Friday, July 22, 2011

The Holiday Island of Isla de Margarita, Venezuela, Hosts Hezbollah Militants


by Anna Mahjar-Barducci

The holiday island of Isla de Margarita, situated in the Caribbean Sea, has one of the most beautiful beaches of Venezuela and breathtaking scenery. It is here, on the island of exquisite hotels and a glamorous nightlife, that the US military's Southern Command has reported the presence of Hezbollah's support and logistics cells -- one of the most important centers of "terrorist gathering" and "money laundering activities" for Hezbollah.

Brother of Venezuelan diplomat in Syria set training operation in Isla de Margarita

Ambassador Roger Noriega, formerly head of the Organization of American States [OAS], during a recent Hearing of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence Committee on Homeland Security, testified that a key operative in the Hezbollah network in Latin America is the Lebanese-born Ghazi Atef Salameh Nassereddine Abu Ali, Venezuela's No. 2 diplomat in Syria.

Nasreddine, who was black-listed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in June 2008 for his fundraising and logistical support to Hezbollah, is managing, along with his brothers, a network that "raises and launders money and recruits and trains operatives to expand Hezbollah's influence in Venezuela and throughout Latin America." This network also has a presence in Isla Margarita. Ambassador Noriega stated that the Venezuelan diplomat's younger brother, Oday Nassereddine, has established a powerbase in Venezuela by setting up training operations on Isla de Margarita.

Hezbollah militants infiltrate into the U.S.

The book, Threat Closer to Home by Douglas Schoen and Michael Rowan, reveals that the "hub of the hub" of Islamist terror in the America is Isla de Margarita. "The island has long been home to a large Lebanese expatriate population, and Hezbollah has had a foothold there for decades," the authors write. Lebanese expatriates in Isla de Margarita were involved in 1992 in helping Hezbollah militants to establish a terrorist cell in Charlotte, North Carolina, by infiltrating them into the U.S.. Other terrorist might have been smuggled into the U.S. as well, however, without having been discovered by the American authorities.

The book further explains that the banks of the island, declared as a free-trade zone by the Venezuelan government, are integral to a network of financial institution in the Caribbean region that facilitate "drug trafficking, money laundering, and terrorist fund-raising." The two authors explain that Isla de Margarita is home to several "quasi-legal front businesses that funnel money overseas to terrorists, as well as to outright illegal enterprises whose profits similarly get steered to Middle eastern terror".

The island has also a false-documents industry that provides fake passports, identity cards and travel documents to terrorists. It is hence the perfect "transit center for terrorists and terror sympathizers, a way station for trips within the region and overseas to the Middle East." The island is also used as a stop-off to the Tri-border area -- where Brazil Argentina and Paraguay converge -- where Hezbollah and Hamas are operating. Ambassador Noriega in his testimony reports that during the spring of 2011, two Iranian Hezbollah operatives were conducting terror training on Venezuela's Margarita Island for persons brought there from other countries in the Latin America.

Drug trafficking

Isla de Margarita is also a place of interest for Hezbollah thanks to drug trafficking: the terrorist movement is financing itself and its weapons through narco-terrorism. The book Gangrillas by Mendez Beddow and Sam Thibodeaux reports that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has alerted ghost planes flying several routes between Isla Margarita, Central America, Europe and Western Africa. "These flights carry illegal drugs from the opium producing nations, and from the cocaine countries," the authors state..

Hamas in the Isla de Margarita

The Venezuelan island is reported also to be not only the center of Hezbollah illegal activities, but also a center for Hamas to funnel funds to its terrorist organization. Besides the Tri-border area, however, other free trade zones in Latin America, such as Iquique in Chile and Maicao in Colombia, are reported to be centers for Hezbollah's and Hamas's activities.

Anna Mahjar-Barducci

Source: http://www.hudson-ny.org/2285/isla-de-margarita-venezuela-hosts-hezbollah

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Glenn Beck Stirs Crowd at Christians United For Israel


by Fern Sidman

Receiving rousing ovations and thunderous applause, former Fox News television personality Glenn Beck told an audience of over 5,000 gathered at the Christians United for Israel (CUFI) national summit in Washington that if the pernicious trends in global anti-Semitism culminate in another genocide, “then count me as a Jew, and come for me first.” Mr. Beck delivered these remarks as part of his keynote address at the “Night to Honor Israel” gala banquet at CUFI’s sixth annual convocation on Tuesday evening, July 19th.

Having just returned from a trip to Israel where he addressed the Knesset Committee on Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs at the invitation of Deputy Knesset Speaker Danny Danon, Mr. Beck opened his speech by announcing his donation of $10,000 to the “CUFI On Campus” student organization that battles anti-Israel propaganda on hundreds of college and university campuses across America. Referencing his emotional trip to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, he stated his oft-repeated belief that the inherent rights of the U.S. Constitution and those delineated in the Declaration of Independence were mandatory requirements for the prevention of massive human rights violations. “The founding fathers had the answer 150 years before Hitler showed up,” he said, but reminded his audience that for two millennia, the Jewish people were not accorded those rights in the countries in which they resided.

Until the modern state of Israel was established in 1948, he said, the Jews “have had no home base” and added that “this is why the nation of Israel is vital.” Recalling the painful history of the Jewish nation, he intoned, “They have been smeared. They have been maligned. But to our shame as human beings most of all, they have been forgotten in times of need.” Speaking directly to the Jewish people he said, “No one can protect your rights better than you. To rely on others is to ensure economic slavery at best, and death camps at worst.”

Spotlighting the existential siege that the Jewish State finds herself under by the looming Iranian nuclear threat and the forces of radical Islam in the Middle East and throughout the world, Mr. Beck concluded his address by issuing stern warnings to the enemies of Israel and the Jewish people. He said that “times have changed,” and that the Jews would no longer stand alone in any potential confrontation.

“This is still America 2011. We are not the Christians of the Crusades. We are Christians United For Israel,” he declared.

Reiterating Mr. Beck’s sentiments was Pastor John Hagee, founder and chairman of Christians United For Israel, who also delivered an impassioned address. ”Mr. Ahmadinejad: Do not threaten the people of Israel and the people of America,” he said. Citing those miscreants throughout history who have sought to eradicate the Jewish people, he noted, “Look at Pharoah of Egypt and Haman of Persia in the story of Purim and you will have some idea of G-d’s punishment for you.”

Quoting Winston Churchill, who said, “Courage is the first of qualities; courage is everything,” Pastor Hagee exhorted his acolytes to “dare to be yourself in the face of adversity; to have the courage to admit the truth.” Acting on his words, Pastor Hagee then declared, “President Obama is not pro-Israel and he has broadcast that around the world. President Obama has told Israel not to build homes in Jerusalem. He has no right or authority to tell the Jewish people what to do.”

