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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Gaza: How the resistance manufactures its rockets with help from Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah

Palestinian Islamic Jihad members prepare al-Quds rockets during preparations to fire missiles into Israel, in the east of Gaza City, 20 December 2008.
Published Thursday, October 30, 2014Al-Akhbar
Necessity is the mother of invention. The Resistance has recently demonstrated its biggest achievements yet in the fight with Israel. Indeed, it is not an exaggeration to say that Gaza, and behind it Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah, had anticipated the day when the borders and the sea surrounding Gaza would be sealed off. Today, Egypt and Israel are stepping up their coordination to make the sea off limits to the resistance, while in the south, their armies are working to establish a buffer zone and even a water trench, in the hope of putting an end to the smuggling of rockets from the Iranian desert to the Mediterranean.
“Lift your feet, we have been and will remain under them, at your service,” said Abu Ali, a commander in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), in broken Arabic to a resistance fighter from Gaza who was attending a training session in Iran in 2012. This was in response to criticisms voiced against the Iranians for not having transferred rocket-making technology to Gaza prior to the Israeli assault in 2008. Abu Jihad, the Gazan fighter, had asked his instructor, “Where were you in the first war (Operation Cast Lead)?”
Before 2012, when resistance fighters used to travel via Syria, the authorities in Damascus allocated special conduits for Gazan resistance fighters.
Cars would wait for them on the tarmac and then take them to the factions to which they were affiliated. A prominent Palestinian leader says, 
“If their trips were scheduled on the same day, they would change planes without being asked about visas or passports.”
In Tehran, the resistance fighters attended intensive training sessions. Over the many months they spent there, they gained invaluable skills, starting with on-hands application of theories, to testing weapons and tactics in environments simulating the geography in Gaza. For instance, they were taken on board Iranian HESA Shahed helicopters to inspect the sites where the rockets fell, to examine their accuracy and effectiveness, according to Abu Jihad.
The resistance fighters transferred their experience to Gaza, where they helped manufacture and develop rockets, and provide training on how to emplace and camouflage them to avoid the occupation’s eyes in the sky and on the ground. Yet the training did not come only from Iran, as fighters also underwent the same kind of training in Syria. There were also the occasional incidents. In one such incident, during training on hitting targets in the Syrian Desert, a rocket fell near a dormitory and wounded a number of soldiers.
With the end of 2001, al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas, started manufacturing for the first time Qassam rockets. The rockets at the time had a range of no more than 15 km, and in many instances, rockets would fall near their launching pads, or even explode before their launch. These rockets mostly targeted the settlement of Sderot, which lies 4 kilometers from the eastern border of the Gaza Strip.
In those years, the resistance fighters did not have much experience in manufacturing weapons, not to mention the difficulty of procuring the needed raw materials. But since 2005, following the withdrawal of the Israeli enemy from the Philadelphia Corridor, the resistance breathed a sigh of relief. The southern border with Egypt was now open to the resistance fighters, creating better conditions for smuggling in weapons and raw materials through tunnels to manufacture rockets. Since that year and until 2012, Iran and Hezbollah sought to help develop the rockets of the Palestinian resistance to reach longer ranges. A new stage began in which fighters from Gaza flocked to Lebanon, and collaborated with the resistance there to bring in more weapons and military equipment.
The common belief that boats snuck to the shore is inaccurate. Rather, weapons would be dropped in certain points in the sea very far from the shore. Water currents washed them off on the shore, to be retrieved by divers at night. Another notable smuggling route went through Sudan, Egypt, the Sinai, and then Gaza via tunnels, according to one prominent Hamas official.
Later on, the Iranians realized the logistical obstacle facing the resistance in smuggling in weapons, namely, the difficulty of bringing in large rockets through the tunnels. Subsequently, the IRGC sought to develop Fajr-5 rockets that could be disassembled and then reassembled in Palestine.
The first Fajr-5 rockets arrived in Gaza in 2011, and were used for the first time in Operation Pillar of Cloud in 2012, when the Palestinian resistance bombed Tel Aviv for the first time. At the time, Israel accused the IRGC of supplying rockets to the resistance. The commander of the IRGC Mohammad Ali Jafari responded by confirming the transfer of Fajr rockets to the resistance, and added that he would be seeking to supply them with other rocket systems.
