December 02/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations
You Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.
Luke 11/37-48: “While he was speaking, a Pharisee invited him to dine with him; so he went in and took his place at the table. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not first wash before dinner. Then the Lord said to him, ‘Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you. ‘But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God; it is these you ought to have practised, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honour in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the market-places. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.’ One of the lawyers answered him, ‘Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us too. ’And he said, ‘Woe also to you lawyers! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not lift a finger to ease them. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. So you.

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on December 01-02/17
Al Mustaqbal seems to be on the verge of fusing with Al Mourabitoun/Roger Bejjani/Face Book/December 01/17
Walid Phares Tells Hariri 'Hizbullah Invaded Beirut, Assassinated Politicians, Citizens'/Naharnet/December 01/17/
HRW: Lebanon waste crisis posing health risks/NNA/December 01/17
How Trump Is Going After Hezbollah in America's Backyard/Matthew Levitt/The Washington Institute.Politico/December 01/17
The Axis of Moderation vs. the Axis of Resistance in the Middle East/ Najat AlSaied/Gatestone Institute/December 01/17
The Internet Is Dying. Repealing Net Neutrality Hastens That Death/Farhad Manjoo/The New York Times/December 01/17
Progress and History in Zigzag/Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat//December 01/17

Titles For Latest LCCC Lebanese Related News published on December 01-02/17
Al Mustaqbal seems to be on the verge of fusing with Al Mourabitoun
Walid Phares Tells Hariri 'Hizbullah Invaded Beirut, Assassinated Politicians, Citizens'
Deryan Throws Support behind Hariri
Report: Hariri-Geagea to Meet amid 'Strained' Ties
Aoun receives assurances of Italian support
Army: Enemy gunboat breaches territorial waters off Ras Naqoura
Fneish inaugurates Baalbek Sports City
Khoury winds up Kuwait visit
Mashnouk visits Berri, says cabinet reshuffle talks not serious
Army arrests terrorist Fadel Chaker's companion
Three girls lose their lives in fire at Syrian refugee camp in Bebnine
Spanish Ambassador, Guidanian tackle economic ties
HRW: Lebanon waste crisis posing health risks
How Trump Is Going After Hezbollah in America's Backyard

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on December 01-02/17
Russia Prepares to Withdraw Forces from Syria
Syria Rebels Take Down Regime Chopper
Nine Dead as Taliban Gunmen Storm Pakistan School
Palestinians Fire Warning ahead of Trump Jerusalem Decision
Egypt FM Sees 'No Reason' Why Shafiq Should Not Run for President
Worshippers Pack Egyptian Mosque Week after Massacre
Conflict between Baghdad, Erbil over US Forces in Kirkuk
De Mistura’s Paper Suggests 'Non-Sectarian State', 'Local Administrations'
More than 400 US Marines Leave Raqqa
Palestinians fire warning ahead of Trump Jerusalem decision
German police defuse explosive device found near Potsdam market

Latest Lebanese Related News published on December 01-02/17
Al Mustaqbal seems to be on the verge of fusing with Al Mourabitoun
Roger Bejjani/Face Book/December 01/17
Why are some Lebanese surprised with the natural hostage positioning of the Sunni, Druze and some Christian Lebanese population. They were the PLO hostages until 1982. They became later the hostages of the Syrian regime until 2005. They lived the illusion of freedom from 2005 to 2015. But they were feeling itchy. They needed to be in their natural hostage position they are used to.This statement is not sectarian but rather realistic. What we are watching today is a repositioning of the Sunnis and Druze as hostages of Hezbollah in the name of "stability". MorAouns are already prime hostages. LF situation is schizophrenic as they refuse in principles the dictat of Hezbollah while ploying to their fake alliance with Hezbollah's vassal. I find Berri, Gemayel, Rifi and Slimi the most consistent and trustworthy politicians today.
Al Mustaqbal seems to be on the verge of fusing with Al Mourabitoun. The new name under consideration being Al Moustabitoun.
What a pity and a shame to watch a great portion of a large Lebanese community reversing a dynamic fueled by the rule of law and The idea of Lebanon that has given hope to Lebanese since March 2005, towards the dark period of the Mourabitoun rationale and the same period when Walid Jumblat used to be the pet of the assassins of his father.

Walid Phares Tells Hariri 'Hizbullah Invaded Beirut, Assassinated Politicians, Citizens'

Naharnet/December 01/17/ Lebanese-born American adviser to members of the US Congress Walid Phares replied on Friday to Prime Minister Saad Hariri's comments about Hizbullah's weapons reminding of several encounters when the party “utilized its weapons in the capital Beirut and elsewhere.”“Mr PM Hariri, Hizbullah has invaded Beirut and attacked Mount Lebanon with heavy weapons in 2008, assassinated politicians, officers and citizens as of 2005. They used their arms against Lebanese. They should be disarmed under UNSC 1559,” said Phares on his Twitter page on Friday. Phares' remarks came after PM Hariri said in an interview to French Paris Match weekly magazine a day earlier that “in Lebanon, Hizbullah has a political role. It has weapons, of course, but it is not using them on Lebanese soil.” Hariri's comments drew a storm of criticism from Hizbullah's critics which made him clarify his remarks affirming that his comments were misunderstood. “What I said in (the) Paris Match (interview) was clear like the sun. We have a truce with Hizbullah the same as they have a truce with us. We do not deny what happened in the past, but we are seeking to protect the country's stability whereas some parties are seeking to stir strife in the country,” Hariri had said.

Deryan Throws Support behind Hariri
Naharnet/December 01/17/ Grand Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Abdul Latif Deryan threw his support behind Prime Minister Saad Hariri saying “we stand by your side, regardless of everyone else's opinion,” the National News Agency reported Friday. “All the Lebanese stand by you because you are a man of pure national positions and a man who always favors the homeland's interests,” said Deryan in remarks during a Thursday celebration marking the birthday of the Prophet. The celebration, held at the Mohammed al-Amin mosque, was held in the presence of Hariri, former Premier Fouad Siniora, Ambassadors of the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Indonesia to Lebanon, as well as a number of lawmakers and ranking dignitaries, NNA said. "The Sunni community in Lebanon is dear, strong and united as long as its political references are compatible and in agreement over its affairs. We will never be frustrated because we are confident that you will never neglect our rights," Deryan stated. Addressing Hariri he added: "We understand the reasons behind your resignation. We did not say we were in favor of it. You have decided to suspend it allowing all the political forces to consult and discuss the means to save Lebanon from the blazing surrounding environment and not interfere in the affairs of others." "We, the Lebanese, are the most loyal and keen on good relations with the Arab countries, especially with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We have not changed and we never will,” he emphasized. The Mufti voiced calls on the Lebanese to “uphold national unity, protect coexistence,” stressing the need to adhere to the “Constitution and the Taif agreement and to preserve security, stability and civil peace.” Lebanon was plunged into a political crisis after Hariri announced a surprise resignation from Riyadh on November 4, lambasting the policies of Hizbullah and Iran in Lebanon and the region. Hariri's shock resignation and its sharp-toned announcement raised fears that regional tensions were about to escalate and that Lebanon would once again pay a heavy price. But Hariri put his resignation on hold after around two weeks, demanding the withdrawal of Hizbullah from the region's conflicts in order to maintain the 2016 political settlement that led to the formation of his government and to the election of President Michel Aoun.

Report: Hariri-Geagea to Meet amid 'Strained' Ties
Naharnet/December 01/17/ The “strained” relationship between the Lebanese Forces and al-Mustaqbal Movement which “suffered some flaws” recently, has “greatly recovered” in the past days, the Kuwaiti Asseyasah daily reported on Friday. LF sources told the daily that “channels of communication have been opened between the two parties in order to settle things down and restore normal ties,” affirming strong relations between the two. Ties were allegedly strained between the LF and Mustaqbal amid reports claiming that the “LF has played an inciting role against the Mustaqbal Movement leader Prime Minister Saad Hariri when its ministers paid a visit to the Kingdom.”Reports have also alleged that a "mini" cabinet reshuffle will take place and that the changes will affect ministers of the LF and the Free Patriotic Movement. “What happened was a passing summer cloud that will not affect the path of our relations. The differences can be overcome just like we did in the past,” stressed the LF source on condition of anonymity. He concluded saying that a meeting between the LF chief Samir Geagea and Hariri will “shortly take place.”Neither the Lebanese Forces nor al-Mustaqbal Movement have spoken about the alleged tense ties. LF sources have denied the claims.