Advising the president to vent his rancor at those nations that are adversarial to the United States, he said, “Go tell Iran, China and Russia what to do. Israel is not a vassal state of the United States. It is free to determine their borders and their destiny. They are free to retaliate against anyone who attacks them.”

Speaking of the “toothless sanctions” that have been imposed on Iran, Hagee proffered his belief that “Iran will become nuclear,” and if attacked, “the liberal media would blame Israel for starting a war with Iran.”

Taking on those who have attempted to revise the Jewish narrative with statements geared toward separating the Jewish people from their religious and historical connection to the land of Israel, Pastor Hagee said, “We are still one nation under G-d, and it was G-d who gave the land of Israel to Abraham and it belongs to the Jewish people forever. The Jewish people are not occupying this land; they own this land.”

Addressing former White House correspondent Helen Thomas, who achieved notoriety in June of 2010 when she told an interviewer that “Jews should get the hell out of Palestine” and to “go home to Germany, Poland and the United States,” Pastor Hagee said, “Helen, the Jews are not going anywhere. They are home.”

Also addressing the assemblage was Michael Oren , the Israeli ambassador to the United States who spoke of the meritorious deeds of such righteous gentiles as Major-General Orde Charles Wingate , a British army officer and creator of special Jewish military units in British mandated Palestine in the 1930s and in World War II . Ambassador Oren said that as a devoutly religious Christian, Wingate became an ardent supporter of Zionism, seeing it as his religious duty to help the Jewish community in Palestine form an independent Jewish state.

Also lauding the multifarious accomplishments of the late Washington state senator, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, Oren said, “As a child Senator Jackson was taught to respect Jews in the Christian home he grew up in” and credited him with sponsoring legislation aimed at freeing Jews from the former Soviet Union. In 1974, while in the Senate, Jackson co-sponsored what has come to be known as the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which Charles Vanik sponsored in the House. The amendment was intended to help refugees, specifically Jews, to emigrate from the former USSR. He recalled that celebrated Soviet prisoners of conscience, such as Natan (Anatoly) Sharansky, who currently holds the position of chairman of the Jewish Agency in Israel, praised Jackson as a “defender of Israel; a torch bearer of faith.”

Fern Sidman

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2011/07/21/glenn-beck-stirs-crowd-at-christians-united-for-israel/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Rome Stands With Israel


by Phyllis Chesler

Israel continues to endure the fallout from the Mavi Marmara debacle; Israel gets blamed for defending herself even though Turkish hired assassins had come with the express purpose of assaulting and murdering Israeli soldiers.

In the teeth of this cruel public relations disaster, the indomitable Italian parliamentarian Fiamma Nirenstein, the chair of the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians, asked me to write something that would be read at a massive pro-Israel rally that she, together with Giuliano Ferrara, the publisher of Il Foglio, helped organize.

The rally took place on October 7, 2010, in Rome. More than 3,000 people were present at the Temple of Hadrian. Among those present were Italy’s prime minister, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, president of the Senate, the mayor of Rome, the president of the Jewish community of Rome, the chief rabbi of Rome, and a former Prime Minister of Spain. Messages from Prime Minister Netanyahu and from a distinguished host of intellectuals and politicians were beamed in.

I am now holding a book that memorializes this event: Per La Verita, Per Israele: Mille voci al Tempio di Adriano (For The Truth, For Israel: A Thousand Voices at the Temple of Hadrian). Each contribution appears in both Italian and English. The pieces are passionate, sophisticated, and written by people from many countries, including Italy, Spain, France, Norway, Finland, Holland, the United States, and Israel, etc., including pieces by Iranian dissidents in exile, Iraqis in exile, apostates in Parliament (Magdi Cristiano Allam), the Association of Arab Women in Italy, and Nobel Laureate Rita Levi-Montalcini. My most excellent colleagues Bruce Bawer, Melanie Phillips, Benny Morris, and of course Giuilo Meotti, all appear in the book.

Italy has a long and sordid history of persecuting its Jews. The word “ghetto” comes from the district in Venice in which Jews were forced to live and where they were locked in after dark. I recently took a tour of Jewish Rome and, since I love Italy, was especially saddened by the stories of repeated massacres, pogroms, and ritual persecution that afflicted the Jews of every region.

And still, a remnant of Italian Jewry survived. Alas, so does anti-Semitism.

Given the ongoing events, i.e. the flotilla and flytilla that failed, the hostile mass “surges” into Jewish Israel, the sabotage of the gas lines from Egypt to Israel, and the upcoming UN vote on Palestinian statehood—all of which amounts to the Third Intifada—I hope that Nirenstein is ready to rally soon again.

The 2010 rally in Rome, and now the book that memorializes it, parts company with Italian history. It is an act of profound resistance which I applaud. Here is what I wrote, and what was read for me at this rally.

*

The War In Jerusalem Will Spare Nobody. After the Jews, It Will Be the Christians’ Turn.

Without doubt, Israel potentially faces extinction, possibly a Second Holocaust.

Indeed, many Europeans continue Hitler’s Holocaust by supporting fifty-seven Islamic apartheid nation states against the single Jewish democratic state.

The worldwide media has become totally “Palestinianized” and Stalinized. Palestinians—even the haters, terrorists, and torturers, are naught but noble, innocent victims. Israel has literally become Orwell’s 1984 “Goldstein,” whom propagandized mobs are taught to scapegoat for their every conceivable sorrow.

The ideological assault against Israel has escalated. Daily, hourly, in every language, the media repeats Big Lies. Israel is the “Nazi, apartheid” state, the “colonial” aggressor; neat trick, that. Bloody Muslim imperialism and Islamic religious and gender apartheid are thus denied and projected onto Israel.

Israel is essentially, existentially, “evil.”

In 2005, Ahmadinejad said that Israel must be “wiped off the map.” In 2006, he said that the Middle East would be better off “without the existence of the Zionist regime” and that Israel would “soon be wiped out.”

President Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust, but really, he feels Hitler did not go far enough. Thus, he is taking up where Hitler left off—Amadinejad’s intention is a clearly stated genocidal one.

No one is stopping him.

We—the world’s civilians—are now all Israelis. The same world which refused to stop the airplane hijackings and human bombs which blew up countless Israeli civilians has now inherited this whirlwind. As they say: It starts with the Jews, but it never ends there.

Recently, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said that: “To delegitimize Israel is an affront not only to Israelis but to those everywhere, in every part of humanity, who share the values of a free and independent spirit.” However, while his speech, delivered in Israel, was a very warm one, Blair also seemed to suggest that Israel’s best approach to combat the “delegitimization efforts” was to “always be a staunch and unremitting advocate and actor for peace.”

