Hamas TV Children’s Show Entertains Kids with Improvised Rocket Exploding Noises

Hamas-Kids-TV-Girl-1-CopyTheBlaze (June 25) — In Friday’s installment of a Hamas children’s television show that’s making a name for itself outside Gaza due to its incendiary subject matter, cast members and studio guests were encouraged to mimic the sound of rockets being launched at Israel as a way to “excite” the audience.

Palestinian Media Watch, a Jerusalem-based research organization which tracks anti-Israel incitement in official Palestinian Authority and Hamas media outlets, uncovered the episode of “Pioneers of Tomorrow” and posted a translated excerpt on its website for purposes of educating the western media and policymakers.

The host of the show which airs on Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV is a giant human sized bee puppet named Nahoul who in a falsetto talks to children in the studio and on the telephone.

In Friday’s broadcast, a girl studio host asked her guest, “Do a last imitation of the sound of our rockets.”

…Palestinian Media Watch noted that only two days after the children’s show was broadcast, Hamas Political Bureau member Khalil Al-Hayya was echoing the message of the program, encouraging children to aspire to join the violent struggle against Israel.

“Hamas and its [Izz A-Din Al-Qassam] Brigades (Hamas’ military wing), will continue to dig tunnels, build rockets and cross seas until it defeats the enemy,” Al-Hayya said. “We will continue on the path of jihad and martyrdom.”

“Oh children of the resistance. Oh Al-Qassam [Brigades], this is the only way; march forward, [until] either victory or martyrdom,” Al-Hayya added according to Palestinian Media Watch’s translation of the Arabic news outlet Al-Hayat Al-Jadida.

In a previous episode of “Pioneers of Tomorrow,” the giant bee Nahoul encouraged Palestinian children to punch, throw stones at and shoot Jews. In another, a little girl who appeared to be 5 or 6-years-old recited a dramatic poem about the bullets she wanted to buy presumably to aim at Israelis.

Here is an excerpt from the children’s show courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch:

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Jews leaving France in droves, heading to Israel

Citing rampant Islamic anti-Semitism and poor economic prospects, more than 5,000 French Jews are set to depart their homeland for the hopes of a better future in Israel.

Israel-flag-apBreitbart (June 24) — France, trailing Israel and the United States, has the world’s third-largest population of Jewish people, with an estimated 500,000 of its citizens espousing the Jewish faith.

Newly minted Israeli citizen Laurie Levy told The Washington Post she could not be happier with her newfound home in Israel after leaving France in 2013. She said that for the first time, she feels safe wearing her Star of David around her neck. “Life is beautiful here. You work. You go to the beach. You see your friends. You’re not afraid. The irony is that I am more concerned about them than they are about me,” she said.

French Jews often cite concerns with the rise of Islamist ideologies along with anti-semitic sentiments spewed by individuals who support nationalist institutions such as the National Front party. “They are finding themselves between the extreme right of Europe and the radical Islam of Europe,” said Ariel Kandel, who runs the Jewish Agency for Israel.

Tiffany Nizard told The New York Times that the last straw for her was when four people were killed in an anti-Semitic attack at the Jewish museum in Brussels. She said that she was beaten and harassed by Muslim gangs, called a “dirty Jew,” and was also discriminated against in the job market. “I love France, and this is my country, but I am disgusted now. In Israel there is an army that will protect us. Here, I can no longer see a future for my children,” she said.

Countless horrific anti-Semitic acts have occurred in France over the past few years.

In 2012, a French national who recently returned from fighting for radical Islamists in Syria, killed seven people, including three children, at a Jewish day school in Toulouse.

The first three months of 2014 saw a 40 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents from the same period last year.

In May, two Jewish teens were beaten on their way to a synagogue. That same month, dozens of anti-Semitic inscriptions were found in Toulouse, including, “SS,” “Hitler burned 6 million Jews and forgot half,” and “Long live Palestine.”

Also, in June, two teenagers were reportedly attacked by a group of individuals with “North African” origins.

