Thursday, February 23, 2017

Erdoğan to Me: Stay Out of Turkey

Erdoğan to Me: Stay Out of Turkey

by Daniel Pipes
Feb 22, 2017
Cross-posted from National Review Online
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I participated yesterday in a conference about the eastern Mediterranean at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) just outside Tel Aviv; and because Tel Aviv is the diplomatic center of Israel, its events attract a good number of diplomats. Yesterday was no exception, with a foreign minister and other diplomats from several eastern Mediterranean countries, including Albania, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, and Turkey.
My talk surveyed the role of Islamism in the region. In the question-and-answer period, Turkey's newly-appointed ambassador, Kemal Ökem, vigorously protested points I had made about his country. I defended these, then challenged Ökem (in a video that can be viewed here):
Pipes: I started going to Turkey in 1972. I studied Turkish, not very successfully, but I did study it. I've gone back many times. And at this point, I dare not go back to Turkey because I am critical, as you may have heard, of the government and, in particular, I supported the July 15th coup [a position] which is absolutely an outrage in Turkey. And so, I dare not go back to Turkey. And so, let me ask you, Mr. Ambassador, would it be it safe for me to go to Turkey and spend some time there or just go through the airport? You have a great airline that I would love to use but I dare not use it. Would I be safe going to Turkey?
Ökem: If you say that you support the failed coup attempt that killed 250 Turkish civilians and if you that say you support the kind of organization which we call a terrorist organization, which is a religious cult by the way, and trying to export something, if you say that, I would rather advise you not to go there because you be an accomplice, considered an accomplice. [laughter]
Pipes: That's what I was expecting.
Ökem: It's an expected answer but it's legitimate answer. I mean, I would advise you to find good legal advice before you travel to Turkey.
Kemal Ökem (standing right) and me (standing left) in discussion.
The name of that "terrorist organization" was not spoken, but Ökem was referring to the so-called Fethullahçı Terör Örgütü, or FETÖ (Fethullah Terror Organization). To the rest of the world, it's the Hizmet movement founded by Fethullah Gülen, a former close and important ally of Erdoğan's until the two of them split. No one else sees it as violent, much less terroristic. Erdoğan's accusation that it organized the July 2016 coup attempt is noxious and absurd.
This ambassador's statement has several interesting implications:
  • Left unspoken was what would happen to me, were I foolish enough to venture to Turkey, so I'll make it explicit here: as someone deemed an accomplice of FETÖ, I would be jailed without charges and held for who-knows-how-long.
  • This is despite my having a long record of being critical of the Gülen movement. For example, the Middle East Quarterly, a journal I publish, ran so important a critical article on Hizmet by Rachel Sharon-Krespin in 2009 that it was translated and prominently featured by the leftist Turkish daily Cumhuriyet.
  • An arch critic of the Soviet Union, such as my father, Richard Pipes, had no problem visiting Russia in the still-repressive post-Stalinist era. In other words, Ankara, a member of NATO and a formal ally of the United States, imposes a higher level of thought control than did the U.S.S.R.
My Cold Warrior father, Richard Pipes, could visit Leningrad in 1959.
  • Turkish Airlines would seem to be the only airline whose passengers must pass an ideological test if they hope to complete their journey without danger of getting thrown in jail.
I have visited Turkey, one of my favorite destinations, 10 times over 45 years, with the final trip in 2012. I shall miss the country. Like tens of millions of Turks, I look forward to celebrating the early termination of the Erdoğan regime. (February 22, 2017)
Related Topics:  Turkey and Turks
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Ohio official calls on President Trump to go after CAIR as a terrorist organization. Please urge President Trump to take action.

Ohio official calls on President Trump to go after CAIR as a terrorist organization.  Please urge President Trump to take action. reportsOhio Treasurer Josh Mandel accuses CAIR of being a front for terrorism.
Ohio Treasurer and US Senate candidate Josh Mandel accused the Council on American-Islamic Relations of being a front for terrorism.  In a Facebook post Wednesday, Mandel posted a link to an article that makes the accusation.

“The Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas are not legitimate governmental entities. Those are terrorist organizations,” Mandel said. “I am hopeful that under this new administration that the federal government will go after the Council for American-Islamic Relations and shut down the organization because I think there is quite a bit of ties out there between the Council for American-Islamic Relations and terrorist organizations.”

Florida Family Association sent out email alerts the first week of February 2017 that asked people to urge President Trump to determine if CAIR should be designated as a terrorist organization. 

If you have not sent a message to ask President Trump to consider designating CAIR as a terrorist organization, please take a moment to communicate this important issue with the president.

