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War Blog By: FrontPage Magazine
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, June 20, 2008


RUNNING ON EMPTY

By Bob Gorrell


www.townhall.com/funnies

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DOES OBAMA KNOW WHAT HE'S TALKING ABOUT?

By Scott Johnson

Speaking in unscripted environments on important issues, Barack Obama betrays a troubling lack of knowledge. He does not appear to know what he's talking about. In his interview with ABC's Jake Tapper earlier this week, for example, Obama advocated an approach to combating terrorism that is supposedly more attuned to legal issues than the Bush administration's:

It is my firm belief that we can track terrorists, we can crack down on threats against the United States. But we can do so within the constraints of our Constitution. Let's take the example of Guantanamo. What we know is that in previous terrorist attacks, for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated.
Andrew McCarthy (the lead prosecutor of the perpetrators of the 1993 WTC attack) comments:
This is a remarkably ignorant account of the American experience with jihadism. In point of fact, while the government managed to prosecute many people responsible for the 1993 WTC bombing, many also escaped prosecution because of the limits on civilian criminal prosecution. Some who contributed to the attack, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, continued to operate freely because they were beyond the system’s capacity to apprehend. Abdul Rahman Yasin was released prematurely because there was not sufficient evidence to hold him — he fled to Iraq, where he was harbored for a decade (and has never been apprehended).
McCarthy discusses the subsequent terrorist attacks on Americans and American assets during the Clinton administration culminating in the 9/11 attack at the outset of the Bush administration. He notes the futility of the law enforcement approach to combating terrorism. But Obama's comments fall short on additional factual grounds as well.

The convicted spiritual mentor of the 1993 WTC bombers is Omar Abdel-Rahman ("the blind sheikh"). According to Obama, the blind sheikh was "incapacitated" and therefore rendered harmless by his conviction and imprisonment. In fact, however, with the assistance of attorney Lynne Stewart, Abdel-Rahman continued to wage jihad from behind bars, issuing instructions to his followers in Egypt. Stewart has been convicted for the assistance she lent to Abdel-Rahman, but she remains at liberty. (I wrote about my own close encounter with Stewart while she was under indictment in "Face to face with Lynne Stewart.")

Speaking at a town hall meeting in Pennsylvania last Saturday, Obama addressed the Supreme Court's Boumediene decision granting Guantanamo detainees the right to challenge their confinement through habeas corpus proceedings in federal court. Obama asserted that the "principle of habeas corpus, that a state can't just hold you for any reason without charging you and without giving you any kind of due process -- that’s the essence of who we are." He explained:

I mean, you remember during the Nuremberg trials, part of what made us different was even after these Nazis had performed atrocities that no one had ever seen before, we still gave them a day in court and that taught the entire world about who we are but also the basic principles of rule of law. Now the Supreme Court upheld that principle yesterday.
John Hinderaker and I derived some precepts for trial lawyers from the Nuremberg trial in "Lessons from the cross-examination of Hermann Goering." In the course of researching that article I was reminded that the Nuremberg trial was conducted before a military commission composed of representatives of the United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union. The most prominent surviving Nazi leaders were brought for trial before the Nuremberg tribunal in late 1945. Winston Churchill had proposed, not unreasonably, that they be summarily shot. The victorious allies nevertheless subsequently agreed that they would be brought before a military commission to be convened pursuant to the London Agreement of August 8, 1945.

In Boumediene, the Supreme Court disapproved of the system of military commissions Congress had adopted at the Supreme Court's urging. Obama to the contrary notwithstanding, the Nuremberg defendants' "day in court" occurred before the kind of tribunal the Supreme Court found constitutionally inadequate in Boumediene.

The Nazi war criminals were given no access to American courts. Their rights were governed by the charter annexed to the London Agreement. Here is the fair trial provision of the charter:

In order to ensure fair trial for the Defendants, the following procedure shall be followed:

(a) The Indictment shall include full particulars specifying in detail the charges against the Defendants. A copy of the Indictment and of all the documents lodged with the Indictment, translated into a language which he understands, shall be furnished to the Defendant at reasonable time before the Trial.