In other words, Israel, alone among nations, must earn the right to exist by being “good.” If we applied this standard to Iran, Sudan, Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia, they would have ceased to exist long ago.

Dear Mr. Blair: Israel has always been in favor of “peace.” The instransigence and solution lies elsewhere with the Palestinians, the Arab world, the Muslim world, and the so-called “international community,” which have collectively hardened their hearts against Israel. In 1975, the United Nations resolved that “Zionism is a form of racism” and has since passed 322 resolutions condemning Israel and not one condemning any Arab country.

Europeans and Americans have launched countless petitions to boycott Israel-only. Fifty Israeli and 150 American artists have just launched a performance boycott against the Israeli city Ariel. Meanwhile, they or their colleagues continue to perform in Cairo, Ramallah, Riyadh and the United Arab Emirates. Free spirited theatre people have allied themselves with the most regressive and repressive of ideologies and condemned Israel, the only country that does not honor murder women, or jail and torture dissidents, artists, or homosexuals.

Obama’s United States, along with the Western intelligentsia, wrongly blame Israel for the peace failure; they believe that it would be “racist” or “Islamophobic” to expect the Palestinians to first accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state as a precondition for any real peace negotiation. Instead, the American media blames Israel for “not caring about peace,” or for “provoking” the Palestinians into murdering Israeli civilians. Human rights organizations and medical journals blame Israel only—although in 2009, the founder of Human Rights Watch finally criticized his own organization for doing so.

Tragically, our new theatre stars wish to be seen as “anti-racists;” yet, by holding Arab and Muslim countries to much lower standards, and by condemning their inhabitants to continued Islamist barbarism, they fail every ethical test of non-racism. And, their anti-Zionism is an unacknowledged form of anti-Semitism or racism which remains a politically correct pleasure.

Big Lies and monstrous hatred have gone global. Stand against this. Stand for the values of the Enlightenment, stand for truth over lies. Otherwise, we will all be bombed back into the Arabian 7th century, the women who survive will all wear burqas, we will be ruled by misogynistic barbarians. More than the lights will go out, and not just over Europe, over the world.

Phyllis Chesler

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2011/07/21/rome-stands-with-israel/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Britain's "Islamic Emirates Project"


by Soeren Kern

A Muslim group in the United Kingdom has launched a campaign to turn twelve British cities – including what it calls "Londonistan" – into independent Islamic states. The so-called Islamic Emirates would function as autonomous enclaves ruled by Islamic Sharia law and operate entirely outside British jurisprudence.

The Islamic Emirates Project, launched by the Muslims Against the Crusades group, names the British cities of Birmingham, Bradford, Derby, Dewsbury, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Luton, Manchester, Sheffield, as well as Waltham Forest in northeast London and Tower Hamlets in East London as territories to be targeted for blanket Sharia rule.

The project, which uses the motto "The end of man-made law, and the start of Sharia law," was launched exactly six years after Muslim suicide bombers killed 52 people and injured 800 others in London. A July 7, 2011 announcement posted on the Muslims Against the Crusades website, states:

"In the last 50 years, the United Kingdom has transformed beyond recognition. What was once a predominantly Christian country has now been overwhelmed by a rising Muslim population, which seeks to preserve its Islamic identity, and protect itself from the satanic values of the tyrannical British government.

"There are now over 2.8 million Muslims living in the United Kingdom – which is a staggering 5% of the population – but in truth, it is more than just numbers, indeed the entire infrastructure of Britain is changing; Mosques, Islamic Schools, Shari'ah Courts and Muslim owned businesses, have now become an integral part of the British landscape.

"In light of this glaring fact, Muslims Against Crusades have decided to launch "The Islamic Emirates Project," that will see high profile campaigns launch in Muslim enclaves all over Britain, with the objective to gradually transform Muslim communities into Islamic Emirates operating under Shari'ah law.

"With several Islamic emirates already well established across Asia, Africa and the Middle East, including Iraq and Afghanistan, we see this as a radical, but very realistic step in the heart of Western Europe, that will inshaa'allah (God willing), pave the way for the worldwide domination of Islam."

One of the group's strategy documents, "Islamic Prevent 2011: Preventing Secular Fundamentalism and the Occupation of Muslim Land," provides insights into the religious and/or philosophical mindset behind the Islamic Emirates Project. For example, Chapter 1 states: "The Only Identity for Muslims is Islam … In no shape or form can a Muslim support any form of nationalism such as promoting Britishness."

Chapter 4 states: "A Muslim can only abide by Sharia and is not allowed to obey any man-made law." Chapter 5 states: "Muslims must reject secularism and democracy," terms which are "completely alien to Islam and against the basic tenets of Islam." Chapter 10 states: "Every Muslim must call for Sharia to be implemented wherever they are." Chapter 12 states: "It is not allowed for Muslims to integrate with a non-Islamic society." Chapter 13 states: "Muslims should set up Islamic Emirates in the United Kingdom." Chapter 14 states: "Any Muslim who opposed the policies in this pamphlet should be confronted." Chapter 16 states: "Any Muslim who has been affected by the Western way of life need to be rehabilitated."

The Muslims Against the Crusades group is the new identity of Islam4UK, an Islamist group that was proscribed by the British government in January 2010. In an effort to circumvent the government ban, Islam4UK is pursuing a strategy of creating new identities for itself, adopting new names and platforms when others have been compromised.

A leading figure behind Muslims Against the Crusades is Anjem Choudary, a notorious Sharia court judge based in London who believes in the primacy of Islam over all other faiths, and who has long campaigned for Islamic law to be implemented in all of Britain.

Choudary is a former spokesman for Islam4UK, which was "established by sincere Muslims as a platform to propagate the supreme Islamic ideology within the United Kingdom as a divine alternative to man-made law," and to "convince the British public about the superiority of Islam [...] thereby changing public opinion in favour of Islam in order to transfer the authority and power [...] to the Muslims in order to implement the Sharia in Britain."

The guardians of British multiculturalism say Choudary is harmless and, in any event, does not represent the majority of British Muslims. But he has a considerable following and his views on the role of Sharia in Britain are far more popular than many will admit.

For instance, at least 85 Islamic Sharia courts are now operating in Britain, almost 20 times as many as previously believed, according to a study by Civitas, a London-based think tank. The report shows that scores of unofficial tribunals and councils regularly apply Islamic law to resolve domestic, marital and business disputes, and that many are operating in mosques. It warns of a "creeping" acceptance of Sharia principles in British law.

Britain is also creating a parallel Islamic financial system to fill the growing demand for Sharia-compliant banking products in the wake of Muslim mass immigration to the country. According to the "Global Islamic Finance Report 2011," Britain has emerged as "ground zero" for Islamic banking in Europe; and London is now the main center for Islamic finance outside the Muslim world.