Why is this effort so important? CAIR is the largest Islamist organization in America, and they are intimidating Corporate America and government agencies in order to adopt Sharia doctrine in their public policies.  CAIR is demanding that companies accept Salah times of Islamic prayer, Hijab head covers for police officers and employees, Halal certified food for prisoners, etc.  CAIR is the engineer behind the Islamophobe false narrative propaganda machine which is dumbing down Americans’ understanding of the real threat of Sharia law and impairing their willingness to report suspicious behavior.  There have been no arrests or indictments of CAIR officials regarding terrorism since 2010 when President Barrack Obama ordered the FBI to stop surveilling mosques and Muslims.  Prior to 2010, eight top CAIR officials had been sentenced to prison, deported or fled America because of their involvement with terrorism.  Now is the time to call on President Trump, who understands the threat posed by Islamists, to take action.  It will take time for the Department of Justice to investigate and review CAIR’s link with terrorism.  Four years passes fast.  We have to make the most of this opportunity.  We may not have another chance like this.

This issue is so important that Florida Family Association is providing several methods for you to communicate with President Trump.

PLEASE TAKE ACTION USING AT LEAST TWO OF THE FOLLOWING COMMUNICATION METHODS to encourage President Trump to determine if CAIR should be designated as a terrorist organization:

•   EMAILClick here to send your email to President Trump.

•   WHITE HOUSE CONTACT LINK:  Click here to send a message to President Trump.  Suggested message:  I respectfully request that you conduct an investigation to determine if the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) should be designated as a terrorist organization.  The United Arab Emirates’ ministerial cabinet listed the Council on American-Islamic Relations as one of 83 banned terrorist organizations on November 15, 2014.   Many Council on American Islamic Relations officials have been sentenced to prison and/or deported for supporting terrorism.  These CAIR officials include: Ghassan Elashi - founder of CAIR’s Texas chapter, Mousa Abu Marzook, Randall  Royer - CAIR’s former civil rights coordinator, Bassem Khafagi - CAIR’s  former  community relations director, Rabih Haddad - a  former CAIR fundraiser, Siraj Wahhaj - CAIR’s advisory board member, Muthanna Al-Hanooti - former head of CAIR's Michigan branch and Nabil Sadoun - a former CAIR board member.  Numerous CAIR officials have defended terrorists. In 2007, the United States Department of Justice named CAIR as “unindicted co-conspirators” in a criminal conspiracy to financially support Hamas in United States vs Holy Land Foundation.  In 2014, then Attorney General Eric Holder refused to turn over to Congress the Department of Justice’s documents regarding the Council on American Islamic Relations in the United States vs Holy Land Foundation terrorist prosecution.  Attorney General Eric Holder gave the documents to the Council on American Islamic Relations.  Many CAIR leaders proclaim support for Hamas and Islamic imperialism over the United States.  CAIR is working hard to make Sharia law legal in the United States.  Sharia law is antithetical to the rights afforded all Americans under the United States Constitution.

•   USPS MAIL:  Click here to print a letter and mail to President Trump.  Place the letter in an envelope or print the two sided letter with the address on one side, fold and mail.

•  FACEBOOK: Facebook your request to President Trump at Suggested message:  Please investigate to determine if CAIR should be designated as a terrorist organization.

•   TWITTER: Tweet your request to President Trump at  Use the Tweet to Donald Trump button in the top left column.  Suggested Tweet:  Please investigate to determine if CAIR should be designated as a terrorist organization.

Based upon the following record, there have been NO indictments, arrests or deportations of any CAIR official involving terrorism for the past seven years.  Does this mean that all CAIR officials followed the law for all seven years?  Or does it most likely mean the Obama administration dropped all investigation of CAIR just like they did of all mosques and Muslims?  The Obama administration had prohibited the FBI from surveilling mosques since 2011.  

In 1995, Mousa Abu Marzook, a former CAIR official, was designated as a “terrorist and Hamas leader” by the U.S. government.  He now is a Hamas leader in Syria.  
In 1995, Siraj Wahhaj, CAIR’s advisory board member, was named as one of the "unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators" in the attempt to blow up New York City monuments.  
In 2003, Bassem Khafagi, CAIR’s former community relations director, was arrested for involvement with the Islamic Assembly of North America, which was linked to al-Qaida. After pleading guilty to visa and bank fraud charges, Khafagi was deported.
In 2003, Rabih Haddad, a former CAIR fundraiser, was deported for his work with the Global Relief Foundation (which he co-founded), a terror-financing organization. 
In 2004, Randall Royer, CAIR’s former civil rights coordinator, began serving a 20-year prison sentence for aiding al-Qaida and the Taliban against American troops in Afghanistan and recruiting for Lashkar e-Taiba, the jihadist group responsible for the 2008 Mumbai jihad massacres.  
In 2007, the United States Department of Justice named CAIR and two other Islamic organizations as “unindicted co-conspirators” in a criminal conspiracy to support Hamas financially in United States vs Holy Land Foundation
In 2008, Muthanna Al-Hanooti, 48, the former head of CAIR's Michigan branch, was arrested in 2008 at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport on return from the Middle East. The 14-page indictment presents five counts against him: conspiring to act as an agent of the Iraqi government, violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and three false statements to the FBI. 
In February 2010, Nabil Sadoun of Dallas, a former CAIR board member, was deported from the United States on the orders of Judge Anthony Rogers of the Executive Office for Immigration Review in connection with U.S. government accusations that he had ties to terrorist groups.
In 2014, then Attorney General Eric Holder refused to turn over to Congress the Department of Justice’s documents regarding the Council on American Islamic Relations in the United States vs Holy Land Foundation terrorist prosecution.  Attorney General Eric Holder gave the documents to the Council on American Islamic Relations.
On January 1, 2017, CAIR leader Imraan Siddique called on President Obama to pardon Muslims convicted in the largest Islamic terrorism financing trial in American history, United States vs Holy Land Foundation. 

