyond the aspect of memorializing our daughter's life, we are engaged here in an impassioned and ongoing cry from the heart against terrorism and those who do it while drawing attention to its impact on the victims. 

None of these matters, we have learned from painful personal experience, is well enough understood. This is especially true of people holding high public office and those who advise them.

For the past several years, a recurring aspect of our writing (and public speaking) has been our efforts to give rational, respectful expression to some of the deep bitterness we feel about decisions taken by a series of political figures on both sides of the Atlantic to free convicted murdering terrorists. (Clicking on articles with the labels PrisonersShalitState Department and Tamimi in this blog will quickly bring up some of the posts we mean.)

Our position can be summed up in a single short paragraph that we wrote here a few months back:
Freeing convicted and unrepentant murderers has predictable and very negative outcomes. No politician should ever again dare to deny this. Nor may they ignore the moral, constitutional and legal consequences that flow from this truth.

In it, we referred to three young Israeli yeshiva students -  Naftali Fraenkel, 16, from Nof AyalonGilad Sha'er, 16, from Talmon; and Eyal Yifrach, 19, from Elad. Their kidnapping, the search for their whereabouts and for those who snatched them from a hitch-hiking post at night, and the subsequent revelation of their cold-blooded murder, elicited deep concern, energy, unity and prayerfulness on a scale that was almost without precedent in modern Israel's history. 

A journalist, Avi Issacharoff from Times of Israel, had found, and we re-posted, that a central figure in that terrorist outrage, a man called Mahmoud Ali Kawasme is one of the Shalit 1,027. We noted that his premature and unwarranted release, like that of every other terrorist - including our daughter's murderer - freed in that deal at the time, was the result of a monumentally successful act of extortion directed against the Government of Israel. His freedom had been conditional on his being "exiled" to the Gaza Strip, and to his refraining from further involvement in terrorism. Instead, he became deeply enmeshed in the Hamas terrorist organization after walking from prison, eventually taking the role of funder and planner of the attack in which the three Israeli teens unwittingly accepted a ride in a stolen Israeli vehicle in which Palestinian Arab terrorists masqueraded as Jews at one of the roadside stops in the Jewish community of Gush Etzion.

Two Arab men remain as of today the subjects of an ongoing manhunt for the kidnappings and murders. They are Marwan Kawasme - a member of the same clan as the ring-leader - and Amer Abu Aysh. Issacharoff has today revealed further aspects of the same kidnap/murder. 

In a fresh Times of Israel expose ["Hamas higher-up in Gaza pulled trigger on teens’ abduction"] published last night, Issacharoff says that although the Hamas leadership repeatedly denied any involvement in the kidnapping and murder of the three boys, key officials in the military and political parts of Hamas 
knew about the plans in advance and had approved similar activities. Abed a-Rahman Ghaminat, one of the heads of a cell in Zurif [near Bethlehem] was the Hamas military wing’s appointed leader over the Hebron area... [Times of Israel]
Abducted and murdered
soldier, Sharon Edri:
another Ghaminat victim
in 1996
Like Mahmoud Ali Kawasme, Ghanimat (his name is sometimes written as GinatAnimat or Ranimat, and in Hebrew as עבד א-רחמן ע'נימאת) was released from an Israeli prison in October 2011 as part of the infamous Shalit Transaction. He had been sentenced to a lengthy term for his involvement in several murders. Among them:
Newspaper front page: The baby
survived a 1997 attack engineered
by Hamas' man, Ghaminat; the
mother was killed
Issacharoff notes that the killer he calls Ghanimat, like many others freed in the Shalit Transaction, promptly embarked on a fresh phase in his career as terrorist. He:
joined a special office under the Hamas military wing in Gaza, which operated under the leadership of the Turkey-based Saleh al-Arouri, one of the heads of the organization living in Ankara. The office hired several of the exiled prisoners to oversee the terror cells in the West Bank. Working from Gaza, Ghaminat was responsible for the Hebron area, along with another ex-prisoner released under the Shalit deal, Ayed Dodin, a Hamas man and resident of Dura, south of Hebron... Traveling through Egypt, the two also visited Turkey and Qatar more than once in the past two years to coordinate the Hamas schemes with Arouri, as well as with other political heads of Hamas living abroad. According to the Palestinian sources, Mahmoud Kawasme [the other Shalit Transaction graduate we mentioned above and here] worked under Ghaminat (sic) in Gaza. 
Had he remained behind bars (as Israel's legal system had determined he must) and not been given the priceless gift of undeserved freedom in 2011 by politicians, could this brutal man have engineered the murders of the three young men mourned by an entire grieving nation?