Fajr was one of the weapons that had a great impact on the work of the resistance. But there was a limit to the amount this type of rocketry the resistance could smuggle in. In this regard, Abu Jihad said that the concern over bringing in limited amounts of weapons, in addition to the possibility of security deterioration and the tightening of the blockade in a way that would prevent the entry of weapons into Gaza, were all issues on the mind of IRGC officials during the training. Abu Jihad said the trainers developed special courses on manufacturing rockets, after the Iranians gathered a lot of information on the raw materials available in Gaza and in its vicinity. Abu Jihad said, “So we made rockets ourselves in Iran, using materials similar to those available in Gaza, and we verified their effectiveness.”
The ‘golden era’ of Hosni Mubarak
Leading sources in Islamic Jihad said that the majority of weapons that arrived in Gaza and used in the battles of 2012 and 2014 had come through during Hosni Mubarak’s term, especially in 2011 and the years that followed. The sources added that in those years, the authorities in Egypt turned a blind eye to smuggling in Sinai, which was done with the help of tribes there in return for huge sums of money.
In this regard, a Hamas official said that the resistance would agree with Egyptian officers to allocate a specified number of days in which the resistance fighters would smuggle weapons freely. Then under President Mohammed Morsi, in whose term the eight-day conflict (Pillar of Cloud) took place and the Fajr rocket was deployed for the first, the resistance stockpiled a fair amount of rockets and hardware. However,Palestinian sources stress that smuggling weapons under Morsi was more difficult than under Mubarak, though they say it was easier under him to move fighters out of Gaza for training. There were even reports that the deposed president had issued special cards to facilitate the movement of people out of Gaza without harassment from the security services.
After the war in 2012, the enemy learned the smuggling routes into Gaza, and targeted weapons convoys and rocket caches. In late 2012, the Israeli air force bombed a weapons convoy in Sudan, said to be on its way to Gaza. At that point, the Iranians realized that the best option to supply rockets to the Palestinian resistance was to help manufacture them locally instead of smuggling them.
Accordingly, Tehran worked with Hezbollah to train Gazans on setting up plants to manufacture rockets, as one leader said. Operation Protective Edge in 2014 demonstrated the worth of months of training in Iran. The phrase “locally made” was used extensively in resistance statements during that conflict.
The Iranians did not deny that the rockets fired by the resistance were locally made. Assistant Foreign Minister of Iran, Hossein Amir Abdul-Lahian, said the IRGC had transferred rocket-making technology to the Palestinians.
Regarding drones, Islamic Jihad sources said that Iran had delivered three Ababil UAVs to the Qassam Brigades to carry out certain missions, but that these planes were downed as was declared.
Generally speaking, in the recent war, locally made rockets (e.g. Qassam and M75), which were available in abundant number, helped sustain the rate of rocket fire at the same level until the last day of the battle, while the Quds Brigades used the Buraq 70 and Buraq 100 rockets to bomb Tel Aviv and other cities.
Clearly, the design and propulsion fuel for both types of rockets come from the same source. At that stage, there was a debate between the leaders of the resistance (Lebanese, Palestinian and Iranian) regarding the nature of locally made rockets, and it was decided that these rockets must carry a small explosive head, but must have a higher range, for both combat- and political-related calculations.
Leading figures in the Palestinian resistance explained the difference in cost between manufacturing rockets locally and smuggling them from Iran. They said, “Locally made rockets are almost as powerful as smuggled ones, but cost less. The cost of a rocket like the one used to bomb Tel Aviv does not exceed $5,000, while a smuggled rocket may cost up to $15,000.” Regarding short-range rockets, for example, the cost of a smuggled 107-type rocket is around $800, while the same rocket can be made locally for $110.
In the recent war, the Palestinian resistance continued to manufacture rockets, but the problem it faced was how to transport them from the plants to their launching platforms. Resistance sources in Gaza said, “The location of the rocket manufacturing plants is unknown to most fighters. Some factions even bar the manufacturers of the rockets themselves to know the location of the places they work in.”
Despite the local manufacturing of rockets, smuggling has not come to a complete halt. What is successfully smuggled, whether via the sea or the Sinai desert, is not usually disclosed. Sources in Islamic Jihad say that currently, the reliance is on local manufacturing, “thanks to the presence of excellent raw materials at a good price in the markets.”
Certainly, the recent war is being assessed carefully by Iran, Hezbollah, and even Syria to learn what needs to be done, amid a large influx of financial support for the armed wings of the resistance after the war.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.
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Assad's warnings start to ring true in Turkey


