It shouldn’t be overlooked that Iran was crucial in assisting Syria to develop its chemical weapons program, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies wrote Monday. “What the rapid-fire news cycle didn’t say early this month was that Tehran and Damascus jump-started a program to develop a sophisticated Syrian chemicals arsenal as early as 2004,” Benjamin Weinthal wrote.
The British publication Jane’s Weekly noted in 2005 that Iran was constructing equipment to produce “hundreds of tons of precursors for VX, sarin and mustard.” A Jane’s report in 2007 determined that “Iran’s regime and its strategic partner the Assad regime accidentally caused an explosion while attempting to load a chemical warhead onto a Scud-C missile. It killed dozens of Syrian military personnel and Iranian engineers.”
The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched a sarin gas attack earlier this month on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, killing 87 civilians. In August 2013, the regime also used sarin in the suburbs of the capital Damascus, killing 1,429 people, including 426 children.
In the aftermath of this month’s attack, the United States fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at Shayrat air base, from which the regime’s assault had been launched. As Weinthal noted, Iran’s “Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were at Shayrat.”
“Contrary to Iran’s assertions that it abhors chemical weapons – and would never use nerve agents – growing evidence shows Tehran’s deep involvement in Assad’s nerve agent technology and role in this month’s attack in Khan Sheikhoun,” Weinthal concluded.
A Palestinian Mandela? Not so fast--
Marwan Barghouti, the convicted Palestinian terror chief who recently published a controversial op-ed denouncing Israel in The New York Times, does not have a place “among free people” and should not be given a platform to whitewash his murderous crimes, the brother of one of Barghouti’s victims said Tuesday.
Jamal Barakat, brother of Sgt.-Maj. Salim Barakat, a Druze Israeli police officer who was killed in a Tel Aviv terrorist attack approved by Barghouti, called him “a man who plans, who assists, who sends terrorists to hurt those who are innocent.”
“He is not worthy of being called a human, and maybe not even an animal because even animals don’t do those kinds of things,” Barakat said.
“I think that all the grieving families are with me–whoever has committed the crime of killing innocents, and it doesn’t matter who, even a Jew, his place is not among the freed and not among free people, but behind a lock and bars,” Barakat emphasized. “Anybody who tries to soften it, tries to turn or spin it some way as some kind of goal or other, it is not acceptable at all.”
“A Palestinian state that every other day people are talking about–we are not against it, the opposite,” Barakat continued. “But that is not the way–by killing innocent people.”
“We are in pain and won’t forgive and won’t forget–even until today and forever–every person who took a part in sending that bastard terrorist who carried out that act. I grieve that this is how my brother fell.”
Salim Barakat, 33, was on routine patrol when Palestinian terrorist Ibrahim Hasouna opened fire at restaurant goers in Tel Aviv with a long-barreled M-16 assault rifle on March 5, 2002. Barakat arrived at the scene and managed to successfully shoot Hasouna, only to be fatally stabbed when checking the terrorist’s body for explosives. He was survived by his wife, 4-year-old daughter, parents, and seven siblings.
The attack was claimed by Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which Barghouti helped establish in 2000. The brigade has been blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the European Union.
According to the indictment filed against Barghouti in August 2002, he was notified of Hasouna’s plan before the attack took place, and granted his authorization. He was again notified shortly after it was carried out.
Barghouti was convicted of murder by an Israeli civilian court in May 2004 for his involvement in Hasouna’s attack and two others, which killed five people total. His other victims include Greek Orthodox monk Georgios Tsibouktzakis, 34; Yoela Hen, 45; Eli Dahan, 53; and Yosef Habi, 52.
As the head of Fatah’s armed wing Tanzim, Barghouti oversaw multiple terror attacks against Israeli civilians, including children, during the second Palestinian intifada. However, he was acquitted on charges of 33 other murders due to lack of evidence of direct involvement.
On Sunday, Barghouti published an op-ed in the Times denouncing Israel and announcing that he was launching a hunger strike with other Palestinian prisoners in Israel. No mention was initially made either in the op-ed or by the Times that Barghouti, who sought to incorrectly portray himself as a political prisoner, was in fact sentenced to multiple life terms over his role in the killing of five people. After a major backlash, the paper appended an editor’s note acknowledging that Barghouti was found guilty of “five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization.”
Champing at the bit--
Remarks made by a cleric exiled to Iran from Bahrain underscore the Islamic Republic’s influence in that Gulf Arab state, Reuters reported on Tuesday. Delivering a eulogy at a funeral of a Shiite militant killed in an exchange of fire with Bahraini security forces, Murtada al-Sanadi said, “The choice of resistance is widening and spreading on the ground.”
“A confidential assessment by Bahrain security officials…names Sanadi as the leader of the Ashtar Brigades, a militant group that has carried out bombings and shootings directed at the kingdom's police,” Reuters reported.
A Bahraini prosecutor said that fighters in this group receive weapons and explosives training in Iran and Iraq. Bahraini security reports indicate that Sanadi “receives funding from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and commissioned Ghasra [the deceased militant at whose funeral Sanadi was speaking] to organize the military training of Bahraini militants in Iran by the IRGC and in Iraq by the Hezbollah Brigades militia.”
The U.S. State Department designated Sanadi as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist last month. State explained, “This marks yet another step in our continued effort to aggressively target Iran’s destabilizing and terrorism-related activities in the region… AAB [al-Ashtar Brigades] receives funding and support from the Government of Iran – a state sponsor of terrorism. AAB has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks – some of which have resulted in casualties – mainly against police and security targets in Bahrain.”
“I’m proud that America considers me an enemy,” Sanadi declared last month.
Two months earlier, he called on the Bahraini opposition to use violence: "From today and hereafter, the period has changed. We in the Islamic Wafa Movement announce that we have begun a new phase as a tribute to the martyrs: one grip on the squares and one grip on the trigger!" In 2013, Sanadi said, “We are truly thankful to the Iranians, especially the leader of all Muslims, Ayatollah [Ali] Khamenei.”
Another life-saving innovation--
Israeli researchers have revealed their high-tech answer to the global need for a safe, efficient way of clearing minefields: a remote system using lasers and bacteria to map the location of buried landmines and unexploded ordnance. The invention is bound to be sought eagerly worldwide. About half a million people around the world are survivors of mine-inflicted injuries, and each year an additional 15,000 to 20,000 more people are injured or killed by these devices. More than 100 million landmines are believed still to be buried in at least 70 countries. Surprisingly, the methods currently used for detecting landmines are not much different from those used in World War II, and require personnel to risk life and limb by physically entering the minefields. In the April 11 issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology, researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem explain that their innovation is based on the observation that all landmines leak tiny quantities of explosive vapors, which accumulate in the soil above them. But until now there wasn’t any way to “read” these markers. So the team molecularly engineered live bacteria to emit a fluorescent signal when they come into contact with the vapors on the ground. This signal can be recorded and quantified from a remote location. The bacteria were encapsulated in small polymeric beads and scattered across the surface of a test field in which real antipersonnel landmines were buried. Using a laser-based scanning system, the test field was remotely scanned and the location of the buried landmines was determined. (via Israel21c)