Saturday, 27 May 2017
Manchester suicide bomber used student loan and benefits to fund terror plot
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From The Telegraph

The Manchester suicide bomber used taxpayer-funded student loans and benefits to bankroll the terror plot, police believe.

Salman Abedi is understood to have received thousands of pounds in state funding in the run up to Monday’s atrocity even while he was overseas receiving bomb-making training.

Police are investigating Abedi’s finances, including how he paid for frequent trips to Libya where he is thought to have been taught to make bombs at a jihadist training camp.

It comes as Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, Britain’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, said detectives had made “immense progress” in dismantling Abedi’s terror network.

In further developments, a barber shop in Manchester was raided with one theory that Abedi may have obtained hydrogen peroxide - a chemical used in the hairdressing industry but which can also be used to construct bombs - from the salon.

Abedi’s finances are a major ‘theme’ of the police inquiry amid growing alarm over the ease with which jihadists are able to manipulate Britain’s welfare and student loans system to secure financing. One former detective said jihadists were enrolling on university courses to collect the student loans “often with no intention of turning up”. Abedi was given at least £7,000 from the taxpayer-funded Student Loans Company after beginning a business administration degree at Salford University in October 2015.

It is thought he received a further £7,000 in the 2016 academic year even though by then he had already dropped out of the course. Salford University declined to say if it had informed the Student Loans Company that Abedi’s funding should have been stopped.

Separately, the Department for Work and Pensions refused to say if Abedi had received any benefits,

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Posted on 05/27/2017 3:01 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Friday, 26 May 2017
Sometimes A Picture Really Is Worth A Thousand Words
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by Hugh Fitzgerald

Look at this photo showing the backs of seated dignitaries waiting for Trump to arrive at Ben Gurion Airport. You may remember — it was last week, after all — the photos of Trump and Company being welcomed on the tarmac at Riyadh. The welcoming party was a very limited group of people: all of them males, all of them Muslims, all of them Sunnis, all of them Arabs, all of them very rich indeed, and many of them, unsurprisingly, members of the very same family. There was one odd man out, an odd man out precisely because, you see, she wasn’t a man but a woman, a foreign photographer, snapping away both for ephemeral posts and for posterity.

The rest of the visit offered the same narrow range of dramatis personae. The audience for Trump’s speech consisted only of Muslims, that is, of Sunni Muslims, and almost entirely of male Sunni Muslims, that is, of male Sunni Muslims who were either despots themselves, or representatives of despots. I did make out one, possibly two, females in the audience — either despots themselves, or representatives of a despot. To sum that audience up: no females (unless the head of a Muslim state, or his deputy), no Christians, no Jews, no Hindus, no Shi’a, no atheists, no democrats (in the Periclean not Clintonian sense).

Then there was the Ardah Sword Dance outside the Murabba Palace. Small Wilbur Ross, tall Rex Tillerson, and very briefly, Trump himself, all tried their hand at the ceremonial ardah dance, traditionally performed before battle, a symbolic celebration of male martial prowess, but now performed on all sorts of occasions. (“Available for weddings, but not yet bar mitzvahs,” as a future skit on Saturday Night Live will have it). They linked arms with their Saudi hosts, and briefly moved their swords out toward the floor, then up, at a 90-degree angle to the floor, and again, all the while swaying slightly. Their Saudi hosts, including King Salman, were bemused. As at the airport, the Americans found themselves in a sea of Sunni Muslim males, many of them members of the ruling family, the Al-Saud. But what else would one expect in a country named after the Wahhabi founding family, “Saudi” Arabia? And in any case, the Dance of the Sword isn’t what frightens us about the Saudis and their coreligionists — it’s the Verse of the Sword. As for the American guests and their eager-to-please hosts — all that glitters in the kingdom, it turns out, is gold, and a good and lavish and over-the-top time was had by all. After all, the Saudis have only one request to make of the Americans right now. All the Saudis want is for the Americans to keep those Rafidite dogs in Tehran on a short leash. Even the real “solution” to the permanent problem of Israel — not its size, but its existence — the Saudis are now willing to postpone for a later date, an attitude that President Trump and others have misinterpreted as a Sunni Arab “readiness for peace.” And what will the United States get in return for dealing with Iran? Well, spending hundreds of billions on arms from the Americans is the best way the Saudis have to show their appreciation, and they’ve already started to spend.

