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The Widening Gaza War

An Inside Look at Hamas Rockets

March 12th 2008

Hamas Missiles
Hamas Missiles Are Readied

Israel has arguably the finest and most intensive cutting edge anti ballistic missile systems in the world. But it is a primitive rocket technology that was apparently obsolete 60 years ago that has thrown it into a strategic dilemma.

For Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement continues to defy the indecisive government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert by firing ever more low tech Qassem rockets at the development town of Sderot.

Sderot is clearly within the Green Line that marked the limits of Israel before the 1967 Six Day War. But that has not stopped Palestinian groups in neighboring Gaza from keeping up a regular bombardment of relatively low-tech but still potentially lethal Qassam missiles at it for more than six years. During that time more than 6,000 Qassams have been fired from Gaza. The volume and rate of fire has dramatically speeded up since Hamas, which is dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel, seized total power in Gaza from the Fatah movement that controls the Palestinian Authority.

Read more ..

Inside Gaza

Hamas Hoped For Massacre Rained Out

March 3rd 2008

Shoshana Bryen
Shoshana Bryen

The big, much-ballyhooed "human chain" across Gaza was a big bust - an interesting bust, but a bust nonetheless.

About 20,000 Gazans took part, less than half the number Hamas called for and fewer than participate in a good Gaza funeral. Media reports attributed the low turnout to the rain – and indeed, there is nothing quite as nasty as cold February rain in a Mediterranean city.

There is, as usual, a contrarian’s view – a more hopeful one.

The Hamas principle was women and children first. Not into the lifeboats or out of the burning building, but first to face the beefed-up Israeli military forces on the other side of the Gaza border. Maybe Gaza’s women and children didn’t want to go first, and so they didn’t go at all. Maybe, absent the ability to shop as they did when they burst through the Egypt/Gaza border, they stayed home. Maybe, one can hope, some of Gaza’s men were uncomfortable or humiliated to be told to march behind the women and children and so they stayed home.

Hamas rules Gaza with an iron fist and everyone there has been set against everyone else. Israel faces daily shelling with ever more precise rockets, and Gilad Shalit remains a prisoner of Hamas in violation of international law. But beyond that, the manager of Gaza’s only Christian bookstore was abducted and killed; the YMCA library, which had been a resource for Muslim as well as Christian high school students, was burned to the ground; Hamas TV encourages children to hate and kill (recently they were encouraged to "bite and eat" Danish people); gangs of Hamas teenagers are encouraged to fight gangs of Fatah teenagers. Gaza is an outpost of bloody misery and anarchy – last year’s civil war ousted Fatah leadership, but a great many Fatah members remain stranded there.

Read more ..

The Gaza Problem

Endless Gaza Rocket Attacks Against Sderot Amount to Collective Punishment with Individual Tragedies

February 20th 2008

World Citizens - Mitchell Bard
Mitch Bard

Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip in 2005 with the expectation that the Palestinians would take the opportunity to build the infrastructure for a state and demonstrate their willingness to coexist with Israel. Instead of trading land for peace, Israel traded land for terror. Israeli citizens in southern Israel have been targets of a steady barrage of more than 2,400 rockets. The media has largely trivialized these attacks, giving the false impression that these are little more than firecrackers that pose no threat to Israeli lives rather than lethal, high-explosive rockets meant to terrorize and kill innocent Israeli men, women and children.

By focusing on the quantity of rockets, the media also minimizes the impact on the communities under siege and the lives of individual Israelis who suffer from each attack as well as the cumulative stress of the ongoing bombardment. The human cost of these unprovoked attacks can be seen in the hospitals and cemeteries where the dead and injured lay. The psychological harm, however, is not visible. The Israeli Center for Victims of Terror and War found that 28 percent of adults and 30 percent of children in the town of Sderot, the principal target of Palestinian terror attacks, have post-traumatic stress disorder.

Here are some of the most recent stories of the people affected by the terror war in Sderot and the surrounding communities: Read more ..


Election Edge

Can the Candidates Recognize the Enemy

February 4th 2008

Islamic Topics - Flag of Islamic Jihad
Flag of Islamic Jihad

The post 9/11 era has changed the rules of engagement for national security experts and for those who can read the mind of the Jihadists, when it comes to US Presidential elections. While the principle was that the counter Terrorism community should let the voters chose their candidates and select their chief executive first, then offer the expert advice to the President later, unfortunately for that principle, things have changed.

Indeed, since the attacks against New York and Washington and the engagement of the nation in the war with Jihadism since 2001, the selection of the US President can fundamentally affect the survival of the American People. Who would occupy the White House in 2009 will have to make decisions for four to eight years with cataclysmic consequences on the physical security and the freedom of 300 million citizens in this country and eventually on the free world as a whole: For the leader of the most powerful democracy in the world has to be able to know who the enemy is so that all resources are put into action. Short of this ability to be very clear and precise on the nature of the danger and the processes to address it, a next US President could cause a major disaster to this nation. Read more ..