(b) During any preliminary examination or trial of a Defendant he will have the right to give any explanation relevant to the charges made against him.

(c) A preliminary examination of a Defendant and his Trial shall be conducted in, or translated into, a language which the Defendant understands.

(d) A Defendant shall have the right to conduct his own defense before the Tribunal or to have the assistance of Counsel.

(e) A Defendant shall have the right through himself or through his Counsel to present evidence at the Trial in support of his defense, and to cross-examine any witness called by the Prosecution.

The charter provision on the appeal rights of the Nuremberg defendants was even shorter and sweeter. There were no appeal rights. Article 26 provided: "The judgment of the Tribunal as to the guilt or the innocence of any Defendant shall give the reasons on which it is based, and shall be final and not subject to review."

In short, the procedural protections afforded the Guantanamo detainees under the statute before the Supreme Court in Boumediene substantially exceed those accorded the Nuremberg defendants. Obama's unfavorable comparison of the legal treatment of the Guantanamo detainees with that of the Nuremberg defendants suggests either that he does not know what he's talking about, or that he feels free to take great liberties with the truth.  Thursday, June 19, 2008

DID OBAMA TAKE CUES ON IRAQ FROM TONY REZKO AND ASSOCIATES?

By Paul Mirengoff

We've commented before on Barack Obama's evolving positions regarding the Iraq war. Initially a strong opponent of military action in Iraq, by July 2004 Obama was saying that at this stage there was not much difference between his position on the war and that of President Bush. Earlier that year, on April 5, 2004, Obama surprised an interviewer by denying that he had advocated a troop withdrawal. As can be seen below, he stated, "we’ve got to make sure that we secure and execute the rebuilding and reconstruction process effectively and properly and I don’t think we should have an artificial deadline when to do that."

Richard Fernandez at Pajamas Media notes that Obama's 2004 support for "staying the course" in Iraq can not easily be explained by reference to the success of our mission. By April of that year, Fernandez reminds us, the Iraq campaign had turned quite bloody.

What, then, prompted Obama's insistence that we resist "artificial" withdrawal dates and finish the job? Fernandez suggests that the explanation may reside in Obama's relationship with his friend and backer the crooked Tony Rezko, who in April 2004 was attempting to secure multi-million-dollar contracts to build and operate a power plant in Kurdish Iraq. There is evidence that two days before making his statement about staying the course in Iraq, Obama attended a party hosted by Rezko at which Nadhmi Auchi, a London-based Iraqi billionaire, was also present. Auchi, it appears, was Rezko's main financier and his backing was crucial to enabling Rezko to secure the power plant contracts. According to Fernandez, Obama doesn't deny attending the party but says he doesn't recall doing so because it was in the midst of his campaign for the Senate. However, his calendar indicates he had no campaign events that day, and two sources have placed him at the party. (Photographs apparently exist of Auchi meeting Emil Jones, the president of the Illinois state senate and an ally of Obama, but it seems that no such photos of Auchi and Obama have been unearthed).

Obama had wrapped up his party's nomination for the Senate by April. Frankly, I assumed that Obama tacked towards the "center" on Iraq after securing the nomination to enhance his position in the general election (in April, he was expecting to face Jack Ryan who looked like a credible candidate). But if April 5 is the first date on which Obama expressed his desire that the U.S. remain in Iraq without a withdrawal date -- and his interviewer in the video above certainly seems surprised to hear Obama say this -- the more tantalizing (but no more cynical) Rezko-connection theory must be considered plausible. Indeed, given Obama's reference to rebuilding and reconstruction, it seems quite plausible.  Wednesday, June 18, 2007

www.powerlineblog.com

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IRAN, SADR GET THE AMARAH SHAFT FROM MALIKI

By Ed Morrissey

The Iraqi Army has begun its fourth pacification effort in Amarah today, following on the successful missions in Basra, Sadr City, and Mosul, where operations continue.  Amarah, like Sadr City, provides the Mahdi Army with one of its power bases — or at least it did until Nouri al-Maliki decided to impose control over the entirety of Iraq.  Despite the cooperation of Moqtada al-Sadr, the Iraqis arrested Sadr’s top official in Amarah and several others:

Iraqi security forces launched a crackdown on Shi’ite militias in the southern city of Amara on Thursday, the latest drive in Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s campaign to restore order to Iraq.