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ISIS May Open a Third Front in Lebanon

1403718915165.cachedDaily Beast (June 26) — They’re already on the offensive in Syria and Iraq, now there are signs the radical jihadis want to attack in Lebanon to divide the Shia forces against them.

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Irish bombers used to have a grim mantra they would throw in the face of British authorities when one of their attacks didn’t go according to plan. “You have to be lucky all the time; we only have to be lucky once.” At the weekend the jihadist planners of a weekend bombing in Lebanon may have been muttering darkly to themselves something similar as they seek to open up fully a third front in their war in the Levant.

Lebanon escaped a big hit on Sunday night because a suicide bomber had a mechanical problem with his car and instead of arriving at his intended target in the Shia-dominated southern suburbs triggered his device prematurely near a Lebanese army checkpoint at one of the area’s main entrances. A Lebanese soldier was killed and more than 20 civilians were injured. Most of them were at café watching World Cup soccer when the explosion erupted.

It could have been much worse. Lebanese security forces say the bomber’s target was a bigger one right in the heart of the southern suburbs, the Beirut homeland of Hezbollah, the militant Lebanese Shia movement.

The signs are that in the coming weeks al Qaeda offshoot the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) will be following through in Lebanon in a bid to sow not only more mayhem and confusion in the Levant but in an effort to put pressure on the Lebanese militant Shia movement Hezbollah to start withdrawing some forces from neighboring Syria, where they have been a key factor in helping President Bashar al-Assad turn the tide of battle against rebels seeking to oust him.

“Spillover” is the description most reporters use for the episodic violence in Lebanon – from cross-border rocket jousting between Hezbollah and Syrian rebels to more than a dozen car bombings that have rocked Lebanon in the past two years. But the three countries are not separate saucepans – they are one boiling cauldron.

ISIS began as a group in Mosul in Iraq within al Qaeda in Mesopotamia only to regroup along the Syria-Iraq border into a bigger organization with more grandiose ambitions that stretch all the way to Lebanon.  And the jihadists are turning the heat up not only in Iraq, where they are leading a Sunni insurgency that has taken a huge swath of territory in the north and west of the country, but in Lebanon, too.

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8 Signs That ISIS Will Strike in the U.S. Soon

Robert Spencer, the best jihad expert in the world for PJ Media (June 22) — The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) doesn’t have designs on just Iraq and Syria. It has published maps in which its envisioned Islamic state encompasses not just those two countries, but also Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Cyprus, parts of Turkey, and (of course) Israel. But it doesn’t stop there, either. Clearly ISIS plans to mount jihad terror attacks in the United States – and there are numerous indications that such an attack could come sooner rather than later.

8. ISIS jihadi from UK calls for jihad attacks on British civilians to avenge Muslima’s murder

Last Wednesday, a jihadist calling himself Abu Rashash Britani, who claims to be from Britain and now waging jihad with ISIS, expressed outrage on Twitter at the recent murder in Britain of a Muslim woman, Nahid Almanea. Britani ranted: “These kuffar getting out of hand, dare they touch a Muslimah. I call upon any brother to take up a knife and kill as they did [in] Colchester. Muslim sister killed by kuffar in UK. Allahu Mustahan [Allah is the one whose help is sought]. Where is the outcry by media? oh yeah she was a Muslim.”

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In the U.S., meanwhile, groups like the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Georgetown University’s Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding energetically spread the myth that Muslims in the U.S. are routinely victimized by “Islamophobic” discrimination, harassment and attacks. How long before ISIS calls for revenge attacks here as well as in Britain?

7. ISIS jihadi from Canada urges Muslims to follow example of Calgary jihad/martyrdom suicide bomber

Recently a Muslim from Canada, Salman Ashrafi, blew himself up in a jihad-martyrdom suicide attack in Iraq, murdering 19 Iraqis. ISIS posted an online message praising him as a “brave warrior” who gave Muslims a “great example,” and calling upon Muslims in Canada to “prove their manhood” by imitating him.

