Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Palestinians: Why Abbas Cannot Stop Funding Terrorists - Bassam Tawil




by Bassam Tawil

Such a plan to dry up the funds that support terrorists and their families, is doomed from the start unless these leaders reverse their behavior and embark on a process of de-radicalizing their people.

  • This is their way of expressing their gratitude to those who have chosen to "sacrifice" their lives by trying to murder Jews. It is also their way of encouraging young people to join the war of terrorism against Israel. The financial aid sends a specific message: Palestinians who are prepared to die in the service of murdering Jews need not worry about the welfare of their families.
  • The more years a Fatah terrorist serves in Israeli prison, the higher the salary he or she receives. Some Fatah terrorists held in Israeli prison are said to receive monthly stipends of up to $4,000. Many of them are also rewarded with top jobs in both Fatah and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Why should any Palestinian go to university and search for a job when he can make a "decent living" murdering Jews?
  • Such a plan to dry up the funds that support terrorists and their families, is doomed from the start unless these leaders reverse their behavior and embark on a process of de-radicalizing their people.
For the record, this is not a defense of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas or of funding terrorists. It is simply an explanation of what is taking place. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that the idea of ending payments to Palestinian terrorists and their families is a challenging one, to say the least. Old habits, especially of hate, are hard to break.

The practice of paying salaries to terrorists and the families of "martyrs" is as old as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which was founded in 1964. It did not start after the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1994. Nor did this practice start after Abbas was elected as president of the PA in January 2005.

Prior to the establishment of the PA, the PLO relied solely on Arab and Islamic financial aid to pay salaries to imprisoned terrorists and the families of those killed in terror attacks against Israel.

But after most of the Arab countries turned their backs on the PLO, following its support for Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent establishment of the PA, the Europeans and Americans became the major donors to the Palestinians -- including payments to the terrorists and their families.

The PLO is not the only organization that rewards terrorists and their families. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian groups have also been paying monthly stipends to terrorists and their kin. This is their way of expressing their gratitude to those who have chosen to "sacrifice" their lives by trying to murder Jews. It is also their way of encouraging young people to join the war of terrorism against Israel. The financial aid sends a specific message: Palestinians who are prepared to die in the service of murdering Jews need not worry about the welfare of their families.

In the past few decades, various Palestinian groups have used the payments to buy loyalty and recruit new members. Because Fatah -- the dominant party of the PA -- has always reaped the largest share of Arab, Islamic and Western donations, it was able to recruit the largest number of loyalists and members. Headed by Abbas, Fatah terrorists receive the highest salaries for their "contribution" to the Palestinian cause.

The more years a Fatah terrorist serves in Israeli prison, the higher the salary he or she receives. Some Fatah terrorists held in Israeli prison are said to receive monthly stipends of up to $4,000. Many of them are also rewarded with top jobs in both Fatah and the PA.

Take, for example, the case of Karim Younes, a Fatah terrorist who has been in prison for over three decades for kidnapping and murdering an Israeli soldier. Recently, Younes was appointed as member of the Fatah Central Committee, one of a number of key decision-making bodies dominated by Abbas loyalists. As a member of the Fatah Central Committee, Younes will now be entitled to thousands of dollars each month.

In his recent meeting with US presidential envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt in Ramallah, an enraged Mahmoud Abbas rejected their demand that he halt payments to terrorists and their families.

Some of Abbas's aides have gone as far as describing the demand as "crazy," arguing that it will instigate instability and turn many Palestinians against their leaders. One of Abbas's advisors was quoted as accusing Kushner and Greenblatt of serving as "advisors" to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Abbas is also well aware that his life would be in danger if he stops the payments, because he will be killed by the same terrorists he and other Palestinian leaders have been praising and promoting for many years.


In his recent meeting with US presidential envoys Jason Greenblatt (left) and Jared Kushner (center) in Ramallah, an enraged Mahmoud Abbas (right) rejected their demand that he halt payments to terrorists and their families. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty Images)

Abbas's argument that halting the payments would turn his people against him is not baseless. In fact, in an attempt to appease Israel and the Trump Administration, Abbas has already cut off payments to scores of terrorists and their families, particularly those who are not necessarily associated with his Fatah faction.

In the past few weeks, dozens of former Palestinian prisoners and their families have staged daily protests against Abbas's decision to cut off their salaries. They are accusing Abbas of bowing to Israeli and American pressure, with some dubbing him a "traitor."

Abbas and other Palestinian leaders can only blame themselves, however, for the backlash on the Palestinian street following the decision to halt the payment of salaries to some terrorists and their families. After all, it was these leaders who in the first place recruited the terrorists and encouraged them to launch terror attacks against Israel, and promised that they would care for their families if they were imprisoned or killed. For decades, Abbas and other Palestinian leaders have heaped praise on Palestinian terrorists, calling them "heroes" and "freedom fighters" who sacrifice for their people. The "sacrifice," to clarify, means murdering and wounding Jews.

Under Abbas and his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, countless institutions have been established to support terrorists and their families. At one point, they even set up a special ministry called the Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs. Its main goal: "to ensure a decent life for prisoners and care for their children and their families." Why should any Palestinian go to university and search for a job when he can make a "decent living" murdering Jews?

In 2014, after protests from Western donors, Abbas abolished the ministry. However, the decision turned out to be nothing but a cosmetic change intended to dupe the donors. The ministry continues to function, but under a different name: Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs. Abbas defended the decision by claiming that the new commission was now part of the PLO, and not the PA government. This is like claiming that the House of Representatives and the Senate are two different bodies that are not linked to the United States government.

Palestinian terrorists have become an integral part of a culture that has long been glorifying and promoting acts of terrorism against Israel. Generation after generation, Palestinians have been taught that prisoners and terrorists killed by Israel are the "esteemed sons of the revolution," the "untouchables." The official Palestinian narrative is that these men were imprisoned or killed for nothing but "resisting Israel." This narrative has successfully concealed the truth concerning the imprisonment or death of Palestinian terrorists.

