Latest Analysis & Commentary

Turkey: What Ally?

by Burak Bekdil  •  September 22, 2014 at 5:00 am

The Turkish government "frankly worked" with the al-Nusrah Front, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, along with other terrorist groups.

The Financial Task Force, an international body setting the standards for combating terrorist financing, ruled that Turkey should remain in its "gray list."

While NATO wishes to reinforce its outreach to democracies such as Australia and Japan, Turkey is trying to forge wider partnerships with the Arab world, Russia, China, Central Asia, China, Africa and -- and with a bunch of terrorist organizations, including Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, Ahrar al-Sham and the al-Nusrah Front.

Being NATO's only Muslim member was fine. Being NATO's only Islamist member ideologically attached to the Muslim Brotherhood is quite another thing.

"The friend of my enemy is my... frenemy?" U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with the new Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, before a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Newport, Wales, Sept. 4, 2014. (Image source: U.S. State Dept.)

Last week, the U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, were in the Turkish capital, one after the other, to ask for Turkey's contribution to a coalition of allies in a U.S.-led war on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS, aka The Islamic State].

Not only will Ankara take no military action, it will also forbid the U.S. from using a critical U.S. air base in southern Turkey to conduct strikes against the jihadist terrorists, the Turks told Messrs. Kerry and Hagel.

Earlier during the week, Turkey also abstained from signing a communiqué which Arab nations penned, seeking stronger action against ISIS.

Some call Turkey "a U.S. frenemy," others refer to it as "NATO's Qatar." Unsurprisingly, on Sept. 9 the U.S. Congress delivered its staunchest warning to date that Turkey and Qatar could face financial and other penalties if they continue to support Hamas and other U.S.-designated terrorist organizations.

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UK: More Taxpayer Funds Go to Extremist Charities

by Samuel Westrop  •  September 22, 2014 at 4:00 am

British politicians seem to be trapped in an endless debate over how to curb both violent and non-violent extremism within the Muslim community.

A truly useful measure might be to end the provision of state funding and legitimacy to terror-linked extremist charities.

The charity Orphans in Need has promoted preachers such as Zahir Mahmood, pictured above, who has claimed that, "Hamas are not terrorists; they're freedom fighters, they're defending their country." (Image source: video screenshot)

The British government is, incredibly, still continuing to fund charitable UK-based organizations with links to the Muslim Brotherhood, terrorist groups and domestic extremism. Simultaneously, lawmakers seem to be having trouble thinking of ways to tackle extremism and terrorist incitement within Britain's Muslim communities.

In early 2014, the Department for Communities and Local Government provided a grant of £18,000 ($29,000) to the Muslim Charities Forum [MCF], a charitable body and umbrella group for a number of leading Islamist charities, most of which are members of the Union of Good, a fundraising body established by the Muslim Brotherhood to raise money for the terror group Hamas.

The MCF is made up of nine member organizations, all of which stand accused of funding terror or promoting extremism:

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Britain's Female Jihadists

by Soeren Kern  •  September 21, 2014 at 5:00 am

"My son and I love life with the beheaders." — British jihadist Sally Jones.

Mujahidah Bint Usama published pictures of herself on Twitter holding a severed head while wearing a white doctor's jacket; alongside it, the message: "Dream job, a terrorist doc."

British female jihadists are now in charge of guarding as many as 3,000 non-Muslim Iraqi women and girls held captive as sex slaves.

"The British women are some of the most zealous in imposing the IS laws in the region. I believe that's why at least four of them have been chosen to join the women police force." — British terrorism analyst Melanie Smith.

Khadijah "Maryam" Dare, a young London woman who converted to Islam and moved to Syria to marry a Swedish jihadist, is shown here in Aleppo setting off to go shopping with a friend and their small children. They bring along their AK-47 assault rifles "just in case". (Image source: Channel 4 video screenshot)

Great Britain is now the leading European source of female jihadists in Syria and Iraq.

As many as 60 Muslim women between the ages of 18 and 24 are believed to have left Britain to join the jihadist group Islamic State [IS] during the past twelve months alone, according to British terrorism analysts.

Dozens more have inquired about joining IS since the beheading of American journalist James Foley in Syria in August 2014 set off a frenzy of enthusiasm within jihadist circles.

Many of the women seem to be motivated by the hope of finding a jihadist husband, analysts say, apparently because they covet the cultural and religious "prestige" conferred upon Muslim widows whose husbands have died as "martyrs" for Allah.

Until recently, most of the British women affiliated with IS have been restricted to performing domestic chores such as cleaning and cooking. Lately, however, some women have become restive and have demanded a greater role in the IS enterprise.