How long before a young Muslim in Canada gets the idea that he doesn’t have to go all the way to Iraq to imitate Salman Ashrafi, but can do it right at home? How long before a young Muslim in the United States gets the same idea?

6. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria produces video recruiting Muslims in U.S. and Europe for jihad in Syria, domestic jihad attacks

Surmising that jihadis may someday get the idea to strike domestically isn’t even necessary: Bill Gertz reported at the Washington Free Beacon last Friday that ISIS was “stepping up efforts to recruit Americans and other westerners for jihad in Syria and possibly for future domestic terror attacks, according to U.S. officials.”

5. American supporter of ISIS in North Carolina?

ISIS recently produced a video featuring fans holding up messages of support from around the world — including, apparently, North Carolina. Jonathan Halevi reported Thursday in Alternative Angle that “one of them is apparently an American national, who is pointing (minute: 03:20) with the forefinger as an indication of affirmation of Allah’s Oneness and holding a poster, which reads in mixed Arabic and English the following: ‘American support of the Islamic State ISIS. North Carolina. USA.’”

Friends and supporters inside the U.S. can make it much easier for ISIS to stage jihad attacks here.

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4. Muslims from U.S. head to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS and “bring back the Caliphate”

James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, has said that over fifty Muslims from the United States are fighting in Syria now. That number could increase: the Daily Mail reported Thursday that a Muslim from Minnesota, Abdirahmaan Muhumed, was just an ordinary guy: “Six months ago the father of nine from Minnesota was shooting hoops in Uptown Minneapolis. He was neither overtly religious nor politically vocal.”

However, Muhumed proved himself susceptible to the appeal of Islam. He told friends of his aspiration to “bring back the caliphate,” and said that if he was considered a terrorist, he was “happy with it.” He wrote: “Family is not gonna save me frm [sic] hell fire because muslims are getting kill[ed] and if I just sit here i will be ask in the [hereafter].” Accordingly, he said, “I give up this worldy [sic] life for Allah.” He posted on Facebook a photo of himself holding a Qur’an and a rifle.

Where did Muhumed learn this understanding of Islam? In Minnesota? If so, more could follow him. And American officials have expressed concern that they might return home as trained, battle-hardened jihadis, and wage jihad here.

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3. Minneapolis FBI investigating Muslims joining jihad groups in Syria, including ISIS

Enough Muslims have traveled to jihad from Minneapolis for the FBI to open an investigation. Reuters reported last Friday that “the FBI is investigating men of Somali background who have traveled from the Minneapolis-St Paul area to Syria to fight with Islamist groups against President Bashar al-Assad….Kyle Loven, a spokesman for the FBI’s Minneapolis office, said in the last few months the Bureau had received information indicating that 10 to 15 men from the region’s large Somali community had traveled to Syria.”

What’s more, “the U.S. government recently confirmed that a Florida man, Moner Mohammad Abu-salha, had become the first known American suicide bomber in Syria.” How long will it be before the suicide attacks start stateside?

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2. ISIS chief to USA: “Soon we will be in direct confrontation, and the sons of Islam have prepared for such a day”

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi said last winter: “Our last message is to the Americans. Soon we will be in direct confrontation, and the sons of Islam have prepared for such a day. So watch, for we are with you, watching.”

His group’s successes in Syria and Iraq have hastened the coming of that day.

1. ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on his release from U.S. detention in 2009: “I’ll see you guys in New York”

When al-Baghdadi was released from the U.S. detention center Camp Bucca in Iraq in 2009 after four years of captivity, he told his captors: “I’ll see you guys in New York.”

And who knows? The way things are going, maybe he will.

