Deputy head of Hezbollah’s Executive Council Sheikh Nabil Qaouq
An official of Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement has blasted Saudi Arabia’s bid to silence the group’s vocal opposition to its Yemeni aggression, saying Saudi money could not buy Hezbollah’s silence.
“Those who are waging an aggression against Yemen today have also mistaken their calculations and approach towards Hezbollah,” said the movement’s deputy head of executive council, Sheikh Nabil Qaouq, as quoted in a Sunday report by Lebanese Naharnet news website.
He further suggested that the Saudi regime was attempting to silence the group’s vocal opposition to its aggression against its neighbor adding, “They were betting on our silence and on neutralizing us, but they failed to realize that we do not fear threats and that we cannot be sold or bought.”
According to the report, Qaouq went on to emphasize that “Saudi money” can purchase “countries, the UN Security Council, presidents, princes and ministers” but “cannot buy Hezbollah’s silence.”
The development comes as Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and other leaders of the movement are locked in a rhetorical battle with the US-backed Saudi kingdom over Riyadh’s military attacks against Yemen.
“Saudi Arabia can threaten figures, dignitaries, scholars and Arab countries, but it cannot threaten the resistance,” Qaouq said, adding, “Their problem with us is that we cannot be bought or sold and we do not fear intimidation. It also lies in the growing role, status and influence of Hezbollah in the regional equations.”
Saudi Arabia’s air campaign against the Ansarullah fighters of the Houthi movement started on March 26 – without a United Nations mandate – in a bid to restore power to the country’s fugitive former president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh.
According to reports, some 2,600 people, including women and children, have so far lost their lives in the attacks.
Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem
Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah has blasted the ongoing Saudi military aggression against Yemen, comparing the move to the Israeli atrocities in the besieged Gaza Strip.
“What Saudi Arabia is committing [in Yemen] is identical to what Israel commits in Gaza,” Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem said in a Thursday interview with France 24.
Israel has blockaded the Gaza Strip for over seven years, causing a humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave. The Israeli regime has also launched three wars on Gaza, the latest of which came in summer 2014, when nearly 2,200 Palestinians were killed and over 11,100 others injured. The 50-day war ended with an Egyptian-brokered truce.
Qassem said the Saudi war “is about attacking infrastructure and shelling civilians.”
Referring to a recent UN Security Council resolution adopted against Yemen’s Houthi movement, the Hezbollah official said, “The Security Council decision in Yemen is unjust, because it looks at one part of the problem, and not at the whole [picture].”
“The Security Council should have stopped the Saudi aggression against Yemen and treated the issues related to the civilians and the wounded and the destruction of infrastructure,” he said.
Qassem also called for a political solution to the crisis in Yemen.
“It (the UN) was supposed to set the steps for a dialogue to reach a political solution. This, the Security Council has not done,” the Hezbollah official said.
During an interview with the Associated Press on Monday, Qassem slammed Saudi Arabia’s indiscriminate bombardment of Yemen as genocide.
Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Yemen started on March 26 – without a UN mandate – in an attempt to restore power to fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. It has drawn widespread condemnation from international rights groups.
Civilians and Yemeni infrastructure have been the target of the Saudi aggression against Yemen.
According to Yemeni sources, around 2,600 people have been killed in the Saudi military campaign over the past three weeks.
The humanitarian situation in Yemen is rapidly deteriorating. Many international aid organizations have sought clearances to dispatch medical and other humanitarian supplies by air and sea to civilians in need.
The buzz word in Washington around the Iran Nuclear Review Bill that was approved unanimously by a Senate committee is “compromise,” parroted even by the White House spokesperson who has let it known that President Obama will endorse it despite some reservations. But, in reality, “compromise” is a code word for “concession,” i.e., appeasement of the anti-Iran hawks in U.S. Congress, as well as Israel.
The big question is, of course, what is behind Obama’s flip flop, notwithstanding his repeated warnings to U.S. Congress to stay out of Iran negotiations or face his veto power? The answer to this question should search beyond the facade of executive versus legislative ‘turf war’ on the Iran nuclear issue and touch the underlying root cause — in U.S.’s geostrategic interest to keep the furnace of Iran nuclear standoff alive instead of extinguishing it.
Indeed, why let a good thing go, perhaps some Washington ‘insiders’ are asking quietly, given the multiple benefits of the nuclear crisis — in sustaining U.S.’s hegemony in Persian Gulf, containing the Iranian power, and appeasing Israel’s need to keep the limelight on Iran indefinitely.
Thus the U.S.’s perpetual self-sabotage of the Iran deal, following last November’s last minute change of heart by Obama, who refused to sign onto an agreement that his own negotiation team had reached. Obama’s excuse then was reportedly that it was premature in light of a new Congress and he had to wait to size up the situation. It now appears that Obama has done that and reached the point that signing any deal with Iran is a bad deal, just as Iran hawks and the pro-Israel lobbyists have been saying for a long time. In other words, Obama’s acceptance of the Iran bill is but a definite sign that the chicken has to roost and, indeed, the emperor has no clothes.
But, of course, without critical lenses, the Iran Nuclear Review Act appears as relatively benign and an exercise in constitutional checks and balances, which is why the polls indicate the majority of American people are in favor of a Congressional role in the Iran deal. It is only when one reads the bill’s fine prints and pays close attention to its details that the real intention of its sponsors to torpedo the nuclear talks becomes apparent.
This is basically an intrusive legislation that impacts the content of negotiations by, for example, creating an issue linkage between nuclear and non-nuclear, e.g., terrorism, issues and conditioning Congress’s approval of the deal on the executive branch’s certificate of Iran’s compliance with the demand to stop funding terrorist groups.
Essentially, this means a revised script for the nuclear talks and the imposition of brand new ‘parameters’ such as terrorism, that have not been part of the intense negotiations; the latter are solely focused on the nuclear issue and, yet, must now due to this bill, expand the requirements for compliance by Iran — to U.S.’s arbitrary demands.
Another aspect of the bill that is equally problematic is that it raises the necessity of White House’s certification that the atomic agency is satisfied with Iran’s compliance on the “possible military dimension” issues which, as we know, raise the prospect of IAEA demands to access Iran’s secret military bases, a taboo from the vantage point of Iran’s military and civilian leadership. In fact, the Supreme Leader in his recent speech drew a red line and categorically opposed any suggestion that Iran would accommodate the West on this matter.