Arising out of this, we make two requests
One: to understand how those of us directly impacted by Hamas terror feel our government ought to act, please consider this post of ours: "27-Jul-13: To defeat the terrorists, what one thing must a government never do?"  
And two: if you happen to be the Secretary of State of the United States or work for him (or he works for you), or if you belong to one of the hundreds of houses of worship affiliated with the World Council of Churches or belong to its management team in Geneva, please read this: "30-Jun-14: The message of the murdering terrorists, its logical outcome and the indispensable support that enables it". Everyone else is welcome, even invited, to pass these sentiments - and the posts in which they are expressed - to people about whom they care. 
Those who make large decisions in our lives must know that, on terrorism, they are getting them wrong too often. This, for those paying attention, is getting clearer with each passing day.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

09-Sep-14: In Australia, terrorism no longer as far away as it once seemed

Australian woman recruited by the Islamist thug
(photo below) whose arrest is now being sought.
Educated at St Hilda's School, Southport,
Queensland, this woman was shot dead
in January 2014 in war-torn Aleppo, Syria.
Having spent a major part of our lives in Australia, and raising part of our family there, it's worrying and depressing to see terror take centre-stage in one of the world's most congenial societies.
ASIO seriously considering raising Australia's terror threat level to high | ABC Australia News | September 9, 2014 | The head of Australia's domestic spy agency, David Irvine, says the country's official terror threat level could be upgraded in the next few days. ASIO's director-general has told the ABC's 7.30 that the threat had been building in Australia over the past year and he had an "elevated level of concern". The threat has been at medium since 2003, which means an attack is possible and could occur. If it is raised to high, it means an attack is likely... "I'm certainly contemplating very seriously the notion of lifting it higher because of the numbers of people we are now having to be concerned about in Australia, because of the influence of Syria and Iraq on young Australians both in terms of going to those places to fight, but also in terms of what they are doing here in Australia with a potential intent to attack."
And this
Same Australian woman some time
later, prior to her violent death
[Image Source]
Arrest warrant for Islamic State jihadist accused of sending Australians to SyriaABC Australia News | September 9, 2014 | Police have issued an arrest warrant for a former Kings Cross nightclub bouncer believed to be Australia's most senior member of the Islamic State (IS) militant group in Syria and Iraq, following an investigation by the ABC's 7.30 program. Authorities say Mohammad Ali Baryalei, 33, has used a trusted position in IS operational command to funnel more than half of the 60 Australians currently fighting in the wars. Counter-terrorism sources have told 7.30 Baryalei recruited a who's who of Australian IS fighters, including senior fighters Mohamed Elomar and Khaled Sharrouf, who has posted pictures online of his seven-year-old son holding a severed head in Syria, as well as videos of himself and Elomar executing prisoners in Iraq... Australian Federal Police say an arrest warrant has been issued against Baryalei for "terrorism-related activity". "Should Baryalei return to Australia, this warrant authorises law enforcement to arrest him immediately," an AFP spokesman said. "As this matter is ongoing it would not be appropriate for the AFP to comment further." Baryalei is from an aristocratic family from Afghanistan who came to Australia as refugees when he was a child. The 33-year-old was an aspiring actor who had a fleeting appearance on the true-crime series, Underbelly, but years ago turned to radical Islam in Sydney. Baryalei became a leader of the Street Dawah preaching movement in Sydney, where he formed a cell of jihadists. He proselytised with at least five men who went on to die in Syria and Iraq and many more who are still fighting.
Mohammad Ali Baryalai, highest-ranking
ex-Australian in ISIS: He and
family were received as refugees in
Australia. Now returning the favour
This Iranian source, quoting Australian authorities in May 2014, said that "as many as 12 Australians had died fighting in Syria. Most were young men, including several from Melbourne." Also that "nearly 150 Australian citizens were being monitored for fighting or planning to fight in foreign conflicts".

