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Thursday, March 31, 2016

The next US Secretary of State?

Say it isn't so. Could this actually be the next US Secretary of State (Hat Tip: Barak Ravid)?
Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met during his visit to Washington Wendy Sherman, an adviser to the US Democratic Party's presidential primary candidate Hillary Clinton, the foreign affairs ministry announced on Thursday.
The Egyptian foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid stated that during the meeting Sherman listened to Shoukry's evaluations of political and economic developments taking place in Egypt, the country's regional and international relations, as well as the country's efforts to fight terrorism.
"The meeting reflected the mutual wish to enforce Egyptian-American relations if Hillary Clinton wins the US presidential elections," the foreign ministry statement read.
Sherman noted that she was ready to transfer any message from the Egyptian side that would enforce the US's relationship with Egypt to Hilary Clinton, Abu Zeid said in the statement. 
The name Wendy Sherman should ring a bell to all of you. A nuclear bell. In 1994, the Clinton administration signed a deal that it claimed would stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. The deal was negotiated by Wendy Sherman, the same Democratic party hack who was the chief concessionaire to Iran. North Korea abrogated the agreement when it felt able to do so, and has gone on to test nuclear weapons. Iran has participated in North Korea's nuclear tests.

Sherman is a total incompetent who was in way over her head. Even the Obama administration has no confidence in Sherman, who is nothing but a hack. (Look how many times they sent John Kerry to Vienna during the Iran negotiations). Here's Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal nearly three years ago.

In 1988, the former social worker ran the Washington office of the Dukakis campaign and worked at the Democratic National Committee. That was the year the Massachusetts governor carried 111 electoral votes to George H.W. Bush's 426. In the mid-1990s, Ms. Sherman was briefly the CEO of something called the Fannie Mae Foundation, supposedly a charity that was shut down a decade later for what the Washington Post called "using tax-exempt contributions to advance corporate interests."
From there it was on to the State Department, where she served as a point person in nuclear negotiations with North Korea and met with Kim Jong Il himself. The late dictator, she testified, was "witty and humorous," "a conceptual thinker," "a quick problem-solver," "smart, engaged, knowledgeable, self-confident." Also a movie buff who loved Michael Jordan highlight videos. A regular guy!
Later Ms. Sherman was to be found working for her former boss as the No. 2 at the Albright-Stonebridge Group before taking the No. 3 spot at the State Department. Ethics scolds might describe the arc of her career as a revolving door between misspending taxpayer dollars in government and mooching off them in the private sector. But it's mainly an example of failing up—the Washingtonian phenomenon of promotion to ever-higher positions of authority and prestige irrespective of past performance.
This administration in particular is stuffed with fail-uppers—the president, the vice president, the secretary of state and the national security adviser, to name a few—and every now and then it shows. Like, for instance, when people for whom the test of real-world results has never meant very much meet people for whom that test means everything.
Two years ago, Sherman accused Israel of making the Iran talks 'harder.'
In what appeared to be a warning to Israel, she said the United States hopes no one will interfere with the talks.
"We don't enter these talks with rose-colored glasses and we don't know yet if we can resolve this diplomatically," Sherman said, according to Haaretz.
"It will be critical that our negotiators and partners have the space to get this done diplomatically. The talks with Iran will be very hard and we can't afford to make it even harder."
Haaretz also quoted her as having stressed that Iran’s nuclear program would have to be "limited, discreet, constrained, monitored and verified." [All the things that it clearly isn't in 2016. CiJ]
If the Iranian nuclear enrichment program does not meet these conditions there will be no agreement, Sherman added.
She noted that the United States "would like there to be zero enrichment" but that is an "unlikely" expectation.
From social worker to Secretary of State? What could go wrong?

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The Israelis did it

It's been one of those days. I started writing this post hours ago and never finished it....

As I am sure many of you have already heard, the FBI has managed to hack the cell phones of the San Bernadino terrorists 'all by itself' and has dropped the lawsuit it had filed against Apple, the manufacturer of the iPhone. But they didn't exactly do it all by themselves. They were helped by an Israeli startup called Cellebrite.
The Israeli mobile forensics firm Cellebrite helped the FBI hack into the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, NBC reports, citing industry sources.
The firm has been rumored to be behind the FBI’s newfound ability to access the device, thanks to a previous and unconfirmed report from an Israeli newspaper. 
Neither Cellebrite nor the Department of Justice has confirmed the reports.
The FBI has routinely contracted Cellebrite over the last five years. The company, which publicly boasts of its ability to hack into Apple devices, has received over $2 million in purchase orders from the agency since 2012.
The Justice Department on Monday withdrew its case against Apple, telling a federal court it was able to unlock the device without the tech giant's help.
Earlier story here

As usual, one of the things I do for a living is to try to match investors with Israeli high tech companies....

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

It's come to this....

Seen on the streets of Jerusalem today....