BEIRUT (Reuters) - When Sunni rebels rose up against Syria's Bashar al-Assad in 2011, Turkey reclassified its protégé as a pariah, expecting him to lose power within months and join the autocrats of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen on the scrap heap of the "Arab Spring".
Assad, in contrast, shielded diplomatically by Russia and with military and financial support from Iran and its Shi’ite allies in Lebanon's Hezbollah, warned that the fires of Syria’s sectarian war would burn its neighbors.
For Turkey, despite the confidence of Tayyip Erdogan, elected this summer to the presidency after 11 years as prime minister and three straight general election victories, Assad’s warning is starting to ring uncomfortably true.
Turkey’s foreign policy is in ruins. Its once shining image as a Muslim democracy and regional power in the NATO alliance and at the doors of the European Union is badly tarnished.
Amid a backlash against political Islam across the region Erdogan is still irritating his Arab neighbors by offering himself as a Sunni Islamist champion.
The world, meanwhile, is transfixed by the desperate siege of Kobani, the Syrian Kurdish town just over Turkey’s border, under attack by extremist Sunni fighters of the Islamic State (IS) who are threatening to massacre its defenders.
Erdogan has enraged Turkey’s own Kurdish minority – about a fifth of the population and half of all Kurds across the region – by seeming to prefer that IS jihadis extend their territorial gains in Syria and Iraq rather than that Kurdish insurgents consolidate local power.
The forces holding on in Kobani are part of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), closely allied to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has fought a 30-year war against the Turkish state and is now holding peace talks with Ankara.
Meanwhile, Turkish tanks stood idly by as the unequal fight raged between the PYD and IS, while Erdogan said both groups were "terrorists" and Kobani would soon fall. It was a public relations disaster.
It drew criticism from NATO allies in the US-led coalition, which has bombed jihadi positions around the town in coordination with the PYD. It also prompted Kurdish riots across south-east Turkey resulting in more than 40 dead.
At the same time, Turkey's air force bombed PKK positions near the Iraqi border for the first time in two years, calling into question the 2013 ceasefire declared by Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed PKK leader. PKK commanders warned that if Turkey let Kobani fall, they would go back to war.
Yet now that the United States has dropped arms to Kobani’s defenders, Erdogan has been forced to relent and open a Turkish corridor for Peshmerga fighters from Iraq to reinforce Kobani.
Turkish officials fear this will provoke reprisals in Turkey by IS, activating networks it built during the two years the Erdogan government allowed jihadi volunteers to cross its territory to fight in Syria. Almost anything Turkey does now comes with big risks.
The polarization within Turkey along sectarian and ethnic lines - which analysts say Erdogan has courted with his stridently Sunni tone as communal conflict between Sunni and Shi'ite rages to Turkey’s south - is easy to detect in the poor and deeply conservative district of Fatih in Istanbul.
“I prefer to have IS than PKK in control of Kobani,” says Sitki, a shopkeeper. “They are Muslims and we are Muslims. (But) we as Muslims should be ruled by the Koran under Sharia law."
Another local shopkeeper, Nurullah, 35, broadly agreed:
“The only mistake the government has made is to open the door to Kurdish refugees. PYD and PKK are the same, both terrorists. How do (the Americans) have the nerve to ask us to help PYD?”
“Of course Islamic State has sympathizers here because they are wiping out the PKK,” Nurullah continued.
Nearby, a bearded Arabic-speaking man who declined to be named said it made sense that “Turkey as a Sunni nation supports IS over the crusaders”, a hostile reference to the US-led coalition against IS of which Turkey looks an unwilling party.
The increasingly overt Sunni alignment of Erdogan’s Turkey is, paradoxically, contributing to its isolation, at a time when the United States has won the support of the Sunni Arab powers, led by Saudi Arabia, in the campaign against IS.
