Wednesday, November 30, 2011


By Eliana Benador

Never mind that Hamas and Fatah have tried to negotiate a unified front. Now, appears that Hamas as they want to enter mainstream, are suddenly prone to give up violence... but, the big question is: for how long...?

As any observant Muslims, Hamas terrorists are certainly applying Taqqiya at one point, that magical taqqiya that allows them to rightfully and legally say whatever they need to say distorting the truth, in order to advance the cause of Islam in the world.

Hamas, the "Islamic Resistance Movement" is not going to abandon their goals, that's a truth we have to count on.

At the same time, another fake Jew, Thomas Friedman wrote in a New York Times op-ed that Israel would do well to release the funds for the Palestinian Authority. We all know Mr. Friedman's good intentions towards... the Muslim cause and the evil approach he takes against Israel.

And yet, Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and his team, including Avigdor Lieberman, are now going to release the funds for the Palestinians, forgetting even the poisonous speech Abu Mazen, aka Mahmoud Abbas, gave at the United Nations.

A kind reminder:

Israel is G-d's Land given to His Children, the Jewish People...

Why choose any government who is going to defend the enemy instead of standing ferociously to defend their own people... One thing is sure: No Father would like to see that happen...

And, so, History is repeated -at your own risk.

G-d is clear: "Because they turned their back on me, I destroyed their cities."

And, G-d's Words are full of meaning and of purpose, they are never empty words...

That's why Israel will be taken in another direction altogether.

May G-d illuminate their new path.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's top cabinet ministers approved the handover of $100 million in tax money to the Palestinian Authority on Wednesday, despite the vocal opposition of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The FM's reason for wanting to hold the tax collection money was the possibility of it being used by a Palestinian unity government that would include Hamas – a terrorist organization in control of the Gaza Strip

On Sunday, Netanyahu appeared close to a decision, saying at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that he was considering releasing the money and that the cabinet would convene over the coming days to discuss the matter.

Netanyahu said he decided to go back on his decision to freeze the tax money due to the suspension of Palestinian activities at the UN, coupled with the fact that a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation does not appear to be on the horizon.

Lieberman was quick to respond at that meeting: "I have heard numerous infantile remarks about it being their money - as if with the money, they are free to murder or preach for the murder of Jews," the foreign minister said at a meeting of his Yisrael Beiteinu faction.

Nevertheless, Lieberman did back down on Sunday from the threats he made last week. "We will vehemently oppose the release of the funds," he said. "We won't quit the government and we won't create a crisis, but we will do everything we can to prevent the money from being transferred."

On Wednesday, the decision was finally made, with the forum of eight ruling that Israel would both transfer the withheld October tax funds as well as refrain from delaying taxes collected for the month of November.

A senior Israeli official said that Netanyahu's cabinet would consider freezing tax collection funds in the future if the Palestinians continue unilateral attempts for recognition at the United Nations or in the case of the formation of a unity cabinet between Fatah and Hamas.

Israel would track the money's use, and in the event that the funds are funneled toward terrorists, it will cut those amounts from future transactions, the official indicated.

Writing in a New York Times op-ed on Tuesday, leading columnist Thomas L. Friedman wrote that Israel would be wise to transfer the money to the PA, arguing that Netanyahu had to bolster moderate forces in the Arab world in the wake of Arab Spring uprisings.

Original source

Saturday, November 26, 2011


The war against Muslim terrorism has lasted way too long, countless victims and millions of indirect victims have been spread along the road of savage, cowardly attacks against unassuming, innocent civilians worldwide at the hands of Muslim terrorism.

And, while the war seems endless, we are now receiving news that help is coming to support military and counter-terrorism efforts, as a Silicon Valley start-up is quietly becoming indispensable to the U.S. intelligence community. _______________________________________________________

By Ashlee Vance and Brad Stone

In October, a foreign national named Mike Fikri purchased a one-way plane ticket from Cairo to Miami, where he rented a condo. Over the previous few weeks, he’d made a number of large withdrawals from a Russian bank account and placed repeated calls to a few people in Syria. More recently, he rented a truck, drove to Orlando, and visited Walt Disney World by himself. As numerous security videos indicate, he did not frolic at the happiest place on earth. He spent his day taking pictures of crowded plazas and gate areas.

None of Fikri’s individual actions would raise suspicions. Lots of people rent trucks or have relations in Syria, and no doubt there are harmless eccentrics out there fascinated by amusement park infrastructure. Taken together, though, they suggested that Fikri was up to something. And yet, until about four years ago, his pre-attack prep work would have gone unnoticed. A CIA analyst might have flagged the plane ticket purchase; an FBI agent might have seen the bank transfers. But there was nothing to connect the two. Lucky for counterterror agents, not to mention tourists in Orlando, the government now has software made by Palantir Technologies, a Silicon Valley company that’s become the darling of the intelligence and law enforcement communities.

The day Fikri drives to Orlando, he gets a speeding ticket, which triggers an alert in the CIA’s Palantir system. An analyst types Fikri’s name into a search box and up pops a wealth of information pulled from every database at the government’s disposal. There’s fingerprint and DNA evidence for Fikri gathered by a CIA operative in Cairo; video of him going to an ATM in Miami; shots of his rental truck’s license plate at a tollbooth; phone records; and a map pinpointing his movements across the globe. All this information is then displayed on a clearly designed graphical interface that looks like something Tom Cruise would use in a Mission: Impossible movie.

As the CIA analyst starts poking around on Fikri’s file inside of Palantir, a story emerges. A mouse click shows that Fikri has wired money to the people he had been calling in Syria. Another click brings up CIA field reports on the Syrians and reveals they have been under investigation for suspicious behavior and meeting together every day over the past two weeks. Click: The Syrians bought plane tickets to Miami one day after receiving the money from Fikri. To aid even the dullest analyst, the software brings up a map that has a pulsing red light tracing the flow of money from Cairo and Syria to Fikri’s Miami condo. That provides local cops with the last piece of information they need to move in on their prey before he strikes.

Fikri isn’t real—he’s the John Doe example Palantir uses in product demonstrations that lay out such hypothetical examples. The demos let the company show off its technology without revealing the sensitive work of its clients. Since its founding in 2004, the company has quietly developed an indispensable tool employed by the U.S. intelligence community in the war on terrorism. Palantir technology essentially solves the Sept. 11 intelligence problem. The Digital Revolution dumped oceans of data on the law enforcement establishment but provided feeble ways to make sense of it. In the months leading up to the 2001 attacks, the government had all the necessary clues to stop the al Qaeda perpetrators: They were from countries known to harbor terrorists, who entered the U.S. on temporary visas, had trained to fly civilian airliners, and purchased one-way airplane tickets on that terrible day.

An organization like the CIA or FBI can have thousands of different databases, each with its own quirks: financial records, DNA samples, sound samples, video clips, maps, floor plans, human intelligence reports from all over the world. Gluing all that into a coherent whole can take years. Even if that system comes together, it will struggle to handle different types of data—sales records on a spreadsheet, say, plus video surveillance images. What Palantir (pronounced Pal-an-TEER) does, says Avivah Litan, an analyst at Gartner (IT), is “make it really easy to mine these big data sets.” The company’s software pulls off one of the great computer science feats of the era: It combs through all available databases, identifying related pieces of information, and puts everything together in one place.