Faced with a new reality in which many in the international community are no longer willing to have their taxpayer money designated for terrorists and their families, Abbas now finds himself trapped between what for him are two terrible moves.

He is currently scurrying to explain to his people why suddenly it has become hard to pay salaries to the very terrorists he trained and continues to glorify by naming streets, public squares and sports centers after them. His people, of course, do not buy his excuses, and many are accusing him of serving Israeli and American interests by abandoning the "good boys" of the "revolution."

It will take a long time, and a massive shift in attitude, before Abbas or any other Palestinian leader manages to dry up the funds that support terrorists and their families. Such a plan is doomed from the start, unless these leaders reverse their behavior and embark on a process of de-radicalizing their people. This will require a drastic about-face in their existing narrative of violence, as well as a move toward a culture of peace -- precisely the issue about which Abbas recently lied so disrespectfully when meeting with US President Donald Trump.

Judging from Abbas's rage-response to the demand to halt payments to terrorists and their families, it seems that Abbas and his cohorts in Ramallah plan to continue their same old antics.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10583/palestinians-funding-terrorists

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An open door is swinging for the Anglosphere - Melanie Phillips




by Melanie Phillips

Fascism, went the thinking, had been created by nationalism. To prevent nationalism – and thus prejudice, fascism and war – you had to emasculate the nation.

A couple of days ago, I appeared on BBC TV’s This Week show talking about whether the Anglosphere, the shorthand term for the English-speaking world led by Britain and America, was in decline given the ongoing uproar over Brexit and President Trump. You can watch this discussion here

Since my remarks were very compressed, what follows here is a fuller version of my observations – or what I would have said had I not been confined to such a short space of time.

The Anglosphere has been in decline for the past several decades due to a deep cultural demoralisation. Since the Brexit vote, I have allowed myself a modicum of optimism that this decline might at last be halted and reversed.

The demoralisation of the west dates back to the rise of Nazism and the Second World War. Europe, the crucible of the Enlightenment which had nevertheless descended into barbarism, came to believe that it had to be protected against itself. Its constituent nations, particularly Germany, could never again be trusted with any power.

That despairing certainty was the core belief underpinning the EU project. Fascism, went the thinking, had been created by nationalism. To prevent nationalism – and thus prejudice, fascism and war – you had to emasculate the nation. Trans-national institutions, based on the idea of the brotherhood of man, must henceforth take precedence over national governments, institutions and laws.

Britain threw in its lot with this European project because it too was demoralised after the end of World War Two. Bankrupt and deeply in debt to the US, it had also lost its empire – after which, famously, it couldn’t find a role. 

In this vulnerable state, its official and intellectual elites were unable to resist the tide of destructive and dangerous ideas which emerged during the sixties – all of which rested on the same premise that the western nation, along with the values it represented, was innately bad. 

These ideas constituted a cultural revolution, which radicals realised was a far better way than Soviet communism to undermine the west. They could transform western society through a “long march through the institutions”, capturing the citadels of the culture such as the universities, the churches, the media and others and subverting from within the west’s core values. Through ideologies such as moral and cultural relativism, feminism and multiculturalism this strategy was carried out to the letter. 

All these ideologies substituted power for truth and, embodying in their different ways the ideal of the perfection of the world, suppressed all dissent. As a result, Britain lost its sense of its own national identity and, through membership of the EU, its powers of self-government and democracy. 

In America too something very similar was taking place among its intellectual elites. Unlike Britain, a defence was mounted in the US by the churches which held the cultural line over large swathes of the country. 

It was nevertheless a losing battle. Paralysed by guilt over its history of racism, and increasingly beleaguered by the accusation that it had caused global damage by throwing its weight around, a more uncertain America retreated from its role as the exporter and protector of western values around the world and after Vietnam lost much of the will to defend itself by military means. 

Behind Britain’s Brexit vote lay the people’s desire to “get their country back”. They wanted to reassert the integrity of their nation by regaining control over their own government. They wanted control over their immigration policy, which membership of the EU prevented through its core doctrine of the free movement of people. Laws passed by the UK parliament could be overturned by a foreign court, the European Court of Justice. The people wanted an end to ECJ supremacy. A country which doesn’t control its own laws is not an independent nation.

A similar kind of revolt happened in America. It’s more difficult to see this because Donald Trump is such a divisive figure. Like many others, I have deep reservations about his character and psychological flaws. However, it’s necessary to separate the man from the platform he represents and what brought him to power in such an extraordinary way.

He was elected to “drain the swamp”, to end the nexus of corruption and abuse of process that has come to characterise swathes of American government and to restore instead the primacy of the US constitution and the rule of law. His voters wanted him to also to defend America’s interests against foreign threats and no longer to allow those who attack it to do so with impunity. 

They wanted him to reverse the dominant western ideology which holds that war to defend western interests is never justified because the west is not justifiable: that those who attack the west do so because of what the west has done to them and so can never be held to account.

The people who have risen up on both sides of the pond want the restoration of pride in their nation. They want the reassertion of western national identity based on their shared culture of history, law, religion, institutions and tradition. They want their government to put their own national interest first. They want to restore the compact between citizens and the nation based on loyalty, one law for all and the defence of the realm. They want an end to utopian globalist ideologies and a restoration of pragmatic reality. They want their nations back, and they want them to succeed.

In all the decades of the culture wars in the west, the votes for Brexit and Trump were the first time the liberal universalist orthodoxy had been defeated by the people. The significance of this reversal is being demonstrated by the continuing hysterical reaction of the intellectual and political establishment, in whose moral universe no deviation from their dogma is possible.

Hope for the recovery of the west from its long years of decline lies in this popular revolt within the Anglosphere. It doesn’t lie in Europe, whose history of repeated wars against each other, invasion and tyranny means it has only an imperfect understanding of political freedom and the integrity of the nation. 

