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Friday, 19 December 2014

Obama: Bush Has ‘Every Right’ to Run; Clinton Would Be ‘Excellent President’

Bush Clinton

Bush Clinton

Following the President’s announcement to normalize relations with Cuba, Obama sat down with ABC News’ David Muir where the president was asked about Jeb  Bush’s recent announcement to ‘explore’ a run for presidency.

“The Bush family, I love personally, they are good people. Jeb’s father, George H.W. has been here many times, in some cases with Jeb. And they are a great family, wonderful people,” the president said.

“Obviously I have a lot of disagreements with Jeb and his brother on policy. But I think they have every right to do what they think is best,” Obama said of a Bush run for the top position in the country.

But Obama had much higher praise for his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, who’s highly considered — and backed by the polls — to be the Democratic front-runner, should she decide to run.

“I think so highly of her,” Obama said of Clinton. “I’ve said before and will continue to say I think she’d be an excellent president.”

Earlier this week, the former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, announced that he’s ‘actively exploring’ a run for presidency. On Thursday his spokesman announced that he will resign his senior advisor position with British banking giant Barclays at the end of the year. Bush has been with the banking and financial services firm since 2009.

Rockland County Legislator Aron Wieder ‘In Shock’ After Receiving ISIS-style Threatening Letter

wieder isis 2

wieder isis 2

Rockland County majority leader, Aron Wieder was a little shaken to discover that his tireless advocacy on behalf of his community in Rockland County has taken some to suggest the extreme, after receiving a threatening picture in which his face is was doctored on the body of an ISIS prisoner about to be beheaded.

On Thursday, Spring Valley Legislator Aron Wieder revealed to local media that the chilling picture was sent to his county office on Monday in an envelope postmarked from Monsey and sent under the name of “Moshe Muhammad.”  

“I opened the letter and I was completely shocked. I literally had shivers running down my spine,” Wieder said. “It’s meant to intimidate and to shock. If it’s someone who is sympathetic toward ISIS or someone who is hateful toward the Orthodox community is no matter, it’s equally disgusting.”

Wieder said that he opened the shocking letter while in session on Monday at the County legislator. He immediately excused himself from county business and went over to show the picture to Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco, who was in attendance.
wieder isis 2

“I’m looking over my shoulder, and that’s plenty,” Wieder stated. “I lock my doors at night, but life goes on and you hope for the best. You have to have full confidence in law enforcement.”

“I take this very seriously,” said Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco III. “We’re looking at it. It’s under investigation with ourselves and our joint terrorism task force.. We’re taking this very seriously as a threat and will be working with our partners in law enforcement and the FBI to try to track down who sent this.”

Wieder, the County Legislature’s only Orthodox Jewish member, was elected in 2011.

Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind said he spoke with Mr. Wieder and called on local authorities to protect him. “We don’t know who did this but we’re going to find out,” said Hikind “The Jewish community worldwide is celebrating the miracle of Chanukah and some sick individual chose this time to send this message to Wieder and our community. We’re taking the message seriously and I am calling on both local and Federal authorities to do the same—to investigate thoroughly as well as provide security for Aron Wieder and his family. The people responsible for this must be arrested and dealt with.”

Brooklyn Councilman David Greenfield tweeted, “my love & support to Rockland legislator @AronWieder who was sent photo-shopped #ISIS pic of him about to be beheaded. #Appalling.”

FA Suspends Liverpool Striker for One Game Over ‘Offensive’ Post

Mario Balotelli anti semitic instagram post

England’s Football Association handed a one-game suspension to Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli over an offensive Instagram post, which he deleted moments after being posted.

Balotelli posted on his Instagram page an image that depicted ‘Super Mario’ with the caption “Don’t be racist!” beneath the character were the words “jumps like a black man and grabs coins like a Jew.” He later deleted the post and apologized the next day.

In a statement, the Football Association said that Balotelli will be suspended for one game. He was also fined with £25,000.