Aoun receives assurances of Italian support
The Daily Star/December 01/17/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun Friday discussed bilateral relations with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni in Rome, a tweet from Aoun's official account said. Aoun Thursday received guarantees of support for the Lebanese Army and the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon from Italian President Sergio Mattarella. Mattarella told Aoun that conferences in support of Lebanon would be organized to be held before the end of the year and in 2018, a statement from Aoun’s office said. “We will continue to support [Lebanon] in all areas, especially in the military sphere, where it has been decided that the number of [Italian trainers] in training courses for the officers and military personnel in various Lebanese armed forces will be increased,” Mattarella was quoted as saying. While in Italy, Aoun also commented on political developments in Lebanon, saying there had been attempts to keep Lebanon an “obedient state,” but that those attempts had not succeeded. “There is no country larger than Lebanon and no country smaller. It’s true that our numbers are small, but our dignity is as great as the size of our dispersal around the world,” he said. Aoun added that everyone would know in the future that Lebanon was sovereign, independent and free. He added that he did not think Lebanon would be subject to “many problems.” The remarks came during a dinner held in Aoun’s honor by the local Lebanese community. Aoun and Mattarella had earlier reportedly agreed that Lebanon must stay away from “existing tensions in the Middle East,” and both expressed hope for a quick political solution to the Syrian crisis. Aoun reportedly discussed ways in which bilateral ties between the two nations could be strengthened, and thanked Italy for its aid to Lebanon.
Mattarella received an official invitation to visit Lebanon from Aoun, which he reportedly accepted, though the date for that visit has not yet been set. Aoun arrived in Rome Wednesday on a three-day visit to Italy. Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who accompanied Aoun on the trip, reportedly departed to Paris Thursday evening to meet with Prime Minister Saad Hariri in an effort to prepare for next week’s expected Cabinet session. On Thursday evening, Aoun gave a speech at the MED 2017 – this year’s Mediterranean Dialogues conference – which focused on the global scourge of terrorism. The conference focuses on ways to deal with the crises and instability affecting the Mediterranean basin.

Army: Enemy gunboat breaches territorial waters off Ras Naqoura
Fri 01 Dec 2017/NNA - An Israeli gunboat violated the Lebanese territorial waters off Ras al-Naqoura between 6:00 am and 6:50 am on Friday, to a distance of 50 meters for a period of one minute, a Lebanese Army communiqué indicated.
The breach is being followed-up in coordination with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, the communiqué added.

Fneish inaugurates Baalbek Sports City
Fri 01 Dec 2017/NNA - The Municipality of Baalbek celebrated on Friday that inauguration of Baalbek Sports City under the auspices of Sports and Youth Minister, Mohammad Fneish, and presence of Minister of Industry Hussein Hajj Hassan. "We affirm national unity and Islamic unity. We adhere to the principles over which Lebanese army men were martyred, and to the resistance which stood in the face of the Israeli enemy and the takfiri project," Hajj Hassan said. "National solidarity, the responsible positions of President Michel Aoun, and Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's speech, have been able to thwart schemes that aimed to bog Lebanon down in strife," Hajj Hassan added. For his part, Sports and Youth Minister, Mohammad Fneish, said that the city of Baalbeck and its people deserved all the respect. "The people of this city enjoy an honorable history bearing the responsibility of defending our homeland and resisting occupation, injustice, and tyranny. Their grave sacrifices have enabled Lebanon to liberate its land and defeat the Zionist enemy," Fneish added. "As long as we adhere to our principles to protect our homeland from the Zionist and takfiri threats, we will remain open to every act that leads to stability, and to finding solutions to all the sufferings of the citizen," Fneish added.

Khoury winds up Kuwait visit
Fri 01 Dec 2017/NNA - Minister of Culture, Ghattas Khoury, winded up his visit to Kuwait on Friday, after inaugurating the Lebanese Cultural Week and holding consultations with several Kuwaiti officials. During his visit, the Minister met with Kuwait's Minister of State, Sheikh Nasser al-Ahmad al-Sabah, with whom he broached bilateral relations, as well as development-related projects. Khoury said that the country's Emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Hamad al-Sabah, played a positive role in resolving crises on the Lebanese and regional scenes. The Minister also visited Secretary-General of the Kuwait Fund for Economic Development, Abdel Wahab al-Badr, with whom he discussed the Fund's contribution to financing Beirut National Museum project. Khoury also met with Kuwait's Minister of State for the Council of Ministers' Affairs, Minister of Information, Sheikh Mohammad Abdallah al-Sabah. Khoury thanked the Kuwaiti Information Minister for hosting Kuwait's Lebanese Cultural Week.

Mashnouk visits Berri, says cabinet reshuffle talks not serious
Fri 01 Dec 2017/NNA - Interior and Municipalities Minister, Nouhad Mashnouk, said on Friday that talks suggesting a cabinet reshuffle were not serious. "A very short period separates us from elections; we neither have time to think about nor implement a cabinet reshuffle," Mahsnouk said in the wake of a meeting with Speaker of the House Nabib Berri in Ein Teeneh. The Minister briefed Berri on the latest developments and the prevailing situation at the domestic scene. "You're all aware of the country's general atmosphere and of the ongoing debates on the statement that is supposed to be issued by the Council of Ministers. This statement comes in response to the questions raised by Prime Minister Hariri concerning the Taef Accod, the dissociation policy, and Lebanon's relations with Arab countries," Mashnouk said. He went on to relay Berri's affirmation that the answers to the aforementioned three questions would be strict, clear, and void of ambiguities. "What I heard from Speaker Berri was very reassuring, and God willing, the next few days will determine this text, as well as an exit out of the crisis we endure," Mashnouk added. Moreover, the Minister confirmed that legislative elections were going to be held on their set date.

Army arrests terrorist Fadel Chaker's companion
Fri 01 Dec 2017/NNA - The Lebanese Army Command said in a statement on Friday that it had arrested Palestinian national, Walid Ahmad Balbisi, the companion of terrorist Fadel Chaker. "Balbisi, who is accused of belonging to Ahmad al-Assir's terrorist group, and who fought the army in 2013 in Abra, surrendered on 30/11/2017 to the amry," the statement said. "An investigation was opened with the detainee under the supervision of the competent judicial authorities," the statement said.

Three girls lose their lives in fire at Syrian refugee camp in Bebnine

Fri 01 Dec 2017/NNA - Three Syrian refugee girls ill-fatedly lost their lives on Friday after a fire broke out in a refugee camp located in the outskirts of Bebnine - Akkar, NNA field reporter said.

Spanish Ambassador, Guidanian tackle economic ties
Fri 01 Dec 2017/NNA - Tourism Minister, Avedis Guidanian, met on Friday with Spanish Ambassador to Lebanon, José Maria Ferre de la Pena, with whom he discussed economic relations between the two countries, particularly at the level of tourism. Discussions also focused on Lebanon's participation in the tourism exhibition, scheduled for late January, in the Spanish capital.