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Islamist militants bear down on Iraqi forces; seize former chemical weapons facility

20140111_MAP001_0The Washington Post (June 23) — Islamist insurgents continued to bear down on Iraqi forces Friday, seizing a former chemical weapons facility once part of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein’s arsenal and battling for control of the country’s largest oil refinery and an airport in the north. The al-Qaeda-inspired militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), who launched a lightning offensive across northern Iraq last week, seized the facility, which contains stockpiles of chemical munitions that are not considered usable, a State Department spokeswoman said. “We are aware that [ISIS] has occupied the Al Muthanna complex,”spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. “We remain concerned about the seizure of any military site” by the group. “We do not believe that the complex contains CW [chemical weapons] materials of military value and it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to safely move the materials.”

According to the CIA, the facility about 36 miles northwest of Baghdad was bombed extensively during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, ending its ability to produce chemical weapons. U.N. weapons inspectors subsequently destroyed equipment and stockpiles there, most of the complex was razed by the Iraqis, and the remainder was extensively looted, the agency said in a 2007 report. However, the CIA report said: “Stockpiles of chemical munitions are still stored there. The most dangerous ones have been declared to the UN and are sealed in bunkers. Although declared, the bunkers contents have yet to be confirmed. These areas of the compound pose a hazard to civilians and potential blackmarketers.” Among the chemical agents once produced at Al Muthanna were mustard gas, sarin and VX, it said.

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Hamas’ Genocidal Technocrats

Military Ceremony in GazaIn FrontPage Robert Spencer discusses how Hillary Clinton has once again revealed the willful ignorance of the Washington establishment.

June 18 — Hillary Clinton said Monday that she was in favor of Barack Obama’s support for the new Palestinian Authority unity government, even though it included the jihad terror group Hamas, because “the makeup of this joint enterprise are largely technocrats. They’re academics and they’re business people. They don’t represent sort of, what you might call hard-core Hamas leadership.”

Would Hillary Clinton then have us believe that the Hamas officials who are part of the unity government do not represent Hamas leadership, or Hamas itself? That would be like saying that Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi don’t represent the leadership of the Democratic Party, or that Obama, Reid and Pelosi cannot be held responsible for the actions and positions of the Party.

This is plainly ridiculous – and in this case, even worse than ridiculous, because Hamas leaders have quite recently reaffirmed their commitment to the total destruction of Israel. Anyone who thinks that is not the position of the Hamas officials in the Palestinian Authority government is suffering from a case of willful blindness that is spectacularly severe even in this blinkered age.

At the time of the reconciliation between the two Palestinian groups, the Washington Post reported that Hamas would recognize Israel. Hamas spokesman Taher Nunu was livid: “What I was quoted as telling the American paper is wrong, and I unequivocally deny it. The issue of Hamas recognizing Israel is a complete nonstarter… aimed primarily at weakening the movement’s positions on Israel.” Nunu threatened legal action against the Post for its “false report.”

A week after reconciling with Fatah, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal stated: “Our path is resistance and the rifle and our choice is jihad. There is no past or future without jihad and resistance. Jihad is our path.”

What that meant was vividly illustrated in early May, when Palestinian Media Watch reported that “the terrorist who murdered 15 in the Sbarro pizza shop suicide bombing in 2001 was given a military funeral by the PA after his body was transferred to the PA last week. On Aug. 9, 2001 suicide bomber Izz Al-Din Al-Masri detonated himself in a Sbarro pizza shop in Jerusalem, killing 15, 7 of them children. 5 members of one family were killed in the attack.”

Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV News exulted: “Izz Al-Din Al-Masri ascended to Paradise in a Martyrdom-seeking operation (suicide terror attack) he carried out in the Sbarro restaurant in Jerusalem, where he gave the Zionists a taste of humiliation after killing 19 Zionists and wounding dozens.” And at the funeral, a Palestinian Authority official declared: “The popular gathering around the blood of Izz Al-Din Al-Masri is an honest and true expression of our people’s yearning for national unity (between Fatah and Hamas) and unity of action.”

