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WEEK OF MAY 22 THROUGH MAY 28
Islamic State Aims to Destroy Israel, ‘Liberate’ Jerusalem with Sinai Peninsula Terrorist Force
May 24….(Washington Times) With a media blitz, the Islamic State has set its sights on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as the next shot at expanding its empire and establishing a base from which to attack neighboring Israel. The terrorist group’s propaganda units have gone into high gear for recruitment this month to build a force in Sinai large enough to one day conquer Jerusalem, the same way its fighters took over large parts of Syria and Iraq.
Last week, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned of the Islamic State’s presence in Sinai, where the group may have placed as many as 1,000 terrorists. The general’s concern is a signal that the US faces another war front against the Islamic State in addition to Iraq, Syria and Libya. More than a dozen Islamic State media arms in Iraq and Syria have produced videos narrated by a who’s who of hardened jihadis, who are surely on a US kill list for daily airstrikes.
Islamic State propaganda promises recruits that they will one day “liberate” Jerusalem and end the state of Israel, according to analysis by the Middle East Media Research Institute, which tracks jihadi communications. The Egyptian army, the force standing in the way, is threatened with beheadings if soldiers continue to fight. Such a massive propaganda effort for one mission is unusual for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL. Analysts says it means leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi views the land as increasingly important to his group’s ultimate goal of bringing down governments in the region and expanding its so-called caliphate, or Islamic state.
WEEK OF MAY 15 THROUGH MAY 21
US Warplanes Intervene in Syrian War
May 18….(DEBKA) On Tuesday, May 17, the US expanded its involvement in the war in Syria, and for the first time since the war began in 2011, US F-16 fighter-bombers bombed radical Syrian rebels fighting Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah forces near Aleppo, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources say in an exclusive report.
According to the sources, the targets were mainly troops, positions, and transportation routes of rebel groups such as ISIS and the Nusra Front that also threaten moderate Syrian rebel groups in the area. But there is no doubt that the American airstrikes will help Syrian President Bashar Assad, just like the Russian bombings have done.
The US warplanes took off from Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey and entered Syrian airspace over Idlib province in northern Syria.
Our sources said that the airstrikes were coordinated with the Russian air force command at Hmeymim airbase next to Latakia, and via American and Russian officers operating from the Jordanian capital Amman. There is no doubt that the intervention was a turnaround by the administration of President Barack Obama that until now had opposed any US air force operation inside Syria due to concern over tipping the balance in favor of one of the warring sides.
There are now no less than ten air forces engaged in the Syrian war: those of the US, Russia, Israel, Britain, France, Belgium, Germany, Syria, Turkey and Jordan.
Last week, ahead of the US air force’s entry, the Pentagon reinforced the American special forces troops at Remalan airbase, located in northern Syria next to the Kurdish city of Hassakeh.
Obama previously announced that 250 troops had been deployed to reinforce the 50 already on the ground. But debkafile’s military sources report that the actual number of US soldiers at the base is much higher, and that the troops have attack and transport helicopters that can deliver them within a short period of time to any of the fronts in Syria. The US air force attacks on the Aleppo and Idlib fronts are expected to continue in the coming days.
WEEK OF MAY 8 THROUGH MAY 14
ISIS to Israel: “We’re Coming Very Soon”
May 9….(DEBKA) The last 48 hours (May 7-8) have seen a major escalation of the ISIS threats against Israel, debkafile’s intelligence and counterterrorism sources report. In a coordinated maneuver by all of the ISIS commands in the Middle East, the terrorist organization simultaneously released at least 10 videos that it said showed ISIS forces on their way to attack targets in Israel.
All of the videos refer to the Palestinian issue, Jerusalem and the timing of the attacks. In each one, the narrator claims the terror organization did not forget the Palestinians, and will not neglect them any more; describes Jerusalem as “a bridge to Islam”; and threatens an impending attack, saying “We’re coming, and coming very soon” accompanied by images of fighters from the ISIS affiliate in the Sinai are shown.
It was not the first time for the ISIS propaganda machine to threaten hostilities against Israel, but it was the first time for the threat to be issued simultaneously from every province or city where ISIS is located in the Middle East. The videos included ones from Raqqa, the ISIS capital in Syria; Mosul, the terrorist organization’s capital in Iraq; the Sinai Peninsula and Egypt; Derna in eastern Libya; and central Libya, where according to debkafile’s counterterrorism sources ISIS controls a huge 300-kilometer area including the Mediterranean coast on the Gulf of Sidra.
