LESSON OF 9/11: ISLAMIC JIHAD IS THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND GLOBAL TERRORISM Posted on September 11, 2017September 11, 2017 Printer Friendly How has the Face of Islamic Terrorism Changed Since 9/11?: Charles Bybelezer, The Media Line, Sept. 11, 2017— 'Where were you on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001?' is to Millennials what 'Where were you when Kennedy was shot?' is to Baby Boomers… Israel’s Bombing of a Weapons Factory in Syria: What Comes Next?: Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations, Sept. 10, 2017— This week Israel bombed a site in Syria, from Lebanese air space. Where is the Middle East Headed?: Prof. Efraim Inbar, Israel Hayom, Aug. 24, 2017— Since the Middle East events of 2011 (mislabeled "the Arab Spring"), the region has been in turmoil. If Israel Played by America's Rules, Iraq and Syria Would Have Nuclear Weapons: Zev Chafets, Washington Post, Sept. 11, 2017— Israel and North Korea are on opposite sides of the Asian landmass, separated by 5,000 miles. On Topic Links In Israel, a 9/11 Memorial Like No Other (Video): Breaking Israel News, Sept. 11, 2017 Israel Just Showed What a ‘Red Line’ is Really Supposed to Mean: Benny Avni, New York Post, Sept. 7, 2017 The Next Middle East War: Editorial, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 7, 2017 Iran Versus Turkey, Again: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, Aug. 22, 2017 HOW HAS THE FACE OF ISLAMIC TERRORISM CHANGED SINCE 9/11? Charles Bybelezer The Media Line, Sept. 11, 2017 'Where were you on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001?' is to Millennials what 'Where were you when Kennedy was shot?' is to Baby Boomers; namely, questions representing moments that became etched into the nation's collective consciousness and subsequently shaped the views and experiences of a generation. On 9/11, as it would come simply to be known, Americans awoke to scenes of previously unwitnessed carnage on their home soil, as two commercial jets hijacked by al-Qaida terrorists slammed into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center complex in New York City. Less than two hours later, the massive buildings, a symbol of US ingenuity, economic might and perhaps, until then, perceived invincibility, came crashing down in a heap of shattered humanity. Concurrently, a third plane was flown into the Pentagon, the emblem of American military dominance in a unipolar world while a fourth hijacked airliner was, heroically, downed by passengers in a Pennsylvania field while en route to the White House, where the leader of the free world resides. When the dust settled and the smoke cleared, 2,997 people were dead, another 6,000 were injured and the course of history was changed forever. Prior to 9/11, terrorism, while rarely crossing the mind of the average individual, was viewed by analysts mainly as a geopolitical weapon limited primarily in scope to the Middle East. There had, of course, been various remarkable attacks outside the region such as the Munich Olympic Massacre in 1972 by the Black September Palestinian group, but that targeted Israelis. The 1988 Lockerbie Bombing, which killed 259 passengers and crew aboard Pan Am Flight 103, was attributed to then-Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi and was therefore viewed foremost through the prism of Mideast turmoil. But 9/11 was different. While there were political undertones, it was inarguably religiously motivated, with Osama Bin Laden making clear that Islamic jihad was the driving force behind his targeting of America. The attack also brought into stark focus a fringe subject that had otherwise been relegated to the margins of the western psyche. In response, the US launched the "War on Terror" with a full-blown invasion of Afghanistan, where al-Qaida was being harbored by the Taliban. At the time, the terror organization was highly centralized and Washington's ostensible goal was to neutralize the group's capabilities by decimating its "core." Even while on the defensive, though, attacks continued in the image of the "9/11 model," with al-Qaida orchestrating the 2004 Madrid train bombings that killed 192 people and injured some 2,000, and the multi-pronged attack in London the following year, which killed 52 people and injured hundreds more. Other groups that had either direct ties to al-Qaida, had sworn allegiance to it or merely shared its ideology carried out major acts of terrorism targeting foreign nationals or non-Muslims in, among other places, Bali in 2002 (202 dead), Turkey in 2003 (57 dead) and Morocco that same year (45 dead). By the turn of the decade, however, mass-casualty attacks had become less frequent, as western forces were largely successful in destroying al-Qaida's infrastructure in Afghanistan, while intelligence agencies became much more adept at collecting the information necessary to thwart terrorism. But while Osama and his henchmen were on the run in the far-east, an offshoot was becoming firmly entrenched in nearby Iraq. And it is there, amid the American-led war, that the nature of terrorism would change once more. The Islamic State originated around the year 2000 as Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, which would pledge allegiance to al-Qaida before participating in the post-2003 western invasion insurgency. During the ensuing decade, the group drew support from the local Sunni population that viewed itself as being under siege while over time becoming increasingly independent. In the process, ISIS was empowered to such a degree that it was able to take over large swaths of territory and, by 2014, declare the formation of a "caliphate" — a state run according to strict, fundamental readings of Islamic law —spanning some 75,000 square kilometers across both Iraq and Syria. At its