Depending where you fall on the spectrum between civil liberties absolutism and homeland security lockdown, Palantir’s technology is either creepy or heroic. Judging by the company’s growth, opinion in Washington and elsewhere has veered toward the latter. Palantir has built a customer list that includes the U.S. Defense Dept., CIA, FBI, Army, Marines, Air Force, the police departments of New York and Los Angeles, and a growing number of financial institutions trying to detect bank fraud. These deals have turned the company into one of the quietest success stories in Silicon Valley—it’s on track to hit $250 million in sales this year—and a candidate for an initial public offering. Palantir has been used to find suspects in a case involving the murder of a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement special agent, and to uncover bombing networks in Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. “It’s like plugging into the Matrix,” says a Special Forces member stationed in Afghanistan who requested anonymity out of security concerns. “The first time I saw it, I was like, ‘Holy crap. Holy crap. Holy crap.’ ”

Palantir’s engineers fill the former headquarters of Facebook along University Avenue in the heart of Palo Alto’s main commercial district. Over the past few years, Palantir has expanded to four other nearby buildings as well. Its security people—who wear black gloves and Secret Service-style earpieces—often pop out of the office to grab their lunch, making downtown Palo Alto feel, at times, a bit like Langley.

Inside the offices, sweeping hand-drawn murals fill the walls, depicting tributes to Care Bears and the TV show Futurama. On one floor, a wooden swing hangs from the ceiling by metal chains, while Lord of the Rings knickknacks sit on desks. T-shirts with cutesy cartoon characters are everywhere, since the engineers design one for each new version of their software. Of late, they’ve run out of Care Bears to put on the shirts and moved on to My Little Ponies.

The origins of Palantir go back to PayPal, the online payments pioneer founded in 1998. A hit with consumers and businesses, PayPal also attracted criminals who used the service for money laundering and fraud. By 2000, PayPal looked like “it was just going to go out of business” because of the cost of keeping up with the bad guys, says Peter Thiel, a PayPal co-founder.

The antifraud tools of the time could not keep up with the crooks. PayPal’s engineers would train computers to look out for suspicious transfers—a number of large transactions between U.S. and Russian accounts, for example—and then have human analysts review each flagged deal. But each time PayPal cottoned to a new ploy, the criminals changed tactics. The computers would miss these shifts, and the humans were overwhelmed by the explosion of transactions the company handled.

PayPal’s computer scientists set to work building a software system that would treat each transaction as part of a pattern rather than just an entry in a database. They devised ways to get information about a person’s computer, the other people he did business with, and how all this fit into the history of transactions. These techniques let human analysts see networks of suspicious accounts and pick up on patterns missed by the computers. PayPal could start freezing dodgy payments before they were processed. “It saved hundreds of millions of dollars,” says Bob McGrew, a former PayPal engineer and the current director of engineering at Palantir.

After EBay (EBAY) acquired PayPal in 2002, Thiel left to start a hedge fund, Clarium Capital Management. He and Joe Lonsdale, a Clarium executive who’d been a PayPal intern, decided to turn PayPal’s fraud detection into a business by building a data analysis system that married artificial intelligence software with human skills. Washington, they guessed, would be a natural place to begin selling such technology. “We were watching the government spend tens of billions on information systems that were just horrible,” Lonsdale says. “Silicon Valley had gotten to be a lot more advanced than government contractors, because the government doesn’t have access to the best engineers.”

Thiel, Lonsdale, and a couple of former colleagues officially incorporated Palantir in 2004. Thiel originally wanted to hire a chief executive officer from Washington who could navigate the Byzantine halls of the military-industrial complex. His co-founders resisted and eventually asked Alex Karp, an American money manager living in Europe who had been helping raise money for Clarium, to join as temporary CEO.

It was an unlikely match. Before joining Palantir, Karp had spent years studying in Germany under J├╝rgen Habermas, the most prominent living representative of the Frankfurt School, the group of neo-Marxist philosophers and sociologists. After getting a PhD in philosophy from the University of Frankfurt—he also has a degree from Stanford Law School—Karp drifted from academia and dabbled in stocks. He proved so good at it that, with the backing of a handful of European billionaires, he set up a money management firm called the Caedmon Group. His intellect, and ability to solve a Rubik’s Cube in under a minute, commands an awed reverence around the Palantir offices, where he’s known as Dr. Karp.

In the early days, Palantir struggled to sell its message and budding technology to investors. Big-name venture capital firms such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Sequoia Capital, and Greylock Partners all passed. Lonsdale says one investor, whom he won’t name, actually started laughing on the phone at Karp’s nonbusiness academic credentials. Overlooked by the moneyed institutions on Sand Hill Road, Thiel put up the original funds before enticing In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA, to invest as well. Karp says the reason VC firms “passed was that enterprise technology was not hot. And the government was, and still is, anti-hot.”

Michael E. Leiter, the former head of the National Counterterrorism Center, recalls being skeptical when Karp arrived to sell Palantir’s system to the NCTC, created by President George W. Bush after the attacks. “There’s Karp with his hair and his outfit—he doesn’t look like me or the other people that work for me,” he says. But Leiter soon discovered that Palantir’s software cost a fraction of competing products and actually worked. Palantir not only made the connections between the data sets but also drew inferences based on the clues and empowered the analysts. Leiter is now a Palantir consultant.

At 44, Karp has a thin, sinewy physique—the result of a strict 1,200-calorie-a-day diet—and an angular face that gives way to curly brown, mad-scientist hair. On a November visit at Palantir’s headquarters, he’s wearing purple pants and a blue and orange athletic shirt. As he does every day, he walked to work. “I never learned to drive because I was busy reading, doing things, and talking to people,” he says. “And I’m coordinated enough to bike, but the problem is that I will start dreaming about the business and run into a tree.”

During the era of social networks, online games, and Web coupons, Karp and his engineers have hit on a grander mission. “Our primary motivation,” Karp says, “is executing against the world’s most important problems in this country and allied countries.” That’s an unusual pitch in Silicon Valley, where companies tend to want as little to do with Washington as possible and many of the best engineers flaunt their counterculture leanings.

Palantir’s name refers to the “seeing stones” in Lord of the Rings that provide a window into other parts of Middle-earth. They’re magical tools created by elves that can serve both good and evil. Bad wizards use them to keep in touch with the overlord in Mordor; good wizards can peer into them to check up on the peaceful, innocent Hobbits of the Shire. As Karp explains with a straight face, his company’s grand, patriotic mission is to “protect the Shire.”