Here are more reasons why President Trump should consider designating CAIR as a terrorist organization:

*  The United Arab Emirates’ ministerial cabinet listed the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as one of 83 banned terrorist organizations on November 15, 2014.

*  Omar Ahmad, Chairman and founder of the Council on American Islamic Relations, told a Muslim crowd "Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faiths, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth."   At the Islamic Association of Palestine’s third annual convention in Chicago in November 1999, Omar Ahmad gave a speech at a youth session praising suicide bombers who kill themselves for Islam. "Fighting for freedom, fighting for Islam — that is not suicide. They kill themselves for Islam," he said.

*  Nihad Awad, CAIR Executive Director, said "I am in support of the Hamas" movement. 

*  Mustafa Carroll, executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth CAIR branch, told a crowd at a Muslim rally in Austin, Texas in 2013 "If we are practicing Muslims, we are above the law of the land."

*  A complete list is posted here.


Florida Family Association, Inc.
P.O. Box 46547, Tampa, FL 33646-0105
Telephone 813-690-0060

A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in France: January 2017

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A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in France: January 2017

by Soeren Kern  •  February 23, 2017 at 5:00 am
  • "I am not ashamed of what I am. I am a Muslim, that is to say, submissive to Allah who created me and who by his grace has harmoniously shaped me." — Salah Abdeslam, a Belgium-born French national of Moroccan descent and the main suspect in the November 13, 2015 attacks that killed 130 people in Paris.
  • The Grand Mosque of Paris announced that it was withdrawing from the Foundation for Islam of France, a new, government-sponsored foundation charged with "contributing to the emergence of an Islam of France that is fully anchored in the French Republic." In a statement, the mosque, which represents 250 of the 2,500 of the mosques and Muslim associations in France, said that it denounced "any form of interference in the management of Muslim worship."
  • "An Algerian sociologist, Smaïn Laacher, with great courage, just said in a documentary aired on Channel 3: 'It is a shame to deny this taboo, namely that in the Arab families in France, and everyone knows it but nobody wants to say it, anti-Semitism is sucked with mother's milk.'" —Georges Bensoussan, a highly regarded Jewish historian of Moroccan descent, who is being prosecuted for talking about anti-Semitism among French Arabs.
  • "When parents shout at their children, when they want to reprimand them, they call them Jews. Yes. All Arab families know this. It is monumental hypocrisy not to see that this anti-Semitism begins as a domestic one." — Smaïn Laacher, a French-Algerian sociologist, in a documentary called, "Teachers in the Lost Territories of the Republic."
  • "Islamophobia is a weapon of intimidation and an invention to forbid debate." — Pascal Bruckner.
  • Three months after French authorities demolished the "Jungle" migrant camp, migrants are returning to Calais at the rate of around 30 a day. Most of them are unaccompanied minors hoping to smuggle their way across the English Channel to Britain.
A van burns during a recent riot in a Paris suburb. Car burnings, commonplace in France, are often attributed to rival Muslim gangs that compete with each other for the media spotlight. An estimated 40,000 cars are torched in France every year. (Image source: RT video screenshot)
January 1. The Interior Ministry announced the most anticipated statistic of the year: a total of 945 cars and trucks were torched across France on New Year's Eve, a 17.5% increase from the 804 vehicles burned during the annual ritual on the same holiday in 2015. Car burnings, commonplace in France, are often attributed to rival Muslim gangs that compete with each other for the media spotlight over which can cause the most destruction. An estimated 40,000 cars are torched in France every year.
January 2. Approximately 3.7 million crimes were reported in France in 2016, a 4% increase over 2015, according to Le Figaro. Seine-Saint-Denis, a Paris suburb which has one of the highest concentrations of Muslims in France, ranks as the most dangerous part of the country, with 18.2 attacks per 1,000 inhabitants. It is followed by Paris, with 15.7 attacks per 1,000 inhabitants and Bouches-du-Rhône with 11.5 attacks per 1,000 inhabitants.

