"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

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Lebanon's "300"

From Walid Phares writing for the Counterterrorism Blog.

While the West is busy living its daily life, a beast is busy killing the freedom of a small community on the East Mediterranean: Lebanon. Indeed, as of last week, the mighty Hezbollah, armed to the teeth with 30,000 rockets and missiles and aligning thousands of self described “Divine soldiers” has been marching across the capital, terrorizing its population, shutting down media, taking its politicians and the Prime Minister as hostages, and looting at will. The hordes of Lebanon’s “Khomeinist Janjaweeds” have conquered already half of the Middle East’s cultural capital, Beirut. As I have reported before, Hezbollah has occupied West Beirut and has since sent its storm troops in multiple directions to resume the blitz.

Lebanon is falling to Hezbollah slowly and surely.

For a full read, click here.

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USS Cole and Hizballah

From the Counterterrorism Blog.

On February 28, the USS Cole was deployed off the coast of Lebanon. Ostensibly, the presence of the warship is intended to demonstrate Washington's ongoing commitment to the democratically elected pro-West government vis-à-vis the Hizballah-led opposition and ally, Damascus. Hizballah and Syria are currently preventing presidential elections in Lebanon; the office has been vacant since November 2007....

Senior Hizballah officials have described the USS Cole as "a threat." In October 2007, Hizballah officials threatened that if US troops ventured onto Lebanese soil, they would be treated as “occupation forces” and attacked. UNIFIL has been attacked three times since its deployment in 2006.

Even more significant than it being any warship is the fact it is the USS Cole which was attacked by terrorists in a boat in a Yemeni port in October 2000. If that does not help in showing America's resolve to a democratically elected Lebanon, nothing will.

For a full read, click here.

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Was Syria involved in Mugnieh's death?

From the Middle East Times.

February 12 marked a point against radical Islam. The killing of Hezbollah's mastermind and legend, Imad Mughnieh, in Damascus should be considered a great victory. The death of one of the most sophisticated and bloody terror masters that had been in "business" for 25 years makes the world a much better place, commented a U.S. State Department spokesman. The question remains: who is ultimately responsible for this?

Increasingly, it seems that maybe Syria was behind the attack. Indeed, on Feb. 17, Mike McConnell, the director of National Intelligence, told Fox News: "There's some evidence that it may have been internal Hezbollah. It may have been Syria."

Olivier Guitta provides an interesting arguments about why Syria would want Mughnieh dead.

For a full read, click here.

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Mughniyah's Assasination

From the American Thinker.

When the news reported that Imad Mughniyah was assassinated I was stunned. This is equivalent to killing Bin Laden. Except that locating and successfully executing an attack on "Mughsy" was a much more difficult task.

To say he had a heightened security posture would be the understatement of the year. He is/was the mythological equivalent of the unicorn, something that has always been talked about but never actually seen. To illustrate this point, most of the pictures Mughniyah were taken very early in his life (his late teens/early 20s... he is now roughly 45). He was vital to Iranian interests in Lebanon because he was someone the Iranians could depend on to execute Tehran's will. He demonstrated that back in 1983 when he orchestrated the Marine Corps Barracks bombing. He was vital to Hezb'allah because of his trusted status with Tehran and the weapons, finance, and training they provided.

For a full read, click here.

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Hezbollah terrorist leader Imad Mugniyah killed in Syria

From Bill Roggio at the Long War Journal.

Imad Mugniyah, the leader of Hezbollah’s military wing and a senior officer in Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, was killed in yesterday’s car bombing in Damascus, Syria. Mugniyah was behind multiple terror attacks against US, Israel, and other nations, and most famously the 1983 Beirut suicide attacks which killed 241 US Marines and 58 French paratroopers. Hezbollah has confirmed Mugniyah’s death....

An excellent examination of this terrorist is provided by Mr. Roggio. It is a must read.

For a full read, click here.

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Cleric warns of more Beirut unrest

From Yahoo/AP.

A top Shiite cleric warned Monday that violence in Beirut could spin out of control, a day after seven protesters died in rioting and clashes in the city's southern suburbs that were reminiscent of Lebanon's 15-year civil war.

But the area was calm Monday as troops patrolled and Shiite Muslims buried their dead.

Some things never make sense to me and this story is one of them. The title warns that violence that can spin out of control after seven protestors (Hezbollah supporters) were killed when they turned violent towards Lebanese troops. Yet, the day after, calm reigned. Why?

