Dec. 18, 2014
Number 12/14 #05
With the extensive focus in Australia on the Martin Place attack on a Lindt coffee shop in Sydney by disgruntled Iranian immigrant and self-styled Sheik Man Haron Monis, this Update features some overseas comment on the incident – as well as what it says about the growing problem of “lone wolf” violence inspired by calls for individual attacks from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It also includes some analysis of the intense diplomacy this week over a Palestinian plan to put forward a UN Security Council Resolution demanding Israel unilaterally withdraw to the pre-1967 armistice lines within two years.
First up is a American investigative journalist and expert on terrorism and Islamist extremism Steve Emerson. Emerson is very critical of those who question whether the attack can be considered an Islamist terrorist act on the basis that Monis had a long criminal record, and produces the pledge of allegiance to ISIS that Monis made last month – which had been deleted from his website – as evidence that such questioning is “ludicrous”. Emerson argues that it is a mistake to make a fundamental distinction between organised Islamist terrorism and decentralised attacks inspired by ISIS via social media, or indeed to imagine that ISIS completely is complete distinct from various other groups devoted to similar Islamist ideologies, including Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, or al-Shabaab. For his complete argument, CLICK HERE.
Next up is noted Israeli columnist Ben Dror Yemini, who relates the Sydney attack to some recent footage revealed by Channel 7 TV news in October of children in a Sydney suburb being taught to chant “One Ummah without the West; until Islam rules there will be no rest.” Yemini argues that, despite some apologists, Westerners are beginning to see that there is a cult within Islam which believes that Islam must conquer the world, and says things like “Rome must be conquered” – with Rome standing for the whole West. He argues that unfortunately, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is also becoming more religious, and events like the one in Sydney should move many one small step closer to understanding that for Islamists like Hamas, ultimately, “the war is not against Israel. The war is against Sydney and Rome.”. For the rest of what he has to say, CLICK HERE. More Israeli takes on Martin Place come from columnists Boaz Bismuth and Yoav Limor.
Finally, noted Israeli journalist Shmuel Rosner looks at recent meetings taking place in Europe – including one between Israeli PM Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Kerry on Tuesday – with respect to the aforementioned Palestinian UN proposal, focusing especially on the Israeli perspective on what is going on. He notes that while the US Administration now seems set to veto the original Palestinian proposal – after causing considerable worry in Jerusalem by refusing to say so previously – the Israelis are concerned by the possibility of a French or European “compromise” resolution that could be almost as damaging. (The latest reports say a joint French-Palestinian resolution along these lines now appears to be in the offing.) Rosner reviews some history going back to the US Carter Administration to put the current ructions at the UN in perspective. For his take in full, CLICK HERE. More background on the currently extensive international diplomatic activity related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict comes from BICOM.
Readers may also be interested in:
- American law professor Anne Bayefsky denounces a UN-sponsored exhibition basically devoted to asserting that UN member state Israel should never have been created and should now be destroyed.
- Noted Israeli counter-terrorism expert Dr. Ely Karmon discusses the Sydney attack in a podcast. Plus, in a piece written before recent events, Israeli security consultant Meir Gershuni discusses Israeli experience in trying to cope with recent “lone wolf” stabbing and vehicular attacks.
- A Wall Street Journal editorial on Martin Place.
- An important Australian comment on Martin Place that many will not have seen comes from the ABC‘s Rachel Kohn – who actually previously wrote a piece exposing the threat posed by Man Haron Monis more than five years ago. Plus, Australian Middle East correspondent Irris Makler explains the parallels she sees between recent “lone wolf” type attacks in Israel and what happened in Sydney on Monday.
- An advisor to PA President Mahmoud Abbas says “all of Palestine” will return to the Palestinians via “resistance”. Plus, Fatah appears to call for the assassination of an Israeli minister in revenge for the death last week of Ziad Abu-Ein of a heart attack during a demonstration.
- Hamas holds 27th anniversary celebrations in which it is repeatedly re-asserted by leaders that they can never recognise Israel or accept a state only in the West Bank and Gaza – see here and here.
- Yet another natural gas find off Israel.
- A noted epidemiologist offers an in-depth refutation of claims Israeli policies are damaging the health of Palestinians.
- Isi Leibler writes about the “anyone-but-Bibi” movement in the Israeli election.
- Some examples from the many stories and comments now appearing at AIJAC’s daily “Fresh AIR” blog:
- AIJAC’s official statement on the Martin Place attack.
- Jeremy Jones offered a Sydney-based perspective on the attack in the Jerusalem Post.
- Sharyn Mittelman reviews the Israeli expressions of solidarity with Australia following that Martin Place attack.
