Monthly Archives: February 2008

Every Day…


Put yourself in the position of someone living in Sderot. Rockets fall on your town on an almost daily basis, making life difficult if not impossible. Residents of Sderot and readers of this blog are well aware where the rockets are coming from, Gaza. We are also aware who is firing the rockets, Palestinian militants terrorists. On Wednesday, Roni Yihye was murdered by latest salvo.

Yet who is getting blamed for this situation? Israel, of course.

This is from a recent editorial in The New York Sun, “Silence Over Sderot”:

The Israeli reaction has been constrained by the expectation of international rebuke. The European Union did not wait for a full scale ground intervention by Israeli forces. The parliament at Strasbourg last week called on the Jewish State “to cease military actions killing and endangering civilians, and extrajudicial targeted killings.” Strasbourg did criticize Hamas, both on the grounds of its “illegal takeover of the Gaza Strip” and its failure “to prevent the firing of rockets by Palestinian militias from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory.” But for the Europeans, it’s as if Hamas were merely failing to prevent rather than encouraging the attacks by its own members and other terror groups.

Strasbourg went further, declaring “that the policy of isolation of the Gaza Strip has failed.” But the European Union parliament put the onus on Israel for the “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza, calling on the Jewish state to put “an end to the blockade and [allow] … a controlled re-opening of the crossings in and out of Gaza.” Not even a mention of the original reason the crossings were closed: the danger that suicide bombers would slip through along with fruits and vegetables bound for the West Bank and Jordan and laborers bound for Tel Aviv.

The E.U. called for limitations on Israeli defense measures, declaring that in Gaza the civilian population “should be exempt from any military action and any collective punishment.” On top of all this, the E.U. Parliament called on Israel “to fulfill its international obligations, as an occupying power, in the Gaza Strip.” An occupying power? Israel bowed two years ago to international pressure and withdrew entirely from the Gaza district. It isn’t occupying Gaza at all. George Orwell’s estate should be demanding royalties.

Hillel Halkin opinionating in the same paper (“Confession of Impotence”) had this to say:

A few months ago I suggested in these pages that Israel should make clear that, as of such-and-such a date, any rocket fired at an Israeli residential neighborhood would be met with far more deadly artillery fire directed at a residential neighborhood in Gaza.

Yes, Palestinians would be killed, large numbers of rockets would fly back in return, and international protests would be voiced — but after a few rounds of such tit for tat, internal Palestinian pressure on Hamas would make the rockets cease.

Others, with greater wisdom, have proposed a more refined and less lethal version of this policy. In retaliation for each Kassam attack, they have said, let Israel demolish a neighborhood in the Gaza Strip with artillery fire while first giving sufficient advance warning for its residents to be evacuated.

There would be no loss of life and the ultimate results would be the same. After several such neighborhoods were leveled, there would be enough Palestinians afraid of being next in line to make Hamas step in and put an end to it.

I generally agree with Mr. Halkin but in this case it is best to give fair warning. Distribute leaflets, let them know what is coming. After that, use the artillery.

Read more at Elder of Ziyon, The Jerusalem Post, and Sultan Knish.

SPME: Matthias Kuentzel in NYC, Live Stream



[H/t to Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME)]

Book Award Winner and SPME Board Member, Author of “Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and Roots of 9/11” at Columbia University on March 6, 2008, 6:00 PM Eastern Time (USA)

By Edward S. Beck, President, SPME

Click here at 6.00 PM Eastern Time (USA) for Live Streaming of Prof. Küntzel’s talk on March 6, 2008.
Click here to download RealPlayer to hear this webcast.

Hear Matthias Küntzel, author of the controversial Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11, speak at two New York City events in March:

Thursday, March 6
6:00 pm
Columbia University
301 Uris Hall
(Uris Hall is directly north of Low Library, to the left of the Campus Walk as you enter from Broadway at 116th Street)

Saturday, March 22
6:00 pm
Cooper Union
Great Hall (Foundation Building)
(Located at 7 East 7th Street at Third Avenue)

Since 2001, Matthias Küntzel’s research and writing have focused on antisemitism in current Islamic thinking, Islamism and National Socialism, German and European policies toward the Middle East, and Iran. Having earned his doctorate at the University of Hamburg, the political scientist currently conducts research at the Vidal Sassoon International Centre for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His articles have been published in The New Republic, the Wall Street Journal, Internationale Politik, and Telos. In 2006, he became a member of the Board of Directors of Scholars for Peace in Directors of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.