By contrast, America and Britain – the mother-ship of political liberty and democracy – are the foundation nations of western freedom. But people cannot uphold or defend values they no longer believe in or even understand. They will only fight and ultimately die for a nation to which they feel they belong — for a culture and a national project which they love and which they feel they share. 

No-one will ever fight and die for the European Union.

The return of national identity, self-government and cultural pride doesn’t just offer both Britain and America the chance to rescue themselves as great nations. Through the Anglosphere’s leadership of the free world, it also offers the west its one and possibly only chance to prevent itself from going under. 

This watershed moment for the Anglosphere has thrown up national leaders who themselves reflect the confusion of the times. They have emerged less because of their innate qualities of statesmanship or intellect and more because of the inadequacy of the alternatives. They may not be able to bear the weight of history that now rests upon their shoulders.

In the UK, the failure of Prime Minister Theresa May to secure a majority government has now cast some doubt that Britain can achieve the clean break that it needs to make with the European Union. In the US, Donald Trump’s presidency is threatened both by the relentless attempt to destroy him that is being mounted from within the very swamp he has pledged to drain, and also by his own innate frailties of character.

With both the Brexit vote and the election of President Trump, the door to the Anglosphere’s future suddenly burst open. It has not yet shut again, but it is swinging heart-stoppingly close to doing so.


Melanie Phillips

Source: http://www.melaniephillips.com/open-door-swinging-anglosphere/

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Rift in the Gulf: Saudi Arabia and Qatar - Michael Curtis




by Michael Curtis

Why these demands? The most important are that Qatar shut down Al Jazeera TV, regarded as the most widely watched propaganda tool for Islamists; end its diplomatic mission and reduce trade with Iran; declare major groups – Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hezb'allah – as terrorist groups; stop funding all terrorist groups

Just friends, lovers, and partners no more is the situation in the Middle East after an extraordinary series of demands made on June 22, 2017 by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council against Qatar. In this world of ordinary people, some of whom are afflicted with an attention deficit disorder, international affairs in general do not often attain the attentive audience they deserve. Perforce, the U.S. administration is obliged to pay attention to and reach decisions regarding those demands and the unexpected blockade, land, sea, and air, by Saudi Arabia and members of the GCC against Qatar, a situation with contradictory elements in play, and one that may be a consequence of President Donald Trump's visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in May 2017. 

Life does change rapidly in the Arab Middle East. A month ago, the leader of Qatar since 2013, the 37-year-old Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, educated in Britain, including Sandhurst, the British Royal Military Academy, was one of the Arab leaders being greeted by Trump in Riyadh, and watching the president's version of the sword dance. Now Thani is subject to a list of demands by the boycotting countries with which Qatar must comply before the blockade and its political isolation, with economic, diplomatic, and travel restrictions, is ended.

Why these demands? The most important are that Qatar shut down Al Jazeera TV, regarded as the most widely watched propaganda tool for Islamists; end its diplomatic mission and reduce trade with Iran; declare major groups – Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hezb'allah – as terrorist groups; stop funding all terrorist groups; end Turkish military presence and its military base in the country and its training of Qatar soldiers; and expel members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Strong differences have appeared in recent years. June 5, 2017 is not the first time problems have arisen. In 2014, Saudi Arabia temporarily withdrew its ambassador from Qatar, largely because of a dispute over Egypt. Reports that Qatar had paid a ransom of $1 billion to a terrorist group in Iraq to release members of its royal family who were kidnapped troubled other Arab countries. Differences go back to the Arab Spring in 2010, when Qatar supported some changes but the Saudis favored the status quo.

The two sides disagreed over politics in Egypt, where Qatar supported the Muslim Brotherhood and the Saudis supported President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and about Iran, with which Qatar shares a large natural gas field. Interestingly, Qatar is the only Gulf country that supports Hamas and agrees with Turkey, which does not consider the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist org. But the main issue is Qatar's alleged support of terrorist groups and individuals.

Qatar has contradictory elements. It has close ties with Shiite Iran, and also with fundamentalist Sunni extremists. It is the home of Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi. It harbors the Al Jazeera TV channel. It houses leaders of the Taliban and Hamas yet also U.S. generals. Its leader, Thani, has praised Iran as an Islamic power.

Qatar is a small country, independent since 1971, consisting of 11,000 square kilometers (4,400 square miles, or about the size of Connecticut) with a population of 2.7 million people, of whom only 250,000 are citizens. They have the world's highest per capita income, $129,000 a year. Oil and gas account for 80% of exports and contribute 90% of government revenue.

The country has emerged as an international player in more than one sense, not only as a member of OPEC and GCC and as the world's leading exporter of liquefied natural gas, but also as the improbable host of the World Cup competition in 2022, though the prospect of playing in 100-degree weather is not enticing. Coincidentally, the state-owned Qatar Airways rents space in the Trump Tower in New York City. Among other things, Qatar is presently bidding to buy 10% of American Airlines.

The U.S. is in a dilemma being friendly with both sides. The U.S. administration is divided, as some officials want to help mediate the dispute, while others, perhaps President Trump, regard the dispute as a Gulf family matter from which the U.S. should abstain.

However, the U.S. is an ally if not a family member. Qatar hosts a highly sophisticated U.S. military base, al-Udeid, the headquarters of Central Command (CENTCOM), the key U.S. asset in the area, in which more than 11,000 U.S. and coalition service members are deployed. The U.S. has sold more than $10 billion in weapons to Qatar, including Apache helicopters and patriot missiles. The U.S. is selling Boeing F-15 fighter jets to Qatar at a cost of $12 billion.

Should the U.S. choose sides? The rapport with Saudi Arabia has become increasingly important in the war against Islamist terrorism, and the extraordinary rise to power of the 31-year-old Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who had been defense minister and deputy crown prince. In June 2017, bypassing his more experienced and more cautious 57-year-old cousin Mohammed bin Nayek, he was anointed crown prince and thus the future most powerful man in the country. He is the man with whom the U.S. administration has to deal.