HRW: Lebanon waste crisis posing health risks
NNA/December 01/17
The lack of action by authorities to end open burning of waste across Lebanon is posing serious health risks for nearby residents, violating their right to health, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. People living near open burning reported health problems consistent with the frequent and sustained inhalation of smoke from open burning at waste dumps.
The 67-page report, "‘As If You’re Inhaling Your Death’: The Health Risks of Burning Waste in Lebanon," finds that Lebanese authorities’ lack of effective action to address widespread open burning of waste and a lack of adequate monitoring or information about the health effects violate Lebanon’s obligations under international law. Open burning of waste is dangerous and avoidable, a consequence of the government’s decades-long failure to manage solid waste in a way that respects environmental and health laws designed to protect people. Scientific studies have documented the dangers smoke from the open burning of household waste pose to human health. Children and older people are at particular risk. Lebanon should end the open burning of waste and carry out a sustainable national waste management strategy that complies with environmental and public health best practices and international law.
"Open burning of waste is harming nearby residents’ health one garbage bag at a time, but authorities are doing virtually nothing to bring this crisis under control," said Nadim Houry, interim Beirut director at Human Rights Watch.
"People may think the garbage crisis started in 2015, but this has been going on for decades as the government jumps from one emergency plan to the next while largely ignoring the situation outside Beirut and surrounding areas."
Lebanon’s mismanagement of its solid waste came to prominence in 2015 after litter piled up on the streets of its capital, but Human Rights Watch found that a silent crisis has affected the rest of the country for decades. Lebanon does not have a solid waste management plan for the entire country. In the 1990s, the central government arranged for waste collection and disposal in Beirut and Mount Lebanon but left other municipalities to fend for themselves without adequate oversight, financial support, or technical expertise. As a result, open dumping and burning increased across the country. According to researchers at the American University of Beirut, 77 percent of Lebanon’s waste is either openly dumped or landfilled even though they estimate that only 10 to 12 percent cannot be composted or recycled.
Human Rights Watch interviewed over 100 residents living near open dumps, public health experts, government officials, doctors, pharmacists, and activists. Researchers also visited 15 locations where burning was reported and used an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, to take aerial photographs at three large dump sites. The images showed black soot from recent burns and ash deposits that indicate large burns at an earlier date. Human Rights Watch also documented three cases of open burning adjacent to schools and one case of burning near a hospital.
The Environment Ministry and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) provided Human Rights Watch with a map of 617 municipal solid waste uncontrolled dumps across Lebanon, more than 150 of which are burned at least weekly. According to the Civil Defense, Lebanon’s fire department, open burning also increased in Beirut and Mount Lebanon after the waste management system for those areas collapsed in 2015, including a 330 percent increase in Mount Lebanon. The open burning disproportionately takes place in lower income areas, the map revealed.
The vast majority of residents interviewed reported health effects that they attributed to the burning and inhalation of smoke from the open burning of waste, including respiratory issues such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coughing, throat irritation, and asthma. These symptoms are consistent with exposure to open burning of waste documented in an extensive body of scientific literature.
"It’s like there’s fog across the whole town," said Othman, a resident of Kfar Zabad who is identified only by his first name. "We are coughing all the time, unable to breathe, sometimes we wake up and see ash in our spit."
People living near open burning said they were unable to spend time outside, had difficulty sleeping because of air pollution, or had to vacate their homes when burning was taking place. Some said they moved away to avoid the potential health effects.
Families said that uncertainty over whether the burning would lead to more serious health effects for themselves of their children, such as cancer, was taking a heavy psychological toll. In almost all cases, interviewees said their municipality had not provided any information about the risks of open burning or safety precautions. The Lebanese government should provide adequate information about the dangers of waste burning and steps people should be taking to protect themselves from smoke, Human Rights Watch said.
Residents also expressed frustration that, despite repeated complaints to the municipalities where burning was taking place, burning continued and no one was held to account. Municipal officials outside of Beirut and Mount Lebanon said the central government was not providing adequate financial or technical support to manage waste more responsibly and was late in disbursing their share of the Independent Municipal Fund in recent years.
The Environment Ministry says that open burning of waste violates Lebanon’s own environmental protection laws. The government’s lack of effective action to address the issue also violates Lebanon’s obligations under international law, including the government’s duties to respect, protect, and fulfill the right to health. The Environment Ministry appears to lack the necessary personnel and financial resources for effective environmental monitoring.
Lebanon’s cabinet approved a draft law in 2012 that would create a single Solid Waste Management Board, headed by the Environment Ministry, responsible for the national-level decision-making and waste treatment, while leaving waste collection to local authorities. However, parliament has not passed the bill.
Lebanon should adopt a long-term plan for waste management for the entire country that takes into account the associated environmental and health consequences, Human Rights Watch said.
Recent discussions around a long-term plan for waste management in Lebanon have focused on the use of incineration plants. Although Human Rights Watch does not take a position on the particular waste management approach that Lebanon should pursue, some public health experts and activists in Lebanon have opposed the use of incineration, citing concerns about independent monitoring, potential emissions, and high costs.
"One of the most distressing parts of this crisis is the almost total lack of information residents have received about the health risks of living near burning sites," Houry said. "People have a right to know about any potential dangers in their environment, and Lebanon should be testing the impact of the waste management crisis on the safety of the air, soil, and water and make those results public."--HRW

