The cash-strapped Russians have become less choosy these days about clients for their prized S-300 defensive systems and even more advanced S-400 missiles. They are now ready to sell the former – not just to Iran, but also to Egypt, Syria and the Lebanese Shiite Hizballah.
Iran won this breakthrough with the signing of a new military cooperation pact in Tehran Tuesday, Jan. 20, between Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Iranian counterpart Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehqan.
“The two countries have decided to settle the S-300s problem,” the Iranian defense ministry said, while Col. Gen. Leonid Ivashov, a former ministry official, added: “A step was taken in the direction of cooperation on the economy and arms technology, at least for such defensive systems as the S-300 and S-400. Probably we will deliver them.”
The S-300 has been a bone of contention between Moscow and Tehran since 2007, when Russia contracted to sell Iran the S-300 missile system, for which Tehran paid $800 m, and never delivered because of strong objections by United States and Israel.
Today, both Iran and Russia are under Western sanctions and willing to help each other impede US Middle East interventions. President Obama is leaning hard on Europe to withhold arms and weapons systems from the Russian army, to punish President Vladimir Putin for his actions in Ukraine and his annexation of Crimea.
Until now, the Russians were wary of burning all their bridges to the US administration and sidestepped outright confrontation with Washington by keeping open controlled exit hatches, in case an opening for a fresh start presented itself.
One such hatch served to set Russia and the United States on the same side of the table in the six-power nuclear talks with Iran.
However, as the prospect receded of further let-ups in the frozen relations between Presidents Obama and Putin, Moscow began shutting those exits down.
Five months ago, Moscow signed a huge $3.5 bn arms deal with Egypt, financed by Saudi Arabia. This closed the Egyptian military market to the US munitions industry.
With its cooperation pact of Jan. 20, Russia became the Iranian armed forces’ primary supplier of new and sophisticated weapons systems,up to and including S-400 missiles – in defiance of the arms embargo against the Islamic Republic and US policies at large.
Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, in particular, stood up and urged greater cooperation as a means of opposing American ambitions in the region. “Iran and Russia are able to confront the expansionist intervention and greed of the United States through cooperation, synergy and activating strategic potential capacities,” Dehghan said. “As two neighbors, Iran and Russia have common viewpoints toward political, regional and global issues.”
He said that the new agreement includes expanded counter-terrorism cooperation, exchanges of military personnel for training purposes and an understanding for each country’s navy to more frequently use the other’s ports. They already cooperate in supporting Syria’s Bashar Assad.
Most of all, DEBKAfile’s political sources note that the pact with Moscow strengthens Tehran’s hand in the ongoing nuclear talks with the six powers. Iran’s negotiators are better able to stand up to the efforts of President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to extract more concessions on its nuclear ambitions, in order to reach a comprehensive accord, after interminable postponements, by the next deadline of June 30, 2015.
The S-300 missile system, which is designed to intercept aircraft and missiles, including cruise missiles, was for years the emblem of the most advanced Russian weaponry, capable in Iranian hands of deterring Israel from attacking their nuclear program.
However, over the years, the Israeli Air Force will have developed and tested methods, whether by aerial or cyber warfare, for beating the S-300, whose workings became increasingly exposed as they were supplied to European countries, notably Greece.
On the quiet, as recently as 2013, Russia let Iran and Syria have components of S-300 batteries as installments in advance of supplies of complete systems. Last year, Moscow promised to consider future supplies to Hizballah in Lebanon as well.
Russia’s policy evidently envisages Israel’s partial encirclement by batteries of S-300 missile systems from the north and south and both S-300 and S-400 batteries from Iran to the east.
by Ben Caspit
Just imagine a Hollywood screenplay depicting an Israeli airstrike against a convoy of vehicles in the Syrian Golan.
In this scenario, six high-level Hezbollah officers are eliminated, including Jihad Mughniyeh, son of Imad Mughniyeh — who was himself eliminated in 2008 — and six Iranian officers, including a high-ranking general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Then, a few hours later, the body of the federal prosecutor of Argentina is found in his house, dead of a gunshot wound, only a few hours before his testimony to prove that his country’s government whitewashed the Iranian involvement in the great terror attack on the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1994. By the way, that same 1994 terror attack in Buenos Aires was attributed to the aforementioned Imad Mughniyeh. And now, try to find a Hollywood studio willing to produce this “unrealistic” screenplay and turn it into a movie. It would be very hard, indeed.
As we know, reality beats imagination hands down; in fact, this scenario actually took place on the morning of Jan. 18. A convoy of three military vehicles, traveling not far from Quneitra in the Syrian Golan Heights, suddenly blew up. Initial reports in Lebanon mentioned an Israeli Apache helicopter, but later on it emerged (from a UN spotters’ report) that two unmanned aircraft crossed the border from the Israeli to the Syrian side, then returned.