That same week, according to the Elder of Ziyon blog, Hamas’ Al Qassam Brigades “released a video for Israel’s Independence Day, called ‘The End of the Hope,’” in which “Jews are forced onto ships to Germany by masked Hamas terrorists. Worshippers are chased out of the Kotel plaza which is destroyed and replaced with the ‘Mughrabi Quarter.’ Armed masked terrorists are seen on the roof of the Dome of the Rock to ensure that Jews can never visit there as they sing that there is no Temple in Jerusalem.”

That same week, the weekly Hamas children’s show Tomorrow’s Pioneers featured a young girl saying, that she wanted to become a police officer when she grew up, “So that I can shoot Jews.” The show’s child host then asked: “All the Jews? All of them?” When the girl responded in the affirmative, the host said, “Good.”

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said last Saturday: “Hamas’s strategy has not changed and will not change.” The goal of that “strategy” was the total destruction of Israel: “Wherever [Hamas] presides, we will remain preachers and teachers and build the Palestinian nation to liberate all the land of Palestine. We emphasize now that we will not retreat from out plan to liberate our lands and ensure the right of return and the release of [terrorist] prisoners.”

But don’t worry: they’re technocrats!

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Shooting Attack at Paris Synagogue Thwarted at Last Moment

Two men approach Paris synagogue with AK-47 and handgun, but flee after spotting police.

AK 47 Kalashnikov rifle

AK 47 Kalashnikov rifle

IsraelNationalNews (June 16) — As France continues to grapple with growing violent anti-Semitism alarming reports suggest a potentially deadly terrorist attack on a Paris synagogue in broad daylight was thwarted at the very last minute on Saturday.

According to French-language JSS News, a pair of unidentified attackers approached the synagogue, located in the French capital’s 20th District, armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and a handgun. According to reports they began aiming their guns at bystanders and the building itself and pretended to open fire, but fled the scene when they saw armed French police officers guarding the synagogue.

Reports say they escaped on a scooter.

No shots were fired, and the incident took place at a time when few worshippers were in the building, but the shocking incident has left the local Jewish community extremely shaken.

The National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism issued a strong statement condemning the incident “with the greatest strength”.

It comes as France prepares to extradite Mehdi Nemmouche, a French-Algerian Islamist suspected of carrying out the deadly anti-Semitic shooting at the Jewish Museum in the Belgian capital Brussels.

The suspected terrorist spent over a year fighting in Syria withing the ranks of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) one of the most brutal Islamist groups involved in that country’s civil war and which in recent days has seized vast swathes of Iraqi territory, including the country’s second city Mosul.

Terrorism experts have warned there could be more as battle-hardened terrorists who were born and raised in western European countries make their way back from Syria. Estimates from security agencies suggest there could be more than 1,500 such militants in Syria.

Nemmouche’s attack came just over two years after another French Islamist gunman, Mohammed Merah, killed seven people in the southern city of Toulouse, including a rabbi and three Jewish children at a Jewish primary school.

Merah was killed in a police shootout.

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The PA and Fatah celebrate kidnapping of three Israeli youths

Palestinian Media Watch (June 16) — In an odious distortion of the World Cup 2014 logo, the official Palestinian Authority daily printed today a cartoon celebrating the kidnapping of three Israeli youths on Thursday night. Instead of the famous logo of the World Cup 2014, in which three victorious hands hold the globe, together creating the prestigious trophy, the PA cartoon shows a “trophy” of three hands holding three people with their hands up in surrender. Instead of the text “Brasil” below the “trophy,” the word “Khalil” is written – Arabic for Hebron, a city near where the Israeli youths were kidnapped. 

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 15, 2014

Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 15, 2014

Original World Cup logo

Original World Cup logo

Similarly, Fatah is celebrating the kidnapping as a victory. On its official Facebook page, the movement posted a cartoon of a victory sign with three fingers held up instead of two, symbolizing the three kidnapped youths. Accompanying the picture was a smiley with the text, “For your interpretation :)”.

Facebook, "Fatah - The Main Page", June 15, 2014

Facebook, “Fatah – The Main Page”, June 15, 2014

Palestinian Media Watch has documented the PA’s support for the kidnap-for-hostage strategy.

