Archive for December, 2017

Khamenei, Iran-backed militia leader threaten U.S. over recognition of Jerusalem

(THE TOWER) — Iran’s Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei expressed his anger over the decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, threatening that Palestine will be “freed” and claiming that America was starting a “war in the region to protect the security of the Zionist regime.”

The Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday that Khamenei had dismissed President Donald Trump’s decision as a sign of desperation. “That they claim they want to announce Quds as the capital of occupied Palestine is because of their incompetence and failure,” Khamenei said, using the Arabic name for Jerusalem. He added: “On the issue of Palestine (US) hands are tied and they cannot advance their goals.”

Iran has long supported a number of Palestinian terrorist groups, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, in their fight against Israel.

Meanwhile, the leader of an one of the Iran-backed Shiite militias operating in Iraq, which make up the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) threatened to attack United States forces in the wake of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Agence France-Presse reported on Thursday.

“The decision by Trump on Al-Quds (Jerusalem) makes it legitimate to strike the American forces in Iraq,” Akram al-Kaabi, leader of the Al-Nojaba militia, said.

Al-Nojaba was formed in 2013 by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It answers to Iran’s IRGC-Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani and is part of the PMF, or Hashd al-Shaabi, as the militias are known in Arabic.

In addition to fighting against ISIS in Iraq, Al-Nojaba has fought in Syria to support regime President Bashar al-Assad and helped Iran extend it influence across the region.

The U.S. is estimated to have between 5,000 and 9,000 troops currently serving in Iraq.

Last week, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said that he sent a letter to Soleimani warning him and his proxies not to target American troops.

[READ MORE ]

Trust no one: Scholar risked all to document Islamic State

(NATIONAL POST) — By LORI HINNANT and MAGGIE MICHAEL

The historian carried secrets too heavy for one man to bear.

He packed his bag with his most treasured possessions before going to bed: the 1 terabyte hard drive with his evidence against the Islamic State group, an orange notebook half-filled with notes on Ottoman history, and, a keepsake, the first book from Amazon delivered to Mosul.

He passed the night in despair, imagining all the ways he could die, and the moment he would leave his mother and his city.

He had spent nearly his entire life in this home, with his five brothers and five sisters. He woke his mother in her bedroom on the ground floor.

“I am leaving,” he said. “Where?” she asked. “I am leaving,” was all he could say. He couldn’t endanger her by telling her anything more. In truth, since the IS had invaded his city, he’d lived a life about which she was totally unaware.

He felt her eyes on the back of his neck, and headed to the waiting Chevrolet. He didn’t look back.

For nearly two years, he’d wandered the streets of occupied Mosul, chatting with shopkeepers and Islamic State fighters, visiting friends who worked at the hospital, swapping scraps of information. He grew out his hair and his beard and wore the shortened trousers required by IS. He forced himself to witness the beheadings and deaths by stoning, so he could hear the killers call out the names of the condemned and their supposed crimes.

The blogger known as Mosul Eye kept his identity a secret as he documented Islamic State rule.

He wasn’t a spy. He was an undercover historian and blogger . As IS turned the city he loved into a fundamentalist bastion, he decided he would show the world how the extremists had distorted its true nature, how they were trying to rewrite the past and forge a brutal Sunni-only future for a city that had once welcomed many faiths.

He knew that if he was caught he too would be killed.

“I am writing this for the history , because I know this will end. People will return, life will go back to normal,” is how he explained the blog that was his conduit to the citizens of Mosul and the world beyond. “After many years, there will be people who will study what happened. The city deserves to have something written to defend the city and tell the truth, because they say that when the war begins, the first victim is the truth.”

He called himself Mosul Eye . He made a promise to himself in those first few days: Trust no one, document everything.

Neither family, friends nor the Islamic State group could identify him. His readership grew by the thousands every month.

And now, he was running for his life.

[READ MORE]

Death toll for October Somalia attack rises to 512

(VOA) — The death toll in a truck bombing in Somalia in October now stands at 512, according to the committee investigating the tragedy.

The toll had been reported as 358. Even at the lower number, the bombing was the deadliest in Somalian history.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack. Somalian officials have blamed the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group, which has been trying to overthrow the government and has deployed bomb attacks against government, military and civilian targets.

The committee, known as the Somali Emergency Operation Center, was established to investigate the October 14 bombing in Mogadishu. The government was to receive the report this week, but as of Saturday it had not commented.

In response to the October attack in Mogadishu’s Kilometre 5 neighborhood, the U.S. military expanded its operations against al-Shabab and increased the frequency of airstrikes targeting jihadist leaders.

The U.S. military now has more than 500 personnel in Somalia.

[READ MORE ]