Hence, Iran’s stern negative reaction to the latest developments in U.S. Congress and Obama’s inexcusable turn-around from a critic to an admirer of the Iran bill is a given, raising the prospect that the bill can be a show-stopper and spell doom for the nuclear negotiations. The path ahead is now made doubly more complicated and the new hurdles by U.S. Congress act as so many powerful torpedoes aiming to sink the ship of diplomacy.
Kaveh Afrasiabi, PhD, is a former political science professor at Tehran University and the author of several books on Iran’s foreign policy. His writings have appeared on several online and print publications, including UN Chronicle, New York Times, Der Tagesspiegel, Middle East Journal, Harvard International Review, and Brown’s Journal of World Affairs, Guardian, Russia Today, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Mediterranean Affairs, Nation, Telos, Der Tageszeit, Hamdard Islamicus, Iranian Journal of International Affairs, Global Dialogue.
By Brenda Heard | Aletho News | March 25, 2015
Six months prior to the upcoming UK general election, the Board of Deputies of British Jews published its “2015 General Election Jewish Manifesto.” This forty-page document urges both existing and prospective members of the UK Parliament to support various “policy asks” and to “champion these causes.” The Manifesto was styled after a very similar one created for the 2014 EU elections. Indeed their goals appear the same: to ensure a pro-Israeli agenda in the House of Commons and beyond.
The 2015 Manifesto does include some discussion of faith-based issues, such as underscoring the need of the Jewish community in the UK to be able to provide Kosher meat and to observe the Sabbath. This discussion is a just and valid participation of citizens in their government. The problem arises, however, when the Manifesto equates Jewish and Israeli. With 58 mentions of Israel, the Manifesto, cloaked in blue and white imagery throughout, even boasts a full-page illustration of the British and Israeli flags flying together.
This self-proclaimed “voice of British Jewry” avows a “very strong attachment to the State of Israel.” Yet it is difficult to reconcile this support with such statements as “The UK Jewish community is committed to peace, security, prosperity and equality for Israel, the Palestinians and the wider Middle East” when this statement was penned less than two months after a vicious Israeli onslaught against Gaza, an indiscriminate rampage that in just fifty days killed at least 2,100 Palestinians, some 70% of whom were civilians, including 519 children. A recent report by the American National Lawyers Guild concluded that “both facts and law refute the Israeli self-defense claims” and that Israel had “collectively punished the entire civilian population.” Indeed, Israeli forces intentionally targeted Palestinian civilians, leaving them dead and wounded, homeless and devastated. There has been no peace, no security, no prosperity and no equality for the Palestinians. Not ever.
Yet the Board of Deputies of British Jews expresses unwavering support for Israel. Any resistance to Israeli policy, the Manifesto maintains, should be denounced by the world. The Manifesto offers scant attention to the Palestinian resistance group Hamas, however, noting that the EU had already classified Hamas as a terrorist organisation, one with whom the UK should “refuse to engage.” Two months after the publication of the Manifesto, the EU General Court removed Hamas from the list of terrorist organisations, stating:
“the General Court finds that the contested measures are based not on acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities but on factual imputations derived from the press and the internet.”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews promptly condemned this “unacceptable” ruling, and called it “an affront to the values of Europe.” The Board statement also used the opportunity to reiterate various accusations against Hamas—characterisations that have for years engendered the very hearsay that was finally rejected by the EU General Court. The Council of the EU soon appealed the court’s decision. The Board cheered the appeal and the efforts taken to ensure the appeal, stating “we commend the European Jewish Congress on all its work in ensuring that this issue remains on top of the agenda in Brussels.” The power of lobbying for Israel.
As for Lebanon, the Manifesto proudly points out that the UK led the EU designation of Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organisation in 2013. But that action was not enough to appease the Board, which urges the UK to lead the campaign to expand that designation to the “entirety” of Hezbollah. The key here is that Israel and its allies have always wanted to destroy all semblance of Hezbollah, as every aspect of the group builds the pride and strength of a Lebanese populace. It is the will to resist Israeli encroachment—the entire culture of resistance in both Palestine and Lebanon—that Israel wants to break. And this is a sentiment of political Israel, not of “British Jewry.” This has nothing to do with the Jewish faith.
Rather similar to the hearsay problem cited by the EU General Court, the accusations hurled at Hezbollah are based on decades of presumptions that Hezbollah is a ruthless entity to be feared and crushed. The fervour to destroy Hezbollah has long been evident in the policies of Israel, the US and the UK. Together, these three bodies have tremendous abilities to create and to seemingly substantiate and certainly to sell the narrative that suits their own agenda. Perhaps it is time to question these fervent accusations.
The Manifesto asserts that Hezbollah has “launched attacks against European and Jewish civilians worldwide” and offers three examples to illustrate this sweeping and unsubstantiated accusation: Buenos Aires (1994), Bulgaria (2012), Cyprus (2013). The responsibility in each of these incidents is far from conclusive.
The Buenos Aires investigation was at once tainted by the immediate involvement of US and Israeli intelligence services. The case was indelibly ruined by layers of corruption within Argentinian services. Even the Guardian acknowledged the investigation to be a “complex saga of mind-boggling intrigue.” Surely the extensive research published in 2008 by historian Gareth Porter should at the very least create reasonable doubt about Hezbollah’s involvement.
Like Buenos Aires, the Bulgarian case investigation was aided by US and Israeli intelligence services. Several reports raise doubts as to the legitimacy of the judgement process, examples of which: Gareth Porter, here and here; Times of Israel ; Haaretz ; Bulgarian FM Vigenin. Despite Israel’s initial finger-pointing at Hezbollah, the investigation revealed compelling forensic evidence of an Al Qaeda-linked suspect, which was mysteriously dropped only to reveal three Lebanese dual-nationals as suspects. The investigation that struggled for answers somehow, with the help of the US and Israel, was able to link those suspects to Hezbollah. How politically convenient.
In an attempt to offer conclusive evidence of an attack-plotting Hezbollah, the Manifesto offers a fear-inspiring quotation from an allegedly self-confessed Hezbollah member who had seemingly bungled surveillance work in Cyprus and was caught out by Mossad. The man’s “handler,” who was “always wearing a mask,” wanted him to pinpoint Kosher restaurants and to track the arrival times of flights from Israel. But why risk doing such surveillance in person? This information is readily available online, even if it required some creative computing skills. The culprit’s narrative reads more like the stuff of a cheap spy novel than it does the operational expertise of a group with more than thirty-years successful experience. Even if the confessor thought he was, in his nervously ever-changing narrative, revealing some truth, who is to say that he was not led by an imposter to believe he was acting under the direction of Hezbollah, when in fact he was not? Mission not so very impossible.