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Hamas and Fatah Already Fighting Over Gaza Funds

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  September 20, 2014 at 5:00 am

"Armed robbery in broad daylight." — Palestinians, after Hamas "seized" $750,000 from Gaza bank.

Fatah accused Hamas of "squandering" $700 million of financial aid earmarked for the Palestinian victims of war. Fatah wants to ensure that the millions of dollars intended for the Gaza Strip will pass through its hands and not end up in Hamas's bank accounts. Relying on Fatah in this regard is like asking a cat to guard the milk.

The head of the Palestinian Authority's Anti-Corruption Commission revealed that his group has retrieved $70 million of public funds fund embezzled by Palestinian officials. Arab and Western donors need to make sure that their money does not end up (once again) in the wrong hands. Without a proper mechanism of accountability and transparency, hundreds of millions of dollars are likely to find their way into the bank accounts of both Hamas and Fatah leaders.

Not only money: On Aug. 22, 2014, Hamas executed 26 Palestinians in Gaza who they claim "spied for Israel". Sources in Gaza revealed that some of the executed men belonged to Mahmoud Abbas's rival Fatah faction and had no connection with Israel. (Image source: Reuters video screenshot)

As efforts are underway to hold an international conference in Cairo for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge, the two major Palestinian parties, Hamas and Fatah, are already accusing each other of stealing funds that were channeled to help Palestinian families.

It is not clear at this stage how much money has made its way into the Gaza Strip since the Egypt-brokered cease-fire was announced late August.

But it is clear by now that both Hamas and Fatah are engaged in a fight over who will control the funds and assume responsibility for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

The war between Hamas and Fatah over the funds earmarked for the residents of the Gaza Strip is being fought over every penny and dollar. This is a power struggle in which the only losers are those Palestinians who lost their homes and family members during the military confrontation with Israel.

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Gazans Speak Out: Hamas War Crimes

by Mudar Zahran  •  September 19, 2014 at 5:00 am

"If Hamas does not like you for any reason all they have to do now is say you are a Mossad agent and kill you." — A., a Fatah member in Gaza.

"Hamas wanted us butchered so it could win the media war against Israel showing our dead children on TV and then get money from Qatar." — T., former Hamas Ministry officer.

"They would fire rockets and then run away quickly, leaving us to face Israeli bombs for what they did." — D., Gazan journalist.

"Hamas imposed a curfew: anyone walking out in the street was shot. That way people had to stay in their homes, even if they were about to get bombed. Hamas held the whole Gazan population as a human shield." — K., graduate student

"The Israeli army allows supplies to come in and Hamas steals them. It seems even the Israelis care for us more than Hamas." — E., first-aid volunteer.

"We are under Hamas occupation, and if you ask most of us, we would rather be under Israeli occupation… We miss the days when we were able to work inside Israel and make good money. We miss the security and calm Israel provided when it was here." — S., graduate of an American university, former Hamas sympathizer.

Hamas boasted that Palestinian civilians were killed while Hamas's terrorists remained alive, hiding in their underground bunkers and tunnels. (Image source: Hamas video screenshot)

While the world's media has been blaming Israel for the death of Gazan civilians during Operation Protective Edge, this correspondent decided to speak with Gazans themselves to hear what they had to say.

They spoke of Hamas atrocities and war crimes implicating Hamas in the civilian deaths of its own people.

Although Gazans, fearful of Hamas's revenge against them, were afraid to speak to the media, friends in the West Bank offered introductions to relatives in Gaza. One, a renowned Gazan academic, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that as soon as someone talked to a Western journalist, he was immediately questioned by Hamas and accused of "communicating with the Mossad". "Hamas makes sure that the average Gazan will not talk to Western journalists -- or actually any journalists at all," he said, continuing:

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Will Oil Make or Break the Islamic State?

by Ben Cohen  •  September 18, 2014 at 5:00 am

Now, with the Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliphate having captured key oil wells in the Middle East this year, foreign oil has become an even more lethal financial weapon-of-choice for those seeking to destroy democracy and further escalate the War on Terror.

That President Barack Obama failed even to mention oil as a critical factor in the war against IS during his speech to the nation on September 10, is an omission both revealing and dangerous in terms of how his administration wants to depict the stakes involved in this latest confrontation with the jihadis.

Kurdish peshmerga soldiers patrol an oil installation on the outskirts of Kirkuk, July 2014. (Image source: VOA video screenshot)

America's failure to achieve energy independence over the last 30 years has resulted in exponential oil price increases that have hurt our nation. Trillions of dollars have left, and billions more continue to leave our economy to purchase oil from countries that seek our destruction, and to support madrassas [Islamic religious schools] that teach new Muslim generations how to hate -- and worse.