There was no resistance and residents said they had not heard one gunshot.

Amara, home to 250,000 people, is a stronghold of the Mehdi Army militia of anti-American Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Witnesses saw police raiding houses of suspected militants, backed by U.S. troops in armoured vehicles blocking roads.

Despite Mahdi protests, the Iraqi Army seized Rafia Abdul-Jabbar, the top official in the area and the acting deputy governor for Maysan Province.  The arrest underscored the push to marginalize both the Mahdis and Sadr himself, who has had little power to stop Maliki since the surge.  Sadr has spent most of his time in Iran while his militias get rolled up by the suddenly muscular IA.

Sadr had threatened to end his cease-fire and attack US forces.  American commanders avoided visible support roles in the pacification of Sadr City to keep from provoking a battle.  In Amarah, that pretense was quickly dispensed.  American helicopters accompanied the IA into Amarah, sending a rather defiant message to Sadr and his sponsors in Iran.

According to Vali Nasr, that message has been received, at least by the Iranians, who have discovered that their plans for Iraq have almost completely collapsed:

For the first time since 2003, Iran has stumbled in Iraq. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s decision to confront Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army in Basra and Sadr City last month caught Tehran off guard. The Mahdi Army lost more than face: It surrendered large caches of arms, and many of its leaders fled or were killed or captured. Crucially, the militias lost strategic terrain — Basra and its chokehold on the causeway between Kuwait and Baghdad and Iraq’s oil exports; Sadr City and the threat it posed to Baghdad security. Visiting Basra this month, I saw city walls covered with pro-Maliki graffiti. Commerce is returning to the city center. Trouble spots remain in both places, as Tuesday’s car bombings show, but the Mahdi Army’s unchallenged hold has ended.

Iran wants U.S. forces to leave Iraq and assumes that a friendly Shiite government would then protect Iran’s interests. Tehran has looked to Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Revolutionary Guards‘ Quds Force, to manage its strategy of supporting Shiite unity and resisting American occupation. But these efforts do not go hand in hand. The first means supporting stability and state-building and working with Iraq’s government; the second involves building violent militias that undermine government authority.

Iran has managed to fail at both objectives.  Their support for Sadr’s militia has alienated Maliki and the rest of the elected central government.  Their attempts to make nice with Maliki undermined their support for the militias.  Instead of playing both sides against the middle and bolstering their offensive against the US, the Iranians wound up with a discredited rebel in Sadr and almost no standing at all with a surprisingly strong and effective Maliki.  Tehran forced Maliki to create an alliance with Kurds, Sunnis, and the Shi’ites opposed to Iranian hegemony, and his success has come at their expense.

How badly have they stumbled?  Even some state-controlled media have called for deporting Sadr from Iran, a sign that the portly cleric may have worn out his welcome with the mullahs.  The Amarah operation will clear another strut out from underneath Sadr and expose him even more as a political fool.  Maliki has the initiative now and will continue to impose the sovereignty of the central government across the country, leaving Sadr with no place to hide.

TALIBAN FLEES KANDAHAR AFTER PUTTING UP A BIG SHOW

By Ed Morrissey

Earlier this week, the Taliban announced that it had taken over the area surrounding Arghandab, a district near Kandahar in the southern part of the country where the rebels have had success before.  That success didn’t last long as NATO forces quickly responded, sending the Taliban reeling with hundreds of losses:

Hundreds of Taliban militants streamed into several villages in Kandahar days ago, after 400 militants escaped from prison in a daring and well-executed jailbreak.

In response, NATO aircraft dropped hundreds of leaflets advising residents to stay inside and saying that troops were “coming to remove the enemies of Afghanistan.” Then military convoys rolled into the district.

Afghan soldiers and police, along with NATO-led forces, started the military operation Wednesday. At least 34 militants were killed and another 60 wounded in the early stages of the assault, Afghan police said.

