Tag Archives: jihadists


BLOG 300 April 25, 2016

The first night of Passover began on the evening of April 22 and is still being observed through April 30 by Jews in Israel and the Diaspora. Often called “The Festival of Freedom,” the Seder commemorates the release of Jews from bondage in Egypt. It’s a good weekend to consider the quest for genuine freedom from fear in Israel.

With the American headlines absorbed with politicians screaming at each other, there have been virtually no stories on the Middle East. In case you’ve missed it, Israel has been living through a continuing struggle now called the “stabbing Intifada.” Israelis are being attacked with knives. However, more than 70% of terrorist attacks are thwarted by Israeli security forces, but recently a bomb exploded in a bus and many women and children were killed. The problem hasn’t stopped.

The truth is that most Palestinians put little faith in violent resistance and don’t want another out and out intifada with Israel. Today, months after the big war, the Gaza Strip remains a pile of rubble. Toppled buildings and broken concrete are a silent witness to the futility of harassing Israel. Fanatics in Hamas say they’re ready to attack again, but that’s fundamentally just words at this time. Their leaders make big speeches while they pocket millions of dollar that were supposed to go for the people. The contradictions are obvious.

The on-going debate is whether the Palestinian Authority is going to collapse. Fundamentally, the PA is financed from outside of its area. Should those external funds (and tax rebates from Israel) stop, the PA would be done. They continue to wrestle with ineptitude and stagnation as Mahmoud Abbas limps toward death. Apparently, he won’t resign. The jihadists won’t give up and innocent people continue to suffer.

An article in Dissident Voice by Jeff Bankfort claimed that the Oslo peace agreement actually rescued Yasser Arafat. The price the PA paid was legitimizing t he presence of Israel in 62% of the West Bank. The person who negotiated this settlement on behalf of Arafat was Mahmoud Abbas, the current head of the PA in Jericho. Bankfort concluded that a state of cooperation with Israel now exists that verges on collaboration. In other words, Abbas is obstinate in public and far more conciliatory in private.

Bankfort’s idea may be overstated and optimistic, but it is certainly hopeful. What goes on behind the scenes is often in the direction of genuine negotiation. If so, this year’s Seder may indeed be a celebration of freedom and peace.

Let us pray with the Jewish world that this year’s Passover is truly another time when the angel of death flew over – maybe for the entire Middle East.

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Blog 266 August 17, 2015

This week Libya called on fellow Arab states for air strikes against the ISIS terrorist branch operating in their country in the costal city of Surt. During the past week, ISIS crushed a Salafist group trying to break their control of that city. Dozens were killed. On Wednesday ISIS troops also struck soldiers loyal to the official government in Benghazi. Nine soldiers were killed, a tank destroyed, and vehicles knocked out. The commercial airport in Benghazi has been closed for a year. It is not clear how Arab states like Saudi Arabia will respond. The point is that these battles paint a picture of ISIS on the move in a nation far away from their center in Syria. A situation to be remembered.

Moving over one country, Egypt continues to struggle in a life and death conflict with the same elements. A Sinai-based Islamist insurgency continues to rage with both Israel and Egypt concerned about this destructive presence. These rebels coming out of the Sinai desert have proven persistent.

The current Egyptian government under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi remains stable and in control but has not yet stopped the same upraising that is now plaguing Libya.

A current assessment indicates that the jihadists will stay cornered in northeastern Sinai, but they are not being permanently defeated. Egypt’s problem is that they need new equipment and particularly drones. As America has repeatedly performed across the entire Middle East under the Obama administration, the United States has been slow to the pont of being negligible in providing arms and assistance to meet these needs. In fact, after the military coup that defeated the Moslem Brotherhood and brought al-Sisi to power, American waited so long to help that Egypt began conversations with Putin to supply these needs.

In January, radical Sunni militants killed 40 Egyptian soldiers. The group called itself Ansar Beit al-Maqdis and declared an affiliation with ISIS. At that time, al-Sisi lambasted radical Islam as being a perversion of “true religion.” He cited the need for a genuine “religious revolution.” How right he was!

I once landed in the Sinai and remember humidity of a minus 20 (my immaginary calculation). Never have I experienced such an arid land! One quick glance revealed decades of neglect. The sparse security naturally invited illegal trafficking resulting in a flow of arms, drugs, migrants, and prostitution has been rumored. In the ‘80’s when Israel withdrew and turned the territory back to Egypt, plans were made for development that never came to pass. Because of the failed promises, a growing sense of alienation from Egypt developed what has today produced the Ansar Beit al-Maqdis and any other jihadist’s group. With the fall of Hosni Mubarak, the army concentrated on urban areas, leaving the Sinai alone. Smuggling goods into the Gaza Strip became big business.

Al-Sisis has the restoration of internal security in Egypt and Sinai at the top of his list and has broad popular support for this effort. In addition, Israel stands behind this effort to clean out the jihadists and will support Egypt’s efforts.

