Iranian ship convoy moves toward Yemen, alarming US officials

Posted April 18, 2015 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Department of Defense, Egypt, Foreign policy, Houthi, Iran, Iran in Yemen, Iranian navy, Obama, Saudi Arabia, Yemen

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Iranian ship convoy moves toward Yemen, alarming US officials, The HillKristina Wong, April 17, 2015

Iran sent a destroyer and another vessel to waters near Yemen last week but said it was part of a routine counter-piracy mission. 

What’s unusual about the new deployment, which set out this week, is that the Iranians are not trying to conceal it, officials said. Instead, they appear to be trying to “communicate it” to the U.S. and its allies in the Gulf.

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U.S. military officials are concerned that Iran’s support for Houthi rebels in Yemen could spark a confrontation with Saudi Arabia and plunge the region into sectarian war. 

Iran is sending an armada of seven to nine ships — some with weapons — toward Yemen in a potential attempt to resupply the Shia Houthi rebels, according to two U.S. defense officials.

Officials fear the move could lead to a showdown with the U.S. or other members of a Saudi-led coalition, which is enforcing a naval blockade of Yemen and is conducting its fourth week of airstrikes against the Houthis.

Iran sent a destroyer and another vessel to waters near Yemen last week but said it was part of a routine counter-piracy mission.

What’s unusual about the new deployment, which set out this week, is that the Iranians are not trying to conceal it, officials said. Instead, they appear to be trying to “communicate it” to the U.S. and its allies in the Gulf.

It is not clear what will happen as the convoy comes closer to Yemen. Saudi Arabia has deployed ships around Yemen to enforce the blockade, as has Egypt. An official said the ship convoy could try to land at a port in Aden, which the Houthis have taken over.

Although the U.S. is assisting with the Saudi-led air campaign, it is not participating in the naval blockade of Yemen, said U.S. Central Command spokesman Col. Pat Ryder.

However, the U.S. Navy is in the region and has already “consensually boarded” one Panamanian-flagged ship in the Red Sea on April 1 on the suspicion it was illegally carrying arms for the Houthis.

None were found, but the move raised alarm bells in Washington over an increasingly active U.S. military role in the conflict. The Pentagon indicated this week that more boardings could occur.

“We will continue to vigilantly defend freedom of navigation and to conduct consensual searches in an effort to ensure that drugs, human trafficking, weapons trafficking and other contraband are limited,” Army Col. Steve Warren said on Monday.

Officials fear a naval confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia could escalate what has become a proxy war between the two countries.

The U.S. has been supporting the airstrikes with intelligence and logistical support, and last week began refueling Saudi fighter jets. Administration officials say it is important to support Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this week, a senior State Department official said the U.S. would try to ensure that a United Nations Security Council arms embargo against Houthi leadership is enforced.

“We will be taking very careful look and examining very closely efforts to violate the embargo,” senior State Department official Gerald Feierstein told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The deepening of the conflict comes as the U.S. hopes to reach a deal with Iran to roll back its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Officials say U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition has not affected the negotiations with Iran.

The conflict also threatens to complicate U.S.’s relations with Iraq. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, an Iran ally, criticized Saudi Arabia for its airstrike campaign during a visit to Washington this week.

U.S. officials say they are unsure why Iran is making the brazen move. One theory they have floated is that the Saudi-led coalition has effectively blockaded any air routes into Yemen and there are no other ways to resupply the Houthis.

Another theory is that Iran is trying to distract the coalition from another ship it has tried hard to conceal that is currently docked at Oman — a potential land route for smuggling arms into Yemen.

Yet another theory is that Iran wants to force a confrontation with Saudi Arabia that it believes it will win, because Iran views the Saudi military as weak and suspects the U.S. lacks the willpower to support its Gulf ally.

Earlier this week, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Twitter taunted Saudi Arabia, calling its military puny and smaller than Israel’s. He also said the air campaign was tantamount to genocide of innocent Yemeni civilians and that the U.S. would also fail in Yemen.

U.S. officials say they hope the airstrikes will force Houthis to the negotiating table in order to restore stability in Yemen, where America faces a terrorist threat from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

“We’re assisting the Saudis to protect their own territory and to conduct operations that are designed to lead ultimately to a political settlement to Yemen,” said Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Thursday.