“This clearing operation is a response to a direct Taliban threat to the people of Arghandab district, where insurgents have forced hundreds of innocent Afghans to flee their homes,” read a statement from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

The Taliban offensive came after hundreds of their fighters escaped from prison nearby the battle.  The assumption is that the Taliban forces came from the prison break and that they immediately used their numbers to descend on the villages around Kandahar.   This is, in essence, a police action to recover prisoners.  NATO said that they see no evidence of coordinated efforts to establish effective military positions and no large grouping of militants except for the presumed escapees.

Asadullah Khaled, the governor of Kandahar, reported that the ISAF had killed “hundreds” of Taliban, and that the dead were “mostly Pakistanis”.  Khaled told AFP that the remaining Taliban had run off into neighboring districts.  They had earlier planted mines and conscripted males in the villages by force, which didn’t help them in the least.

The prison break and the attempted seizure of Arghandab got portrayed as a major setback against NATO, but in the end turned out to be a rather minor episode of no strategic significance.  As soon as the Taliban met the military, they crumbled.   Most of what remains has probably fled towards Quetta in Pakistan, where they almost certainly will attempt to regroup with Baitullah Mehsud’s forces for another shot at Afghanistan — and will likely meet the same fate.  Thursday, June 19, 2008

http://hotair.com

*

ISRAEL GIVES TERRORISTS WHAT THEY WANT, TERRORISTS WANT MORE

By Charles Johnson

I haven’t even wanted to write about this latest episode in folly, because it’s so maddening and depressing, but here it is. Israel is being pushed by the US to concede the Shebaa Farms (an area bordering the Golan Heights) to Hizballah. That would be bad enough, but Hizballah is openly mocking this attempt at appeasement by promising to continue killing Jews: Hezbollah sees role beyond Israel leaving Shebaa Farms.

BEIRUT (AFP) - The Shiite movement Hezbollah said on Thursday that Lebanon would still need its armed presence even if Israel finally quit the disputed Shebaa Farms district in the south.

“Any Zionist retreat from the Shebaa Farms would be a big achievement for the ‘resistance’ for this would be the result of its role and its pressure,” Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah was quoted as saying by the state-run National News Agency.

But any retreat “will not change the fact that Lebanon needs the resistance,” he said.

The world has gone nuts.  Thursday, June 19, 2008

http://littlegreenfootballs.com

*

A LITTLE PERSPECTIVE

By Michael Ramirez



www.townhall.com/funnies

*

ABCNEWS: HEZBOLLAH SLEEPER CELLS IN CANADA ACTIVATED, SEEK JEWISH TARGETS

By Allahpundit

No surprise. Nasrallah’s been screaming about revenge on Israel since the day after Hezbollah super-jihadi Imad Mughniyeh was assassinated in February. They’ve hit Jewish targets in the west before too, of course, most famously in 1994 with the bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and earned Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani — the heir apparent to Khamenei as supreme leader of Iran — an arrest warrant from the Argentinian government in 2006.

The U.S. isn’t expected to be on the target list. Supposedly, Iran’s afraid Bush might hit back.

Intelligence officials tell ABC News the group has activated suspected “sleeper cells” in Canada and key operatives have been tracked moving outside the group’s Lebanon base to Canada, Europe and Africa…

Suspected Hezbollah operatives have conducted recent surveillance on the Israeli embassy in Ottawa, Canada and on several synagogues in Toronto, according to the officials.

Latin American is also considered a possible target by officials following Hezbollah’s planning…

Officials say the CIA, the NSA, and British and Canadian intelligence agencies began to pick up a steady stream of information - from electronic intercepts, human sources and surveillance - about a possible Hezbollah attack on Feb. 17, just days after the Beirut funeral of Mugniyah where Hezbollah leaders publicly declared they would seek revenge…

[Former CIA intelligence officer Bob] Baer says his Hezbollah contacts told him an attack against the US was unlikely because Iran and Hezbollah did not want to give the Bush administration an excuse to attack.