It is simple, Hezbollah and Amal leaders, wanting to force March 14 forces hand, attempted to incite a riot. Seven of their supporters were killed. It is of special note that no other group had dead supporters implying the Lebanese Army took well aimed shots vice spraying gunfire into the crowd. How did the violence start?

A hand grenade tossed by rioters into that district, Ein el-Rummaneh, injured four people, and an opposition TV station claimed some shooting may have come from the opposing Christian side, and not only from the army.

That's right, a hand grenade was thrown at the Lebanese Army. We are not talking billy clubs or rocks, but a hand grenade. Who were two of the people killed?

One of the people killed was a local official with the Amal opposition group, Ahmed Hamzeh, who had been working with the army to reduce tensions, security officials and the party said. Another was a paramedic of a Muslim ambulance service affiliated with Hezbollah.

So an Amal opposition group leader, who had been working to reduce tensions was killed. How convenient. It would be interesting to know what he died from.

Why was a Muslim ambulance on site? Probably because Hezbollah knew they were going to start a riot and wanted emotional pictures of wounded being carted off. Unfortunately, they did not get their show as the paramedic was also killed.

Yet today, there is calm. There is calm because the riot did not go down as Hezbollah intended, probably except for the death of Ahmed Hamzeh. The Lebanese Army stood its ground and quelled the riot with patience and discipline. Hezbollah will definitely take notice of this fact as it seeks other methods to force the hand of March 14 forces for veto power in the government.

For a full read, click here.

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Geopolitics of Gaza

From The Terror Wonk.

The Terror Wonk provides a different perspective on the "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza brought about by the Israeli blockade and subsequent destruction of the border wall with Egypt.

In the coverage of the breach of the Gaza border, the focus has been on the increased threat to Israel. While there is little question that terrorists will acquire new capabilities and use them against Israel, their gaze may turn to a nearby but softer target.

In his memoirs Knights under the Prophet’s Banner: Meditations on the Jihadist Movement, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri observed:

The problem of finding a secure base for jihad activity in Egypt used to occupy me a lot, in view of the [activity against us] by the security forces and because of Egypt’s flat terrain, which made government control easy, for the River Nile runs in its narrow valley between two deserts that have no vegetation or water. Such a terrain made guerilla warfare in Egypt impossible…

Many folks see the destruction of the border wall between Egypt and Gaza as a response to the recent Israeli blockade. However, this is an incorrect inference. The wall was cut with torches and then explosive charges were strategically set along the wall which resulted in almost two-thirds of a 12km section coming down.

As shown in this photo, provided by Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty, this was a large, synchronized, deliberately planned operation by Hamas, not something that could have been done in a few days. Instead, a better inference would be that the current crisis was a manufactured by Hamas. For its part, Hamas played Israel perfectly in this crisis and won unhindered access to Egypt as a result.

Hamas used Israel's targeting on militants as stepping stone to start the crisis. Hamas begin to bombard Israel with a multitude of rocket. Israel in turn started a blockade. Knowing Israel's response, Hamas sought international sympathy by playing up a "humanitarian crisis" happening in Gaza as a result of the blockade. At the height of the Israeli blockake, Hamas brought the wall down, not only effectively ending the blockade, but also opening a new, porous border with Egypt as shown in the photo below (courtesy of the BBC).

The Terror Wonk provides the reasoning for Hamas' action.

However, a new base of operations against Egypt could have vast geopolitical implications. Egypt has a fragile economy, frustrated populace with a large Islamist movement, and an aging leadership. There have already been terror attacks in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula with Gaza links. Even if the regime is not overthrown, HISH [Hezbollah-Iran-Syria-Hamas] will acquire substantial leverage over Egypt, and further the penetration of radical Islam into the largest Arab state, while acquiring a staging ground into the Maghreb, sub-Saharan Africa, and beyond.

For a full read, click here.

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Explosion rocks Beirut, 5 dead

From Yahoo/AP.

A car bomb exploded in a Christian neighborhood of Beirut on Friday killing at least five people, including a top police official who dealt with terrorist bombings and had previously been targeted, authorities said.

The blast in Hazmieh on the Lebanese capital's Christian eastern edge set dozens of vehicles ablaze and ripped a giant crater in the asphalt.