An especially sober Australian view of the threat it faces was articulated by a former head of the Australian armed forces, Professor Peter Leahy, last month. He warned that "the country was ill-prepared for the high cost of fighting a war that would be paid in “blood and treasure” and would require pre-emptive as well as reactive action".
Australia needs to prepare itself for a century-long war, both overseas and at home, against radical Islamic militants. Currently the director of the National Security Institute at the University of Canberra, Prof. Leahy [said] that as a liberal, secular society, Australia is perceived as 'the far enemy' by radical Islamic groups and individuals, and would no doubt continue to be targeted. "We are already affected in that there are places that would be wise for us not to travel to and there have been terrorist bombings in places that we do travel to, as we can see from 9/11 and both of the Bali bombings..." [The Australian, August 9, 2014]
We published an open letter in the wake of the massive 2002 Bali terrorist attack in which Australian victims figured prominently. It's here.

09-Sep-14: If terrorist savagery has a West Point, it's probably in Syria

Among the aspiring jihad-minded killers - European women
[Image Source: Deutsche Welle]
The impact of thousands of blood-lusting Islamists getting unparalleled hands-on experience in the killing fields of Syria is only starting to be guessed at.

Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, a Jordanian prince who took up his new role yesterday (Monday) as the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, called Syria "a slaughterhouse" in his maiden speech. It's not hard to agree with him. But as we usually do, we are also thinking about the inevitable consequences for people living far from Syria.
Over 12,000 foreign fighters said to be in Syria | Associated Press | September 9, 2014 | More than 12,000 foreigners from 74 countries have gone to fight with rebels in Syria, 60 to 70 percent from other Middle Eastern countries and about 20 to 25 percent from Western nations, a leading expert on terrorism said Monday.
Prof. Peter Neumann, who directs the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London, said the Syrian conflict has sparked the most significant mobilization of foreign fighters since the 1980s war in Afghanistan against the Soviet occupation, where up to 20,000 foreigners participated over the course of a decade. With over 12,000 foreigners taking up arms in Syria in just three years, he said, “that conflict is well on track to becoming the most significant mobilization of foreign fighters that has ever taken place in living memory”...
Prof. Neumann's analysis goes on to suggest the origins of at least some of those foreigners (alphabetically) - though his data don't come close to explaining the "12,000 foreigners" figure:
Belgium: 300 ▪ Denmark: 50-100 ▪ France: About 700 ▪ Germany: 400 ▪ Jordan: About 1,500 ▪ Morocco: About 1,500 ▪ Norway: 50-100 ▪ Saudi Arabia: Its government estimates between 1,200 and 2,500 ▪ Sweden: 50-100 ▪ Tunisia: "Up to 3,000" ▪ UK: "More than 500" ▪ United States: 100
He makes these additional observations:
  • "In some European countries, which he didn’t identify, between 10 percent and 20 percent of those going to Syria to join the Islamic State group are women
  • A key motivator: "Building the caliphate that the Islamic State group has declared."
  • Yet another motivator: "The Islamic State group’s highly publicized beheadings of two American journalists" which have caused “more and more foreign fighters [to get] talking about fighting against the West and fighting against America."
And the overwhelmingly-Arab-on-Arab impact of all this energy and motivation? According to the latest data relating to the month of August 2014 alone [Source: Syrian Observatory for Human Rights]
  • 2,015 civilians "including 281 children and 138 women"
  • 1,448 "Rebels and Islamist fighters"
  • 1,351 "Non-Syrian fighters from IS, al Nusra Front, Jund al aqsa and al Muhajereen wal Ansra Army"
  • 1,405 "Regular regime soldiers and officers"
  • 23 "Hezbollah"
and on and on. (The same report goes on to explain why what it calls "the real number" is actually larger by about a thousand dead people.)