That ad sure won't make me buy it.

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CNN wipes guess which country off the map for its EgyptAir coverage

As I'm sure most of you have heard already, an EgyptAir jet flying from Alexandria to Cairo was hijacked this morning to Cyprus. CNN published this helpful map as part of its coverage:
After being called on it by Twitchy, CNN decided to identify that tiny strip of land.

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Monday, March 28, 2016

US State Department to American citizens: 'Stay home'

The always helpful Jerusalem consulate has passed on yet another warning to US citizens to stay home.

Worldwide Caution

Last Updated: March 3, 2016
The Department of State is updating the Worldwide Caution with information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world. Current information suggests that ISIL, al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions. Recent terrorist attacks, whether by those affiliated with terrorist entities, copycats, or individual perpetrators, serve as a reminder that U.S. citizens need to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness. This replaces the Worldwide Caution dated July 29, 2015.
In August 2014, after the United States and regional partners commenced military action against ISIL, ISIL called on supporters to attack foreigners wherever they are. Authorities believe there is a continued likelihood of reprisal attacks against U.S., Western, and coalition partner interests throughout the world, especially in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and Asia.
U.S. citizens continue to be at risk of kidnappings and hostage events as ISIL, al-Qa’ida, and their affiliates attempt to finance their operations through kidnapping-for-ransom operations. U.S. citizens have been kidnapped and murdered by members of terrorist and violent extremist groups. ISIL, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) are particularly effective with kidnapping for ransom and are using ransom money to fund their activities.
Extremists may use conventional or non-conventional weapons and target both official and private interests. Examples of such targets include high-profile sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas, shopping malls, and other tourist destinations both in the United States and abroad where U.S. citizens gather in large numbers, including during holidays. In the past year, major extremist attacks occurred in countries including Tunisia, France, Nigeria, Turkey, Egypt, and Mali.
U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Extremists have targeted and attempted attacks on subway and rail systems, aviation, and maritime services.
U.S. citizens considering maritime travel also should review information at the websites of the National Geospatial Agency, the Maritime Administration, and the U.S. Coast Guard for information related to maritime and port security globally. Current areas of concern include the Caribbean, Gulf of Guinea, Horn of Africa, and the Straits of Malacca and Singapore ‎as a result of maritime crimes including smuggling, human trafficking, and piracy.
The information provided below offers select regional or country examples. Please check travel.state.gov for additional information.
EUROPE: Credible information indicates terrorist groups such as ISIL and al-Qa’ida and its affiliates continue to plot near-term attacks in Europe. All European countries remain vulnerable to attacks from transnational terrorist organizations.
European authorities continue to warn of the possibility of attacks conducted by lone individuals inspired by extremist organizations that could occur with little to no warning. Extremists have targeted large sporting events, theatres, open markets, aviation services, transportation systems, and public venues where people congregate. Authorities believe there is a high likelihood terror attacks in Europe will continue as European members of ISIL return from Syria and Iraq. European governments are taking action to guard against terrorist attacks; however, all European countries remain potentially vulnerable.
MIDDLE EAST and NORTH AFRICA: Credible information indicates terrorist groups also seek to continue attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East and North Africa. The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks against U.S. citizens, facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests. Private U.S. citizens are strongly discouraged from traveling to any country to join in armed conflict. U.S. citizens are reminded that fighting on behalf of or providing other forms of support to designated terrorist organizations, including ISIL, can constitute the provision of material support for terrorism, which is a serious crime that can result in penalties including prison time and large fines.
In Syria, the security situation remains dangerous and unpredictable as a civil war between government and armed anti-government groups continues throughout the country. Groups such as ISIL, al-Nusrah Front (ANF) and al-Qa’ida operate there. In recent years, Westerners have been kidnapped and several have been killed by terrorist groups in Syria.
U.S.-designated terrorist groups operating in Lebanon include Hizballah, ISIL, ANF, Hamas, and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades (AAB). U.S. citizens have been the target of terrorist attacks in Lebanon in the past, and the threat of anti-Western terrorist activity remains.
In Iraq, ISIL controls significant territory in northern, western, and central Iraq, and continues to attack Iraqi security forces and civilians in those areas.
In Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria, groups affiliated with ISIL, Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and other terrorist groups have conducted attacks against both foreign and local targets.