Baer writes occasionally for Time and makes no secret of his disdain for the Iraq war so bear that in mind if/when the carping about neocon disinformation begins. (He’s also been known to flirt with Trutherism.) Now, question: Why leak this? According to ABC, there’s evidence of four cells — one is even named — backed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, supposedly corroborated by the CIA, NSA, and British and Canadian intel. A Hezbo weapons expert has, allegedly, even been tracked from Lebanon to Toronto. With the publication of this article the jig is up, but it doesn’t sound like a surreptitious leak: ABC cites a “senior counterterrorism official” as a source and three U.S. law enforcement agencies confirm that they’d been briefed on some of the details. Maybe they’re worried that they’ve lost track of the plotters and are putting this out in desperation, to try to spook them into aborting an attack?

And a second question: Why Canada? That’s actually easy to answer — because Hezbollah’s already there and has been there for years, openly raising funds to send back home to Lebanon for, ahem, “social services” until as recently as 2002. It’s a target of opportunity. But do note the aside about Latin America. If they want to attack Jews somewhere without having to worry about government interference, there’s an obvious choice. So obvious, in fact, that I wonder if Chavez could survive given how complicit he’d appear.  Thursday, June 19, 2008

http://hotair.com

*

TERROR-LINKED FRONT GROUPS BEG JUDGE TO CLEAR THEIR NAMES

By Charles Johnson

There’s the jihad of the sword, and the jihad of the courts, and the ACLU is joining with the legal jihadists again to promote Islamist front groups: Groups Want Names Cleared in Holy Land Case.

They just keep coming back with this stuff, no matter how many times they’re refused. And the way our legal system currently works, eventually they will probably be successful.

Two major Muslim organizations, the North American Islamic Trust and the Islamic Society of North America, are asking a federal judge to rebuke prosecutors for publicly naming the groups as unindicted co-conspirators in a federal criminal case against officers of an alleged Hamas front, the Holy Land Foundation of Richardson, Texas.

In a motion filed yesterday in federal court in Dallas, lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union contend that prosecutors violated the constitutional rights of NAIT and ISNA by branding them as conspirators even though they were not indicted in the case and have not been charged with wrongdoing.

“It is an egregious departure from regular practice,” an ACLU attorney, Hina Shamsi, said in an interview. “The smear happened and the notoriety of our clients as a result has spread and there’s no way they are able to defend themselves.”

In court papers, leaders of NAIT and ISNA said the co-conspirator designation has hampered their relations with law enforcement entities, such as the FBI, and stymied interfaith dialogue with Jewish organizations.

It shouldn’t have taken a co-conspirator designation to wake up the FBI and interfaith groups, of course; these radical Islamic front groups make only token attempts to hide their ideologies.

OBAMA'S HIJAB WOMEN CONNECTED TO RADICAL GROUPS

By Charles Johnson

Debbie Schlussel has some interesting information about the two Muslim women prevented from sitting behind Barack Obama at a Detroit rally, and their connections to radical Islamic front groups. (Are you surprised?)

SCIENCE: A NEW STEP IN EVOLUTION

By Charles Johnson

Carl Zimmer has a fascinating post at The Loom (part of the ScienceBlogs network), with more details on that 20-year experiment in evolution conducted by Richard Lenski at Michigan State University: A New Step In Evolution.

Based on what scientists already knew about evolution, Lenski expected that the bacteria would experience natural selection in their new environment. In each generation, some of the microbes would mutate. Most of the mutations would be harmful, killing the bacteria or making them grow more slowly. Others would be beneficial allowing them to breed faster in their new environment. They would gradually dominate the population, only to be replaced when a new mutation arose to produce an even fitter sort of microbe.

Lenski used a simple but elegant method to find out if this would happen. He froze some of the original bacteria in each line, and then froze bacteria every 500 generations. Whenever he was so inclined, he could go back into this fossil record and thaw out some bacteria, bringing them back to life. By putting the newest bacteria in his lines in a flask along with their ancestors, for example, he could compare how well the bacteria had adapted to the environment he had created.