peak, ISIS comprised some 30,000 fighters (many of them recruits from the West), had an annual operating budget of an estimated $1 billion and governed up to 10 million people under its bootstrap. From its base, like al-Qaida before it, ISIS was able to coordinate large-scale operations against the West, specifically in Europe, where Paris in particular was brought to its knees in November 2015, with a spectacularly brutal attack targeting multiple venues that killed 130 people. But so too, as in the case of al-Qaida, the West would strike back, with ISIS since having lost nearly 75% of its territory in Iraq and 60% in Syria as a result of an ongoing US-led military effort which includes some 70 other states… [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.] Charles Bybelezer is a Former CIJR Publications Manager Contents ISRAEL’S BOMBING OF A WEAPONS FACTORY IN SYRIA: WHAT COMES NEXT? Elliott Abrams Council on Foreign Relations, Sept. 10, 2017 This week Israel bombed a site in Syria, from Lebanese air space. This was the so-called Scientific Studies and Researchers Center in Masyaf, a city in central Syria, and it was hit because it is a military site where chemical weapons and precision bombs are said to be produced. Israel had made clear in a series of statements in the last six months that such a facility in Syria producing such weapons for use by Hezbollah against Israel would not be tolerated. I was reminded of 2007 and 2008, when Israeli officials repeatedly told me and other American officials that the rocketing of Israel by Hamas in Gaza was intolerable. If it does not stop, they said, an operation is inevitable. They meant it, and the result was Operation Cast Lead, which began on December 27, 2008. We in the Bush administration had been given fair warning. Today again, Israel has given the United States fair warning that there are limits to what Israel will tolerate in Iranian conduct and the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has long intervened, perhaps 100 times over the years, to stop advanced weaponry from being transferred by Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Those were moving targets: caravans of trucks carrying such weaponry. But this week there was a stationary target, and I imagine the decision to fire from Lebanese air space was also a message—to Iran, Syria, and Lebanon. On August 23, Prime Minister Netanyahu visited Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The goal, I believe, was to tell Putin certain actions by Iran in Syria would be intolerable, and to ask him to restrain Iran—his ally in Syria. Putin’s reply was negative. In effect, he told Netanyahu “I’m not restraining you and I’m not restraining them. Not my job. Take care of your own security.” Having learned that there would be no help from that quarter, the Israelis acted. The Russians seem not to object: Netanyahu is doing what he said he would do, and what Putin would do in a similar situation. Israel is also acting in part because the United States does not seem willing to restrain Iran in any serious way in Syria. We are doing less, not more, while the Assad regime’s forces and Iran’s gain ground. Some news stories have suggested that war between Hezbollah and Israel is very likely now. In my view, the chances may have risen but I do not see why it is in Hezbollah’s interest to start such a war now. They are deeply involved in Syria, and they—and Iran—appear to be gaining ground steadily. Why start a war that may well involve Syria as well, with unpredictable effects on the conflict there? Why not continue making gains in Syria, and consolidate those gains? Bottom line: Israel is protecting its security, exactly as it has been telling the world it would. Israel’s strategic situation has been seriously damaged in the last several years because there is now an Iranian presence in Syria. The Israelis are not going to go into Syria and try to drive Iran, the Shia militias, and Hezbollah out, but they are trying to establish some limits to acceptable Iranian behavior. In my view this ought to be part of U.S. policy in the region as well. We do appear to have taken control of the Bab el Mandab strait leading to the Suez Canal, making it clear that Iran would not be permitted to threaten shipping there (on the seas or via missiles supplied to Houthi rebels in Yemen). We have not stopped Iran from threatening our ships in the Gulf. Candidate Trump said a year ago that “by the way, with Iran, when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats and they make gestures that our people — that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water,” but Iran has continued to do this after a brief pause right after Trump’s inauguration. And the administration has not clarified its policies in Iraq and Syria when it comes to limiting Iran’s provocative and aggressive behavior. What lies ahead is unclear because we cannot predict whether Iran will decide that the limits Israel is imposing are acceptable. Iran could well conclude that it does not absolutely need to have factories producing precision weapons in Syria. Iran can continue as it has for years producing such weapons in Iran and trying to move them to Hezbollah by land or sea. What would be useful at this point, it seems to me, is a statement by the United States that we approve of the action Israel took, and that in the event of a conflict Israel would have our support in defending itself—for example by allowing the Israelis to have access to the stocks of weapons that we store in Israel. This is the billion-dollar stockpile of ammunition, vehicles, and missiles in the “War Reserve Stockpile Ammunition-Israel.” Such a statement might, like the Israeli bombing of the weapons factory in Syria, help persuade Iran and Syria to observe the limits Israel is imposing, and might