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June 2, 2014 0

Alleged Brussels Jewish Museum Shooter May Have Fought in Syria

Nemmouche 2

Mehdi Nem­mouche

The sus­pected gun­man in the May 24 attack on the Jew­ish Museum in Brus­sels, Mehdi Nem­mouche, report­edly spent about a year in Syria, where French and Bel­gian offi­cials say he may have fought with the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS), a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion for­merly asso­ci­ated with Al Qaeda.

The con­nec­tion may sub­stan­ti­ate fears that west­ern­ers fight­ing in Syria could return to attempt attacks in their home coun­tries. Nemmouche’s choice to attack a Jew­ish museum may also fur­ther demon­strate the con­nec­tion between ter­ror­ist ide­ol­ogy and anti-Semitism.

Nem­mouche was arrested in France on Fri­day. At the time of his arrest, he was in pos­ses­sion of con­sid­er­able ammu­ni­tion, includ­ing a Kalash­nikov rifle wrapped in a sheet with the ISIS sym­bol and the words “God is great.” He also had a video recorder on which he had appar­ently claimed credit for the attack and said he wanted to “kill Jews” and to “set fire to Brus­sels and fill it with blood.”

A native of France, Nen­mouche is believed to have been rad­i­cal­ized in prison and to have left for Syria only three weeks after his release in 2012. French and Bel­gian offi­cials claim there is evi­dence that he fought with ISIS while he was there.

The shoot­ing in the museum resulted in 3 deaths and 1 per­son injured. It bears resem­blance to a shoot­ing at a Jew­ish school in Toulouse, France in 2012 by Mohamed Merah. Merah, a French cit­i­zen, had spent time with extrem­ists in Afghanistan and Pak­istan before return­ing to France and per­pe­trat­ing the attack.

As many as 3,000 Euro­peans and 100 Amer­i­cans are believed tohave trav­elled to join the con­flict in Syria. This travel is only increas­ing as  groups uti­lize social media and online pro­pa­ganda to recruit followers.

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May 28, 2014 0

Reports Of American Suicide Bomber In Syria

Update — 5/29/2014: U.S. offi­cials have con­firmed that the sui­cide bomb­ing was con­ducted by an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen who grew up in Florida.

News that an Amer­i­can may have been one of four sui­cide bombers involved in an attack in Syria on May 25 con­ducted by Jab­hat al-Nusra (JN), Al Qaeda in Syria, has been cir­cu­lated by var­i­ous extrem­ists on social media over the past two days.syria-abu-hurayra-al-amriki-suicide-bomber

If accu­rate, the attack fur­ther indi­cates the inte­gra­tion of for­eign fight­ers, and specif­i­cally West­ern­ers, with ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions in Syria.

Abu Hurayra Al Amriki would be at least the fourth Amer­i­can rumored to have been killed while fight­ing in Syria, join­ing Nicole Mans­field, Amiir Farouk Ibrahim and a man iden­ti­fied as Abu Dujana al Amriki. An appar­ent image of Abu Hurayra Al Amriki hold­ing a cat and jux­ta­posed to images of the bomb­ing was shared by sev­eral JN sup­ports on Twitter.

He would also be at least the fourth known Amer­i­can to have suc­cess­fully under­taken a sui­cide bomb­ing on behalf of an Al Qaeda linked ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion. The other three, Shirwa Ahmed, Farah Mohamad Beledi and  Abis­dalan Hus­sein Ali, were among a wave of Amer­i­cans who joined Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda in Soma­lia, pri­mar­ily between 2007 and 2012.

The U.S. State Department’s “Think Again, Turn Away” account on Twit­ter, which aims to counter ter­ror­ist sen­ti­ments online, Tweeted: “another life wasted by #alqaeda’s cult of death. Thanks to them #Assad remains in power while Syr­i­ans suf­fer.” U.S. offi­cials, how­ever, have not con­firmed whether or not an Amer­i­can was actu­ally involved in the attack.

Two other Amer­i­cans, Nicholas Teau­sant and U.S. legal per­ma­nent res­i­dent Mohamad Has­san Ham­dan, are known to have attempted to travel to Syria to fight along­side ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions this year. There were sev­eral other Amer­i­cans pub­li­cally iden­ti­fied who joined or attempted to join the con­flict in 2013.