A glimpse at the remnants of the blown-up convoy strengthened the assessment that no one survived the inferno. Only after about half a day had passed did it emerge that the bombers had “won the jackpot”: Jihad Mughniyeh was the son of Hezbollah Chief of Staff Imad Mughniyeh, who had been eliminated in Damascus in February 2008 in an operation attributed to Israel. But Jihad Mughniyeh was small fry compared with the others killed. With him in the convoy were also Hezbollah and Revolutionary Guard senior officials, including Gen. Mohammad Allahdadi, who had served as an Iranian military attache in the Syrian army.
The bombarded convoy also included senior officers from the Raduan Force, considered Hezbollah’s elite unit. This force is also considered as Hezbollah’s “rapid Intervention force.” Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah counts mainly on this force to fight Israel in the next round of hostilities by invading Israeli territory and taking over Israeli population centers for the first time since 1948.
Officially, Israel maintains its silence, neither confirming nor denying responsibility. The Israeli government’s “home newspaper” Israel Hayom, connected directly to the prime minister’s office, announced in Jan. 19 headlines that “our forces attacked a high-level terrorist unit in the Syrian Golan.” These are election days in Israel and anyone who links the operation in Syria to the Likud Party’s faltering campaign and the embarrassing draw that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached in Gaza does so at his own risk.
The Israeli defense system is a healthy, democratic system that cannot be harnessed to political needs. True, it is possible to force a chief of staff to attend a political news conference; one could pull such shenanigans here and there.
However, it is very difficult to engage the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) Intelligence Wing, and the Mossad, and the Shin Bet, and the General Staff in election shenanigans that could morph into an all-out war in the Middle East. Also, Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz is wrapping up his term of office in the middle of next month. With one foot out the door, it is hard to imagine that Netanyahu or even Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon (the two share the same leaky political boat) could even conceive of recruiting Gantz for a military-political escapade of this type.
In fact, an operation such as the one carried out Jan. 18 in Syria was the result of long-term intelligence efforts combined with a rare coincidence and even rarer operational opportunity that presented itself. Such an operation would be subjected to a long series of secret clearances, right down to the final clearance from the mouth of the prime minister (in consultation with the defense minister).
Netanyahu is viewed as a conservative and cautious prime minister, much less daring than his predecessor Ehud Olmert. It is possible that in his subconscious the election campaign, and his lackluster position in the public-opinion surveys, influenced Netanyahu in favor of extricating the final “yes.” Yet no one to date has invented a device that measures the subconscious.
According to foreign reports, Israel has been attacking Syrian targets for quite some time. The Israeli new red line, by which Israel thwarts acts of terror and prevents “game-changing weapons” from moving from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s hands to Hezbollah, is dragging the country into the Syrian civil war. But in the Middle East, everything has its price and Israel is supposed to take into consideration the cumulative, potential price of the escalation.
On the afternoon of Jan. 20, an Israeli source was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying that the Iranian general had not been a target for elimination. This means that Israeli intelligence regarding the movement of the convoy in the Syrian Golan was good, but not excellent. Israel did not plan to eliminate a general of the Revolutionary Guards, and if it had known in advance about his presence, the operation might not have been approved. The Israeli announcement is viewed as an Israeli attempt to lower the flames, and to try to pacify Tehran.
Now, everyone waits for Hezbollah’s response, which is expected to react in Iran’s name as well. On Jan. 19, Israel deployed a battery of the Iron Dome air defense system in the north and the IDF canceled all leaves of its fighters and officers in the Golan Heights and along the border with Lebanon. Civilians were instructed to try to distance themselves from the border fence. However, this is still a far cry from a state of war.
“The Israeli evaluation,” said a high-placed security official, “is that Hezbollah cannot allow itself to open a wide front with the IDF at this point in time. It is already stretched to the limits of its capacity in Syria, it is struggling against the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra in north Lebanon; it is under severe criticism within Lebanon and knows that a bloody, casualty-ridden round of fighting and destruction with Israel now may exact a price that it cannot pay. On the other hand, Hezbollah has a proven record of reprisals and a long memory. The assessment is that the retaliation will be in the Golan sector, where Hezbollah ostensibly leaves Lebanon outside the equation, or against an Israeli or Jewish target abroad.”
It took Hezbollah four years to retaliate for the elimination of Imad Mughniyeh. A total of 20 attempts were thwarted until the 2012 terror attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, in which five Israeli tourists and one Bulgarian citizen were killed. All this does not tell us anything about what to expect now. Nasrallah was humiliated in the Golan Heights on Sunday in an almost unprecedented fashion. Two days earlier he had declared, in an interview, that Hezbollah was not involved in the Golan and had no presence there. Almost while he spoke, six Hezbollah officials exploded in the heart of the Golan while they were plotting and scheming with Iranian generals.
“I suggest that the world ask itself, what were members of the Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah doing there, only a few kilometers from the Israeli line,” a high-placed Israeli military source said. “We are not talking about an area with strategic interest to the survivability of the Syrian regime; the Golan is of negligible importance in that respect. Instead, we see a joint interest of Iran and Hezbollah to continue to weaken and tire Israel out in terror attacks via the Golan Heights.”