Israel Hayom, Dec. 16
The violent conclusion of the Australian terrorist siege was inevitable. The terrorist, Man Haron Monis, was killed as the Sydney police team stormed the cafe. Even though two hostages were ultimately killed, the police had no choice but to act. After a siege lasting nearly 17 hours, police had good reason to believe that the self-anointed “sheikh” was going to make good on his threat to detonate the bombs he claimed to have unless his demands were met.
A police hostage negotiator was in direct contact with the terrorist for much of that time, but with up to 10 hostages in peril, authorities feared that the terrorist would kill everyone in the cafe. Sydney police are now investigating the incident, but there is no doubt that with their actions, they police saved the lives of many hostages.
There should be no doubt that this was a pure act of Islamic terrorism, despite ” assertions by some commentators that the perpetrator’s “motivations” were unknown. In the coming days we will see all sorts of “explanations” suggesting that because his rap sheet included indictments for sexual assault and murder, he was not really an Islamic terrorist but someone who was simply mentally unstable. Well, the same rationale could be said for all terrorists. After all, who in their right mind would want to kill innocent civilians because of their religious beliefs?
Islamic extremists do, that’s who. And to deny their radical Islamic motivation — as our own government has done repeatedly in refusing to classify Islamic terrorist attacks as such, as in the case of the Fort Hood massacre carried out by Maj. Nidal Hassan — is to guarantee the perpetuation of such acts, especially by lone-wolf terrorists. Australian police are investigating whether Monis acted alone or in concert with other Islamic extremists, or even at the behest of Islamic State itself.
Last month, Monis pledged his allegiance to Islamic State and renounced his Shiite heritage in an online posting, which has by now been deleted. Our organization, the Investigative Project on Terrorism, retrieved the page and translated it. Monis wrote:
“Pledge of allegiance of Sheikh Haron.
“Allegiance with Allah and His Messenger, and the Commander of the Faithful — I pledge allegiance to Allah and His Messenger and the Caliph of the Muslims.
“Praise be to Allah and prayers and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and all his companions, and those who follow them and peace be upon the Commander of the Faithful, the Caliph of the Muslims, the Imam of our current era, and praise be to Allah, who made for us a Caliph of the Earth and an imam who summons us to Islam and holds fast to the Rope of Allah Almighty and praise be to Allah that I have had the honor to pledge allegiance to the Imam of our time. Those who swear allegiance to the Caliph of the Muslims are just swearing allegiance to Allah and His Messenger.”
His website also contained rants against the Australian government for their involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Australian intelligence had been monitoring Monis for a while, and had an extensive file on him based on his prior radical Islamic activities in Australia. His communications with Islamic terrorists overseas had been under surveillance.
The terrorist incident in Sydney certainly displayed parallels with the calls for individually driven terrorist attacks by Islamic radicals throughout the West. These calls appear in Inspire magazine, put out by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — a group that was led by Anwar Al-Awlaki until he was killed by a U.S. drone. In calling for Muslims living in Western countries to carry out lone-wolf terrorist attacks, Islamic State has taken a page out of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula’s playbook, calling for local attacks whenever and wherever possible. These attacks are happening all over the world now, fueled by the rise of social media, which has pushed the message of Islamic terrorism virtually as fast as the speed of light. Over the last two years alone, there have been more than 100 attempted or successful Islamic State-inspired terrorist attacks in Europe and U.S. From Belgium to France to Oklahoma City, no place is immune from Islamic terrorism. It can be returning islamic State veterans or just radical Muslims living in the West who are motivated to carry out attacks.
Moreover, it is a lethal mistake for Western leaders to distinguish Islamic State from other Islamic terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, or al-Shabaab. These Islamic terrorist groups are motivated by the same underlying motivations as Islamic State: to kill as many of their infidel enemies as possible and impose Islamic supremacy. The only difference is that Islamic State has declared itself a global caliphate; the other groups are focused on becoming regional caliphates. But their genocidal agenda and tactics are no different than those of Islamic State. The only reason Hamas has not been as successful in killing its infidel enemies is that Israel has been able to stop Hamas from carrying out acts of mass murder, even though Hamas tried this past summer when it launched more than 6,000 rockets and missiles at Israel in an effort to kill as many civilians as possible. Nigeria, on the other hand, has been unable to stop the horrific attacks by Boko Haram, in which more than 300 Nigerians have been slaughtered in the past year alone.
Australian intelligence agencies probably had the best handle on the domestic threat by Islamic extremists as evidenced by their successful interruption of major plots in the last year. Those plots included a plan to behead Australian civilians and a conspiracy to bomb Australian targets. But those were plots planned by multiple extremists in conjunction, while the most recent incident demonstrates the challenges of preventing lone-wolf attacks.