Con­cerns over Amer­i­cans fight­ing in Syria have been increas­ing since the start of the con­flict, with “dozens” believed to have trav­elled there thus far accord­ing to U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cials. Last week, the Jus­tice Depart­ment appointed a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor to inves­ti­gate indi­vid­u­als trav­el­ling to Syria, and they have long been the sub­ject of high lev­els of scrutiny by law enforcement.

Although casu­alty counts were unavail­able as of this writ­ing, the sui­cide attack report­edly killed or wounded “dozens” of Syr­ian troops. The attack had been directed at Syr­ian army posi­tions in the Idlib province of Syria.

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May 21, 2014 0

Iran Weekly: Selected News & Developments

The fol­low­ing is a selec­tion of news reports and com­men­tary from Iran­ian media and main­stream pub­li­ca­tions on devel­op­ments per­tain­ing to Iran. This weekly update includes a sam­pling of pub­lished reports from Iran’s Farsi-language media*as well as rel­e­vant arti­cles from the inter­na­tional press.

Iran­ian Media

The Islamic Rev­o­lu­tion cre­ated two polit­i­cal mod­els against the world infi­dels*
(Basij News Agency – May 20, 2014)

In a speech, IRGC Brig. Gen­eral Hos­sein Salami said: “Today, even Amer­i­can intel­lec­tu­als clearly acknowl­edge that in any place they have tried to plant democ­racy, the heart of Islam sprouts, and the Islamic Repub­lic has tested [this] and been suc­cess­ful in this model.”

seyyed-mahmoud-alavi-iran

Iran­ian Min­is­ter of Intel­li­gence Seyyed Mah­moud Alavi

The Min­is­ter of Intel­li­gence warns of new enemy move­ments against Iran*
(Fars News Agency – May 20, 2014)

Seyyed Mah­moud Alavi,  Iran’s min­is­ter of intel­li­gence, said in a state­ment: “In the last five years, polit­i­cal ana­lysts, even inside the Zion­ist regime and with Zion­ist view­points, have pre­dicted that this regime [Israel] is on the decline after it was slapped in the face by Hezbol­lah and the Pales­tin­ian resis­tance [Hamas] … Five years ago, var­i­ous Islamic groups, such as Hamas and Hezbol­lah, were stand­ing beside Syria united and were often capa­ble of slap­ping Israel in the face.”

We have not shut down any­thing up till now; Keep­ing in accor­dance with our red lines, we con­tinue nego­ti­a­tions*
(Fars News Agency – May 20, 2014)

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Iran­ian Atomic Agency, said dur­ing a meet­ing with sem­i­nary stu­dents that “West­ern coun­tries have no choice but to inter­act with Iran,” espe­cially con­cern­ing his country’s nuclear program.

Rouhani hopes for suc­cess­ful nuclear nego­ti­a­tions
(Mehr News Agency – May 19, 2014)

In a meet­ing with gov­ern­ment offi­cials, Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani said, “The Islamic Repub­lic of Iran has never intended to tell lies and seeks to gain peace­ful nuclear tech­nol­ogy and will pur­sue it as an undis­putable right for Ira­ni­ans, it also wants a deal on [the] Tehran nuclear pro­gram which ben­e­fits all.”

Al Sisi’s vic­tory in the elec­tions is con­ceiv­able; They want to return Egypt to the Mubarak era*
(Basij News Agency – May 19, 2014)

Has­san Hadizadeh, an Iran­ian jour­nal­ist on Mid­dle East affairs, said regard­ing Egypt: “The Egypt­ian gen­er­als’ soft coup d’état received help from the West and Saudi Ara­bia, and the West­ern­ers arrived at the con­clu­sion of the pos­si­bil­ity of estab­lish­ing democ­racy in their own accord and secur­ing the safety of the Zion­ist regime, while the gen­er­als are sub­or­di­nate to the West and Liberals.”

Mil­i­tary and defense equip­ment are insur­mount­able red lines for Iran*
(Basij News Agency – May 19, 2014)

IRGC com­man­der Jaza­y­eri stated, “With the knowl­edge that the issue of [dis­cussing] mil­i­tary and defense equip­ment con­sti­tute an unbreach­able red line for Iran, Amer­ica aims to pres­sure the Iran­ian nego­ti­at­ing team and to black­mail them rather than dis­cussing nuclear issues.”