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, a former national security adviser, told me Jan. 19 that the mistake made by Israel in its prior round of fighting was that it agreed to isolate Hezbollah from Lebanon and only fought the terrorist organization, without harming the host state. Eiland said the next time Israel will need to make it very clear that any fire or terrorist attack coming from Lebanon will constitute a declaration of war of the Lebanese government on Israel and will be dealt with accordingly. Hezbollah must know that it can no longer light the candle on both ends and that Lebanon will pay a very steep price in the next conflagration.
Major-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, former head of the IDF Military Intelligence, has recently been declared candidate of the “Zionist camp” list for defense minister, should Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog assemble the next government.
In a television interview on the evening of Jan. 19, Yadlin said Hezbollah was struggling with severe strategic problems, and that thus Israel is currently of relatively lower priority. Yadlin indicated that Hezbollah’s most important directive was the one received from Tehran, namely to preserve Assad’s regime at any price. Thus, the organization must turn its eyes eastward to Syria, not southward to Israel, because it won’t receive the required legitimacy to set Lebanon on fire.
All this tumult is taking place simultaneously with another round of talks between Iran and the world powers. The leading players in the talks are US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. “At some point,” said an Israeli security source, “The US will have to put the dilemma to Iran and force Iran to make a decision. If Iran wants to reach an historic agreement with the West, in which it would concede its ability to reach the nuclear threshold in the short term, it must also waive its world-reaching terror activities.
The Iranians must not be allowed to continue to play their double-handed game. On the one hand, they masquerade as a stabilizing, law-and-order loving state in Geneva, while continuing to seek confrontations, and incite terror and destruction against Israel.”
by F. MICHAEL MALOOF
Moscow could be preparing to move nuclear weapons into the Crimean Peninsula, which it annexed last year, and also position them around the strategic Russian enclave of Kaliningrad near the periphery of NATO countries, in possible violation of the 2010 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, according to a WND source.
The move would send a message to NATO to limit its eastward progression, in line with the new military doctrine Moscow released in December.
A source who has worked in past U.S. administrations on nuclear-weapon issues told WND that such a buildup in Crimea could include nuclear weapons, and there is a question whether it would be a violation of the 2010 START treaty, since Crimea has been annexed by Russia.
If not strategic nuclear weapons, Moscow could move tactical nukes into Crimea, the source said.
Moscow may already have moved nuclear weapons into Kaliningrad and Crimea, but WND was unable to independently verify the reports.
A May 16, 2002, Congressional Research Service report released by Wikileaks suggests the presence of nuclear weapons already in Kaliningrad, the non-contiguous Russian coastal territory surrounded by Poland and Lithuania.
U.S. Gen. Philip Breedlove, who heads U.S. European Command and is NATO supreme allied commander in Europe, said last November that Russia’s military buildup on the Crimea Peninsula includes cruise and surface-to-air missiles, allowing Moscow to assert military influence in the region.
When Moscow announced its new military doctrine, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov staked the claim that Russia has the right to station nuclear weapons in Crimea.
“Crimea was not a non-nuclear zone in an international law sense but was part of Ukraine, a state which doesn’t possess nuclear arms,” Lavrov said. “Now, Crimea has become part of a state which possesses such weapons, in accordance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
“In accordance with international law,” he said, “Russia has every reason to dispose of its nuclear arsenal … to suit its interests and international legal obligation.”
Preparing for nuclear war
Peter Vincent Pry, former analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency and director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, said Moscow has been preparing for a nuclear war, but its intentions have been largely unreported by the establishment media.
“For years, Russia has been embarked on a massive program modernizing its strategic and tactical nuclear forces,” Pry said
Pry, who also is executive director of the congressional advisory Task Force on National and Homeland Security, said Moscow’s preparation for nuclear war with the U.S. are frequent themes on Russian television, “as if preparing the population psychologically.”
He noted Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 6, 2014, told a French television audience that Russia has global nuclear superiority and “is the first in the world in nuclear weapons.”
“Unfortunately,” Pry said, “Putin is right.”
Pry said Moscow is giving strategic nuclear forces the highest priority in its defense budget. He said the Strategic Rocket Forces, as during the Cold War, is “still Russia’s elite service.”
Russia also has a major advantage over the U.S. in tactical nuclear weapons, Pry said, since the U.S. has dismantled virtually all of its tactical nuclear weapons with just a few hundred “obsolete gravity bombs” bunkered in Germany.
Russia has thousands of tactical nuclear weapons, variously estimated at 3,000 to 20,000, he said.
Pry said the Obama administration has tried to “low ball” the numbers and the significance of Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons, which he said “is a grave mistake.”
He said Russia’s advantage today in the nuclear balance is “unprecedented.” The advantages, he said, give Russia “escalation dominance,” which allows Russia to commit aggression unopposed by the U.S. and its allies.
Moscow’s large-scale military exercises aimed at European NATO and the U.S., Pry said, go unanswered, “even by so much as a diplomatic protest.”
The new military doctrine, however, stresses more of a “non-nuclear deterrence” against information warfare and an increase in Special Forces and intelligence to deal with terrorism from Islamic jihadist groups. The threat includes groups resident in Russia’s southern provinces of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, which have many fighters now in Syria.