Welcome to the Jihadi Spring

The Arab Spring is over, and tweeting slogans won’t change the chaos that has followed it.

pic_giant_061314_ABy Jonah Goldberg for National Review (June 16) — The Arab Spring is over. Welcome to the Jihadi Spring.

Across a huge swath of what, up until recently, had been known as Iraq and Syria, a transnational movement of Sunni Islamic extremists has taken control. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has conquered — without much effort – Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, along with most of the province of Nineveh. It also took Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown. Along the way it has ransacked banks (to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars), pillaged weapon stockpiles (including the stuff we left behind for the Iraqi army) and recruited ever more fighters from Iraq, Syria. and abroad. Late Thursday, the Iranians finally sent troops to support the teetering government and managed to reclaim most of Tikrit. So either the regional war just got bigger, or Iraq is poised to become even more of an Iranian vassal.

ISIS started out as an al-Qaeda franchise, but in 2011 it broke off to become an independent dealer of Islamist mayhem. If anything, it is more extreme than al-Qaeda — though that fine distinction probably means little to the Shiites and Christians it slaughters.

Sunday in Pakistan, Taliban militants attacked the airport in Karachi, the country’s busiest and most important travel hub. They followed up with an attack on an airport security-training facility, showing that there was no area of Pakistan it could not threaten. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came into office seeking an accord with the Taliban. But the Taliban won’t abandon its key objective: a total Islamist state. After the attacks, most observers think Sharif will have little choice but to unleash the army on the insurgents.

Late last month, President Obama announced at West Point that we are definitely leaving Afghanistan, period. That period took the form of a prisoner swap in which we essentially gave back five top Taliban commanders. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda linked and inspired groups are on the rise in Nigeria, Yemen, the Philippines, Libya and elsewhere.

The good news is that the administration has a policy to deal with the Jihadi Spring. The bad news is that it looks to be the same policy it had for the Arab Spring: nothing.

Nothing, that is, beyond casting lots of words and Twitter hashtags into the air like so many magic beans that will sprout into peace and security wherever they find purchase.

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Hamas, Islamic Jihad vow to continue jihad terror against Israel despite “unity” pact with Palestinian Authority

Islamic-JihadThis should come as no surprise and was proved to be correct when Hamas kidnapped three Israeli teenagers.

“Hamas, Islamic Jihad Vow to Continue Terror – No Matter What,” by Dalit Halevi and Tova Dvorin, Israel National News, June 8, 2014: 

Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad reiterated their commitment to terror over the weekend, stating that a “unity” pact with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the new government’s public pledge to renounce terror does not change their views.

Hamas leader and former political figure Ismail Haniyeh stated in a public address Saturday – in honor of the opening session of terror training “summer camps” in Gaza – that “Hamas’s strategy has not changed and will not change.”

“Wherever [Hamas] presides, we will remain preachers and teachers and build the Palestinian nation to liberate all the land of Palestine,” Haniyeh said, referring to the entire land of Israel. “We emphasize now that we will not retreat from out plan to liberate our lands and ensure the right of return and the release of [terrorist] prisoners.”

Islamic Jihad, similarly, ignored calls from Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to disarm due to the pact.

“Weapons [of resistance] will remain in our hands [. . .] in order to liberate all of Palestine,” Khaled Al-Batesh, Islamic Jihad leader, stated to Hamas-backed Palestine magazine Sunday.

The US and EU have largely predicated its willingness to “work with” the new unity government on the misnomer that the government does not actually include Hamas politicians.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has insisted that a ‘unity’ government would be based on what he called”the four Palestinian principles”: recognizing Israel, recognizing the terms of international agreements, and the explicit rejection of violence and terrorism.

Despite this, Hamas announced that any “unity” government would be unequivocally subject to their approval before being established – and analysts say that both Hamas “ministers” and Islamic Jihad terrorists are expected to join the government soon.