help avoid a wider conflict. [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.] Contents WHERE IS THE MIDDLE EAST HEADED? Prof. Efraim Inbar Israel Hayom, Aug. 24, 2017 Since the Middle East events of 2011 (mislabeled "the Arab Spring"), the region has been in turmoil. The inability of the Arab statist structures to overcome domestic cleavages became very clear. Even before 2011, Lebanon, Iraq, Somalia, as well as the Palestinian Authority failed to hold together. After 2011, Syria and Yemen descended into a state of civil war. Similarly, Egypt underwent a political crisis, allowing for the emergence of an Islamist regime. It took a year for a military coup to restore the praetorian ancient regime. All Arab republican regimes were under stress. While the monarchies weathered the political storm, their future stability is not guaranteed. Growing Islamist influence put additional pressure on the Arab states. The quick rise of the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq was the most dramatic expression of this phenomenon that spread beyond the borders of the Middle East. Despite its expected military defeat, the ideology behind the establishment of an Islamic caliphate and variants of radical Islam remain resonant in many Muslim quarters. Therefore, the pockets containing ISIS and al-Qaida followers, as well as the stronger Muslim Brotherhood are likely to continue to challenge peace and stability in the Middle East and elsewhere. The Sunni-Shiite divide, a constant feature of Middle Eastern politics, has become more dominant as Iran becomes increasingly feared. The 2015 nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) between Iran and world powers has been generally viewed in the Middle East as an Iranian (Shiite, Persian) diplomatic victory. Shiite-dominated Iraq (excluding the Kurdish region) turned into an Iranian satellite as well, while the military involvement of Iran and its proxies on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria appears to achieve the completion of a Shiite corridor from Iran to the Mediterranean. Iran continues its long-range missile program unabated and makes progress even in the nuclear arena within the limits of the flawed JCPOA. Its proxies rule Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, and Sanaa, signaling increasing Iranian clout. In contrast, the Sunni powers display weakness. Saudi Arabia (together with Sunni Turkey) failed to dislodge Assad, Iran's ally, in Syria. Saudi Arabian Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman pushed Saudi Arabia into a more muscular posture, but failed to win the civil war in Yemen — its backyard. Moreover, Riyadh has not been successful so far in strong-arming its small neighbor Qatar into dropping its pro-Islamist and pro-Iranian policies. Egypt is an important Arab Sunni state in the moderate camp. Yet the traditional weight it has carried in the Arab world is lighter nowadays, primarily because of its immense economic troubles. Providing food for the Egyptian people is Cairo's first priority. At the same time, Cairo is fighting an Islamist insurgence at home. This situation, which leaves little energy for regional endeavors, is hardly going to change any time soon. Israel is an informal member of the moderate Sunni camp since it shares its main concern — the Iranian quest for hegemony in the region. While powerful and ready to use force when necessary, Israel, under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is reluctant to interfere beyond its borders. This prudent approach is based on the understanding that Israel, a small state endowed with limited resources, lacks the capacity for political engineering in the Middle East. A growing Iranian presence near Israel's borders and the reestablishment of an eastern front might become a serious military challenge. The disengagement of the U.S. from the Middle East, accentuated by the foreign policy of then-President Barak Obama, continues. Under Obama, the attempts to engage Syria and Iran were generally viewed as weakness, perceptions that were reinforced by the signing of the JCPOA with Iran. The obsessive campaign to defeat ISIS, started by Obama and continued by President Donald Trump, primarily helped Iranian schemes. The new Trump administration has failed so far to formulate a coherent approach to the Middle East. Moreover, the gradual erosion in the U.S. capability to project force into the region amplifies the sense that America has lost the ability to play a role in regional politics. The vacuum created by American feebleness has been filled to some extent by the Russians. The Russian military intervention in the Syrian civil war saved the Assad regime from defeat. It constrained Turkey's involvement in Syria and helped Iranian encroachment in the region. We also see growing Chinese interest. The ambitious One Belt One Road infrastructure project tries to tie the Middle East to Chinese economic and political endeavors. China inaugurated its first overseas naval base in Djibouti in July 2017. Located astride a crucial maritime choke point, the military installation is symbolic of its growing confidence as an emerging global power, capable of projecting military force and directly protecting its interests in the Middle East, Africa and the western Indian Ocean. Yet extra-regional powers can hardly change the political dynamics in the region. The regional forces are usually decisive in determining political outcomes. Moreover, Middle East history provides many examples of external actors being manipulated by regional powers for their own schemes… [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.] Contents IF ISRAEL PLAYED BY AMERICA'S RULES, IRAQ AND SYRIA WOULD HAVE NUCLEAR WEAPONS Zev Chafets Washington Post, Sept. 11, 2017 Israel and North Korea are on opposite sides of