Most of Palantir’s government work remains classified, but information on some cases has trickled out. In April 2010, security researchers in Canada used Palantir’s software to crack a spy operation dubbed Shadow Network that had, among other things, broken into the Indian Defense Ministry and infiltrated the Dalai Lama’s e-mail account. Palantir has also been used to unravel child abuse and abduction cases. Palantir “gives us the ability to do the kind of link-and-pattern analysis we need to build cases, identify perpetrators, and rescue children,” says Ernie Allen, CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The software recently helped NCMEC analysts link an attempted abduction with previous reports of the suspect to the center’s separate cyber-tip line—and plot that activity on a map. “We did it within 30 seconds,” Allen says. “It is absolutely a godsend for us.”

In Afghanistan, U.S. Special Operations Forces use Palantir to plan assaults. They type a village’s name into the system and a map of the village appears, detailing the locations of all reported shooting skirmishes and IED, or improvised explosive device, incidents. Using the timeline function, the soldiers can see where the most recent attacks originated and plot their takeover of the village accordingly. The Marines have spent years gathering fingerprint and DNA evidence from IEDs and tried to match that against a database of similar information collected from villagers. By the time the analysis results came back, the bombers would be long gone. Now field operatives are uploading the samples from villagers into Palantir and turning up matches from past attacks on the spot, says Samuel Reading, a former Marine who works in Afghanistan for NEK Advanced Securities Group, a U.S. military contractor. “It’s the combination of every analytical tool you could ever dream of,” Reading says. “You will know every single bad guy in your area.”

Palantir has found takers for its data mining system closer to home, too. Wall Street has been particularly receptive. Every year, the company holds a conference to promote its technology, and the headcount swelled from about 50 people at past events to 1,000 at the most recent event in October. “I saw bankers there that don’t go to any other conferences,” says Gartner’s Litan. The banks have set Palantir’s technology loose on their transaction databases, looking for fraudsters, trading insights, and even new ways to price mortgages. Guy Chiarello, chief information officer for JPMorgan Chase (JPM), says Palantir’s technology turns “data landfills into gold mines.” The bank has a Palantir system for fraud detection and plans to use the technology to better tailor marketing campaigns to consumers. “Google (GOOG) unlocked the Internet with its search engine,” Chiarello says. “I think Palantir is on the way to doing a similar thing inside the walls of corporate data.”

One of the world’s largest banks has used Palantir software to break up a popular scam called BustOut. Criminals will steal or purchase access to thousands of people’s online identities, break into their bank and credit-card accounts, then spend weeks watching. Once they spot a potential victim purchasing a plane ticket or heading out on a holiday, they siphon money out of the accounts as fast as they can while the mark is in transit. The criminals hide their trails by anonymizing their computing activity and disabling alert systems in the bank and credit-card accounts. When the bank picks up on a few compromised accounts, it uses Palantir to uncover the network of thousands of other accounts that have to be tapped.

A Palantir deal can run between $5 million and $100 million. The company asks for 20 percent of that money up front and the rest only if the customer is satisfied at the end of the project. Typically, it’s competing against the likes of Raytheon (RTN), Lockheed Martin (LMT), Northrop Grumman (NOC), and IBM (IBM), along with a scattering of less prominent data mining startups. “We can be up and running in a bank in eight weeks,” Karp says. “You will be getting results right away instead of waiting two to three years with our competitors.”

Palantir has been doubling headcount every year to keep up with business. To get a job at the company, an applicant must pass a gauntlet of brain teasers. An example: You have 25 horses and can race them in heats of 5. You know the order the horses finished in, but not their times. How many heats are necessary to find the fastest? First and second? First, second, and third? (Answers: six, seven, and seven.) If candidates are able to prove themselves as what Karp calls “a software artist,” they’re hired. The company gives new arrivals some reading material, including a guide to improvisational acting, a lecture by the entrepreneur Steve Blank on Silicon Valley’s secret history with the military, and the book The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11. They’re also rewarded with a low wage by Silicon Valley standards: Palantir caps salaries at $127,000.

Instead of traditional salespeople, Palantir has what it calls forward deployed engineers. These are the sometimes awkward computer scientists most companies avoid putting in front of customers. Karp figures that engineers will always tell the truth about the pros and cons of a product, know how to solve problems, and build up a strong reputation with customers over time. “If your life or your economic future is on the line,” he says, “and there is one company where people are maybe kind of suffering from Asperger’s syndrome, but they have always been accurate, you end up trusting them.”

The director of these forward deployed engineers is Shyam Sankar, a Palantir veteran. In his corner office there’s a Shamu stuffed animal, an antique Afghan rifle hanging overhead, and a 150-year-old bed frame decorated with a wild, multicolored comforter. The bed comes in handy during an annual team-building exercise: For one week, employees live in the Palantir offices; the bedless make shantytown houses out of cardboard boxes. Sankar celebrates Palantir’s mix of office frivolity and low salaries. “We will feed you, clothe you, let you have slumber parties, and nourish your soul,” he says. “But this is not a place to come to get cash compensation.”

Like many of the young engineers, Sankar recounts a personal tale that explains his patriotic zeal. When he was young, his parents moved from India to Nigeria, where Sankar’s father ran a pharmaceutical plant. One night, burglars broke into their home, pistol-whipped his dad, and stole some valuables. After that traumatic event, the family moved to Florida and started over, selling T-shirts to theme parks. “To come to a place and not have to worry about such bad things instilled a sense of being grateful to America,” Sankar says. “I know it sounds corny, but the idea here is to save the Shire.”

Karp acknowledges that to outsiders, Palantir’s Middle-earth-meets-National Security Agency culture can seem a bit much. “One of my investors asked me, ‘Is this a company or a cult?’ ” he says. “Well, I don’t seem to be living like a cult leader.” Then he begins a discourse on how Palantir’s unusual ways serve the business. “I tend to think the critiques are true,” Karp says. “To make something work, it cannot be about the money. I would like to believe we have built a culture that is about a higher purpose that takes the form of a company. I think the deep character anomalies of the company are the reasons why the numbers are so strong.”

Using Palantir technology, the FBI can now instantly compile thorough dossiers on U.S. citizens, tying together surveillance video outside a drugstore with credit-card transactions, cell-phone call records, e-mails, airplane travel records, and Web search information. Christopher Soghoian, a graduate fellow at the Center for Applied Cybersecurity in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University, worries that Palantir will make these agencies ever hungrier consumers of every piece of personal data. “I don’t think Palantir the firm is evil,” he says. “I think their clients could be using it for evil things.”

Soghoian points out that Palantir’s senior legal adviser, Bryan Cunningham, authored an amicus brief three years ago supporting the Bush Administration’s position in the infamous warrantless wiretapping case and defended its monitoring domestic communication without search warrants. Another event that got critics exercised: A Palantir engineer, exposed by the hacker collective Anonymous earlier this year for participating in a plot to break into the PCs of WikiLeaks supporters, was quietly rehired by the company after being placed on leave.