Still, we are meant to believe that in planning such globally significant missions, Hezbollah was careless enough to leave a paper-trail and to choose men who were inept in their tasks and men who would break under police questioning and tell all. And we are meant to believe that the consistent aid of US and Israeli intelligence has always been strictly objective.
This article is not intended to be a full rebuttal to these specific accusations. The point remains that there is at least reasonable doubt. These accusations are on many levels fuelled by a hatred that has burned for decades, a hatred that would stop at nothing to eradicate the Islamic Resistance of Lebanon. But even if you remain unconvinced of their problematic nature, even if you cannot bring yourself to offer Hezbollah the benefit of the doubt, there remains a double standard in this “Policy Ask” from the Board of Deputies of British Jews. How in the name of civilised democracy can the British Government continue to vehemently denounce Hezbollah, yet eagerly champion an Israeli government that routinely practices that which it condemns?
The Manifesto complains, for instance, that Hezbollah arranged surveillance of Jewish people. Yet we find the following boast in the Board’s EU Manifesto:
“As part of the widespread intelligence cooperation between Israel and the EU, Israel is providing essential information to EU officials enabling them to enforce the proscription [against Hezbollah].”
So it is acceptable for Israel to spy on Lebanese, but not vice versa? The Manifesto also complains Hezbollah allegedly exploited dual-nationals and used false identity papers. Yet this technique is an integral component of Mossad, from false identities and false flags in the 1950s, to political military espionage in the 1960s, to international vigilante justice in the 1970s, to fake passports and double agent killing squads in the 1980s, to assassination attempts in the 1990s, to falsified passports and passport fraud, and assassination after assassination in the 2000s.
These activities tend to be forgotten in the wake of repeated wars on the Lebanese and Palestinians. These activities are often subjectively shrugged off as necessary handling of “legitimate” targets, perhaps with a few unfortunate mistakes. Nonetheless, they exhibit a perpetual defiance of the rule of law, a defiance that is made glaringly clear in Israel’s custom of not only indiscriminate, but also deliberate attacks on the civilian population of the Palestinian territories.
After Israel’s 2006 onslaught on Lebanon, the UN Commission of Inquiry emphasised that one third of the Lebanese casualties were children and stated:
“The Commission highlights a significant pattern of excessive, indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force by IDF against Lebanese civilians and civilian objects. . . The Commission has formed a clear view that, cumulatively, the deliberate and lethal attacks by the IDF on civilians and civilian objects amounted to collective punishment.”
Likewise, after Israel’s 2009 onslaught on Gaza, the UN Fact Finding Mission concluded that:
“what occurred in just over three weeks at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 was a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.”
Following Israel’s 2014 onslaught on Gaza, an Independent Medical Fact-Finding Mission described in detail the reckless, often deliberate targeting of civilians, including the use of the “double tap”: multiple consecutive strikes on a single location that would lead to additional casualties amongst civilian onlookers and rescuers.
Perhaps as much as casualty statistics, this calculated strategy reveals not merely what the Manifesto describes euphemistically as “challenges about integration between different sectors of the population that need to be addressed,” but what one IDF Staff Sergeant described as “contempt for human life.” He was relating a similar tactic ordered by his battalion commander in the West Bank:
“You leave bodies in the field—they told me they did it a lot in Lebanon— you leave a body in the field, and you wait until they come to recover it so you can shoot at them. It’s like you’re setting up an ambush around the body. But those are things I heard about Lebanon. So it happened here [in Nablus], too.”
Contempt for human life happened. Contempt for rule of law happened. Again and again, at the hands of the “democratic state” promoted by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who in the same instance would like to coax British and Europeans to condemn the very victims of that state’s crimes. While their Manifesto offers a few pages pushing Israeli politics, I offer my recently published book, Hezbollah: An Outsider’s Inside View. Based on eight years of getting to know the people who are Hezbollah, this inside view of the Islamic Resistance of Lebanon offers the opportunity to explore for yourself the militants at the horizon. May common sense, not lobbying efforts, shape the concerns of the British people.
Brenda is the founder and director of Friends of Lebanon, UK. She is the author of numerous articles and the recently published Hezbollah: An Outsider’s Inside View. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An annual security report submitted recently to the US Senate by James Clapper, director of National Intelligence, removed both Iran and Hezbollah from the list of terrorism threats to the United States for the first time in years.
The unclassified version of the “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Communities” dated 26 February, noted Iran’s efforts to fight “Sunni extremists”, including elements affiliated with the Islamic State group who were perceived to constitute the “preeminent terrorist threat to American interests worldwide”.
Last year’s report described the global terrorist activity of Lebanon’s Shia Hezbollah group to have increased in recent years to “a level we have not seen since the 1990s”, however this year’s report mentioned the group only once saying it faces a threat from ISIS and Al-Nusra Front near Lebanon’s orders.
Meanwhile, despite removing Tehran from the list, the report described it as source of cyber-attacks and a regional threat to the United States because of its support for Syrian regime President Bashar Al-Assad and its hostile policies against Israel.
Reports that US and British aircraft carrying arms to the Islamic State group – better known as ISIS – have been shot down by Iraqi forces have been met with shock and denial in western countries. Few in the Middle East doubt that Washington is playing a ‘double game’ with its proxy armies in Syria, but some key myths remain important amongst the significantly more ignorant Western audiences.
A central myth is that Washington now arms ‘moderate Syrian rebels’, to both overthrow the Syrian Government and supposedly defeat the ‘extremist rebels’. This claim became more important in 2014, when the rationale of US aggression against Syria shifted from ‘humanitarian intervention’ to a renewal of Bush’s ‘war on terror’.
A distinct controversy is whether the al-Qaida-styled groups (especially Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS) have been generated as a sort of organic reaction to the repeated US interventions, or whether they are actually paid agents of Washington.
Certainly, prominent ISIS leaders were held in US prisons. ISIS leader, Ibrahim al-Badri (aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) is said to have been held for between one and two years at Camp Bucca in Iraq. In 2006, as al-Baghdadi and others were released, the Bush administration announced its plan for a ‘New Middle East’, a plan which would employ sectarian violence as part of a process of ‘creative destruction’ in the region.