Corrupt State of Affairs at the International Federation of Journalists?

by Tamar Sternthal  •  February 23, 2017 at 4:00 am
  • Participation by journalists in political events, especially those which they are covering, is a serious violation of Agence France-Presse's commitment to "rigorous neutrality" and its pledge that it "is independent of the French government and all other economic or political interests."
  • The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) press release is based on a falsehood: that AFP, relying on "misinformation from Israeli extremist websites," unfairly sanctioned its reporter Nasser Abu Baker, and includes a call to action to hundreds of thousands of journalists. It is evident that there is no truth behind the International Federation of Journalists' lofty "respect for truth."
  • Nor is there any justice at the IFJ, which pretends to fight for freedom of press and against discrimination, but which provides cover and comfort to Abu Baker, and which, based on that falsehood, actively discriminates against Israeli journalists, denies them their freedom of press, and endangers their lives in the West Bank by sending the message to Palestinian officials and journalists that the Israeli reporters are not welcome there.
  • That Abu Bakr was a delegate to the Fatah Congress and also ran in the elections was first covered in the Palestinian media. There is nothing inaccurate about that.
  • The IFJ covered up the fact that its own executive committee member ran for political office, and attacked AFP for supposedly persecuting him with no basis.
  • It is evident that there is no truth behind the International Federation of Journalists' lofty "respect for truth."
Nasser Abu Baker
"The journalist shall be aware of the danger of discrimination being furthered by the media, and shall do the utmost to avoid facilitating such discrimination based on, among other things, race, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinions, and national or social origins," declares the Declaration of Principles of the International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest organization of journalists that represents 600,000 journalists in 140 countries.
One might imagine, then, that this organization that defends press freedom, truth and equality, would vigorously counter a boycott by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate of Israeli journalists, especially in a discriminatory campaign that endangers Israelis covering the West Bank by sending the message to Palestinian officials and journalists that the Israeli reporters are not welcome there.

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Eye on Extremism February 23, 2017