“That’s good for the people of Yemen, first and foremost. It’s good for Saudi Arabia that doesn’t need this on its southern border.  And … it’s good for us, among other reasons, because of AQAP’s presence in Yemen. But for that to occur, it’ll require more than military action,” he added.

Putin warns Israel against selling arms to Ukraine

Posted April 18, 2015 by joopklepzeiker
Categories: Uncategorized

Putin warns Israel against selling arms to Ukraine

via Putin warns Israel against selling arms to Ukraine – Israel News – Jerusalem Post.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Israel on Saturday against selling weapons to the pro-Western government in Kiev as retaliation for Moscow’s recently announced weapons deal with Iran.

Speaking to official state media in Russia, Putin said that any such deals between Israel and Ukraine would be “counterproductive” and would “only cause a new round of hostility.”

 

Thousands of Iraqis flee as Islamic State makes gains in Sunni heartland

Posted April 18, 2015 by joopklepzeiker
Categories: Uncategorized

Thousands of Iraqis flee as Islamic State makes gains in Sunni heartland

April 17 at 7:44 PM

via Thousands of Iraqis flee as Islamic State makes gains in Sunni heartland – The Washington Post.

 

Thousands of families fleeing Iraq’s western city of Ramadi choked checkpoints leading to Baghdad on Friday, after an Islamic State advance spread panic and left security forces clinging to control.A column of traffic several vehicles wide snaked for miles at a checkpoint in Sadr al-Yusufiyah, on the edge of Baghdad province, as minibuses, cars and trucks picked up families who crossed by foot carrying their possessions in bags and wheelbarrows. Suhaib al-Rawi, the governor of Anbar province, of which Ramadi is the capital, described it as a human disaster on a scale the city has never witnessed.U.S. and Iraqi officials have warned that the city is at risk of falling to the Islamic State despite seven months of airstrikes by U.S. planes in Anbar. Such a loss would be a serious blow to Iraq’s government, which recently announced a military campaign for the province after retaking the militant stronghold of Tikrit, and to the international effort to push back the militant group, whose gains in Ramadi have demonstrated an ability to create chaos even while under pressure.

That resilience was further underscored in the Kurdish city of Irbil on Friday, where the Islamic State was suspected of carrying out a car bombing near the U.S. Consulate. Faced with the expanding crisis on his return Friday from Washington, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered immediate reinforcements to Ramadi amid claims that some Iraqi security forces had withdrawn.

“The situation is critical right now,” Rawi said of the teetering security in Ramadi. “Such a large wave of displacement has never happened in the history of the city.”

Raad al-Dahlaki, head of the Iraqi parliament’s committee for the internally displaced, said that 10,000 people had crossed into Baghdad province but that about 20,000 more remained stranded at the checkpoint because of a guarantor system, which requires fleeing families to have someone vouch for them.

Many arriving Friday in Sadr al-Yusufiyah had spent days traveling and said that few civilians had remained behind. Some were police officers who said they had left their positions after other security forces retreated and their ammunition had run low.

“How can you fight with only 20 bullets?” said a 47-year-old police officer, who added that he had left the Malab neighborhood of Ramadi three days earlier with 18 members of his extended family. Like others interviewed, he spoke on the condition of anonymity because he had abandoned his post. He said the army had also withdrawn, a claim that could not be immediately verified.

“Daesh has M16s and M4s, and we only have Kalashnikovs,” said another police officer, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State. He said he had fled his home in Ramadi’s Soufiyah neighborhood with his wife and 1-year-old child. “I don’t think I will ever see my house again.”

Rawi said that there had been “realignments” of forces but not retreats and that there were assurances from the U.S.-led ­coalition that airstrikes would increase. Still, he said, support has been sorely lacking.

“We don’t know if it’s neglect or just a lack of capacity,” he said.

Brig. Gen. Tahseen Ibrahim, a spokesman for Iraq’s Ministry of Defense, said reinforcements from counterterrorism units had been deployed.

“Our troops are preparing themselves to attack,” he said. Discussions were underway as to whether to also send what are known as popular mobilization forces, which include Shiite militias, but there was not yet an agreement, he said.

The question of sending the largely Shiite paramilitary forces has been contentious in Anbar, a predominantly Sunni province. But as the security situation has deteriorated, a growing number of local tribal leaders and officials have said they need all the help they can get. In his sermon Friday, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, said “all sons of Iraq” should help the fight, a comment viewed as an endorsement of the militias playing a role.