I was prompted to muse on these matters when I saw the photographs of those awaiting Trump at the tarmac in Tel Aviv and compared them with what had just happened in Saudi Arabia. The Israeli soldiers at the airport included machine-gun-toting girls. This was Israel, after all, where, since 1949, military service has been mandatory for both sexes. Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, women cannot drive, and cannot travel abroad, and are not supposed to even leave the house alone, without a male relative’s permission. And even the time spent by a woman with male fellow workers is deliberately limited. The religious police, the mutawwa, are everywhere present to insure that the Shari’a is observed.

One photograph, the one above, taken at Ben Gurion Airport, particularly struck me. It was taken from behind a group of seated dignitaries, with their varied head coverings. I saw a bearded, orthodox Jew, whose face was caught in profile. Then there was a high Catholic prelate — a bishop, to judge by his red skull cap, or zucchetto. Several Greek Orthodox priests, with their distinctive dress — perhaps one of them was Russian Orthodox. A Druze, with his white cylindrical cap, though no Druze women with tantours in evidence. And then others whom I could not identify from behind — Protestants perhaps, of varied denominations, Orthodox or secular Jews, Christian or Muslim Arabs almost certainly. For despite all the BDS talk of Israel as an “apartheid state,” Muslim and Christian Arabs are everywhere in Israeli political life. A dozen of them are members of the Knesset; they serve on the Supreme Court (one of them, Salim Joubran, has lifetime tenure); they serve in the Israeli foreign service, and two of them are presently ambassadors, with many more at the consular levels. Others serve as judges at the local level.  There are Muslim and Christian Arabs in the Knesset. There are Christian and Muslim Arabs serving, as volunteers (for unlike Jews they are exempt from mandatory service) in the Israeli military. Of particular note and value are the nearly 2,000 Bedouin in the Israeli army, famous for their skills as desert trackers.

That’s what Israel has to offer. It does not have a Dance of the Sword. Nor a Verse of the Sword. It does have the Hatikvah. It does have compete equality of the sexes. Israel cannot spend hundreds of billions of dollars on American arms, but Israelis have proven invaluable in helping in the development of some of the most advanced American weapons, including the Arrow missile system, the F-35 “Adir” stealth fighter plane, and the Tactical High Energy Laser (Nautilus). One wonders if, in the vast Saudi arms arsenal, there is even a single item that the Saudis themselves managed to produce. And as for intelligence sharing, in the Middle East it is the United States that depends on Israel, more than Israel on the United States, for no other country has the intelligence-gathering abilities in the Middle East equal to those of the Israelis.

The photograph of Sunni Muslim males, dripping with gold chains, who owe their fabulous wealth not to hard work, nor inventive talent, nor entrepreneurial flair, but only to an accident of geology, and who greeted Trump’s plane in Riyadh, tell one story. The airport welcome by Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze, both men and women, who met Trump’s plane in Tel Aviv, tell quite another.

That’s what that photograph, the one which I put at the beginning of this piece, the one taken at the tarmac at Tel Aviv, prompted me to think about. I thought I’d share those thoughts with you.

First published in Jihad Watch.

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Posted on 05/26/2017 7:28 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Friday, 26 May 2017
Jihadis Attack Coptic Christian Convoy in Egypt, Killing at Least 20
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Including children who were traveling to a monastery for a day's outing. Story here. What will El-Sisi do?
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Posted on 05/26/2017 7:20 AM by Rebecca Bynum
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Friday, 26 May 2017
Ramsgate gang rape: Four men found guilty of raping teenager above takeaway
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From Kent on Line The jury came back with a verdict this morning. All four defendants guilty of raping the lost 16 year old girl; as the prosecution said, 'her every orifice was penetrated by them', and they laughed as they did it.

Shershah Muslimyar, 20, of Hovenden Close, Canterbury, restaurant owner Tamin Rahani, 37, of Northwood Road, Ramsgate and Rafiullah Hamidy, 24, of no fixed address, and Hamid Mohamadi, 18, from Wye - who we can now name for the first time - all denied three charges of rape but were convicted.

They were remanded in custody pending reports on the danger they pose but they were all warned they face long sentences in July.

 

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Posted on 05/26/2017 7:18 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Friday, 26 May 2017
More men charged with terror offences in east London
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From the Waltham Forest Guardian. 

