The U.S. Department of Justice indicted seven Iranians on Thursday working for the Iranian government, including Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for conducting cyber attacks against U.S. financial institutions and one individual who attempted to “take over the controls” of a dam in New York, according to The New York Times. Those Iranians indicted do not live in the U.S., and according to the Times, “it is doubtful that they will ever make it to an American courtroom.” But there are two legislative efforts underway in the Senate to combat Iran’s aggression and terrorism. The Iran Terrorism and Human Rights Sanctions Act of 2016, introduced in the Senate last week, seeks, in part, to target the IRGC. The legislation would apply U.S. sanctions on businesses where the IRGC “holds a 25% or larger stake, as well as the directors of such firms.” The bill also targets Mahan Air, an Iranian passenger airline used by the IRGC to funnel weapons and personnel to Syria to prop up Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's regime. The bill would also impose economic penalties on Iran for its human rights abuses.
The second piece of legislation targets Iran’s ballistic missile activity. The Iran Ballistic Missile Sanctions Act of 2016, introduced by Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) last Thursday, “would require the administration to impose tough, hard-hitting primary and secondary sanctions on every sector of the Iranian economy that supports Tehran's ballistic missile programs.” Since the nuclear deal was reached in July, Iran has repeatedly launched ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. In October and November, Iran launched medium- and long-range missiles. In March, Iran again test-fired ballistic missiles that were capable of reaching Israel. On one of the missiles, the Iranians inscribed in Hebrew “Israel must be wiped off the Earth.” A March report from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies found that Iran’s ballistic missile program is “deeply intertwined with Iran’s legitimate economy, including the automotive, energy, construction and mining industries.” The Wall Street Journal editorial board came out in support of both of these initiatives on Monday, writing that Sen. Ayotte’s legislation is a “good start” to countering Iran’s program.
Sheikh Ali Abu Ahmad began by slamming a Jordanian plan to install security cameras at al-Aqsa this week. Jordan’s Islamic Affairs Minister said that the cameras will “document all Israeli violations and aggressions,” and that no camera would be placed within mosques. Abu Ahmad rejected the claim this claim, saying that the cameras will instead be used “to monitor the Muslims who confront the Jews, so that they can be arrested by the Israelis, by the Jordanians, or by the Ramallah Authority of Disgrace.”
“The Al-Aqsa Mosque has been suffering under occupation ever since the defeat of the Caliphate in Istanbul,” he added. “The Al-Aqsa Mosque is being defiled by the Jews day in and day out.”
Abu Ahmad concluded by praying for the death of all Jews, saying, “Oh Allah, annihilate all the Jews! Oh Allah, enable us to kill them! Oh Allah, make the ground swallow them up, along with their homes!”
Abu Ahmad ended an address at al-Aqsa on November 2014 in a similar manner, shouting, “Oh Allah, annihilate America and its coalition. Oh Allah, enable us to cut off their heads. Oh Allah, help our brothers, the mujahideen in the land of Iraq and Syria.”
Abu Ahmad’s comments were translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest location in Islam, is located on the Temple Mount complex, Judaism’s most sacred site. It is managed by the Jordanian Islamic Waqf.
The charge that Jews are soling al-Aqsa with their presence on the Temple Mount compound, and that Israel is violating the status quo at the site, is a frequent theme of Palestinian incitement against Israel. Though the Israeli government routinely rejects the claim, and non-Muslim presence and activity in the complex remains highly restricted, Palestinian leaders often declare that al-Aqsa is in danger, an accusation that predates the founding of Israel.
In his testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in October, Washington Institute for Near East Policy distinguished fellow David Makovsky explained:
Sadly, the charge that Israel is out to destroy the mosque is not new. This claim was made in 1929, resulting in riots in Hebron that killed 63 people. More recently, fatal violence surrounding the Temple Mount occurred in 1991 (20 killed), 1996 (87 killed), 2000 (153 killed within the first month of violence), and 2014 (9 killed).
Two Israeli Arab girls who stabbed a security guard last month said they did so as “revenge for the situation in the al-Aqsa Mosque.”
In a song released several days after the stabbing, the Palestinian al-Wa’ed Band glorified suicide bombings and told so-called martyrdom-seekers to “heed the call of the al-Aqsa Mosque, make the blast of the bomb reach further and further.”
ISIS released a video in October pledging to “liberate Al-Aqsa from the defilement of the sons of apes and pigs.” That same month, a Hebrew-speaking ISIS militant vowed that “We will enter al-Aqsa mosque as conquerors, using our cars as bombs to strike the Jewish ramparts.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared in a speech last September that the Palestinians would not allow Jews to desecrate Jerusalem holy sites, including the al-Aqsa, with their “filthy feet.”
The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours… and they have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem.
On a tour of the Temple Mount in August, a congressional delegation witnessed a group of Jewish visitors to the holy site being accosted by a group of Islamic activists.
“I wish it was something the world understood more and was more aware of,” said Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), whose own group was also harangued while at the compound. “Even when visiting a historical site there is harassment, because of people who want to rewrite history.” (via TheTower.org)
Cyclone Winston dealt a devastating blow to the South Pacific island nation of Fiji on February 20, 2016. The worst cyclone in Fiji history resulted in the deaths of more than 40 people and damaged or destroyed an estimated 32,000 homes. In all, the lives of some 350,000 people have been affected by the cyclone. Supported by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and in partnership with the Israel Embassy in Australia, the Israeli non-governmental organization IsraAID flew over six volunteers to help. These Israeli engineers, water specialists and trauma experts are building shelters, distributing supplies including water and construction material; and offering guidance in sanitation and psychosocial support to residents of Vuma, one of the worst-affected villages. In addition, the Israelis organized an educational program for the children in Vuma. The island nation remains in a state of emergency as affected communities to continue receiving relief supplies and other forms of much-needed aid. IsraAID Founding Director Shachar Zahavi tells ISRAEL21c that the relief team will stay in Fiji for a few months and will rebuild a model village with the Israeli Embassy. (via Israel21c)