That’s a plus for sure.


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BLOG 238 February 2, 2015

Of course, the terrorist spill over in France and Belgium continues to create concern. The beheading of a Japanese journalist on Saturday conveys how ruthless and tyrannical the ISIS group and other jihadists  truly are. After these attacks, one jihadist said, “Is there anything better than jihad or martyr?”

The attacks in France have backfired in Belgium. Terrorist are being identified and rounded-up. Pieter Van Ostaeyen, a Belgian researcher said the actual number of jihadists in Belgium is around 450, less that half of what France had to deal with. On the other hand, that is still a large number in a country of only 11 million people. The large Muslim population amounts to 5 percent of the population. For example, in the Molenbeek district that are 22 known mosques and that is four times the number of churches in the same area. It is suspected there are other secret mosques in the area and the police are hot on their trail.

The reason for this large number of mosques can be found in the unemployment statistics in the Molenbeek district. The unemployment rate is 40 percent and the district is the second poorest area in Beligum. Within this area are groups like Sharia4Belgium that are actively recruiting for fighter in Syria. This group’s leader Fouad Belkacem has a long arrest record for crimes like theft and assault.

The mayor Francoise Schepman believes that the “social networking” on the streets produces these jihadists. She notes that they could have just as easily tumbled into criminality. The recruiting approach is an appeal to their exclusion from the larger society. Of course, Muslims are well known for not amalgamating with the local society. Unemployment and social struggles are a more significant factors that religious conviction she believes.

On the other side of the world, the government of Yemen has undergone a violent change through the attacks of the Houthis group. It would appear the United States is a big loser. Signs proclaim, “Death to American, death to Israel, damnation to the Jews.” The Houthis wear these mottos on their arm bands, paint them on buildings and walls.
Their political convictions appear to be obvious.

However, on the scene political observers suggest it may not be as bad as it first appeared. They note Houthis is not Hezbollah. Charles Schmitz, an expert on the group and professor at Towson University, says the group has deep roots in Yemen, going back thousands of years. While they do have an alliance with Iran, it is believed they will not do the bidding of Iran. Houthis are also bitter opponents of Al Qaeda who consider all Shiite Muslims to be apostates. Others note there is more common ground between Houthis and America than might be expected at first glance. It is hoped that now that they are in power, the Houthis will seek some form of relationship with the United States.

The world of jihadists terrorism and revolution continues to evolve. It is always a challenge to stay up with the players.

Stay tuned. More to come.

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Bl0g 234 January 12, 2014

The headlines are ablaze with the story of the Islamic terrorists attacks in France. The Middle East war has boiled over and the French are not taking the assaults sitting down. However, in these blogs I attempt to go behind the headlines and keep readers informed about the untold situations. Consequently, I will not explore the Middle Eastern terrorists story today. The media is already covering the story well.

While Egyptian President Abdel el-Sisi is firmly in control, jihadists element continue in the country. Recently, the most lethal group called Ansar Beit al-Maqdis released a 30 minute video showing their attack that killed 31 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai Peninsula. Following the suicide bombing that initiated the assaults, radicals rushed in with guns blazing. Following this incident, Sisi declared a three month national emergency.

The Ansar Beit al-Maqdis and Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen groups are the latest jihadists organizations to spring up in the Sinai desert area. These groups consider themselves a part of the ISI army. In their video, the jidhadists released a message to Sisis, “we will be the sword that cuts off your head.” Their attacks are considered a retribution for the violent crackdown by Egyptian security forces on radicals. The best the jihadists can do is hit and run because the army will stay after them.

The Egyptian government pointed a finger at the Hamas rulers in Gaza as supporting this terrorist element. Because Hamas grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood, they are naturally supportive of groups opposing the current Egyptian government. At the least, Hamas had done nothing to stop the operation of the jihadists in the Gaza area they control. More over, Hamas has supported building tunnels into the northern Sinai that allow smuggling goods and weapons back and forth. While the terrorist claim an ideological relationship with ISIS, they are actually more directly related to Hamas.

Who are these nomadic Islamic terrorist running around with military weapons? Mostly they are fundamentalist with a religious impetuous to kill people they consider infidels. The Islamic State movement is not actually in the Sinai area, but they have these supporters ready to join.

In Israel, the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) just attacked with tank fire and airstrikes on targets in Gaza following Palestinian’s sniper fire. Gaza militants fired a rocket at Israel and the IDF immediately responded. Of course, the Gaza rocket assault was a direct violation of last summer’s cease fire agreement. The immediate response of Israel means that any such attacks will be met by a corresponding counter-attack from the IDF.

Trapped between Israel and Egypt, these new jihad movements are caught between fierce opponents that are capable of finishing them off.

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             Some months back I warned about the racial objectives of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan when he betrayed Israel’s Mossad agents and appeared bent on creating an Axis of Muslim Power sweeping from Turkey through Iran. Many Turks fear Erdogan is using emotional foreign policy issues to divide secular and conservative Muslim voters. Erodogan hasn’t backed away from his earlier objectives one notch.