Indeed, three Hamas-backed ministers were sworn in to the new government from Gaza on Monday via video feed.

Claim: Four of five Taliban released in Bergdahl trade will likely fight again

bergdahl-collageDaily Beast (June 11) — A top intelligence official told lawmakers in a classified Senate briefing last week that he expected four out of the five Taliban leaders released by the Obama administration to eventually return to the battlefield.

According to a pair of U.S. officials, the briefing from Robert Cardillo, a deputy director of national intelligence, represented the latest community-wide U.S. intelligence assessment on these Taliban Five, completed in 2013.

It also means that President Obama was faced with a particularly excruciating choice as he weighed whether or not to swap these five for American hostage Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The government of Qatar, which agreed to look after the five Taliban leaders as part of the deal for Bergdahl, warned that factions within the Taliban were growing impatient, and campaigning to kill Bergdahl instead of trading him.

Read the rest of the story here.

ISIS just stole $425 million and became the ‘world’s richest terrorist group’

An image grab taken from a propaganda video uploaded on June 8, 2014, by the jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (AFP/Getty Images)

An image grab taken from a propaganda video uploaded on June 8, 2014, by the jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. (AFP/Getty Images)

Washington Post (June 12) — Of the many stunning revelations to emerge out of the wreckage of Mosul on Wednesday — 500,000 fleeing residents, thousands of freed prisoners, unconfirmed reports of “mass beheadings” — the one that may have the most lasting impact as Iraq descends into a possible civil war is that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria just got extremely rich.

As insurgents rolled past Iraq’s second largest city, an oil hub at the vital intersection of Syria, Iraq and Turkey, and into Tikrit, several gunmen stopped at Mosul’s central bank. An incredible amount of cash was reportedly on hand, and the group made off with 500 billion Iraqi dinars — $425 million.

The provincial governor of Nineveh, Atheel al-Nujaifi, confirmed that the ISIS Islamists had lifted additional millions from numerous banks across Mosul, as well as a “large quantity of gold bullion,” according to the International Business Times, which called it the “World’s Richest Terror Force.”

The declaration isn’t an easy one to fact check. Not only is the definition of “terrorist” nebulous — are murderous but wealthy Mexican cartels terrorists? — it’s also exceedingly difficult to quantify a terrorist organization’s finances. One of the closest stabs anyone has made comes from the well-versed Money Jihad.

According to its analysis, which drew on journalistic and academic accounts, the cash seizure would make ISIS the richest terrorist organization in the world — at least for the time being.

The Taliban, the New York Times reported, had a one-time annual operating budget of somewhere between $70 million and $400 million. Hezbollah was working with between $200 million and $500 million. FARC in Colombia had annual revenues of $80 to $350 million. Al-Shabab had between $70 and $100 million socked away. And Al-Qaeda, meanwhile, was working with a $30 million operating budget at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

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From Iraq to Syria, splinter groups now larger worry than al-Qaeda

411629-365Washington Post (June 11) — The takeover of the Iraqi city of Mosul on Tuesday illustrated an increasingly disconcerting reality for the United States: From Iraq to Syria and beyond, radical offshoots of al-Qaeda are expanding their ambitions and directly threatening American national security interests.

The splinter groups have become a bigger problem than what remains of the old core al-Qaeda, and one that is in many ways harder to address or contain. The loss of Mosul to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), U.S. officials and experts acknowledged, is a powerful demonstration of the extremists’ growing effectiveness and reach.

Insurgents overran the western bank of the Tigris River in Mosul overnight after U.S.-trained Iraqi soldiers and police officers abandoned their posts. Among the facilities captured were the provincial government headquarters, two prisons, two television stations, numerous police stations, the central bank and the airport, a major military base that used to serve as a hub for U.S. operations in northern Iraq.

ISIS fighters also seized large quantities of weaponry from the security forces when they overran their bases, including vehicles, arms and ammunition, much of it probably supplied by the United States.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians also fled the surprise onslaught.