Eye on Extremism

February 23, 2017

New York Times: F.B.I. Interviews Tell Of Cleric’s Role In Plot To Bomb Plane
“In a series of conversations in Qaeda safe houses in Yemen in 2009, Anwar al-Awlaki carefully sized up a young Nigerian volunteer, decided the man had the diligence and dedication for a “martyrdom mission” and finally unveiled what he had in mind. Mr. Awlaki, an American-born cleric who had become a leading propagandist for Al Qaeda, told the man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, that “the attack should occur on board a U.S. airliner,” according to the account Mr. Abdulmutallab gave the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Abdulmutallab told F.B.I. agents that he “was resolved to killing innocent people and considered them to be ‘collateral damage.’” With “guidance” from Mr. Awlaki, he said, he had “worked through all these issues.”
BBC: Mosul Offensive: Iraqi Forces Recapture Airport In Bid To Retake City
“The operation took four hours. IS continued to fire mortars at the airport from further inside the city after losing the ground to the army. The jihadists have also entered a nearby military base amid further clashes, a military spokesman said. Eastern Mosul was retaken last month. The airport's runway has been destroyed by IS, but BBC Middle East Correspondent Quentin Sommerville, who is embedded with Iraqi federal police units, says it still has value. It's a large piece of land, and controlling it will help secure southern routes to west Mosul, our correspondent says.”
Washington Post: New Anti-Islamic State Plan Could Change U.S. Strategy In Syria
“President Trump’s developing plan to defeat the Islamic State may lead to significant alterations in the Syria strategy that Trump inherited from Barack Obama, including a reduction or elimination of both long-standing U.S. support for moderate opposition forces fighting against the Syrian government and the use of Syrian Kurdish fighters as the main U.S. proxy force against the militants, according to U.S. officials. A memorandum signed late last month by Trump ordered the Pentagon and other national security agencies to draft a new proposal by late February. Trump has made clear in public statements both before and since his inauguration that he is eager to increase U.S. firepower against the militants, and willing to add more troops beyond about 500 U.S. Special Operations troops currently on the ground in Syria.”
New York Post: ISIS Now Has The Weapons To Shoot Down Low-Flying Planes
“ISIS jihadists have acquired small anti-aircraft artillery pieces that can threaten low-flying planes, according to a report. A US military spokesman in Baghdad described the weapons as a “significant threat” to coalition planes, CBS News reported Wednesday. The revelation comes amid reports this week that the militant group has been using increasingly sophisticated drones to drop explosives on Iraqi forces with great accuracy. Unmanned aerial vehicles also have been used by the extremists for surveillance to guide car bombs through Mosul’s narrow streets on their way to Iraqi troop positions.”
Washington Post: Away From Iraq’s Front Lines, The Islamic State Is Creeping Back In
“The Islamic State is nearing defeat on the battlefield, but away from the front lines its members are seeping back into areas the group once controlled, taking advantage of rampant corruption in Iraq’s security forces and institutions. Police officers, judges and local officials describe an uneven hand of justice that allows some Islamic State collaborators to walk, dimming Iraq’s chances of escaping the cycle of violence that has plagued the country since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. In the western city of Ramadi, retaken a year ago, officials say evidence against the accused disappears from police files, while witnesses are too scared to testify. A bribe of as little as $20 can buy a laminated security pass granting access to the city.”
Voice Of America: Iran Uses Palestinian Conference To Spotlight Anti-Israel Rhetoric
“Iran has held its first conference in six years supporting Palestinian uprisings, a forum that it says drew hundreds of delegates from 80 countries, reflecting the country’s resurgent clout on the world stage. The two-day Sixth International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada ended Wednesday in the Iranian capital, Tehran, with Iran’s president pledging more aid for Palestinians fighting against Israel. Tehran has long provided monetary and military assistance to Palestinian militants. Iranian state media quoted President Hassan Rouhani as saying his people “have paid a high cost for supporting the Palestinians and opposing the Zionist regime of Israel’s actions, but they will continue their support with determination.”
CNN: Blair Defends Guantanamo Release For 'ISIS Bomber'
“Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has defended his attempts to secure the release of a UK citizen from Guantanamo Bay after reports that the former detainee carried out an ISIS suicide attack in Iraq this week. ISIS on its media affiliates claimed that Abu-Zakariya al-Britani -- a British citizen who initially went by Ronald Fiddler and later took the name Jamal Udeen al-Harith -- detonated a car bomb at an Iraqi army base southwest of Mosul this week. While a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said there had been no independent verification that the attacker was the former Guantanamo detainee, an official told CNN that UK intelligence services believe with "high confidence" that the bomber killed near Mosul was the former British inmate.”
Deutche Welle: More Than 100 Swiss Police Raid Suspected Islamist Targets
“Police have arrested two suspects with links to Turkey. The men are suspected of recruiting for the so-called "Islamic State" militant group, prosecutors said in a statement. Swiss police on Wednesday arrested two men for suspected involvement in terrorist activities, including recruiting for the self-styled "Islamic State" or similar organizations. At least 100 law enforcement officers staged several raids in the Italian-speaking region of Ticino (or Tessin to German speakers), according to the attorney general's office. "The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland is conducting criminal proceedings against two men, one with dual Swiss-Turkish citizenship and the other a Turkish citizen," prosecutors said in a statement.”
France 24: Yemen Loyalists Push Back Rebels On Red Sea Coast
“Yemeni government forces made gains around the Red Sea coastal town of Mokha in heavy fighting overnight as they rebuffed a rebel counter-offensive, a military source said on Thursday. Seven loyalist troops and 16 rebels were killed in the fighting, hospital sources said. Twelve soldiers and 28 rebels were wounded. Government forces captured Yakhtul, 14 kilometres (nine miles) north of Mokha, and Jabal Nar, 10 kilometres (six miles) to the east, consolidating their grip on the town they overran on February 10, the military source told AFP. On Tuesday, government forces had suffered a major setback in the offensive they launched in January to try to recapture Yemen's 450 kilometre (280 mile) Red Sea coastline, which had previously been almost entirely in rebel hands.”
Raleigh News And Observer: Federal Prosecutors Accuse NC Man Of Making Online Threats
“Federal prosecutors have accused a North Carolina man of posting threats against non-Muslims online. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District said 27-year-old Garrett Grimsley, of Cary, appeared before a magistrate on Tuesday. An affidavit said Grimsley posted a message online last Sunday telling readers "don't go to Cary tomorrow." In a private message, a witness says Grimsley said "For too long the (non-Muslims) have spit in our faces and trampled our rights. This cannot continue. I cannot speak of anything. Say your (prayers), sleep, and watch the news tomorrow. It will only be the beginning . . " A search of Grimsley's home turned up an AK-47, four 30-round magazines and approximately 340 rounds of ammunition. If convicted, Grimsley faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.”
Reuters: Muslims Raise Over $91,000 For Vandalized Jewish Cemetery In Missouri
“Muslim Americans have helped raise more than $91,000 to repair vandalized headstones at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri, according to an online fundraising page, amid attacks and threats against Jewish institutions. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited the graveyard on Wednesday and told clean-up volunteers, state officials and reporters that there was no place in America for hatred, violence, anti-Semitism or acts of prejudice. "I must tell you the people of Missouri are inspiring the nation by your love and care of this place, for the Jewish community in Missouri and I want to thank you for that inspiration," Pence said.”
Daily Beast: How Boko Haram's Sex Slaves Wind Up As Sex Workers In Europe
“It’s minutes past 4:00 p.m. local time, and Sarah, as we’ll call her, has just returned to her tent in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp at the outskirts Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s war-torn Borno state. She had spent much of her day in the heart of town meeting with a woman who’s promising to take her to Italy and find her a job. The young girl, who said she was 17, hasn’t been told where she’ll be working once she arrives at her destination. Yet she isn’t bothered. All she wants is to get to Europe. Sarah is not naïve. She knows that many of the girls who are taken from Nigeria to Italy end up as sex workers. She even suspects that will be the job she’ll be asked to do once she arrives in Europe, given the way her would-be benefactor has been communicating with her.”

United States

NPR: Sen. Mccain Makes Unannounced Trip To Syria To Meet With U.S. Forces
“Sen. John McCain made an unannounced trip to northern Syria last week to meet with U.S. forces stationed there, his office announced on Wednesday. McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, went to discuss the campaign for defeating militants from the Islamic State. "Sen. McCain's visit was a valuable opportunity to assess dynamic conditions on the ground in Syria and Iraq," according to a statement from spokeswoman Julie Tarallo. The trip, which is considered official travel, was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. McCain, a Republican from Arizona, has been one of President Trump's harshest critics.”


