Friday, August 29, 2014

Terror Chatter Soars As 9/11 Anniversary Approaches, Hamas: 'We Will Never Disarm'

'Significant Increase' In Terror Chatter As 9/11 Nears

The U.S. intelligence community has observed a “significant increase” in chatter among terrorist organizations as the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks nears.
“We’ve noticed a significant increase in chatter among Islamic terrorist organizations overseas both on the Internet and phone lines,” a U.S. government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Blaze.
“The threat is two-fold because ISIS is in war with core al Qaeda,” former CIA case officer Brian Fairchild told The Blaze. “ISIS was kicked out of al Qaeda in February and they’ve been fighting each other internally for leadership. ISIS is winning right now. They have captured the imagination of young Muslims from around the world and depriving al Qaeda of its own fighters. Al Qaeda is split down the middle and now you have 9/11 [anniversary approaching]. It would be beneficial to both camps that on 9/11, some great attack in the United States takes place,” he added.
The Islamic State executed American photojournalist James Foley on Aug. 19, and has used social media platforms to threaten terror attacks on American soil.
Chicago’s WGN network recently reported that a tweet from the terror group on June 20 includes a picture taken on Michigan Ave. The tweet reads “Soldiers of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria will pass from here soon.” An Arabic message held up in the picture was translated “We are in your streets.”

Exiled Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal threatened to resume fighting Israel if the Palestinians demands were not met and said Gaza will never disarm its “sacred” weapons.
“The rockets and tunnels exist; if the negotiations fail and there is a need, we will return to resistance until we reach our goals,” he said Thursday at a press conference in Qatar.
Hamas and other Gaza-based terror groups reached an open-ended ceasefire deal with Israel on the 50th day of Operation Protective Edge.
Under the deal — in a move which went into effect early on Wednesday — Israel agreed to lift restrictions on fishing, allowing boats to work up to six nautical miles from the shore.

But debate on crunch issues such as Hamas’s demands for a wider lifting of the blockade — imposed by Israel and Egypt to prevent Hamas importing weaponry — as well as for a port and an airport, and the release of prisoners, as well as Israel’s calls to demilitarize Gaza, have been postponed for another month until the sides resume talks in Cairo.
Mashaal adamantly rejected the calls to disarm the Gaza terror group.
“The weapons of the resistance are sacred and we will not accept that they be on the agenda” of future negotiations with Israel, he said.
Israel has consistently linked the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, parts of which were devastated during the 50-day war with Hamas that ended on Tuesday, to the territory’s demilitarization.
But Mashaal insisted that Hamas will not lay down its arms.
“The issue is not up for negotiations. No one can disarm Hamas and its resistance,” he stated.

In a meeting with a delegation of the Armed Services Committee of the House of Representatives, Netanyahu said that 'just now an extension of al-Qaeda in the Golan Heights has kidnapped dozens of UN forces. We must take a joint position in order to defeat them.'
The IDF Northern Command is closely following the recent developments along Syria-Israel border, after Syrian rebel forces, including members of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, which is considered more radical than Hamas, on Wednesday seized the Syrian side of the border crossing with Israel in the Golan Heights. 
The fate of the 43 UN Fijian peacekeeping troops kidnapped by the rebels in Quneitra is still unknown. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the abduction on Thursday, and called for the immediate release of the troops. 

The IDF views the latest developments as a further loss of sovereignty of the Syrian army in the Golan Heights. Addressing the issue on Thursday night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu linked it to the activities of other terrorist organizations in the Middle East.  
From Israel's perspective, the loss of the Quneitra crossing by the Syrian army for now only means the halt in the transfer of apples or preventing the passage of young Druze studying in Syria. At the moment, the only interaction that the security establishment has with the rebel forces on the Syrian side of the border, concerns humanitarian issues, such as the treatment of the wounded in Israel and helping to deliver basic equipment.

Deeper into the Syrian Golan Heights, Assad's army is still in control and has is fighting the rebels to prevent them from seizing the entire swathe of the county that runs alongside the border with Israel.

Well over 1,000 Russian troops are operating inside Ukraine, marking a significant escalation of Moscow's military involvement in the country, NATO said.
"Over the past two weeks we have noted a significant escalation in both the level and sophistication of Russia's military interference in Ukraine," Dutch Brigadier-General Nico Tak, head of NATO's crisis management centre, told reporters at NATO's military headquarters near Mons, Belgium.
"We assess well over 1,000 Russian troops are now operating inside Ukraine," he said, referring to Russia's actions as "incursions" rather than an invasion.