The Western world continues not to grasp the basic and fundamentally religious impulses behind the upheaval in the Middle East. Certainly Erodgan has personal objectives for power and wealth in his actions, but reaching out to incite conservative Muslims places him in the middle of the religious struggle.

In Iraq, the ISIS army invasion has already killed thousands in the name of religious cleansing of the country. People are buried alive, shot execution style, beheaded, etc., and that includes both sexes. In northern Iraq, hundreds of Yazidis are running for their lives. A small religious minority, these people have a religion that is neither Muslim or Christian. The Yazids practice a 4,000 year old faith rooted in Zoroastrianism. Tragically, this faith makes them apostates to ISIS and their lives become expandable. In this struggle, hundreds of women and girls are kidnapped to be used as bribes for jihadists. Their choice is simple: convert or die.

The isolation and desperation of these people fleeing into barren mountains has created the impetus for American President Obama to order food and water drops as well as attacks the advancing ISIS troops who are an extreme expression of Sunni Islam. The pressure is on to remove Prime Minister Nouri Malaki so a more balanced government can bring political stability to the country. The ultimate defeat of ISIS demands a political realignment.

In addition, Christians are equally in grave danger. Jihadists seized Iraq’s largest Christian town Mosul, sending thousands fleeing for their lives. The Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah reported the towns of Qaragosh, Tal Kayf, Bartella and Karamlesh have been emptied of their original populations.  The town of Qaragosh alone had a population of 50,000 Christians.  In response to these overnight attacks, Pope Francis called on the international community to help protect Iraq’s Christian population. Without intervention, massacre is a certainty.

Last week ISIS laid down an ultimatum to Christians in Mosul to convert, pay protection money, or be executed. Of course, the town emptied. The reports of brutality, murder, and mayhem continue to mount in the name of Allah.

Patriarch Louis Sako heads Iraq’s largest Christian Orthodox denomination. Fr. Sako estimated that over 100,000 Christians had been displaced. He reported churches are taken over and their crosses destroyed as well as 1,500 vital and precious manuscripts destroyed.

Western democracies seem to find it impossible to recognize that radical Islam is waging a holy war. Tolerance in the West has kept governments from facing the conclusion that a religious group would commit genocide and murder in the name of their god. The time has come to take a second long hard look at what ISIS and its associates are about because more carnage is on the way.The West must recognize the extremes that these groups will go to in pushing their religion.  Holy Wars are the most dangerous and deadly of all conflicts.

Make no mistake! The West is facing a frightening enemy.

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            News media on Monday, August 19, reported 25 Egyptian police officers were killed in the Sinai peninsula area. In my August 9 Blog, I described the unfolding situation in this area that Menachem Begin returned to Egyptian control. He did so in  in order to establish a peace agreement with Anwar Sadat. In that report, I described the radicalized bedouins  that have become terrorists, striking both Israel and Egypt. The August 19 report indicates the violence has escalated as the eruption in Cairo and Alexandria continues.

            Apparently, two mini-buses carrying off-duty policemen in civilian clothes were ambushed. One report stated that a grenade-launcher stuck the vehicles. However, state television indicated the policemen were ordered off the captured bus and forced to lay face down in the road where they were killed execution style. Their deaths occurred near the town of Rafah.

In the same news release, Hosni Mubarak, along with his sons, was reported to have been acquitted of charges of embezzlement. Although the verdict was not a surprise, the timing was somewhat unexpected. It seems to have been slipped under the headline grabbing reports of street violence sweeping the country. The implication is that the government sought a moment when there would not be great public attention examining the reports of his release. Obviously, the new interim government is more favorable to Mubarak than the Morsi administration would have been.

Meanwhile, jihadists are flooding the Sinai area. Some of the terrorists groups are linked to the Gaza strip administration. As this violent  situation is pressing Egypt, it has also caught Israel’s concern. The IDF (Israeli Defense Force) is been giving more attention to this area. The threat of rocket attacks on Eilat remains a major concern. An Iron Dome air defense battery has been relocated near the Red Sea Resort city. During the recent military exchange between Israel and Gaza, the Iron Dome system proved highly effective in stopping rockets from landing in Tel Aviv. At the same time, Israel wants to entirely stop these desert assaults. The head of the IDF battalion stationed on the Egyptian border stated that their assumption is that an attack will eventually happen. They are prepared.

The Sinai situation is another example of how events in Egypt can effect the whole area. Israelis must remain prepared for immediate response to threats or attacks. With the Syrian civil war bringing in dozens of jihadists groups, Israel must also watch the Golan Height area carefully. These terrorist groups not only want to topple Assad, but have a common goal of establishing an Islamic religious state. The mad dogs in the desert have the same idea.

The Arab Spring continues to feel like winter.

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