Over the generations, in fits and starts, the bacteria did indeed evolve into faster breeders. The bacteria in the flasks today breed 75% faster on average than their original ancestor. Lenski and his colleagues have pinpointed some of the genes that have evolved along the way; in some cases, for example, the same gene has changed in almost every line, but it has mutated in a different spot in each case. Lenski and his colleagues have also shown how natural selection has demanded trade-offs from the bacteria; while they grow faster on a meager diet of glucose, they’ve gotten worse at feeding on some other kinds of sugars.

Last year Lenski was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. This week he is publishing an inaugural paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences with his student Zachary Blount and postdoc Christina Borland. Lenski told me about the discovery behind the paper when I first met him a few years ago. He was clearly excited, but he wasn’t ready to go public. There were still a lot of tests to run to understand exactly what had happened to the bacteria.

Now they’re sure. Out of the blue, their bacteria had abandoned Lenski’s their glucose-only diet and had evolved a new way to eat.

After 33,127 generations Lenski and his students noticed something strange in one of the colonies. The flask started to turn cloudy. This happens sometimes when contaminating bacteria slip into a flask and start feeding on a compound in the broth known as citrate. Citrate is made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen; it’s essentially the same as the citric acid that makes lemons tart. Our own cells produce citrate in the long chain of chemical reactions that lets us draw energy from food. Many species of bacteria can eat citrate, but in an oxygen-rich environment like Lenski’s lab, E. coli can’t. The problem is that the bacteria can’t pull the molecule in through their membranes. In fact, their failure has long been one of the defining hallmarks of E. coli as a species.

If citrate-eating bacteria invade the flasks, however, they can feast on the abundant citrate, and their exploding population turns the flask cloudy. This has only happened rarely in Lenski’s experiment, and when it does, he and his colleagues throw out the flask and start the line again from its most recently frozen ancestors.

But in one remarkable case, however, they discovered that a flask had turned cloudy without any contamination. It was E. coli chowing down on the citrate. The researchers found that when they put the bacteria in pure citrate, the microbes could thrive on it as their sole source of carbon.

In nature, there have been a few reports of E. coli that can feed on citrate. But these oddballs all acquired a ring of DNA called a plasmid from some other species of bacteria. Lenski selected a strain of E. coli for his experiments that doesn’t have any plasmids, there were no other bacteria in the experiment, and the evolved bacteria remain plasmid-free. So the only explanation was that this one line of E. coli had evolved the ability to eat citrate on its own.

Read the whole thing...

http://littlegreenfootballs.com

*

The Iraqi security forces today formally kicked off the operations against the Mahdi Army in the southern province of Maysan. On the day the government's amnesty offer expired, the Iraqi Army and police conducted multiple raids throughout Amarah, the provincial capital. A senior Sadrist was detained during the raids.

Iraqi forces arrested Rafeaa Jabar, the head of the Sadrist office in Maysan province. He is the mayor of Amarah and the deputy governor of the province.

The Sadrists had stated they feared being the target of the operation. "We do not want Basrah events to be repeated in Amara," Sheikh Salih al Obaidi, the lead spokesman for the Sadrist movement said on June 17. Obaidi instead called for "dialogue." The Sadrist movement also closed down its office in central Amarah and "moved to another 'good location.'"

Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki explicitly stated that the Sadrist movement is not the target of the Amarah operation. "The prime minister has ordered security forces not to arrest members of the Sadr movement randomly," according to a statement issued by Maliki's office. "Only outlaws must be arrested and he hopes that the Sadr leaders will help in isolating such elements to get rid of them."

There have been no reports of major clashes or opposition to the Iraqi operations. Dozens of wanted individuals have been detained and large quantities of weapons have been found during the operation. Sixty "militiamen" surrendered during the amnesty period. A partial curfew has been imposed on some regions.

While the operation officially kicked off today, the Iraqi security forces have been operating in force throughout Maysan since last Saturday, when patrols and raids began in Amarah. Security forces began massing in Amarah last Thursday and Iraqi soldiers replaced border guards along the Iranian border.