In Yemen, the security situation has deteriorated greatly since 2014, necessitating the suspension of operations of the U.S. Embassy in February 2015. Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and ISIL remain threats to U.S. citizens in Yemen.
AFRICA: Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and al-Murabitun remain active in northern Mali and Niger, and recently conducted major attacks in Mali and Burkina Faso in which U.S. citizens were killed. Terrorist groups have stepped up their rhetoric, calling for additional attacks or kidnapping attempts on Westerners and others, particularly those linked to support for international military intervention.
The terrorist group AQIM has declared its intention to attack Western targets in the Sahel (an area that stretches across the African continent between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea to include Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and Eritrea). It has claimed responsibility for kidnappings, attempted kidnappings, and the murder of several Westerners throughout the region.
Al-Shabaab assassinations, suicide bombings, hostage taking, and indiscriminate attacks in civilian-populated areas are frequent in Somalia. Al-Shabaab retains its demonstrated capability to carry out attacks in government-controlled territory in Somalia and in neighboring countries such as Kenya and Djibouti.
Boko Haram, an extremist group based in northeast Nigeria, has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks, mainly in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram also has targeted women and children for kidnapping, reportedly kidnapping women in northern states for marriage as “slave brides.” Boko Haram has carried out attacks in Cameroon’s Far North Region, western Chad, and southern Niger, targeting foreign expatriates, tourists, and government leaders.
SOUTH ASIA: The U.S. government assesses terrorist groups in South Asia may be planning attacks in the region, possibly against U.S. facilities, citizens, and interests. The presence of al-Qa’ida, Taliban elements, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, indigenous sectarian groups, and other terrorist organizations, many of which are on the U.S. government's list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations, poses a potential danger to U.S. citizens in the region.
Although the Government of Pakistan maintains heightened security measures, particularly in the major cities, terrorist attacks have occurred against civilian, government, and foreign targets. Attacks have included armed assaults on heavily guarded sites, including Pakistani military installations and airports. Terrorists and criminal groups also have resorted to kidnapping for ransom.
No province in Afghanistan should be considered immune from violence and crime, and the strong possibility exists throughout the country for hostile acts, either targeted or random, against U.S. and other foreign nationals at any time. Taliban and other extremist organizations remain active in every province of the country and frequently target both Afghan government and foreign interests.
India continues to experience terrorist and insurgent activities which may affect U.S. citizens directly or indirectly. Anti-Western terrorist groups active in India include Islamist extremist groups such as Harkat-ul-Jihad-i-Islami, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Indian Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, and Lashkar-e Tayyiba. Past attacks have targeted public places, including some frequented by Westerners, such as luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas.
Since September 2015, Bangladesh has experienced a series of increasingly sophisticated violent attacks. These include the murders of two foreign nationals, as well as bombs and other attacks against gatherings of religious groups and security forces. ISIL publicly claimed credit for many of these attacks. Additionally, groups claiming to represent al-Qa’ida in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) asserted responsibility for a series of threats and terrorist attacks targeting writers, publishers, and others in the media, including the murder of a U.S. citizen blogger.
CENTRAL ASIA: Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, al-Qa’ida, and the Islamic Jihad Union remain active in Central Asia. These groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and may attempt to target U.S. government interests.
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC: Information from credible sources suggests that there is a continued risk of armed terrorist and criminal groups operating and planning attacks against foreigners, including U.S. citizens, in the East Asian and Pacific region. Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) and the Abu Sayyaf Group, have cells operating throughout Southeast Asia and JI is linked to al-Qa’ida and other regional terrorist groups.
There is a risk of travel to the southern Philippines, specifically related to kidnapping threats in the Sulu Archipelago and the ongoing threat of violence on the island of Mindanao, particularly in Central Mindanao. Foreigners in the Eastern Sabah province of Malaysia are also targets for kidnappings for ransom. Criminal or terrorist bands may attempt to intercept boats ferrying tourists in the area as well.
Indonesian counterterrorism efforts have prevented terrorists from conducting large-scale attacks in recent years. The January 14, 2016, attack in central Jakarta, however, shows that extremists in Indonesia still have the ability to carry out small-scale violent attacks.
U.S. government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert. These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture. In those instances, U.S. embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
For further information:

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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sunday Mail discovers how British tax money is funding 'Palestinian' terrorism

The 'Palestinians' are building the palace above for 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen using £8,000,000 (about $11,310,000) of British aid money, and after visiting the site, London's Sunday Mail Online has finally exposed it.
The shocking revelation that thousands of Palestinian terrorists, including men who have masterminded suicide bombings and murdered children, are given cash handouts from aid money will cause anger and disbelief, particularly in the wake of the Brussels massacres.
Hardly shocking to anyone who reads this blog. (There are many more links where those came from).

In the West Bank and Gaza, despite promises by the ruling Palestinian Authority (PA) to end the practice of paying aid money to convicted terrorists, our investigation revealed that they had simply duped the West by allowing the Palestine Liberation Organisation to hand out the cash instead.
Britain gives £72 million a year to Palestine, more than one-third of which goes straight to the PA. It openly admits supporting terrorists whom it hails as heroes for fighting illegal occupation, awarding lifetime payments that rise depending on time spent in jail and the seriousness of crimes.
One Hamas master bomber has reportedly been given more than £100,000. Other ‘salaries’ go to the families of suicide bombers and even teenagers involved in the latest upsurge of deadly attacks on Israel.
DFID and the European Union are still effectively supporting these payments to thousands of terrorists – despite claims to have ended such links two years ago. This was confirmed to the MoS by former prisoners and families receiving the cash, and in official statements by the PA.
In fact, the 'Palestinians' are the main subject of the Mail's 'expose,' most of which could have been written by combing the archive of this blog and several others.
Ahmad Musa sits beside me, a convicted double murderer sentenced to life in prison. As we talk, I ask him if he did indeed kill the two men. ‘Yes, I shot them dead,’ he replies.
Yet we do not meet in a jail cell. Musa is free, released after just five years. For he is a Palestinian terrorist and he was liberated under a peace deal.
Like thousands more Palestinian prisoners, including jihadi bombers and killers of children, Musa enjoys his freedom after being awarded a ‘salary’ for life.
He gets £605 every month, others get far more. If they die, the cash goes to their family. These men are seen as terrorists, certainly by Israel, and many in the West.
But, astonishingly, the money behind these payments – described by some as ‘rewards for murder’ – flows from British and European taxpayers.
For the record, that 'salary' is about 150% of the average teacher's salary in the 'Palestinian Authority.'
The UK cash comes from the Department for International Development, which will give up to £25.5million this year to the ruling Palestinian Authority (PA) as part of a £72million aid package. Our investigation discovered that the PA passes millions on to the infamous Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) – which in turn gives it to convicted terrorists locked up in Israeli prisons and their families.

Among them are Amjad and Hakim Awad, cousins who killed Ehud and Ruth Fogel and their three children in their West Bank home in 2011. It is estimated that Amjad alone may have been paid up to £16,000 from the fund so far.
Yes, those are the Fogels HY"D (May God Avenge their blood) in the pictures above. Hakim was 18 and Amjad was 19 when they murdered the Fogels.  Unfortunately, they're unlikely to die the slow and painful deaths they so richly deserve. Instead, they are being supported by British and European taxpayers.

Also on the payroll is Abdallah Barghouti, the Hamas bomb-maker who was sentenced to life after attacks in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It is thought he has received payments totaling £106,000.
Barghouti prepared the Sbarro suicide bombing (pictured above).
Dfid confirms that the PLO makes such payments, calling them ‘social welfare’ provisions for prisoners’ families.
It denies, however, that any British cash reaches terrorists, with the PLO taking over such payments two years ago from the PA after an international outcry.
But a Mail on Sunday investigation has found that Britain funded the PLO until last year and that the PA openly boasts of still funding salaries of convicted terrorists, even in its own official statements.
Former prisoners and the families of terrorists we have spoken to also confirmed receiving cash from both the PA and the PLO.
British aid money is supposed to be rebuilding and developing the Palestinian territories. However a devastating new report to be released this week by Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli NGO, suggests that Western donors have been duped by assertions that the Authority no longer funds terrorists.
Some Hamas terrorist masterminds have reportedly been given more than £100,000.
Other ‘salaries’ go to relatives of suicide bombers and even teenagers involved in the latest upsurge of deadly attacks on Israel. Several ex-prisoners confirmed to me that they were paid monthly stipends that started in jail.
One said they also received a ‘bonus’ on leaving prison and lucrative civil service job offers, the most senior posts going to those serving more than 15 years behind bars, even though they are not qualified.
PA officials openly defend such stipends. Amr Nasser, adviser to the minister of social affairs, said: ‘It is not a crime to be fighting occupation. These people are heroes.
‘We could be giving them much more money and it would not be enough.’ Nasser added that, if Palestine won independence, the government would seek reparations from Britain for its historic role in encouraging Zionism, saying ‘You should pay us more money.’
Cash is fungible.

There is no difference between the 'Palestinian Authority' and the PLO. It's a shell game.

And lest you think the Mail actually gets that they're doing something wrong other than wasting British taxpayer money... they don't.
The four million Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza receive the highest aid support per head in the world. Few would deny they face unique problems given checkpoints, tough crackdowns and disputed settlements.
Their 'unique problems' are entirely of their own making. They could have had a peace agreement 22 years ago and more. They didn't want one.

I don't buy the claim made throughout this article that the 'Palestinians' are 'fooling' the West. They're not. Itamar Marcus, the author of the report on which the part of this article that deals with the 'Palestinians' is based, agrees.
Itamar Marcus, the report’s author, said: ‘There is wilful blindness by the UK and EU, who were happy not to even carry out the simplest investigation.’

But what's most astounding about this article is that it was supposed to be a report on how British foreign aid is wasted in general. There are about two paragraphs about other places in the world, and much, much more about the 'Palestinians,' who are Europe's (and Britain's) pet project. You don't think that has anything to do with rampant anti-Semitism in Britain and Europe, do you?

Read the whole thing.