At a Pentagon briefing Thursday, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, played down the importance of Ramadi, saying that it is “not symbolic in any way” and that Baiji, a key location for Iraq’s oil infrastructure, is “a more strategic target.”

But Iraqi military officials have said that securing Anbar province, much of which is controlled by the ­Islamic State, is an essential step before any advance on Mosul, the group’s base of power in Iraq.

That view was echoed Friday by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who called Dempsey’s remarks a “gross mischaracterization.”

“The fall of Ramadi would be seen by Iraqi Sunnis as a failure of the Baghdad government to protect them, and could deal a major blow to political reconciliation efforts that are essential to defeating ISIL,” McCain, using another acronym for the Islamic State, said in a statement Friday that was released jointly by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). “Yet apparently, the current U.S. strategy is to defend an oil refinery in Beiji, but abandon the capital of pivotal Anbar province to ISIL.”

Even if Iraqi security forces can shift the momentum in their favor, the setbacks in Ramadi have compounded Iraq’s humanitarian misery, with the United Nations reporting that at least 4,250 families have fled the city in recent days.

Saad Hamid, 40, said he left as Islamic State militants began to enter his neighborhood this week.

“We left on foot through the farms,” he said. “They were terrified,” he added, gesturing to his three young nieces and nephews.

Before reaching Sadr ­al-Yusufiyah, fleeing families were forced to leave their cars in Anbar province before crossing a bridge into Baghdad province on foot — a security measure that authorities said was intended to prevent car bomb attacks.

Dahlaki said that the security measures were necessary but that his committee has requested the guarantor system be dropped to ease the movement of families seeking to leave.

Sunni tribal sheiks who remain in Ramadi say they have received little support for their fighters, despite promises of arms from the central government.

The city has been fending off Islamic State attacks for more than a year, after being overrun for the first time in January 2014. At that time, before the Islamic State had built its brutal reputation, fewer people fled. Now, things are different.

“People are practically dying of fear,” said Omar al-Alwani, a tribal sheik who says he has about 500 fighters in Ramadi. “Half the army has retreated. It’s only really the counterterrorism units now.”

He said he was considering retreating with his men on the one remaining open road out of the city.

Tahseen, the Defense Ministry spokesman, disputed the sheiks’ accounts.

“Some sheiks say the government is still weak about help, but it isn’t true,” he said.

Other fleeing Anbar residents said their local leaders were as much to blame as the central government for their plight, with many fleeing the province themselves.

“We were sold out by our sheiks,” Hamid said. “They never found a solution for us, they just left. No one thought about the families.”

Mustafa Salim contributed to this report.

Israel analysts shocked by Obama’s comments on sanctions, S-300 supply

Posted April 18, 2015 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Israel analysts shocked by Obama’s comments on sanctions, S-300 supply | The Times of Israel.

‘This is the new America. We had better get used to it,’ says TV commentator after president leaves door open to Iran’s sanctions demand, defends Putin’s missile sale

April 17, 2015, 10:50 pm
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, looks toward US President Barack Obama as he speaks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, March 2013 (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, looks toward US President Barack Obama as he speaks to reporters in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, March 2013 (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Israeli analysts expressed shock and amazement Friday night at US President Barack Obama’s stated openness to Iran’s demand for the immediate lifting of all economic sanctions, and his defense of Russia’s agreement to supply a sophisticated air defense system to Iran.

There was no immediate official Israeli response to the president’s comments, which were made after the start of Shabbat in Israel, when politicians generally do not work.

“Jaws dropped” around the studio, said the Channel 10 News diplomatic commentator Ben Caspit, as news broke of Obama’s declared empathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to supply Tehran with the S-300 missile defense system.

“Obama is something else,” Caspit added. “He’s decided to take America out of the wars…”

The station’s news anchor, Alon Ben David, chipped in, “He’s amazed that the Russians honored an agreement with him [for this long]? That’s what is astonishing.”

Responded Caspit, “This is the new America. We had better get used to it.”

Channel 10 also quoted unnamed senior Israeli diplomatic officials saying the prospect of Israel derailing the deal taking shape in US-led talks with Iran on its nuclear program was now zero. “The Iran issue is finished,” the officials were quoted saying.

President Barack Obama speaks during a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, April 17, 2015. (photo credit: AP Photo/J. David Ake)

In Washington earlier on Friday, Obama said he was surprised that Russia’s suspension of missile sales to Iran had “held this long.”