Sharia law is transforming daily life in Britain in other ways, as well. In the Tower Hamlets area of East London (also known as the Islamic Republic of Tower Hamlets),for example, extremist Muslim preachers, called the Tower Hamlets' Taliban, regularly issue death threats to women who refuse to wear Islamic veils. Neighborhood streets have been plastered with posters declaring "You are entering a Sharia controlled zone: Islamic rules enforced." And street advertizing deemed offensive to Muslims is regularly vandalized or blacked out with spray paint.

The mayor of Tower Hamlets is the Bangladeshi-born Lutfur Rahman, an ally of Choudary. Rahman is linked to the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), an Islamist group dedicated to changing the "very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed ... from ignorance to Islam." Not surprisingly, the public libraries in Tower Hamlets have been stocked with books and DVDs containing the extremist rantings of banned Islamist preachers.

Meanwhile, Britain is struggling to combat a cycle of Islamic honor-related kidnappings, sexual assaults, beatings and murder that is spiralling out of control. According to the London-based Association of Chief Police Officers, up to 17,000 women in Britain are victims of honor-based violence – forced marriages, honor killings, kidnappings, sexual assaults, beatings, female genital mutilation and other forms of abuse – every year. This figure is 35 times higher than official figures suggest, and British detectives say it is "merely the tip of the iceberg" of this phenomenon.

The Islamic Emirates of Britain Project would seem to be well underway.

Soeren Kern

Source: http://www.hudson-ny.org/2278/britain-islamic-emirates-project

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

“Palestine,” The World’s Most Economically and Politically Coddled Entity


by Barry Rubin

SkyNews reporter Tim Marshall points out what other reporters don’t…point out.

“There are well over 200 NGOs in the West Bank and Gaza, and 30% of the GDP here comes from international aid. Palestinians are among the most foreign aid funded people in the world and the place is awash with money….

“The billions that pour in here mean the Palestinian Authority does not need to try very hard to deliver the services expected by voters, it also stifles the private sector, inflates wages and causes an internal ‘brain drain’….

“No Palestinian business can compete with NGOs which routinely triple what a local firm would pay….

“`Palestine is the best-kept secret in the aid industry,’” a medical NGO worker recently told This Week In Palestine, `People need field experience and Palestine sounds cool and dangerous because it can be described as a war zone, but in reality it’s quite safe and has all the comforts that internationals want.’”

So in other words, the NGOs have every interest in continuing this situation, a lot of Westerners are making great money, the Palestinians are subsidized to an extent that much-worse-off Third World people can only dream about, AND they are portrayed as heroic, suffering victims, too!

And what does the Palestinian Authority have to do in exchange for all this loot and free propaganda? Absolutely nothing. Not make peace with Israel. Not reject a deal with Hamas. Not stop breaking all of its prior commitments by ending its drive for unilateral independence. Not cease incitement to kill Israelis or teaching its people that all of Israel is rightfully theirs. Not face a boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement. Not worry about having its officials arrested for involvement with terrorism when they visit certain European countries. Not face hate and intimidation directed at its nationals and defenders in the West [In contrast, Jews can no longer go to Belgium's main university without harassment]. Not face public criticism from Western governments. And not even have to negotiate with Israel for the last 2.5 years.

They don’t even have to face an “occupation” as they did between 1967 and 1994-1996.

All of these points are true and demonstrable facts. Yet because of the mass media’s virtual refusal to deal with this framework, they can be ignored by policymaking and intellectual elites.

This is the worst crisis in the world, the greatest oppression, and the greatest suffering?

Barry Rubin

Source: http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/2011/07/19/palestine-the-worlds-most-economically-and-politically-coddled-entity/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Congress Gets Tough on Palestinian Authority; Obama Administration Doesn’t


by Barry Rubin

The Associated Press reports:
“American aid to the Palestinians is in jeopardy over their ties to the terrorist group Hamas, unwillingness to restart negotiations with Israel and push for statehood at the United Nations over U.S. resistance, congressional Republicans and Democrats warned on Tuesday.”

But why is Congress taking the lead on this threat? Because the Obama Administration supports continued aid no matter what happens:

“Senior Obama administration officials insisted that the assistance — some $550 million requested this year — is critical to peace and stability in the Mideast and to boosting Palestinian security forces and the economy. They cautioned that cutting off aid would have serious repercussions.”

That does make sense in principle. But shouldn’t an aid cut-off be used as leverage to:

–Stop the Palestinian Authority (PA)-Hamas merger deal? Yes, it will probably fall apart on its own but without the U.S. government making a serious attempt to stop it.

–Stop the PA from throwing away all of its previous commitments and putting the United States in a corner by insisting on going to the UN with a unilateral independence proposal? If Obama vetoes it, this will be very damaging for U.S. standing in the Middle East and if Obama doesn’t veto it, the same applies.

–The refusal of the PA to negotiate seriously with Israel for 2.5 years?

“Our assistance to the Palestinian people is an important building block of our efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace in the Middle East that will allow all people there — Israelis, Palestinians and others — to live their lives in peace, in dignity and in security,” Jacob Walles, deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, told a congressional committee.

Yes, that’s absolutely true. But what happens when the assistance gets in the way of those goals because the PA refuses to negotiate on a comprehensive peace and systematically sabotages that effort? Shouldn’t the Obama Administration use some threats and leverage to win on the three points above?

Of course, this is typical, if you don’t protect your interests and merely give concessions then your interests will be trampled. As of now, the refusal of the administration to pressure or criticize the PA’s behavior is an important road block of “our efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace in the Middle East.”

Meanwhile, the Palestinian leadership blames the United States for everything wrong in the Middle East. So let me make it simple: The Palestinians blame the Obama Administration; the Obama Administration blames Israel and protects the Palestinians from criticism.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal, and Middle East editor and a featured columnist at PajamasMedia.

Source: http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/2011/07/17/congress-gets-tough-on-palestinian-authority-obama-administration-doesnt/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Iran Strikes Across Border into Iraqi Kurdistan


by Jonathan Spyer

A border dispute between Iran and the Kurdish region of Iraq underwent a significant escalation this week, as Iranian Revolutionary Guards crossed the border to engage with guerrillas of the PJAK (Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan) organization. The incursions began on Saturday night. Fighting continued throughout most of Sunday. By late Sunday afternoon, a tense quiet had returned to the border area.

Reports differ regarding the number of casualties, and the areas of engagement. The official Iranian news agency (IRNA) said that five PJAK members and one Revolutionary Guardsman had been killed in fighting in the area of Sardasht, a Kurdish town close to the border. The Iranians also claimed to have captured a wounded PJAK member. A Colonel of the Revolutionary Guards, Delavar Ranjbarzadeh, told IRNA that PJAK had suffered a ‘heavy and historic defeat.’