"They are supporting separatists (and) fighting with them."
NATO estimates Russia also has about 20,000 troops close to the Ukrainian border, Brigadier-General Tak said.
"We have also detected large quantities of advanced weapons, including air defence systems, artillery, tanks and armoured personnel carriers being transferred to separatist forces in eastern Ukraine," he said.

But the Russian ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, has rejected the allegations.
"NATO has never produced a single piece of evidence, neither have the United States, nor the European Union, nor anybody else. Not a single piece of evidence. That is not the first time this is happening," Mr Chizhov said.
Ukraine accused Russia on Thursday of bringing troops into the south-east of the country in support of pro-Moscow separatist rebels.
NATO ambassadors will hold an emergency meeting with their Ukrainian counterpart in Brussels on Friday at Kiev's request to discuss the situation, a NATO official said. NATO ambassadors will also meet separately on Friday.

Moscow sees no sense in commenting on what NATO calls that it has satellite shots of Russian troops in Ukraine, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Thursday.
"You know, it has become ridiculous… If earlier, someone would at least put their names to those images, be it Breedlove, Rasmussen, or even Lungescu, now, they are hesitant," Konashenkov said, referring to NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Philip Breedlove, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Spokesperson Oana Lungescu.

"It makes no sense to seriously comment on this," he added.
He added that the phrase "NATO published shots of Russian troops in Ukraine" has become too common lately.
"The phrase 'NATO published satellite shots of Russian troops' presence in Ukraine" has become as common in recent months as the famous 'British scientists have discovered…' As a rule in media, those words are followed by the results of some new crazy research that has no practical sense whatsoever," Konashenkov said.

On Thursday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that Russian troops had entered Ukraine. The statement came as NATO released satellite images that it claimed were showing Russian self-propelled artillery on the Ukrainian territory. The alliance said about 1,000 Russian servicemen were taking part in hostilities in eastern Ukraine.
Washington failed to verify the information, US Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki said, adding, however, that the State Department had "no reason to doubt their [NATO's] assessment."
Andrei Kelin, Russia’s envoy to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), denied Kiev’s accusations, saying that "there are no Russian convoys" in Ukraine.
Kiev authorities launched a special military operation in mid-April in the southeast of Ukraine against independence supporters, who refused to recognize the legitimacy of the country’s coup-imposed government.
Since the beginning of the military conflict, Kiev has been accusing Russia of sending troops and weaponry to independence supporters in the region.
Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the Ukrainian crisis, urging Kiev to stop the bloodshed and establish a direct dialogue with representatives of Luhansk andDonetsk regions.

At least 2,593 people have been killed in eastern Ukraine since the start of the Kiev’s military operation against anti-government forces there started in mid-April, according to a new estimate by the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights.
The death toll includes civilians, members of the Ukrainian troops and also fighters in the anti-government forces.
"The trend is clear and alarming. There is a significant increase in the death toll in the east," Ivan Simonovic, U.N. Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, told journalists.

"The current number of killed is 2,593 - close to 3,000 if we include the 298 victims of the MH17 (Malaysian airliner) plane crash," he said.
The report, issued on Friday, August 29, 2014, and covering the period July 16 to August 17, condemns the killing and wounding of civilians in urban areas, which have lately turned into battlefields.

NATO released new satellite images on Thursday, 28 August 2014, that show Russian combat forces engaged in military operations inside the sovereign territory of Ukraine. The images, captured in late August, depict Russian self-propelled artillery units moving in a convoy through the Ukrainian countryside and then preparing for action by establishing firing positions in the area of Krasnodon, Ukraine. Russia's response - "reports on Russian troops in Ukraine are false."

In the Syrian city of Raqqah on the banks of the Euphrates River, Islamic State militants are busy building a capital fit for their followers.
Human rights observers say they have stoned women to death for adultery, while residents report that religious textbooks have been imported for schools and the market flooded with black cloaks for girls as young as 6 years old. Even as it wages war on multiple fronts, the group has had time to focus on the details, recruit thousands into its forces and celebrate victories by parading the heads of its enemies.