However, nuclear deterrence will remain part of the new Russian military doctrine, along with maintaining a strong military presence in Kaliningrad and in the Arctic region to stake a claim on valuable untapped energy and mineral resources.
Cold War port
During the Cold War, Kaliningrad was heavily militarized as a strategic point from which to strike NATO countries.
“Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons can only be used in response to an attack involving a weapon of mass destruction or in the event of aggression of a conventional nature that presents a threat to the country’s existence,” according to Anna Maria Dyner of the Polish Institute of International Affairs.
However, the “main potential enemy,” as outlined in the new military doctrine, will be NATO and its involvement with and expansion to countries bordering Russia “or its allies.”
The prospect of placing nuclear weapons in the Crimea and in Kaliningrad is in apparent response to the U.S. plan to place an anti-ballistic missile system in countries bordering Russia.
While the stated purpose of deployment of the anti-missile system in Europe is to stop Iranian missiles, the Russians are under no illusion that the system is to jeopardize its own nuclear deterrence, which Moscow has dubbed a game-changer prompting its response.
by LEO HOHMAN
President Obama’s state of the union address was loaded with sweet delights meant to bedazzle America’s long-suffering middle class as he signaled economic prosperity for all is waiting just around the corner.
But the author of a New York Times-best-selling book about America’s future in a post-Christian society was not impressed.
He sees dark storm clouds closing in on Obama’s rays of sunshine, citing “harbingers” that the country is sliding headlong toward a collapse – with blindfolds securely fastened.
“Listening to the president’s State of the Union address, I was reminded of ancient Israel,” said Jonathan Cahn, author of “The Mystery of the Shemitah” and “The Harbinger,” which draws parallels between America’s falling away from God and a series of judgments that will come as a result.
“The people of Israel convinced themselves that they were coming back stronger than before,” Cahn told WND. “And then it all collapsed, and the judgment came.”
Cahn sees warning signs of potential judgment coming to America as the current Shemitah year nears the halfway point.
The Shemitah comes once every seven years. In biblical Israel it brought a canceling of debts, a resting of the land from sowing and reaping, and a resetting of financial accounts. The seven-year Shemitah cycle was meant as a blessing as long as the Israelites followed God and observed his ways, but it could manifest as judgment if the nation turned to its own devices and removed God from its culture and legal system.
The specific avenues of potential judgment Cahn is watching are the economy and the rise of ISIS as a new terrorist threat to America. The last two Shemitah years — 2000-2001 and 2007-2008 — brought the 9/11 attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and the historic stock market crash of September 2008.
Notably missing from Obama’s speech was any mention of radical Islam or Islamic terrorism, even as the issue has taken center stage in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France and subsequent arrests of militants in France, Belgium and Germany.
Taking a back seat to China?
Cahn speaks of the American age that began in 1871 when the U.S. surpassed Britain to become the strongest economic power on earth.
“I’ve warned in ‘The Harbinger’ and as I’ve spoken across the country that if this nation doesn’t return to God, its crown as head of nations will be removed,” he said.
Two weeks into the Shemitah year, which began in Sept. 25, 2014, Cahn said the first sign of America’s removal as the pinnacle of economic power was already apparent to those who were paying attention.
The American age that began more than 140 years ago, quietly came to an end.
According to a report by the International Monetary Fund, China’s economy had for the first time surpassed that of the United States and now claims the distinction of being the world’s largest economy, according to an October report by Business Insider.
“America’s crown as the strongest economic power on earth was removed. It passed to China,” Cahn said. “The word Shemitah can mean ‘the fall.’ That alone would constitute one of the greatest falls in modern history – the end of the American age.”
The IMF measures both GDP in market-exchange terms and in terms of purchasing power, reported Business Insider.
“On the purchasing-power basis, China is overtaking the US right about now and becoming the world’s biggest economy,” BI reported on Oct. 8, 2014. “By the end of 2014, China will make up 16.48 percent of the world’s purchasing-power adjusted GDP (or $17.632 trillion), and the U.S. will make up just 16.28 percent (or $17.416 trillion).”
Marriage case on docket, terrorists lying in wait
As the year of the Shemitah grinds toward its climax on Sept. 13, 2015, Cahn is also watching the Supreme Court.
“The harbingers have continued to manifest and America’s apostasy from God has only accelerated. In April of this year, in the midst of the Shemitah, the Supreme Court will hear a case that will likely end marriage as we know it,” Cahn said. “The verdict will be released in June. That will mark a critical point in America’s fall from God.”
Another one of the harbingers is that of the terrorist has resurfaced in the form of ISIS, he said.
“The judgment and destruction of Israel was carried out by the Assyrians, the fathers of terrorism,” Cahn said. “The emergence of ISIS and its conflict with America is ominous.”
As for the economy, destabilization in the currency markets and disruptive oil markets are creating a springboard for turbulent times ahead.
Whether America’s economic judgment comes with a sudden, painful jolt or as a slow, grinding down until it becomes subservient to other nations, remains to be seen. But either way, the messianic Jewish rabbi from New Jersey believes America will be knocked off its perch atop the world order, especially economically, if widespread repentance does not occur.