The Obama administration on Tuesday pledged continued American support for the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who announced a “general mobilization” of the country’s security forces and asked parliament to declare a state of emergency. But there are growing concerns about the Iraqis’ ability to stop the Islamist march, even with U.S. advice, weapons and training.

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This Is The One Number That Should Terrify Democrats This Year

barack-obama-453Business Insider (June 11) — Voter enthusiasm ahead of November’s elections is firmly on the side of the Republican Party, a familiar trouble sign for Democrats ahead of midterm elections.

According to a new Public Religion Research Institute survey, 78% of self-identified Republican voters said they will definitely vote in November. This figure includes a whopping 86% of respondents who identified with the Tea Party. Meanwhile, only 57% of Democrats are definitely casting a ballot in the midterm elections.

This enthusiasm gap helps Republicans gain an advantage over their Democratic counterparts with five months remaining before the midterms. By a 45-37 margin, all registered voters prefer a generic Democratic candidate over a generic Republican. However, among voters who say they are “absolutely certain” to vote, Republicans have a 44-41 edge.

For Democrats, the warning signs continue to pile up, as they look to hold onto control of the U.S. Senate. Polls have continually shown Democratic vulnerability because of the unpopularity of President Barack Obama and the Affordable Care Act, as well as generic dissatisfaction with the state of the economy.

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As Obama Draws Down, Al Qaeda Grows in Afghanistan

1401356761739.cachedThe Daily Beast (June 8) — American forces are headed for the exit in Afghanistan. But new U.S. intelligence assessments say that the terrorist threat there is on the rise.

As President Obama outlines what he promises to be the end of the war in Afghanistan, new U.S. intelligence assessments are warning that al Qaeda is beginning to re-establish itself there.

Specifically, the concern for now is that al Qaeda has created a haven in the northeast regions of Kunar and Nuristan and is able to freely operate along Afghanistan’s only major highway—Route One, which connects the airports of Kandahar and Kabul.

“There is no doubt they have a significant presence in northeast Afghanistan,” Mac Thornberry, the Republican vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told The Daily Beast. “It’s a lot of speculation about exact numbers, but again part of the question is what are their numbers going to be and what are there activities going to be when the pressure lets up.”

If Thornberry’s warnings prove correct, then Obama is faced with two bad choices. He either breaks his promise to end America’s longest war or he ends up losing that war by withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan too soon, allowing al Qaeda to re-establish a base of operations in the country from which it launched 9/11.

For years, the official intelligence community estimate was that a little more than 100 al Qaeda fighters remained in Kunar Province, a foreboding territory of imposing mountains and a local population in the mountains at least that largely agrees with al Qaeda’s ascetic Salafist philosophy.

But recent estimates from the military and the U.S. intelligence community have determined that al Qaeda’s presence has expanded to nearby Nuristan and that the group coordinates its operations and activities with allies like the Pakistan-based Taliban and Haqqani Network.

On Tuesday, in response to President Obama’s announcement that he would be leaving 9,800 U.S. troops in Afghanistan past his original end of 2014 deadline for withdrawal, Rep. Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, also warned about northeast Afghanistan.

“Even now, an al Qaeda safe haven is emerging in northeastern Afghanistan,” Rogers said. “And I question whether the enemy will take further advantage of the announced timeline to renew its efforts to launch new operations, as we see them attempting in Iraq and Syria today.”

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72 percent of Dutch Muslims approve of Jihad in Syria

SyriajihadistsTranslated from Dagelijksestandaard by Roni, via 10news.dk:

New research shows again that Dutch Muslims live in a completely different world from ours. NCRV1 programs “Altijd Wat” had carried out a survey among Muslims in the Netherlands on how they regard the war in Syria, especially their point of view toward the Dutch Muslims who fight against Assad. Native Dutch were also questioned on the same issue…

72% of Muslims find it good that Dutch Jihadists go to Syria to fight against the regime of President Assad, while only 8 % of the indigenous Dutch population approve of it.