It sounds ghastly. According to one resident, via Bloomberg News, accused thieves have their hands cut off, which is a punishment right out of the Middle Ages. So far, it seems beyond the Syrian government’s ability to stop. The NY Times reports that part of ISIL’s success is coming from its professionalism, which it’s getting from middle-aged former officers in Saddam Hussein’s military. Many of these officers were banned from participating in Iraq’s post-war government, the ones that weren’t simply imprisoned, I mean.  Now they’re getting revenge.
Meanwhile, U.S. airstrikes against ISIL are only occurring in Iraq. President Obama has not yet announced what he wants to do about ISIL in Syria, but it’s already leading to grumbles from Congress. If this all seems vaguely familiar, that’s because last year at about this time, Obama proposed airstrikes in Syriaonly against the Syrian government rather than rebel groups. He was firmly rebuffed by most of the Democrats and the Republicans and with little public support, he didn’t press the issue.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ukraine Update

These headlines tell two very different versions of this story:

Hot on the heels of Ukraine's claims of 'invasion' and retraction of said claim, NATO is once again stepping in with strong claims about Russian 'incursions':
While NATO statements in the past have caused dramatic weakness in stocks (or been entirely shurgged off), it appears this time markets are taking their concerns more seriously as the officer states Ukraine's forces are in a "dire situation."

As Bloomberg reports,

NATO estimates there are currently 20,000 Russian troops in the border region to Ukraine, says a North Atlantic Treaty Organization military officer speaking to reporters today on condition of anonymity at supreme headquarters in Mons, Belgium. 

Well over 1,000 Russian troops now operating inside Ukraine: officer

Russian troops in Ukraine operating advanced equipment, serving as advisers for separatists: officer

As a result of Ukraine becoming more effective militarily starting in July, there has been a real upsurge in Russian activities of late. Cross border support, firing of rockets and artillery shells across border, supply of more weapons: officer

Russia has effectively created second front in the south, this is an extremely effective way to take pressure off separatists: officer

Puts Ukraine forces in “dire situation” since from south Russian forces can move up to link with Donetsk forces or can even move west toward Crimea: officer

Opening of second front in south is “extremely worrying”for Ukraine’s position; there’s a risk that Ukraine military’s supply lies will be cut: officer

Officer declines to call Russian moves in Ukraine an “invasion,” instead repeatedly uses the term “incursion”



Russia is more openly backing the Ukrainian rebels, now with small Russian military formations moving into Ukraine’s territory, senior NATO diplomat says.

Russia has provided artillery and rocket support for rebels, from positions both in Russia and inside Ukraine, diplomat says

SA-22 surface-to-air missiles are now being deployed, more sophisticated than the SA-11 missiles that downed the Malaysian airliner, diplomat says

Russian support has become more overt in the wake of Kiev government’s successes against the rebels near Luhansk and Donetsk, diplomat says

*NATO OFFICER: RUSSIAN TROOPS IN UKRAINE SERVING AS ADVISERS (just like the humanitarian Americans in Iraq?)

It appears the 'talk' is a little more real this morning asUkraine's security council is considering calling a State of Emergency (which seems ironic given the constant threats they have been noting for months)

And then there's this...
“Russian invasion” should be considered by UN Security Council, Latvian Foreign Minister

Russian invasion in Ukraine must be considered by the UN Security Council as act of aggression, UN must react accordingly, this is war

The OSCE was told there was no Russian presence spotted across the Ukraine border, refuting Thursday's claims that a full-scale invasion was underway. Both the Ukrainian monitoring team head and Russia's representative have given a firm 'no.'
The chorus of allegations about Russia's military invasion of Ukraine had President Poroshenko calling for an emergency meeting of the country’s security and defense council, while Prime Minister Yatsenyuk on Thursday called for a Russian asset freeze.
No actual evidence has been given either by either foreign governments or the media, apart from claims that photographs exist that someone had "seen."
"I have made a decision to cancel my working visit to the Republic of Turkey due to sharp aggravation of the situation in Donetsk region, particularly in Amvrosiivka and Starobeshevo, as Russian troops were brought into Ukraine," Petro Poroshenko said in a statement on his website.
The Russian representative to the OSCE Andrey Kelin, meanwhile, has given a firm response to the allegations, saying that “we have said that no Russian involvement has been spotted, there are no soldiers or equipment present.”
“Accusations relating to convoys of armored personnel carriers have been heard during the past week and the week before that,” he said. “All of them were proven false back then, and are being proven false again now.”

Poroshenko, in the meantime, is going to call for a meeting of the UN Security Council. "The world must provide assessment of sharp aggravation of the situation in Ukraine," he added.
The Ukrainian president added that on Thursday there will be a meeting of the Security and Defense Council of Ukraine to elaborate the plan for further action.
"The President must stay in Kyiv today," he said.
Given the confusion arising out of the recent capture of Russian paratroopers and the subsequent videos with interviews released by the Ukrainian security services, tensions were easily stoked over Thursday's supposed invasion. Now, the government is going to the US, EU and the G7 to ask for a freeze on Russian assets until their troops withdraw.

