Ansar Jerusalem confirms deaths of 6 members, 2 tied to Syria conflict

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In a statement released to jihadist forums on March 23, Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al Maqdis) confirmed the deaths of six of its fighters in clashes with Egyptian security forces on March 19. Egypt’s Interior Ministry had originally said that the raid, which took place about 20 miles north of Cairo, resulted in the deaths of five Ansar Jerusalem members and two Egyptian security personnel, as well as the arrest of four jihadists; the ministry later stated, however, that six jihadists had been killed and eight arrested.

The six members of Ansar Jerusalem who were killed in the clashes were identified by the jihadist group as: Fahmi Abdul Raouf Muhammad (Abu Dujana), Samir Abdul Hakim (Abu al Bara), Muhammad Mohsen Ali Muhammad (Abu Musab), Muhammad Sayed Mahmoud Ahmad (Abu Musab), Osama Saeed Abdul Aziz (Abu Omar), and Abdul Raouf Fahmi Abdul Raouf (Abu Mu’adh). At least two of those named had previously been identified by Egyptian authorities as suspects in recent attacks in Egypt. Continue reading

U.S. reservist arrested after allegedly trying to enter Canada on his way to Syria to join Al-Qaeda-linked group

In this file photo, cars line up to pass through the U.S. Customs station at Blaine, Washington to Canada on Dec. 20, 1999.

A U.S. National Guard reservist has been arrested on a Greyhound bus as he was trying to cross into Canada with the alleged intention of travelling to Syria to join an armed faction linked to Al-Qaeda.Nicholas Teausant, 20, was taken into custody at about 11:40 p.m. Sunday by U.S. Customs agents in Blaine, Wash. The California resident was allegedly on his way to Vancouver International airport.According to the FBI, he had repeatedly expressed his desire to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham, or ISIS, an extremist group fighting to overthrown Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Continue reading

Libya: Slow Death of Derna

By Aya Elbrqawi, 28 February 2014

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Photo: Kate Thomas/IRIN

A rebel fighter chats with a friend in central Benghazi (file photo).

Benghazi — Derna residents live a life of fear. Al-Qaeda has transformed their eastern Libya port city into a new base for its global campaign and as the prime export centre for jihadists.

Known for its long history of fierce fighters and proud tribes, Derna has faced relentless violence. Now it will not have a say in national governance because it is too unsafe to vote.

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10 Dutch youngsters refused passports over Syria jihad fears

Dutch Flag

Dutch Flag (Photo credit: Guido.)

Friday 21 February 2014

Ten Dutch youngsters have so far been refused a passport because the security services suspect they may be planning to go to Syria, the Dutch counter-terrorism unit NCTV told the Telegraaf.

The 10 include an 18-year-old girl from Maastricht who has converted to Islam and wants to travel to Syria with her husband, the Telegraaf says. The girl had expressed her support for terrorism on social media and was on an official watch list.

NCTV spokesman Edmond Messchaert toldbroadcaster Nos the passport applications were blocked because of fears the youngsters would return ‘radicalised and traumatised’. Those who disagree with the refusal to give them a passport can apply to the courts, he said.

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Insight: After Syria, al Qaeda expanding in Lebanon

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Fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) try to calm civilians demonstrating against the rebel infighting in Aleppo (Stringer . Reuters, / January 6, 2014)

Mariam Karouny Reuters  10:19 a.m. EST, January 30, 2014

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Faced with recent setbacks in Iraq and Syria, al Qaeda is slowly but firmly gaining influence in Lebanon, helped by the country’s increasing sectarian violence and the turmoil caused by Syria’s civil war, sources close to the group say.
Lebanon, a small Mediterranean state with a fragile sectarian power sharing system, has seen the worst of the Syria’s war spillover with car bombs in Beirut and Tripoli, gunfights in city streets and rocket fire in the Bekaa Valley.
The violence is exacerbated by Lebanon’s own sectarian divisions and entrenching them. Shi’ite Hezbollah supports President Bashar al-Assad while his rebel opponents are backed by Sunni Muslims including Islamists and al Qaeda fighters.

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Turkey, Iran seek workaround on Syria

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Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani sign documents in Tehran, Jan. 29, 2014. (photo by Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

“The international political intervention should target not [Syria's ruling] Baath [Party] but the actors whose proxy war Baath is fighting,” Taha Ozhan of Turkey’s SETA think-tank wrote on Jan. 25, pointing to Russia and Iran. As the chairman of SETA (Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research) — the main civic mouthpiece of Turkey’s deadlocked Syria policy — penned those lines, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was preparing to go to Tehran.

Summary⎙ Print Ankara and Tehran are attempting to normalize a relationship put off track by Syria.

Author Fehim Taştekin Posted February 2, 2014 Translator(s)Sibel Utku Bila

It was a slapdash article reflecting a grudge toward Russia and Iran for fending off regime change in Syria. Four days later, Erdogan was on a completely different track when he told his hosts that he felt like he was at his “second home” in Tehran.

The Turkey-Iran relationship has always been two-sided, but the Syrian crisis upset the balance, threatening the positive side. Erdogan was in Tehran to bolster that side. Back to a “win-win” mode, he set a target of $30 billion in bilateral trade for 2015. In 2013, the trade volume dropped to $13.5 billion from $21.8 billion the previous year.