Now, with the self-proclaimed caliphate of the Islamic State [IS] having captured key oil wells in the Middle East this year, foreign oil has become an even more lethal financial weapon-of-choice for those seeking to destroy democracy and further escalate the War on Terror.

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Children as Suicide Bombers in Islamic Countries

by Lawrence A. Franklin  •  September 18, 2014 at 4:00 am

One Pakistani recruiter of child suicide bombers describes these children as "tools provided by God."

Another Muslim cleric in a madrassa [Islamic boys' school] describes child suicide bombers as "a gift from Allah that we have an unlimited number willing to be sacrificed to teach Americans a lesson."

Using children as suicide bombers will stop when... they stop "condoning the killing of innocents."

A child soldier in Afghanistan, 2004. (Image source: Robin Kirk/Flickr)

The most unconscionable form of child abuse is perhaps the least addressed by human rights organizations: the recruitment and indoctrination of children by jihadi extremists who transform them into suicide bombers and child soldiers.

Hamas's intentional targeting of Israel by missiles this summer from within densely populated neighborhoods of Gaza filled with Palestinian children is the most callous form of child-abuse yet devised.

During the recent hostilities between Hamas and Israel, media focus remained on the number of civilians -- especially children -- killed in Gaza. There was almost no mention, however of the cynical intent by Hamas to draw Israeli fire on its own people.

This deliberate infliction of harm and death on one's own populace was likely designed to win the propaganda war in an attempt to demonize Israel in the court of world opinion.

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Islam and the "Killing of Innocents"

by Denis MacEoin  •  September 17, 2014 at 5:00 am

"No religion condones the killing of innocents." — U.S. President Barack Obama, September 10, 2014.

"Islam is a religion of peace." — U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, September 13, 2014.

"There is a place for violence in Islam. There is a place for jihad in Islam." — U.K. Imam Anjem Choudary, CBN News, April 5, 2010.

Regrettably it is impossible to re-interpret the Qur'an in a "moderate" manner. The most famous modern interpretation by Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966), the Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, leads the reader again and again into political territory, where jihad is at the root of action.

If they deviated from the true faith -- as we are seeing in the Islamic State today -- "backsliders," like pagans, were to be fought until they either accepted Islam or were killed.

In India alone, between 60 and 80 million Hindus may have been put to death by Muslim armies between the years 1000-1525.

In the Battle of Karbala, depicted in Abbas Al-Musavi's painting, Husayn, the son of 'Ali and grandson of Muhammad, was killed along with his family and all his followers by the armies of the Umayyad Caliphate. It was the most crucial moment in the split between Shi'a and Sunni Islam. (Image source: Brooklyn Museum)

Last week, before the Islamic State beheaded its third Westerner, U.S. President Barack Obama announced that, "ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents."

Well, not exactly.

How often -- despite the current spectacle of the Islamic State [IS, ISIL or ISIS] in Syria and Iraq -- do we hear politicians and church leaders say that Islam is a religion of peace; that Islamic extremism is a modern innovation, a profound deviation from some imagined "true" Islam, and even that its very name, the word "Islam," means peace?

It is not just Muslims who say that Islam is a religion of peace: some Western politicians and churchmen repeat it too.

Britain's Prime Minister, David Cameron, emphasized it last week on BBC on Sept 13, in response to the beheading by ISIS of the British aid worker, David Haines.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush said so more than once, including in a speech he delivered on September 17, 2001.

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What Does Hamas Really Want?

by Yaakov Lappin  •  September 17, 2014 at 4:00 am

Hamas's long-term ambitions are indistinguishable from those of Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

Hamas will now focus on its next goal -- trying to strengthen its presence in the West Bank and eventually toppling the Palestinian Authority from power there, just as it did in Gaza. If Israel were to withdraw from the West Bank, Hamas would certainly find such a goal easier to accomplish.

Nothing keeps the flames of jihad alight, and Hamas's popularity secure, like frequent wars.

Masked Hamas members (dressed in black) prepare to execute local Palestinians who they claim spied for Israel, Aug. 22, 2014, in Gaza. Sources in the Gaza Strip revealed that some of the executed men belonged to PA President Mahmoud Abbas's rival Fatah faction and had no connection with Israel. (Image source: Reuters video screenshot)

As the dust settles in Gaza and Israel after a relatively long war, the current truce forms a good opportunity to examine the reason Hamas began their conflict this summer in the first place.