Karp stresses that Palantir has developed some of the most sophisticated privacy protection technology on the market. Its software creates audit trails, detailing who has seen certain pieces of information and what they’ve done with it. Palantir also has a permission system to make sure that workers in agencies using its software can access only the data that their clearance levels allow. “In the pre-Palantir days, analysts could go into file cabinets and read whatever they want,” says former NCTC director Leiter. “Nobody had any idea what they had seen.” Soghoian scoffs at the privacy-protecting features Palantir builds into its software. “If you don’t think the NSA can disable the piece of auditing functionality, you have to be kidding me,” he says. “They can do whatever they want, so it’s ridiculous to assume that this audit trail is sufficient.”

Thiel, who sits on the board and is an avowed libertarian, says civil liberties advocates should welcome Palantir. “We cannot afford to have another 9/11 event in the U.S. or anything bigger than that,” he says. “That day opened the doors to all sorts of crazy abuses and draconian policies.” In his view, the best way to avoid such scenarios in the future would be to provide the government the most cutting-edge technology possible and build in policing systems to make sure investigators use it lawfully.

After Washington and Wall Street, Karp says the company may turn its attention to health care, retail, insurance, and biotech. The thinking is that Palantir’s technology can illuminate health insurance scams just as well as it might be able to trace the origin of a virus outbreak. Despite all this opportunity, and revenue that is tripling every year, Karp insists that Palantir will remain grounded. An IPO, while not out of the question, “dilutes nonmonetary motivation,” he says.

One higher purpose in the coming year will be rescuing strapped companies and government bodies from the brink of financial ruin. Karp lists fraud, Internet security issues, Europe’s financial woes, and privacy concerns as possible drivers for Palantir’s business. For anyone in peril, the message is clear: Give us a signal and a forward deployed engineer will be at your doorstep. “There are some people out there that don’t think to pick up the phone and call us,” Karp says. “By next year, many of those people will.”

Vance is a technology writer for Bloomberg Businessweek. Stone is a senior writer for Bloomberg Businessweek.

Original source

Friday, November 18, 2011


Just as some may have been imagining having a nightmare that would disappear as soon as they wake up, crude reality is here, knocking at the doors of our lives in this twenty-first century.
Pakistan, leading Muslim terrorism producing country and ally of Mr. Hussein, the American Hussein, that is, spread the news that the Pakistani government ruled under sharia has ruled that there is a list of 'unwanted' obscene words forbidden from now on as part of your text messaging if you are in Pakistan...

The Pakistan telecom watchdog has banned 1,5000 rude words from being texted across the nation's network. No one knows how it is expected to enforce the ban. Photograph: Dan Chung/The Guardian
Guardians of linguistic purity have long warned against the pernicious impact that text messaging may have on the young, but Pakistan officials have taken such concerns to a new extreme by demanding that mobile phone operators block all text messages using offensive words.

With a creativity and dedication to the task unusual for local officialdom, the country's telecoms regulator has issued a list of more than 1000 words and phrases which will be banned.

After serious deliberation and consultation, officials from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) have come up with more than 50 phrases using the word "fuck" and 17 involving "butt".

The list includes several apparently innocuous words and phrases, including "flatulence", "deposit" and "fondle". Others would likely only make sense to frustrated teenagers.

Among the more printable terms are "strap-on", "beat your meat", "crotch rot", "love pistol", "pocket pool" and "quickie".

The officials' flair for the task was apparent, with prohibition embracing more figurative language, such as "flogging the dolphin", and 51 terms with the suffix "ass" – although only one variation of the word 'arse'. There were 17 variants on "tit" and 33 on "cock", with officials managing to produce eight obscenities involving the word "foot".

Mobile phone firms were ordered to stop messages including the offending words this week, although tests by the Guardian suggested the blocking technology was not 100% effective.

While admitting that Pakistan's constitution guaranteed free speech, the regulator told mobile phone companies that such freedom was "not unrestricted" under court rulings. Furthermore, said the telecom watchdog, they had obligations under their licences to prevent "obnoxious communication".

In the letter to mobile phone firms, watchdog director Muhammad Talib Doger said "the system should be implemented within seven days ... and a report submitted to PTA on monthly basis on the number of blocked SMSs".

The list was attached to the letter, with 1,109 words and phrases in English to be banned and 586 in the national language, Urdu, a tongue that also offers many rich possibilities for abuse. The watchdog has yet to tackle obscenity in Pakistan's four main regional languages, including the raucous Punjabi.

Despite being a less-developed country, mobile phones are used widely across society, even in remote villages.

Mohammad Younis, a spokesman for the PTA, said the ban was "the result of numerous meetings and consultations with stakeholders" after consumers complained of receiving offensive text messages. He said the list was not finished and the authority would continue to add to it.

"Nobody would like this happening to their young boy or girl," said Younis.

Mobile operators expect the PTA to fine them for any banned words that get through, which means that they will have to cut the connection of customers who persistently try to send such messages.

Original source

Thursday, November 10, 2011


As feared, Hussein Obama's irresponsible action by taking American military to fight at the side of our archenemy, al-Qaida, resulted in their victory.

But, those of us in the know, have been deeply concerned about the fate of arms, chemical weapons of mass destruction and so on.

Sure enough, news coming from Libya are not reassuring, to say the least.

Comment by Goodwill Ambassador Eliana Benador

Al-Qaida chief claims to have Libyan weapons
Thursday, November 10, 2011 - 03:29 PM

A desert chief with al-Qaida’s North Africa branch has said his group has acquired weapons from stockpiles left unguarded in Libya after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

Mokhtar Belmokhtar said “it’s totally natural we benefited from Libyan arms in such conditions”.

He was interviewed by an editor at the private Mauritanian newspaper Nouakchott Infos.

The interview did not specify the types or quantity of arms involved. The editor said he spoke to Belmokhtar by telephone, but refused to give his location.

Western leaders, joined by the UN Security Council, have expressed concern that vast supplies of now free-floating weaponry could end up in the hands of the al-Qaida franchise in North Africa.

It roams in bands over the desert Sahel region stretching from Mauritania to Chad. Porous borders and weak governments make the area impossible to police.

They have called on Libyan transitional leaders to track down the arms and secure stockpiles and asked neighbouring governments to do all they can to stop their proliferation.

There is special concern over shoulder-fired missiles. US Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro said Libya was believed to have about 20,000 shoulder-fired missiles in its arsenals before civil war began in March.

He said terrorist groups have expressed interest in obtaining some of the missiles, which “could pose a threat to civil aviation”.

Original source

More news on the subject:

One of al Qaeda's commanders in the Sahara has said the group profited from the Libyan conflict by securing weapons and he called on Islamists in Libya not to disarm.

The comments by Mokhtar Belmokhtar in an interview with Mauritania's private ANI news agency are the first about Libya's looted arms by al Qaeda's North African wing.

"With regard to the weapons, we obviously took advantage of the situation in Libya ... but we were not on the ground. I also warn my brothers there not to give back their weapons to the authorities," Belmokhtar said in comments published in Arabic.

An Islamist commander in Libya said this week fighters would keep their weapons despite the end of fighting to prevent forces loyal to toppled dictator Muammar Gaddafi from regrouping.