“The charge was that an image the Liverpool player posted on social media was abusive and/or insulting and/or improper, contrary to FA Rule E3(1). Furthermore, the posting was considered to be an “Aggravated Breach” as defined in FA Rule E3(2) in that it included a reference to ethnic origin and/or colour and/or race and/or nationality and/or religion or belief,” the statement said.

“Mr Balotelli has also been ordered to attend an education programme.”

After hearing of the ruling, Balotelli posted the following on Instagram: “I am sorry that my team-mates and supporters of Liverpool FC have to be penalized for something I did and now come to regret. It is my decision to comply with the decision of the FA and make sure it never happens again.

Canadian Prime Minister: Gunman in Parliament Attack May Not Have Acted Alone

Photo/AP

Photo/AP

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that the shooter at Canada’s Parliament might not have been acting alone in committing the attack.

Harper previously called the attack by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a ‘terror attack.’ Zehaf-Bibeau, a Canadian citizen who was seeking to travel to Syria, was shot dead after a gunfight in the halls of Parliament, but not before he managed to shoot and kill a soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial.

Speaking with the TVA Network, Harper saidon Wednesday that “People say he was a lone wolf. It’s true he was a single attacker, but it is not necessarily the case that it was only one guy.”

“It is possible there were other people around these men,” Harper said. He gave no further explanation, but did say that the investigations are still ongoing.

Following the attack, Police said that Zehaf-Bibeau, prepared a video of himself prior to the attack which proves that he was driven by ideological and political motives.

The attack came just two days after a man described as an “ISIL-inspired terrorist” ran over two soldiers in a parking lot in Quebec, killing one and injuring the other before being shot to death by police. The man had been under surveillance by Canadian authorities, who feared he had jihadist ambitions and seized his passport when he tried to travel to Turkey.

AP contributed to this report.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Iran and US Fighting On Same Side Rattles Israeli Defense Officials


The Investigative Project on Terrorism


by Yaakov Lappin
Special to IPT News


Confirmation that Iran has joined the air campaign against Islamic State (IS) terrorists in Syria won muted praise from U.S. officials last week. And that development has increased anxiety among Israeli defense officials that budding cooperation between Tehran and Washington will lead to dangerous comprises about Iran's nuclear program and inadequate action confronting the Islamic Republic's global terrorist network.

The biggest threat from that network lies just over Israel's northern border in Lebanon.

On Sunday, according to international media reports, Israeli Air Force jets bombed targets in and around Damascus. The strikes likely targeted advanced weapons that were destined for Hizballah depots in southern Lebanon, often hidden in apartment buildings in Shi'ite villages.

With more than 100,000 rockets and missiles, Hizballah has the largest arsenal of any terrorist organization in the world, and its heavy involvement in the Syrian civil war on behalf of dictator Bashar al-Assad's regime is giving it plenty of experience in ground warfare.

Israel did not confirm any involvement in the recent air strikes, but it is deeply involved in a covert war against an international Iranian-led weapons smuggling network that is designed to provide Hizballah and other radical terror entities around the Middle East with an array of sophisticated arms.

This network is run by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force, which oversees the smuggling of powerful weapons to Hizballah in Lebanon, often via Syria. The Iranian network also attempts to send arms to Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, to radical Shi'ite militias in Iraq that fight the Islamic State, and to Shi'ite Houthi rebels that have taken over Yemen's capital.

Iran's Quds Force and Hizballah, both backers of the Assad regime, have set up terrorism sleeper cells around the Middle East and beyond, according to Israeli intelligence assessments. Some of these cells are routinely activated and ordered to strike Israeli and Jewish targets.

Israeli intelligence agencies quietly work to stop the planned attacks, any one of which, if successful, could spark a wider regional conflict.