Obama noted that Putin had previously suspended the sale “at our request. I am frankly surprised that it held this long, given that they were not prohibited by sanctions from selling these defensive weapons.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has furiously protested the planned supply of the advanced systems, and phoned Putin this week to try to persuade him to reconsider, but was rebuffed. Israel fears the S-300s would complicate any military intervention as a last resort to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive. It also fears Iran could supply the missile defense systems to Syria or Hezbollah, diluting Israel’s air supremacy over Syria and Lebanon.

A Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system on display at an undisclosed location in Russia (photo credit: AP)

Obama on Friday also left open the door to “creative negotiations” in response to Iran’s demand that punishing sanctions be immediately lifted as part of a nuclear deal, even though the US has said the framework agreement reached in Lausanne earlier this month calls for the penalties to be removed over time.

Asked whether he would definitively rule out lifting sanctions at once as part of a final deal aimed at keeping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, Obama said he didn’t want to get ahead of negotiators in how to work through the potential sticking point. He said his main concern is making sure that if Iran violates an agreement, sanctions can quickly be reinstated — the so-called “snap back” provision.

“How sanctions are lessened, how we snap back sanctions if there’s a violation, there are a lot of different mechanisms and ways to do that,” Obama said. He said part of the job for Secretary of State John Kerry and the representatives of five other nations working to reach a final deal with Iran by June 30 “is to sometimes find formulas that get to our main concerns while allowing the other side to make a presentation to their body politic that is more acceptable.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani insisted last week that they would not sign a deal unless all sanctions are lifted right after an agreement is signed. Obama initially portrayed their comments as a reflection of internal political pressure, while pointing out that the framework agreement provides for sanctions to be phased out only once international monitors verify that Tehran is abiding by the limitations.

Obama says US open to talks with Iran on immediately lifting sanctions

Posted April 17, 2015 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Diplomacy, Foreign policy, Iran, Iran scam, Iranian nukes, Kerry, Khamenei, Nukes, Obama, P5+1, Sanctions, U.S. Congress

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Obama says US open to talks with Iran on immediately lifting sanctions, Times of Israel, April 17, 2015

Obama-US-Italy_Horo-e1429295936721-635x357President Barack Obama listened as Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi speaks during their news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, April 17, 2015. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Obama also said Friday that a bill introduced by Congress seeking a review and approval of a nuclear deal with Iran would not derail negotiations with Tehran, set to resume next week, and that the proposed legislation was a “reasonable compromise” he planned to sign off on.

The legislation would block Obama from waiving congressional sanctions against Iran for at least 30 days after any final agreement, which would give lawmakers time to weigh in. Obama said he still has concerns that some lawmakers are treading on his unilateral power as president to enter into a political agreement with another country, but the bill has language that makes it clear that lawmakers’ review will be limited to the sanctions imposed by Congress.

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U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday left open the door to “creative negotiations” in response to Iran’s demand that punishing sanctions be immediately lifted as part of a nuclear deal, even though the initial agreement calls for the penalties to be removed over time.

Asked whether he would definitively rule out lifting sanctions at once as part of a final deal aimed at keeping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, Obama said he didn’t want to get ahead of negotiators in how to work through the potential sticking point. He said his main concern is making sure that if Iran violates an agreement, sanctions can quickly be reinstated — the so-called “snap back” provision.

“How sanctions are lessened, how we snap back sanctions if there’s a violation, there are a lot of different mechanisms and ways to do that,” Obama said. He said part of the job for Secretary of State John Kerry and the representatives of five other nations working to reach a final deal with Iran by June 30 “is to sometimes find formulas that get to our main concerns while allowing the other side to make a presentation to their body politic that is more acceptable.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani insisted last week that they would not sign a deal unless all sanctions are lifted right after an agreement is signed. Obama initially portrayed their comments as a reflection of internal political pressure, while pointing out that the initial framework agreement reached earlier this month allows for sanctions to be phased out once international monitors verify that Tehran is abiding by the limitations.

Obama also said Friday that a bill introduced by Congress seeking a review and approval of a nuclear deal with Iran would not derail negotiations with Tehran, set to resume next week, and that the proposed legislation was a “reasonable compromise” he planned to sign off on.

The legislation would block Obama from waiving congressional sanctions against Iran for at least 30 days after any final agreement, which would give lawmakers time to weigh in. Obama said he still has concerns that some lawmakers are treading on his unilateral power as president to enter into a political agreement with another country, but the bill has language that makes it clear that lawmakers’ review will be limited to the sanctions imposed by Congress.