According to Seymour Hersh’s 2007 article, ‘The Redirection’, the US would make use of ‘moderate Sunni states’, not least the Saudis, to ‘contain’ the Shia gains in Iraq brought about by the 2003 US invasion. These ‘moderate Sunni’ forces would carry out clandestine operations to weaken Iran and Hezbollah, key enemies of Israel. This brought the Saudis and Israel closer, as both fear Iran.
While there have been claims that the ISIS ‘caliph’ al-Baghdadi is a CIA or Mossad trained agent, these have not yet been well backed up. There are certainly grounds for suspicion, but independent evidence is important, in the context of a supposed US ‘war’ against ISIS. So what is the broader evidence on Washington’s covert links with ISIS?
Not least are the admissions by senior US officials that key allies support the extremist group. In September 2014 General Martin Dempsey, head of the US military, told a Congressional hearing ‘I know major Arab allies who fund [ISIS]’. Senator Lindsey Graham, of Armed Services Committee, responded with a justification, ‘They fund them because the Free Syrian Army couldn’t fight [Syrian President] Assad, they were trying to beat Assad’.
The next month, US Vice President Joe Biden went a step further, explaining that Turkey, Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia ‘were so determined to take down Assad … they poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad … [including] al-Nusra and al- Qaida and extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world … [and then] this outfit called ISIL’. Biden’s admissions sought to exempt the US from this operation, as though Washington were innocent of sustained operations carried out by its key allies. That is simply not credible.
Washington’s relationship with the Saudis, as a divisive sectarian force in the region, in particular against Arab nationalism, goes back to the 1950s, when Winston Churchill introduced the Saudi King to President Eisenhower. At that time Washington wanted to set up the Saudi King as a rival to President Nasser of Egypt. More recently, British General Jonathan Shaw has acknowledged the contribution of Saudi Arabia’s extremist ideology: ‘This is a time bomb that, under the guise of education. Wahhabi Salafism is igniting under the world really. And it is funded by Saudi and Qatari money’, Shaw said.
Other evidence undermines western attempts to maintain a distinction between the ‘moderate rebels’, now openly armed and trained by the US, and the extremist groups Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS. While there has indeed been some rivalry (emphasised by the London-based, Muslim Brotherhood-aligned, Syrian Observatory of Human Rights), the absence of real ideological difference is best shown by the cooperation and mergers of groups.
As ISIS came from Iraq in 2013, its Syrian bases have generally remained in the far eastern part of Syria. However Jabhat al-Nusra (the official al-Qaida branch in Syria, from which ISIS split) has collaborated with Syrian Islamist groups in western Syria for several years. The genocidal slogan of the Syrian Islamists, ‘Christians to Beirut and Alawis to the Grave’, reported many times in 2011 from the Farouk Brigade, sat well with the al-Qaida groups. Farouk (once the largest ‘Free Syrian Army’ group) indeed killed and ethnically cleansed many Christians and Alawis.
Long term cooperation between these ‘moderate rebels’ and the foreign-led Jabhat al-Nusra has been seen around Daraa in the south, in Homs-Idlib, along the Turkish border and in and around Aleppo. The words Jabhat al-Nusra actually mean ‘support front’, that is, support for the Syrian Islamists. Back in December 2012, as Jabhat al-Nusra was banned in various countries, 29 of these groups reciprocated the solidarity in their declaration: ‘We are all Jabhat al-Nusra’.
After the collapse of the ‘Free Syrian Army’ groups, cooperation between al-Nusra and the newer US and Saudi backed groups (Dawud, the Islamic Front, the Syrian Revolutionary Front and Harakat Hazm) helped draw attention to Israel’s support for al-Nusra, around the occupied Golan Heights. Since 2013 there have been many reports of ‘rebel’ fighters, including those from al-Nusra, being treated in Israeli hospitals. Prime Minister Netanyahu even publicised his visit to wounded ‘rebels’ in early 2014. That led to a public ‘thank you’ from a Turkey-based ‘rebel’ leader, Mohammed Badie (February 2014).
The UN peacekeeping force based in the occupied Golan has reported its observations of Israel’s Defence Forces ‘interacting with’ al-Nusra fighters at the border. At the same time, Israeli arms have been found with the extremist groups, in both Syria and Iraq. In November 2014 members of the Druze minority in the Golan protested against Israel’s hospital support for al-Nusra and ISIS fighters. This in turn led to questions by the Israeli media, as to whether ‘Israel does, in fact, hospitalize members of al-Nusra and Daesh [ISIS]’. A military spokesman’s reply was hardly a denial: ‘In the past two years the Israel Defence Forces have been engaged in humanitarian, life-saving aid to wounded Syrians, irrespective of their identity.’
The artificial distinction between ‘rebel’ and ‘extremist’ groups is mocked by multiple reports of large scale defections and transfer of weapons. In July 2014 one thousand armed men in the Dawud Brigade defected to ISIS in Raqqa. In November defections to Jabhat al-Nusra from the Syrian Revolutionary Front were reported. In December, Adib Al-Shishakli, representative at the Gulf Cooperation Council of the exile ‘ Syrian National Coalition’, said ‘opposition fighters’ were ‘increasingly joining’ ISIS ‘for financial reasons’. In that same month, ‘rebels’ in the Israel-backed Golan area were reported as defecting to ISIS, which had by this time began to establish a presence in Syria’s far south. Then, in early 2015, three thousand ‘moderate rebels’ from the US-backed ‘Harakat Hazzm’ collapsed into Jabhat al-Nusra, taking a large stock of US arms including anti-tank weapons with them.
ISIS already had US weapons by other means, in both Iraq and Syria, as reported in July, September and October 2014. At that time a ‘non aggression pact’ was reported in the southern area of Hajar al-Aswad between ‘moderate rebels’ and ISIS, as both recognised a common enemy in Syria: ‘the Nussayri regime’, a sectarian way of referring to supposedly apostate Muslims. Some reported ISIS had bought weapons from the ‘rebels’.
In December 2014, there were western media reports of the US covert supply of heavy weapons to ‘Syrian rebels’ from Libya, and of Jabhat al-Nusra getting anti-tank weapons which had been supplied to Harakat Hazm. Video posted by al-Nusra showed these weapons being used to take over the Syrian military bases, Wadi Deif and Hamidiyeh, in Idlib province.