Islamists who took part in the fighting in Libya disavow any links to the violent ambitions of AQIM. Algeria has repeatedly said sophisticated weapons have been transferred from Libya to northern Mali.

Belmokhtar did not say in the interview what weapons the group had secured or how they had got them.

Western and African governments fear small arms and heavier weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, may end up in the hands of Islamists, and others in the region.

In the interview, Belmokhtar confirmed reports there had been disagreements within the leadership of the Sahara group. "But it is not a big deal," he said in comments posted on the news agency's website on Wednesday.

Belmokhtar is one of al Qaeda's two Sahara commanders. Although not named in the interview, Abdelhamid Abou Zaid is the other and some analysts say the pair have an often strained relationship.

AQIM emerged from the Algerian jihadi movement and has attacked government forces in Mauritania, Mali and Niger. It has thrived in recent years by kidnapping Westerners for multi-million dollar ransoms.

Belmokhtar is believed to have nurtured strong ties with local communities, smugglers and rebels across the desert zones.

In the interview, Belmokhtar denied being in talks with the Algerian government about a possible surrender. He said he would welcome a delegation sent by the Mauritanian authorities if one were to be sent.

Belmokhtar is also known as Khaled Abou al-Abbas and Laaouar, or "one-eyed". He lost an eye in fighting in Afghanistan before he took part in Algeria's jihadist movement during the 1990s. (Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Robert Woodward)

Original source

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Revealed: How Obama was playing golf until 20 minutes before Navy SEALs began mission to take out Bin Laden
Stayed out on golf course to distance himself if it went wrong, book claims

We would have taken him alive if he surrendered, says commander
Al-Qaeda leader's wife screamed: 'No, no, don't do this... it’s not him!'
SEALs nicknamed Bin Laden 'Bert' in reference to Sesame Street muppet

Last updated at 7:41 AM on 7th November 2011

In the official photograph, he looked every inch the commander in chief.
Strain etched on his face, Barack Obama watched as the raid to kill Osama bin Laden played out on a television in front of him.
According to a new book, however, the President was not nearly that engaged – and was actually playing golf until 20 minutes before the operation began in earnest.

Quick change: President Obama was golfing just 20 minutes before Osama Bin Laden was killed and he was pictured looking on intently in the Situation Room, right, according to a new book (File golf picture from June)
Only then did he down his clubs and return to the White House to watch what he later trumpeted as a great success of his presidency.

A new book claims the official account was riddled with errors and that Bin Laden was referred to as 'Bert' and not just 'Geronimo'.

Also, none of the Navy SEALs said the now famous words: 'For God and country', and when they burst into Bin Laden's room, his wife screamed: 'No, no, don't do this... it’s not him!'

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The claims are from Chuck Pfarrer, a former SEAL team commander, in a book called SEAL Target Geronimo.

He has spoken to several of the men who carried out the operation at Bin Laden's mansion hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2.

Mr Pfarrer paints a very different picture to the official photo released at the time which shows Mr Obama and advisers huddled round a table in the White House situation room as footage was beamed from a drone 15,000ft above the al-Qaeda leader's mansion.

Holed up: Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden watches himself on TV at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan where he was shot dead by U.S. Navy SEALs

Elite: Former SEAL commander Chuck Pfarrer (right) has written a book giving a blow-by-blow account of hunting down Osama Bin Laden at his compound in Pakistan
Mr Pfarrer says the President's role was largely inflated and suggests he stayed out on the golf course for so long so he could distance himself in case it went wrong. Mr Pfarrer writes: 'If this had completely gone south, he was in a position to disavow.'

He says the White House photographs did not show the moment that Bin Laden was killed, but the moment a helicopter went down, which happened after the shooting.

Mr Obama is known to be a keen golfer. Just today, as the White House was being encircled by 8,000 environmental protesters, he was on a course in Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

The President also played golf four times during his week-long family holiday on Martha's Vineyard.

The book also claims that bin Laden would have been captured if he gave himself up. Mr Pfarrer said a SEAL team would not have been sent in for a kill mission, adding: 'If it was a kill mission you don't need SEAL Team 6; you need a box of hand grenades.'

The book also gives a dramatic new insight into what happened during the 1am raid, during which only 12 bullets were fired.

Fighting force: SEAL Team 6 were the elite soldiers who killed Bin Laden after a stealth mission

Within 90 seconds of their helicopter landing, the SEALs saw Bin Laden slam his bedroom door shut. Two SEALs burst in and saw Bin Laden and one of his four wives, Amal, who shouted: 'It's not him!'

Contrary to White House statements that he was unarmed, Bin Laden had a gun next to him. As he shoved his wife at the SEALs, four shots were fired.

The first round whistled past Bin Laden’s face. The second grazed his wife's calf. Mr Pfarrer claims: 'Two 5.56mm Predator bullets slammed into him. One struck him next to his breastbone, blowing apart his aorta. The last went through his skull.'

He also reveals that Bin Laden was known as Bert to the Seals, and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri was Ernie – a reference to the Sesame Street puppets.

The SEALS have decided to speak out after being enraged by the image that was being painted of them as cold-blooded murderers on a 'kill mission'.

Pfarrer said: 'I’ve been a SEAL for 30 years and I never heard the words ''kill mission''.

The soldiers were also said to be disappointed that Obama announced Bin Laden's death on TV a few hours later, making their intelligence-gathering futile.

Mr Pfarrer also said the President's announcement of the 'intentional' killing was understandable but nonetheless disappointing.

Mr Pfarrer told the Sunday Times: 'There isn’t a politician in the world who could resist trying to take credit for getting Bin Laden but it devalued the ''intel'' and gave time for every other Al-Qaeda leader to scurry to another bolthole.

Dangerous operation: The wreckage of a U.S. military helicopter that crashed outside the compound where Osama Bin Laden was killed by Navy Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan in May

Target: Neighbours gather outside the Abbottabad compound after the death of Osama Bin Laden

'The men who did this and their valorous act deserve better. It’s a pretty shabby way to treat these guys.'
The operation began to come together in January 2010 after it was discovered that a 'high-value individual' was hiding out at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The commanding officer of the SEALS was brought to a top secret meeting with the CIA and his boss Admiral William McRaven to prepare a plan to present to the President.

Pfarrer asked: 'So is this Bert or Ernie?', according to the SEALs' Sesame Street nicknames for Bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri.

CIA intelligence confirmed they were '60 per cent or 70 per cent certain it’s our guy'.

Satellite images had measured the target's shadow, making him 'over 6ft tall'. He was dubbed 'the pacer' as he was constantly seen walking back and forth.


U.S. Government says: Team always intended to shoot Bin Laden
Navy SEALs say: Had he surrendered, we would have taken him alive
Government: Mission took several minutes
SEALs: Bin Laden killed in the first 90 seconds
Government: Protracted gun battle
SEALs: 12 bullets fired
Government: SEALs were on a 'kill mission'
SEALs: The phrase 'kill mission' has been made up by politicians

In the following months, the team of SEALS began to make detailed preparations including practising manoeuvres at a mock-up of the compound at a remote army camp.