The men were charged as part of an investigation by MI5 and the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command.

Umar Haque, 24, from Newham is accused of preparing to commit acts of terrorism and charged with four counts of possessing documents useful for committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

Muhammad Abid, 27, also from Newham is charged under terror laws with failing to disclose information about Haque.

Abuthaher Mamun, 18, from Barking is accused of preparing to assist another to commit acts of terrorism.

Nadeem Ilyas Patel, 25, also from Newham, is accused of conspiring with Haque to possess a firearm - or imitation firearm - with intent to cause fear or violence.

They will appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Friday.

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Posted on 05/26/2017 1:50 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 25 May 2017
Manchester attack: Fears over 'second bomb' after police find huge chemical explosive cache in Salman Abedi raid
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From The Telegraph

The Manchester suicide bomber may have built a second device which is now in the hands of fellow jihadists, police fear.

Officers who raided the home of Salman Abedi discovered a working bomb factory with a huge stash of explosive chemicals and other components.

Security sources now believe that Abedi assembled the bomb himself after learning his trade in Libya.

But the amount of material in his home has led to fears that he could have built more than one device and and distributed them to other British-based extremists. A security source told the Telegraph: "The worry is there was enough to build two or three bombs and we can't rule that out."

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Posted on 05/25/2017 5:03 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 25 May 2017
Is the Abedi family Islamikaze? Professor Israeli’s Letter to former Labor PM Tony Blair
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When I posted  on the NER/Iconoclast yesterday, "Who shares responsibility for the Suicide Bombing at the Manchester Arena?"  ,  we  criticized the track record of Conservative PM, Theresa May as former Home Secretary dealing with Islamist extremists in Britain’s midst.

Upon  publication  of the  NER/Iconoclast post we received an email from retired Hebrew University  Professor Raphael Israeli, author of a 2003 book, Islamikaze: Manifestations of Islamic MartyrologyIsraeli’s neologism appeared to us to  describe the  Islamic extremism of the Abedi family of Libyan refugees, among whose progeny was Salman, the  suicide bomber,  a “soldier of the Caliphate,” ISIS and Al Qaeda.  With the arrest in Libya of the father and a brother involved with  Islamic terrorism, perhaps they also might be deemed Islamikaze.  

Following the July 7, 2005 Islamikaze attacks on the London Transport system that killed 52, injuring over 700, Israeli sent a letter to then Labor PM Tony Blair. He criticized official condemnations of the worst Islamic terror attack in the UK as the act of ”criminals. ” Instead  Israeli suggested the UK government should brand the native born  Muslim youths as Islamikazes. Israeli argued  that by  identifying  them as  Islamikaze   it would  communicate that  the perpetrators  of this heinous attack were committing  the  “holy” act under Qur’anic doctrine. By do so they  became shahids, martyrs, sacrificing their lives to follow in the way of Allah;  jihad against Kufr, infidels, innocent fellow British citizens.

 

Former UK PM Tony Blair

What follows is Professor Israeli’s letter to the UK PM Tony Blair:

Professor Rapahel Israeli

On Hebrew University Letterhead

The Honorable Tony Blair

Prime  Minister

London

England                                                                                                14 July, 2005      

Dear Mr Prime Minister,

Like with most Israelis, my heart went for you and your people during the tragedy that  has been inflicted upon you. I hear many British officials stating their "shock" that the perpetrators were British, and the British public in general expressing their incredulousness that such a home-grown plight  could be permitted to develop  under the noses of the authorities.

More than two years ago my book entitled Islamikaze: Manifestations of Islamic Martyrology was published and distributed in London (Frank Cass, 2003), identifying the danger very concretely, with the names of its instigators and their deeds, including the young Britons from Leeds who were recruited and sent to Afghanistan to train for exactly this kind of horror. To my knowledge, no one in a position of responsibility heeded those warnings nor did anything about them. The wishful thinking of "peaceful Islam" and the liberal treatment of  Muslim  murderers who found refuge in Britain  overshadowed  all other considerations, and now the British common people are paying this horrendous price.

I was also struck by the announcement by the Chief of Scotland Yard to the effect that the perpetrators  were just "criminals", thus skirting their attributes of "Muslim fundamentalists" or "Islamikaze". Criminals  usually take their risks for economic gains which they try to enjoy by surviving and escaping punishment. Islamikaze, by contrast, are ideological murderers, who take risks and even sacrifice themselves  for an idea (of Islamic dominion) . To call them "suicide bombers" therefore, not only misses the point but may even evoke some sympathy for them and attempts to "understand" why they performed their abominable act.