How Trump Is Going After Hezbollah in America's Backyard
Matthew Levitt/The Washington Institute.Politico/December 01/17
كيف يلاحق ترامب حزب الله في حديقة أميركا الخلفية
U.S. officials are taking action against the pro-Iranian militant group using new clues from old investigations in Latin America.
The Trump administration is pushing back aggressively against what the intelligence community often refers to as the "Iran Threat Network" or ITN, and as part of that campaign it is especially keen to focus on the activities of Hezbollah, the pro-Iranian Lebanese militia, in Latin America. Now, new revelations about a Hezbollah cold case from 1994 underscore the importance of rolling back the group's footprint in the region.
On July 19, 1994, the day after Hezbollah operatives blew up the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, the group sent a suicide bomber to take down a flight on Alas Chiricanas Airlines, a Panamanian commuter airliner carrying mostly Jewish passengers, including several Americans. The case languished for years, but the FBI appears to have recently collected new information which, together with evidence gleaned from other current investigations, is likely to serve as the basis for a variety of actions aimed at Hezbollah, the lynchpin of the ITN and Iran's most powerful proxy group.
But Hezbollah's more recent moves in Latin America are very much a matter of interest for investigators, too. In October, a joint FBI-NYPD investigation led to the arrest of two individuals who were allegedly acting on behalf of Hezbollah's terrorist wing, the Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO). At the direction of their Hezbollah handlers, one person allegedly "conducted missions in Panama to locate the U.S. and Israeli Embassies and to assess the vulnerabilities of the Panama Canal and ships in the Canal," according to a Justice Department press release. The other allegedly "conducted surveillance of potential targets in America, including military and law enforcement facilities in New York City." In the wake of these arrests, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center warned: "It's our assessment that Hezbollah is determined to give itself a potential homeland option as a critical component of its terrorism playbook, and that is something that those of us in the counterterrorism community take very, very seriously." These cases, one official added, are "likely the tip of the iceberg."
The administration's counter-Hezbollah campaign is an interagency effort that includes leveraging diplomatic, intelligence, financial and law enforcement tools to expose and disrupt the logistics, fundraising and operational activities of Iran, the Qods Force and the long list of Iranian proxies from Lebanese Hezbollah to other Shia militias in Iraq and elsewhere. But in the words of Ambassador Nathan Sale, the State Department coordinator for counterterrorism, "Countering Hezbollah is a top priority for the Trump administration." Since it took office, the Trump administration has taken a series of actions against Hezbollah in particular -- including indictments, extraditions, public statements and rewards for information on wanted Hezbollah terrorist leaders -- and officials are signaling that more actions are expected, especially in Latin America. Congress has passed a series of bills aimed at Hezbollah as well. The goal, according to an administration official quoted by Politico, is to "expose them for their behavior." The thinking goes: Hezbollah cannot claim to be a legitimate actor even as it engages in a laundry list of illicit activities that undermine stability at home in Lebanon, across the Middle East region and around the world.
To support this policy, the administration has issued a broad RFI -- a request for information -- requiring departments and agencies to scour their files and collect new information that could be used to identify targets and help direct and inform the implementation of forthcoming actions. Though it is unclear if it is a result of that RFI, it appears new information is coming in, as evidenced most recently by a little-noticed FBI "Seeking Information" bulletin issued by the Bureau's Miami Field Office.
The subject of the bulletin -- the bomber Ali Hawa Jamal -- died in the Alas Chiricanas attack. In the wake of the crash, families of the passengers and crew claimed all but one of the bodies. That body, which was badly disfigured in ways consistent with a suicide bombing, has now "possibly been identified as Ali Hawa Jamal," according to the FBI bulletin. But the request for information is very timely indeed, as authorities are actively looking for his still-living accomplices. What's new, it appears, is knowledge of this Hezbollah bomber's true name. Until now, authorities only knew the name that appears on the fake ID he used to purchase his ticket for the doomed flight, Jamal Lya. Now, with the knowledge of his true identity, authorities are asking for information that could lead them to the presumably local Latin American support network that helped him carry out his plot. "It is suspected," the FBI bulletin concludes, "that additional parties may have assisted Jamal in the bombing."
Flight 00901, a twin-engine Embraer commuter plane operated by Alas Chiricanas Airlines, exploded shortly after take-off from Colon on its way to Panama City. Of the 21 passengers and crew, most were businessmen working in the Colon Free Trade Zone; all were killed instantly. Amazingly, given the tiny size of the Jewish community in Panama (about 8,000 people), 12 of the 18 passengers were Jewish, including four Israelis and three Americans. Coming on the heels of the AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, the local Jewish community was especially on edge. One community leader noted at the time, "we all knew someone on the flight, or were related to someone on the flight." Their fears were quickly confirmed when Panama's president-elect announced that the crash "was not an accident but a planted bomb inside the plane." Investigators would determine that the bomber carried out preoperational surveillance leading up to his actual attack, including flying this commuter plane route several times, presumably to test security and select the optimal seat selection to maximize the impact of his explosive device.
Within days, Hezbollah had claimed responsibility for both the AMIA bombing and the Panama airline bombing in a leaflet distributed in the Lebanese port city of Sidon. The claim of responsibility was issued under the name Ansar Allah, or "Partisans of God." "Ansar Allah was one of the many fictitious names that Hezbollah used to claim responsibility for its attacks," Argentinean authorities explained. And yet, despite the claim of responsibility and other circumstantial evidence pointing to Hezbollah, authorities were not yet sure.
The State Department's annual report on international terrorism for 1994 notes that Hezbollah was the leading suspect behind the AMIA attack, and adds that together with the downing of Flight 00901 "these attacks raised concerns about the reported presence of members of Hezbollah in Latin America, especially in the triborder area where Brazilian, Argentine, and Paraguayan territories meet." According to a November 1994 FBI report, both the AMIA bombing and the Panama airline downing -- as well as two other bombings in London on July 26 and 27 (both near Israeli targets) -- were all "highly suspected of being perpetrated by Hezbollah." Testifying before Congress a year later, the State Department's Coordinator for Counterterrorism noted Ansar Allah's claim of responsibility, adding that "evidence gathered so far suggests it may also have been a Hezbollah suicide bombing." Investigators following the evidence of the AMIA and Flight 00901 attacks stumbled on other Hezbollah plots in the region around the same time. That same year, police in Uruguay busted a Hezbollah-run weapons smuggling operation with ties to the triborder area, a well-known epicenter of criminal activity with a significant Hezbollah presence. The following August, Paraguayan police arrested three members of a Hezbollah "sleeper cell" with possible links to the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires.
By 1996, however, evidence pointed more definitively to Hezbollah's role in the Alas Chiricanas bombing. In May 1996, the three border countries launched a "Tripartite Command of the Tri-Border" to coordinate their law enforcement and intelligence agencies to combat organized crime and terrorist activities in the area. The next month -- just days before Lebanese Hezbollah operatives helped local Saudi Hezbollah and Iranian operatives blow up the Khobar Towers military housing complex in Saudi Arabia -- the FBI issued a bulletin seeking information about the Flight 09001 bombing, which it described as an "oversees homicide," and about the bomber who had been "tentatively identified" as Jamal Lya, the name that appeared on the flight manifest. The bulletin appears to have been issued in response to a request from local authorities in the region, likely at the behest of this new Tripartite Command. "Authorities are seeking information that may pertain to possible suspect(s) and the crime aboard this flight," the bulletin explained.
The FBI identified Jamal Lya as the man "suspected of carrying the bomb aboard the aircraft," and described him as "a Middle Eastern male, 25 to 28 years old, approximately 5'9" and weighing 160 pounds." The bulletin described his appearance and the clothes he wore the day of the attack, adding that he spoke neither Spanish nor English, but possibly spoke Arabic. Authorities were not sure, however, because -- in what may have been a display of operational security -- "in order to communicate instructions to people he used hand signals or wrote notes."
The 1996 bulletin concluded by subtly linking the attack to Hezbollah without specifically naming the group (likely a nod to the political sensitivities of local countries to any suggestion that groups like Hezbollah raise funds or are active within their borders). The downing of Flight 00901 occurred just one day after "a Muslim fundamentalist group" allegedly blew up the AMIA building in Buenos Aires, the bulletin concludes. "This group is also suspected of involvement in the Flight 00901 bombing."
The new, updated bulletin, posted on the FBI Miami Field Office's website the week of October 30, 2017, now includes the bomber's true name -- Ali Hawa Jamal. It repeats much of the information from the 1996 version, but adds some new facts. Beyond his name, we now also know Jamal "was known to have traveled to Lebanon, Venezuela, Colombia, and Panama" -- all places with established Hezbollah networks. The 2017 bulletin also ends with a cryptic reference to Hezbollah, but now adds: "It is suspected that additional parties may have assisted Jamal in the bombing." It is information about those "additional parties" and their activities in places like Venezuela, Colombia and Panama that authorities are surely now running down.
The renewed focus on Hezbollah's presence and operations in Latin America is long overdue. Hezbollah's last attempted international terrorism plot was in Peru, where a Lebanese Hezbollah operative, Mohammed Amadar, arrived in November 2013 and married a woman of dual Peruvian-American citizenship two weeks later. The U.S. connection got the attention of the FBI's Miami Field Office. Shortly thereafter, Amadar moved to Brazil, living in Sao Paulo until he returned to Lima in July 2014. Peru's anti-terror unit questioned him upon his arrival at the airport, put Amadar under surveillance, and arrested him for planning attacks on Jewish and Israeli targets that October.
Hezbollah today is deeply invested in operations in South America. One of the most prominent operatives behind the AMIA bombing has now risen up the ranks of the organization and is personally overseeing Hezbollah operations in the region. According to Israeli investigators, Salman al-Reda (whose true name is reportedly Salman Raouf Salman) was the on-the-ground coordinator of the AMIA bombing. A dual Lebanese-Colombian citizen who lived at various times in Colombia, in Buenos Aires and in the Tri-Border area, Reda fled the region after the bombing before being indicted by Argentine authorities for his role in the attack. It remains unclear if Reda also played a role in the bombing of Flight 00901.
But in the years that followed, Reda served as an active member of Hezbollah's Islamic Jihad Organization. He was especially active in Southeast Asia and South America in the 1990s, including a flurry of operational missions in 1997 with three visits to Panama, two to Colombia and one to Brazil. Following Mohammad Amadar's arrest in Peru, he reportedly identified Reda as the Hezbollah operative who served as his handler; he said he'd met with him on three different occasions in Turkey to plan the Peru operation.
With Reda still at large and presumably driving Hezbollah operations in the region, U.S. authorities have good reason to be concerned about the group's activities in the Western Hemisphere. That was surely underscored by the arrests of the Hezbollah operatives in Michigan and New York who stand accused of casing targets in New York and Panama. These cases highlight the determination of the U.S. intelligence community, articulated by the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, that the trajectory of Hezbollah's international terrorist activities has not changed since the Iran nuclear deal was reached in 2015. In other words, we have no reason to believe that Hezbollah won't launch fresh attacks in America's backyard -- especially as tensions rise between the U.S. and Iran.
The Trump administration is clearly eager to counter Iran and sees Hezbollah as a key proxy for Tehran, involved in many of what officials have called the Iranian regime's "malign activities." The administration's public campaign against Hezbollah seeks to accomplish two things. First, to disrupt the group's ongoing fundraising, logistics and operations. And second, to highlight the disconnect between the group's terrorist and criminal activities and its "attempts to portray itself as a legitimate political party," according to the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Nicholas Rasmussen.
Rasmussen made clear what we should expect moving forward: "We have and will continue to monitor closely Hezbollah activity around the world and work aggressively to disrupt any instances of Hezbollah operating within our borders." The close monitoring is ongoing. Authorities have already uncovered new information about the group's role in the bombing of Alas Chiricanas Airlines Flight 09001, and are sure to expose more recent Hezbollah activities as well. Next up: Expect some aggressive disruption.
**Matthew Levitt is the Fromer-Wexler Fellow and director of the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at The Washington Institute.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on December 01-02/17
Russia Prepares to Withdraw Forces from Syria
Asharq Al Awsat//December 01/17/Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said on Thursday that Moscow was already preparing to withdraw its forces from Syria. Last week, Chief of the General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov said Russia’s military force in Syria would likely be significantly reduced and a draw-down could start before the end of the year. Patrushev statements on withdrawing forces came on the sidelines of his participation in a preparatory session of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Collective Security Council, along with the participation of Chief of the CSTO Joint Staff Colonel-General Anatoly Sidorov. Sidorov affirmed that the peacekeeping forces of CSTO are ready to perform missions in any place in the world. Responding to a question on the possibility of dispatching these forces to Russia, he signaled that this is a political decision and that the peacekeeping forces implement decisions of the organization heads of states. “The heads of state note Russia’s decisive contribution to the elimination of hotbeds of international terrorism, which created conditions for ending the civil war and achieving a lasting political settlement in Syria,” said CSTO conclusion statement. The statement also addressed all parties concerned to take advantage of the favorable conditions for stepping up talks within the framework of the Geneva process under the UN auspices. Geneva talks didn’t go well as Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, hoped since the regime rejected to discuss the constitution and elections, insisting on keeping the priority to terrorism. Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Alexei Borodavkin stated that a Syrian regime delegation expressed a wish that Geneva talks prioritize war on terrorism in Geneva 8 – Borodavkin described this standpoint as “constructive” and that the regime delegation is “open to dialogue.”

Syria Rebels Take Down Regime Chopper
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/December 01/17/ Rebels shot down a Syrian regime helicopter Friday in a southwestern region near the borders with Israel and Lebanon, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.
"Rebel groups shot down a regime helicopter with a guided missile near the border with Lebanon and the occupied Golan," the Britain-based monitoring group's chief Rami Abdel Rahman said. The size of the crew and its fate remained unclear, he said. The area where the helicopter went down is an enclave controlled by Islamist rebel and jihadist groups and surrounded by regime forces. Abdel Rahman said the fighting has increased there since October. More than 340,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the Syrian war, which began in 2011 as the regime brutally crushed anti-government protests. Millions have been displaced.