Partly, that is because Erdogan and his new prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who as foreign minister was the architect of Turkey’s eastward turn away from the EU, continue to champion the pan-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood, ousted in Egypt last year and banned across the Gulf.
But it is also because of Ankara’s ambivalence towards IS, which some in Turkey’s government saw as a bulwark against its three main regional adversaries: the Assad regime, the Shi'ite-led government in Iraq, and the Kurds.
“Their policy is making Turkey look completely isolated”, says Hugh Pope of the International Crisis Group.
Yet there is a wide consensus that Erdogan and his Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) tried and failed to take a leadership role as the turmoil of the Arab Spring swept across the region and have ended up by infecting Turkey’s secular republic with the sectarianism plaguing the Levant.
"From a zero problems policy (with neighbors) to zero neighbors,” said a headline in the leftist Evrensel newspaper in reference to the AKP policy of entente with neighboring states.
Behlul Ozkan, a political scientist at Istanbul’s Marmara University, says the Erdogan government has supported Islamist movements in the Middle East to establish a sphere of influence and play a leadership role.
“When the Arab Spring started, Davutoglu saw it as an opportunity for his imperial fantasy of establishing the Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) belt from Tunisia to Gaza.
"They are obsessed with destroying the Assad regime. They see IS as an opportunity for Turkey since it is fighting its enemies on three fronts: against Baghdad’s Shi’ite-dominated leadership, against Assad, and the PYD, which is an affiliate of the PKK.”
Soli Ozel, a prominent academic and commentator, said the Erdogan government's initial expectation was that the Muslim Brotherhood would come to power in Syria.
“Turkish officials believed a year and a half ago they could control the jihadis but they played with fire. This was a policy of sectarianism and they got into something ... they couldn’t control, and that is why we are here”.
Other commentators and Turkish officials say Western and Arab powers that called for Assad to be toppled but refused to give mainstream Syrian rebels the weapons to do it are to blame for the rise of Jihadis in the resulting vacuum.
“They (Turkish officials) bet on Assad to fall and when they lost, instead of backing off they are doubling down,” says Hakan Altinay of the Brookings Institution. “They are not the only culprits. The international community is also a culprit in this affair”.
But uppermost among Ankara’s fears is the prospect that Syrian Kurds led by the PYD -- newly legitimized by their alliance with the United States -- will establish a new Kurdish entity on Turkey’s frontiers, which will incite Turkey's Kurds to seek self government.
“In the realpolitik of all this, IS is fighting all the enemies of Turkey -- the Assad regime, Iraqi Shi'ites and the Kurds -- but the spillover effect is that it is now paying the price in terms of its vulnerability on the Kurdish question,” says Kadri Gursel, a prominent liberal columnist.
Cengiz Candar, veteran columnist and expert on the Kurdish issue adds:
 “If Syrian Kurds are successful and establish self-rule they will set a precedent and a model for Turkey’s Kurds, and more than 50 percent of Kurds in the world live here”.
Turkey is thus caught between two fires: the possibility of the PKK-led Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey reviving because of Ankara’s policy towards the Syrian Kurds; and the risk that a more robust policy against IS will provoke reprisal attacks that could be damage its economy and the tourist industry that provides Turkey with around a tenth of its income.
Internationally, one veteran Turkish diplomat fears, IS “is acting as a catalyst legitimizing support for an independent Kurdish state not just in Syria but in Turkey” at a time when leading powers have started to question Turkey’s ideological and security affiliations with the West.
(Additional reporting by Ece Toksabay in Istanbul; Editing by Giles Elgood)
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Hezbollah Hails Heroic Palestinian Operation against Extremist Zionist Rabbi