A new thinking is needed, Mr Prime Minster, not only by England but also by the rest of Western countries in general if we are all to survive  and then overwhelm this relentless wave of Islamic terrorism (no other poor, disadvantaged, "frustrated" etc. group of people has ever launched such a murderous assault on  Western culture).

I have put in the mail, and will also channel via your Ambassador in Israel , the relevant pages from my book which have sounded the alarm two years ago, but were unfortunately ignored.

With my deepest respect and sympathy, I remain

Truly Yours,

Raphael Israeli,

Professor of Islamic History

Hebrew University

Jerusalem, ISRAEL

 

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Posted on 05/25/2017 12:03 PM by Jerry Gordon
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Thursday, 25 May 2017
Didsbury mosque distances itself from Manchester bomber
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On Tuesday they couldn't praise Papa Abedi enough (lovely man, lovely voice, and the boy was so quiet and respectful and devout). But now the information about the family jihad cell and the network is coming out...
From the Guardian and the Independent

A mosque attended by Salman Abedi and members of his family has called for anyone with information about the bombing to contact the police and attempted to distance itself from the attacker.

In a strongly worded statement, Didsbury mosque and Manchester Islamic Centre called the bombing an act of cowardice and insisted it had worked peacefully at the heart of the community for half a century.

The Manchester mosque where bomber Salman Abedi used to pray has accused the media of “manufacturing stories” after it was reported the attacker worked at the centre. Representatives for Manchester Islamic Centre expressed concern that a “small section” of the media were making “unfounded points without any verification.”

Spokesperson Fawzi Haffar denied Abedi had ever worked at the centre and condemned the “horrific atrocity” as having “no place in our religion.” He said: “Some media reports have reported that the bomber worked at the Manchester Islamic Centre. This is not true. I assure everyone, listeners, viewers in the UK, around the UK, this bomber has never worked in this centre. . ."

But the mosque and centre refused to answer questions about Abedi’s links with them. The Guardian has learned that his father worked at the mosque before leaving for Tripoli and one of the imams, Mohammed Saeed, has described how Abedi attended regularly and had once looked at him “with hate” when he gave a sermon criticising Isis and Ansar al-Sharia in Libya.

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Posted on 05/25/2017 10:35 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Thursday, 25 May 2017
Beltway Advice Won't Suffice for Central America
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by Steve Hecht

A new report is dominating discussion of Central America policy, but it glosses over one pivotal problem. The authors' deference to the status quo puts them at odds with the Trump administration's search for solutions to problems bleeding across our southern border.

The self-described nonpartisan Arsht Center of the Atlantic Council — funded in part by US taxpayers and foreign governments — issued the report on May 4: “A Blueprint for Central America’s Northern Triangle (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador).” 

Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly delivered the keynote for the report's release. He noted the US border “begins 1,500 miles south.” That's the 595-mile, very porous border between Mexico and Guatemala.

The report identifies a myriad of symptoms — horrors really — and proposes specific actions for the United States, mostly through the Alliance for Prosperity aid program:

Illicit activity combined with the push of migrants north, makes the region a national security priority.… Economic development, rule of law, and security in those countries will make the United States safer as well.

The authors, however, leave a gaping hole. They fail to mention lawless groups whose impunity stems from US policy. Today, successors of Castro-supported guerrillas dominate Guatemala’s rural areas and force inhabitants into their criminal agenda — from blocking police access to destroying factories and infrastructure. 

For the Atlantic Council's proposals to have their stated effect, undoing the Obama Administration's embrace of Castro-supported guerrillas in Guatemala is critical.  

Just as President Barack Obama pivoted towards Cuba, his State Department prevailed upon Guatemalan leaders. His agents got allies of guerrillas from Guatemala’s internal conflict (1960-96) appointed to government positions, which politicized a judiciary that now protects the leftists.

Political opposition to this policy has been muted by threats of prosecution and US visa cancellations. The US embassy has followed through, and retribution lurks via notorious violations of due process and law.