Nine Dead as Taliban Gunmen Storm Pakistan School
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/December 01/17/Nine people were killed and dozens injured Friday when Taliban militants stormed a training institute in the northwestern city of Peshawar as Pakistan marked the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed, officials said. Police said four burqa-clad militants opened fire on the gates of the Agriculture Training Institute, injuring the guard before making their way inside. Peshawar Police Chief Muhammad Tahir Khan said three gunmen had been killed and that security forces were carrying out a clearance operation inside the building to track down for any remaining militants.
"The clearance operation is under way," he told AFP. Spokeswomen for two hospitals in the city said they had received a total of nine bodies and were treating some 38 injured, including several in critical condition. A spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Muhammad Khurasani, claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to AFP. "Our mujahids have attacked the building because it was used as office for ISI, God willing our fighters will fight till the last drop of blood," he said, referring to Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence agency.
Noor Wali, a 19-year-old student at the institute, described a terrifying ordeal that began when he was woken by gunshots. "I rushed to the door and saw a fountain of blood pumping out of the shoulder of my roommate who was standing outside the room," he told AFP. He and another student rushed to his aid, and hid from the gunmen for almost an hour before they were rescued by security forces. "The other student was pressing the wound with his hands to stop the blood and I had to put my hand on his mouth so that he cannot scream," he said. "We took shelter inside the bedroom and were begging the injured student not to make any sound as the terrorists might hear it and kill us." The area where the incident occurred is a hub for educational institutions in the city including the University of Peshawar. An interior ministry official told AFP that cellular networks had been suspended in various cities across the country for security reasons. The incident comes amid tight security across Pakistan as it celebrates the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed. The country is tense after weeks-long anti-blasphemy protests in Islamabad that saw seven killed and hundreds wounded in clashes with police. Violence erupted over the weekend after police and paramilitary forces launched a bungled attempt to clear the sit-in, igniting fresh demonstrations in cities across the country, including in Lahore and Karachi. The protests finally ended just days ago under a military-brokered deal.
In December 2014, a Taliban attack on the army-run school in Peshawar killed 151 people, mostly schoolchildren.

Palestinians Fire Warning ahead of Trump Jerusalem Decision

Naharnet/Agence France Presse/December 01/17/The Palestinian president's office warned Friday of the potential destructive effects of any move denying their claim to east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. The statement comes as US President Donald Trump is due to decide by Monday on whether to move his country's embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city. The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state and fiercely oppose any changes that could be regarded as legitimising Israel's occupation and annexation of it. Without referring to Trump or the US by name, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said any just solution in the Middle East required recognition of east Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian state. "East Jerusalem, with its holy places, is the beginning and the end of any solution and any project that saves the region from destruction," he said in a statement on the official Wafa news agency. Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community. No countries currently have their embassies in Jerusalem, instead keeping them in the Israeli commercial capital Tel Aviv. Trump is due to decide by Monday on whether to renew a six-month waiver on moving the embassy. He pledged during his campaign to move the embassy to Jerusalem but renewed the waiver in May. Reports emerged on Friday that Trump could again delay moving the embassy but recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Trump has said he wants to relaunch frozen peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in search of the "ultimate deal" Analysts say any major shift in US policy would make that goal more difficult to achieve.

Egypt FM Sees 'No Reason' Why Shafiq Should Not Run for President
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/December 01/17/Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry said Friday he saw "no reason" why the country's ex-premier Ahmed Shafiq should not run for president. Shafiq announced on Wednesday that he plans to compete for the post of president in his homeland at next year's election and was preparing to return to Cairo in the coming days. Just hours after his announcement, however, Shafiq said the United Arab Emirates had barred him from leaving the country. Shafiq's candidacy could see him stand against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has yet to officially declare his candidacy but looks all but certain to run in and dominate the election next year. Shoukry suggested there may be legal issues which prevent Shafiq from running in the 2018 vote, but said that if they had been resolved there was nothing to stop him throwing his hat in the ring. "I see no reason why he should not run," he said at a summit on the Mediterranean in Rome. "I say that as a layman. I know he had some issues with the judiciary, I'm not sure if they have been resolved, but in principle he is free to represent himself to the electorate. "As in any society, it's up to the electorate to decide."Shafiq, who was put on trial in absentia on corruption charges after narrowly losing the 2012 election to former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, has emerged as a critic and possible contender to Sisi in the past two years. The former prime minister was acquitted, and his lawyer had said he would be free to return, but it is thought that he fears another case might be brought against him. Shoukry was possibly alluding to prosecution investigations that have not been referred to trial. Sisi, a former army chief elected as president in 2014 less than a year after overthrowing Morsi, lauded his experience in the military and as an aviation minister under former president Hosni Mubarak. Shafiq could represent one of the few candidates who can come close to challenging Sisi.

Worshippers Pack Egyptian Mosque Week after Massacre
Naharnet/Agence France Presse/December 01/17/Dozens of Muslims, including religious and army leaders, packed an Egyptian mosque for Friday prayers a week after jihadist gunmen massacred more than 300 people in the house of worship. The mosque in Rawda village in North Sinai had been cleaned and renovated following the massacre by suspected Islamic State group gunmen in time for the weekly Friday prayer. The head of Egypt's Second Field Army Khaled Mogawer, which is fighting IS in Sinai, could be seen in live footage aired on state television, sitting between the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb and the country's mufti Shawqi Allam. The cleric who gave the prayer sermon tried to console the relatives of the victims, saying the dead were now in paradise, while condemning the attackers as the "brothers of devils". "God wanted to take martyrs from you. Why, because God loves you," said the preacher Abdel Fattal al-Awari. He recounted a saying by the Muslim Prophet Mohamed who, when asked whom God tests the most, responded: "The prophets, followed by the most exemplary." Worshippers could be seen spilling out of the mosque into its plaza.
Tayeb later gave a speech in which he described the attackers as "cowardly cancer". The Islamic State group in Egypt had killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers in attacks, and since last year more than 100 Christians in church bombings and shootings. They had warned the mosque, which is associated with Sufis the jihadists call heretical, to stop holding mystical rites. Witnesses and authorities had said the attackers were flying the Islamic State's black banner, but the group has yet to claim the massacre decried even by its supporters.Analysts and officials say IS, responsible for atrocities around the world, many not claim responsibility following the backlash even from jihadists.

Conflict between Baghdad, Erbil over US Forces in Kirkuk
Asharq Al Awsat//December 01/17/Iraqi forces denied, on Thursday, claims made by officials in Kurdistan, Iraq, regarding the arrival of US forces to the disputed Kirkuk. Erbil, however, insisted on the announcement. Iraq’s Joint Operations Command said in a statement, Thursday, that some media outlets talked about the advance of US forces in Kirkuk, reporting sources from Kurdistan, Iraq. Yet, the command denied the news and affirmed that there is no increase of the coalition forces not in Kirkuk nor in the rest of Iraqi territories. The statement, which was posted on Facebook, stressed that it is not the foreign forces mission to seize the territory, and they don’t even have the possibility to do so in terms of soldiers and equipment. “Kirkuk security is an Iraqi national responsibility,” clarified the statement. Kurdish counter-terrorism forces sources reported that US army forces are advancing to Kirkuk in order to form a joint operations chamber that is entitled to coordinate and cooperate with the Iraqi Army to ensure Kirkuk's security. Jalal Sheikh Naji, officer at counter-terrorism forces in Sulaimaniyah, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the purpose behind recruiting these forces is to reinforce intelligence and security cooperation among the US forces, Iraqi Army and counter-terrorism bodies in order to protect the security condition in Kirkuk.”He added that there are suspicious movements in the region, requiring more security vigilance. “The presence of US forces will solidify internal security in Kirkuk, and the region in general,” he continued. Naji pointed out that as the US army spreads in the camp, a joint operations chamber will be formed to serve intelligence and security coordination that would be quite helpful in confronting terrorists in case they dare to return and threaten the region.

De Mistura’s Paper Suggests 'Non-Sectarian State', 'Local Administrations'
Asharq Al Awsat//December 01/17/UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura pushed on Thursday both the regime and opposition delegations to enter into the core subject of negotiations, and handed them a 12-item paper including his concept for the future of Syria. A copy of the envoy’s paper, which was received by Asharq Al-Awsat, stipulates that Syria is a “non-sectarian state” under UNSC Resolution 2254, and asserts the need that “local administrative representatives” be present in the country next to the work of the “National Army,” and the “Security Apparatus in accordance with the constitution.”
The paper also confirms the respect of the “high value of the Syrian community, the national identity and the history of diversity and ethics brought by all religions, civilizations and cultures in Syria.”The High Negotiations Committee, which also includes the Cairo and Moscow platforms, later presented to de Mistura a response to his paper, including 12 items. It was remarkable that the HNC removed from the term “Syrian Arab Republic,” the world “Arab” and replace it by only “Syria,” in addition to approving the decentralization principle, the rights of Kurds and other entities.The opposition’s paper also suggested introducing reforms to the “national army” body and to restructure the security apparatus. De Mistura plans to issue a joint paper between the two delegations at the end of the eighth Geneva intra-Syrian talks in mid-December, including the principles of a political solution to Syria that emanate from the spirit of Resolution 2254 and based on the previous drafts of negotiations, that started in the spring of 2016. Diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that discussions on Thursday tackled the name of the state: the UN paper suggested that it remains the “Syrian Arab Republic,” while the opposition delegation said it should become “Syria.”The discussions also revealed a dispute between the two choices of “local administrations” or “decentralization,” and another deep argument concerning the role of the Army and the need to reform it, to restructure the body of the security apparatus and to fight terrorism. On Thursday, de Mistura held indirect but simultaneous talks with the two delegations in two separate rooms, after the government delegation headed by Bashar al-Jaafari refused to engage in direct talks with the opposition. “There has been now a moment of truth; we need to find a political solution,” de Mistura said, adding that there should be no preconditions heading into the current round of discussions aimed at resolving the over six-year-long Syrian conflict that has resulted in immense human suffering.