Our sources report that every video contains the following sentences: “We know that the Egyptian army is being helped by Israeli intelligence and the Israeli Air Force in its war against us”; “We also know that Israel set up intelligence networks within the population of the Bedouin tribes in the Sinai”; and “From now on we will take action against Egyptian and Israeli targets as one.”
debkafile’s intelligence sources report that these comments are intended to counter efforts by the Egyptian military to establish anti-ISIS militias among the Bedouin tribes. This came after American counterterrorism experts advised the Egyptian military to operate the same way that the US operates among the Sunni tribes in western Iraq’s Anbar province, where US military instructors are setting up local militias to prevent ISIS fighters from entering or passing through areas under the tribes’ control. Our sources report that three Bedouin anti-ISIS militias have been established in the Sinai so far: the “Sons of Sinai”, “Unit 103”; and the “Death Squad”.
Meanwhile, the ISIS affiliate in the Sinai carried out one of its boldest terrorist attacks on Sunday, May 8, killing eight Egyptian policemen including an officer, in the Cairo suburb of Helwan. Four masked terrorists with automatic weapons jumped out of a commercial vehicle that had blocked a minibus transporting the policemen, fired hundreds of bullets at the minibus, killing everyone inside, and then fled the scene. Western counterterrorism experts monitoring ISIS-Sinai estimate that it not only has the ability to carry out terrorist attacks in major Egyptian cities, but also against Israel.
Obama Admin: Yes, We Lied to Israel About Iran
May 9….(Israel Today) Ben Rhodes, a deputy National Security Adviser to US President Barack Obama, revealed in a New York Times interview published last week what pretty much everyone already knew, the Obama White House lied to win approval for its Iran nuclear deal. Getting a deal on the books was more important than the consequences of doing so, it was more important than the reality of an aggressive and nuclear-armed Iran. That’s the gist of what Rhodes told the Times. “We can do things that challenge the conventional thinking that, you know, ‘AIPAC doesn’t like this,’ or ‘the Israeli government doesn’t like this,’ or ‘the gulf countries don’t like it,’” Rhodes said. “It’s the possibility of improved relations with adversaries. It’s nonproliferation.”
Where Obama explicitly lied to allies and Americans was in describing the nuclear deal as having been struck with a “moderate” Iranian regime that had finally displaced a far more hard-line government in Tehran. “The idea that there was a new reality in Iran was politically useful to the Obama administration,” read the Times article. Had Obama been honest about the fact that the foundation for his deal had already been laid with the former hard-line Iranian government, and that the new “moderate” regime wasn’t really all that moderate, a lot more people would have taken the Israeli view of the nuclear agreement.
Former US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was also interviewed, noting that another lie was the notion that America under Obama would ever resort to military force should Iran violate the agreement and field a nuclear weapon. Just days after these revelations, the Iranian new agency Tasnim reported that Iran recently tested a new medium-range ballistic missile capable of accurately striking any point in Israel.
Rev. Graham: America Is ‘On The Verge of Total Moral And Spiritual Collapse – Unless God Intervenes’
May 4….(Michael Chapman) Because of America’s decadence and ever-spreading rejection of God, along with the “unrelenting assault” on Christians and their beliefs, this nation “is in deep trouble and on the verge of total moral and spiritual collapse – unless God intervenes,” said Reverend Franklin Graham, son of world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham. He added that the United States may be in a situation like that of the Babylonian king Belshazzar, who saw the mysterious handwriting on the wall foretelling his doom but did not change his ways.
King Belshazzar was judged by God and “found wanting” and his kingdom was “handed over to a new world power,” said Franklin Graham, in his May 1 commentary in Decisionmagazine. “I wonder if the handwriting is now on the wall for America,” said the Christian evangelist. “Has God decided that our idolatry, immorality, and godlessness has become such a stench in His nostrils that we as a people will experience a harsh form of divine judgment?” said Rev. Graham. “Have our iniquities grown so foul and vast that we will reap the bitter harvest of our wickedness and rebellion against Almighty God?”