A key ally is the Orwellian, UN-backed Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Cicig), which the report wrongly praises. The UN secretary general appoints the Cicig Commissioner (Iván Velásquez), who names his staff. The United Nations does not audit the Cicig, nor does anyone else; its personnel are not subject to any law anywhere. The Cicig embodies impunity.  

To fortify their allies’ control over Guatemala, as Obama's holdovers leave the State Department, the Cicig commissioner and US Ambassador Todd Robinson are illegally pressuring the Guatemalan Congress to change the Constitution. The “reforms” violate the Alliance for Prosperity, because they degrade the judiciary and give it supremacy over the other branches.

The United States cannot help the Northern Triangle countries establish the rule of law if US officials act criminally and support criminal parties, a fact omitted by the Atlantic Council report. Further, without reliable oversight of the Cicig, we risk wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and putting national security at risk.

While Secretary Kelly has correctly stated that economic development and safety in the Northern Triangle are necessary, the anti-Trump bias of the report is hard to escape. The Atlantic Council webpage announcing the report blares, “Trump described Mexican migrants as rapists.” Immediately following, it quotes Secretary Kelly as saying migrants are “good people as a group,” implying a split with the president.

The report’s task force co-chair John Negroponte endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. He is unlikely to look into her secretary of state role as executor of the Obama policy, which continues under Ambassador Robinson. 

Hillary Clinton personally involved herself in Guatemalan affairs, including a phone call to Guatemala’s then president. Even after her tenure, she pressured him to reappoint a guerilla ally as attorney general.

Another co-chair, Eduardo Stein, former foreign minister and vice president of Guatemala, is the vice president of ASIES. This NGO backs the constitutional changes to consolidate power in the judiciary — the same judiciary that is shutting down businesses and supporting violations of due process against Robinson’s and Velásquez’s opponents.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Guatemala stated that a recent high-court suspension of hydroelectric plants opposed by "radical ideological...conflict groups" risks $4 billion investment, 445,000 jobs, and $780 million annual tax revenues.

The Guatemalan government's abandonment of rural areas to Obama’s allies nourishes drug and sex trafficking, extortion, potential terrorist crossings and illegal immigration. Technical help will not address these problems. Only law enforcement will, to the benefit of the oppressed rural population.

The immediate removal of Robinson and the encouragement of proper application of the law to Guatemala’s countryside would free the people and businesses to pursue their legitimate desires. The results would be increased security and control over the flow of illegal persons and contraband through what Secretary Kelly has recognized as our real southern border.

 
First published in the Impunity Observer
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Posted on 05/25/2017 7:08 AM by Steve Hecht
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Thursday, 25 May 2017
Here’s to the Winners in the Fight against Terrorists
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by Michael Curtis

Niccolo Machiavelli writing in 1513 did his best to warn Donald J. Trump. In Chapter VI of The Prince he wrote, "nothing is more difficult to set up ...than a new system of government, because the bringer of the new system will make enemies of everyone who did well under the old system, while those who do well under the new system still won't support it warmly."

This assertion has been confirmed by a report coming from the US Ivy League on May 23, 2017, specifically in a study by Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy. It reported that in the first 100 days of the Trump administration, the news coverage of it had been 80% negative to 29% negative, with CNN and NBC leading with a 93% negative tone, and the Wall Street Journal had 70% negative and even Fox News 52%.

These findings of course were obvious and hardly needed an elaborate statistical analysis, after the plentiful media coverage of mistakes by the new president and concentration like short sighted detectives on allegations and false information about connections of some kind between the U.S. administration and Russia. However, in view of recent events, what is surprising is that the negative tone was 82% on foreign policy and 70% on the threat of terrorism.  

It is probably true that President Trump does not know the name of the president of Romania or the prime minister of Estonia, is unaware of the relations between Albania and Kosovo, and has no insight on whether Montenegro should become the 29th member of NATO. But he is right on two far more important issues: the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East; and on the main contemporary issue of foreign affairs, overcoming and ending the threat of Islamic terrorists, the crucial issue today.  

That reassertion was forcefully made in Trump’s address on May 21, 2017 to the large number of Arab leaders in the palace of the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, an address that can be considered a belated reaction to the speech of President Barack Obama in Cairo on June 4, 2009. Predictably, the major media were critical of the Trump speech for not dealing with the problem of women’s rights and human rights in general, the need for political reform in Saudi Arabia, or Arab political instability.