“There’s an eerie kind of unease,” he said. “The stock market has been hit by strange waves of volatility and violent swings. And it actually began the very first week of the Shemitah.
“I believe we’re watching a house of cards. It could implode at any time.”
For sure, Cahn is not the only one one who sees hard times ahead for America.
Shell shocked by oil, currency ploys
Two “black swan events” have financial experts reassessing their forecasts.
One is the falling price of crude oil and its corrosive effect on Russia’s economy. The other is Switzerland deciding last week to decouple the Swiss franc from the Euro, resulting in billions of dollars in losses for large banks and currency traders.
The oil price shock started out with most economists predicting a short-term “blip” that would quickly reverse course, only to see prices further plummet with no end in sight.
That is driving economic indicators and propelling economies in directions not previously forecast.
Russia, for instance, is under extreme pressure, as is Iran and Venezuela. Saudi Arabia stands to gain market share at the expense of Russia and the burgeoning U.S. shale-oil industry.
The United States meanwhile continues to chug along with low interest rates and what some analysts see as a bloated stock market ripe for a fall.
Michael Snyder, who writes the Economic Collapse blog, put it this way in a recent article:
“As I have written about previously, we are moving into a time of greatly increased financial volatility. And when we start to see tremendous ups and downs in the financial world, that is a sign that a great crash is coming. We witnessed this prior to the financial crisis of 2008, and now we are watching it happen again.
“And this is not just happening in the United States.”
Chinese shares plunged about 8 percent Monday after the country’s securities regulator imposed margin trading curbs on several major brokerages, a sign that authorities are trying to rein in the market’s big gains, Snyder reported. It was China’s largest drop in six years.
“Sadly, most Americans have absolutely no idea what is coming.
They just trust that Barack Obama, Congress and the ‘experts’ at the Federal Reserve have it all figured out.
“So when the next great financial crisis does arrive, most people are going to be absolutely blindsided by it, even though anyone that is willing to look at the facts honestly should be able to see it steamrolling directly toward us.”
Snyder concluded that the relative stability experienced over the past couple of years is about to come to an unexpected halt.
“I hope that you are getting ready for what comes next,” Snyder told his readers.
Snyder posted another article in which he postulates that the price of copper, which recently hit five-year lows, is a leading indicator for a stock market crash.
China is the world’s biggest buyer of copper and it has cut back drastically on its consumption as its economy has slowed. This could push back a Fed rate hike and impact the U.S. economy, CNBC reported on Jan. 15.
Shock waves across oil country
An unexplainable, lightning-swift fall in the price of crude oil over the past month has left Texas and other oil-producing states, which had been among the few growth spots and success stories in the U.S. economy in recent years, poised for a dramatic shift in fortunes. Hundreds of layoffs could soon be in the offing and in fact have already started, according to an article in the Washington Times.
Henry Resources President Danny Campbell says the company will cut activity by up to 40 percent.
“We’re not cutting back in one area, we’re cutting across the board,” he told the Midland Reporter-Telegram, adding that no one had expected prices to fall so low and so quickly.
by RYAN MAURO
A prominent Muslim leader in the United Kingdom with links to the Muslim Brotherhood estimates that half of the mosques in the West were founded by Brotherhood members. The Brotherhood presents itself as moderate, but it supports violent jihad and is the parent organization of Hamas.
The estimate was made by Mohamed Ashmawey, CEO of London-based Islamic Relief Worldwide, the world’s largest Muslim charity.
He was responding to his organization’s admitted Muslim Brotherhood origins and its designation as a terrorist entity by the United Arab Emirates and Israel. The Israeli government says Islamic Relief Worldwide sends “millions” of dollars to Hamas every year.
“If this is a crime to have someone as a founder as a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, they will have to close 50 percent of the mosques in the West because they also had founders from this group,” he said.
The Muslim Brotherhood is responsible for establishing the most powerful Islamic institutions in the West, though that does not mean that most Muslims or most mosque attendees subscribe to its Islamist ideology. Surveys consistently show that Muslim-Americans largely reject extremism, though a formidable minority remains committed to it.
A 1991 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood memo discusses how the group established a network of front organizations in America for “unifying and directing Muslims’ efforts” under an “an effective and a stable Islamic Movement led by the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The Brotherhood hoped that its control of the main infrastructure would enable it to lead the growing community.
The struggle that followed is encapsulated in this 2004 Chicago Tribune story about Islamists taking control of the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, Illinois. A 2003 St. Petersburg Times article also reports on the Islamist challenges for the leaderships of mosques in Florida, California, Illinois, Texas and Arizona.
The Brotherhood’s purpose, as stated in the 1991 memo, is to wage “a kind of grand jihad, in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers…”
One of the organizations listed in the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood memo as a front for this purpose is the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), an organization that owns mosques across America. Its offices were raided in 2002 as part of a terrorism-financing investigation.
Its website says:
“Since NAIT’s founding, Muslim communities have entrusted the titles of over 325 properties in 42 States to NAIT. More are added every year. Market value of these Waqf [NAIT] properties is several hundred million dollars.”