More than 400 US Marines Leave Raqqa
Asharq Al Awsat//December 01/17/More than 400 US Marines are leaving Syria after helping to capture the city of Raqqa from ISIS, the US-led coalition said. Ryan Dillon, the chief spokesman for the US coalition that is fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria, tweeted: “400+ US Marines prepare to head home after providing precision artillery support to SDF partners & defeating ISIS in former capital.” This Marines unit arrived in Syria on Sep. 15 to replace a former one, and after liberating the city and defeating ISIS the orders were made for the unit to return, according to the coalition statement. “We’re drawing down combat forces where it makes sense, but still continuing our efforts to help Syrian and Iraqi partners maintain security,” Brigadier General Jonathan Braga, the director of operations for the coalition, said in the statement.The coalition said at least 800 civilians have been unintentionally killed in airstrikes in Iraq and Syria since its campaign began in 2014 – far fewer than the numbers documented by monitoring teams. Monitoring teams have produced estimates of civilian deaths that go as high as nearly 5,961. In a related matter, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that ISIS executed 15 members of the regime forces and pro-armed men in an attempt to raise spirits of the group supporters, after an almost total defeat all over the Syrian territories. ISIS that was dominating more than half of Syria is now fighting to defend its existence in the last three percent of the Syrian geography, a space of around 5,600 square meters.

Palestinians fire warning ahead of Trump Jerusalem decision
Fri 01 Dec 2017 /NNA - The Palestinian president's office warned Friday of the potential destructive effects of any move denying their claim to east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. The statement comes as US President Donald Trump is due to decide by Monday on whether to move his country's embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city. The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state and fiercely oppose any changes that could be regarded as legitimising Israel's occupation and annexation of it. Without referring to Trump or the US by name, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said any just solution in the Middle East required recognition of east Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian state. "East Jerusalem, with its holy places, is the beginning and the end of any solution and any project that saves the region from destruction," he said in a statement on the official Wafa news agency. Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community. No countries currently have their embassies in Jerusalem, instead keeping them in the Israeli commercial capital Tel Aviv. Trump is due to decide by Monday on whether to renew a six-month waiver on moving the embassy. He pledged during his campaign to move the embassy to Jerusalem but renewed the waiver in May. Reports emerged on Friday that Trump could again delay moving the embassy but recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Trump has said he wants to relaunch frozen peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in search of the "ultimate deal" Analysts say any major shift in US policy would make that goal more difficult to achieve.--AFP

German police defuse explosive device found near Potsdam market
Fri 01 Dec 2017NNA - Experts on Friday defused an explosive device found near an outdoor Christmas market in the German city of Potsdam near Berlin, local police said on Twitter. Germany is on high alert for potential militant attacks nearly a year after a Tunisian Islamist hijacked a truck, killed its driver, and then rammed the vehicle into a Christmas market in central Berlin, killing 11 people there. In Potsdam, police cordoned off the area including the market after being alerted about a suspicious object that had been delivered to a pharmacy. "The suspicion of an (improvised explosive device) has been confirmed," police said on Twitter. No additional details were immediately available. "It is still being investigated what exactly the suspicious object is," they said in another Tweet. The Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten newspaper said the pharmacy alerted police after receiving a package measuring 40 cm (16 inches) by 50 cm (20 inches) that contained suspicious wires and electronics. The Potsdam newspaper said police were alerted around 2:30 p.m. (1330 GMT). Police announced on Twitter about three hours later that the object had been defused. Christmas markets opened across Germany on Monday at the start of the holiday season, fortified with security staff and concrete barriers to protect shoppers. Germany has around 2,600 such markets, filled with sparkling Christmas trees and wooden stalls serving candied nuts, sausages, mulled wine and handicrafts. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said this week Germany had increased information-sharing between federal and state officials and taken other steps to increase security after a series of missteps in the Berlin case.
An Ministry spokesman said this week the risk of an attack in Europe and Germany is "continuously high".--REUTERS

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on December 01-02/17
The Axis of Moderation vs. the Axis of Resistance in the Middle East/
محور الإعتدال في مواجهة محور المقاومة في الشرق الأوسط