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

CIA director Brennan:ISIS was decimated under Bush, grew 4,400% under Obama

Shavua tov, a good week to everyone.

CIA Director John Brennan has admitted that ISIS was decimated under George W. Bush, but has grown by 4,400% under Obama.
In a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies yesterday, CIA director John Brennan made a startling admission: The Islamic State was “decimated” under George W. Bush and had just “700-or-so adherents left” following the surge in Iraq. Said Brennan:
[ISIS] was, you know, pretty much decimated when US forces were there in Iraq. It had maybe 700-or-so adherents left. And then it grew quite a bit in the last several years, when it split then from al-Qaida in Syria, and set up its own organization.
But in September 2014, a CIA analysis found that:
[ISIS] can muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria … This new total reflects an increase in members because of stronger recruitment since June following battlefield successes and the declaration of a caliphate, greater battlefield activity, and additional intelligence.
This means that, by the CIA’s own estimate, ISIS has grown on President Obama’s watch from just 700 fighters to between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters.
That is an increase of between 2,700 and 4,400 %.
Moreover, Brennan tacitly acknowledged that the Obama administration had underestimated the ISIS threat. At CSIS, Brennan declared that:
Not content to limiting its killing fields to Iraqi and Syrian lands, and to setting up local franchises in other countries of the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, ISIL has developed an external operations agenda that is now implementing … with lethal effect.
That now obvious assessment directly contradicts the assessment of ISIS’ intent and capabilities delivered by Obama administration officials just one year ago.
In August 11 2014, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes wrote in a White House blog post:
While both [al-Qaeda and the Islamic State] are terrorist forces, they have different ambitions. Al-Qaeda’s principal ambition is to launch attacks against the west and US homeland…Right now, ISIL’s primary focus is consolidating territory in the Middle East region to establish their own Islamic State. So they’re different organizations with different objectives.
But President Hussein Obama said in Turkey on Friday that the US is pursuing the 'right strategy' against ISIS. Maybe if he's trying to help ISIS get stronger....

Read the whole thing.

Of course, given that Brennan has been in charge of the 'battle' against ISIS, this 'success' is not surprising. John Brennan is the guy who looks for moderates in Hezbullah (also here between 6:14 and 9:15), speaks lovingly of 'al-Quds,' and refers to jihad as a 'legitimate tenet of Islam.' Brennan was also the architect of the Obama administration's policy of removing 'jihad' and 'Islam' and 'terrorism' from the discourse of law enforcement agencies (a policy on which he was opposed by outgoing CIA director David Petraeus), and has charged that Americans don't have sufficient sensitivity to the Muslim world.

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Belgium not cooperating with US over terror attacks

It's come to this: Belgium is refusing to cooperate with the United States counter-terror efforts against Islamic State.
Several US officials say that security cooperation has been hampered by patchy intelligence-sharing by Brussels and wide differences in the willingness of different agencies to work with foreign countries, even close allies.
One US government source said that when American investigators try to contact Belgian agencies for information, they often struggle to find which agency or part of an agency might have relevant information.
Belgium has ordered a sharp increase in security budgets following the Paris attacks, despite being under steady pressure to limit its debt levels under euro zone rules. The government has promised to recruit around 2,500 more federal police, who pursue major crimes, to make up for a shortfall of close to a fifth of the full-strength force of 12,500.
It also says it thwarted a major attack in January 2015, and is eager to cooperate with European and US counterparts.
"These attacks show that more coordination with the United States is clearly desirable," Guy Rapaille, the president of the committee that provides oversight of Belgium's security and intelligence services, told Belgium's state broadcaster RTBF.
"But you have to remember that big powers guard their intelligence very closely."
US officials acknowledge the recent Belgian efforts to step up funding and recruitment.
Yet they say Belgian security services are outmatched by the threat in a country that, per capita, has supplied the highest number of foreign fighters to Syria of any European nation.
"They're way behind the ball and they're paying a terrible price," Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told Reuters.
Asked on Wednesday whether Belgium was too complacent over the threat posed by Islamic militancy, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said:
"I want to stay clear of saying that Belgium was somehow caught by surprise or not aware. You know, we collaborate, we work with Belgium closely."
But Belgium had specific warnings about Monday's attacks and failed to prevent them. Why? Here's one possible reason.
Some US counter-terrorism officials say much of the gap between Washington and Belgium - and some other European countries - is cultural. Europeans' deeper commitment to personal privacy sometimes prevents or delays sharing of information such as travel data -- that is taken for granted in the United States.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the US government radically reshaped its counter-terrorism agencies. It broke down walls between law enforcement and intelligence authorities, and created new coordinating institutions such as the Director of National Intelligence and National Counterterrorism Center.
Belgium, by contrast, is a patchwork country divided between French and Dutch speakers and with multiple levels of government.
Belgian security chiefs have repeatedly complained that they cannot handle up to 900 home-grown Islamist militants, among the highest per-capita rates in Europe. Belgium does not divulge the exact number of personnel in its security services and military intelligence, but security experts say they appear under-resourced compared to European counterparts.  