A flurry of activity occurred in Amarah on June 18. Iraqi soldiers captured three wanted during an air assault in central Amarah. Twelve policemen were detained for storing weapons and explosives in a jail in the city. Iraqi forces also found a large weapons cache in a cemetery in central Amara.

Iraqi security forces have also stepped up security in the neighboring provinces of Dhi Qhar and Wasit. In Wasit province, which borders Amarah to the north, security officials said "tight security measures" have been imposed to assist in the Maysan operation. On June 18, police seized a car "laden with 27 Iranian-made bombs" and detained the driver. Coalition forces detained three more Mahdi Army operatives in Al Kut on June 17. The US military has captured 12 mid-level and senior Mahdi Army leaders in Wasit province since June 3.

The Mahdi Army has pushed back in Wasit province. A district police chief and another officer were killed and 10 policemen were wounded in an IED attack on June 17.

In Dhi Qhar, which borders Maysan to the south, provincial officials said operations are under way to support the Maysan offensive. "A detailed plan has been established in the province to maintain stability during the expected drive into Maysan province," Staff Brigadier General Sabah al Fatlawi, the provincial chief of police, told Voices of Iraq. Police found a large cache of TNT during a raid in northern Dhi Qhar on June 18.

For background on the Maysan security operation, see:

Report: Iraqi security forces preparing operation against Mahdi Army in Maysan

Iraqi offensive underway against the Mahdi Army in Maysan

Iraqi security forces ramp up for Maysan operation


Qods Force logo, click to view.

The US Treasury Department has added two Venezuelans to the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists for their support of Hezbollah. Ghazi Nasr al Din, a Venezuelan diplomat, and Fawzi Kan'an, a businessman, both provide support for the Lebanese-based terror group.

Ghazi Nasr al Din was born in Lebanon who currently serves as a Venezuelan diplomat and the president of a Shia Islamic center. "Nasr al Din served until recently as Charge d' Affaires at the Venezuelan Embassy in Damascus, Syria, and was subsequently appointed the Director of Political Aspects at the Venezuelan Embassy in Lebanon," the US Treasury reported in a press release.

Nasr al Din used his diplomatic cover to meet with senior Hezbollah leaders in Lebanon and fundraise for the terror group. "Nasr al Din has counseled Hezbollah donors on fundraising efforts and has provided donors with specific information on bank accounts where the donors' deposits would go directly to Hezbollah." He also helped Hezbollah operatives get to Iran to "attend a training course."

Fawzi Kan'an is businessman who runs two Venezuela-based travel agencies. He was born in Lebanon but is a naturalized Venezuelan.

Kan'an is described as "a significant provider of financial support to Hezbollah" who also uses his business to funnel money to Lebanon and assist in the movement of operatives.

Treasury also implicates Kan'an as an operational planner who may have plotted kidnappings and terror attacks. "Kan'an has also traveled with other Hezbollah members to Iran for training," Treasury stated.

His two businesses, the Biblos Travel Agency the Hilal Travel Agency, have been designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entities.

The Wednesday announcement by the Treasury Department was the first direct link by the US government between the nation of Venezuela and Hezbollah. "It is extremely troubling to see the Government of Venezuela employing and providing safe harbor to Hezbollah facilitators and fundraisers," said Adam J. Szubin, the Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the Treasury Department.

Hezbollah has long had inroads into South America. Hezbollah has used the tri-border region between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay to recruit, train, raise and launder money, and plot attacks.

In 1994, Hezbollah bombed a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Eight-five people were killed and more than 200 wounded in the bombing.

Argentina implicated Hezbollah and Iran in the attacks. In October 2006, Argentine prosecutors charged former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani, former Hezbollah military commander Imad Mugniyah, and six others with plotting and executing the attacks. Mugniyah was killed in a car bombing in Damascus, Syria, in February 2008.

"We deem it proven that the decision to carry out an attack July 18, 1994 on the AMIA (the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association, a Jewish charities association headquarters in Buenos Aires) was made by the highest authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran which directed Hezbollah to carry out the attack," said Argentine chief prosecutor Alberto Nisman.  Thursday, June 19, 2008

www.longwarjournal.org




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