There are no national representative institutions in Saudi Arabia, and the personal element is all-important. President Trump and Emir Thani now face the hard-line, seemingly dynamic, and assertive Salman, who is interested in changes in his country. Even the issue of women driving is being discussed.

Salman has been active in both foreign and domestic affairs. He was behind the Saudi-led military campaign to eliminate terrorists in Yemen and to counter ISIS in Syria. The country spends $60 billion a year on weapons. He is anxious to reduce Saudi dependence on oil. In 2016, Salman launched Vision 2030, a program to diversify the Saudi economy and increase private business. He introduced austerity measures, cut salaries of public employees, and reduced energy subsidies, so far without complete success. A major part of his plan is to sell 5% of the state oil company Aramco, probably the world's most valuable company, to assist in diversifying the economy and creating 1.2 million jobs.

Salman has four main tasks, all of which should interest the U.S.: cementing foreign relations by overcoming Islamist terrorism and limiting the power of Iran; overhauling the economy and allowing more private enterprise; controlling the extremist Wahhabism and limiting its influence so that it is reduced to a question of personal piety and reducing the power of the religious police; and allowing more freedom and human rights, especially regarding women, and encouraging public entertainment and opening cinemas.

Salman is said to have good relations with Russia, as well as with the U.S., because of the common interest in the price of oil and control of terrorism. He is also said to believe in a stronger relationship and possibly partnership with Israel. Indeed, it is an enticing notion that he, together with Trump, may be the key to bring Palestinians to the negotiating table. There is already talk of increasing diplomatic and economic relations between the Saudis and the moderate Arab Sunni countries and the State of Israel.

The Saudi context is not altogether happy. The country is confronted with a number of issues: falling oil prices (oil constitutes 80% of government revenue) now that oil, $100 barrel in 2014, is $40 in 2017; the increase in the youth population (45% of the population of 32 million is under 25); high unemployment (28% for youth); low growth of GDP, about half compared with Iran's 4.5% growth; and the challenge of Iran's imperialism.

President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson should join in the effort to persuade Qatar to end its support of terrorism in all its forms and encourage Qatar to be more than just a friend to fellow nations in the Middle East.


Michael Curtis

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/06/rift_in_the_gulf_saudi_arabia_and_qatar.html

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Gulf of Aqaba Treaty: a Saudi Repudiation of the Camp David Accords - Cynthia Farahat




by Cynthia Farahat

Giving ownership of Tiran and Sanafir Islands and control of the gulf and straits to Saudi Arabia is a strategic mistake and a security threat for five reasons.

After more than a year of a heated debate, Egypt finally ceded two small Red Sea Islands to Saudi Arabia, giving KSA control over the Straits of Tiran and the Gulf of Aqaba. These waterways separate the Sinai Peninsula from the Arabian mainland and portions of the coastline are owned by Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Giving ownership of Tiran and Sanafir Islands and control of the gulf and straits to Saudi Arabia is a strategic mistake and a security threat for five reasons.

1) Almost every regime in Saudi Arabia has furthered expansionist, imperialistic agendas. Historically, Saudi rulers have attempted to lead the Muslim Umma (nation) by conquest or political and religious imperialism. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s seizure of power in 2015 wasn’t smooth, there were and still are attempts to overthrow him. The Saudi internal conflict will most likely escalate after King Salman’s historic precedent to move the Saudi succession from the house of Abdulaziz ibn al-Saud to the house of Salman. King Salman may believe that asserting his territorial control of Gulf of Aqaba will help him strengthen his domestic position by increasing his regional and international power. Whether the Tiran treaty, and succession coup stunt works or backfires is yet to be seen.

2) King Salman has allegedly agreed to a portion of the Camp David Accords, which guarantees Israel unfettered access through the Straits of Tiran. This acquiescence creates a serious catch-22 for the King. While the deal increases King Salman’s regional power, an agreement with the Jewish state threatens his domestic authority, because he is bound by Islamic Sunni jurisprudence. For example, the Saudi view of treaties with Israel was expressed by King Salman supporter and Saudi celebrity Sheikh, Salman al-Ouda. When Mr. al-Ouda was asked about the legitimacy of treaties with Israel, he answered with a Fatwa issued in 1988-1989 and signed by 60 Sunni scholars. It declared jihad against Israel adding, “under no circumstances is a person or an entity to recognize Jewish authority over any fraction of the land of Palestine.”

If King Salman were to actually abide by any element of the Camp David Accords, his rule would become illegitimate according to Saudi Arabia’s fundamentalist Islamic system. These are the views Saudi rulers indoctrinate their citizens to adopt as the sole legitimate Islamic position towards Israel.

3) According to the Sunni Saudi narrative, suicide bombings against Jews and non-Muslims is a legitimate form of dissent. For example, a member of Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Council of Scholars and Advisor at the Saudi Royal Court, Abdallah Ibn Man'a previously stated in an official Fatwa, “The best form of jihad for Allah, is martyrdom in his cause. Whoever dies in such an operation, is a martyr.”

Moreover, Saudi Arabia indoctrinates its security officers into adopting the belief in suicide bombings. For example, former security police officer and current Muslim sheikh Sami bin Khalid Awad el-Hamoud, received his Master’s degree in Islamic jurisprudence from King Saudi University in Riyadh. His thesis was titled, “Suicide Operations: Its forms and its jurisprudence,” where he argued that any region governed by non-Muslim laws is a “house of war,” where jihad in all its forms, should be exercised.

Since Salman has never shown any intention of abandoning Islamic jurisprudence, which is Saudi Arabia’s raison d'être, his only solution under Sunni theology would be to officially agree to the accords, but unofficially continue to support militant Islamic activities.

It’s puzzling why Egypt and Israel would agree to further associate with King Salman, who was accused by the New York Times for direct involvement in financing terrorism in Pakistan and Bosnia. While Israel is officially granted freedom of passage in Gulf of Aqaba by the Camp David Accords, there is absolutely no evidence that Salman will abide by the accords or that he would not abuse his power in the Gulf of Aqaba. This would deeply endanger both Egypt and Israel.