"Add to that the problem of two languages (French and Flemish), lack of Arabic speakers, and weak coordination between national and local government, you have a huge discrepancy between threat and response," said former CIA official and White House advisor Bruce Riedel, now at the Brookings Institution.
You can choose to give up a little privacy or to die in private. Many Europeans apparently prefer to die. That's why in Belgium, I am told, there are no terror raids after 9:00 pm. Surreal.

Read the whole thing.

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US paid $1.7 billion ransom for American sailors held hostage by Iran

Greetings from an unnamed European airport with poor internet access (except on my phone curiously enough). I will try to post what I can.

Remember those US Navy personnel that were taken hostage by Iran in January? Well it seems that the United States paid $1.7 billion in ransom for their release.
The transfer was agreed upon in January, but only came to light after Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS) called for an inquiry into a $1.7 billion payment to Iran. He suggested that the money was given to encourage Iran to release hostages.
An assistant secretary for legislative affairs has now provided the Administration's answer to the charges. She claims that the talks focus on clearing up Iranian legal claims against the US, and have been ongoing since 2014. She added that concluding the issues is worth billions of dollars in public money.
The legal issues deal with a large arms deal between the two countries that was signed before the 1979 Iranian revolution. After terrorists besieged the US embassy and took officials hostage, the US canceled the deal. The case is still under review at the Iran-US Claims Tribunal at the Hague.
Iran’s "fact-intensive claims involve over 1,000 separate contracts between Iran and the United States," the assistant secretary explained. 
There has been no answer to Pompeo's question of whether the payments were intended to convince Tehran to free a group of American prisoners, which it did shortly after the US agreed to hand over the money.
"It would not be in the interest of the United States to discuss further details of the settlement of these claims in an unclassified letter due to the ongoing litigation at the Tribunal," the State Department told Pompeo.
An inside source warned the Free Beacon, "When Iran releases American hostages, and then, on that same day, President Obama announces he is paying Iran $1.7 billion, Congress of course has to ask the hard questions. And when the Obama administration admits that over $1 billion in taxpayer money is going to the Iranian regime, Congress is obligated to respond. The State Department has ducked and dodged–providing a history lesson on international tribunals, focused on actions decades ago, instead of addressing dangerous misdeeds that were potentially just committed. That is suspicious."
Most transparent administration evah?

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Israeli start up filling in for the FBI

The FBI has hired Israeli startup Cellebrite to unlock the San Bernadino terrorists' iPhones that Apple refuses to unlock.
That's according to a story filed by Reuters this morning, based on a report in Wednesday's copy of Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. If the software company succeeds then the FBI will no longer need the help of Apple, the report claimed, citing unnamed industry sources.

According to its website, Cellebrite offers "mobile forensics solutions" which "give access to and unlock the intelligence of mobile data sources to extend investigative capabilities, accelerate investigations, unify investigative teams and produce solid evidence".

Apple and the U.S. government have been embroiled in a heated public battle that started when a court ordered Apple to help the FBI unlock the iPhone 5c of terrorist Syed Farook. Unlocking the iPhone would require Apple to build a new version of iOS that bypasses iPhone passcode restrictions and provides the FBI with a way to enter passcodes electronically, something Apple has staunchly refused to do.

On Monday, the U.S. Justice Department convinced the court overseeing its ongoing battle with Apple to postpone a hearing scheduled to take place March 22. The DoJ said new leads had been discovered that could provide it with a way to unlock the iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook without involving Apple. 

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Hmmm.... Erdogan claims Turkey deported Brussels attacker, Belgium set him free

TURKEY DEPORTED BRUSSELS ATTACKERTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave further lead on the ISIS-claimed Brussels...
Posted by CNN TURK English on Wednesday, March 23, 2016
The Europeans are even bigger idiots than we give them credit for being....

By the way, Belgium doesn't do terror raids after 9:00 pm. They don't want to disturb the terrorists' sleep (yes, that's true).


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Unbelievable: AIPAC apologizes to Obama for Trump speech