Meanwhile, Tehran continues to pursue a nuclear program and develop ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

According to international media reports, Israel targeted shipments of Hizballah-bound weapons in Syria five times in 2013, and once in Lebanon in 2014. This has led Hizballah to retaliate by planting two bombs on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon appeared to hint at Israel's role in the latest Syria strikes, by saying that "those who seek to arm Israel's enemies will know that we can reach anywhere, at any time, and through any means to thwart their plans."

As this covert, high-stakes struggle continues to rage against the background of Iran's creeping nuclear program, a growing number of Israeli defense officials are expressing concern that the Obama administration may be willing to cooperate with Iran and its radical Shi'ite allies in the war against the Islamic State.

The officials stress the flourishing defense ties between Israel and the U.S., which are absolutely vital for Israeli security, and express gratitude for continuous American defense assistance.

However, some have become highly critical of the way the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State sees Iran as a de facto member.

Israeli defense officials wonder out loud whether the West, led by the U.S., is falling into a dangerous trap, by teaming up with the radical Shi'ite axis in the Middle East.

To be sure, no one within the Israeli defense establishment doubts the need to tackle the Sunni Islamic State. Israel is quietly providing any assistance necessary to the anti-ISIL coalition.

Yet it is the prospect of tactical cooperation between the U.S. and Iran against IS, and the danger that the cooperation could lead to Western concessions to Iran over its nuclear program that haunts some.

The failure by Washington to take tangible steps against Iran's global terrorism network is also a source of concern. This network is growing in Syria, along with Iran's presence there, and over the past 12 months, all of the cross-border terror attacks launched from Syria into northern Israel have been the work of elements linked to either Hezbollah or Iran, one senior military official has said.

These worries seem to be bolstered by comments like those recently made by Secretary of State John Kerry, who welcomed Iranian air strikes on Islamic State positions in Iraq, describing them as "positive."

Unlike the Islamic State, the Shi'ite radical axis enjoys state sponsorship from an Islamic Republic that is three to six months away from nuclear weapons.

This situation makes it a more urgent problem for global security, and would seem to justify a stance that views both radical Sunnis and radical Shi'ites as threats to international peace.

Driven by an extremist religious-ideological doctrine, the Iranian-led axis views moderate Sunni governments which partner with the West – like Egypt and Jordan – as enemies, seeks to push American influence out of the Middle East, and promotes the idea of Iranian hegemony as a first step to establishing eventual Iranian global dominance.

Iran views itself as the authentic Islamic caliphate, and seeks to export its influence as far as possible. Eventually, it would like to fuel conflict across the region through its proxies under a nuclear umbrella.

"The success of the Iranian revolution influences to this day the ambition for an Islamic caliphate," Ya'alon said this month, in an attempt to illustrate the imminent danger posed by Iran's role in the world.

Disappointment in Israel has been expressed over what one official said was the West's "support" for radical Shi'ites, and its willingness to ignore Iranian threats.

Israeli officials, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have expressed concern about the U.S. agreeing to a "bad deal" with Iran over its nuclear program since talks started. Thus far, those fears have not yet been realized.

The Tel Aviv-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center published a report last week that explicitly warned about Iranian-American cooperation against IS, which it said could occur at Israel's expense.

"Despite Iran's basic hostility towards the United States, and despite Iran's subversion of American interests in the Middle East, it might collaborate with the United States against ISIS and the global jihad in Syria and Iraq, the common enemy," the report said. "Such collaboration might occur at Israel's expense and harm its vital interests (for example, Iran's concessions on the nuclear issue). In addition, collaborating against ISIS might increase Iranian influence in Syria and Iraq, and might also strengthen Hizballah's status in Lebanon, possibly strengthening the Iranian-led radical camp in the Middle East."

The report is another signal of concerns in Jerusalem that Washington's war on IS could lead it to make concessions to Tehran on a nuclear program.

Such an outcome would entrench and legitimize Iran's position as a state on the threshold of nuclear arms possession, an outcome that, in Jerusalem's eyes, would jeopardize both regional and international security to an unacceptable degree.