Although only God knows that answer, said the reverend, God can “heal us if we repent of our sins, personal and corporate, and turn to Him in humility and reverence. The Lord is patient, “not willing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance”. “He is our only hope,” said Rev. Graham, who also talked about how his nationwide prayer campaign in all 50 state capitals, the Decision America Tour, is helping many people to turn back to God.
The campaign started in January and as of March, “2,021 people had indicated their decisions to follow Christ,” said Rev. Graham. “They come to Decision America because they are angry or dissatisfied with the way things are going in our country. Then they hear the Gospel preached, fall under conviction, repent of their sins, and turn to Christ. Praise God!” “There is no doubt that the tens of thousands who have attended know that America is in deep trouble and on the verge of total moral and spiritual collapse, unless God intervenes,” said the 63-year-old pastor. “They know our only hope is in Almighty God.” “In this secular age, the influence of Biblical principles and values has diminishing impact upon education, government and politics,” said Franklin Graham. “More young people than ever before claim no religious affiliation at all. In addition, “[w]e Christians are not just simply tolerated, we are under constant, unrelenting assault for our beliefs and practices,” he said. “We are a people and nation in imminent danger,” said the reverend. “We mock God, ridicule His Word and His ways, and flaunt gross immorality.”
In conclusion, said Franklin Graham, “Only Almighty God can deliver us, and it is our fervent prayer as we go across America in the months to come, that He will hear our prayers and heal our land.”
Putin Threatens the West With NATO Ultimatum
May 5….(Newsweek) As of this writing, the “cessation of hostilities” in Syria has all but collapsed, and thousands of Russian forces are aiding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s campaign to retake Aleppo. At the same time, the Minsk II agreement between Russia and Ukraine remains, as it always has been, an agreement more honored in the breach than in the observance thereof.
In both cases, it is clear that Moscow never meant to implement the provisions to which it signed on. The cessation of hostilities in Syria never was a true cessation, war continued against Assad’s opponents and Russian President Vladimir Putin is now revealed to have told Assad, "We won’t let you lose.”
Meanwhile, more European elites are saying that we should relieve the sanctions burden on Russia because, after all, Putin is cooperating with the West against terrorism in Syria. But those who wish to ease or remove sanctions on the grounds of Putin’s alleged cooperation in Syria against terrorists have the burden of proof upon them to demonstrate how this cooperation actually manifests itself and why we should begin a process of dialogue. Putin has made clear that Russia, under his rule, will not and cannot make credible commitments.
At the NATO-Russia Council meeting, Russia’s Ambassador Alexander Grushko delivered an ultimatum to NATO, saying that any move by NATO to enhance its self-defense will be regarded by Russia as a threat that precludes negotiations and will impel Moscow to take its habitual “appropriate responses.” Grushko revealed not only that Moscow sees NATO as a threat, but also that it insists NATO not defend itself, since such moves are inherently provocative.
Here at home, the Obama administration is once again in what appears to be its congenital stance of confusion over Putin’s objectives. US Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute said thatfurther NATO expansion is off the table because it will provoke Russia, and that is something the United States does not want to do. Other than rhetoric, there is no real response to Russia’s ever-escalating provocative behavior and threats to NATO. Putin, it seems, can provoke NATO all he likes; the only effective response is NATO’s enforcement of increasingly self-denying ordinances upon itself and its preemptive surrender to Putin’s agenda.
Pressure from France, Germany and Italy to end or reduce sanctions is mounting. The Europeans aren’t pressing Russia nearly as much to fulfill the cease-fire agreement as they are Ukraine.
The Minsk II agreement does not bind Russia to anything or even accept that Russia has been at war in Ukraine since 2014. It puts the Ukrainian government and the “separatists,” in reality Russian irregulars or regulars dressed up to look like irregulars, as equals and entails Ukraine’s self-declared negation of its own sovereignty over the Donbas. In other words, to paraphrase and revise Isaiah today, he might prophesy that “the people who are walking in darkness have yet to see a great light.” While there appears to be a developing consensus that permanent rotational forces will be stationed in NATO’s Eastern European members’ territories, Washington and Berlin, equally fearful of provoking Putin, appear to have vetoed the permanent deployments advocated by Poland and the Baltic states.