Meanwhile, the OSCE has announced that it’s calling an emergency meeting in Vienna – for the second time in August.
When the head of its Ukraine mission, Paul Picard, was asked if the monitoring team saw any evidence of Russia crossing the border with troops and tanks, the answer was “no.” He told journalists of round-the-clock surveillance by a team of 16 people. The team said “we are hearing shooting, but it’s difficult to tell just how far.”
This didn’t stop the Ukrainian government from alleging that the border town of Novoazovsk in the south-east has fallen under Russian control – a mix of troops and members of the eastern-Ukrainian uprising.
Ukraine's own representative to the OSCE, Ihor Prokopchuk also said that "what we registered was a direct invasion of the Russian military into the eastern regions of Ukraine... an act of aggression."
For his part, Russian envoy Kelin said “We only know that the mayor of Novoazovsk said that after 10 rounds of artillery were heard, the Ukrainian soldiers retreated from the city, and the self-defense forces entered,” .
He added that "the Ukrainian ambassador has offered no claims to counter this information."
The Western media has been exploding with allegations, with everyone from the CNN to the New York Times going about the task in a very similar manner: quoting Ukrainian politicians' views on Russia, as well as US figures, the ambassador to Ukraine and the State Department. One similarity could be spotted: they all centered on passionate statements - no evidence - and were followed by a big background into things that took place over the past week.
Whenever there was any mention of someone actually seeing Russian tanks, it seemed a mobile phone was never on hand to take a photograph.

IDF On High Alert In Golan Heights, Syrian Rebels Abduct 43 UN Peacekeepers Near Israel Border

IDF On High Alert In Golan Heights

As a result of the fighting on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, the level of alert was raised on the Israeli side, an army spokesperson said Thursday, without confirming that it had been increased to the highest level.

The announcement follows several incidents in the area, including thecapture and execution of 160 Syrian soldiers by the Islamic State, gruesome pictures of which appeared online Thursday, and the abduction, also Thursday, of 43 UN peacekeepers by al-Qaeda-affiliate al-Nusra Front at the Quneitra crossing with Israel, where fighting has raged this week between Syrian rebels and government forces.

Another 81 peacekeepers were trapped in the area by heavy clashes between rebels and Syrian troops, according to the UN.

On Wednesday, the Quneitra crossing was seized by rebel combatants, including members of the Nusra Front, one of the main groups fighting forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad for control of the embattled country.

“Al-Nusra Front and other rebel groups took the Quneitra crossing, and heavy fighting with the Syrian army is continuing in the surrounding area,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based NGO.

Also Wednesday, at least seven mortars fired from Syria landed in the Israeli side of the Golan Heights. The IDF said it had not determined whether the mortars were fired into Israel intentionally or were a spillover from fighting between rival factions on the Syrian side of the border.
One Israeli man was lightly wounded Wednesday after a mortar landed near him, and earlier, an IDF officer was moderately injured as a result of stray fire from fighting between rebel groups and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria.

Over 40 members of a UN peacekeeping force were abducted Thursday by Syrian rebels during clashes in the Syrian Golan Heights, just across the Israeli border.

According to the a statement released by the UN, 43 soldiers from the UN Disengagement Observer Force were kidnapped by “an armed group” near the Quneitra crossing between Israel and Syria. Another 81 UNDOF peacekeepers were restricted to their positions near Ruwayhinah and Burayqah as a result of fighting between Syrian government forces and rebels, the UN added.

“The United Nations is making every effort to secure the release of the detained peacekeepers, and to restore the full freedom of movement of the Force throughout its area of operation,” the statement read.

The UN did not release the identities of the abducted soldiers, though the kidnapped peacekeeping force is understood to be composed of Philippine nationals, the Telegraph reported.

The UNDOF peacekeepers have been monitoring the disengagement accord between Syria and Israel since 1974, following the conclusion of the Yom Kippur War one year earlier. In June, the Security Council extended the mission’s mandate for another six months, until 31 December 2014, the UN said.

On Wednesday, the Quneitra crossing in the Syrian Golan Heights, the only crossing between Israel and Syria, was seized by rebel combatants, including members of the al-Qaeda linked Nusra Front, one of the main groups fighting forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad for control of the embattled country.

“Al-Nusra Front and other rebel groups took the Quneitra crossing, and heavy fighting with the Syrian army is continuing in the surrounding area,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based NGO.

The Syrian opposition groups themselves later announced the “liberation” of the Quneitra border crossing with Israel. In a document uploaded to Twitter, the rebel groups added that after a series of battles, they managed to take control of the al-Rawadi checkpoint, also near the border.