Iran con­demns Argen­tine court rul­ing on AMIA probe
(Press TV – May 16, 2014)

In response to an Argen­tine court rul­ing on the 2013 signed Mem­o­randa of Under­stand­ing between Iran and Argentina, Iran’s For­eign Min­istry Spokes­woman Marziyeh Afkham said: “The Iran­ian gov­ern­ment believes that the mem­o­ran­dum of under­stand­ing was a proper solu­tion and oppor­tu­nity for dis­cov­er­ing the fact regard­ing the AMIA tragedy and the set­tle­ment of dif­fer­ences in that respect, but the mea­sure by the Argen­tine court deprived both sides of that oppor­tu­nity. There­fore, the Islamic Repub­lic of Iran expresses regret and dis­con­tent over this decision.”

Inter­na­tional Media

Young Ira­ni­ans arrested for being too ‘Happy in Tehran’
(The New York Times – May 20, 2014)

Six Ira­ni­ans were arrested and made to give con­fes­sions on state tele­vi­sion for their role in cre­at­ing and start­ing in an Iran­ian cover of singer Pharell Williams’s song, “Happy.”

Iran­ian ana­lyst: ‘Who entrusted Iran with destroy­ing Israel?’
(Al-Monitor – May 19, 2014)

Sadegh Zibakalam, a Tehran Uni­ver­sity pro­fes­sor known to hold cen­trist views, has pub­licly crit­i­cized Iran­ian offi­cials’ state­ments and rhetoric on Israel. “Iran has explic­itly stated many times that it wants to destroy Israel. None of the other coun­tries that have a nuclear pro­gram have state that they want to destroy a coun­try. I don’t know who entrusted Iran with destroy­ing Israel,” Zibakalam said dur­ing a speech at an uni­ver­sity in the city of Mashhad.

Iran’s for­got­ten pris­on­ers of con­science
(The Wall Street Jour­nal – May 19, 2014)

Robert P. George and Kat­rina Lan­tos Swett, two mem­bers of the U.S. Com­mis­sion on Inter­na­tional Reli­gious Free­dom, wrote an opin­ion piece detail­ing the con­tin­u­ing state-sanctioned per­se­cu­tion of Iran’s Baha’i community.

8 Days in Iran
(60 Min­utes – May 18, 2014)

Reporters from 60 Min­utes were granted per­mis­sion to visit Iran and meet with elected offi­cials and ordi­nary citizens.

Tehran poll: 60% believe media has lit­tle or no free­dom
(Al-Monitor – May 16, 2014)

A poll con­ducted by Iran’s Min­istry of Cul­ture and Islamic Guid­ance found that the major­ity of cit­i­zens liv­ing in Tehran “believe the media does not have free­dom of express or has very lit­tle free­dom of expression.”

Ira­ni­ans ‘least anti-Semitic in Mid-East’
(BBC – May 16, 2014)

An arti­cle pub­lished by the BBC dis­cusses the sur­pris­ing find­ing from ADL’s Global 100 sur­vey that the Islamic Repub­lic of Iran is the least anti-Semitic coun­try in the Mid­dle East and North Africa region.

Iran pays Afghans to fight for Assad
(The Wall Street Jour­nal – May 15, 2014)

Iran amps up efforts to save the Assad regime by offer­ing $500 a month and Iran­ian res­i­dency to thou­sands of Afghan refugees to help Assad in his blood war against the Syr­ian people.

Iran: Oil exports con­tinue to decline
(The New York Times – May 15, 2014)

The month of April saw the con­tin­u­ing decline of Iran­ian oil exports, down from 1.58 mil­lion bar­rels a day in Feb­ru­ary to 1.11 mil­lion bar­rels a day in April.

Iran­ian real­ity check
(The New York Times – May 15, 2014)

Opin­ion colum­nist Roger Cohen urged Iran to reach a deal and avert prospects of war.

Mak­ing Iran come clean about its nukes
(The Wall Street Jour­nal – May 14, 2014)

David Albright and Bruno Ter­trais write that “A pre­req­ui­site for any final agree­ment is for Iran to address nuclear-weapons ques­tions raised by inspec­tors of the Inter­na­tional Atomic Energy Agency.”

No, sanc­tions didn’t force Iran to make a deal
(For­eign Pol­icy – May 14, 2014)

Trita Parsi, the head of the National Iran­ian Amer­i­can Coun­cil, writes that “Sanc­tions are nei­ther the rea­son for the break­through, not the impe­tus behind the gov­ern­ment of Iran­ian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani’s open­ness to talk;” rather, it was Rouhani’s cam­paign­ing suc­cess and high voter turnout that enabled Rouhani to come to power.

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