You all know I am not a big Donald Trump fan (to put it mildly - I'm backing Ted Cruz now and I believe that Trump's 'neutrality' on Israel is wrong-headed), but this is beyond absurd. The pro-Israel political group AIPAC tearfully apologized for Trump's speech on Monday to a man that they somehow consider 'pro-Israel' - Barack Hussein Obama. That's not just yuge, it's unprecedented.
The prime minister’s video-linked speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's conference was preceded by the unscheduled introduction of AIPAC President Lillian Pinkus and four other leaders. Choking back tears, Pinkus apologized for Monday night's speeches, implying that Donald Trump had violated a nonpartisan standard.
“From the moment this conference began, until this moment, we have preached a message of unity,” Pinkus said. “We have said, in every way we can think of: Come together. But last evening, something occurred which has the potential to drive us apart, to divide us. We say, unequivocally, that we do not countenance ad hominem attacks, and we take great offense to those that are levied against the president of the United States of America from our stage.”
Trump’s speech, which he largely recited from a teleprompter, was actually notable for its low level of invective. A candidate who has mocked Marco Rubio’s thirstiness, Rand Paul’s looks, Jeb Bush’s energy level and Carly Fiorina’s face confined his criticism of Obama to a few tossed-off insults.
“With President Obama in his final year — yay!” said Trump, adding an exclamation not in the text and earning huge applause. Later, diverting from his text again, he called the president “maybe the worst thing to happen to Israel.”
Calling Obama the worst thing to happen to Israel is at least accurate with the qualifier 'since Jimmy Carter' and it's probably entirely accurate. For AIPAC to deny that and pretend that Obama - who has frozen Netanyahu out of Washington on numerous occasions, including this week - is simply beyond absurd.
Yet while AIPAC invites candidates and leaders from both parties, and while it discourages protests from the audience, Trump was hardly the first speaker to criticize a sitting president. He was followed on the stage by Ted Cruz, who compared the administration’s deal with Iran to the 1938 Munich agreement that handed Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland to Adolf Hitler’s Germany. Four years earlier, AIPAC allowed Mitt Romney to address the conference by satellite, and he went on to accuse the president of “lecturing” Israel and “emboldening” the Palestinians.
And both Cruz and Romney are correct.
But no AIPAC speech had been criticized like Trump’s. Jane Eisner, the editor in chief of Jewish news source the Forward, wrote that she was “ashamed that any of my fellow Jews could applaud” Trump.
“I am ashamed that they would succumb to the pandering lies,” she wrote. “Donald Trump ought to have been received civilly but silently by AIPAC. Instead, the applause spoke volumes.”
Chemi Shalev, a correspondent for Israel’s Haaretz, left the Trump speech in shock and asked how fellow Jews could have applauded it.
Both the Forward and Haaretz are far Leftist rags. Shalev certainly does not represent mainstream Israelis and Eisner probably doesn't represent mainstream American Jewry.

Shame on AIPAC for refusing to acknowledge reality. 

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Always helpful US State Department says 'Avoid Europe'

Greetings from a plane somewhere over flyover country. I left San Francisco this morning and am now heading for an East Coast stop where I'll board a plane to Europe. The US State Department doesn't want me to do that. Now they tell me. Just got this notice a few moments ago from the always helpful US Consulate in Jerusalem.

Europe Travel Alert

Last Updated: March 22, 2016
The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to potential risks of travel to and throughout Europe following several terrorist attacks, including the March 22 attacks in Brussels claimed by ISIL.  Terrorist groups continue to plan near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants, and transportation.  This Travel Alert expires on June 20, 2016.
U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid crowded places. Exercise particular caution during religious holidays and at large festivals or events.
U.S. citizens should also:
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities, especially in an emergency.
  • Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
  • Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
  • Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
  • Register in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
European governments continue to guard against terrorist attacks and conduct raids to disrupt plots. We work closely with our allies and will continue to share information with our European partners that will help identify and counter terrorist threats.
For further information:
Now if only these idiots would get out of Fantasyland and start fighting Islamic terrorism....

So for now, I will only tell you in general terms where I am changing planes and I won't give names of cities until after I leave them. Yes, it's come to this. #ThanksObama #DankeMerkel.

And a freilichen (Happy) Purim to those of you for whom it's already begun. Fortunately, since I'm a Jerusalemite and I am heading home, my Purim is tomorrow night.

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Belgian ISIS members can travel to the US and Israel without visas

Greetings from Oakland, California, where I have been staying with relatives since Sunday while having meetings all day in San Francisco. I am leaving Wednesday morning back to Israel (for those wondering about Purim, because I live in Jerusalem, Purim is on Friday for me).