The Kurdish rebels dismiss this version of events. PJAK spokesman Sherzad Kamankar, said that 53 Iranians had been killed in the clashes, along with two PJAK members. He added that PJAK had succeeded in forcing the Iranians to retreat back across the borderline. Kurdish sources reported the deaths of two Revolutionary Guards officers in the fighting, naming one of them as Colonel Halit Sure.

Kurdish sources in the area also confirmed that Iranian bombardments took place at a number of other points along the border. The areas of Sehit Harun, Sehit Ayhan and Dola Koke, inside the Kurdish ruled part of Iraq, also came under fire.

Both Iranian and Kurdish sources noted a build up of Iranian forces, possibly indicating further escalation ahead. IRNA reported the presence of 5000 Iranian troops along the border. PJAK sources noted that Iranian forces were equipped with armor, missile launching equipment and helicopter gunships.

The Iranian incursion into the Kurdish ruled area of northern Iraq is the latest stage in a process of escalation that has been under way over the last month.

On July 3, Massoud Barzani, President of Iraqi Kurdistan, warned the Iranians over ongoing cross border operations by their forces. Iran responded a week ago by accusing Barzani’s government of allocating 300,000 hectares of land to PJAK without the knowledge of the central government in Baghdad. Iranian officials said that the land was intended to be used as a base for training and for launching attacks into Iran. An official quoted by the Fars news agency said that Iran ‘reserves its right to target and destroy terrorist bases in the border areas.’ Barzani denied that any lands have been allocated to PJAK.

The Iranian decision to strike across the border at this time, analysts say, may be related to Teheran’s broader strategy of encouraging disorder in Iraq as a means of placing pressure on the USA and the west. With the US Administration hoping to conduct an orderly withdrawal from Iraq at the end of the year, Washington is particularly vulnerable on this front. The Iranians are keen to remind the Americans of this vulnerability.

Some Kurdish sources note Iranian concern at the possible loss of Teheran’s main Arab ally – Assad’s Syria. It is generally accepted that firm western support of the Syrian opposition could form a decisive factor in bringing Assad down. Such support has not yet materialized. Iran may well consider that one of the ways of preventing the emergence of such support would be to remind Washington of its own vulnerability to disruption and subversion in Iraq.

The events of the last days thus cast a spotlight on a largely ignored element of the cold war under way between Iran and its enemies in the region. Increased activities by Iranian-supported Shia terror groups in southern and central Iraq have been noted in recent weeks. Actions by such groups resulted in the deaths of 15 US troops in Iraq in June.

It now appears that the Kurdish-ruled areas of northern Iraq are also set to be included in this Iranian campaign of destabilization. Stirring up a crisis in Iraqi Kurdistan is of particular value because this area has been the quietest and most well-administered part of the country since the US invasion.

The presence of anti-Iranian and anti-Turkish guerrilla groups in the Qandil Mountains border area has posed a dilemma for the Kurdish authorities. Mindful of the very difficult conditions facing their fellow Kurds in these countries, they have been reluctant to act against these elements.

The result is that Iranian bombardments and Turkish air raids form part of the reality of life in these areas. This has continued even as the Kurdish authorities have attempted to establish normal relations with Iran and Turkey.

Iran now appears to be activating this front, for its own purposes. The official Iranian media and the Kurdish rebels broadcast widely differing accounts of what exactly happened in the Iran-KRG border area in the last days. The accounts agreed, however, on one central point: considerable bloodshed took place, in fighting between the Revolutionary Guards and PJAK, following Iranian incursions across the border. Further escalations in the weeks ahead appear likely.

Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Herzliya, Israel.

Source: http://www.gloria-center.org/iran-strikes-across-border-into-iraqi-kurdistan/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Coming Islamist Takeover of Yemen


by Ryan Mauro

The Arab Spring is about to add another dictator to its tally: Yemeni President Saleh. He is still being treated in Saudi Arabia for wounds from a dramatic assassination attempt, and officials say it will be “months” before doctors release him. It is increasingly unlikely he’ll come back to his home country, and if he does, civil war may erupt. This regime change is hardly being talked about, but it is one that Islamists are eagerly awaiting.

The Yemeni Vice President says he has no idea when Saleh will be released, and other officials are saying it will be months before he comes back. A Saudi official says that Saleh definitely will not return, but it still needs to be worked out where he will go into exile. If Saleh tries to return, he will meet a massive crowd of protesters and resistance from the U.S. and the Gulf Cooperation Council. At least half of his generals have defected, and over 100 members of his Republican Guard recently quit. The most powerful tribe and General Ali Mohsen, considered the second most powerful man in the country as the head of the 1st Armored Division, have also turned against him. It is hard to see how Saleh stays in power, raising the question of what comes next.

Al-Qaeda and related terrorist groups in Yemen are prospering. Anwar al-Awlaki is a member of a feared tribe, and Al-Qaeda is advancing. They have just seized parts of Houta in Lahj Province, and previously captured Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan Province. The terrorist group’s gains have prompted General Mohsen to ask for foreign intervention to end the crisis. The Saleh regime blames the revolution for Al-Qaeda’s success, while the opposition claims that the government is permitting the terrorist threat to grow to justify its rule. The opposition is adamant that it would be a better partner in fighting Al-Qaeda, but the ideology of the opposition brings its own problems.

The opposition has united under the umbrella of the Joint Meetings Parties, which has been described as a “motley bunch of Islamists, Socialists and Arab nationalists united only by their common enemy.” The dominant party is Islah, which is supported by General Mohsen and the leading sheikh of the country’s largest tribe. Islah is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood that is backed by the Salafists. The party has been opposed to Saleh’s relationship with the U.S., and wants to create a religious police to “promote virtue and combat vice.”

One of Islah’s top leaders is Sheikh Abdul Majidal-Zindani, who has been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for his involvement with Al-Qaeda and Hamas. He is tied to Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, the top Muslim Brotherhood theologian, which tells you all you need to know about his beliefs. He draws a strong crowd and openly advocates for Sharia-based governance, preaching that “an Islamic state is coming.”

There is some hope for a unity government that limits Islah’s power, but make no mistake about it—Islamists will be the dominant faction if things stand as they do now. It is also highly questionable whether the next government can hold the country together. There is a secessionist movement in the south, as well as Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the north. The Houthis and the opposition forces are already clashing, even before their common adversary has been vanquished.