What we are witnessing is not the rise of radical Islam. It is only an extension of the rise of radical Islam unleashed by the 9/11 attacks. The difference is that this phase is not directed by centralized organizations. Islamic terrorism has now become decentralized, creating a new challenge for Western intelligence agencies. It creates extraordinary pressure to come up with new methods of monitoring internal threats. There is also the technical challenge of monitoring meta data on various social media. But the most dangerous and counterproductive act would be to deny that Islamic terrorist attacks are what they are: Islamic terrorist attacks.
Steven Emerson is executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism.
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Op-ed: As the Israeli-Arab conflict becomes more religious, solidarity with the Israeli side grows; because now the war is not against Israel – it’s against the entire Western world.
“One Ummah without the West; until Islam rules there will be no rest.”
These words, said by children aged six to 13, were broadcast during a solidarity ceremony with the Islamic State, in which participants also waved the organization’s flags.
It didn’t happen in Mosul. The ceremony took place recently in one of the suburbs of Sydney. The shocking event was documented by the Australian 7News television news service. The irony is that the Sydney café where the hostage siege took place Monday is located beside the network’s offices.
The children participating in the ceremony are wearing Muslim clothes, speaking English. They are guided by adult jihadists. The education they receive is similar to the education in Gaza. It’s happening on the other side of the world. The goal is not to free al-Aqsa. The goal is to free Sydney from the chains of democracy.
It turns out that there is no need for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, or for the occupation, to nurture hatred towards democracy and the West. The jihadists in Sydney are also calling for the death of US President Barack Obama and Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“It’s sickening,” Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said in response to the video. The Australians are also trying to do something. The immigration policy is changing. The Israeli infiltration prevention bill is an embodiment of humanity compared to what is going on there.
By the way, one of the first terrorist attacks in the Islamic context was carried out on Australian soil. In as early as 1915, two Muslims murdered four train passengers. The assailants were killed. In a letter one of them left behind, he said he was defending the Ottoman caliphate and that “I must kill you and give my life for my faith, Allāhu Akbar.”
What has Australia done to them? Why prepare a cadre of children, starting from the age of six, educate them to jihad and raise them as potential shahidim (martyrs)?
Australia hasn’t done anything to them. They don’t need someone to do something to them. That’s because the global jihad organizations, from 1915 to this very day, from al-Shabaab to the Taliban, from Hamas to Islamic State, from Boko Haram to al-Qaeda, share the same ideology: Imposing Islam’s rule on the entire world.
Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi said several weeks that the plan is to take over Rome. Why Rome? Yunis al-Astal, a Palestinian Parliament member on behalf of Hamas, explained even before the IS declaration that Rome must be conquered because it is “the capital of the Catholics, or the Crusaders.” All stops lead to Rome, including Sydney.
Most Muslims, including in Australia, are not jihad supporters. The problem, as always, is with the radical minority, which is trying to impose a nightmare. The problem is that the minority acts. Thousands of Westerners are joining ISIS. Not a single Muslim has come out of the West to join the battle against IS.
The Israeli-Arab conflict, or Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is becoming more religious. This change has another aspect. The West is very biased against Israel when it comes to the national conflict, the settlements, the occupation. The overdone support for a nonexistent Palestinian state is proof of that.
But on the other hand, as the conflict becomes more religious, there is much more solidarity with the Israeli side. Because then, the war is not against Israel. The war is against Sydney and Rome.
It’s true that the delusional margins in the left will continue to understand jihad, offer explanations for it and blame Israel. But the majority in the West is beginning to show signs of repulsion. It is running out of patience.
“It’s okay that they don’t want to be like us,” a Norwegian journalist told me candidly, “but it’s unacceptable that they want us to be like them.”
But when we went back to talk about Israel, he returned to the old slogans.
What is happening in Australia won’t wake the free world from its slumber. But another small alarm bell rang Monday. Let’s just hope that the wake-up call won’t arrive with a festival of bells.
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Jewish Journal, Dec. 16, 2014
When Israeli officials ponder the possibility of the United States deciding not to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution on settlements and the occupied territories, they go back and think about Security Council Resolution 465. In part, that resolution, passed in 1980, “[d]etermines that all measures taken by Israel to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity and that Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.”
The Carter administration voted for that resolution, making it, as Steven Rosen wrote not long ago, “the only U.S. government to vote in favor of a U.N. Security Council Resolution declaring Israeli settlements to be ‘illegal.’ ” But the story of the vote did not end with the actual vote. Jimmy Carter later claimed that his ambassador should have abstained and should not have supported the resolution, and he later even believed that the vote for that resolution was one of the reasons for his failure to get re-elected. Carter believed that disagreement with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin was politically costly for him, and, as his national security adviser later testified, “cost him critical primary victories” and “weakened his re-election bid.”