One year ago, Küntzel became a cause célèbre in the struggle for academic freedom when his invited presentation, “Hitler’s Legacy: Islamic Anti-Semitism in the Middle East,” at the University of Leeds (UK) was canceled last minute due to “security concerns.”

The January 6 New York Times book review of Jihad and Jew-Hatred is available here. the Middle East. His new book, Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11, published by Telos Press, recently won the London Book Festival Grand Prize. He is a member of the Board of

To read the American Foreign Policy Interests review, click here (PDF download).

For more information including more reviews, visit the author’s website at

To order this award-winning title, click here.

Brian Latell on C-SPAN 2’s Book TV



Latell, a former Cuba analyst for the CIA, National Intelligence Officer for Latin America from 1990 to 1994 and a senior research associate at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami discusses his recent book, After Fidel: The Inside Story of Cuba’s Regime and Cuba’s Next Leader. This event was part of the Raleigh International Spy Conference at the North Carolina Museum of History. The panel was titled: “Castro and Cuba: The Inside Story.” Powerful stuff and not to be missed. Click here to view.

The emphasis of this year’s conference is “CIA’s Unsolved Mysteries,” featuring the top experts in counterintelligence to discuss unresolved issues from the Cold War:

  • Pete Bagley, the former chief of CIA’s Soviet bloc counterintelligence division will defend his controversial new book on KGB defector Yuri Nosenko, with its mysterious connections to Lee Harvey Oswald and John F. Kennedy that kicked off 40 years of unresolved internal strife at CIA.
  • David Robarge, Chief Historian for CIA and expert on infamous counterintelligence chief James Angleton, will discuss the controversy created by the former chief of counterintelligence for the Agency by his obsessive hunt for a Soviet mole.
  • Brian Kelley, the wrong man in the Robert Hanssen spy case – and former counterintelligence officer for CIA, will use examples of defectors and double agents he uses as case models for courses he teaches to train espionage agents.
  • Jerry Schecter, former correspondent for Time magazine in Moscow during the Cold War, and respected expert and author of books on Cold War espionage, was on hand to witness for the press the important cases of defectors and double agents in the heat of the Cold War.
  • David Ignatius, former foreign editor – now columnist for the Washington Post – and author of espionage fiction, is respected in the “community” for his insights on the impact of defectors and double agents on the craft of espionage.

Fidel Castro Steps Down, Raul Moves In



[The myth…photograph by the New Centrist, Museo de la Revolución, Havana, Cuba.]

Fidel Castro has stepped down and handed the reigns of power to his brother, Raul. Reaction on the island and in the exile community has been mixed. What follows are selections from blogs and media reports. I’ll be writing more on this soon…

Willi Weissert, AP, “Cubans hope for shift towards capitalism.”

Fidel Castro spent nearly five decades railing against even the tiniest of capitalist reforms in the Western Hemisphere’s only communist country.

Now that he is stepping down, some Cubans are hoping his brother, Raul, will embrace free markets and more if he becomes president on Sunday — perhaps moving Cuba to something more like Vietnam or China, where communist leaders let markets largely rule their economies.

“China is a communist country, but the people are free to earn a lot and buy cars, cell phones,” said Alberto, who rolls cigars in a government factory for $15 a month. “Why can’t Cuban communism be like that?”

The answer could start to emerge Sunday when Cuba’s parliament meets to choose new leaders. While Raul Castro is likely to be named president, the choices for 30 other lawmakers on the Council of State, including his No. 2, could indicate how far the island’s supreme governing body is willing to go toward opening the economy.

Carlos Alberto Montaner, Miami Herald, “History will never absolve Castro.

Raúl Castro will begin a cautious economic reform. What will the changes be?

First, more space for the self-employed workers, and the emergence of small, family-run private enterprises that can provide the services the state cannot furnish.