4) The possibility that King Salma will facilitate a jihadist migration into Sinai, given his history as a terror financier, is not far-fetched. The presence of more jihadists in Sinai, would endanger both Egypt and Eilat. Sadly, this scenario is likely given the fact that KSA plans to build a bridge linking Sinai to Arabia. Many have taken KSA’s newfound control of the Gulf of Aqaba at face value and celebrated it as a Saudi adoption of part of the Camp David Accords. The treaty should be more accurately viewed as a Saudi repudiation of the accords, given the negative possible outcomes for both Egypt and Israel’s security.

A warning about Saudi control of Tiran and Sanafir, was communicated in a 1957 CIA intelligence brief titled, “Prospects of an Armed Clash in the Gulf of Aqaba.” The brief warned -- “Saudi Arabia, which controls the east coast of the Straits of Tiran, could conceivably take unilateral action to prevent entry of Israeli or Israeli-bound vessels into the Gulf.” The briefing continued, “In the event that Saudi forces were to occupy the islands they might attempt to control shipping through the straits of Tiran from positions on the islands.” It’s still 1957 in Saudi Arabia, and if Salman and his son are overthrown, the possibility of replacing them with an Iranian friendly option, such as Prince Ahmed bin Abdel Aziz al-Saud, would mean that a Saudi-Iran coalition could be created.

5) Signs of other security concerns caused by the treaty have already begun to manifest. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Turkey-based Egyptian Revolutionary Council (ERC), has basically declared jihad in Gulf of Aqaba in an official statement on its official Facebook page. The ERC called upon Egyptians living in the cities overlooking the Red Sea, to “struggle to liberate” the Islands and the Gulf of Aqaba and treat them as, “occupied territories.”

In another veiled call for terrorism, the statement also urged citizens to “treat all Saudi companies and institutions, as occupying forces.” Not only does this destabilize Egypt’s security, more dangerously, it can inspire a coup d'état in Egypt. A coup could be launched with the excuse of defending Egyptian land, which may work given President el-Sisi’s plummeting popularity after the treaty signing.

The issue of the Red Sea islands is part of a broader and reoccurring question of whether or not the free world should be making deals and treaties with Islamic theocracies. The international community would be well advised to refrain from further official treaties with Sunni and other theocratic nations, until these regimes reform their governments and recognize the modern international laws and treaties, to which they have already committed. Until that time, it is irresponsible to make treaties, which have repeatedly backfired. The Saudi control of the Gulf of Aqaba, is almost as dangerous to regional peace as President Barack Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal.


Cynthia Farahat is an Author and Fellow at the Middle East Forum

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/06/gulf_of_aqaba_treaty_a_saudi_repudiation_of_the_camp_david_accords.html

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From Osirak to Yongbyon - Dr. Alon Levkowitz




by Dr. Alon Levkowitz

If Washington does strike, will Pyongyang choose to react passively as Syria did in 2007, or will it respond by starting a war with South Korean and American forces in the region?


Yongbyon Nuclear Facility, Main Reactor, North Korea, image by Google Earth via Flickr CC
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 509, June 26, 2017

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: North Korea is moving forward with its development of an ICBM that can carry a nuclear warhead. Will Pyongyang test it, challenging Washington to strike its nuclear reactor in Yongbyon? If Washington does strike, will Pyongyang choose to react passively as Syria did in 2007, or will it respond by starting a war with South Korean and American forces in the region? Although both sides use militant rhetoric, neither will choose to challenge the other. They will instead upgrade their deterrence capabilities.  

On June 7, 1981, the Israeli Air Force attacked and destroyed Osirak, the Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad, Iraq. The attack was very successful and Iraq never retaliated. The message was heard loud and clear across the Middle East – Israel will not tolerate a nuclear threat to its national interests, not even from a country with which it does not share a border and from which the likelihood of an attack is relatively low.

Twenty-six years later, on September 6, 2007, the Israeli Air Force attacked the Syrian nuclear reactor in Deir ez-Zor, in northeast Syria. Unlike Iraq, Syria does share a border with Israel. Then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his advisors had to calculate the likelihood that Syria would perceive the attack as a casus belli. If it did, the strike on the reactor was tantamount to going to war with Syria.

Syria decided against starting a war with Israel; nor did it respond with a limited attack. The only state to condemn Israel for the strike was North Korea, which had assisted Syria in building the reactor.

Damascus decided it was in the Syrian interest to restrain itself from responding. What would be the North Korean response to a strike on the Yongbyon nuclear reactor? What trigger would convince President Donald Trump to attack Yongbyon?

In May 2017, David von Hippel and Peter Hayes published a report about the possible implications of an accident or an attack at the Yongbyon reactor.[1] Their report focused mainly on the implications of radiation exposure. One should bear in mind that unlike the Iraqi and Syrian reactors, which were destroyed during construction, Yongbyon is an active reactor. An attack on Yongbyon would not only have military implications, but would cause radiation exposure for about a 20 kilometer radius.

Washington considered attacking Yongbyon during the 1990s crisis. Seoul and Tokyo opposed any plan by Washington to conduct a “surgical attack” against the reactor or other strategic military sites, fearing it might escalate into a regional conflict that South Korea and Japan did not support.

Since 2006, North Korea has held five nuclear tests that led to UNSC and bilateral sanctions against it. Although the US and South Korean forces are under threat from North Korean military forces (mainly missiles and artillery), these tests did not convince Washington or Seoul to attack North Korea’s nuclear sites. Will the sixth North Korean nuclear test change this equation?

No, it won’t. Then why the change of tone in Washington and rising concerns in Seoul about a US attack on North Korea?