Local Editor

Hezbollah -  Al-Aqsa MosqueHezbollah hailed the heroic operation against one of the Zionist extremism symbols, asserting that it represents the Palestinian steadfastness, bravery and willing in defending the holy mosque of Al-Aqsa.

Hezbollah also condemned the unprecedented action of the Zionist occupation troops that sealed Al-Aqsa mosque and prevented the Muslim worshippers from praying at it.

The party further denounced the Israeli aggressions against the Palestinians across Jerusalem, what led to the martyrdom of the Palestinian freed prisoner Moataz Hijazi murdered.

Hezbollah called on the Arab and Islamic peoples to jointly support the Palestinians and their heroic resistance. 

Source: Hezbollah Media Relations
30-10-2014 - 18:24 Last updated 30-10-2014 - 8:24

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Hezbollah captured a Takfiri Terrorist moments before blowing himself حزب الله يقبض على إنتحاري قبل لحظات من تفجير نفسه بالضاحية

بالتفاصيل: حزب الله يقبض على إنتحاري قبل لحظات من تفجير نفسه بالضاحية

*صورة تشبيهية 

تمكن الجهاز الامني التابع لحزب الله اللبناني يوم أمس، من احباط عملية تفجير انتحارية في المنطقة التي تربط الطيونة بطريق المطار في الضاحية الجنوبية لمدينة بيروت، حيث جرى ايقاف الانتحاري بعد إصابته بعدة طلقات منعته من اتمام مهمته. 

وفي التفاصيل التي أوردها موقع “بوصلة” القريب من حزب الله، أن إنتحارياً يرتدي حزاماً ناسفاً تم رصده وهو يقود دراجة نارية صغيرة من نوع ( ابريو ) يقودها من منطقة الطيونة بإتجاه طريق المطار القديم، جرى متابعته بعدها واللحاق به بدراجة نارية تابعة لحزب الله وتم اطلاق عدة أعيرة نارية بإتجاهه ما أدى لإصابته وسقوطه عن الدراجة النارية على الفور. 

وبعد ذلك، حضرت سيارة لفرقة تابعة لوحدة الهندسة حيث جرى تعطيل الحزام الناسف واعتقال الإنتحاري الذي يبلغ من العمر 22 سنة بحسب ما أفاد مصدر امني لموقع بوصلة، مع التحفظ على ذكر جنسية الانتحاري. وقد أكد شاهد عيّأن لـ “الحدث نيوز” الحادث، قائلاً ان الحادثة وقعت ظهراً، وان الانتحاري تعرض للضرب المبرح بوسط الشارع من قبل السكان وبعض سائقي السيارات بعد ان انكشاف أمره، على الرغم من محاولات العناصر الامنية ابعادهم من إنفجار الحزام.
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مع الحدث | حسن حمادة 30-10-2014

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Using the Holocaust to justify war on Assad

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images/AFP
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images/AFP


Since its creation after WWII, Israel and friends have been masters at manipulating emotions, endlessly invoking the memory of Hitler’s Germany as a pretext for starting further wars as in the recent Holocaust-themed propaganda against Syria’s government.
“The irony is that the Nazi holocaust has now become the main ideological weapon for launching wars of aggression,” Norman Finkelstein tells Yoav Shamir in“Defamation”, the Israeli filmmaker’s award-winning 2009 documentary on how perceptions of anti-Semitism affect Israeli and US politics. “Every time you want to launch a war of aggression, drag in the Nazi holocaust.”