Second, the authorization for people to freely sell or buy houses and cars.

Third, permission for Cubans (athletes included) to leave the country and return.

No political reform is expected in the direction of democracy, but we may look forward to the gradual release of the prisoners of conscience and greater tolerance for the domestic dissidents, along with a more open environment within the Communist Party, so the comrades may better examine the myriad problems that afflict the country without being persecuted. It is also probable that Raúl will cancel the ”acts of repudiation” — violent pogroms against the opposition democrats — and renounce the climate of permanent international confrontation maintained by his brother since his first day in power. Raúl’s principal and secret objectives are to make peace with the United States and achieve a self-sufficient economy, without renouncing the single party.

Cubapolidata, “Exit, stage right.”

Fidel’s historic announcement, symbolically officiates and closes the chapter of succession that began shortly after his provisional resignation, on July 31, 2006 to the position of President of the State Council, which he left to his brother Defense Minister and First Vice-President Raul Castro Ruz.

Might we see Army General Raul Castro as Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party and Commander-in-Chief, Army Corps General Alvaro Lopez Miera as Defence Minister, Carlos Lage as President of the State Council and a new President of the National Assembly once the outcome is known of Cuba’s national Assembly’s “general election” which will be held on Sunday, February 24?

The political status quo remains in Cuba in the short-term, however, it remains to be seen what the political landscape will look like in a long-term period.

News coverage of the announcement: BBC, New York Times, Reuters, Miami Herald, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, AP, USA Today, ABC, El Pais.

Read more at Cubablog.


[The reality…photograph by the New Centrist, El malecon de la Habana, Havana, Cuba.]

Freedom for Kosova


For heartfelt and astute observations I direct you to Marko Attila Hoare’s blog, Greater Surbiton. Hoare, the author of Genocide and Resistance in Hitler’s Bosnia: The Partisans and the Chetniks, 1941-1943 is also a contributor to the Bosnian Report of the Bosnian Institute and Democratiya. Here is an excerpt from his blogpost, “Kosova is free!“:

Kosova was crushed and oppressed by the Ottoman Empire; murderously invaded by the Serbian Army; repressed and colonised under the Yugoslav kingdom; dismembered by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy; and terrorised by the Communist police-state after World War II. It was partially emancipated in the late 1960s and 70s, only to see its autonomy brutally abrogated by Slobodan Milosevic, in an assault that culminated in the attempted genocide of the late 1990s. Who would have thought before 1999 that the story would have a happy ending ? Who would have thought that when Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975, East Timor would one day be free ?

This is a lesson, that no matter how bleak things may seem, justice and liberty may triumph in the long run. I have said before that the idea that Kosova’s independence will cause innumerable other ’separatist’ territories around the world to try to follow suit is a scaremongering myth. Still, I hope that the happy outcome will indeed inspire other enslaved nations not to give up hope: liberation may be just around the corner; you can’t keep a good nation down. Long live the freedom of the Chechens, Kurds, Taiwanese, Kashmiris, Darfurians ! Long live a free Palestine alongside a free Israel !

The Future of Counterinsurgency and More


[H/t to Contentions and Internet Haganah]

Max Boot at Contentions writes:

RAND has just come out with an important study of what the U.S. government needs to do to reorient itself for the challenges of waging a global counterinsurgency against Islamist radicals. (For a brief summary, click here.) The abstract lays out the problem succinctly:

“Iraq and Afghanistan have revealed serious shortfalls in the capabilities of the United States to counter insurgency in the Muslim world. Instead of relying predominantly on military occupation, the United States must become more able to bolster the ability of threatened states to win the contest for the support of their people.”

[read the entire article]

Selected RAND Corporation research and commentary on counterinsurgency here.


Not sure how I missed this item at Internet Haganah. Al Queda of Yemen recently released the first issue of their new magazine. You can view a pdf here. Check out the front cover.