Indeed, we still do not have one permanently deployed armored brigade in Europe, which is the minimum requested by General Curtis Scaparrotti, the incoming Supreme Allied Commander of Europe. Before the invasion of Ukraine, Russia possessed a clear military superiority in the Baltic theater, and it is steadily pressing its advantage, thereby creating new divisions and ratcheting up its tempo of exercises and nuclear deployments, as well as its conventional and nuclear procurement. Even one armored brigade will be useless if a military contingency develops and Russia’s superiority in artillery, electronic warfare and immense anti-air and anti-ship capabilities in the Baltic and Black Seas have not been mentioned here.
Poland’s Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz claims that the Polish army has been systematically underfunded, and the situation elsewhere in Europe is worse. German army forces stopped exercises recently because regulations prevented them from overtime. Britain’s 2 percent of GDP contribution to NATO has been achieved only by “creative accounting.” And this supposedly provokes Russia? The fact is that whatever NATO does—indeed, simply its existence represents a provocation to Russia because Russia, as its official documents explicitly state, presupposes conflict with all of its neighbors regardless of their actual policies. Moreover, it blithely continues to issue these ultimatums to NATO as it openly violates its own commitments.
It is revealing that the Russian spin on the NATO-Russia Council was that it represented NATO’s acknowledgement that it cannot do without Russian cooperation. But for Putin, the dialogue is only a prelude to the pressure to restore unconditionally the EU dialogue and eliminate sanctions while preserving Russian conquests in Ukraine and a free hand in Syria. Many non-experts should have no trouble by now deciphering Putin’s objectives in Syria and Ukraine. But apparently our governments, consumed by habitual confusion and willful blindness, are still walking in the darkness—and it is quite unlikely that they will have a blinding revelation on the way to this summer’s NATO summit in Warsaw.
WEEK OF MAY 1 THROUGH MAY 7
Khamenei Calls to 'Defend Palestine' Against 'Zionists'
(Iran’s Supreme Leader launches yet another verbal attack against Israel)
May 2….(Arutz) Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Sunday launched one of his verbal attacks against Israel, saying that defending “the Palestinian cause in the face of the Israeli regime” symbolizes defending Islam. Khamenei made the remarks in a meeting with Ramadan Abdullah, the head of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization, and was quoted by the state-run PressTV. “Since from the very beginning, the Islamic Republic of Iran considered supporting Palestine as a duty, it will continue to fulfill its obligation in the future as well,” he was quoted as having said, adding that “defending the Palestinian cause” is enshrined in the very nature of the Islamic Republic.
Khamenei also blasted the United States, claiming that it along with Western governments have initiated a war against the Islamic front in a bid to dominate the region.
“The ongoing developments in the region must be studied and analyzed from such a viewpoint, and within this framework, the issues of Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Hezbollah are part of this large-scale confrontation,” he said, according to PressTV.
Ayatollah Khamenei said the Islamic Republic continues to support the Syrian government “because those standing against Syria are in fact hostile to Islam in principle and are serving the interests of the US and the Zionist regime.” He also highlighted the strength of the Hezbollah terrorist group, claiming the Israeli regime is more “fearful” of Hezbollah than before. Khamenei regularly attacks both Israel and the United States, which he and other Iranian leaders refer to as the “Great Satan”.
Islamic Jihad Visits Iran to 'Discuss ways to Strengthen Intifada'
May 2….(Jerusalem Post) Islamic Jihad representatives are visiting Iran to discuss ways to strengthen the intifada in the West Bank and Jerusalem, Palestinian media reported on Sunday. The delegation, headed by the organization’s Secretary-General Ramadan Abdullah, will visit Iran for a few days, according to a statement issued by the terrorist organization. Islamic Jihad representatives are visiting Iran to discuss ways to strengthen the intifada in the West Bank and Jerusalem, Palestinian media reported on Sunday. Additional subjects discussed were the attempts to “Judaize al-Aksa mosque” and the need to support the steadfastness of Gazans in light of the 10-year blockade.
In a press statement, Islamic Jihad’s secretary-general underscored the importance of Iran’s support for the Palestinian people, and expressed chagrin over what he called “the Arab indifference toward Palestine and its oppressed people.” The high-level visit by the Islamic Jihad delegation to Iran, as well as Abdullah’s declarations praising Iran as the standard-bearer of the Palestinian “resistance,” may be aimed at getting Iran to increase its financial aid to the Palestinian organization, which is in dire need of money. The financial distress of the Palestinian terrorist organization emerged last year, after Tehran significantly cut its funding and began supporting a new Shi’ite organization in the Gaza Strip called al-Sabirin.