 Najat AlSaied/Gatestone Institute/December 01/17
"We are just returning to the Islam we are used to... The moderate Islam". — Saudi Crown Prince, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh on October 26, 2017.
Saudi Arabia's complaints against Iran's interference and spreading extremism cannot sound credible if extremism is being practiced inside Saudi Arabia.
There urgently needs to be a unified American position to confront the Axis of Resistance. Iran continues to be the world's leading sponsor of terrorism, empowering these armed militias and extremist groups -- the basis of terrorism both in the region and across the world. It makes death threats, cooperates with a nuclearized North Korea, and all the while races toward nuclear weapons capability itself.
The dispute between the Arab states, often known as the Axis of Moderation, and the officially designated terrorist regime in Iran often known as the Axis of Resistance, is no longer just a political disagreement but a threat to the national security of Arab countries.
While the Arab states seem pro-statehood and work with other states, Iran and the Axis of resistance seems not to. Even though Iran calls itself Republic, it has a militia mentality and rarely deals with states. In general, rather than dealing with governments, it instead establishes militias, as it has in Lebanon and Yemen. Even in Iraq, where the government is considered its ally, Iran has established more than 15 militias. Qatar, by supporting Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as Syria under the Assad regime, seem to have the same mentality as Iran. If you trace the Axis of Resistance, all of them appear to have adopted the concept of supporting militias and extremist groups under the slogan of "resistance."
The Iranian regime's long history has now culminated in Saudi Arabia being targeted by Iranian missiles located in Yemen. They are coordinated in Lebanon by the Hezbollah militia, who train the Houthis in Yemen. It is important to understand that these violations and proxy wars carried out by the Iranian regime not only threaten the Arab Gulf states but also pose a threat to a regional and international security.
The Axis of Resistance is led by Iran, and includes Syria, Qatar, Hezbollah, Hamas, Arab Shiites loyal to Wilayat al-Faqih ("The Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist") in Iran and Arab nationalists. Its slogans consist of fighting imperialism, empowering the (supposedly) vulnerable -- mainly Muslim Shiites -- and furthering "Arab nationalism," which usually manifests itself in support for Palestinians against Israelis.
The expansionist objectives of the Axis of Resistance -- in its drive to build a "Shiite Crescent" from Iran to the Mediterranean, are clear, compared to the objectives of the Axis of Moderation, which have not announced any specific aims, except to denounce Iran's interference in the Arab countries' affairs.
The Axis of Moderation comprises Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the Arab Gulf countries, except for Qatar. The great mistake that the Axis of Moderation has made in confronting the Iranian regime -- to try to curb its export of the its "Revolution" -- has been to fall into the trap of propagating sectarianism. While Iran portrayed itself as the defender of all the Shiites in the world, Saudi Arabia, as a result, acted as the defender of all the Sunnis in the Muslim world -- accordingly, sectarianism was propagated. This polarization, however, has only furthered the interests of the Iranian regime, whose chief objective seems to be to continue igniting this division in an apparent policy of divide and conquer. Instead of the members of the Axis of Moderation confronting Iran politically or militarily, they challenged it on religious and sectarian grounds, such as publishing countless books against Shiites that describe them as the enemies of Islam and labelling all Shiites as subordinate to Iran, as if all Shiites were Iran's puppets, which not all of them are.
U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump join King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, and the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in the inaugural opening of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, May 21, 2017. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
This divisiveness has brought extremism and terrorism to the region, and has only harmed everyone.
Now the Axis of Moderation has become shrewder in its confrontation with the Iran and has employed a greater number of experts in Iranian affairs. The Axis of Moderation, especially Saudi Arabia, has realized that it cannot face down the threat of Iran without radical internal reforms. Saudi Arabia's complaints against Iran's interference and spreading extremism cannot sound credible if extremism is being practiced inside Saudi Arabia. These internal reforms, and liberalizing the society, are important internally: they will boost the economy by creating an attractive investment environment, especially for foreign investors. As importantly, reforms will stop any adversary from saying that Saudi Arabia is a state supporter of terrorism or a land that exports terrorists.
The most obvious changes are Saudi Arabia's internal reforms that cover "social openness" in the form of concerts and festivals, coordinated by an entertainment body, and the country's attempts to undermine clerical control, both by arresting extremists and establishing a committee at the Islamic University in Medina to codify the interpretation of Quranic verses that call for extremism, especially against other religions.
Saudi Arabia has also clamped down on corruption by arresting suspected businessmen, princes and former ministers. The kingdom has also raised the status of women by giving them more of their human rights, such as the recent lifting of the ban on women driving. In another important change, Saudi Arabia will also allow women to be clerics to confront all the patriarchal interpretations of verses in Quran related to women. Eventually, that could mean that lifting the ban requiring male guardians for women might also coming soon. The Saudi crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has also said that he will allow women to take sports classes in school, attend sporting event for women and to permit music. His wish, he has said, is to "restore Islam."
The most important matter of all was pointed out by the Saudi Crown Prince, at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh on October 26, 2017: "We are just returning to the Islam we are used to... The moderate Islam." He also said, "We will not continue to be in the post-1979 era."
This is essentially a confession that the approach that Saudi Arabia followed after 1979 to try to oppose the Khomeini Revolution was not helpful, and that now it is time for real reform to face both internal and external challenges.
What Saudi Arabia is doing will eventually contribute towards clarifying the aims of the Axis of Moderation, which will be to support countries whose primary objectives are development, modernity and stability. The most important goal is to stamp out terrorism by supporting a "moderate" Islam or, more specifically, supporting the approach that Saudi Arabia took before 1979. This approach was echoed by the UAE ambassador to the United States, Yousef Al Otaiba, who said that the moderate countries boycotting Qatar are heading towards secularism -- in contrast to Qatar's support for Islamist militias such as Hezbollah, and radical groups in the Axis of Resistance, such as the Muslim Brotherhood.
What has complicated the situation has been an exploitation of the conflict in the United States between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party over how to fight terrorism by countries in the Axis of Resistance such as Qatar.
The double face of Qatar is revealed in many ways. Al Jazeera in English, for instance -- as mentioned the article, "Al Jazeera: Non-Arabs Should Not Be Fooled" -- is totally different from Al Jazeera in Arabic.
Ahmed Mansour, for example, one of Al Jazeera's anchors, tweeted about Hurricane "Irma" in Florida by citing a Koranic verse to say that what is happening in America is God's curse: "Twenty million Americans fled out of fear from Hurricane Irma," he wrote; then he cited a verse from Quran saying,
"And He shows you His signs. So which of the signs of Allah do you deny?" (40:81, Sahih International)
After his tweet in Arabic was read by American journalists, he apologized in a very sweet tweet in English.
Qatar also pretends to the US that it is supportive of its values, but in fact has close ties with all the enemies of the US. Sultan Saad Al-Muraikhi, Qatar's permanent envoy to the Arab League, for example, has called Iran, which the US has officially designated as a terrorist state, an "honorable state". Qatar also disagrees with designating Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations and calls them, instead, "resistance movements" against Israel.
Qatar has, moreover, used that dispute for its own ends by way of an alliance with the Democratic Party's allies and supporters.
Many Qatari writers and Qatar's supporters, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, have written articles against the Trump administration, as opposed to the previous administration which clearly had a soft spot for the Muslim Brotherhood. From the beginning, the administration of US President Barack Obama overruled Egypt's President, Hosni Mubarak, by insisting that the Muslim Brotherhood attend Obamas speech in Cairo, thereby setting the stage for the fall of Mubarak; and also strongly supported the subsequent regime then Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi (who was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood). Obama also openly counted the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, among his "best friends."
These opinion-makers in the US, evidently nostalgic for the previous administration, and known, especially during the Iran Deal, as not exactly aligned with the Axis of Moderation, seem to have been exploiting the rift between the Democrats and Republicans, apparently hoping for the impeachment of Donald Trump. As a Saudi academic and researcher, Ahmad Al-faraj, wrote in his article, "Qatar: The dream of isolating Trump!," they possibly think that a Democrat President, like Obama, would again support them.
While Qatar makes itself out to be tolerant and a supporter of democratic Americans and Westerners, anyone who watches Al Jazeera in Arabic will find nothing other than pure hatred of Western values and enormous support for armed militias such as Hezbollah and terrorist groups such as Hamas.
There urgently needs, therefore, to be a unified American position to confront the Axis of Resistance. Iran continues to be the world's leading sponsor of terrorism, empowering these armed militias and extremist groups -- the basis of terrorism both in the region and across the world. It makes death threats, cooperates with a nuclearized North Korea, and all the while races toward nuclear weapons capability itself. The United States would also do well to advocate a unified European position, and draw support from across the political spectrum. Unfortunately, European governments, for their own economic interests, have turned a blind eye to all the terrorism, extremism and sectarianism that Iran is fomenting. European countries should be warned that if they continue to put these economic interests ahead of global security, not only will the decision undermine the already-fragile national security of their own countries but also those of the region.
It is in the interest of the United States and world peace to support the pillars of an Axis of Moderation that would:
Eliminate political Islam because it exploits religion for radical political goals in both the Sunni and Shiite sects. The Shiite version of political Islam failed in Iraq and the Sunni version of the Muslim Brotherhood failed in Egypt and Tunisia. In both versions of political Islam, violence and terrorism are exacerbated.
Undermine Iran's influence among armed militias in the region such as the militia Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthi in Yemen and the sectarian militias in Iraq. These should be classified as terrorist organizations. Hamas in the Gaza Strip has already been classified as such by the United States on October 31, 2001. Any country that supports Hamas or defends it, even in its media, should be classified as terrorist too.
Prevent the existence of armed militias operating as a state within a state; they are the beginning of the collapse of states and therefore a serious threat to peace and stability.
Consolidate the principles of secularism in internal and external dealings. Incitement to sectarian and racial hatred must be prevented as well as the use of Quranic verses to spread violence and extremism. To keep Iraq out of Iran's control, non-sectarian neighborly relations need to be maintained.
Instill the principles of tolerance and respect for all religions and sects and guarantee the free practice of religions and the protection of minorities.
Moderate countries will not promote the rhetoric of a fight with Israel, as does the Axis of Resistance, led by Iran; instead, the Axis of Moderation is now committed to the principles of peace, which are based on the common interests of states to ensure the security and prosperity of all citizens.
The region and the world as a whole have suffered from the actions of the Iranian regime and its allies. There should be no justification for the existence of militias and extremist groups under the banner of resistance or similar pretexts. The international community needs to be firm in challenging states that allow or support such groups and should stress that states can only protect themselves with armies and armed forces, not with militias. A unified American and European position needs to help the Axis of Moderation to prevent countries in turmoil from becoming cantons of militias and extremist groups. That seems a more constructive way to fight terrorism and build global stability.
Najat AlSaied is a Saudi American academic and the author of "Screens of Influence: Arab Satellite Television & Social Development". She is an Assistant Professor at Zayed University in the College of Communication and Media Sciences in Dubai-UAE.
**This article was first published in Arabic at Al Hurra.
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The Internet Is Dying. Repealing Net Neutrality Hastens That Death.
Farhad Manjoo/The New York Times/December 01/17
The internet is dying.
Sure, technically, the internet still works. Pull up Facebook on your phone and you will still see your second cousin’s baby pictures. But that isn’t really the internet. It’s not the open, anyone-can-build-it network of the 1990s and early 2000s, the product of technologies created over decades through government funding and academic research, the network that helped undo Microsoft’s stranglehold on the tech business and gave us upstarts like Amazon, Google, Facebook and Netflix.
Nope, that freewheeling internet has been dying a slow death — and a vote next month by the Federal Communications Commission to undo net neutrality would be the final pillow in its face.
Net neutrality is intended to prevent companies that provide internet service from offering preferential treatment to certain content over their lines. The rules prevent, for instance, AT&T from charging a fee to companies that want to stream high-definition videos to people.
Because net neutrality shelters start-ups — which can’t easily pay for fast-line access — from internet giants that can pay, the rules are just about the last bulwark against the complete corporate takeover of much of online life. When the rules go, the internet will still work, but it will look like and feel like something else altogether — a network in which business development deals, rather than innovation, determine what you experience, a network that feels much more like cable TV than the technological Wild West that gave you Napster and Netflix.
If this sounds alarmist, consider that the state of digital competition is already pretty sorry. As I’ve argued regularly, much of the tech industry is at risk of getting swallowed by giants. Today’s internet is lousy with gatekeepers, tollbooths and monopolists.
The five most valuable American companies — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft — control much of the online infrastructure, from app stores to operating systems to cloud storage to nearly all of the online ad business. A handful of broadband companies — AT&T, Charter, Comcast and Verizon, many of which are also aiming to become content companies, because why not — provide virtually all the internet connections to American homes and smartphones.
Together these giants have carved the internet into a historically profitable system of fiefs. They have turned a network whose very promise was endless innovation into one stuck in mud, where every start-up is at the tender mercy of some of the largest corporations on the planet.
Many companies feel this shift. In a letter to Ajit Pai, the F.C.C. chairman, who drafted the net neutrality repeal order, more than 200 start-ups argued this week that the order “would put small and medium-sized businesses at a disadvantage and prevent innovative new ones from even getting off the ground.” This, they said, was “the opposite of the open market, with a few powerful cable and phone companies picking winners and losers instead of consumers.”
This was not the way the internet was supposed to go. At its deepest technical level, the internet was designed to avoid the central points of control that now command it. The technical scheme arose from an even deeper philosophy. The designers of the internet understood that communications networks gain new powers through their end nodes — that is, through the new devices and services that plug into the network, rather than the computers that manage traffic on the network. This is known as the “end-to-end” principle of network design, and it basically explains why the internet led to so many more innovations than the centralized networks that came before it, such as the old telephone network.
The internet’s singular power, in its early gold-rush days, was its flexibility. People could imagine a dazzling array of new uses for the network, and as quick as that, they could build and deploy them — a site that sold you books, a site that cataloged the world’s information, an application that let you “borrow” other people’s music, a social network that could connect you to anyone.
You didn’t need permission for any of this stuff; some of these innovations ruined traditional industries, some fundamentally altered society, and many were legally dubious. But the internet meant you could just put it up, and if it worked, the rest of the world would quickly adopt it.
But if flexibility was the early internet’s promise, it was soon imperiled. In 2003, Tim Wu, a law professor now at Columbia Law School (he’s also a contributor to The New York Times), saw signs of impending corporate control over the growing internet. Broadband companies that were investing great sums to roll out faster and faster internet service to Americans were becoming wary of running an anything-goes network.
Some of the new uses of the internet threatened their bottom line. People were using online services as an alternative to paying for cable TV or long-distance phone service. They were connecting devices like Wi-Fi routers, which allowed them to share their connections with multiple devices. At the time, there were persistent reports of broadband companies seeking to block or otherwise frustrate these new services; in a few years, some broadband providers would begin blocking new services outright.
To Mr. Wu, the broadband monopolies looked like a threat to the end-to-end idea that had powered the internet. In a legal journal, he outlined an idea for regulation to preserve the internet’s equal-opportunity design — and hence was born “net neutrality.”
Though it has been through a barrage of legal challenges and resurrections, some form of net neutrality has been the governing regime on the internet since 2005. The new F.C.C. order would undo the idea completely; companies would be allowed to block or demand payment for certain traffic as they liked, as long as they disclosed the arrangements.
At the moment, broadband companies are promising not to act unfairly, and they argue that undoing the rules would give them further incentive to invest in their broadband capacity, ultimately improving the internet.
Brian Hart, an F.C.C. spokesman, said broadband companies would still be covered by antitrust laws and other rules meant to prevent anticompetitive behavior. He noted that Mr. Pai’s proposals would simply return the network to an earlier, pre-network-neutrality regulatory era.
“The internet flourished under this framework before, and it will again,” he said.
Broadband companies are taking a similar line. When I pointed out to a Comcast spokeswoman that the company’s promises were only voluntary — that nothing will prevent Comcast from one day creating special tiers of internet service with bundled content, much like the way it now sells cable TV — she suggested I was jumping the gun.
After all, people have been predicting the end of the internet for years. In 2003, Michael Copps, a Democratically appointed commissioner on the F.C.C. who was alarmed by the central choke points then taking command of the internet, argued that “we could be witnessing the beginning of the end of the internet as we know it.”
It’s been a recurrent theme among worriers ever since. In 2014, the last time it looked like net neutrality would get gutted, Nilay Patel, editor of the Verge, declared the internet dead (he used another word for “dead”). And he did it again this year, anticipating Mr. Pai’s proposal.
But look, you might say: Despite the hand-wringing, the internet has kept on trucking. Start-ups are still getting funded and going public. Crazy new things still sometimes get invented and defy all expectations; Bitcoin, which is as Wild West as they come, just hit $10,000 on some exchanges.
Well, O.K. But a vibrant network doesn’t die all at once. It takes time and neglect; it grows weaker by the day, but imperceptibly, so that one day we are living in a digital world controlled by giants and we come to regard the whole thing as normal. It’s not normal. It wasn’t always this way. The internet doesn’t have to be a corporate playground. That’s just the path we’ve chosen.