Another U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), has said that NAIT owns about 27% of mosques in America. National security expert Dr. J. Michael Waller had a higher estimate of 50% to 79% of mosques being owned by NAIT.
NAIT’s status as a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity was confirmed by federal prosecutors during the prosecution of another U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity named the Holy Land Foundation. The Justice Department designated NAIT as an unindicted co-conspirator in that case.
NAIT’s designation as an unindicted co-conspirator was upheld in a 2009 ruling because of “ample evidence” linking it to the Hamas-financing network of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. A NAIT bank account gave the checks for the “Palestinian mujahideen” to the Holy Land Foundation, which then distributed the funds to Hamas.
In the documentary The Grand Deception, former FBI special agent Robert Stauffer talks about taking part in an investigation into the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, including NAIT. He said that many millions of dollars were donated to NAIT from foreign countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran.
A declassified FBI document from 1987 summarizes intelligence provided by an informant inside the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood who adamantly stated that NAIT is a Brotherhood front with a “secret agenda” that includes supporting terrorism and a long-term Islamic revolution in America.
“[NAIT wants] all the mosques to be ideologically pure in their own Wahhabist line. They want to prevent others from having influence,” said Islamic scholar Khalid Duran.
There are also mosques and Islamic centers that are not technically owned by NAIT but are officially affiliated with other U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entities.
Another significant problem within U.S. mosques is the widespread presence of radical literature. A 2011 survey of 100 U.S. mosques found that only 19% of mosques were completely absent of texts promoting violence, and only a mere 15.5% had imams who did not recommend violent texts for studying. In addition, just 42% of mosques did not have guest speakers known for promoting violent jihad.
About 51% of U.S. mosques were found to have texts that “severely advocate” violent jihad, preaching that supporting it is an obligation of Muslims. Literature in this category includes texts like Milestones by Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb and those by Jamaat-e-Islami founder Abdul Ala Maududi/Mawdudi.
About 30% of U.S. mosques were found to have texts that “moderately advocate” violence, such as Fiqh us-Sunnah by Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Sabiq and Tafsir Ibn Kathir.
This shocking number is substantiated by Sufi Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, the chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of America. Kabbani has founded 28 Sufi Islamic centers in North America and is listed as one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world.
In 1999, Kabbani said during an event at the State Department that 80% of U.S. mosques follow an extremist Saudi-sponsored form of Islam. He said that 90 of the 114 U.S. mosques he visited had a radical ideology.
A 2006 study by Freedom House likewise found that Saudi-sponsored extremist texts are widely present in U.S. mosques. The study was based on a survey of over 200 books from 15 major mosques in seven states.
Readers can learn about the Islamist mosques in their state through the Clarion Project’s Islamist Organizations in America page.
In addition, the following is an incomplete list of over 60 mosques and organizations known to be affiliated with NAIT and other U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entities like the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); Muslim Students Association (MSA), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Muslim American Society (MAS) and the now-defunct Muslim Arab Youth Association (MAYA).
by Rebecka Roos and Alister Doyle
Nordic countries are leading a shift by rich nations towards cashless societies, providing a test case for whether the lower cost and convenience of using cards and smartphones for payments outweigh the risks of fraud and some people being left behind.
Helped by wide use of computers even among the elderly, broad trust in the state and big business and only small black economies, people in Sweden and neighboring countries are fast embracing cards, the Internet and apps for financial transactions, and forsaking notes and coins.
“We are headed more and more for a cashless society,” said Jan Digranes, a director at Finance Norway, which represents banks and other financial institutions.
Sweden, home of music streaming firm Spotify and the Candy Crush mobile phone game, ranks top in the European Union for card payments, with 230 transactions per inhabitant in 2012, just above Denmark and Finland and well ahead of Britain on 167, Germany 39 and Italy 28, according to the European Central Bank.
Non-EU members Norway and Iceland are also among top users of cards worldwide, their central banks say.
For banks and businesses, the big benefit is lower costs.
A report by the Norwegian central bank last month said the total cost of each cash transaction — including handling notes and coins in banks — was estimated at 7.1 crowns ($0.92) against only 4.1 crowns per card transaction.
For consumers, abandoning cash is often about convenience, though some are worried the poor, elderly and disabled can lack access to technology and credit, or just prefer notes and coins.
Swedes often make the smallest purchases, such as for chewing gum, with a credit card and can use the Swedish banks’ jointly-developed smartphone app Swish to repay a small debt to a friend. Another app allow drinkers to buy beers in a bar without queuing.
In the Stockholm subway, it is impossible to buy a ticket with cash, while some unemployed people selling street magazines now also accept electronic payments.
Mike Shabwan, selling flowers on a Stockholm square, said sales had risen by 10 percent since he started use the Swedish service iZettle in his smartphone to accept card payments.
“And it is also cheaper and easier for me because the money comes directly into the bank,” he said.
In Denmark, “MobilePay” — an app launched by Danske Bank to allow payments via a smartphone — was judged by public radio as the best new word of the year for 2014. It now has 1.8 million users in a nation of 5.6 million people.