With ‘major Arab allies’ backing ISIS and substantial collaboration between US-armed ‘moderate rebels’ and ISIS, it is not such a logical stretch to suppose that the US and ‘coalition’ flights to ISIS areas (supposedly to ‘degrade’ the extremists) might have become covert supply lines. That is precisely what senior Iraqi sources began saying, in late 2014 and early 2015.
For example, as reported by both Iraqi and Iranian media, Iraqi MP Majid al-Ghraoui said in January that ‘an American aircraft dropped a load of weapons and equipment to the ISIS group militants at the area of al-Dour in the province of Salahuddin’. Photos were published of ISIS retrieving the weapons. The US admitted the seizure but said this was a ‘mistake’. In February Iraqi MP Hakem al-Zameli said the Iraqi army had shot down two British planes which were carrying weapons to ISIS in al-Anbar province. Again, photos were published of the wrecked planes. ‘We have discovered weapons made in the US, European countries and Israel from the areas liberated from ISIL’s control in Al-Baqdadi region’, al-Zameli said.
The Al-Ahad news website quoted Head of Al-Anbar Provincial Council Khalaf Tarmouz saying that a US plane supplied the ISIL terrorist organization with arms and ammunition in Salahuddin province. Also in February an Iraqi militia called Al-Hashad Al-Shabi said they had shot down a US Army helicopter carrying weapons for the ISIL in the western parts of Al-Baqdadi region in Al-Anbar province. Again, photos were published. After that, Iraqi counter-terrorism forces were reported as having arrested ‘four foreigners who were employed as military advisers to the ISIL fighters’, three of whom were American and Israeli. So far the western media has avoided these stories altogether; they are very damaging to the broader western narrative.
In Libya, a key US collaborator in the overthrow of the Gaddafi government has announced himself the newly declared head of the ‘Islamic State’ in North Africa. Abdel Hakim Belhaj was held in US prisons for several years, then ‘rendered’ to Gaddafi’s Libya, where he was wanted for terrorist acts. As former head of the al-Qaida-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, then the Tripoli-based ‘Libyan Dawn’ group, Belhaj has been defended by Washington and praised by US Congressmen John McCain and Lindsey Graham.
Some image softening of the al-Qaida groups is underway. Jabhat al-Nusra is reported to be considering cutting ties to al-Qaida, to help sponsor Qatar boost their funding. Washington’s Foreign Affairs magazine even published a survey claiming that ISIS fighters were ‘surprisingly supportive of democracy’. After all the well published massacres that lacks credibility.
The Syrian Army is gradually reclaiming Aleppo, despite the hostile supply lines from Turkey, and southern Syria, in face of support for the sectarian groups from Jordan and Israel. The border with Lebanon is largely under Syrian Army and Hezbollah control. In the east, the Syrian Army and its local allies control most of Hasaka and Deir e-Zour, with a final campaign against Raqqa yet to come. The NATO-GCC attempt to overthrow the Syrian Government has failed.
Yet violent destabilization persists. Evidence of the covert relationship between Washington and ISIS is substantial and helps explain what Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mikdad calls Washington’s ‘cosmetic war’ on ISIS. The extremist group is a foothold Washington keeps in the region, weakening both Syria and Iraq. Their ‘war’ on ISIS is ineffective. Studies by Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgent database show that ISIS attacks and killings in Iraq increased strongly after US air attacks began. The main on the ground fighting has been carried out by the Syrian Army and, more recently, the Iraqi armed forces with Iranian backing.
All this has been reported perversely in the western media. The same channels that celebrate the ISIS killing of Syrian soldiers also claim the Syrian Army is ‘not fighting ISIS’. This alleged ‘unwillingness’ was part of the justification for US bombing inside Syria. While it is certainly the case that Syrian priorities have remained in the heavily populated west, local media reports make it clear that, since at least the beginning of 2014, the Syrian Arab Army has been the major force engaged with ISIS in Hasaka, Raqqa and Deir eZour. A March 2015 Reuters report does concede that the Syrian Army recently killed two ISIS commanders (including Deeb Hedjian al-Otaibi) along with 24 fighters, at Hamadi Omar.
Closer cooperation between Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon’s Hezbollah is anathema to Israel, the Saudis and Washington, yet it is happening. This is not a sectarian divide but rather based on some clear mutual interests, not least putting an end to sectarian (takfiri) terrorism.
It was only logical that, in the Iraqi military’s recent offensive on ISIS-held Tikrit, the Iranian military emerged as Iraq’s main partner. Washington has been sidelined, causing consternation in the US media. General Qasem Suleimani, head of Iran’s Quds Force is a leading player in the Tikrit operation. A decade after Washington’s ‘creative destruction’ plans, designed to reduce Iranian influence in Iraq, an article in Foreign Policy magazine complains that Iran’s influence is ‘at its highest point in almost four centuries’.
Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya (2006) Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a ‘New Middle East’
Seymour Hersh (2007) The Redirection
Al Akhbar (2011) Syria: What Kind of Revolution?
The New Yorker (2013) Syrian Opposition Groups Stop Pretending
RT (2014) Anyone but US! Biden blames allies for ISIS rise
Iraqi News (2015) American aircraft dropped weapons to ISIS, says MP
Washington Post (2015) Syrian rebel group that got U.S. aid dissolves
David Kenner (2015) For God and Country, and Iran, Foreign Policy
Reuters (2015) Syrian air strike kills two Islamic State commanders
October 26, 2014
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah lists these five reasons why the US-led ‘coalition’ against ISIS is a fraud.
1) The United States is the “mother of terrorism”
2) The US supports Israeli state terrorism against Palestine and Lebanon
3) The US helped cultivate ISIS and other terrorist groups that have besieged Syria
4) The US is not in a moral position to lead an anti-terrorism campaign, considering its own terrorism and support of terrorism
5) The US-led coalition aims to protect US interests at the expense of the interests of the region’s peoples
H/T – Brandon Martinez
British arms maker BAE Systems boasts lucrative weapons deals as the result of the so-called anti-ISIL fight
British arms manufacturer BAE Systems has boasted hiking demand for its support services of war machines, citing growing engagement of its Arab clients in the so-called anti-ISIL battle.
Speaking to journalists after posting the weapon maker’s 2014 spending, BAE’s Chief Executive Officer Ian King described the rise in demand as a “call to arms” and said, “You cannot let any performance degrade at this time when people are dependent on these assets,” RT reported Friday.
King further said the rise of the ISIL terror group as well as the persisting conflict in Ukraine would mean that governments will keep military spending high on their agenda despite degrading defense budgets due to austerity measures.