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Lebanon Travel Warning

flag of the city of Beirut, capital of Lebanon

flag of the city of Beirut, capital of Lebanon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last Updated: January 31, 2014

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon because of current safety and security concerns.  U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks.  This supersedes the Travel Warning issued on October 9, 2013.

The potential for death or injury in Lebanon exists in particular due to the increasing frequency of terrorist bombing attacks throughout the country.  Many of the attacks have targeted specific individuals or venues, but in all cases have resulted in death and harm to passersby in the vicinity.  Although there is no evidence these attacks were directed specifically at U.S. citizens at this time, there is a real possibility of “wrong place, wrong time” harm to U.S. citizens.  On October 19, 2012, Wisam al-Hassan, a high-ranking police official, was assassinated in a car bombing in Beirut’s Ashrafieh neighborhood.  Two others died, and many were injured in the blast.  On August 15, 2013, a car bomb in the Rouweis neighborhood in south Beirut, killed at least 27 and injured over 200.  On August 23, 2013, car bombs detonated outside of two mosques in Tripoli, killing over 40 and injuring more than 500.  On November 19, 2013, two suicide bombers targeted the Iranian Embassy in south Beirut, which left at least 25 dead, and 150 injured.  On December 27, 2013, a car bomb in downtown Beirut killed former Finance Minister Mohammad Chatah, and seven others, while injuring more than 70.  On January 2, 2014, a suicide car bomb exploded in Beirut, killing five and wounding at least 60.  On January 16, 2014 a suicide car bomb exploded in Hermel, in the Bekaa Valley, killing five and wounding at least 40 people.  On January 21, 2014 a suicide car bomb exploded in south Beirut, which left five dead and dozens wounded.  Some of the most recent attacks have involved suicide bombers.  Similar incidents can occur without warning.  In addition to these bombings, there have been numerous reports in the media of Lebanese security forces disrupting other planned explosive attacks.

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Russia plays the Iran card

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Russian President Vladimir Putin passes Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during their meeting at the Kremlin, Jan. 16, 2014.  (photo by REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

The Geneva II conference to be held next week may be the most intriguing event in diplomacy since the Cold War. On the one hand, this is an example of the cooperation of major countries that want to resolve a regional conflict, each for its own reason. On the other hand, this is a classic “great game,” when all participants are afraid to miscalculate and miss out on the opportunities that will arise. All this is happening, yet the result is completely unpredictable. Even the process itself is unpredictable — a few days before the conference is set to begin, it is still unclear who will participate.

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Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal

English: Faisal ephemeral "KINGDOM of SYR...

25 July 2012 6:11 PM

There is a degree of panic, and rightly so, over whether the Syrian tyrant Basher al Assad will use chemical weapons against either his own people or foreign attackers. His regime has this week threatened to do the latter, thus finally confirming what was long suspected but never openly admitted, that Syria possesses chemical weapons. It is believed to have mustard gas as well as nerve agents such as tabun, sarin and VX. The fear is either that the Assad regime uses them or that they fall into the hands of Hezbollah, al Qaeda or other Islamic terrorist groups. Either prospect is utterly nightmarish. Even Russia says it has told Syria it is unacceptable to threaten to use them.

In the last few days, this has been much discussed. What has not been raised, however, is the question of how Syria managed to develop such a chemical weapons stockpile in the first place. No-one in the western media seems remotely curious about how Syria has managed to arm itself to the teeth with them beneath the radar of international scrutiny.

Dr Danny Shoham, at the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University in Israel, is an expert in chemical and biological warfare. In a Middle East Quarterly article in 2002, Guile, Gas and Germs: Syria’s Ultimate Weapons, he set out the extraordinary history of Syria’s chemical weapons programme.

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Iran News Round Up July 26, 2012

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syria (Photo credit: themua)

A selection of the latest news stories and editorials published in Iranian news outlets, compiled by Ali Alfoneh, Ahmad Majidyar and Michael Rubin
 
(E) = Article in English

Diplomacy

  • Mohammad-Reza Tabesh: “We must support the government of Syria, which is at the frontline of the struggle against Israel… But we should support it as long as the government of Syria does not treat the people of Syria badly and the rights of the people are not violated.”
  • Ali-Reza Mahjoub: “Survival of the Syrian government is in the interest of our region.”
  • Jafar Qaderi: “The government of Syria… must continue the path of reform, enforce the popular will, and respect the popular vote.”
  • Fatemeh Alia: “We must support the trend of reform in Syria.”
  • Mousa-al-Reza Servati: “We oppose the West because of belief that any reform must take place based on the choice of the people and implemented by the people of Syria. People can achieve whatever their wishes through elections”
  • Amir-Hossein Qazizadeh: “What we see in Syria… is a domestic Syrian issue and intervention in internal affairs of states is incorrect and illegal…” 
  • [E] The Indian media reported that the country’s government has decided to attend the 16th heads-of-state summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Tehran at the highest level, and that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will represent New Delhi in the high profile meeting.
  • [E] Iran and Russia lambasted the western and Arab states for their interferences in the internal affairs of Syria, and called on them to stop unconstructive acts in the Muslim country.

Military and Security