Iran is likely to gain an outpost in northern Yemen through its radical Shiite Houthi proxies. Iranian backing of the Houthis is well-documented, indisputable and thinly-concealed. In 2004, one of its leaders said “We are for justice. We do not know this democracy you speak of.” They fire the same Katyusha rockets as used by Hezbollah and Hamas, and some of the Houthi fighters even waved Hezbollah’s flag in July 2004. The Houthis have revolted several times, with the most recent rebellion happening in 2009. It was accurately considered a proxy war between Iran and its enemy Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia. The Houthi leaders characterize their fight as a defense of Islam against the U.S. The Houthis can be counted on to renew their fight for an autonomous area that will immediately become a pro-Iran enclave right on the border with Saudi Arabia.

Yemen is about to become a major problem for the U.S., but no one is talking about it. The U.S. is increasing drone strikes and is constructing a secret base to launch them from, but that will not be finished for another 8 months. These drone strikes will probably not be employed against the Houthi rebels, and the problem of Islamist support in Yemen remains. It is uncertain whether the next Yemeni government will even approve of drone strikes, though the case of Pakistan shows their approval isn’t necessary for the U.S. to protect itself.

The revolution in Yemen has big implications. It’s about time we start paying attention.

Ryan Mauro

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2011/07/20/the-coming-islamist-takeover-of-yemen/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Enduring Legacy of a Failed Flotilla


by P. David Hornik

On Tuesday the Israeli navy intercepted the Dignite al Karama, a French ship of about fifteen radical leftists and others headed straight toward the Israeli maritime blockade of Gaza (reports here and here). The Dignite was also the last remnant of what was supposed to be a ten-ship flotilla to Gaza but was foiled by a combination of tenacious Israeli diplomacy and, particularly, Greece’s refusal to let the ships embark from its ports.

The Dignite got around that by, after initially being stopped by the Greek coast guard, leaving the Greek island of Kastellorizo on Saturday ostensibly for Alexandria—and then shifting course. The passengers included a parliamentarian from the French Communist Party , a former French member of the European Parliament, an Al-Jazeera film crew, radical-left Israeli journalist Amira Hass , and radical Swedish-Israeli Israel-basher Dror Feiler . One passenger said the Dignite was “carrying a message of peace and hope and love.”

As for whatever supplies it was carrying, the Israeli navy told the vessel that they could be delivered to Gaza by land, it being perfectly legal to do so. The Dignite turned down the offer, and also refused to change course when that, too, was suggested. Israeli naval commandos boarded the ship without incident. The captain—who claimed the passengers had forced him to change course to Gaza—and the passengers were brought to Ashdod Port in Israel, from where they stand to be deported.

Thus what began ominously as a flotilla portending further violence, after the bloody Mavi Marmara incident last year, ended in something closer to farce. A turning point was the decision, for reasons still unclear, by Turkey’s jihadist IHH organization to opt out of the flotilla, leaving mostly a band of ’60s leftovers and professional Israel-baiters.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, one of the earlier reports on the Dignite disclosed that:

Israeli military officials said militants have stepped up weapons smuggling into Gaza since the ouster of longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in February.

The officials said armed groups in Gaza now possess some 10,000 rockets as well as anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. Some of the rockets can strike deep into Israel.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were discussing a sensitive military assessment.

Nor are these weapons that sit idly in storerooms somewhere, Israel’s UN ambassador Ron Prosor having told the Security Council last week that “290 missiles and mortar shells have so far been fired at Israeli families by Gaza terrorists this year alone.” What is farcical about the Dignite passengers, then, is not only their daft conviction of their righteousness but the totality of their moral perversion, which views the prevention of yet more Iranian-dispatched weapons from entering Gaza, not the weapons themselves and the havoc they cause, as the target of the latest virtuous crusade.

The Dignite passengers and their other flotilla comrades should not, though, be shrugged off as a fringe curiosity, and not only because they’re part of the worldwide BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement that seriously harms and threatens Israel in its own right. No, in their dedication to an abstract or sentimental entity they call “the Palestinians”—no matter what levels of hatred and aggression toward Israel that body of people, whether in Gaza or the West Bank, repeatedly show as in the latest dire poll—the flotillistas are only a fine distillation of a syndrome that has afflicted international diplomacy for decades. Would that they were just marginal kooks.

P. David Hornik

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2011/07/20/enduring-legacy-of-a-failed-flotilla/

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Zogby's "Arab Attitudes" Polls: The U.S. Flunks as Obama Under-Delivers


by Adam Daifallah

The results of Zogby International's occasional "Arab Attitudes" polls are as predictable as snow in winter: every time, the results show the Arab world is unhappy with America.

Conducted by the Arab American Institute (AAI), Arab Attitudes 2011 reveals that "after improving with the election of Barack Obama in 2008, U.S. favorable ratings across the Arab world have plummeted. In most countries they are lower than at the end of the Bush Administration."

You read that right: America was more popular in the Arab world under George W. Bush than under Barack Obama. How can this be? This president was supposed to "restore" America's image in the world. Could it be a wave of disappointment over the unfulfilled promises of the much-vaunted 2009 Cairo speech? Or that America is simply the easiest scapegoat for all the problems in the Middle East?

All six countries polled show different results, but the underlying trend is the same: no matter who is President, no matter how many troops are in or out of the Middle East, America remains disliked. For example, Egypt's favorable attitude towards the US was 15% in 2002, 14% in 2005, 14% in 2006, 9% in 2008 and 5% in 2011. Similarly, Jordan had results of 34% in 2002, 33% in 2005, 5% in 2006, 16% in 2008 and 10% in 2011.

Conventional wisdom has blamed dashed hopes for the poor poll results, particularly after Obama's lofty rhetoric about spreading democracy without force, more rights for women, eased tensions between Palestinians and Israelis and the pull-out of all American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. That is undoubtedly a part of the reason, but there is more to the story.

Anyone can make an optimistic speech. Obama is an expert at it. But he has broken one of the cardinal rules of politics in his foreign policy: Always under-promise and over-deliver. Obama promised too much and has not delivered on anything tangible or substantive. He has not backed up words with actions -- and Arabs know it. The impression is that Americans will only step forward and help to achieve the goals laid out at Cairo when it suits them.

Those polled were offered a choice of five answers to the question: "If you had to choose one thing from the list below, which is the greatest obstacle to peace and stability in the Middle East?" The "continuing occupation of Palestinian lands" was the top choice, followed by U.S. interference in the Arab world.

Assuming respondents are answering the questions truthfully (given that so many of them live in fear, this is very questionable), it is ironic that the top choice leads to anti-American sentiment. America is by far the largest donor to UNWRA (none of the six nations whose people were surveyed in the poll rank in the top 20) and supports Palestinian statehood.

On the second reason, wouldn't it have been interesting to add the word "selective" to "U.S. interference in the Arab world" to see if made any difference? One of the greatest sources of outrage among Arabs is America's hypocrisy: the U.S. continues to coddle the Saudi royals; takes no stand against aggression in Bahrain, and refuses to help the people of Syria and Iran to liberate themselves; yet goes to war to remove Saddam Hussein and the Taliban. The deathbed conversion to oppose Hosni Mubarak in Egypt did not help matters, either. These inconsistencies do tremendous damage to America's reputation. Obama's Cairo speech now appears like an insincere public relations stunt, given that so little has been done – even by way of words – to encourage the reform movements in many Arab countries.