Pyongyang has built missile and nuclear capabilities, but has failed, according to intelligence sources, to acquire the technology to launch missiles with nuclear warheads. North Korea is getting closer to achieving this goal. Acquiring an ICBM with a nuclear warhead would allow North Korea to target the American west coast. This would change the nuclear equation between Washington and Pyongyang. The election of Donald Trump and his attempts to change Obama’s diplomatic policy have led analysts in Washington to consider the possibility of an American conventional attack on Yongbyon and on North Korea’s missile sites, if Pyongyang launches a conventional ICBM at the US.

Pyongyang is aware of the severe potential consequences of launching a nuclear ICBM at the US, which is why it will try to not challenge President Trump on this issue. It might test the ICBM by launching it to its shortest range, which would demonstrate its capabilities without threatening the US directly. For its part, Washington understands that Pyongyang cannot be assumed to respond the passive way Syria did to a preemptive strike on Yongbyon and its strategic missile sites. Pyongyang might well see such an attack as a casus belli – but it does not want to launch a military response that could drag the region into a war North Korea might lose.

Washington is likely to choose to upgrade its deterrence versus Pyongyang through additional missile defense systems and by hinting that it might consider a surgical military strike on Yongbyon and other strategic sites if Pyongyang crosses the Rubicon. The likelihood of such a strike is relatively low, in view of concerns over the unintentional consequences of a regional war no one wants to start. It should remain low as long as Pyongyang does not cross the line.

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BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

[1]David von Hippel and Peter Hayes, “Potential impacts of accident at or the DPRK’s Yongbyon nuclear reactors”, NAPSNet Special Reports, May 22, 2017.


Dr. Alon Levkowitz, a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, is an expert on East Asian security, the Korean Peninsula, and Asian international organizations.

Source:  https://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/osirak-yongbyon/

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Greece: A Drug-Smuggling Case with Global Implications - Maria Polizoidou




by Maria Polizoidou

It is an open secret by now that heroin revenues are used by Middle East regimes to fund terrorist and other questionable organizations, such as ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

  • If even the partial information that Efthimios (Makis) Yiannousakis revealed during the interviews is true, the upper echelons of Greek society have good reason to want to silence him.
  • The true culprit, however, is the "deep state" and its links to Iran, through the drug trade. It is an open secret by now that heroin revenues are used by Middle East regimes to fund terrorist and other questionable organizations, such as ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. The case of the Noor 1 illustrates one of the ways that both the drugs themselves and terrorist operations are exported to Europe.
  • The possible direct and indirect involvement of figures at the highest levels of Greek society makes it nearly impossible for the government alone to get to the bottom of the case, and protect key witnesses from bodily harm. It needs help now, preferably from the U.S. Justice Department and security agencies. The complete dismantling of the drug-terrorism circuit is not only a pressing issue for Greece. It is an international security imperative.
New details surrounding a three-year-old drug-smuggling case in Greece are causing a political storm that could have global implications.

In June 2014, the Greek Coast Guard uncovered and seized 986 kilograms of heroin stashed in a warehouse in a suburb of Athens, and another 1,133 kilograms in two other locations, claiming that the more than two tons of drugs -- valued at $30 million -- had been smuggled on a tanker, the "Noor 1," from the "territorial waters between Oman and Pakistan."

As was reported by Gatestone last December, the heroin, which was to be distributed throughout Europe -- in addition to 18 tons of oil also smuggled on the Noor 1 -- originated in Iran. Two years later, in August 2016, a criminal court in Piraeus sentenced five of the defendants, two Greeks and three foreign nationals, to life imprisonment. Among these was the (now former) owner of the Noor 1, Efthimios (Makis) Yiannousakis.

The Noor 1 case, and particularly Yiannousakis's role in it, has hit the headlines again, due to a leaked recording of a telephone conversation he had with Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos. In the conversation, Kammenos allegedly asked Yiannousakis to turn state witness against a certain businessman connected to the heroin smuggling, in exchange for amnesty.

After coming under fire from members of the opposition, Kammenos claimed that it was Yiannousakis who had requested -- through journalist Makis Triantafyllopoulos -- judicial protection in exchange for testimony. "As it was my duty to do, I immediately informed the prosecutor and the responsible minister," Kammenos said.


Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos. (Photo by Yorgos Karahalis-POOL/Getty Images)

According to Triantafyllopoulos, who has been covering the case from the outset and has interviewed Yiannousakis extensively, Yiannousakis fears that the information he is willing to reveal puts him at risk. He has appealed for American protection for him and his family, so that he can speak freely about all aspects of the case.

Yiannousakis' apprehension is well-founded. Since the smuggling case emerged, several witnesses were murdered or have died of "unknown causes". In addition, the judge presiding over the trial received a bomb in a package sent to his home. The explosive, which was filled with razor blades and screws and placed inside a hollowed-out book, was detonated by bomb squad agents before it had a chance to kill its recipient -- a day after the prosecutor recommended life sentences for the five main suspects.

Furthermore, between the first and second telephone interviews he gave to Triantafyllopoulos, Yiannousakis was transferred from a correctional facility to a closed prison, which he believes is a move by the authorities -- a web of political, financial and media elites implicated in the affair -- to put psychological pressure on him to keep his mouth shut. If even the partial information that he revealed during the interviews is true, the upper echelons of Greek society have good reason to want to silence him.

What he indicated was that the amount of heroin transferred to the Noor 1 from an Iranian ship was far greater than that which was seized by the Greek Coast Guard. He claimed that it was not 2.1 tons, but rather 3 tons that were found, and that the extra 900 kilograms were taken by Vangelis Marinakis -- a powerful businessman, shipowner, member of the Piraeus city council and owner of the football (soccer) clubs Olympiacos in Greece and Nottingham Forest in Britain -- who sold it to a network of Serbian drug dealers. He also accused Marinakis of being involved in illegal oil-trafficking in the Persian Gulf.

These allegations, if accurate, are particularly startling, given Marinakis's newfound control over much of the media in Greece, and extensive ties to the foreign media. He recently purchased the Lambrakis Press Group (DOL) and a 22.1% stake of the private Greek network MEGA TV. According to Triantafyllopoulos, this is only the tip of the iceberg where Marinakis's media holdings are concerned.