The Syrian child mentioned in the paragraph
on the left [Image Source]. Why does his
face have to be obscured digitally? Understanding
that is key to comprehending
the profound ugliness of Arab hostility to
everything constructive done for ordinary Arabs
Israel's central role in this carnage is summed up by a little-noticed Tazpit News Agency report published yesterday:
A 12-year-old Syrian boy arrived over the weekend to an Israeli hospital with injuries to his arms, leg, and eyes sustained from a mortar attack on his home near Damascus. The boy was led on a donkey by his brother up the slopes of Mt. Hermon to an IDF base on the mountain, from where Israeli forces evacuated him to Ziv Medical Center in the northern town of Safed. A spokesman for the hospital told Tazpit News Agency that the boy is the latest of 358 injured Syrians to be treated there in the last year and a half, most of them victims of the Syrian civil war... The hospital “does not ask questions” about the origin of the patients, telling Tazpit that [they take] “everyone who comes.”
“We don’t check where they’re from,” he added. “We are a hospital. If someone comes in an ambulance to us for treatment, we take them.” The hospital reported that the 12-year-old boy is currently blind, and that there was a small chance of saving one of his eyes. He arrived with serious injuries to both arms, his right hand having been amputated in a hospital in southeastern Lebanon, where the boy said that he was taken by his family for initial treatment. The boy explained that after the amputation they were prevented from returning to their Damascus-area home by the fighting, so he was sent toward the Israeli border with his brother, where he led the blind boy on a donkey to the safety of the IDF post...
The hundreds of Syrians treated at the hospital since the outbreak of the war include some 50 children and 30 women. The remainder have been adult males, at least some of which have been injured in the combat. A number of other Syrian medical refugees have been treated in hospitals in the northern Israeli cities of Nahariya, Tveria and Haifa, as well as in a field hospital in the Golan Heights run by the IDF... The patients are treated no differently than any others, with the exception of an IDF guard that the government often stations in the patients’ rooms for their protection. [And there's more about Ziv and the Syrian boy here.]
In the US, the policy makers are girding their loins. From a Wall Street Journal op ed ["Islamic State Is Getting Stronger, and It's Targeting America"] published yesterday:
Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Friday that an international coalition is forming to confront the terrorists of the Islamic State. President Obama plans to address the nation Wednesday night, as he said over the weekend, to get "the American people to understand the nature of the threat and how we're going to deal with it." His strategy is expected to involve an emphasis on a U.S.-led coalition and a reliance on airstrikes in a campaign that could take years, not months. Less clear is whether the president will commit to strikes inside Syria and substantially expanded special-forces deployments to Iraq and as soon as possible to Syria. We will not win unless he does. There is no time left to argue, dither and wonder what should be done about those who are butchering Americans— and anyone else they care to—across a growing portion of the Middle East. The enemy has no such doubts. They are not going away. They are getting stronger. The war, ladies and gentlemen, is truly on. We're just not a meaningful part of it yet.
But plenty of other victims certainly are. In the week that we remember 9/11, let's take a moment to reflect on how all that accumulated education in the dark barbaric arts of terror acquired in Syria by people with non-Syrian passports is looking for - and certain to find - other venues and outlets. Whatever attention this is getting, it's not enough.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

07-Sep-14: In Gaza, they're at work on the next war

Residential tower destroyed in Gaza City, August 26, 2014 [Image Source]
While we're under the relatively fresh influence of news reports focused on the devastation in Gaza [BBC video here], on photos of dead children and of their parents and clans-people screaming with agony and anger, and on social action NGOs clamoring for more funds to rebuild and revive, it's good to take a moment to remind ourselves of how the terrorist leadership that has turned Gaza into a vast underground arsenal is selling the events of the past two months - and their plans for the future.