America's Islamic Strategy

US Pushing Kosovo Independence for Muslim consumption

December 14th 2007

Waliid Phares

Over the past few months a number of Western leaders, including senior United States figures, have lent their support to separating the province of Kosovo from the Republic of Serbia, based on the fact that a majority of the inhabitants in the province, ethnic Albanians, wishes this to be done.

The U.S Secretary of State and top European diplomats have been working on the assumption that the ultimate outcome of the crisis should be to see another new Republic emerging in the Balkans from the rubble of former Yugoslavia. Their participation in the UN-sponsored negotiations, along with Serbia, Kosovo, Albania and Russia, has been heading toward the endpoint of breaking one nation state's territory into two states, ignoring the historical context, consequences, and important principles, with far-reaching unpleasant consequences when these principles serve as precedents elsewhere.

Underlying all of this is a not-so-hidden agenda: an anticipated so-called diplomatic dividend for pleasing the Muslim world. A prominent US legislator declared over the summer that granting Kosovo its independence would please the Muslim world and would show that America is not anti-Islamic. The Kosovo affair has this assumed extra importance in this precarious post 9/11 era, as a token. But it risks kindling a chain reaction of explosive crises around the world. Read more ..


Global Terrorism

Is Iran's Revolutionary Guard Iran's SS

September 4th 2007

Iran - Iran's Revolutionary Guard
Iran's Revolutionary Guard

Placing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (Pasdaran) on the official U.S. terror list is not unlike what it would have been to so-target the SS, and by association the Nazi regime and the German war machine during World War II.

To name the 125,000-strong Pasradan a “terrorist organization” [the first state military branch to be so designated] was a master stroke of effective symbolism. We can already see the uncomfortable, worldwide reaction as exhibited by the spokespersons of the Khomeinist elite, including the Arab-speaking apologists for Tehran.

Speaking on Al Jazeera and other Arab media, pro-Iranian commentators reacting to the news boasted about the omnipresence of the Pasdaran across Iran and asked, "How will the U.S. make a distinction between the Guards and the people." In fact, such comments betray the fear Iranian leaders have had at this point.

Clearly, Iran's leaders are embarrassed in front of their masses; embarrassed that a global power officially considers the most-powerful organization within the regime to be nothing more than “terrorists.” The impact of this decision has barely begun, and will snowball in terms of the psychological impact it will surely have on the ordinary Iranian citizen. Read more ..


Inside Iran

Missing in Iran

August 26th 2007

World Citizens - Micah Halpern headshot
Micah Halpern

Bob Levinson worked for the FBI and before that for the DEA. He retired from these "companies" about ten years ago and like many former agents, went into the private sector. According to his resume, Bob Levinson had "extensive international experience and has focused on criminal activities, business intelligence projects, asset location and recoveries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Russia and Europe."

Bob Levinson was last heard from on March 8th, 2007. He was last seen on an Iranian island called Kish, a resort that caters to a Muslim and European clientele. Unlike the rest of Iran, Kish is a commercially-oriented area where even United States residents - who can enter Iran proper only after undergoing scrutiny and obtaining a special visa and travel papers - are permitted entry without special visas.

Former agents often do private work after retirement. They gain employment as contractors for the government or for companies in the private sector interested in their contacts and talents. As the saying goes, once a spy always a spy. Levinson, it seems, was not working on a covert operation. He was working for a film company and he was in Kish gathering information and meeting contacts.

Almost five months later and there has been no word from Levinson or about Levinson. Relations between the United States and Iran being what they are there is no direct line of communication between the State Department and the powers that be in Iran. Diplomatic ties were severed in 1979 when the Iranians took the United States embassy in Teheran hostage. The United States is at a loss, their access to information is through back channels. Christine, Levinson, the missing man’s wife. is trying on her own, through the media, to gather any information that she can on the condition of her husband of thirty-three years.

She has been interviewed by CNN. There have also even been Persian language programs discussing the disappearance of her husband. She is making a direct appeal for help and information via radio. Her efforts even include an appeal on the Voice of Peace broadcast into Iran.

About two to three US citizens disappear each year in Iran. Sometimes, there is a happy ending, often there is not. One glimmer of hope for finding Bob Levinson comes in the form of the return of another US hostage. The director of the Middle East division of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, an Iranian American who was held hostage since May was just released on “bail.” The terms of her release involved the exchange of a very large sum of money - but she is free. Read more ..


Terrorism Readiness

New York Emergency Response an Invaluable Drill

August 20th 2007

World Citizens - Micah Halpern headshot
Micah Halpern

New York recently went on high alert after an Internet prediction of an Islamic terror attack. Traffic was a mess. Trucks and vans were scrutinized. Bridges, tunnels and highways were moving along at a steady crawl. One of the most fast paced and vibrant cities in the whole wide world was forced to move slowly, deliberately and cautiously.