Marinakis denies the allegations; he says that they were concocted by the government to counter the loss of control over the media. Yet, there is no denying what is behind Marinakis' desire to buy newspapers, radio stations and television networks, all of which have been losing money and are in serious debt. In other words, it is not for immediate financial gain that he has spent tens of millions of euros on bad investments, but rather for long-term political and economic influence at home and abroad. Clearly, his strategy is working: he is considered today one of the most powerful men in Greece.

The complexities of this case have become the source of a fierce confrontation between the government, headed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and President Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and the opposition New Democracy Party, headed by Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Each blames the other for ties to the Noor 1 protagonists and culpability in the case. The true culprit, however, is the "deep state" and its links to Iran through the drug trade. It is an open secret by now that heroin revenues are used by Middle East regimes to fund terrorist organizations, such as ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. The case of the Noor 1 illustrates one of the ways that both the drugs themselves and terrorist operations are exported to Europe.

Ironically, Greece, a country in poverty and beholden to Germany and the European Union to keep it afloat, appears manipulated from within by malevolent forces posing as legitimate members of the elite.

The possible direct and indirect involvement of figures at the highest levels of Greek society makes it nearly impossible for the government alone to get to the bottom of the case, and protect key witnesses from bodily harm. It needs help now, preferably from the U.S. Justice Department and security agencies. The complete dismantling of the drug-terrorism circuit is not only a pressing issue for Greece. It is an international security imperative.
Maria Polizoidou, a reporter, broadcast journalist, and consultant on international and foreign affairs, is based in Greece.
Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10577/greece-drug-smuggling

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Pro-Israel party forms coalition with May - Arutz Sheva Staff




by Arutz Sheva Staff

Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party joins coalition with Conservatives to form majority in British Parliament.

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday signed a coalition agreement between her party, the Conservative Party, and the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which is considered to be a pro-Israel party.

Under the agreement the DUP will support bills and initiatives put forth by May's minority Conservative government, giving her an effective majority in Parliament. In exchange the government will increase funding to Northern Ireland by at least 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) over the next two years.

"The Conservative Party has recognized the case for higher funding in Northern Ireland given our unique history and circumstances over recent decades," DUP leader Arlene Foster told reporters after the deal was signed.

In 2012, the DUP strongly condemned the Irish boycott movement against Israeli products from Judea and Samaria. In early 2014, asked the Northern Ireland Police to investigate the legality of anti-Israel demonstrations, and on June 11, 2014, the party established a special Friends of Israel Association.

On October 13, 2014, the British Parliament held a non-binding vote on recognition of a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel, even before reaching an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians on this issue. The result was 12-274 in favor of supporters of the Palestinian state. Five of the eight DUP MPs were among the twelve who voted against the resolution, while the other three MPs were absent.


Arutz Sheva Staff

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/231611

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The Assassination of the Political System (It’s Not About Trump) - Abraham H. Miller




by Abraham H. Miller

For Tocqueville, compromise and conciliation are the very essence of democracy. That meant an ability to divorce unbending ideology in order to embrace the pragmatism that produces results. It meant viewing the opposition not as some group of demons but as compatriots who sought the common good by different means.

A play in Central Park delights the audience with the brutal assassination of the president. A comedian amuses her followers by holding a replica of the severed head of the president. To adoring fans, a pop singer revels in her dreams of torching the White House.

When sick fantasy evolves into reality, a lunatic shoots a congressman in a public park, and a prominent journalist suggests we consider that the victim brought it on himself.

At colleges and universities, a gaggle of leftist students decides who can and cannot speak by fomenting violence against speakers they do not want to hear. Milquetoast college administrators yield to the path of least resistance and direct the police to stand down. One University of California, Berkeley administrator, denying that anyone was told to “stand down,” defensively insisted police were instead told to "hold your post," creating a distinction between the two without a difference.

These administrators are inflaming the passions of thugs. The fires next time will burn brighter. The shards of glass will be more numerous.

Those lusting after the president’s assassination fail to comprehend that it is not Donald J. Trump that they are attacking; it is the political system.

Nearly two hundred years ago, Alexis de Tocqueville, a French civil servant, or in the parlance of leftist identity politics, a “Dwem” (dead white European male), wrote a classic two-volume tome, Democracy in America.

For Tocqueville, compromise and conciliation are the very essence of democracy. That meant an ability to divorce unbending ideology in order to embrace the pragmatism that produces results. It meant viewing the opposition not as some group of demons but as compatriots who sought the common good by different means.

The foundation of any political system is its legitimacy. The ineffectual Russian czars continued for centuries as long as the masses believed that the czar was anointed by God. The French aristocracy ruled for 400 years while failing to meet their political obligations. They were vanquished in the flicker of an historical sunset when their legitimacy was no longer accepted.

As for those who cheer for the assassination of the president, find justification in the shooting of a congressman, and believe that they are the gatekeepers of basic rights, it is not the administration they are attacking but the values of our democracy. They are creating an impermeable divide where no compromise will be possible. They are inflicting wounds on the body politic that will not heal.

When neither side recognizes the legitimacy of the other, when we are all stained as deplorables by one another, the very foundations of the system are prone to collapse.

Loyal opposition is enshrined in our democratic heritage. But when opposition to an administration justifies the uses of violence, it is not the administration that is under attack but the very civility without which a democracy cannot function.


Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati and a distinguished fellow with the Hyam Salomon Center.

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2017/06/the_assassination_of_the_political_system_its_not_about_trump.html

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Leftist Illegalophilia, Not Islamophobia, Killed a Muslim Teen - Daniel Greenfield




by Daniel Greenfield


The Left has only itself to blame for Nabra Hassanen’s murder.



Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.

When Nabra Hassanen was killed by Darwin Martinez Torres, the media rushed to blame Islamophobia and Trump. The truth was simpler. It was the left’s own Illegalophilia that killed the Muslim teenager.