“We have a lot of bidding activity going on at the moment and a lot of support activity going on,” he said.
The report comes as some Middle Eastern states, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, have joined the so-called anti-ISIL alliance led by the United States.
This is while some of the parties to the same coalition have been among the staunch supporters of the Takfiri groups operating against Syria over the past few years.
“For the first time in the Middle East, the big Middle East countries are deploying their assets against IS[IL],” King said. “Urgent operational requirements are high, support arrangements are high. It is high up on people’s agendas.”
According to the report, BAE’s support service to Saudi Arabia is its third largest market after Britain and the US. However, there is no evidence that the Saudis have engaged in any strikes against the ISIL terrorist group, which is widely believed to be financed by the US-backed kingdom and its other Persian Gulf rulers.
US admits ISIL established by its allies
The development comes after a former US military official admitted earlier this week that Washington’s Middle Eastern allies established the ISIL as part of a strategy to eliminate the Lebanese Islamic resistance group Hezbollah.
“ISIS got started through funding from our friends and allies,” said retired US general Wesley Clark on Tuesday, using another acronym for ISIL, adding the only group that would fight Hezbollah is ISIL because they are “zealots” and resemble a “Frankenstein.”
‘BAE prosperity at expense of human rights’
Critics, however, insist that BAE’s emerging prosperity comes at the expense of human rights and ethical trading. BAE weaponry is also thought to have fallen into the hands of the ISIL terrorists.
Speaking to RT, Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) described the remarks by BAE’s chief as “tasteless.”
“This is yet another tasteless reminder that arms companies like BAE depend on war and conflict in order to make a profit. BAE isn’t concerned about human rights or democracy; many of the governments it sells weapons to are among the most oppressive in the world,” he said.
CAAT had also emphasized in the past that the British government is highly in favor of international weapons trading.
Iran has criticized the United Nations Security Council for failing to take action against the Israeli regime over its recent deadly airstrike on the occupied Golan Heights in Syria, Press TV reports.
“The Security Council remains indifferent in making any position on condemning the aggressor while it was a clear violation of international law,” Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Gholam Hossein Dehqani told Press TV.
“Once again the Security Council allowed that regime to get away with the crime it committed and failed to condemn the aggression which was done by Israel,” he added.
The Iranian envoy said the Israeli regime’s impunity does not serve peace and security in the world and would lead to the deaths of more innocent people.
Dehqani’s comments come in the wake of an Israeli airstrike in Syria on January 18 that claimed the lives of six Hezbollah members, including 25-year-old Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of slain top Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh, and a general of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC).
Media reports that Israel carried out the terror attack in the strategic southwestern city of Quneitra in Golan Heights with the help of Takfiri terrorists, particularly the al-Nusra Front.
Israel has carried out numerous airstrikes in Syria over the past couple of years. The Syrian army has repeatedly seized huge quantities of Israeli-made weapons and advanced military equipment from the foreign-backed militants inside Syria.
However, the UN has so far failed to take any action over the attacks, which have been condemned by Damascus as violation of its sovereignty.
The Golan Heights have been under the Israeli occupation since the 1960s. The Tel Aviv regime captured the Syrian territory during the Six-Day War of 1967 and annexed the region in 1981.
“You want to forget Israel, do so. We cannot do it. You want to forget Palestinian People? Go ahead. We Won’t.” – Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah
Predictably, Hamas is back: stronger than ever.
On Jan 14, 2015, Hamas suddenly convened a session of the Gaza parliament, suspended since a unity deal between Fatah and Hamas was agreed upon, this past April. There was no attendance by, or invitation to, Fatah. Thanks to illegitimate president Mahmoud Abbas’ leadership, Gazans were left to rot in the post-war depths of Israeli created misery compounded with a bitter winter living amongst Israeli produced rubble. Deliberate delays in reconstruction, materials and funding; the ongoing, unchanged and crippling Israeli siege; and the Palestinian Authority’s withholding of tens-of-millions of dollars to pay monthly salaries to Gaza’s civil servants, have created a need for the return of an Hamas government, for the Gazan people in Gaza.
In a speech before the re-activated parliament, Deputy Speaker of the Gaza parliament, Ahmad Bahar, warned, “A blowup is at a distance of two-bow lengths or less if the international community does not take action to end the suffering of the people of Gaza.”
An interesting choice of metaphor. At the top of Hamas’ agenda is opening Gaza’s one sea port to travel and commerce, i.e., imports of goods and passengers, whether Israel likes it or not. As reported by Ma’an News Agency, “On Sunday, a ministerial committee in blockaded Gaza announced plans to take necessary measures to prepare the coastal enclave’s sole port.” Young Palestinian children have been taking part in activities aimed at making the seaport into a better looking place for visitors.
The port in Gaza City is currently restricted, by Israel, to fishermen. Israel, however, only allows them to fish up to a maximum of six nautical miles from the shore. Opening the port and allowing fishermen access to all Palestinian waters were two main Palestinian demands during negotiations with Israel which ended the 50-day war in July and August. So, to prove the point, yesterday Israeli gun boats opened fire on fishermen that were inside that six-mile limit: just because they can. A similar incident was reported near Gaza City on January 31.
A border, a truce or a treaty with Gaza means nothing to Israel. This was highlighted this past Sunday morning when Israeli soldiers opened fire at unarmed Palestinian protesters marching near the border fence on their land, in their Gaza. This aggression came within days of Israel lifting quasi-restrictions on arresting, for maximum horror, Palestinian children at night (an average of 197 children are held in military detention every month, 13 per cent of whom are under the age of sixteen) and approving two-hundred-and-fifty more illegal settlement units after killing a Bedouin teenager audacious enough to protest this new Israeli land-grab on his ancestral lands. And, all the while, unchecked Israeli settlers were chopping down hundreds more olive trees: making sure that any future branch, offered in peace, would never survive, much less prosper.
Was this summer’s five week long nightly-news-reel review of the day’s grizzly carnage in Gaza not enough for the world to recognize the heinous mind-set that is fundamental to Israeli foreign policy? Did 2,129 Gazans, including 530 children, die uselessly in vain merely for the morbid titillation of a world momentarily distracted from their equally violent video games? Review of the divisive “progress” for peace in Gaza over the past six months shows that the answer is, oh, so shamefully, “yes.”