In an academic paper, or in the U.S. Congress, this criticism would be wholly in order, but Trump explained “we are not here to lecture, to tell other people how to live.” Instead the US was offering partnership with countries, even those that have autocratic or less than democratic systems, who are pursuing the same objectives as the U.S. in fighting terrorists.

What is new and important is the dramatic change in the U.S. from the policy or non-policy of President Obama on Middle Eastern issues. Those policies meant no intervention against the Assad regime in Syria, even after the “red line” was crossed, lack of support for President Hosni Mubarak in 2011, tacit approval of the Muslim Brotherhood, less than enthusiastic support of Israel, coolness toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and a nuclear deal at all costs with Iran.

Whatever one’s opinion of Obama policies they were interpreted as weakness which in the Middle East is said to breed contempt. Obama’s policy was unwelcome and criticized by Saudi Arabian leaders. King Abdullah often urged the U.S. to “cut off the head of the snake” by destroying Iran’s nuclear program. He declared his country was disturbed by President Assad’s war against the Sunni majority in Syria, including his use of chemical weapons against civilians, and by the Syrian subservience to Iran. Because of American policy and United Nations inaction on Syria the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, in September 2013 cancelled his speech to the UN General Assembly.

A month later, Saudi Arabia rejected the offer to be a member of the UN Security Council for two years as a non-permanent member because of its frustration at US policy, and the UN inaction. The Saudis called for comprehensive reform of the UN system based among other things on regional balance. Saudi Arabia however was ironically elected to a three year seat on the UN Human Rights Council, and is a member of UNESCO.

Saudi criticism of President Obama intensified as a result of the article in The Atlantic, April 2016 which repeated the President’s earlier comment that a number of American allies in the Persian Gulf were “free riders,” eager to drag the U.S. into conflicts that had little to do with American interests. The strongest rebuke and undiplomatic tongue lashing came on March 14, 2016 from Prince Turki al-Faisal, head of intelligence and former ambassador to the U.S.  He replied directly to Obama, “We are not the free riders to whom you refer. We lead from the front and we accept our mistakes and rectify them.”

That rectification may now be starting. Saudi Arabia because of the strong influence of Wahhabism in decision making has long been responsible for spreading religious Sunni extremism and consequent jihadism. President Trump himself was suspicious of the country for aiding the 9/11 terrorists. The Saudi position now appears to have changed and overlaps with that of the U.S. President on crucial issues. Saudi leaders and the Gulf Cooperation Council  now unequivocally reject jihadism and have agreed to join Trump not only in the fight against Islamic terrorists but also in limiting the power of Iran. That country, the leading Shia state, must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon, and must cease immediately its funding, training, and equipping of terrorists and expansion of military forces.

The primary objection to the Trump initiative is that Saudi Arabia is hardly the epitome of democracy. Serious disconcerting factors remain. Most obvious is the gender rights gap. Women are discriminated against in marriage, divorce, child custody, inheritance, property ownership. Guardianship of women is still the rule, education is single sex, and women are still not permitted to drive a car. The Sunni Muslim religion is dominant and final political decisions are made by the Ayatollah and religious dignitaries. Moreover, there is religious intolerance. No non-Muslim clergy can enter the country to conduct services. The country has a poor human rights record, being marked by a considerable number, perhaps 3000, political prisoners, and the judicial system is characterized by arbitrary arrest, secret trials, and long detention periods.

Yet change, small as it is, has been occurring in the country. In 2013, three women were appointed to the 150 member Shura Council, a consultative body. Women can now vote and be candidates in municipal elections. Women can run businesses, including law firms, and newspapers. They publish novels and direct films. There are more women than men in higher education, and a considerable number of the total of 150,000 who study abroad are women.

This is only slow progress but should not prevent common policy by the US and the Saudis on the main issues. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted that common dangers are turning former enemies into partners. The old saying is still pertinent, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Put forthrightly, the enemy of Iran is a friend of the U.S. and of Israel. For all three countries, Iran is an existential threat, and all agree that Iran must not have nuclear enriched facilities, or stockpiles of enriched material. 

The Trump visit, both in its symbolic and realistic aspects, cannot end sectarian rivalries, the endless and brutal war in Syria or the reality of Arab political instability in the Middle East, or terrorist activity against Israelis. It was telling that on the very same day as Trump’s visit to Israel, Palestinian terrorists were active in the coastal city of Netanya, stabbing an Israeli police officer, and in Abu Dis, attempting to strike another police officer. Moreover, and again on the same day, Palestinian TV featured a woman terrorist, who had murdered 16 Israelis, declaring that “We long for the days of the Intifada, the days of the revolution.”