But Jarl Dahlfors, chief executive of cash handling firm Loomis, says the cashless trend may have gone too far for “unbanked people” such as many elderly.
And “do we really want everything we buy to be registered?” he asked, touching on the loss of privacy involved in switching from cash purchases to card and online payments.
Then there are the risks of electronic fraud.
According to Swedish Justice Ministry data, electronic fraud has doubled in the country in the past decade to about 140,000 cases in 2013. The boom is partly because a successful Internet-based computer scam can quickly generate thousands of cases.
To limit risks with MobilePay, Danske Bank advises clients to keep their phones locked when not in use and guard them as they would a credit card or cash.
In Norway, Mastercard is experimenting with a fingerprint identification system developed by Norway’s Zwipe, embedded into credit cards, hoping to make them more secure.
Anna Eriksson, spokeswoman of the Swedish Association of Senior Citizens, said elderly people need guarantees that cash can be used freely everywhere.
“Maybe we need incentives for older people to get an iPad to learn what’s positive about paying bills through a computer,” she said.
Still, there are silver linings, even in the rise of electronic fraud. Bank robberies — which can involve violence — fell in Sweden to a record low of five in 2012 from 16 the year before.
The Swedish central bank is far from phasing out cash; it will launch new notes and coins this year.
But it predicts the amount of cash in Sweden will fall by between 20 and 50 percent by 2020 compared with 2012.
And as the first generation of Internet users grows older, it seems likely that attachments to notes and coins will fade.
“It is an ongoing evolution,” said Peter Fredell, CEO of Swedish Seamless, which developed the payment app Seqr that handles around 3 billion transactions in stores, restaurants and e-trade annually.
by LEO HOHMANN
Turkish and Palestinian flags fluttered like angry birds in a crowd of thousands of people chanting “Allahu Akbar!” and “Down with Israel!”
The chants grew more exuberant as the hulking, bearded man on the speaker’s platform assured them that “God willing, we will liberate Jerusalem together.”
The speaker was Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and his audience was Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, gathered for its annual meeting Dec. 27 at a convention hall in Konya, the hometown of Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.
The Turkish prime minister introduced the Hamas leader and then took a seat in the front row, cheering and clapping for the radical Islamist statements being made by Meshaal.
“As Turkey for centuries was the main defender of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque, likewise with you are the center of the Muslim Umma (Muslim nation) which will carry on the mission of liberating Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque,” Meshaal told the crowd in an address that received almost no major media coverage. “Know this, that strong Turkey is the strength of Palestine and of Jerusalem. Turkey is the strength that represents all Muslims.”
Hamas, which leads nearly 2 million Palestinians in Israel’s Gaza Strip, remains a designated terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department and functions as an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood.
So when the Hamas leader appears, unannounced, as the keynote speak at an official political event in Turkey, a member of NATO and an important U.S. ally, that’s a big deal.
“Essentially Hamas is playing to the nationalistic fervor in Turkey and Turkey is using Hamas to gain favor throughout the Islamic world so it really is a mutually beneficial relationship,” says Joel Richardson, author of the New York Times-best-selling “Islamic Antichrist” and director of the recently released documentary film, “End Times Eyewitness.”
Opinions are mixed among Middle East analysts as to whether Turkey’s top leaders, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Davutoglu, are true Islamists or just using the rhetoric of radical Islamism to gain influence throughout an increasingly radicalized region.
Elmira Bayrasli, the co-founder of Foreign Policy Interrupted and a fellow at the World Policy Institute, is among those who seems to think Erdogan is not a die-hard Islamist but is moving in that direction to curry favor with his base of support.
“Beset by domestic crises, Mr. Erdogan has turned his focus toward his core constituency, a largely conservative, anti-Western population in the heartland,” Bayrasli wrote in a New York Times column earlier this year. “In doing so he has reverted to a tactic that has resonated with them: aggression.”
Turkey broke off its once-friendly relationship with Israel in 2010 and then Erdogan turned on his former ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. WND has reported a series of stories documenting Turkey’s double-edged policy toward ISIS as it plays both sides of the war against the Islamic State. Erdogan also supported the Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt, a move that eventually backfired as the Brotherhood was later tossed out of power by Egypt’s military.
Richardson, who spent weeks in the Middle East interviewing Islamic, Jewish and Christian leaders for his documentary, believes Turkey’s government deserves close scrutiny as signs point to an even more dramatic change in not just style but substance.
Richardson believes Turkey has undergone a “soft revolution” as Erdogan has gradually steered the country closer to Islamic values and away from the West. This represented a break with Turkey’s more secular past, but Erdogan’s changes still did not attract anywhere near the amount of media attention that was seen in Egypt, Libya or Tunisia, the revolutions of the so-called “Arab Spring.” Turkey was touted in the West as the model for other regimes in the Middle East seeking a “middle ground” between Islamism and Western secularism.
But the convention held Dec. 27, with thousands of Turks shouting Islamic slogans in support of Meshaal, leader of a terrorist organization, is just the latest evidence that a wake-up call might be in order for Western policy makers in Washington and Europe, Richardson said.