A newly bolstered Hamas is required. As the only sincere force for political and social good in Palestine this growing movement follows in the mold of Hezbollah’s effective example of leadership in Lebanon. Hamas leadership also provides badly needed social services and programs, and the only effective deterrent that the Israeli oppressors understand: armed resistance.
Hamas recruiting, reportedly, has increased dramatically in the post-war period. Training of all recruits and renewed preparedness for battle goes on daily. Of course. Likely, each and every Palestinian knows someone who was killed by targeted Israeli atrocity: perhaps a family member, perhaps a whole family. Remember: in Gaza, losing one’s whole family likely means having all your infant nieces and nephews, younger brothers or older sisters, your sons, your daughters, your father, mother, grandmother, grandfather, disappear, forever, in a cloud of collapsing concrete dust and Israeli gun powder smoke. Just six months ago, whole families were destroyed. Many times over.
A world of witnesses may have short memories: a Hamas recruit does not.
When the conditions for the truce with Hamas were agreed to by Israel, upon close examination of the troika selected to sit at the peace table (Egypt, Fatah, and Israel) without Hamas, only the disaffected, apathetic and myopic, would have bet a shekel on an actual peace treaty. Thanks to the skullduggery and complicity of this scheming troika, Gaza suffers worse than ever before. The three are in league in serving Israel’s goal of assimilating Palestinian territory via illegal settlements, walls and genocide, while all-the-time avoiding peace in order to continue their usual inhumane treatment, war crimes, violations of UN resolutions and inhumane immorality.
Israel wants conflict in Gaza and, again, war. As General of the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine Ahmad Jibril accurately and historically stated, “When someone approaches you through force and drives you out (from your land), you should confront it only with force as that enemy understands. No language, but force.” All observations indicate that Hamas is preparing to take up the sword and, again, defend Gaza.
The first garrison will likely be the Gaza seaport.
Solely due to their quest for international recognition and justice, this past month has been exemplary of Gaza’s plight. To start the New Year, on Jan 2., after repeated and vicious public encouragement from Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas reluctantly joined the International Criminal Court (ICC), despite Netanyahu’s constant warnings. The court is headed by international lawyer and sincere champion of true humanity, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court; Mrs. Fatou Bensouda of Gambia. So, Israel is furious at the prospect of a fair trial, which it will lose, sending a pack of Zionists running, finally, from international warrants. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement that, “this step will be a spark of hope that Palestinians will be able to see the Israeli leadership prosecuted and held accountable for their crimes.”
The cunning tactics employed by this troika ever since shows why the rise in Hamas’ renewed political strength is now required and that its upcoming use of the al-Qassam brigades will not be surprising.
This week, due to Israeli pressure on the Head of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) William Schabas, a Canadian academic who was tasked in August with leading a separate United Nations backed group examining war crimes during the Israeli regime’s military offensive in Gaza, has resigned. He wrote in a letter “My views on Israel and Palestine, as well as on many other issues, were well known and very public,” adding, “This work in defense of human rights appears to have made me a huge target for malicious attacks.” Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum, said on Tuesday, “This clearly displays the organized Israeli state terrorism that targets anyone who tries to unveil the truth and bring Israeli leaders to account in the international forums.”
Fresh from massacring, last week, at least twenty-three Egyptians in clashes between police and protesters on the fourth anniversary of the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, current president-for-life, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who is playing host to the supposed Gaza peace talks, had his pet Supreme Court, on Saturday, ban Hamas’s military wing, the al-Qassam brigades and list it as a “terrorist” organization.
This is the same court that, as previously ordered by el-Sisi, outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood after having already changed the constitution in order to legally legitimize the coup that jailed Mohamed Morsi and, hence, his unopposed election as president, last year. An Hamas political official told Reuters, “We reject the Egyptian court’s decision against Qassam Brigades. It is a political, dangerous decision that serves only the Zionist occupation. After the court’s decision, Egypt is no longer a mediator in Palestinian-Israeli matters.”
As part of the cease-fire, Egypt guaranteed that its Rafah border crossing would open regularly. This has actually meant infrequent, unannounced openings of no more than three days, creating chaos. On the Egyptian side trucks full of goods were halted to a trickle and perishable goods allowed to rot, just like the Gazans, on the other side of the fence. As few as 300 people a day have managed to cross.
Previously, el-Sisi, as peace broker, had shown his sincerity to his task by finding and closing all tunnels across the Egyptian-Gaza border, further starving Gaza from its last lifeline of desperately needed goods. Then he ordered his military to shoot-to-kill any Gazans approaching his imposed 400 meter de-militarized zone on the Gaza side of the border fence. Gazan Health Ministry Spokesperson Ashraf al-Qudra told the AFP news agency on Friday that a youth was shot “in the back and the bullet settled in the heart. He died on the spot”. He was identified as Palestinian, Zaki Houbi. He was 17 years old.
Far- a-field, arch-villain, Bibi Netanyahu, was busy influencing a change of heart in his paid-for minions in the EU parliament. Before leaving for Europe in a lather, after the Jan. 2nd ICC disaster, he had already re-arrested all the Palestinian prisoners who had been released, per the cease-fire, from illegal detention in Israeli jails, including the duly-elected Hamas officials from the 2006 election. He next reacted by furiously, yet again, illegally freezing $127 million in tax revenues that by law must be transferred to the Palestinian Authority so that tens of thousands of public sector workers will finally be paid, as promised. For BiBi, that was just a warm-up. Israeli forces on Thursday destroyed a water network which feeds Palestinian villages and Bedouin dwellings in the northern Jordan Valley.
Suddenly, despite the ruling by the General Court of the European Union, on Dec. 17, that said correctly, “the blacklisting of Hamas in 2001 was based not on sound legal judgments but on conclusions derived from the media and the Internet,” all twenty-eight EU member states decided to appeal the court’s decision.
Now, the United Nations has stopped rebuilding homes in the war-ravaged Gaza Strip amid freezing temperatures, citing lack of funds from pledged donors.
Said a UNHRW spokesman, “$5.4 billion was pledged at the Cairo (aid) conference last October and virtually none of it has reached Gaza. This is distressing and unacceptable.”
Now, Israeli politicians are calling on the 122 member states of the International Criminal Court to cut all its funding in response to the beginning of its inquiry into probable war crimes in Gaza last year. Obviously, “[this] provides it (Israel) with the cover for its crimes against the Palestinian people,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.
Such is Zionist influence. Just like that.