Many observers have cited Hamas's goal of lifting the Israeli security blockade around Gaza as the aim of its war. The blockade was put in place to prevent weapons from being smuggled to Hamas inside the Strip, which is already saturated with rockets and arms.

Israel's blockade only exists because Hamas has turned Gaza into a heavily harmed hornet's nest of terrorism. Hence, the idea that Hamas believed that firing thousands of rockets and attempting to send death squads into Israel through underground tunnels would somehow force Israel into easing the blockade to make attacking Israel easier seems unconvincing.

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National Lawyers Guild seeks to indict Obama for helping Israel build Iron Dome

by Alan M. Dershowitz  •  September 16, 2014 at 5:00 pm

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro tours a battery of the Iron Dome missile defense system in southern Israel, August 9, 2011. (Image source: U.S. Embassy in Israel)

The National Lawyers Guild—a hard left assortment of radical lawyers and "legal workers"—is seeking to have President Obama, Secretary of Defense Hagel and members of Congress indicted by the International Criminal Court for "aiding and abetting" genocide, crimes against humanity and other war crimes. Among the bases for these extraordinarily serious accusations, is that "the United States Congress overwhelmingly passed, and President Obama signed, an appropriation of $225 million for Israel's Iron Dome missile system"—a purely defensive shield that destroys missiles heading for Israeli population centers.

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How Europe's Pro-Gaza Movement Cultivates Violence, Anti-Semitism

by Timon Dias  •  September 16, 2014 at 5:00 am

"Arab leaders are a reflection of their people. Arab leaders don't come from Mars or the sun, they emerged from among the people and share the same beliefs... I challenge any Arab citizen who may become a ruler to do anything beyond what current Arab leaders are doing." — Anwar Malek, Algerian author.

If anyone was trying to commit "genocide" during the Gaza War, it was clearly Hamas.

What the protestors in the Netherlands also revealed is that a killed Palestinian is only worth demonstrating for when the blame can be pinned on Israel.

The normalization and common approval of slogans that actually call for the destruction of the entire Jewish State, Israel, contribute to an atmosphere of hatred, violence and anti-Semitism that now seems as acceptable as it is overt.

July 2014: Demonstrators in The Hague chant "Death to the Jews", while flying the black flag of jihad. (Image source: Twitter/@SamRaalte)

A Dutch Turkish driving school instructor, Sait Cinar, recently posted a video on his school's Facebook page in which he said, "Remember this, those cancerous Zionists, you have to compare them to zombies. And do you know that to do with zombies? You shoot them." The original Facebook page on which the video was posted had over 70,000 "Likes" before it was removed.

In the video, Cinar pulls out his 9mm pistol and fires eleven bullets before pulling out a .38 revolver. "But that's not enough," he continues, while firing another two rounds from his balcony. "You take your gun and this is how you break these cancerous Zionists, you have to kill them, you must compare them to zombies" Although the video was recorded in Turkey, upon Cinar's return from Istanbul he was arrested and is now in Dutch custody on the accusation of hate speech.

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The United Nations: World's Leading Purveyor of Antisemitism

by Anne Bayefsky  •  September 16, 2014 at 4:45 am

Why couldn't the UN... sponsor a conference on combating global antisemitism?

In theory the UN Charter demands equality of... nations large and small. In reality the UN mass-produces inequality for Jews and the Jewish nation.

The UN has launched a "legal" pogrom against the Jewish state. A "legal" pogrom is a license to kill.

Modern antisemitism targets Israel's exercise of the right of self-defense because self-defense is the essence of sovereignty.

Anne Bayefsky speaking at the United Nations, New York, on September 8, 2014.

My time is short, too short to try to emulate the diplomatic sophistry that passes for respect in the meeting rooms of the United Nations. So I will get right to the point.

The UN is not having a conference on the threat that global antisemitism poses to international peace and security. This is lunch-time. The courageous organizer, assisted by the principled representatives of the small state of Palau, is independent of the UN. The facilities are not free.

But why couldn't the UN, founded on the ashes of the Jewish people, and presently witnessing a widespread resurgence in antisemitism, sponsor a conference on combating global antisemitism?

The answer is clear. Because the United Nations itself is the leading global purveyor of antisemitism.

Photo-ops of the UN Secretary-General and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at the gates of Auschwitz are not an alibi.

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Responses to Terrorism: Europe v. India

by Vijeta Uniyal  •  September 16, 2014 at 4:30 am

In Europe, displays of ferocity were clearly not a "spontaneous reaction" to the developing situation in Gaza. They were an opportune moment for many to act on their anti-Semitism by dressing it up as a supposedly "genuine concern" for human suffering.