“That I think at least allows me to interpret the legislation in such a way that it is not sending a signal to future presidents that each and every time they’re negotiating a political agreement, that they have to get a congressional authorization,” Obama said. He said he takes lawmakers who have drafted the legislation at their word that they will not try to derail negotiations.

The president also weighed in on Russia’s announcement earlier this week that it would lift a five-year ban on delivery of anti-aircraft missiles, giving the Islamic republic’s military a strong deterrent against any air attack. The White House initially objected, but Obama said, “I’m frankly surprised that it held this long.”

Russia signed the $800 million contract to sell Iran the S-300 missile system in 2007, but suspended their delivery three years later because of strong objections from the United States and Israel. “Their economy is under strain and this was a substantial sale,” Obama said.

Russia, which also is party to the talks along with China, France, Britain and Germany, said the preliminary nuclear agreement made its 2010 ban on sending missiles to Iran no longer necessary.

Off topic|Bordering On Catastrophe: ISIS Camp on US Border?

Posted April 17, 2015 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Domestic policy, Islamic State, Obama, Terrorism, Terrorist training, U.S. borders

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Bordering On Catastrophe: ISIS Camp on US Border? Front Page Magazine, April 17, 2015

border

The bottom line is that both Mexico and parts of the United States are providing safe-havens for terrorists who have made it clear that they have placed our country and our citizens in their cross-hairs.

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Time and again reports have surfaced from various sources along the U.S./Mexican border that is supposed to separate the United States from Mexico. On April 14, 2015 Judicial Watch posted a chilling report, “ISIS Camp a Few Miles from Texas, Mexican Authorities Confirm” that was purportedly based on information provided to Judicial Watch by a “Mexican Army field grade officer” and a Mexican Federal Police Inspector.

This is the report as posted by Judicial Watch:

ISIS is operating a camp just a few miles from El Paso, Texas, according to Judicial Watch sources that include a Mexican Army field grade officer and a Mexican Federal Police Inspector.

The exact location where the terrorist group has established its base is around eight miles from the U.S. border in an area known as “Anapra” situated just west of Ciudad Juárez in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Another ISIS cell to the west of Ciudad Juárez, in Puerto Palomas, targets the New Mexico towns of Columbus and Deming for easy access to the United States, the same knowledgeable sources confirm.

During the course of a joint operation last week, Mexican Army and federal law enforcement officials discovered documents in Arabic and Urdu, as well as “plans” of Fort Bliss – the sprawling military installation that houses the US Army’s 1st Armored Division. Muslim prayer rugs were recovered with the documents during the operation.

Law enforcement and intelligence sources report the area around Anapra is dominated by the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Cartel (“Juárez Cartel”), La Línea (the enforcement arm of the cartel) and the Barrio Azteca (a gang originally formed in the jails of El Paso). Cartel control of the Anapra area make it an extremely dangerous and hostile operating environment for Mexican Army and Federal Police operations.

According to these same sources, “coyotes” engaged in human smuggling – and working for Juárez Cartel – help move ISIS terrorists through the desert and across the border between Santa Teresa and Sunland Park, New Mexico. To the east of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, cartel-backed “coyotes” are also smuggling ISIS terrorists through the porous border between Acala and Fort Hancock, Texas. These specific areas were targeted for exploitation by ISIS because of their understaffed municipal and county police forces, and the relative safe-havens the areas provide for the unchecked large-scale drug smuggling that was already ongoing.

Mexican intelligence sources report that ISIS intends to exploit the railways and airport facilities in the vicinity of Santa Teresa, NM (a US port-of-entry). The sources also say that ISIS has “spotters” located in the East Potrillo Mountains of New Mexico (largely managed by the Bureau of Land Management) to assist with terrorist border crossing operations. ISIS is conducting reconnaissance of regional universities; the White Sands Missile Range; government facilities in Alamogordo, NM; Ft. Bliss; and the electrical power facilities near Anapra and Chaparral, NM.

Clearly the lawlessness found along America’s southwest border represents a major vulnerability to the United States. That military bases and other important facilities are within striking distance of those ISIS camps constitute a serious threat — and not just to those important facilities and locations along our southwest border that appear to have been targeted by ISIS, but to our entire nation as well.