If you’re looking for evidence in support of Finkelstein’s thesis today, you need look no further than the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s exhibit of images of emaciated and mutilated bodies from contemporary Syria.

The small exhibit, entitled “Genocide: The Threat Continues,” features a dozen images said to be from an archive of 55,000 pictures allegedly smuggled out of the country by “Caesar”, a mysterious source who claims to have defected from his job as a Syrian military photographer after being ordered to take photos of more than 10,000 corpses.
Emphasizing the threat of an impending genocide, the reportedly conscience-stricken defector warns that a similar fate awaits the 150,000 people he says remain incarcerated by President Bashar Assad’s government.

“They’re powerful images, and viewers are immediately reminded of the Holocaust,”Cameron Hudson, the director of the museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide, was cited as saying in an October 15 Associated Press report. Hudson’s intriguing career in genocide prevention includes a stint as intelligence analyst in the CIA’s Africa Directorate.
The museum’s promotion of these Holocaust-recalling images dates from a few months earlier, however. In his July visit to Washington that included a series of meetings with US government and congressional officials, Caesar’s first stop was at the Holocaust Museum.

On July 28, Michael Chertoff, the former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and a member of the museum’s governing board of trustees, presented the purported defector to a small group of reporters and researchers. According to the Washington Post’s Greg Miller, this event was the first time that Caesar had appeared publicly to answer questions about the photos deemed bysome human rights organizations as evidence of war crimes committed by Assad.

Among the other members of the Holocaust Memorial Council noted for their staunch support of Israel and American interventionism are the pardoned Iran-Contra neocon intriguer Elliott Abrams and Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

Writing in Foreign Policy’s The Cable on April 23, 2012, Josh Rogin drew attention to Wiesel’s pointed introduction of President Barack Obama at a ceremony in the Holocaust Museum. Comparing the Syrian president and then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the perpetrators of the Nazi holocaust, Wiesel implicitly criticized Obama’s supposedly obtuse inaction, “So in this place we may ask: Have we learned anything from it? If so, how is it that Assad is still in power?”

As Rogin, a regular media conduit for anti-Assad interventionism, pointedly observed, the speech was reminiscent of another one Wiesel gave at the opening of the museum in 1993, when he urged President Bill Clinton to take military action in Bosnia:“Similarly, that speech came at a time when the Clinton administration was resisting getting entangled in a foreign civil war, but was under growing pressure to intervene.”

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images/AFP
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images/AFP

The Israel lobby’s Syrian Interpreter

In a revealing interview published on August 11, 2013, by the Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman, Caesar’s interpreter at the museum echoed Wiesel’s criticism of President Obama’s resistance to doing the bidding of the neocons and “liberal interventionists”seeking greater American intervention in Syria.

Asked by the Gülen movement-aligned daily if America had forgotten the Syrian war, Mouaz Moustafa replied, “It is the president who is against action in Syria not the whole of the US government. President Barack Obama has been very insular and cautious about Syria.”

It is hardly a coincidence that Moustafa’s rhetoric bears a striking resemblance to that of Israel’s friends like Wiesel. One of best known media-promoted faces of the Syrian opposition in Washington, the executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force has undeniable links to one of the Israel lobby’s leading think tanks.

After it emerged that Moustafa’s non-profit had coordinated Senator John McCain’s May 2013 trip to meet with the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels, an examination of the SETF executive director’s background revealed that he was one of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s “experts”; a contributor toWINEP’s Fikra Forum,“an online community that aims to generate ideas to support Arab democrats in their struggle with authoritarians and extremists”; and had addressed the AIPAC-created think tank’s annual Soref symposium entitled“Inside Syria: The Battle Against Assad’s Regime.”