In India, youth groups rallied to show their support for Israel, a fellow democracy under terrorist siege -- a pain known only too well by Indians, who have lost more than 30,000 of their countrymen to terrorism since 1994.

A majority if Indians, whose culture is not tainted by anti-Semitism, can see that Israel not only has the right to defend itself, but an obligation to protect its citizens from terrorism.

The media elites of Europe seem unable to see the threat posed to the West by radical Islamist ideology, which drives countless terrorist outfits, including IS, Hamas and al-Qaida. They also seem unable to distinguish their friends from their foes.

Subramanian Swamy, an economist and prominent member of India's ruling party, delivers a speech in support of Israel, August 3, 2014. (Image source: YouTube video screenshot)

Even as an Indian living in Europe, with no stake in Israeli-Arab conflict, the anti-Semitism was striking. I have often witnessed the nuanced anti-Semitism of the intellectual elites and the crude anti-Semitism of "the street." But I have never seen such a frenzy of anti-Semitism on the loose as in the wake of the latest round of hostilities between Israel and Hamas -- and in Germany of all places!

These latest displays of ferocity were clearly not a "spontaneous reaction" to the developing situation in Gaza. They were an opportune moment for many to act upon their hitherto-concealed anti-Semitism by dressing it up as a supposedly "genuine concern" for human suffering.

Meanwhile, I have also seen, however, the rising support for Israel among the Indians in diaspora and back home in India.

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Why Many Arabs and Muslims Do Not Trust Obama

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  September 15, 2014 at 5:00 am

Many Arabs and Muslims identify with the terrorists' anti-Western objectives ideology; they are afraid of being dubbed traitors and U.S. agents for joining non-Muslims in a war that would result in the death of many Muslims, and they are afraid their people would rise up against them.

Many Arab and Muslim leaders view the Islamic State as a by-product of failed U.S. policies, especially the current U.S. Administration's weak-kneed support for Iraq's Nuri al-Maliki. Some of these leaders, such as Egypt's Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, consider the U.S. to be a major ally of the Muslim Brotherhood. Sisi and his regime will never forgive Obama for his support for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Also, they do not seem to have much confidence in the Obama Administration, which is perceived as weak and incompetent when it comes to combating Islamists.

Will Sisi ever forgive the Obama Administration for its support of the Muslim Brotherhood? Above, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry chats with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo on July 22, 2014. (Image source: U.S. State Department)

"This is not our war and we should not be taking part in it."

That is how many Arabs and Muslims reacted to US President Barack Obama's plan to form an international coalition to fight the Islamic State [IS] terrorist organization, which is operating in Iraq and Syria and threatening to invade more Arab countries.

Islamic State terrorists have killed and wounded tens of thousands of Arabs and Muslims, mostly over the past few months. By contrast, Islamic State has targeted only a few Westerners, three of whom were beheaded in recent weeks.

Islamic State terrorists are also responsible for the displacement of millions of Iraqis and Syrians, and for the murder of many others.

Still, the atrocities committed by Islamic State against Arabs and Muslims, in addition to the immediate threat it poses to many of their countries, do not seem to be sufficient reason for them to declare war on the group.

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Will Scottish Independence Give Putin Pretext to Annex Eastern Ukraine?

by Peter Martino  •  September 15, 2014 at 4:00 am

Scottish independence would be a disaster for NATO, putting the UK nuclear deterrent in jeopardy. It would also put into question national borders all over Europe, including Catalonia, Belgium, France's Brittany and Corsica, Italy's South Tyrol -- and Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned in 2008 that Kosovo's independence "would be the beginning of the end for Europe."

Crimea's recent secession from Ukraine was justified with a reference to "the Kosovo precedent," which Putin pointed out, "our Western partners created with their own hands."

The United Kingdom flag, flag of Scotland, and European Union flag flying outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons/Calum Hutchinson)

This Thursday, Scotland will be holding a referendum on independence. Polls predict that it may go either way; a narrow victory for those who want Scotland to become an independent nation or for those who want it to remain a part of the United Kingdom. While in most European capitals, governments are hoping that the 'No' side will win the day, Russian president Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin has several reasons to cheer if the Scots decide to go their own way.

Scottish independence would be a disaster for NATO. The Scottish nationalists have made it very clear that they want all British nuclear weapons to be removed from Scottish soil. This will put the UK nuclear deterrent in jeopardy. But Scottish independence is also likely to bring national borders into question all over Europe, including the fragile boundaries of the Ukraine.

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