It was planned that the team would use Ghost Hawk helicopters because they were so quiet on approach, the Seals described them as flying in 'whisper mode', according to Mr Pfarrer.

Mr Obama gave the mission the green light and SEAL Team 6, known as the Jedi, kicked into action.

After being deployed to Afghanistan, the team were told to use older helicopters, Stealth Hawks, as sending in Ghost Hawks without the back up of jet fighters was considered too risky. Decoy targets were set up and the U.S. Navy scrambled Pakistan's radar to protect the mission.

The operation, called Neptune's Spear, was meant to take place on April 30 but was rescheduled for May 1 because of bad weather. In the dead of night, the SEALS flew on two Stealth Hawks, codenamed Razor 1 and 2, followed by two Chinooks five minutes behind.

Each SEAL was wearing body armour and night-vision goggles and equipped with laser targets, radios and sawn-off M4 rifles.

Also on board were a CIA agent, a Pakistani- American interpreter and a sniffer dog called Karo, wearing dog body armour and goggles.

It was estimated that around 30 people were in the high-walled compound in Abbottabad - Bin Laden and three of his wives, two sons, Khalid and Hamza, his courier, Abu Ahmed al- Kuwaiti, four bodyguards and a number of children.

At 56 minutes past midnight the compound came into sight and the code 'Palm Beach' gave the signal they were three minutes to landing.

The first helicopter hovered over the main house, where Bin Laden was known to live on the top floor. A team of 12 SEALS abseiled the 5ft-6ft down onto the roof, leapt onto a terrace and kicked in the windows.

The first person they saw was Bin Laden’s third wife Khaira. She fell after being blinded by a strobe light and was caught by a SEAL who pinned her to the floor.

One to watch: President Obama (2nd L), Vice President Joe Biden (L) and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (2nd R) along with top officials follow the mission to find Osama Bin Laden at the White House

Bin Laden suddenly appeared in the doorway of a bedroom along the hall and then slammed the door.

One SEAL radioed: 'Geronimo, Geronimo, Geronimo' signalling that they had spotted the target.

As people started moving in other parts of the house and lights were thrown on, Bin Laden's son Khalid came running up the stairs towards the SEALS and was shot dead.

Two commandos kicked in Bin Laden's door to find the al-Qaeda leader cowering behind his youngest wife Amal.

As Bin Laden tried to reach for his AK-47 rifle, the SEALS opened fire.

One round hit the mattress, another grazed Amal in the calf.

They each fired again: one shot hit Bin Laden's breastbone, the other his skull, blowing out the back of his head. His dead body slumped to the floor and he lay face up - just 90 seconds after the mission began.

Earlier reports had suggested that Bin Laden was not killed until after a protracted gun fight.

The second helicopter had headed to a smaller guesthouse in the compound where Bin Laden’s courier, Kuwaiti, and his brother lived.

Gripping read: Navy SEAL Chuck Pfarrer describes what really happened the night Bin Laden was finally caught

As the helicopter closed in, a man appeared in the door with an assault rife and began to fire. Someone on board shouted 'Bust him!' A sniper on board the chopper fired two shots and Kuwaiti was killed along with his wife standing behind him.

Within two minutes the SEALS had cleared the guesthouse and removed the women and children. They then ran to meet their colleagues at the main building, firing two bullets into one of Bin Laden's bodyguards who was brandishing a gun.

Five minutes later, a Chinook landed by the compound and more commandos flooded into the compound.

The commanding officer went to view Bin Laden's corpse before confirming via satellite phone to the White House 'Geronimo Echo KIA' - that their number one enemy was dead.

Pfarrer added: 'This was the first time the White House knew he was dead and it was probably 20 minutes into the raid.'

A sample of Bin Laden’s DNA was taken, the body was bagged and put on the helicopter. His rifle is now mounted on the wall of their team room at their headquarters in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

On leaving the compound the first helicopter had an electrical failre and crashed tail-first into the compound.

SEALS initially thought it had been shot down as they rushed to help the crew who escaped unharmed.

Variations: Members of the elite military team have questioned the White House's version of the events surrounding Bin Laden's death

Original article

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Comment by Goodwill Ambassador Eliana Benador

Iran, Iran... AND Ahmadinejad...

Not many people in the West can tell this story:

I've been in the middle of a Muslim crowd in an undisclosed location in the GCC, attending a conference that had as keynote speaker none other than Larijani, the head of Iran's nuclear program back a few years ago.

The calm crowd, became vociferous once they heard Larijani's virulence against what he called the Zionist Israel... It was impressive to be in the middle of so much irrational hate and fury...

The excuse of Israel as a useful scapegoat for all the evil hidden in Islam, is a perennial one -and an irrational one that will incite endless violence, at the will of their masters...

No chance to change Islam or the hating Muslims -there is only one solution.


DEBKA FILE: Tehran: For an Israeli attack, four Iranian missiles would hit a million Israelis

Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) new agency Fars headlined a threat Sunday, Nov. 6: Four Iranian missiles can destroy tiny Israel, said the paper in Tehran's first reaction to the flood of conflicting reports about a possible Israel attack on Iran's nuclear sites. However, Iran's leaders are divided on how to assess the seriousness of an Israeli or American threat to their nuclear program and this is reflected in their various media.

The writer of the Fars story is identified by DEBKAfile's Iranian sources as Saad-allah Zarey, its senior military commentator and a crony of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He stressed that the four missiles capable of causing the Zionist entity a million casualties would be conventional.
According to those sources point that the experiences of the Gulf war show that this number of ordinary missiles could not cause anything like the damage calculated by the writer. What Zarey may be referring to are the stubborn rumors going around Western intelligence circles since early 2005 that during the breakup of the Soviet Union, Tehran laid hands on black market nuclear cruise missiles form the Ukraine and 3 to 5 more from Belarus.
DEBKAfile cites a BBC report of March 18, 2005:
Ukrainian arms dealers smuggled 18 nuclear-capable cruise missiles to Iran and China in 1999-2001, Ukraine's prosecutor-general has said. The Soviet-era Kh-55 missiles - also known as X-55s - have a maximum range of 2,500km. They are launched by long-range bombers. The Kh-55, known in the West as the AS-15, is designed to carry a nuclear warhead with a 200-kiloton yield.

Our military sources add that with these missiles in hand, Iranian warplanes could bombard Israel 1,200 kilometers away without leaving their own air space.
The Ukrainian prosecutor-generalclaimed at the time that the missiles were not exported with nuclear warheads.
However our sources cite Western intelligence as suspecting that Tehran obtained those warheads from Belarus or from unconventional arms traffickers based in the Muslim Republics which were part of the USSR up until the 1990s. And indeed the Fars report did not specify what warheads the "conventional" missiles would carry.

Saad-allah Zarey described Israel as so small and vulnerable that even 100 Israeli bombs would not substantially damage Iran which is 80 times larger in area, whereas in a missile war Israel would not have enough time to rally its defenses. Therefore, he concludes, the chances of Israel or the US launching a military operation against Iran are slight.