And then it was over.

And now we must ask – what was that all about? What really is the purpose of putting a city, a population, a nation on high alert? One would think that between the Office of Homeland Security, local police and law enforcement, informants and counter terrorism wonks, the “people in the know” would know how to tell which threats are real and credible and which are hype and improbable.

Well, they do know.

Counter terrorism is an art, it is also a science, and it is also a precise, exacting military-like series of maneuvers. And elevated alerts are an important tool in the arsenal of the counter terrorist. What happened in New York on that specific Saturday was an exercise well worth the time, effort, discipline and the discomfort of the citizens and visitors who happened to have been in town on that warm summer morning.

Elevated alerts are rushed into action following a credible threat emanating from credible Intel. The goal is to prevent a terrorist attack from happening.

A terror attack is like a jigsaw puzzle. It requires many pieces and all the pieces must interlock properly or it will not succeed. Take away one piece and an entire operation is either aborted – or doomed to fail.

With elevated alerts comes heightened security. And one of the best ways to achieve heightened security is through the use of roadblocks. Roadblocks are an attempt to prevent one or more pieces of the terrorist puzzle from coming into the arena. Roadblocks are used to force the planners to halt their operation.

Heightened or elevated alerts send out messages. The message to the public is that we are on top of things, we are not letting terrorist sneak in or slide by, we are maintaining a serious defense system. More important is the message that is sent out to terrorists. An alert says “we know something, we have information.” And then it is up to the terrorists to determine just what and how much really is known – about their plan, about their players, about their general operation. The message is used to instill the fear of failure, the fear of being caught, in the terrorist operatives. Read more ..


Saudi Arms

Confronting The Saudi Arms Deal

August 19th 2007

Contributors / Staff - Waliid Phares headshot
Walid Phares

The U.S. is considering a new gigantic arms sale to Saudi Arabia of up to $20 billion. The proposed package includes advanced satellite-guided bombs, upgrades to its fighters and new naval vessels as a U.S. strategy to contain the rising military expansion of Iran in the region. The titanic arms deal is seen as a major Saudi spending to shield itself from a Khomeinist menace looming at the horizons: an Iranian nuclear bomb, a future Pasdaran control of Iraq, and a Hezbollah offensive in Lebanon.

In reality, the Iranian threat against the Saudis materializes as follows: A) If the U.S.-led coalition leaves abruptly, the Iranian forces - via the help of their militias in Iraq - will be at the borders with Saudi Arabia. Throughout the Gulf, Iran’s mullahs will be eyeing the Hijaz on the one hand and the oil-rich provinces on the other hand. B)Hezbollah threatens the Lebanese government, which is friendly to the Saudis. Hezbollah, already training for subversion in Iraq, will become the main trainer of Shiite radicals in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia. C) Finally, across Iraq’s borders, Syria and Iran can send all sorts of jihadis, including Sunnis.

With such hydra advancing, the Wahhabi monarchy is hurrying to arm itself with all the military technology it can get from Uncle Sam. Riyadh believes that with improved F-16s, fast boats, electronics and smarter bombs it can withstand the forthcoming onslaught. I believe it won’t. For as the Iraq-Iran war has proved, the ideologically rooted brutality of the Iranian regime has no boundaries. If the U.S. withdraws from the region without a strong pro-Western Iraq in the neighborhood and absent of a war of ideas making progress against fundamentalism as a whole, the Saudis won’t stand a chance for survival. For the Iranians will apply their pressures directly and unleash more radical forces among the neo-Wahhabis against Saudi Arabia. The Shiite mullahs will adroitly manipulate radical Sunnis, as they have in Iraq and Lebanon. So what should the U.S. advise the Saudis to do instead of spending hugely on arms? Read more ..


Global Jihad

Islam's Divide--and Us

August 9th 2007

Islamic Topics - Palestinian Rally
PLO masked marchers

The attacks of 9/11 generated a tide of commentary on the origins and aims of anti-Western jihadism. Lately, however, events have shifted attention to another, more long-standing feature of the Muslim world raising the question of whether Islamic militancy against the West is now of lesser geopolitical significance than a stark, increasingly salient divide within Islam itself–the ancient divide, that is, between the numerically dominant Sunnis and a Shiite minority that is finally coming into its own.

In this, the prime exhibit is Iraq. Since the country changed hands from a Sunni dictatorship to a Shiite-controlled government, the conflict there, at first slowly but then with growing intensity, has at least in part taken on the appearance of a war between two sects. Every week brings gruesome suicide attacks on Shiites by Sunni terrorists, attacks answered in kind by Shiite militias and death squads. Iraqis have been dragged from their cars and killed merely for being Sunni or Shiite. Whole neighborhoods of Baghdad have been emptied of one sect or the other. Mortar attacks have been launched from cemeteries and shrines, and the holiest of mosques have been bombed and torched by putative co-religionists. Read more ..



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