I've been warning for years that the citizens of all those Muslim terrorist-infested European countries may enter the United States (and Israel as well, although I trust Israel to do a much better job of screening and to keep out whomever should be kept out) without visas. In light of Monday's terror attacks in Brussels, that reality is sinking in.
Leading lawmakers identified Belgium as a hotspot for terrorism months ago and are warning that many of the radicalized individuals living there are still able to travel to the United States without first obtaining a visa and undergoing thorough security checks.
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told the Washington Free Beacon Tuesday afternoon that current flaws in the U.S. visa waiver program—which facilities travel to the United States from partner nations including Belgium—have created a loophole that could permit radicalized individuals to legally enter the United States with minimal background checks.
DeSantis is warning of these flaws on the heels of deadly mass terrorist attack in Brussels on Tuesday that has killed at least 30 and wounded hundreds more.
“The visa waiver reform, this is something we have been perusing and the [Obama] administration has brushed us off at every turn,” DeSantis said, explaining that current policy does not mandate more strenuous checks on individuals identified as coming from terrorist hotspots, such as the small Belgian town of Molenbeek, which has emerged as a principal training site for jihadists.
“It’s the case that if those folks are citizens of Belgium they qualify for the visa waiver program and can hop on a plane and get here,” he added. “Clearly, that is not adequate given what happened.”
The Obama administration “even takes the position it’s safer to allow someone to come in on a visa waiver than make them get one, it’s kind of crazy,” DeSantis said. You’re not going to be able to have intelligence on everyone there because there are so many potential recruits. It’s a clear vulnerability.”
What is worse, DeSantis said, is that the Obama administration has been lax about deporting individuals who overstay their visas, meaning that a radicalized person could disappear in America as they plan a potential attack.
“There’s no enforcement once they get here,” DeSantis said. “Hundreds of thousands of people come over and then overstay” their visas. “You are not going to be removed under current policy under this administration.”
DeSantis and other lawmakers first labeled Belgium as a hotspot for ISIS terrorists in the aftermath of the 2015 attacks in Paris. At least five of the Paris attackers were French nationals, two of whom had been living in Belgium. Another one of the terrorists was a Belgian national.
Citizens from both countries are still able to freely travel to the United States under the visa waiver program, which facilitates travel between the American and a host of foreign countries.
“At least six of the Paris attackers could have attempted to enter the country under this program,” DeSantis said in December, during a congressional hearing on the visa waiver program’s flaws.
 What could go wrong? Read the whole thing.

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

Turkish 'normalization' on ice?

Greetings from somewhere over the Pacific coast - I'm flying from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

As I'm sure many of you have heard already, a suicide bomber killed three Israelis in Turkey on Saturday in an attack that may or may not have been directed at Israelis in Istanbul (Prime Minister Netanyahu believes that Israelis were the intended targets).

Now, that 'normalization' of relations with Turkey that's been on the table may be on ice:
Fat chance that will ever happen.

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Friday, March 18, 2016

Paris terror attacks mastermind captured alive in Belgium

Paris terror attacks mastermind Salah Abdelslam has been captured alive in Brussels after being wounded in the leg in a shootout with police.

Let's go to the videotape. More after the video.

Here's more from CNN (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
Belgium's state broadcaster reported that the Belgian-born French citizen was injured in a shootout that ended with his capture. The Belgian counter-terrorism source said two people were wounded.
"We have him," tweeted Theo Francken, Belgium's state secretary for asylum policy and migration.
The 26-year-old Abdeslam was brought to a hospital after being shot in the leg, CNN Belgium affiliate VTM reported, citing a police source. The same broadcaster said two suspects may still be in the house in Molenbeek where Abdeslam was captured.
Three explosions were heard in that area early Friday evening, CNN French affiliate BFMTV reported, though it wasn't clear if those were controlled blasts or part of a continuing operation.
Molenbeek, the impoverished Brussels suburb where Friday's raid took place, has a reputation as a hotbed for jihadism. Several members of its large, predominantly Muslim population -- many of whom are first-, second- and third-generation immigrants from North Africa -- have been linked to terror plots and attacks.
Last fall, Belgian Justice Minister Koen Geens cited Molenbeek as a place where more needs to be done to address what he called Belgium's "foreign fighter problem." 
Earlier Friday, the Belgian federal prosecutor's office revealed that the 26-year-old Salah Abdeslam's fingerprints and DNA were found in a Brussels apartment raided three days earlier. One person was killed and two people escaped that operation, according to authorities.
The man killed by a special forces sniper was Mohamed Belkaid, an Algerian who used the name Samir Bouzid, and who is believed to have directed the Paris attackers via calls from Belgium, according to the prosecutor's office.
Belkaid is believed to have helped Abdeslam travel prior to the attacks and transferred money to a female cousin of Paris ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud following the attack, the Belgian senior counter-terrorism official told CNN in January.
Authorities believe Abdeslam was using the apartment as a hideout following the Paris attacks, according to the Belgian counter-terrorism official.
Investigators think Abdeslam may have been the driver of a black Renault Clio that dropped off three suicide bombers near the Stade de France, one of the attack sites near Paris. They also believe he had worn a suicide belt found on a Paris street after the attacks.
He is believed to have called friends to take him to Belgium after the attacks. They passed through police checkpoints, but Abdeslam had not yet been identified as a suspect and they were allowed to continue on their way.
Surveillance video emerged of him and another man at a gas station near the Belgian border the day after the attacks.
He has eluded authorities ever since.
You have to wonder whether ISIS will try to take hostages in an attempt to spring him, or whether being targeted by hostage-taking to exchange for terrorists is something that only happens to Israel, which finds itself urged by 'friends' to give in to the hostage-takers. 

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