You can also read about the conviction of Emadeddin Muntasser, Samir Almonla and Muhamed Mubayyid, three former officers of Care International, Inc.:

Evidence presented during the 24-day trial proved that the defendants fraudulently used Care International to solicit and obtain tax deductible donations for the purpose of supporting and promoting the mujahideen (Muslim holy warriors) and jihad (violent armed conflict). The evidence demonstrated that from in or about April 1993 to April 2003, MUNTASSER, ALMONLA, and MUBAYYID, concealed the fact that Care International was an outgrowth of and successor to the Al-Kifah Refugee Center (“Al-Kifah”) and was engaged in non-charitable activities involving the solicitation and expenditure of funds to support and promote the mujahideen and jihad from the IRS, FBI, and Immigration and Naturalization Service (now known as Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Further, the government proved that MUNTASSER, AL-MONLA, and MUBAYYID conspired to defraud the United States for the purpose of impeding, impairing, interfering, and obstructing the lawful functions of the Internal Revenue Service in the ascertainment, assessment, and determination of whether Care International qualified and should be designated as a charitable organization pursuant to 26 U.S.C. §501(c)(3) in 1993 and should continue to be accorded that status thereafter.

Read more at Counter-terrorism Blog.

Senior Islamic Jihad Terrorist Killed in Gaza Bomb Blast


An explosion in the Gaza Strip’s Bureij refugee camp leveled the apartment of senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist Ayman Atallah Fayed. Fayed, a member of the al-Quds Brigades better known as Abu Abdallah, was killed with his wife, two young children, and three other terrorists.

A nearby metal workshop was damaged in the blast. These workshops are often used to produce Qassam rockets and other explosive devices. Witnesses at the scene described debris among the rubble that looked surprisingly like the locally manufactured rockets Islamic Jihad regularly fires at Israel. This led to speculation in the MSM that the home might possibly have been used to house arms. According to the Los Angeles Times, “A Hamas militant with a walkie-talkie appeared on Palestinian television in Gaza at the scene of the blast, warning people to leave. He said there might be four or five unexploded rockets in the area.”

The Associated Press reports Islamic Jihad spokesman Abu Hamza claiming the house was hit in an Israeli air strike. Israeli officials denied the allegations and stated no IDF or IAF operations were occurring in the area. Hamas security officials said the cause of the explosion was unclear at this time. While Reuters refers to reports that a bomb went off inside the house.

I suspect an accidental explosion was most likely the case for three reasons. First, the materials found at the scene were indicative of rockets commonly used by Islamic Jihad against Israel. Second, the apartment was located near the sort of facility that produces these weapons. The third element is Hamas’ actions. I can’t think of a similar case when Hamas officials did not immediately blame Israel.

Read more at BBC News, IHT, WSJ, YNet.

Hizbullah Terrorist Imad Mughniyeh Killed in Car Bombing



Wanted Hizbullah terrorist Imad Mughniyeh was killed Tuesday (02/12/08 ) in a car bombing in the Syrian capital of Damascus. Mughniyeh operated in Syria and Lebanon, and served as a top-level Hizbullah liason with the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security and the al-Qods unit within the Iranian Pasdaran. The International Herald Tribune reports,

One of the world’s most wanted and elusive terrorists, the 45-year-old Mughniyeh was the suspected mastermind of attacks that killed hundreds of Americans, including 241 U.S. Marines, in Lebanon and the brutal kidnappings of Westerners in the 1980s.

He went underground in 1990s, reportedly undergoing plastic surgery, and was a mastermind behind with the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Argentina, a Jewish center in Buenos Aires and an attack on Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia.

Mughniyeh was wanted by half a dozen state intelligence agencies, including the FBI, early speculation in much of the Arab and Muslim world is Israel was responsible for the operation. However opinions of have been mixed. Predictably, Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, appealed to the Muslim world to “rise up to confront the Zionist devil, which is backed by the Americans.” Yet Sheik Jaber Al Khaled Al Sabah of Kuwait welcomed the attack as an act of divine retribution. Mughniyeh was behind the hijacking of a Kuwait Airways flight in 1998 and the killing of two of its Kuwaiti passengers. “The killing of the criminal Imad Mughniyeh was divine vengeance for those who killed the sons of Kuwait and threw them from planes at Limasol Airport in Cyprus,” the minister said.