“In light of the fact that everyone starts shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ in Turkey, which is fairly rare and you would only hear that from devout Muslims, it would seem there really is some strong Islamist tendencies going on,” he said. “But the bottom line is everyone should be concerned. About 10 years ago, even five years ago, the U.S. was still casting Turkey as the moderate secular model and among America’s greatest allies in the whole Middle East.”
Flying under the radar
While the changes taking place in Turkey may not have captured the attention of major TV networks like those in Iran following the 1979 “student” revolution or Egypt’s Cairo demonstrations, they are no less profound, Richardson said.
“The world looks on and they see the leaders of Iran after the Islamic revolution of 1979 and everyone says ‘well that’s a radical regime’ that needs to be marginalized and put under sanctions, but the revolution in Turkey and its ramifications are no less dramatic and we’re only now beginning to realize it was a soft revolution and it crept in and it’s to the point now where the prime minister of the nation is shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (to Hamas),” he said.
But it seems the U.S. is slow to react to fundamental changes in the Middle East, even slower perhaps when the changes are taking place within the culture and society of one of its own allies.
“Turkey is a member of NATO, so imagine if Great Britain was saying ‘we’re going to lead an invasion of Israel.’ If that’s the case it’s time for the West to rise up and kick Turkey out of the NATO,” Richardson said. “We might as well just allow ISIS to join NATO.”
Also complicating the relationship is that Turkey, with the help of the West, has built the largest and perhaps best-equipped army in the Middle East.
When Vice President Joe Biden suggested several months ago that Turkey was aiding ISIS, Erdogan became furious, prompting Biden to quickly back up from his statement and offer an apology.
Richardson said there appears to be no conversation or debate going on in the U.S. about whether the country should make a foreign policy shift away from Turkey.
“No. That’s the thing because we’re weak. We’re weak in the Middle East,” he said. “We’ve got our backs against the wall and we need Turkey. The fact that Biden apologized for suggesting in a statement that Turkey was supporting ISIS, this administration is clearly scared of Turkey.”
Richardson led a film crew that covered an Erdogan rally in Ankara last year, and he experienced some of the same chilling mixture of raw nationalism and Islamic fervor as seen in Konya on Dec. 27.
“It truly felt like a Nazi rally,” Richardson said. “I took a whole segment to interview different leaders that highlight the Islamist takeover of Turkey and that was one of the big news stories that the West is barely paying attention to but needs to understand.
“The prime minister is the number-two man and he’s shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ to the idea of them leading an invasion of Israel and taking Jerusalem,” Richardson added. “Now, if anyone is doubting an Islamic takeover and Turkey is now emerging as a radical Islamic nation and they have the largest army in the region then they have their head in the sand. I’ve been saying this but everyone continues to function as if they’ve got their head in the sand.”
Antichrist in the making?
Richardson said he gets a lot of questions from readers and viewers of his three books and film about whether Erdogan might be the antichrist foretold by the biblical prophets.
He said that while it is quite possible that the biblical antichrist could rise from the area of modern-day Turkey, Iraq or Syria, he does not believe Erdogan fits the role.
“There will be a series of wars and there will, out of the ashes of those wars, emerge a leader that the Bible calls Antichrist,” he said. “So while these guys I don’t’ think fit the specific criteria they do fit some of the satanic lust for the control of the Temple Mount, which represents the throne of David and the future seat of the throne of Jesus Messiah.”
Richardson said the fact that Turkey is emerging as the champion of Hamas is profound.
“It has the largest army in the region and Hamas is simply the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, so Turkey is setting itself up as the head of the radical Sunni Muslim world with ideological and financial support from Saudi Arabia. But now Turkey is emerging as the champion, the ones to take Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood across the goal line and fulfill their dream of a regional caliphate in the Middle East.”
Richardson believes Turkey is using ISIS as a proxy to take out Assad in Syria and the Kurds in northern Iraq, clearing the way for the re-emergence of a Turkish-led caliphate in the region. Religious leaders in Turkey have long dreamed of a resuscitated Ottoman Empire.
“It comes not only from their Islamic fervor but also Turkish nationalism,” Richardson said.
Nationalism is considered a taboo among Islamic purists such as al-Qaida-inspired al-Nusra and ISIS.
“And that’s why Turkey is hiding behind ISIS,” Richardson said.
Borrowing Nazi-inspired philosophy
Davutoglu is considered the architect of Erdogan’s foreign policy and the intellectual energy behind the Turkish government.
Davutoglu wrote a book he called “Strategic Depth,” in 2001, a year before the Justice and Development Party or AKP came to power. This tome draws upon geopolitical thinkers such as the German Karl Haushofer, who popularized the term “Lebensraum” or “living space,” the same words used by German Nazis during the 1920s and 1930s as they prepared the German people for the idea of expanding the nation’s borders.
“Haushofer was one of the primary philosophers Hitler appealed to and Davutoglu appeals to the same guy as the basis for this neo-Ottoman philosophy he’s been articulating,” Richardson said. “This prime minister is a deeply ideological philosopher, a Turkish nationalist and an Islamist.”