BBC: Syria's Warring Sides Brought Together For Geneva Talks
“The meeting follows weeks of difficult negotiations in preparation. Staffan de Mistura, the UN's special Syria envoy, said on Wednesday he was "not expecting a breakthrough". The opposition is insisting that the fate of President Bashar al-Assad is on the agenda - something the government has refused to discuss. At least 300,000 people have been killed since the war began in 2011. More than 4.8m have fled the country and a further 6.3m have been displaced inside Syria itself. While hopes of a breakthrough at the talks are low, much has changed since the last round broke down in April 2016.”
Washington Post: Syria Peace Talks Resume, But Assad Is In The Driver’s Seat
“The forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad scored significant victories in 2016, most importantly the recapture of rebel-held eastern Aleppo. Russia and Iran launched a parallel diplomatic process along with Turkey, which has gone from being Assad's most vociferous regional opponent to finding common cause with his staunch allies. And there's a new American president who seems far less concerned with the Syrian leader's departure than his predecessor. "Peace is only possible when none of the parties to the conflict think they can win. I’m not sure we are yet there in Syria," said U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres over the weekend. "I’m afraid that some might still think — and I think it’s a total illusion — that they might win that war, so I’m not optimistic about the short-term solution for the Syria crisis." Given such pessimism, here are a few key points when considering Syria's future prospects.”
World Tribune: ISIS-Linked Jihadists Seize Towns Near Oil-Rich Golan Heights In Syria
“In a series of surprise attacks, jihadists affiliated with Islamic State (ISIS) seized four villages in the oil-rich Syrian Golan Heights. The terror group, which calls itself the Khalid Ibn Al Walid Army, captured the towns of Tseel, Sahem al Golan, Adwan and Ten Jamoua that were held by moderate rebels, according to witnesses who spoke to Reuters on Feb. 21. “In a surprise attack Islamic State made an attack on positions held by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups which no one expected to happen so fast,” said Col. Ismail Ayoub, a Syrian opposition army defector.”


Al Masdar News: Hashd Al-Sha’abi Kills Dozens Of ISIS Terrorists In Western Mosul: Video
“Over the past 24 hours, Hashd Al-Sha’abi (Popular Mobilization Units) has killed dozens of Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists in the western countryside of Mosul, as they continue their advance towards the strategic town of Tal ‘Afar. The Popular Mobilization Units are currently advancing at 4 axes in Tal ‘Afar’s western countryside, while their allies in the Iraqi Army and Federal Police forces continue their powerful offensive in the western sector of Mosul City.”


The Hindu: Turkish Military Says 56 IS Militants Killed In Syria
“Fifty-six Islamic State militants were killed by Turkey-backed forces around the Syrian town of al-Bab and by U.S.-led coalition air strikes in the latest operations on Wednesday, the Turkish military said on Thursday. Turkish artillery fire also hit 104 Islamic State targets,including buildings and bombed vehicles, the army said in a statement, reiterating it had largely established control in the residential areas of al-Bab. The Islamic State stronghold, 30 km from theTurkish border, has been a prime target since Turkey launched an incursion with Syrian rebels last August to push the jihadists from its frontier and prevent gains by a Kurdish militia.”


Khaleej Times: Yemen General Killed In Houthi Attack
“Yemeni rebels hit back at government forces advancing up the Red Sea coast, killing a deputy army commander in a missile strike, a military source said on Wednesday. Army deputy chief of staff Major General Ahmad Saif Al Yafii was killed by a heat-seeking missile on the outskirts of the coastal town of Mokha, the source said. Another 18 soldiers as well as 21 rebels were killed in the clashes between Iran-backed Houthi insurgents and a Saudi-led coalition supporting the Yemeni government. More than 50 others from the two sides were wounded in the fighting, which saw the coalition carry out air strikes as the rebels reached the eastern outskirts of Mokha. The army had overrun Mokha on February 10.”
Al-Arabiya: Yemen Army Regains Control Of Town North Of Mokha
“Sources confirmed to Al Arabiya that the Yemeni army has regained control of the town of Yakhtul north of Mokha. Furthermore, the Yemeni National Army troops also dominated the mountains east of Mokha on Wednesday at dawn, after fierce battles that lasted for about 24 hours against the militia groups, according to military sources in Taiz. During the battles, Nine militants were killed and dozens were wounded after coalition raids. The National Army Forces advanced toward the Khaled camp in the Mawza district under heavy air cover from the aircrafts of the Arab coalition. A military source explained that the National Army continued its progress toward the eastern Directorate of Mocka located between the provinces of Taiz and al Hudaydah to completely block supplies to the militia groups.”

Saudi Arabia

Arab News: Saudi Arabia Earmarks $10bn For Yemen Reconstruction: Hadi
“Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia has earmarked $10 billion (SR37.5 billion) in aid for the reconstruction of provinces retaken from Houthi rebels. Hadi said the Kingdom had allocated $10 billion “for the reconstruction of liberated provinces, including $2 billion as a deposit in the central bank to shore up the (Yemeni) riyal,” the Saba news agency reported. The president, speaking in the government’s temporary southern capital of Aden, called on his government to focus on power, water, roads, health and education in retaken areas. Pro-government forces backed by the Saudi-led coalition took back five southern provinces from Iran-backed rebels in 2015, but Houthis still control the capital and much of northern Yemen.”