Yaakov Lappin is the Jerusalem Post's military and national security affairs correspondent, and author of The Virtual Caliphate (Potomac Books), which proposes that jihadis on the internet have established a virtual Islamist state.

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The Alleged 2008 Mumbai Terror Attack Mastermind Has Just Been Granted Bail

 By Kayla Ruble

The alleged mastermind behind the brutal 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai that left 166 people dead has today been granted bail by a Pakistani court in Islamabad, apparently due to lack of evidence.
Zaki ur Rehman Lakhvi is one of seven individuals arrested and accused of carrying out the massacre in the Indian city. Lakhvi's lawyer told Reuters that their client could be out as soon as Monday — once he pays approximately one million rupees, or $10,000, in bonds ordered by the anti-terrorism court.The Alleged 2008 Mumbai Terror Attack Mastermind Has Just Been Granted Bail

Speaking to PTI news agency, his attorney Raja Rizwan Abbasi said the court decided to allow Lakhvi's release because "evidence against Lakhvi was deficient."

Lakhvi is largely believed to have been in charge of the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist cell — the mostly Pakistan-based militant group that was implicated in the attack — when the events occurred. He has also been linked to various other attacks carried out in Mumbai. While Lashkar-e-Taiba largely operates out of Pakistan, it is officially banned in the country.

Pakistani authorities apprehended Lakhvi in 2009, but refused to send him to India for trial. All but one of the gunmen were killed during the massacre, and the remaining fighter, Ajmal Amir Kasab, was captured by authorities in the midst of the violence, and eventually hanged in 2012.

In a siege that began on November 26, 2008, 10 armed fighters believed to be affiliated with Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorized multiple sites in the financial hub with gunfire and bombs, including a synagogue and Jewish community center, train station, a hospital, and the luxury Taj hotel. In addition to the more than 160 people killed, another 308 were injured.

Many have already spoken out against the Thursday's court decision, including India's Interior Minister Rajnath Singh.

"I think it shouldn't have happened. I believe that all the evidences that have been provided by the Indian government are enough to convict Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and the Pakistan government should appeal against this in the upper court as soon as possible," he said, according to Al Jazeera.

The news of Lakhvi's bail comes just 48-hours after seven Pakistani Taliban gunmen opened fire on a school in the city of Peshawar during an attack that left 162 people dead — 132 of whom were children.

After speaking with the country's political leaders, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif discussed the attacks at a press conference, saying unity was needed for Pakistan's battle against terrorism.

"This fight will continue until all terrorists are defeated," he said. "At no stage there would be any discrimination between the good and bad Taliban and all would be dealt equally with an iron hand."

Why the Pakistani Taliban Massacred 132 Children at a School in Peshawar. Read more here.

Follow Kayla Ruble on Twitter: @RubleKB

TOPICS: indiamumbaipakistanlashkar-e-taibirajnath singh2008 mumbai attackstalibanzaki-ur-rehman lakhvipeshawarnawaz sharifterrorist?ajmal amir kasabwar & conflictasia & pacific

Obama At Overheard Hanukkah Reception Comment: ‘I Am Jewish In My Soul’

Photo/AP

Photo/AP

In an account of President Barack Obama’s Hanukkah reception in the White House on Wednesday, the Jewish Journal’s David Suissa writes an overheard conversation in which the president said that he’s Jewish in his soul.

The revelation came during the president’s rope line after the formal speeches, in which an attendee caught the attention of the president and told his the following:

“Mr President, when I told my Christian friend I was coming to a Channukah party at the White House, he told me, ‘I didn’t know the President was Jewish!,’” the person was quoted as saying.

“The President let out a serious belly laugh. But in all the commotion of people asking other questions and everyone clicking their smart phone cameras, it was easy to lose sight of the president to see if he had anything to say,” Suissa writes.

After about three or four seconds, as he was walking away, President Obama responded, “I am, in my soul.”