Furthermore, when massive numbers of illegal aliens, including the torrents of unaccompanied minors, flood our border, Border Patrol agents become mired in dealing with this onslaught, further exacerbating the lack of resources to secure that dangerous border and overloading the already dysfunctional immigration system — ranging from a lack of an adequate number of immigration judges, detention space, attorneys and funding, leading to chaos for the entire immigration system.

Consequently, while it may be easy to make the presumption that this lack of security along the U.S. Mexican border is only of concern to residents of the supposed “four border states,” the reality is that, as I have noted on many, many occasions, the United States has 50 border states.

Consider that any state that has an international airport, access to the tens of thousands of America’s meandering coastline or lies along the northern or southern borders are all border states because they provide access to people and cargo entering the United States. This was the premise for my FrontPage Magazine article, “Border Security and the Immigration Colander” in which I not only discussed the ways that aliens might enter the United States in violation of law, but the many components to the immigration system that include the enforcement of our immigration laws from within the interior of the United States and the way that the adjudication of applications for immigration benefits for aliens is conducted with precious little integrity.

When aliens run our borders they do not emulate Neil Armstrong or the other Apollo astronauts who landed on the moon, planted a flag, did a bit of research, grabbed some rocks and promptly returned to the Earth. These aliens do not remain along the border for long. Their goal is to head for the rest of the United States. There are, in point of fact, very large communities of illegal aliens living in states across the U.S. who entered the United States by evading the inspections process that is supposed to prevent the entry of terrorists, criminals and other foreign nationals whose presence in the United States would be problematic. It would be incredibly naïve to think that terrorists from ISIS and other terrorist organizations have not already made their way to towns and cities around the United States.

Once in the United States, aliens who seek to engage in criminal or terrorist activities next need to find a way to hide in plain sight or, in the words of the 9/11 Commission, embed themselves in communities around the country.

I addressed the way that so-called “Sanctuary Cities” provide all too many opportunities to those who are determined to attack us to embed themselves in towns and cities across the United Stats in my September 24, 2014 FrontPage Magazine article, “‘Sanctuary Cities’ or ‘Safe Havens’ for Terrorists?”

In my commentary I noted that both President George W. Bush and Barack Obama said that they would deny sanctuary to terrorists anywhere in the world. Meanwhile, mayors and governors who declare their cities and states to be “sanctuaries” for illegal aliens are providing sanctuary to millions of foreign nationals whose identities (including their countries of citizenship) are unknown and not readily determinable. There is, therefore, no way to know if among those millions of trespassers are aliens who are fugitives from justice, members of transnational criminal organizations or international terrorists — perhaps, indeed, members of ISIS.

That is a clear example of what you don’t know can hurt you.

Yet neither the Bush administration nor the Obama administration sought to prosecute and/or punish “sanctuary cities” that are acting in violation of federal immigration law, Title 8, United States Code, Section 1324 that deems it a felony to aid, abet, encourage or induce aliens to enter the United States in violation of law or to harbor or shield illegal aliens from detection federal immigration enforcement officers.

Here is an excerpt from that section of law:

Title 8, U.S.C. § 1324(a) Offenses

Title 8, U.S.C. § 1324(a) defines several distinct offenses related to aliens. Subsection 1324(a)(1)(i)-(v) prohibits alien smuggling, domestic transportation of unauthorized aliens, concealing or harboring unauthorized aliens, encouraging or inducing unauthorized aliens to enter the United States, and engaging in a conspiracy or aiding and abetting any of the preceding acts. Subsection 1324(a)(2) prohibits bringing or attempting to bring unauthorized aliens to the United States in any manner whatsoever, even at a designated port of entry. Subsection 1324(a)(3).

Harboring — Subsection 1324(a)(1)(A)(iii) makes it an offense for any person who — knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals harbors, shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation.

Encouraging/Inducing — Subsection 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv) makes it an offense for any person who — encourages or induces an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law.

Conspiracy/Aiding or Abetting — Subsection 1324(a)(1)(A)(v) expressly makes it an offense to engage in a conspiracy to commit or aid or abet the commission of the foregoing offenses.

Now add to all of the foregoing the fact that as was noted at the end of the fifth paragraph of the report by Judicial Watch:

These specific areas were targeted for exploitation by ISIS because of their understaffed municipal and county police forces, and the relative safe-havens the areas provide for the unchecked large-scale drug smuggling that was already ongoing.