The national police chief, Brig. Gen. Ashraf Rifi, said one of those killed was Capt. Wissam Eid, a senior police intelligence official. Eid was an engineer who was handling "very important" files, including "all those having to do with the terrorist bombings" in Lebanon, Rifi said.

For a full read, click here.

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"Syria's Jihadists and Hezbollah are two arms of one body"

From Walid Phares at Counterterrorism Blog commenting on who targeted Ambassador Feltman.

Following the bombing of a US embassy car in Beirut this week many analysis were made available about the authors of this terror attack. Several thesis struggled with what they coined different and opposed possibilities. One main option being Hezbollah and the other option being Jihadi groups controlled by Syria. I argued that as long as it is either Hezbollah or Syrian-controlled Jihadists executing the operation, these two networks are two arms of one body. The decision-making process is at the "axis" level, that is Tehran and Damascus joint war room in the region.

Dr Phares cites Stratfor analysis of the attack which states it is unlikely to be Hezbollah which executed the attack, but instead believes the attack was executed by Jihadist forces. He points out that these two forces are linked.

"What is strange in the analysis is that it says that Hezbollah is unlikely to carry an attack against US target, but Jihadists controlled by Syria are very likely to do so. But these are two arms from one Terror body, the Syro-Iranian axis."

I concur with Dr. Phares. The two groups are different arms of the same body. They are all ultimately controlled by Iran.

For a full read, click here.

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Iran & Hezbollah Targeted U.S. Embassy Officials in Lebanon

From Andrew Cochran at Counterterrorism Blog.

Today's bombing which targeted a U.S. Embassy car in a northern Beirut neighborhood most likely was an assassination attempt by Hezbollah and their Iranian superiors on the U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, Jeffrey Feltman, or senior embassy personnel. The blast killed three Lebanese and injured a local embassy employee as Amb. Feltman was getting ready to attend farewell reception for him before his next assignment. Our special correspondent in Lebanon, "Karim," who has provided valuable information for us here before, reports, "Apparently the bombers didn't know which car in the convoy was his, this one turned off the main road, they assumed it was his and blew it up." He discounts another theory, that a judge on the Hariri tribunal was targeted: "Usually to assassinate a Lebanese judge, they would blow up his car or shoot him to send a message to others."

Retired Lebanese Col. Charbel Barakat, speaking on behalf of the World Council of the Cedars Revolution, considers this terrorist act as directed by Hezbollah's war room against the United States and Lebanese citizens. "It is an act of terror ordered by Tehran's Pasdaran against a U.S. diplomatic target in Lebanon as President Bush is visiting the region. It should be investigated by both Lebanese and international authorities." Col. Barakat warns of further terrorist attacks by Hezbollah against U.S. personnel and targets in Lebanon.

It is interesting they would choose to assassinate an ambassador who is leaving Lebanon. This would lead one to believe it was a vendeta against Ambassador Feltman, himself.

Taking a quick look at Wikipedia lends to a possible motive for the attack.

In a speech following the Israeli failed invasion of Lebanon in 2006, the "Secretary-General" of Hizbollah, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, dubbed Fouad Siniora's government in Lebanon as Feltman's Government. Nasrallah's label stressed what Hizbullah sees as Feltman's deep influence on the Lebanese government's decisions. The title of "Feltman's Government" has since been widely used among several opposition parties in Lebanon whenever referring to Siniora's government.

This assassination attempt should be thoroughly investigated. If it can be tied to Hezbollah, we should strike a Hezbollah target itself in retaliation to send a message.

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Hezbollah's Billion Petrodollars

Walid Phares delivers his assessment of activities inside of Lebanon in this Human Events article. He discusses two major changes occurring inside Hezbollah.

The first change is a shift in leadership responsibilities. A report published initially in the Saudi owned Sharq al Awsat said the office of Ayatollah Khomenei appointed deputy secretary general Sheikh Naim Qassim as the new supreme commander of Hezbollah forces and the personal representative of the Ayatollah in Lebanon.

Why did Khomenei change leadership of Hezbollah forces?

They said it was in preparation for a potential massive move by Hezbollah to seize more power in Lebanon and before a possible clash with the Lebanese Government and the United Nations over the disarmament process.

Mr. Phares cites General Hajj's assassination as proof of this fact.