This report by Barak Ravid comes from Haaretz this evening: "Israeli official: Hamas has begun repairing Gaza tunnels":
Israel has received intelligence indicating that Hamas has begun reconstructing the attack tunnels that were destroyed during Operation Protective Edge, a senior Israeli official said on Sunday.
Two weeks have passed since the cease-fire went into effect, the official said, and Hamas has already begun preparing for the next confrontation with Israel and is focused on replenishing its arsenals.
The senior official said that Hamas militants have returned to arms smuggling through several tunnels that remain intact under the Philadelphi Route in Rafah. He said that the smuggling continues despite the Egyptian security forces' more concentrated and effective efforts to stamp out the tunnels.
The official added that production of the M75 rockets – capable of reaching the Gush Dan region in central Israel – has resumed in factories inside the Gaza Strip. He said that even after Operation Protective Edge, 40 percent of Hamas' capability to produce rockets locally remain intact.
A Friday article in the Chcago Sun-Times ["Decimated Hamas makes ludicrous claims"] captures some of the madness in the moment:
While the truce holds, the propaganda war continues. Despite the many funerals, the hospitals filled with the wounded, the loss of hundreds of combatants, and the rubble of collapsed high-rises and other buildings and homes, Hamas ridiculously claims victory. 
Yes, it is ridiculous. Actually it's far worse than that because it is clear to rational onlookers that the absent Hamas political leadership, issuing commands from luxurious hotel suites in Qatar and Dubai, fully intend that as many as possible Palestinian Arab Gazans should die at the hands of the Israelis. Their utter absence of remorse would be breathtaking if we were not already so familiar with it. And tragically - leaving morality and humanity out of things, which is what they do - it has to be said their calculation is right; dead children advance their side's interests.

Over there in Gaza, the Palestinian Arab masses are thoroughly in the grip of victory fever. It even has numbers by which it can be quantified; we posted about this two days ago: "5-Sep-14: A society steeped in the ethos of terror, and the poll results to prove it".

In another part of the Arab world, where there's much more money, they see victory and loss differently. Here's an August 10, 2014 article ["What the world builds, Israel bombs"] from The National, published in the Emirates:
International donors are wary of funding another rebuilding effort in Gaza, with the European Union divided over increasing pressure on Israel for a lasting solution to the Palestinian issue... An international donor meeting for Gaza is to be held in Norway next month. Yet, there is concern about a repeat of the donor conference after the 2008-2009 war, where only a fraction of the nearly $5 billion pledged for rebuilding came through. “We hope to receive help, but promises aren’t always kept here,” said Naji Sarhan, Gaza’s deputy minister of public works. “It’s hard to convince people to come here when they know Israel acts as our agent of destruction.”
Whether viewing Israel as the problem (something of a constant theme in the UAE's media), or seeing the issues as more nuanced and influenced hugely by the terror-addiction of the Hamas leadership, the outcome might be the same. In reality, there is no bottomless well out there of funding available to restore what gets devastated when Hamas takes on Israel. At some point, the emerging middle class in Gaza - the customers of its classy restaurants, the buyers of its luxury vehicles, the owners of its penthouse apartments - may demand to be heard, and to have their interests brought into consideration. Once there is a significant part of Gaza that has something to lose, some interests to protect, the game changes. At that point, declaring victory in the face of utter defeat may get harder to do.

But not yet.

07-Sep-14: Viewing Iran's stonewalling from a friendlier, more Danish, angle

Teheran, 2006 [Image Source]
Did we say "depressed"? Evidently there's a very different way to view the events about which we posted here yesterday [see "06-Sep-14: Iran, US and opening up a new path toward a more secure world: how well is that going?"]. A Danish way. 

Danish Foreign Minister Martin Lidegaard has expressed optimism that a comprehensive and lasting nuclear agreement with Iran could be reached by the November 24 deadline if there was a “political will”. In an exclusive interview with IRNA ahead of his visit to Iran, Lidegaard said, “We are very encouraged by the recent IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) report that Iran continues to meet the relevant obligations under the Joint Plan of Action. This gives grounds for optimism that a final and comprehensive deal indeed can be reached by the deadline set for 24 November.”
(IRNA is the Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran's official government-funded and -controlled news outlet, an arm of the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. The Tehran Times calls itself "Iran's Leading International Daily", and "the voice of the Islamic Revolution and the oppressed people in the world”. Wikipedia calls it "one of the outlets for the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security (Iran)".

Iran unilaterally cut trade ties with Denmark in February 2006 [BBC]. This was part of its very robust protest (including a violent assault on the Danish embassy in Teheran by rioters who chanted "Death to Denmark") at cartoons appearing in a Danish newspaper satirizing the Prophet Muhammad.