Progress and History in Zigzag
Amir Taheri/Asharq Al Awsat//December 01/17
One of the key ideas promoted by the European Enlightenment or the Age of Reason of the 18th century is that of progress according to which human history develops across a curve from a low point to higher and higher points.
One may debate and dispute the exact nature of “higher” and “lower” points in that context. But most students of the Enlightenment agree that “progress” has two facets: material and cultural.
Material progress could be measured by such yardsticks and life expectancy, average health of the people, and better living conditions in tangible terms such as housing and the ability to cope with natural disasters. On cultural level, progress includes literary and artistic creation, scientific and technological discoveries, participative politics and the rule of law.
But is it possible to question the very existence of a curve indicating linear progress? Isn’t it possible that human history proceeds in zigzags with “lower” and “higher” points alternating according to mysterious laws?
Applied to the “Muslim World”, the theory of progress hardly resists the challenge of the rival theory of historic zigzag.
At material level, progress made by virtually all Muslim majority countries in the past 100 years is amazing.
A century ago Muslims accounted for less than four per cent of the world population. In 2017 that has risen to almost 25 per cent. Muslims have also benefited from progress in life expectancy, public health and material living standards beyond their wildest dreams even a century ago.
I remember how as a young reporter in 1970 I fell into depression after a visit to what was then East Pakistan. I had not imagined so much human misery in my worst nightmares.
Half a century later, Bangladesh, the state that emerged from East Pakistan, is still poor by most standards but, when it comes to absolute poverty, is no longer the hell-hole it was in 1970; it has benefited from economic development and material progress.
On a grander scale I remember the Trucial States which were to become the United Arab Emirates. Outside Dubai, which had one hotel-like establishment, none had any proper facilities. In the Sultanate of Oman we had to bivouac in private homes with no electricity and/ or running water and eat boiled goat and half-cooked rice. Now, of course, both the UAE and Oman boast some of the most luxurious tourist establishments in the world.
Similar observations could be made about almost all other Muslim countries including my own homeland Iran which began to emerge from medieval poverty only in the 1960s.
In 1973 Tehran hosted a conference on “modernization”, co-sponsored by a United Nations’ agency in charge of Asia. The consensus was that material progress will lead to cultural and, eventually, political progress.
Six years later, Iran had fallen under a clerical tyranny built around a hodgepodge of pseudo-religious mumbo-jumbo and half-baked Marxist-Leninist methods. Suddenly, even classical Persian poets were censored or in some cases, banned. Worse still, the Khomeinist sect that held power arrogated to itself the right to issue anathemas and interdicts, inventing its versions of the Inquisition and Excommunication, mechanisms that do not exist in Islam.
In 1960 when I arrived in Britain to go to school I was surprised to find out that the Lord Chancellor had a blacklist of banned book at a time that no such abomination existed in Iran. Less than two decades later, there no longer was such a blacklist in the UK while the Islamic Republic in Iran had worked out the longest blacklist in human history.
Even worse, the Khomeinieh sect claims that anyone who does not blindly obey the current “Supreme Guide” is an “Infidel”. Of course, the incumbent himself is not immune against such anathema. One day, he, too, could be hit with the “mace of takfir” as he has happened to many leading figures of the Khomeinist regime including four of its six Presidents of the Republic.
We need to go back to history to see how the zigzag works.
Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, Pakistan’s second Foreign Minister, belonged to the Ahmadi minority and even served as their Ameer or religious leader for a while. And, yet, his religious affiliation never became an issue. Today, however, Ahmadis are hunted and murdered by neo-Islamist militants not only in Pakistan but also in Britain. No one in Pakistan cared that the “Father of the Nation” Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a secular politician. Today, the label secular could get you killed.
In Iran under the Shahs, building a political career did not hit sectarian hurdles and Sunni Muslims held high offices as ministers, governors, ambassadors and military commanders.
(The Minister of Justice in the last Cabinet formed under the Shah was a Sunni Muslim lawyer.) Today, however, only one Iranian Sunni Muslim holds a high post, as Ambassador to Vietnam, a country with limited relations with Iran.
In Indonesia, which has the world’s largest number of Muslims after India, such reformers as Abdul-Rahman Waheed and Nucholish Madjid enjoyed wide audiences and enough freedom, even under the military dictatorship, to promote their views in the marketplace of ideas. Today, much of their works are banned and seminars on them are attacked by neo-Islamist militants who claim they can decide who is a Muslim and who is not.
In Turkey, the neo-Ottoman elite won’t even allow former Islamist allies, led by Fethullah Gulen even a tiny space for dissent.
And what about the mass murder of over 400 Egyptian adepts of Sufism at a mosque in the Sinai last week? Yes, Egypt which throughout Islamic history was one of a cradle of Sufism and the birthplace of “alternative” ways of understanding and living Islam?
“Egypt, where the perfume of a hundred flowers refreshes the believer’s soul” said the great Persian Sufi poet Sanai.
Almost 1000 years later, there are people in Egypt who do not tolerate even a single flower, insisting that their violent thorn should conquer the earth.
Had the Enlightenment theory of progress been right, today in Egypt we would have a thousand flowers instead of a single blood-stained thorn.
Today, we are wealthier, better educated and healthier than ever in Islamic history. And, yet, we are faced with more ignorance, prejudice, fanaticism and violence than ever.
Others now remember us when they are asked to take off their shoes at airports and when they see our self-styled extremists cut people’s throats on television.
So, maybe we are in a zigzag mode.
If so, the question is how to zig our way out of the current deadly zag?