The bottom line is that both Mexico and parts of the United States are providing safe-havens for terrorists who have made it clear that they have placed our country and our citizens in their cross-hairs.

Yet those politicians who bear responsibility for creating those havens face no consequences. Of course while this is disturbing, if not infuriating, it should not surprise anyone. After all it is the federal government and the administration’s policies and actions, as well as its lack of actions, that make our federal government the most reponsible for the ability of illegal aliens, terrorists and criminals to not only enter the United States but successfully embed themselves in communities from border to border and coast to coast.

Our porous borders, the ever increasing Visa Waiver Program and failures to enforce our nation’s immigration laws on the federal level from within the interior of the United States, coupled with sanctuary policies of cities and states and their willingness to not only ignore violations of our immigration laws, but provide driver’s licenses and in some instances, municipal identity documents to aliens who evaded the inspections process, all work against our national security and facilitate the ability of international terrorists and transnational criminals to enter the United States and embed themselves in our country.

I appear in a Tea Party Patriots hard-hitting documentary, “The Border States of America.” The subtitle of this film makes the importance and relevance of the immigration crisis clear to all Americans irrespective of where they may live: “Every State is Now a Border State.”

This film dispels the propaganda that our U.S./Mexican border is secure. Among those interviewed for this film were Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, Iowa Congressman Steve King, Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert, sheriffs, Border Patrol agents, ranchers and others living along the southern border of the United States.

My good friend Mark Hager, a history professor from North Carolina, went to the border with an amazing team to conduct the interviews and film the parts of the border for the documentary that the administration would undoubtedly not want anyone to see.

The notion that it is reasonable to ignore violations of our borders and our immigration laws ignores commonsense and the findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

On December 19, 2014 Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) posted my extensive article: “Obama’s ‘Gift’ to International Terrorists: Immigration Executive Action.”

On January 23, 2015 FrontPage Magazine published my article: “Sleeper Cells: The Immigration Component of the Threat.”

On February 25, 2015, The Daily Caller published my commentary on the lack of integrity to the process by which political asylum applications are adjudicated creates vulnerabilities for America and Americans. The title of my commentary was, “Political Asylum: How America’s Compassion Creates National Security Nightmares” which was predicated on a February 12, 2015 ABC News report, “U.S. Officials Admit Concern Over Syrian Refugee Effort.”

This is hardly the first time I have written or discussed the vulnerabilities created by the failures of the immigration system especially where the process by which applications for immigration benefits are adjudicated.

Back on February 8, 2014 I was interviewed by Tucker Carlson when I was a guest on Fox & Friends to discuss how the administration had unilaterally decided to eliminate the bar against providing political asylum to aliens who may have had incidental contacts with terrorists or terror organizations.

Tucker is not only one of the hosts on Fox & Friends but is also the editor-in-chief of The Daily Caller.

As I noted during my interview with Carlson last year, I am particularly sensitive to the need for our nation to treat people with compassion and protect those who are vulnerable and are at risk inasmuch as my grandmother (my mother’s mother) for whom I was named, was slaughtered in Poland during the Holocaust. However, it is clear that failures of the vetting process and a lack of integrity to the immigration system have provided all too many aliens with criminal and terror intentions to enter the United States, thereby undermining public safety and national security.

Permitting America’s compassion and kindness to be turned against our nation and our citizens is unacceptable. The video of my interview was posted on the Fox News website under the title, “New immigration exemptions putting US at risk?” — ‘Loose’ terror ties allowed for asylum.”

Terrorists must never see in America’s kindness and compassion weakness that can be exploited.

Failures of the immigration system have permitted millions of illegal aliens to enter our country and acquire lawful status in the United States thereby undermining national security, public safety and a host of issues and challenges that confront our nation and our citizens today. Conversely, our immigration laws, if effectively harnessed, could become a most effective weapon in combatting international terrorism, transnational criminals organizations and other serious threats and challenges.

What would be needed is a commitment from our elected politicians to live up to their oaths of office and demonstrate real integrity.

The reason that the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) has immigration agents assigned to that task force is because of just how significant our immigration laws are.

In the face of the threats posed by ISIS- the time has come for our leaders to put American lives and the security of our nation at the top of their list of priorities- the stakes are way to high for them to not finally do what is essential.

To borrow a phrase and mind-set most of us were raised with as kids: “Safety first!”

