Saturday, August 26, 2017

Vatican Places Barriers And Army Vehicles Around St. Peter's Basilica, Fears Jihad Attack

Vatican places barriers, police and army vehicles around St. Peter’s Basilica to head off Barcelona-type jihad attack

“Barriers and police and army vehicles have been placed around St. Peter’s Basilica to make it harder for a vehicle to gather speed in an attack such as the one last week in Barcelona, which killed 13 people.”
What? This is unconscionable and Islamophobic! Pope Francis has declared: “Authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.” And that the rights of Muslim migrants override national security concerns. And that every foreigner who knocks on our door is an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ,
So why the high security at the Vatican? The Pope should welcome the jihadis as an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ. Send those police and army vehicles home. Tear down those barriers. It’s a religion of peace! What are Vatican authorities so nervous about?
“Leave them; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)

“Vatican prepared for Barcelona-style terror attack – Swiss Guard,” Times of Malta, August 25, 2017:
It is perhaps “only a matter of time” before Rome is hit by a Barcelona-style attack but security forces are ready in case the Vatican is targeted, the head the Swiss Guard has said….
Barriers and police and army vehicles have been placed around St. Peter’s Basilica to make it harder for a vehicle to gather speed in an attack such as the one last week in Barcelona, which killed 13 people.
Despite threats from Islamic State, Rome and other Italian cities have so far been spared the kind of vehicle attacks that have also hit Nice, London, and Berlin.
“It could perhaps be just a matter of time before there is such an attack in Rome, but we are prepared,” Christoph Graf, the commandant of the Swiss Guard, was quoted as telling the Swiss Catholic website….

Syrian army convoy attacked by ISIS tank fire

The Islamic State's summer offensive is in full spate on three fronts - two in Syria and a third in European cities -  thus pricking the prevailing view of Western experts on Islamic terror that the caliphate’s territorial shrinkage in Syria and Iraq heralds its approaching demise
Some of the events of the last few days shed a more realistic light:

1. While Islamist forces were widely described as fleeing in panic from the major battlefronts of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria, it turns out that they retreated in orderly military fashion while calculating how to preserve and deploy enough assets to initiate a broad counterattack.
This strategy hit the Syrian army with devastating effect on Thursday, Aug. 24. ISIS tanks came out of nowhere and surprised Syria’s elite Tiger Forces' armored units and allied pro-Iranian Shiite militias, which had for some weeks been fighting to push ISIS out of the desert region east of Raqqa.

This surprise assault gave the jihadists the chance to snatch several villages southeast of Raqqa as well as Syrian camps and positions. Around 100 Syrian troops were left dead on the battleground and hundreds of walking wounded were seen fleeing.

This successful engagement gained ISIS control of the main desert highways leading to its current bastions at Mayadin and Abu Kamal on the Syrian-Iraqi border. No less strategically important, the Islamists won a vantage point for threatening the Iraqi Shiite Popular Mobilization Force (PMU) fighting under Iranian command to liberate the northern Iraqi town of Tal Afar from Islamist occupation.

This danger is so acute, that for the first time ever, an Iraqi army contingent crossed into Syria on Friday, Aug. 25, as back-up for the Syrian army’s effort to throw back the ISIS assault.

This new Syrian-Iraqi military partnership-in-arms versus the Islamic State is coordinated by Iranian command centers in Syria and Iraq, which are overseen by Revolutionary Guards Corps General Qassem Soleimani.  

Only last week, Syria’s General Staff claimed that the government's army had crossed the river. This was an exaggeration. A small number of Syrian troops did cross to the other side, but were quickly destroyed before they had a chance to set up a bridgehead for controlling the valley section on the Syrian-Iraqi border. Russian air cover did not save them.

2. The number of boots on the ground against ISIS has shrunk massively since Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin decided to restrict US and Russian military involvement in Syria to air force operations. Air strikes too have been substantially cut back. No US or Russian special forces are therefore taking part in the current engagements against the Islamic State. The only place US officers are to be found directly commanding local forces is on the Raqqa front, where the Syrian Democratic forces (SDF) and the Kurdish YPG militia lead the field against the Islamists. However, ISIS is enabled by the relatively clear skies of hostile warplanes to whisk substantial forces at speed between the battlefronts of Syria and Iraq.

3. Four local armies are therefore waging the war on ISIS with limited US and Russian back-up. They are the Syrian army, Hizballah, the other pro-Iranian Shiite militias, including the Iraqi PMU, and the various Kurdish militias.
Because Trump and Putin are of one mind about reducing their military involvement in the current hostilities, Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu made no headway when he asked them to stop Iran and its pawns from gaining a permanent presence in Syria.

4. ISIS’ capture of new slices of territory in the Syrian Desert by force of arms confounds the widespread theory that the Islamists were boosting their terror activity in Europe to counteract their loss of battles and land in Syria and Iraq. Hence the Barcelona outrage last week.  

ISIS is promoting two simultaneous campaigns. As their counteroffensives advance in Syria and Iraq, the jihadis are further developing their second front in Europe, with a major outbreak of terrorist attacks still to come.

The ISIS media machine works around the clock to pump out its core message of death and destruction worldwide, uninterrupted by ups or downs on the battlefield.

After Barcelona, more Islamist violence is to be expected in the towns of Europe. Counterterrorism services may prevent some, but certainly not all. Worth heeding are the words of Christoph Graf, command of the Swiss Guard at the Vatican, who warned Friday: “It could perhaps be just a matter of time before there is such an attack in Rome. But we are prepared.”

A new studyAntisemitic Violence in Europe, 2005-2015, written by Johannes Due Enstad of the Oslo-based Center for Studies of the Holocaust and the University of Oslo, and jointly published by both institutions, features conclusions that many would find surprising.
The Gatestone Institute summarizes some of the findings:
  • Examining statistics from France, Britain, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Russia, Enstad points out that one of these seven countries "clearly stands out with a very low number" of anti-Semitic incidents despite its "relatively large Jewish population..."
  • Absurdly, whenever a perpetrator draws a swastika, the Swedish government automatically considers it a "right-wing" act.
  • Enstad concludes that right-wingers, in all four of the major Western European countries in his study, "constitute a clear minority of perpetrators." Indeed, "in France, Sweden and the UK (but not in Germany) the perpetrator was perceived to be left-wing more often than right-wing."
The country that "clearly stands out" as having a low number of anti-Semitic incidents? Russia. 

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