Iran's most radical publication Kayhan finds in its Sunday editorial that Israel is too weak and America to exhausted to do much harm to Iran. Past experience has consistently shown that outside pressure makes Iran stronger, this paper says. Iran will come out on top of threats and sanctions compared with "Israel's defeat in its 33-day war against Hizballah," and America's "defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan."

However, another state-controlled paper, Tehran Emrooz, takes the opposite tack. Its editorial writer advises against underestimating the chances of an American military assault. According to this publication, Washington is preparing a "shock and awe" strike on Iran while at the same time stepping up sanctions.

Another editorial in Sharq agrees that "enemy plans" to attack Iran should not be taken lightly.

While all these comments reflect the debate underway among the various factions in the Iranian regime on the likelihood of an attack, no Iranian official has so far stepped forward with a definitive position.

Sunday, Ayatollah Khamenei sent a message of greeting to the Iranian pilgrims in Mecca, but made no mention of the nuclear issue except for a warning of the "perils and enemies" in wait for the Islamic Republic. And Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi likewise held his tongue on the issue in a speech he made Sunday in Tehran.

Original source


Comment by: Goodwill Ambassador Eliana Benador

At a time when the whole world seems to follow the lead of the current president of the United States against America's former best ally, Israel, suddenly there is a rush to push Israel to repeat the prowess they did with Osirak -and which pushed Iraq's nuclear capabilities many years back.

Naturally, it will be no surprise that some of us will look with skepticism Israel's Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak's decisiveness to attack Iran.

The fact that this is being spoken and discussed in the public fora, makes it also implausible.

In the case of Osirak, Israeli political and military leaders decided what to do. They did it. And the first to learn about it, was the world.



Posted by David Remnick in The New Yorker

Around a year ago, I visited the Hatzor Air Force Base in central Israel. While interviewing a high-ranking officer about the training that was going on there for a potential strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, I noticed a large picture on the wall of Israeli fighter jets flying over the territory of Auschwitz. The planes were there to participate in a commemoration, in 2003, of the eighty-fifth anniversary of the Polish Air Force. The photograph, the officer told me, was a gift from a leading Israeli Air Force official. It came with the caption, “Israeli warplanes over Auschwitz. Remember and do not forget. Always rely on ourselves.”

The officer did not express an opinion about whether Israel should launch a strike against Iran. That was not his job, he said. “What we’re trying to do is to give the political level a choice,” he said. “It’s not easy. It’s a leadership decision, probably the biggest such decision since the establishment of the state of Israel. We are building the opportunity, the capability.”

Later this week, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog outfit, will issue a report to its member states on Iran’s nuclear program. According to various press accounts, Western diplomats who have been briefed describe the report as finding, more explicitly than before, that Iran, despite its own denials and despite international sanctions, has been developing capabilities that appear intended for the production of a nuclear weapon. The I.A.E.A.’s evidence, the BBC reported, will include “intelligence that Iran made computer models of a nuclear warhead,” and satellite images of a steel container that could potentially be used to test explosives “related to nuclear arms.” The Guardian’s account of developing events, by Julian Borger, is truly alarming.

The details will emerge—and they, inevitably, will be denied in Tehran. At a group interview that I attended in New York two months ago, Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted yet again that Iran’s nuclear program was solely for civilian purposes, and, in advance of the new I.A.E.A. report, Iranian officials have declared the evidence that has leaked false, part of an overall fabrication.

An important article by Seymour M. Hersh published in The New Yorker last June, “Iran and the Bomb,” has made plain the complexity—and the potential perils—of trying to assess the nature and the pace of Iran’s nuclear program. Hersh quoted Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the I.A.E.A., as saying, “I don’t believe Iran is a clear and present danger. All I see is the hype about the threat posed by Iran.” The article, while taking into account the contradictions in Iranian statements and the nature of the regime (including its vicious crackdown on dissidents last year), began by reminding the reader of where hasty, exaggerated, and even manipulated intelligence led the Bush Administration, and the country, in 2003. (In that spirit, we should wait to read the I.A.E.A. report itself before coming to premature conclusions via diplomatic leaks. ElBaradei’s successor is less sanguine about evidence of Iranian intentions.)

From talking to American officials, I get the clear sense that President Barack Obama is deeply concerned about the I.A.E.A. report and the Iranian situation in general, but is hardly eager to lead, or even sanction, a military strike on Tehran. Hawks like Dick Cheney say that this is because Obama is weak and allergic to the use of military strength—a Republican talking point rendered ridiculous, time and again, by the President’s actions, from the killing of Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders to the use of drones in Pakistan and Yemen to his actions in Libya. In Cannes this week, Obama discussed with Nicolas Sarkozy of France and others ways to further isolate Iran in the U.N. and tighten sanctions, possibly making moves on Iranian financial institutions, including its central bank. On a trip to Asia later this week, Obama will try to persuade the Russians and Chinese, who are slower to act against Iran, to cooperate. The tension here is marked: The I.A.E.A. report comes not long after the United States accused Iran of hatching a plot to murder Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington.

What has most heightened the sense of anxiety, in diplomatic circles and beyond, is a series of leaked reports coming from Israel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Secretary Ehud Barak, and other members of the seven-person security cabinet have grown increasingly determined to launch a unilateral attack on Iranian nuclear facilities—with or without Obama’s assent.

The country’s most influential columnist, Nahum Barnea, wrote a front-page commentary in Yediot Ahronoth recently called “Atomic Pressure,” slamming Netanyahu and Barak for acting dangerously and without a thorough public discussion. Barnea, who is as connected a journalist as I have ever met, tried to describe Netanyahu’s thinking: “Ahmadinejad is Hitler; if he isn’t stopped in time, there will be another Holocaust.” He continued, “There are those who describe Netanyahu’s attitude on the matter as an obsession: All his life he dreamed of being Churchill; Iran gives him the opportunity.”

Barnea is right: Netanyahu is obsessed with the Second World War parallels, real or imagined, and even used them to justify his opposition to the peace process with the Palestinians in the nineties. Netanyahu is deeply influenced not only by his hundred-year-old father’s right-wing Revisionist ideology, but also by a profound sense of himself as Israel’s post-Holocaust protector. Heroic imagery, like the F-15s flying over the rail tracks to Auschwitz, is no small part of what drives him. Five years ago, he said of the Iranian nuclear issue, “The year is 1938 and Iran is Germany.”

Ehud Barak has a far more dovish image than Netanyahu, at least among many Americans, because of his overtures to the Palestinians in the last months and days of the Clinton Administration. But Barak carries with him a bitterness about those failed negotiations; he has said that they showed the Palestinian leadership’s “true face.” And on the Iranian issue he is far more hawkish. Indeed, he is said to be in agreement with Netanyahu on the need to act against Iran before it is, in their terms, too late.

Polls show deep division in Israel over a military strike on Iranian nuclear sites. To no one’s surprise, Haaretz, the paper read by the country’s liberal elite, has also published many editorials and columns denouncing a military strike or, at the very least, urging caution and public discussion.