Egyptian Streets: Two Christians Killed By Militants In Egypt’s North Sinai Amid Growing Attacks On Copts
“The rate of attacks on Egyptian Christians residing in North Sinai has significantly increased over the past few months. A father and his son were killed on Wednesday when two militants reportedly gunned them down. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet. However, security sources who spoke on condition of anonymity told the Associated Press that Saad Hana, 65 was shot dead and then his son Medhat, 35, was abducted and burnt alive. The statements of the security sources contradict those of one of the family members who spoke to Al-Arabiya on condition of anonymity as well. She said that Nabila Fawzy, Hana’s wife, tried to call for help when militants stormed her house and shot her husband and son dead. The militants then set the house on fire.”

Middle East

Daily Wire: Watch: Women Liberated From Isis Remove Veils, Burn Them
“In a video posted by Rudaw English, women liberated from ISIS-controlled areas are seen celebrating their freedom, taking off their veils and burning them in defiance of their once-oppressive rulers.  The women, with sheer joy on their faces, remove their veils, once mandated by their rulers, and begin to set them aflame. The women are also seen smoking cigarettes and cheering over their newfound freedom. Areas under ISIS rule have been described as a "giant prison," which typically have banned internet access and closed up cyber cafes. And life for women under such reign can be particularly devastating. "Women rarely venture out for fear of being reprimand by Isis police, known as the Hisbah, and the female unit, the Khansaa Brigade, even for the slightest transgression, such as carrying a brightly coloured handbag," noted The Guardian last year.”


Washington Post: Top Libyan Security Official Wounded In Car Bomb Attack
“A Libyan spokesman says a top security official in the eastern city of Benghazi has survived an assassination attempt by a car bomb. The spokesman, Walid Urfi, told The Associated Press that Col. Salah al-Hewidi — who refused to leave his post as a security chief of Benghazi after being sacked —was wounded in the Wednesday explosion. It was the second assassination attempt targeting security officials in one month. Last month, a nominee to al-Hewidi’s post was wounded in another car bomb attack in the city. The eastern-based government, headed by Abdullah al-Thinni, sacked al-Hewidi. Al-Thinni answers to the internationally-recognized parliament seated in eastern Libya. Another UN-backed government is seated in the capital Tripoli.”
Foreign Affairs: Libya After ISIS
“Among the many crises now facing the new Trump administration, Libya poses a growing challenge. The shattered Mediterranean state is close to open civil war, which could have profoundly negative consequences for U.S. interests and allies. Although the Islamic State (ISIS) was driven from its main areas of control in Libya last year and oil production has rebounded to a three-year high, Libya is more polarized and fragmented than ever. The United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli is failing in its basic functions and confronts an existential challenge from an eastern faction led by General Khalifa Hifter and backed by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and, increasingly, Russia. In addition, the economy is veering toward collapse, and jihadist militancy could still find purchase in the country’s chaos.”


BBC: Why Is Nigeria's President Buhari Still In London?
“A former military ruler known for his no-nonsense style would appear to have little in common with a reality TV show where contestants engage in attention-seeking behaviour. But both subjects were soon generating headlines for the same reason - neither of them were in Nigeria. It turned out that Big Brother was actually being filmed in South Africa - a decision that led Nigeria's information minister to launch an investigation. While the howls of protests from outraged Big Brother fans soon died down, the clamour over Nigeria's leader's extended medical stay in London is not going away. President Buhari's absence comes as Africa's most populous nation is gripped by its worst economic crisis in decades, and faces the threat of famine in north-east Nigeria, which has been devastated by the Boko Haram insurgency.”

United Kingdom

New York Times: ISIS Says British Militant Carried Out Suicide Attack In Iraq
“They called him Abu Zakariya al-Britani — the surname means “the Briton” — and they say he blew himself up on Monday in an attack at a village southwest of Mosul, Iraq. The claim, in a communiqué from the Islamic State, immediately revived fears about foreign fighters who have moved to Syria or Iraq to join the group’s ranks. But in Britain, it prompted even more troubling allegations. Several British news organizations — including the BBC, The Times of London and The Guardian — reported Tuesday evening that the man was Jamal Malik al-Harith, a native of Manchester, England, who was captured in Afghanistan in 2001; detained by the United States in the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, from 2002 to 2004; and released to Britain, where the government later awarded him 1 million pounds, about $1.25 million at current exchange rates, to settle a lawsuit.”