the Asian landmass, separated by 5,000 miles. But Israelis feels close to the nuclear standoff between Washington and Pyongyang. They have faced this sort of crisis before, and may again. In the mid-1970s, it became clear to Israel that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was working on acquiring nuclear weapons and missiles to deliver them. Saddam had already demonstrated an uninhibited brutality in dealing with his internal enemies and his neighbours. He aspired to be the leader of the Arab world. Defeating Israel was at the top of his to-do list. After coming to office in 1977, Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin tried to convince the U.S. and Europe that Saddam was a clear and present danger to the Jewish state, and that action had to be taken. Begin was not taken seriously. But Begin was serious, and in 1981 he decided that Israel would have to stop the Iraqi dictator all by itself. His political opponents, led by the estimable Shimon Peres, considered this to be dangerous folly. Foreign minister Moshe Dayan, the legendary former military chief of staff, voted against unilateral action on the grounds that it would hurt Israel’s international standing. Defense minister Ezer Weizmann, the former head of the air force (and Dayan’s brother-in-law) was also against a military option. He thought the mission would be unacceptably risky. Begin had no military expertise. But his family had been wiped out in the Holocaust. He looked at Saddam, who was openly threatening Israel, and saw Hitler. To Begin, sitting around hoping for the best was not a strategy; it was an invitation to aggression. If there was going to be a cost—political, diplomatic, military—better to pay before, not after, the Iraqis had the bomb. In the summer of 1981, Begin gave the order. The Israeli air force destroyed the Osirak reactor. The United Nations Security Council condemned the attack. The Europeans went bonkers. The New York Times called it “inexcusable.” But the Israeli prime minister wasn’t looking to be excused by the Times or the Europeans or even the usually friendly Ronald Reagan administration. He enunciated a simple rationale that would come to be known as the Begin Doctrine: Israel will not allow its avowed enemies to obtain the means of its destruction. The wisdom of this doctrine became clear a decade later, during the Gulf War, when Saddam made good on his threat to fire Russian-made SCUD missiles at Israeli cities. The SCUDs landed, and caused some damage and a fair amount of panic, but they were not armed with unconventional warheads. Israel had taken that option off the table. Similarly, in 2007, Israel confirmed what it had suspected for five years: Syria, with North Korean help, was trying to build a nuclear reactor. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a Begin disciple, sent Mossad chief Meir Dagan to Washington, to ask for American intervention. The CIA chief, Michael Hayden, agreed with Israel’s contention that Damascus (with Iranian financing) was constructing the reactor. But Hayden convinced President George W. Bush that bombing the site would result in all-out war, and who wants that? Acting on its own, Israel destroyed the Syrian site (reportedly killing a group of North Korean experts in the process). Hayden was wrong about how Syria would react, as he later admitted. If Israel had been reasonable and listened to the CIA, Bashar al-Assad would have nuclear weapons right now. A few years later, Prime Minister Netanyahu and then-defence minister Ehud Barak spent billions of dollars preparing and training to take out the Iranian nuclear program. Barak, not a member of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party, explained, “There are instances where it appears it is not necessary to attack now, but you know that you won’t be able to attack later.” In such cases, he said, the “consequences of inaction are grave, and you have to act.” Israel was prevented from kinetic action by the Barack Obama administration, which along with five other powers cut a deal with Iran in 2015—over Israel’s vociferous objections. Netanyahu warned that the deal was full of loopholes; it would allow Iran to hide its nuclear program and continue building new means of delivery. This was confirmed in 2016 when Iran tested a new missile. “The reason we designed our missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometres,” Iranian Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said, “is to be able to hit our enemy the Zionist regime from a safe distance.”… [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.] Contents On Topic Links In Israel, a 9/11 Memorial Like No Other (Video): Breaking Israel News, Sept. 11, 2017—Israel’s moving 9/11 memorial, created with remains from the Twin Towers and shaped into an American flag flickering like a flame in the wind, is the only one outside of the US with the name of every victim listed on it. Israel remembers. Israel Just Showed What a ‘Red Line’ is Really Supposed to Mean: Benny Avni, New York Post, Sept. 7, 2017—A red line’s a red line. That was Israel’s message Wednesday, when it struck a major Syrian arms facility from the air. The Next Middle East War: Editorial, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 7, 2017 —Israel launched airstrikes on a military compound in Syria on Thursday, and the bombing should alert the Trump Administration as much as the Syrians. They carry a warning about the next war in the Middle East that could draw in the U.S. Iran Versus Turkey, Again: Daniel Pipes, Washington Times, Aug. 22, 2017—News that Iran’s and Turkey’s governments reached an accord on Idlib, a Syrian town now the focus of American interests, brings relations between the two of the largest and most influential states in the Middle East momentarily out of the shadows.