Even more damningly, it was discovered that one of SETF’s web addresses was“” The url belongs to the Torah Academy of Boca Raton, Florida whose key values notably include promoting “a love for and commitment to Eretz Yisroel.”

When confronted with these embarrassing revelations, Moustafa responded viaTwitter, “call me terrorist/Qaeda/nazi as others have but not Zionist Im [sic] denied ever entering palestine but it lives in me..” Dismissing the intriguing connection to a pro-Israel yeshiva in Florida, he claimed that the“url registration was due to dumb error by web designer.”

The WINEP-linked Moustafa also interpreted for Caesar, who was wearing dark glasses and a blue rain jacket with the hood pulled over his head, when hetestified before a closed-door session of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs this July. At least some of its members would no doubt have recognized the interpreter, however.

As Foreign Policy’s The Cable reported on June 6, 2013, two leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY), dispatched aides to Turkey to meet leading members of the Syrian Free Army between May 27 and June 3. As The Cable had learned, the meeting had been coordinated by Moustafa’s Syrian Emergency Task Force.

Interestingly, the FP article noted that “the two lawmakers don’t exactly see eye-to-eye on the question of whether the United States should intervene more aggressively in the protracted civil war,” with the stridently pro-Israel Democratic congressman from New York having “carved out one of the most hawkish positions in Congress on Syria, being the first to introduce legislation authorizing lethal assistance for the rebels.”

While Caesar and his American-based Palestinian-Syrian interpreter clearly have the enthusiastic support of Israel’s friends in Washington, the photos presented as evidence of an alleged Syrian “holocaust” by Assad’s forces received their initial boost from one of Tel Aviv’s closest, albeit covert, Arab allies in their mutual war against the Syrian government.

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images/AFP
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images/AFP

The Israeli-Qatari Nexus

As part of a review of the photos commissioned by the government of Qatar, David Crane, a former war-crimes prosecutor for Sierra Leone, reportedly spent hours interviewing Caesar. An October 13 Yahoo News report by Michael Isikoff quotes Crane as saying that they document “an industrial killing machine not seen since the Holocaust.”
Like the director of the Holocaust Museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide, Crane has also worked for the US government in the intelligence field. His former posts include Director of the Office of Intelligence Review, assistant general counsel of the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Waldemar A. Solf Professor of International Law at the United States Army Judge Advocate Generals School.

Having ostensibly left the intelligence world behind him, Crane founded and directs the Syrian Accountability Project (SAP) at Syracuse University’s College of Law, which describes itself as “a cooperative effort between activists, non-governmental organizations, students, and other interested parties to document war crimes and crimes against humanity in the context of the Syrian Crisis.”According to its website, SAP has “worked closely with the Syrian National Coalition” which is listed as one of its clients.

Founded in Doha, Qatar in November 2012, the Syrian National Coalition represents the Free Syrian Army, which has reportedly collaborated with the Al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham in massacres of Syrian civilians such as the one this March in the village of Kassab, an ancestral home of Syria’s minority ethnic Armenians, on the Turkish border.

Professor Crane is also vice-president of I Am Syria, whose mission statement describes it as “a non-profit media based campaign that seeks to educate the world of the Syrian Conflict.” I Am Syria's president, Ammar Abdulhamid, has been a fellow at two of the most prominent Washington-based pro-Israel think tanks, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy and the neocon Foundation for the Defense of Democracies; while one of its education directors, Andrew Beitar, is a regional education coordinator for the Holocaust Museum.

As the case of the mysterious Caesar and his trove of photos clearly shows, those who want to launch a war of aggression on Syria (as they have succeeded in doing in Iraq and Libya) have at every opportunity sought, as Finkelstein put it, to drag in the Nazi holocaust.

As more and more people become wise to this ruse, they should keep in mind the two words espoused by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum: “Never Again.”
Maidhc Ó Cathail

Maidhc Ó Cathail is a widely published writer and political analyst

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.


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