Deutche Welle: German Intel Agency Notes Dramatic Increase In Islamic Extremism
“The domestic intelligence service has announced an uptick of hundreds in a matter of months. At least one cause of the worrying trend is the ease with which young people can become radicalized online, authorities said. Germany's domestic security and intelligance agency (the BfV) said on Wednesday that the radical Islamist scene in the country had grown considerably, from only about 100 people in 2013 to some 1,600 today. Indeed, according to BfV chief Hans-Georg Maassen, the number had jumped by several hundred in a matter of months. "We receive between two and four credible tips on planned terrorist activity in Germany each day," Maassen said. "We have to recognize that we are living in a different situation now than was normal.”
Reuters: Bavaria Pushes Ahead With Burqa Ban As Elections Loom
“Bavaria will ban the full-face veil in schools, universities, government workplaces and polling stations, the southern German state said on Tuesday. The move comes seven months before a federal election where immigration will be a prominent issue and the Bavarian conservatives that govern the region, the sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel's, are worried about losing votes to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD). "Communication happens not only via language but also via looks, facial expressions and gestures," Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said after the regional government agreed a draft law to ban the full-face veil for civil servants and in public places where there are concerns for public safety. "It's the foundation of our interactions with each other and it's the basis of our free and democratic order," he said. "Concealing your face is at odds with this culture of communication.”


Ashnona: ISIS Trying To Extort Factories In Baquba
“A local source in Diyala province disclosed on Wednesday that ISIS has been demanding monthly payments from owners of cement-block manufacturing plants, located northeast of Baquba. When Iraqi security forces discovered the extortion, they threatened urgent action against anyone cooperating with the terror organization. The source was quoted as saying: "ISIS, via its sleeper cells, has been trying to extort owners of block production factories near the villages of Islah and Sheikh Baba in the vicinity of Jalawla (70 km north-east of Baquba). It is coercing monthly royalties and threatening to sabotage factories whose owners refuse to pay.”
New Sabah: ISIS Stealing Money From Residents Of Right Side Of Mosul
“ISIS has exploited the need of the residents of the right side of the city of Mosul for food to con them out of their money. Activists in Mosul claim that ISIS militants notified residents of the Wadi Hajar, Al Hawi, and Yarmouk neighborhoods that they need to hand over their families' personal identity cards and ration cards in the amount of 15,000 dinars ($13) in return for flour. However, three days after submitting the cards and money, ISIS returned the cards to them without money {or flour}. ISIS militants informed the residents that the mills are experiencing production problems due to constant power outages. They promised they would distribute flour as soon as they obtain it from the mills.”

Muslim Brotherhood

Dotmsr: Expert: Three Funding Sources For Muslim Brotherhood And Their Management Are A Big Secret
“Ahmed Ban, an expert in affairs of Islamic movements, noted that the Muslim Brotherhood's financing and financial activities are an obscure issue. He stressed that since the early days of the clash with the Egyptian state, the Brotherhood built a "wall" of secrecy around their funds, considering them to be the nerve center of any political movement or group. The expert specified three funding sources: 1) membership fees which range between 5% to 7% of the gross monthly income; 2) donations by group-affiliated businessmen; and - most importantly - 3) revenues from group's investments and projects. Mr. Ban explained that the Brotherhood has a huge financial and investment portfolio, but only a very small number of members are privy to it. These include Muslim Brotherhood Deputy Supreme Guide Khayrat al-Shater, who according to Ban, is the de-facto leader of the group, in addition to six other individuals - members of the Finance Committee, who reside in different parts of the world. The expert emphasized that the group does not keep official records of the number of its members. There is also no oversight mechanism for collection and disbursement of funds. Thus, the running of the funds remains a big secret and something of a mystery. Ban added that it came as no surprise that the boundaries between the group's funds and those owned by individuals who run its portfolios have been obscured, as some of the Brotherhood's assets appear under the names of individuals.”


Baladi News: A Prominent Syrian Merchant Flees To Hezbollah Positions After Receiving A Huge Bank Loan
“On Monday, a prominent merchant, affiliated with the Assad regime in the coastal province of Tartous, fled after embezzling millions of pounds from the pockets of Assad loyalists and conning a local bank clerk. He exited Syria with his family. Pro-Assad sources in Tartous confirmed that the merchant fled to Lebanon after smuggling millions of pounds to Lebanon before fleeing from his homeland. According to the sources, days before his escape, he went to Banque Bemo Saudi Fransi and borrowed 255 million Syrian pounds, equivalent to $530k, claiming he needed the money for reconstruction projects in the region. After receiving the money from the bank, he immediately left Syria headed for Hezbollah positions in Lebanon.”


Alyemeni Alyoum: Houthi Offers Telecom Company License To A Businessman In Exchange For Payment Of Employees' Salaries
“Officials in the Sanaa-based government, which is run by the Houthis, disclosed their intention to grant a private entity a license to set up a new G4 telecommunications company. This is in exchange for payment of two-month back salaries for employees in the provinces under Houthi control. According to the website, which is affiliated with ousted President Ali Saleh's party, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, Hussein Abdullah Mkabuli, offered Houthi billionaire, Adel Motaher Al-Moayad, to pay 2-3-month overdue salaries in exchange for a license to establish a new telecommunications company. Al-Moayad turned up in Yemen following the Houthis' coupe"