Officials in Israel are reminded of that vote as they think about the possible looming U.N. Security Council vote on Israel and the occupation. Many of them view President Barack Obama as the reincarnation of Carter — thinking of him not so simplistically as being hostile to Israel, but rather seeing him as a president who truly believes in international institutions such as the U.N. and in their ability to assist in solving complicated problems. Obama’s successful attempt to advance a possible climate change accord last month — some Israeli observers believe — could only give the president more appetite to utilize international means to get to a desired Israeli-Palestinian end (some of them view Obama simply as being as “cold” as Carter in his approach to Israel, and as “weak” as Carter in handling international affairs).
According to some reports issued just before print edition press time on Dec. 16, the U.S. decided to object to a Palestinian proposed resolution, thus postponing a possible crisis to an unknown future date. But a few hours earlier, Secretary of State John Kerry was uncommitted. It is not impossible that the Palestinian position, supported by Arab states — in favor of a resolution that includes a definitive deadline for Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank — would be more than the administration could swallow. But even then, this isn’t the end of the U.N. story. The French have their own version of a resolution they’d like to present a little later. And, it is not clear that an objection to a Palestinian resolution would still be in place if and when a European resolution, more carefully designed to accommodate American (and some Israeli) sensitivities, is on the table.
On Dec. 15, Kerry and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Rome to discuss the U.N. matter, and Kerry had scheduled later meetings with European leaders to discuss the matter with them, as well. On Dec. 16, the U.S. announced its decision not to support the Palestinians’ current move. What happened in the meeting that triggered that decision, we still don’t know. Surely, the timetable was a key factor in the U.S. decision: Israel is having an election — making it trickier to assess how its government and voters might react to a problematic resolution or to a decision by its most significant ally to not veto a resolution.
The leaders of the resurging Israeli center-left very much prefer any prospect of a showdown to be postponed. They know that the Israeli voter tends to circle the wagons under international pressure of that kind — and, as was proved by polls last week, he/she also tends to blame Obama and not Netanyahu for the hurdles in U.S.-Israel relations. In other words: The showdown that was avoided was likely to be better for the right-wing parties.
The Palestinian leadership seems not to care much about that. In fact, one might suspect that their favorite Israeli government is the hawkish one — as that would make life easier for the Palestinians in three to four months to rally the world against Israel’s policies. They also seem not to care much for American sensitivities. Obama — unlike Carter in 1980 — is under no political pressure, because he has no re-election to think about. If he wants to support a Palestinian move, he is freer to do it. And, in fact, many officials in Israel believe that the president would very much like to support a Security Council resolution that censures Israel, as long as its language is not too harsh.
Would the damage be great?
The answers to this question very much depend on who is answering. Even among professionals within the Israeli government, some believe that a Security Council vote is not good for Israel, but still is “just a vote.” Proof: Carter’s 1980 vote. It did little to change the situation on the ground and did little to establish a Carter “legacy” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Not to veto a resolution “is not a legacy,” one official told me not long ago. But another official disagreed: If Obama wants an Israeli-Palestinian “legacy,” the U.N. “could be a start,” he told me. This would not be the legacy; it would be a prelude to other components of a legacy, such as “presenting an American plan” for a solution to the conflict.
Israel has many dilemmas to ponder as it prepares itself for these developments, and since there are so many moving parts — including political developments — it is not easy to say now how Israel might respond. If the Palestinians insist on advancing the resolution and fail (it is expected to fail), that is one thing. If their resolution advances and succeeds (at the time of this writing such scenario seems highly unlikely), that is quite another matter. If a resolution — possibly the one proposed by the French — passes with U.S. support, the situation becomes even more complicated.
But in essence, as is often the case, the options for Israel are three: One, to swallow the bitter pill and move on, hoping that the 2015 resolution would do as much to advance the Palestinian cause as the 1980 resolution did.
Two, to decide that a resolution is a matter serious enough to justify Israeli concessions — possibly to accept a less-favorable formulation for a new round of negotiations with the Palestinians in exchange for postponement of the resolution. The Obama administration would like such an outcome to emerge from the talks, but both Israelis and Americans are skeptical whether that could really happen at this time.
A third option for Israel would be to escalate — to find a way to punish the Palestinian Authority for its unilateral action — and demonstrate to the world that Israel will not be intimidated by any U.N. resolutions.
At least until the March elections in Israel, the more the issue becomes a political football, the more likely it is that the Israeli government will have to escalate. The Americans seem to understand that, and thus are working to postpone the crisis. But it is hard to imagine that they did not ask for something of Israel in return for a stated objection to the Palestinian move — maybe a commitment from Netanyahu to do something if and when he is re-elected. I believe that Kerry asked Netanyahu for such a commitment during their meeting in Rome. I believe that Netanyahu was cautious about giving Kerry what he wants, because he can’t trust the administration not to leak the parts of the conversation that can hurt the prime minister politically. That is to say: Politics and a lack of trust made a complicated situation much more so.