America's mistakes in the Middle East are too many to list. Unfortunately, this poll merely propagates the damaging myth that the U.S. is the source of many of the region's problems and that the U.S. is incapable of helping to resolve them. America and Israel, for Arab governments, continue to be a scapegoat for everything that is wrong. America cannot catch a break -- majorities in every country even said that the killing of Osama bin Laden makes them view the US less favorably.

The only way to improve America's reputation long term is to side consistently with reformers, and be active when needed -- particularly when asked.

Adam Daifallah

Source: http://www.hudson-ny.org/2282/zogby-arab-attitudes-polls

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Obama's Defense Cuts


by Taylor Dinerman

The Obama administration is reportedly pushing for yet another $100 billion in Defense cuts, on top of the more than $500 billion in cuts to the ten-year defense spending plan the White House is already planning to enact -- ensuring that there will be few -- if any -- major Obama era defense programs left.

In cutting our military so drastically, President Obama and Secretary Panetta are effectively cutting themselves and the United States off from any real future influence on US strategic policy.

Republicans are, on the whole, protesting against what they see as an effort to liquidate American military power.

The fight in the Congress will probably follow the traditional Washington pattern: a compromise for the 2012 Defense Department budget will eventually emerge. Plans to cut hundreds of billions in Defense spending over the next ten years, however, will remain on the books.

The weakness of the administration's programs in space and missile defense will be expensive to repair. The cancellation of the advanced communications satellite program, known as T-Sat, is already creating difficulties for the men and women who must figure out how the US military will be able to operate worldwide in the later part of this decade.

The good news, however, is that the vacuum they are creating gives the GOP an unusual opportunity to shape the future in ways that are normally denied to an administration in its early days in office. If, in 2012, a Republican wins the White House, he or she will have an unprecedented chance to make far-reaching National Security decisions largely unconstrained by previous plans and commitments.

The Republicans will, if they chose, be able to reinvigorate a number of important sectors of the defense industry and thus shape the strategic environment of the first half of the 21st century.

The greatest single accomplishment that a new administration could achieve in its first term would be a through and complete reform of the Defense acquisition system. Recently, Admiral Gary Roughead, the Chief of Naval Operations, explained part of the problem: "There is a great aversion to going forth boldly with some of these new systems. We are encumbered by an extraordinary bureaucratic process that is intolerable of failure. As a result we do things to prolong the process, we increase the costs accordingly and, I think, we are losing some opportunities."

Reform is desperately needed, but ironically, it can only be done by a team at the Pentagon with intimate, up-to-date knowledge of the problem. That means that at least a few members of the Obama administration should be asked to stay on to help design and implement the reforms.

As the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan move into a new, and less intensive, phase, the US can afford to decrease, as least slightly, the overall size of the Army. What a new administration must do soon is to make major investments in the Air, Naval, Space and Cyber forces.

Does the Navy, for example, need to begin building submarines at a faster rate? Current plans call for building the Virginia-class, nuclear-powered attack submarines at a rate of two per year. If this were increased to three per year the size of the US attack submarine fleet in the 2020s would be around 60 boats, compared to the current plan to reduce the number down to 48 or less. The extra submarines would insure US maritime supremacy until at least the late 2030s.

The case for building more air superiority F-22s should be obvious. Without command of the air over the battlefield, there can be no victory. Or the new administration could choose to begin development on a new lightweight air superiority fighter. This new plane would probably not be ready for production until at least 2025.

The belief that Unmanned Air Combat Vehicles (UCAV) will be ready for air to air combat in the middle of the next decade may not come true. These UCAVs have their own set of vulnerabilities and limitations. Their communications links are one weak spot, and it is questionable whether autonomous air-combat software will be ready or reliable by 2020 or 2025. It may, however, be too soon to give up on manned combat aircraft.

The Obama administration has agreed to start work on a new "Optionally Manned" long range bomber. It will be up to the next administration to decide if this is the best use for the limited funds available. One alternative that might be cheaper would be to build a new version of the B-2 stealth bomber. The design already exists and the system is well understood.

On Missile Defense, the administration's cancellation of the Bush-era plan to put ten interceptors in Poland has been replaced by a phased plan to deploy a number of sea-based interceptors supplemented by ground based ones, later in the decade. This plan has been questioned by the Defense Science Board. A new administration could reexamine to premises behind this program.

. The two major Obama-era programs that a new GOP administration will have to decide whether to kill or not are the new European missile defense project, which is now entwined in Arms Control negotiations with Russia, and the new long-range bomber.

After Ronald Reagan won the 1980 election, his policy of "Peace Through Strength" was well known and well understood. What was not so well known was that his policy choices were, for the most part, determined by what previous administrations had done. Decisions that shaped what became known as the "Reagan Buildup" were largely made in the Nixon, Ford and Carter administrations.

For example, the doctrine known as "Air Land Battle" -- which sought to maximize the tactical and operational synergies of the Army's mechanized forces with the Air Force's tactical and operational ability to attack enemy forces on or near the battlefield -- was developed in the late 1970s. All the Reagan administration could do was to pay the bills and ensure that the forces needed to implement the doctrine were well supplied and well trained. In the Iraqi desert in 1991, the doctrine's fundamental soundness was proven.

In the Naval sphere, during the Reagan administration, people in the military built ships and bought planes that had been designed to fight battles that had been planned long before these men ever set foot inside the Pentagon.

One of the biggest political fights of Reagan;s first term was over former President Jimmy Carter's plan to station Cruise and Pershing missiles in Western Europe. Almost the entire nuclear weapons program of the eight years President Reagan spent in office was predetermined by decisions made by his immediate predecessors. The only exception was the move to build 100 B-1 bombers, which reversed Carter's decision to cancel that program.

Reagan's greatest strategic move was to begin work on Missile Defenses. His "Star Wars" program, as it was called, shifted the balance of power in the Cold War by forcing the USSR to take America's technological superiority into account -- but it had started as just a research program whose massive results would not emerge for more than a decade.

In 2001, When George W. Bush assumed office, he was faced with a similar shortage of maneuvering room. When, for instance, he promised to build a system to protect America's homeland from some ICBMs; the experts at the Pentagon told him that the only way to do so in the time frame he wanted was to build a version of former President Clinton's National Missile Defense system.

The Ground Based Missile Defense system that exists today in Alaska and California is, essentially, one that was designed by the Clinton administration and built by the the Bush administration. Once again, a Republican President had little choice but to implement strategic decisions that had been taken by a Democratic President.