Torres, an illegal alien from El Salvador, had no interest in Hassanen’s religion. He got into an altercation with her friends. Hassanen happened to be the one he caught when her friends left her behind.

The murder happened in Fairfax County.

Earlier this year, Fairfax County Chief of Police Ed Roessler had assured illegal aliens that they had nothing to worry about. The police were not going to do anything about them until they killed someone.

“We’re not targeting someone on the street that we may or may not know is here unlawfully,” Deputy County Executive David Rohrer soothed.

Cecilia Wang, the Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU, demanded “accountability” for Hassanen’s death. That’s easy enough. The Virginia ACLU had pressured Fairfax County to go further in not cooperating with immigration authorities.  Wang can demand “accountability” from the ACLU for Hassanen’s death.

Fairfax County’s refusal to investigate illegal aliens made it a magnet for a rising illegal alien population. Its jails have nearly 2,000 illegal aliens and the area has become a magnet for the El Salvadoran MS-13 gang. It’s unknown whether Torres was an MS-13 member, but his behavior matches the extreme brutality and fearless savagery that the group, which has been lethally active in Fairfax, is known for.

13 MS-13 gang members were convicted of dismembering and burying their own members in a park.

“This problem is horrible,” Fairfax County Police Chief Ed Roessler had commented at the time. “This is four murders in this park.”

This year, ICE busted 11 MS-13 members in Fairfax County for, among other things, drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, human smuggling and murder. Ten were arrested for the murder of a 15-year-old girl who had been threatened by MS-13 members. The adults in the case were illegal aliens.

Maybe if she had been a Muslim, the media might have cared.

MS-13 sharply increased its presence due to Obama’s policy of open borders for “unaccompanied minors”. Meanwhile United We Dream, a Soros backed left-wing group passed out leaflets in Fairfax County urging illegal aliens not to open the door to immigration authorities and to “Fight Back”.

The left-wing group was protecting illegals like Darwin Martinez Torres from Trump.

Sharon Bulova, the Democrat serving as the chair of Fairfax County’s  Board of Supervisors, had been critical of immigration enforcement efforts by law enforcement elsewhere in Virginia.

“Fairfax County is a very, very diverse community,” Bulova had argued. "In Fairfax County we celebrate diversity; we consider it an asset... We, in this county, have chosen not to create what could be a poisonous atmosphere for our diverse community, a community that we value.”

After the Hassanen murder, Bulova stated, “A horrific tragedy like this should never ever happen in our community.” It didn’t have to happen. Shielding illegal aliens was a choice that Bulova had made.

In Loudoun County, where Darwin Martinez Torres lived, some efforts had been made to crack down. But there’s only so much good that one county cracking down can do when another acts as a magnet.

Fairfax County is indeed “diverse”. Around a third of it is foreign born. The media had notably little interest in crimes committed by illegal aliens in Fairfax County until Muslims were affected.

In April, Oscar Perez Rangel was arrested for sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl. Rangel was an illegal alien from Mexico who had already been arrested in the past for attempted robbery and the use of a firearm during a felony in Fairfax County. He was sent to prison and deported. He returned and was arrested again and deported. And then he popped up back in Fairfax County and abused a little girl.

Since the victim wasn’t Muslim and the perpetrator was one of those wonderful “undocumented immigrants” whom the media, along with Fairfax County Dems, was dedicated to celebrating and defending, the story did not receive a fraction of the attention that the Nabra Hassanen case did.

Even though the failures by the authorities were far more outrageous and egregious.

The left has only itself to blame for Nabra Hassanen’s murder. It makes a fetish of diversity. But there are rational limits to diversity. You can champion Muslims and illegal aliens against Trump. But eventually members of one group will kill another. And it won’t be Trump’s fault. It’ll be yours.

The utopian society that the left is building is as unstable and unsustainable as a nuclear meltdown.

Nabra Hassanen was one of the many victims of the left’s illegalophillic sanctuary crimes. Most of these victims never became national figures. They died unmourned except by their friends and loved ones.

If only they had been fodder for Islamophobia accusations, someone on the left might have cared.

The media has tried to hide behind accusations of Islamophobia. Even after the police made it clear that it was road rage, the worst of the mainstream media’s outlets tried to keep its old lie alive.

The Washington Post, which keeps digging a deep hole to an alternate reality, suggested that Nabra Hassanen, who was Egyptian Arab, was really attacked because she was geographically black. “African-Americans wondered whether this is another instance of them being targeted because of their race.”

Maybe the illegal alien killer hated the entire continent of Africa, regardless of race, and as a student of ethnography was able to recognize exactly which Arab country Hassanen’s father had come from.

Or maybe the media has exited reality and lives in its own matrix of lies and conspiracy theories.

The Post's Petula Dvorak, who has scribbled numerous defenses of illegal aliens, had insisted that it might still a hate crime because "hitting a 17-year-old girl with a bat and dumping her body in a pond would be an act born of hate." As opposed to most murders which are motivated by love.

Maybe we should prosecute all murders as hate crimes. Or only those that fit the media’s agenda.

"Nabra was killed by some kind of toxic mix of hate and rage, there's no doubt about that-- even if it doesn't meet the legal definition of a hate crime," Petula protested.

Nabra Hassanen was killed by the left’s love for illegal aliens. Hate and rage are abstracts. Letting a dangerous El Salvadoran gang set up shop in your community really does kill.

The left likes pretends that it’s all about love while its mean opponents represent fear and hate. Its love however is very narrow and specific.

And often lethal.

The left’s illegalophilic love for illegal aliens killed Nabra and many others. And it will go on killing.

Fairfax County’s safe space for violent El Salvadoran illegal alien thugs accidentally became national news when the media’s desperate search for Islamophobia briefly lingered on one illegal alien killer.

After some frantic efforts to obscure the identity of the killer, the lights, cameras and agendas will move on. But unless the law trumps the left’s illegalophilic love, the illegal alien killings will continue.


Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/267064/leftist-illegalophilia-not-islamophobia-killed-daniel-greenfield

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