In light of the recent bombing of a suspected Syrian nuclear installation this recent operation would represent a significant representation of the reach of Israeli military power. Israeli government officials denied any involvement in the attack. Military officials would neither confirm nor deny the allegations. Hizbullah vows to retaliate against Israeli targets abroad while Israel is steadily boosting troop levels along the Lebanese border. Israel ordered all embassies and military personnel on alert status and suggested international Jewish organizations be on guard against any potential acts of violence.

This was a welcome blow to Hizbullah both for the amount of blood on Mughniyeh’s hands as well as the political impact on the Baathist regime in Damascus. If Israel is responsible for the attack, this is a clear signal: if Damascus continues to support Hezbollah, when the next war comes, prepare to get hit with overwhelming force.

From the Jerusalem Post:

Mugniyeh operated against the US and Israel from Lebanon, had a hand in operations directly against both and in third countries like Argentina, shuttled between Beirut, Damascus and Teheran, and was central to training Hamas on Iran’s behalf. This sort of networking puts the lie to the strangely persistent myth that Shi’ites and Sunnis don’t work together. Just as Shi’ite Iran and Hizbullah, through Mugniyeh, have no compunctions helping Sunni Hamas, there is no reason to believe that these same terror centers are disconnected from al-Qaida, just because it is a Sunni group. Furthermore, Mugniyeh died, having evidently felt particularly safe in, the Syrian capital, Damascus. This should serve as a reminder, in case any was needed, that Syria remains a terror state par excellence.

His death revives central questions in the battle against Islamist terror: What is happening with the endless UN investigation of Syrian assassinations in Lebanon, while Syria seems to keep adding to its hit list? What is happening with the Chapter 7 embargo against Hizbullah that Syria is rampantly violating. When will the UN Security Council take steps to enforce the weapons embargo imposed by Resolution 1701? Most importantly, when will UNIFIL be charged with helping the Lebanese government to prevent the weapons flow to Hizbullah across the Lebanon-Syria border?

The death of Mugniyeh should also refocus attention on the danger posed by his real masters in Teheran. Every time the world contemplates a nuclear Iran, it must also contemplate the possibility that Mugniyeh’s successors will be tasked with using that weapon in a way the bears no obvious fingerprints leading back to Iran, presents no clear address for retaliation, and therefore leaves the entire deterrence model in shambles.

Read more at The Contentious Centrist, Contentions, Counterterrorism Blog, The Daily Star (Lebanon), Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Small Wars Journal, The New York Sun, The Terror Wonk.

Collateral Damage and Counterinsurgency Doctrine


[H/t to Small Wars Journal]

Collateral Damage and Counterinsurgency Doctrine
by Major General Charles J. Dunlap, Jr., USAF

When America’s landpower services issued their new counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine in December of 2006, the Pentagon rightly hailed it as “a real team effort of Army and Marine writers.” Although officially cast as simply doctrine for the two services, it was not long before Field Manual (FM) 3-24, (designated by the Marine Corps as Warfighting Publication 3-33.5) was being broadly touted in the media as “The Book” on Iraq.

Following the designation of one of FM 3-34’s principal architects, General David H. Petraeus, as the Commanding General of the Multinational Force, it actually became, in effect, the strategy not just for the ground component, but the whole joint force in Iraq. Reflecting the views of many, Senator John McCain calls it the “blueprint of U.S. efforts” to secure that troubled country for its citizens.

Download interim version of article as PDF

From the Jam at Gramercy Theater



My wife has liked The Jam for years so, as a surprise for her birthday, I purchased some tickets to see From The Jam (FTJ) at the Gramercy Theater in Manhattan. FTJ is Bruce Foxton and Rick Butler from the original line up with the addition of David Moore and Russell Hastings). Not being a huge fan myself I was unaware that FTJ lacked a key member of the group, Paul Weller. Apparently Mr. Weller is not big on playing his “old tunes” these days. Nevertheless we went with open minds ready and willing to have a good time. We were not disappointed. FTJ rocked out song after song with all of their hits: In the City, Going Underground, Down in the Tube Station at Midnight, Modern World, Strange Town, Eton Rifles, and all the rest. It was a lot of fun.

[Down in the Tube Station at Midnight]