But just this past week, shortly after the Lidegaard visit was announced, the semi-government-controlled (that's Wikipedia's term) Iranian FARS news agency focused briefly on Denmark, happily informing readers that
Noted Danish writers and intellectuals... denounced Israel's violations against the Palestinian people and said that its blockade and military attacks on Gaza as well as its occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank are factors preventing the achievement of peace and generating incessant violence. [FARS, September 2, 2014]
In reporting his upcoming visit yesterday, FARS shares the news that
Several European countries have seriously south [sic - we assume they meant "sought"] to expand ties with Iran after Tehran and the six major world powers cut an interim deal over the country’s nuclear program in Geneva on November 24, 2013. [FARS Iranian News, September 6, 2014]
Lidegaard will also be calling in at Saudi Arabia. His optimistic nature is bound to come in handy there too.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

06-Sep-14: Iran, US and opening up a new path toward a more secure world: how well is that going?

Iran's Parchin complex, in a Google Maps 2012 aerial view:
40 square kilometers of secret military facilities dedicated to explosives,
scattered across the desert and mountains [Image Source
Are we closer to achieving supervision and control of Iran's no-longer-so-secret nuclear weapon ambitions? Or further away?
Iran fails to address nuclear bomb concerns - IAEAFri Sep 5, 2014 | REUTERS | Fredrik Dahl
VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran has failed to address concerns about suspected atomic bomb research by an agreed deadline, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Friday, a setback to hopes for an end to an international stand-off over Tehran's atomic activity.
The lack of movement in an inquiry by the International Atomic Energy Agency will disappoint the West and could further complicate efforts by six world powers to negotiate a resolution to the decade-old dispute with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.
An IAEA report obtained by Reuters showed that little substantive headway had so far been made in the U.N. agency's long-running investigation into what it calls the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear programme.
The International Atomic Energy Agency published its latest report [online here] yesterday. The Reuters report above intimates, though it could have said it more clearly, that the IAEA's probe into Iran's campaign to become a nuclear weapons power is completely stuck. The reason is Iranian non-cooperation. You might also call it stone-walling.

The report's Section H, the part dealing with those "possible military dimensions" (PMDs), makes clear that what has been happening and not happening is extremely disturbing. The PMDs are key to the IAEA getting a good sense of "the scope of the program... and set the baseline for the successful monitoring", in the words of Olli Heinonen, formerly the IAEA deputy director. They are quoted in an email we received today from Omri Ceren (@cerenomri) at The Israel Project, where they do invaluable work staying on top of the Iran/Nuclear issue,

As the BBC reported back on March 9, 2012, the so-called P5-plus-1 partner countries
the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China - said in a statement: "We call on Iran to enter, without pre-conditions, into a sustained process of serious dialogue, which will produce concrete results." They called on Iran to co-operate fully with UN inspectors and allow them to visit the Parchin military site. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has previously said it suspects the Parchin site may be being used for nuclear weapons-related testing. [BBC]
President Obama, in a speech [video here] delivered in November 2013, described newly agreed "substantial limitations" with the Ayatollah-rich regime in Teheran that "cut off Iran's paths to a nuclear bomb":
Since I took office, I’ve made clear my determination to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  As I’ve said many times, my strong preference is to resolve this issue peacefully, and we’ve extended the hand of diplomacy... Today, that diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure - a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon... Over the next six months, we will work to negotiate a comprehensive solution.  We approach these negotiations with a basic understanding:  Iran, like any nation, should be able to access peaceful nuclear energy. But because of its record of violating its obligations, Iran must accept strict limitations on its nuclear program that make it impossible to develop a nuclear weapon.
In these negotiations, nothing will be agreed to unless everything is agreed to.  The burden is on Iran to prove to the world that its nuclear program will be exclusively for peaceful purposes... As President and Commander-in-Chief, I will do what is necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon... Through strong and principled diplomacy, the United States of America will do our part on behalf of a world of greater peace, security, and cooperation among nations." ["Statement By The President On First Step Agreement On Iran's Nuclear Program", White House, November 23, 2103]
Talks with the Iranians then followed, along with a deadline for results. And for going down that "path", the Iranians received rich rewards: $1 billion just this past Friday, another $1 billion in April 2014, before that $8 billion in November 2013. And an end to most of the sanction-driven angst caused by the West's response to Iran's ongoing nuclear crusade.