Ari Shavit, a centrist by the paper’s standards, and a well-informed writer who has hardly been dismissive of the dangers of a potential Iranian bomb, wrote this week, “The strategic decision regarding Iran is the decision of our generation. Israel has not faced such an important and difficult decision since it decided to build the Dimona facility”—the nuclear complex in the Negev desert, which became active in the sixties. “If Israel acts against Iran prematurely, the implications could be dramatic. An eternal war with Tehran, an intermediate war with Hamas and Hezbollah, tens of thousands of missiles on dozens of cities in Israel.” Shavit did not stop there. “If Israel is late to act in Iran,” he wrote, “the implications could be critical to our survival. A nuclear bomb in the hands of fanatic Muslims could change our life entirely and could shorten our life span.”

The debate in Israel over Iran has not exactly been a secret, nor has it been limited to leaks from the government and columns in Yediot and Haaretz. (When is there ever a secret conversation in Israel? It may have the noisiest political culture in the world.) Many of Israel’s leading former intelligence and military leaders agree with Nahum Barnea (and are also, quite likely, among his sources). Meir Dagan, who led Israel’s Mossad spy agency until last January, has said publicly that an attack on Iran would be “a stupid idea….The regional challenge that Israel would face would be impossible.” (Dagan also faulted the government for not proposing a peace initiative with the Palestinians.) On Iran, Dagan has been joined in his caution not only by political voices on the left, but also by the former chief of general staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, and former head of the Shin Bet security agency, Yuval Diskin, as well as by leading non-liberals in the government such as Benny Begin (the son of Menachem Begin) and Dan Meridor.

“I decided to speak out because, when I was in office, Diskin, Ashkenazi and I could block any dangerous adventure,” Dagan said earlier this year. “Now I am afraid that there is no one to stop Bibi and Barak.”

American officials, led by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, have met with Netanyahu and Barak, both in Israel and in Washington, and they discussed Iran at length. According to a report in Sunday’s edition of Haaretz, Panetta failed to extract a promise from the Israelis that they would not carry out a raid on Iran without coordinating it with the United States.

According to State Department cables obtained by WikiLeaks, some Arab states, particularly in the Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, might object in public to an Israeli raid but would actually be delighted to see it happen. As the Arab Spring has transformed the region, the Iranians and the Saudis are engaged in a none-too-subtle battle for geo-strategic influence. The Saudis hardly see an Iranian bomb as a threat solely to Israel.

At the same time, the potential dangers of a strike are clear: a prolonged and bloody regional war; attacks on Israel from Gaza and Lebanon; the closing of the Strait of Hormuz, a main world oil transport lane; a sharp rise in energy prices with disastrous effects on the world economy.

It does not require an Iranian official to point out that Israel, despite its policy of “ambiguity,” possesses somewhere around a hundred nuclear weapons. It developed those weapons in defiance of international law as a means of protection, a counterbalance to its overwhelming strategic disadvantages. Iran with a nuclear weapon, Israelis argue—and here there is near-unanimous agreement—is something else entirely: an aggressive theocratic dictatorship whose leaders routinely express everything from a desire to remove “the Zionist entity” to a denial of the Holocaust itself will, with nuclear capability, be a dangerously destabilizing force in an already unstable region.

If one assumes that there remains serious doubt about the details of Iran’s nuclear program—its progress, its timing—there can be no wishing away the seriousness of the issue or the nature of the regime. The attempts to stymie Iran so far—not only through sanctions, but through covert means, including assassinations of nuclear scientists and the Stuxnet computer worm—have, according to an analysis by David Sanger in Sunday’s Times, “slowed Iran’s nuclear progress by one or two years.” Sanger writes that a new computer worm, a “Stuxnet 2.0 may be in the works for Iran.”

The reports coming from Israel this week may be a kind of tactical noise. For at least the past five years, the Israeli leadership has made threatening sounds about absolute deadlines. It may be trying to heighten the sense of crisis in order to insure that the United States, Britain, and other Western powers will go to great lengths to intensify sanctions and exert maximum pressure on Iran in the wake of the new I.A.E.A. report.

A unilateral attack from Israel, however, would be a grave mistake for all the reasons made plain by Meir Dagan and so many others. It is terrible enough to imagine what might happen if Iran came to possess a bomb; but an attack now would almost certainly lead to a tide of blood in the region. The Middle East today is in a state of fragile possibility, full of peril, to be sure, but also pregnant with promise. A premature unilateral attack could upend everything and one result of many would be an Israel under fire, under attack, and more deeply isolated than ever before.

“For Israel,” a columnist from Ynet, Yediot’s English-language Web site concluded, “the way to cope with the Iranian nuclear threat is to adopt indirect routes, by supporting tougher sanctions against Iran and also by securing an agreement with the Palestinian Authority that would minimize regional tensions.” This route—call it the route of rigorous containment—is the right one.

Containment, as Louis Menand’s excellent essay on George Kennan (out Monday in The New Yorker) makes plain, is a complicated and costly form of vigilance—politically, diplomatically, and militarily. But it worked beyond anyone’s expectations during the Cold War. So much so that it avoided a headlong confrontation even as it sapped the strength of the Soviet regime. In the case of Iran, that kind of containment, however expensive in many ways, is immensely preferable to a heedless attack that risks the whirlwind.

The Israelis have great confidence in their capacity to check proliferation through military means. (Ask the Iraqis and the Syrians.) But even the senior officer at the Hatzor air base, where pilots were training for a possible mission to Tehran, was clear about the costs. The officer there told me that he and the rest of the Israeli military establishment knew that such a mission would not be nearly as simple as its strike, in 1981, on Iraq’s nuclear facility at Osirak. Not only does Iran have far more varied and well-protected facilities, he said, but, “It’s a huge issue—because of the day after. If and when it will happen, the whole region will be different.” That is a rare moment of understatement in the Middle East.

Original source


Comment by Goodwill Ambassador Eliana Benador

The militant, terrorist group, Hizbullah, turned a political organization -has nevertheless not made a secret their adherence to the terror methods that have been their leit motif and modus vivendi ever since the first days of their existence.

On another front, Hizbullah must deal with the Opposition leaders in Lebanon who have declared they will not accept any dialogue, unless Hizbullah's disarmament is discussed first.

However, Hizbullah's main goal, the destruction of Israel, will not be relegated to the second place by anyone or anything...


Hizbullah preparing missile war on Israel as Iran braces for attack | World Tribune

“Hizbullah forces are being trained to fire at least 10,000 missiles, right at the war’s outset, at military and strategic targets such as airfields, military camps, and vital facilities including maritime ones, followed by the firing of rockets from launch sites whose location will come as a surprise to Israel,” the report, titled “Hizbullah Discusses Its Operational Plan for War with Israel,” said.

The report, released on Nov. 2 and based on open Arab sources, said Nasrallah has also ordered a ground force invasion of northern Israel. Hizbullah, with at least 20,000 fighters, was said to be planning to deploy
5,000 special forces troops trained in Iran to capture Israel’s Galilee region.

Original source