As for Mr. Abbas, the recent cancelation of the Swedish ambassador’s visit said all that was needed. With his PA storm troopers, dressed in American made, black-on-black, riot gear, in daily battle with West Bank citizens, a meeting was apparently too risky in Ramallah. As the first EU member nation to formally recognize Palestine, this past October, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom was set to meet with Abbas and Israeli officials in Israel instead. This week, she indefinitely postponed a planned trip to Israel, reportedly in response to Israeli Minister for Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman’s refusal to meet with her when she came. Now, Mahmoud Abbas will fly to Stockholm on Feb. 10, fresh from serving up an obviously mushy UN draft resolution for Palestinian statehood that, as designed, failed to overcome the expected veto.
Hamas has been busy shoring up preparations, which also means foreign political support, new funding sources, besides stocks of munitions. A senior Hamas official on Thursday demanded that a seaport be fully opened in Gaza, warning of an “explosion” if Israel’s siege and the Egyptian closure of Rafah continue. He called on the “free people of the world’ to send ships to break the blockade, and urged the Arab League, the OIC, and Arab nations to uphold their responsibilities to Gaza.
Senior Hamas leader Dr. Mahmoud Zahhar said that his Movement gave the consensus government the chance to bear its responsibilities towards Gaza Strip. The results are obvious.
The stage appears to be set for another direct conflict between Israel and Hamas. Gaza cannot continue to suffer, after already suffering one of the most barbaric attacks in modern history. The people will not stand for it. Hamas will not stand for it. With more troops in training, new and replenished weaponry, increased sources of funding, and Palestinians from the West Bank to Gaza hungry for real national leadership, Hamas is ready. The only Government ever properly elected in Palestine is back.
With the re-opening of parliament the intention will be to open the Gaza City port, and therefore Gaza, to the world. Israel be damned. A port is a necessary lifeline, but also a statement of sovereignty for Gaza. Like the flag, a port is also a symbol of freedom: for Palestine. It will be defended. The prognostication now becomes: How many people will Israel kill when Hamas and a sympathetic world apply the cease-fire agreement; using Gaza’s territorial waters to bring promised relief via Gaza’s port.
As Mao famously, and accurately observed long ago,” Without An Army For The People: There is nothing for the people.”
Sadly, Israel has given this army for the people of Gaza no other alternative but death. Hamas prepares to fight.
Before it’s too late again, World: what say you?
Je suis Gaza? Je suis Hamas?
Israel’s foreign minister has described as “inevitable” a third war with Lebanon and a fourth aggression in the besieged Gaza Strip in the wake of a recent retaliatory attack by Hezbollah.
“A fourth operation in the Gaza Strip is inevitable, just as a third Lebanon war is inevitable,” Avigdor Lieberman said in an interview with Israel’s Ynet on Sunday.
“There’s no doubt the rules of the game have been changed, what Hezbollah forced upon us. We don’t respond, but rather decide to contain this incident,” Lieberman said, adding that the Lebanese resistance movement is “more determined.”
The Israeli official also said that another war on the Gaza Strip was on the horizon, adding that Hamas was already rebuilding its military capacities.
“We saw 10 rockets being fired at the sea last week. We see every week how they’re rebuilding [their arsenal],” he said, referring to the Palestinian resistance movement.
Hezbollah killed two Israeli soldiers and destroyed at least nine Israeli military vehicles in a retaliatory attack on a military convoy in northern occupied territories on January 28. Tel Aviv said a 20-year-old sergeant and a 25-year-old captain were killed.
Following the attack, Hezbollah said the move was in retaliation for Israel’s January 18 attack on the Syrian section of Golan Heights, where six Hezbollah members and an Iranian commander lost their lives.
Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of martyred Hezbollah top commander, Imad Mughniyeh, was among those killed in the attack.
A report from the Washington Post on Friday confirmed that the CIA and Israel’s spy agency Mossad were behind an elaborate plot to kill Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh in a 2008 car bomb attack in Syria.
Citing former intelligence officials, the newspaper reported that US and Israeli spy agencies worked together to target Mughniyeh on February 12, 2008 as he left a restaurant in the Syrian capital Damascus.
He was killed instantly by a car bomb planted in a spare tire on the back of a parked car, which exploded shrapnel in a tight radius, the Post said.
On January 19, Jihad, Mughniyeh’s 24-year-old son, was also killed by Israeli forces in Syria, along with five Hezbollah members and and an Iranian general in a helicopter airstrike near the city of Quneitra.
The bomb that killed Mughniyeh, built by the United States and tested in the state of North Carolina, was triggered remotely by Mossad agents in Tel Aviv who were in communication with the CIA operatives on the ground in Damascus.
“The way it was set up, the US could object and call it off, but it could not execute,” a former US intelligence official told the newspaper.
The CIA declined to comment to the Post about the report.
According the newspaper, the authority to kill required a presidential finding by George W. Bush. Several senior officials, including the attorney general, the director of national intelligence and the national security advisor, would have had to sign off on the order, it added.
The newspaper said that during the Iraq war, the Bush administration had approved a list of operations aimed at Hezbollah, and according to one official, this included approval to target Mughniyeh.
“There was an open license to find, fix and finish Mughniyeh and anybody affiliated with him,” a former US official who served in Baghdad told the Post.
According to the newspaper, American intelligence officials had been discussing possible ways to target the Hezbollah commander for years, and senior US Joint Special Operations Command agents held a secret meeting on the issue with the head of Israel’s military intelligence service in 2002.
“When we said we would be willing to explore opportunities to target him, they practically fell out of their chairs,” a former US official told the Post.
Though it is not clear when the agencies realized Mughniyeh was living in Damascus, a former official told the newspaper that Israel had approached the CIA about a joint operation to kill him in Syria’s capital.
The agencies collected “pattern of life” information about him and used facial recognition technology to establish his identity after he walked out of a restaurant the night he was killed.
In 2013, an Al-Akhbar investigation into the 2008 assassination revealed that Mossad, under the leadership of Meir Dagan at the time, was responsible for the operation, which took around six weeks to implement, from A to Z.
Mossad and CIA have repeatedly planned and carried out assassinations on Hezbollah’s senior commanders and members in Lebanon and Syria.
In 2013, Hezbollah commander Hassan al-Laqqis was assassinated in the suburbs of Beirut, an attack that the resistance group said was orchestrated by Israeli intelligence.
On Friday, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah spoke about the latest attack on Hezbollah members in Quneitra, stressing that Israel had “planned, calculated and took a premeditated decision to assassinate” Hezbollah fighters.