Al Qaeda on winning streaks in Yemen and Iraq, exploiting stalemate in proxy wars

Posted April 17, 2015 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Al Qaeda, Foreign policy, Insurgents, Iran, Iran military, Iranian proxies, Iraq, Islamic State, Middle East, Obama, Ramadi, Terrorism, Yemen

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Al Qaeda on winning streaks in Yemen and Iraq, exploiting stalemate in proxy wars, DEBKAfile, April 17, 2015

Thursday and Friday, April 16-17, two branches of Al Qaeda took the lead in violent conflicts, catapulting key areas of the Middle East into greater peril than ever. In Yemen, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and in Iraq, the Islamist State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), launched new offensives 3.050 kilometer apart.

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that both branches of the Islamist terror movement used the absence of professional adversarial troops on the ground – American and Saudi – to push forward in the two arenas. Washington and Riyadh alike had decided to trust local forces to carry the battle – Iran-backed Shiite militias alongside Iraqi troops against ISIS in Iraq, and the Yemeni army against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

This gave Al Qaeda a free passage to carry on, especially when offered the further benefit of contradictions in the Obama administration’s attitude toward its foe, Tehran: On the one hand, Iran was offered lead role in the region for the sake of a nuclear deal; on the other, it faced US opposition for its support of rebel forces in Yemen.

The conflict in Yemen is no longer a straight sectarian proxy war between Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran (that also stretches to Iraq and Syria.), as a result of what happened Thursday, April 16.

AQAP embarked on a broad offensive in southern Yemen’s Hadhramaut region on the shore of the Gulf of Aden and captured the important seaport of Mukalla as well as the coatal towns of Shibam and Ash-Shirh. The group also overran Yemen’s Ryan air base in the absence of real resistance from the Yemen army’s 27th Brigade and 190th Air Defense Brigade – both of which are loyal to the escaped president Mansour Hadi.

This winning AQAP offensive was instructive in four ways:

1. For the first time in two decades, Al Qaeda in Arabia is operating on professional military lines. Its sweep across Yemen’s southern coastland showed the Islamists to be plentifully armed with antiair missiles and other air defense systems.
2.  AQAP’s smuggling rings run a large fleet of vessels which collaborate with Somali pirates. This fleet is now preparing to seize control of the strategic Socotra archipelago of four islands opposite Hadhramaut and only 80 kilometers from the Horn of Africa. Socotra sits in the bottleneck for shipping from the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden and on to the Suez Canal.

On one of the Socotra islands, the US set up an air base and deployed special forces in 2011,  in readiness for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. AQAP does not have enough strength to capture this island, but is capable of holding it siege and under barrage from sea and land.

3. The Arabian branch of Al Qaeda has for the first time gained control of a large sweep of territory in Yemen, a feat analogous to its fellow branch’s advances in Iraq since last June.
4. Hadramauth is bounded to the north and the east by the Saudi Arabian Rub’ al Khali or Empty Quarter, which is the world’s second largest desert region.  AQAP has therefore gained proximity to the oil kingdom through its desolate back door.

Our military sources note that Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirate air forces have controlled Yemeni air space since March 26, supported by US intelligence assistance. They might have been expected to bomb AQAP units and stall their advance through Hadhramaut.

But they refrained from doing so for a simple reason: Both Riyadh and its Gulf ally are unwilling to throw their own ground forces into the war against the Shiite Houthi rebels. Still in proxy mode, they expect Al Qaeda’s Arabian jihadis to save them the trouble of putting their troops on the ground to vanquish the Shiite rebels.

The same principle guides Washington in Iraq – albeit with different players. There, the Americans rely increasingly on the pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite militias, under the command of Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers, rather than the Iraq army, to cleanse the ground of ISIS conquests.

Two weeks after Western publications trumpeted the militias’ success in liberating the Iraqi town of Tikrit from its ISIS conquerors, it turns out that the fighting is still ongoing and the jihadis are still in control of some of the town’s districts.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, while on a visit to Washington this week, told reporters that, after the Tikrit “victory,” his army was to launch an offensive to recapture the western province of Anbar on the Syrian border from the grip of ISIS.

The situation on the ground is a lot less promising. As Abadi and President Barack Obama discussed future plans for the war to rid Iraq of the Islamists, ISIS launched fresh offensives for its next goals, Ramadi, a town of half a million inhabitants 130 kilometers west of Baghdad, and the oil refinery town of Baiji

The jihadis have already moved in on Ramadi’s outskirts after the Iraqi army defenders started falling back.


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