Seven weeks ago, the NY Times reported that
Iran, the United States and the five other countries negotiating the future of the Iranian nuclear program have agreed to a four-month extension of the talks, giving them more time to try to bridge major differences over whether Tehran will be forced to dismantle parts of its nuclear infrastructure... ["Negotiators Agree to Extend Iran Nuclear Talks Four More Months, Diplomats Say", NY Times, July 18, 2014]
So with those talks going (as it appears) essentially nowhere, where have those IAEA investigations led?

In its Friday report, the IAEA says that the Iranians are continuing to destroy and pave over Parchin. Parchin is key to the whole matter: it's the Iranian military complex 30 kilometres southeast of Tehran covering some 40 square kilometres of desert and mountains with "hundreds of buildings and test sites" that are "dedicated to research, development, and production of ammunition, rockets, and high explosives... The IAEA continues to call on Iran to grant inspectors access to the site, although as of the spring of 2013, Iran had refused IAEA access while continuing to reconstruct the site. " [Source: ISIS] There's an aerial view in the photo above.

Here's part of what the Friday report says:
At the Parchin site, the Agency has observed through satellite imagery ongoing construction activity that appears to show the removal/replacement or refurbishment of the site’s two main buildings’ external wall structures. One of these buildings has also had a section of its roof removed and replaced. Observations of deposits of material and/or debris, and equipment suggest that construction activity has expanded to two other site buildings. These [Iranian regime] activities are likely to have further undermined the Agency’s ability to conduct effective verification. It remains important for Iran to provide answers to the Agency’s questions and access to the particular location in question. [Report by the IAEA Director General, September 5, 2014, page 12]
And here's how, in the same report published yesterday, the Director General of the IAEA sums out his organization's suspicions and Iran's 'helpfulness':
Previous reports by the Director General have identified outstanding issues related to possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme and actions required of Iran to resolve these. The Agency remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile. Iran is required to cooperate fully with the Agency on all outstanding issues, particularly those which give rise to concerns about the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme, including by providing access without delay to all sites, equipment, persons and documents requested by the Agency. The Annex to the Director General’s November 2011 report (GOV/2011/65) provided a detailed analysis of the information available to the Agency at that time, indicating that Iran has carried out activities that are relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device. This information is assessed by the Agency to be, overall, credible. The Agency has obtained more information since November 2011 that has further corroborated the analysis contained in that Annex. [Report by the IAEA Director General, September 5, 2014, page 12]
And Iran's response till now?
In February 2012, Iran dismissed the Agency’s concerns, largely on the grounds that Iran considered them to be based on unfounded allegations. In a letter to the Agency dated 28 August 2014, Iran stated that “most of the issues” in the Annex to GOV/2011/65 were “mere allegations and do not merit consideration”.
If, like us, you are depressed by the brief chronicle above, you might think these two news items from the past 24 hours deepen the gloom. We certainly do:
  • Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that the world is entering a “new order” as the West's influence wanes and that officials in the Islamic Republic need to be aware of the changes and prepare to play a role in the new context... “When the world is changing, when global order is changing and a new order is being formed, naturally we have a more important duty.” The first thing to be done is to understand the new world order correctly, Khamenei said. “The power of the West on their two foundations — values and thoughts and the political and military — have become shaky. We have to understand this” rather than submitting to the idea of Western superiority". ["Ayatollah Khamenei urges Iran to prepare for 'new world order'", Al-Monitor, September 6, 2014]
  • A charter airplane carrying American military contractors through Iranian airspace was instructed to land in Iran on Friday. The airplane, chartered by the international military coalition in Afghanistan, was flying from Bagram Air Base north of Kabul to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates when it ran into trouble with Iranian air traffic controllers over its flight plan. The plane was rerouted to the coastal Iranian city of Bandar Abbas, where it landed pending a resolution of the issue. It was later allowed to depart Iran, and by Friday night, the plane had landed in Dubai, officials said.“This is nothing to get alarmed over,” said an Obama administration official, who like other American officials insisted on anonymity to discuss a potentially delicate diplomatic situation. “This is a bureaucratic problem with the flight plan, and it’s going to be resolved shortly. This is not a political statement.” The administration denied initial media reports that Iranian jets had forced down the plane. “It was all done on the radio,” a senior Pentagon official said. “It was just a bad flight plan.” ["Jet Carrying Contractors Is Ordered to Land in Iran", NY Times, September 5, 2014]