Sources believe the assassination of Brigadier General Francois Hajj, director of operations in the Lebanese Army was another preemptive measure ordered by the Pasdaran command in Lebanon. Hajj was slated to become the next commander of the Lebanese Army. The latter was to deploy across Lebanon and eventually begin the collection of weapons. Hence, believe the observers, a Syro-Iranian order was issued to preempt and eliminate a man who could have become the military commander to force Hezbollah to disarm.

The second major change in Hezbollah is a huge increase in its operating budget.

Hezbollah’s funding was elevated from $400 million US to $1 billion. This ballistic leap would enable the organization to crush any opponent inside Lebanon and engage in worldwide operations against Western Democracies and Arab moderates. According to experts in Lebanon, the $400 millions figure was enough to pay for hundreds of social centers and thousands of salaries enough to insure a full control over the Shia community, its representatives in Parliament and buy significant influence inside the Sunni, Druze and particularly Christian community. One hundred million dollars alone, could pay for the activities of movements opposed to the Cedars Revolution and the democratically elected Government of Seniora.

Mr. Phares notes that a billion dollars gives Iran a fleet to counterbalance the US Naval Fleet in the Middle East.

A month ago as I was participating in a cross fire program on al Jazeera facing off with a coordinator of Iranian propaganda in the Arab world, I was asked why the US maintains a Navy in the Middle East. "Where are Iran's fleets," he asked. I replied that the Iranian regime maintains land fleets. "Hezbollah's 30,000 rockets and its millions of dollars is an Iranian fleet" I answered.

For a full read, click here.

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Hizbullah Leader Nasrallah: 10 Days To Resolve Lebanon Crisis – Or Else

MEMRI is reporting that Nasrallah has given Al-Siniora's March 14 government 10 days to resolve the crisis in Lebanon or they will take,

"legitimate civilian measures, and will not promise that matters will not descend into the streets."

Since Lebanese have not been able to agree on a President, Siniora has become the defacto President in accordance with the constitution. Hezbullah wants over 1/3 of the parlimentary seats in the new government which would allow it to effectively veto any March 14 legislation. Siniora and Lebanese Druze Leader Walid Jumblatt have stated they will not give into Hezbullah's demands as it would give

the opposition the justice portfolio would endanger the establishment of the international tribunal for the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri.

The battle in Lebanon is a crucial political battle in the War on Terror. Success of the March 14 government will severely weaken Syria and Iran. Since Nasrallah is now not in charge of the Hezbullah Army, he can only conduct "civilian measures" in hopes of gaining ground, unless Kassam orders the Army into action. However, this would put Hezbullah in direct confrontation with the Lebanese Army which is deployed throughout Beruit; possibly inciting another civil war.

We will keep a watch on this area to see what develops.

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How to deal with terrorists.

Arutz Sheva (IsraelNationalNews), has a damning article regarding how to deal with terrorists.

Top Islamic Jihad official Abu Ahmed was interviewed recently by local Arab reporters. The interview was published online, and then quickly removed. However, Israeli investigators managed to find and translate the interview, which reveals the factors that go into the terrorist leadership’s decision-making process.

Among other things, Abu Ahmed admitted in the interview that the security fence built by Israel has made it more difficult for terrorists to carry out attacks. Even more effective, he said, is the Israeli strategy of targeting terrorist leaders. He also said that Islamic Jihad often refrains from firing rockets due to fear of the possible Israeli response.

Abu Ahmed’s words provide aid to Israel’s diplomatic efforts. Israel’s critics often argue that fighting terrorism is ineffective, and that Israel must make concessions in an attempt to appease terrorists instead. The interview with Abu Ahmed shows that terrorists are discouraged by IDF operations, and that terror can be defeated using military means.

So, according to Abu Ahmed, to reduce terrorists' attacks, peaceful, democratic countries should target terrorist leadership and respond harsely against terrorist groups when they strike.

Who would have thought this tactic would work?

Surely not our Democrat lawmakers who feel if we "cut and run" when terrorists attack, they would respect us and then come to the negotiating table freely, reay to negotiate their surrender.

The question is simple, "cut and run" or "Troop surge". The answer is the same answer we all learned when dealing with bullies at school. If one continues to let the bully pick on him/her, then the bully will keep on pushing. However, if one stands up to the bully, the bully almost always retreats.

Terrorists are no different than bullies at school. That is why they hide behind women and children when they conduct vicious attacks and like Sadr, Nasrallah, and Osama, run when the going gets tough. They do not lead from the front, but instead expect their followers to die for their hopeless cause as they run away to hide in caves.

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