If there is a new administration in 2013, it will face a tough budget and strategic environment. If it wants to rebuild US credibility it will have to reform the Defense Department and at the same time increase spending on critical systems. The opportunity may be unique, but so is the size of the defense and foreign policy challenge. This will not be at all easy, but that is why we elect presidents.

Taylor Dinerman

Source: http://www.hudson-ny.org/2275/obama-defense-cuts

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pakistan's Alleged American Influence Campaign


by IPT News

The Pakistani government engaged in a clandestine effort to influence American policy toward the disputed Kashmir region that goes back more than 20 years and has cost millions of dollars, federal prosecutors say.

In charging Syed Ghulam Nabi Fai, director of the Kashmiri American Council (KAC), with failing to register as an agent of a foreign government and conspiring to hide his connections to Pakistan, prosecutors detailed a scheme that involved significant political campaign contributions, lobbying and public relations efforts which were orchestrated and funded by Pakistan's powerful military intelligence service known as the ISI.

"Mr. Fai is accused of a decades-long scheme with one purpose – to hide Pakistan's involvement behind his efforts to influence the U.S. government's position on Kashmir," said Neil MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

The hotly contested region of Kashmir has been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan for more than fifty years, sparking four bloody wars. It has also been a rallying cry for South Asian jihadists waging war against India.

Fai incorporated the KAC in 1990, records show. But most of the money that went into the council came from Pakistan, routed through a series of "straw donors," an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Sarah Webb Linden said. That support totaled more than $4 million over the years, including some years in which $500,000 was spent on programs, public relations campaigns and political contributions.

Nearly all of the statements made by Fai or the Kashmiri center were written by the ISI, a confidential witness told investigators. Only about 20 percent of the KAC's message came from "Fai's own ideas, which have been pre-approved by the ISI but not provided by them."

Fai denied having any connections to the Pakistani government or the ISI during a March 2007 interview with the FBI. In response to a March 2010 letter from the Department of Justice (DOJ) notifying Fai to register as an agent of Pakistan under the Foreign Agents Registration Act ("FARA"), he said. "KAC or I never engaged in any activities or provided any services to any foreign entity."

Fai further argued that KAC was not lobbying but engaging in public relations. FARA however requires registration if public relations are conducted on behalf of the Pakistani government, the complaint said. According to tax records, the KAC is a sister organization to a lobbying arm called the Kashmiri American Foundation, located at the same office, employees and other resources.

Also charged in the conspiracy was a second man Zaheer Ahmad, an American citizen living in Pakistan. The complaint alleged that Ahmad helped transfer money coming from the Pakistani government to Fai through straw donors operating businesses and charities.

The charges come just weeks after prosecutors in Chicago presented evidence tying the ISI to the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. Two months ago, U.S. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani compound, prompting suspicion that the al-Qaida commander enjoyed government protection.

The Fai complaint cites a cooperating witness who told investigators that he helped Ahmad transfer several hundred thousand dollars to Fai. The witness told authorities that Ahmad had confided in him that the funds came from the ISI and were to be used for the "Kashmir cause and for lobbying."

According to the complaint, KAC is one of three "Kashmir Centers" run by elements of the Pakistani government, including the ISI. The other two centers are located in London and Brussels. KAC strategy documents discovered by federal investigators describe "plans to provide information to Executive Branch officials, use Congress to highlight the issue of Kashmir, offset the Indian lobby, and increase political pressure on both the U.S. administration and the Government of India."

Documents also detail budgets for KAC lobbying efforts that included allocations ranging between $80,000 and $100,000 annually for "campaign contributions to members of Congress, conferences, seminars, opinion pieces to be distributed to newspapers, and Congressional trips to Kashmir."

In her affidavit, Linden notes that there is no evidence that any of the politicians knew the money traced back to Pakistan.

Fai contributed $5,000 to U.S. Rep. Dan Burton, R-Indiana, over the years, records show. He gave $4,500 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee in 2004 and 2008 and gave $250 to President Obama's 2008 campaign. He gave another $500 to New York Democrat Yvette Clarke, who is shown here speaking with Fai at the Tenth International Kashmir Peace Conference on Capitol Hill in July 2009. The conference was sponsored by KAC and hosted senior ISI officials who were also believed to be Fai's handlers.

A meeting between Fai and his ISI handlers following the conference that was monitored by federal investigators reaffirmed KAC's lobbying in the U.S., Linden wrote. It also established Fai's contacts with U.S. and Pakistani politicians, including with the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Fai garnered influence despite the fact that Indian officials linked him and his organization directly to the government of Pakistan as far back as the early 1990s. In addition, he has frequently appeared at various national and local conferences sponsored by American Islamist groups as a featured guest, moderator, and panelist on topics related to Kashmir.

In 1990, he spoke at "a mass meeting" on Palestine and Kashmir organized by the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), which subsequently was identified as part of an American-based Hamas-support network. "The meeting began with a military display by a group of youth with their faces covered," said an account published in the August 1990 issue of the IAP's magazine Ila Filastin. "They raised flags embellished with 'There is no god, but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God' and 'The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).'"

Then Fai went on to speak "about Jihad on the Islamic land of Kashmir against the infidel Indian occupation."

A small sampling of other American-Islamist events in which Fai participated includes:

Fai has also attended numerous other ISNA events over the years, including the group's 43rd Annual Convention, 46th Annual Convention, a 2010 joint event with the Islamic Society of Akron and Kent, and ISNA's most recent annual convention earlier this month.

But U.S. Islamists aren't the only groups with whom Fai frequently worked. A Jan. 1998 report notes connections of a more overtly nefarious nature: working as a financial conduit for a group designated by Indian and European authorities as a terrorist organization, Hizbul Mujahideen.

According to the report:

"Syed Salahuddin, the Pakistan-based supreme commander of Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), who divested funds received from Pakistan's ISI to Mohd. Shafi Mir, a Dubai-based businessman and Mohd. Nazir, a Kashmiri employed in the Pakistan Embassy in Jeddah, was the key initiator of the channel through which the funds were finally disbursed to the militant organizations, particularly the HM. Funding was also arranged by way of donations collected in the United States and Europe by Ghulam Nabi Fai (Kashmir American Council, Washington) and Dr. Ayub Thukar (World Kashmir Freedom Movement, London)." [Emphasis added]

Ironically, both Fai and Thukar appear together on a panel discussing Kashmir alongside terrorist bedfellow, George Galloway, at the 2001 ISNA Convention noted earlier.

Both Fai and Ahmad face a sentence of five years in prison if convicted.

IPT News (The Investigative Project on Terrorism)

Source: http://www.investigativeproject.org/3050/pakistan-alleged-american-influence-campaign

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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