Yet, though the continuation of terrorist attacks is troubling and needs to be ended, the Trump visit in an optimistic way signifies two possibilities. One is a major shift by Saudi Arabia, which already benefits from US arms sales and infrastructure investments, and other Sunni countries, towards common action with the U.S. The continuation of this is all the more meaningful considering that two thirds of the Saudi population is under 30, and almost half of the 27 million people is below the age of  24. The other is that it may at last create the conditions for negotiation of a peaceful settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. 

Not everyone relishes President Trump’s blunt language and not all will agree with his plainspoken and straightforward and Frank Sinatra-like description of terrorists as “losers,” or his portraying the fight against them as one of good against evil. But, without denying other serious Middle East problems, no one can mistake the essential objective is to defeat the Islamic terrorists, especially ISIS and al-Qaeda, who threaten the world and the urgent need to crush their hateful millenarian ideology. Significantly, British Prime Minister Theresa May on May 23, 2017 after the terrorist bombing in Manchester, England, vowed “to take on and defeat the ideology that often fuels this violence.” The improbable coalition of countries must focus on ending the violence of Islamist extremists.

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Posted on 05/25/2017 6:40 AM by Michael Curtis
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Wednesday, 24 May 2017
Christian Broadcasting Network docudrama In Our Hands-The Battle for Jerusalem – a review
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Last night, the eve of Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day in Israel , upwards of 400,000  people in 700+ theaters across America watched the engrossing, and at times emotionally charged, Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN ) production of In Our Hands-The Battle for Jerusalem.  Those of us  who were young adults in 1967, with  fear and anxiety were  glued to transistor radios waiting to  hear whether Israel would survive annihilation.   Viewing this excellent factually based production with superb Israeli casting brought back memories of the miracles and sacrifices made by the heroic and valiant commanders,  soldiers, airmen and sailors of the T'zahal. 

Mike Bates  and I had interviewed Shoshana Bryen , senior director of the Washington, DC - based Jewish Policy Center about the legacy of the June 1967 Six Day War that we published in the NER/Iconoclast.  She  discussed the significance of how the stunning victory against enormous odds transformed the Israel that we have come to know, today: happy, confident, a technological powerhouse with a global reach and democratic, with a small “d” ally of the US in the Middle East.

For those of us who have served in the military the camaraderie, heroic resolve and raw emotions of liberation and reunification of Jerusalem, the eternal capital of modern Israel,  depicted in the film gave it persuasive power.  The interaction between  Col. Mordechai “Motta” Gur,  charismatic commander of the 55th Brigade and his intelligence officer , Arik Achmon, as well as  combat battalion and company commanders had the ring of truth. As an ex US Army Intelligence officer, I appreciated the scenes between Gur and Achmon when he dragooned the  later away from his  Economics studies at Hebrew University to ‘learn’ how to be his intelligence officer. Then there was the exchange when in preparation for the War, Gur  asked Achmon  to prepare a  battle plan for a jump  by the 2,000 strong brigade  into the Egyptian town of El Arish behind enemy lines.  Then , Gur informed Major Achmon that plans had been changed, and  in less than 10 hours he had to prepare for the critical Battle of Jerusalem. 

In Our Hands deftly segues between dramatized exchanges like these and interviews with the Achmon, 71st battalion company commander Zamosh, the son of the 66 Battalion commander killed leading troopers in the ‘alley of death, battle,’ when they had lost their way and were confronted with Jordanian fighters. The depiction of the bloody battle of Ammunition Hill, reminiscent of WWI trench  warfare was realistically portrayed. The episode commentary  noted  that 39 IDF troopers and  71 Jordanian Legionaries  were killed  and many maimed and wounded  on the Israeli side. The surviving  troopers of the Ammunition Hill Battle in the film version are shown digging a mass grave for the Jordanian dead. Later there is the recollection of a meeting between a brigade  survivor and a Jordanian legionnaire commander at an occasion 45 years after the battle for Ammunition Hill when they could laugh and talk of peace.

  In Our Hands depicts a dinner given by a Jewish family in Jerusalem on the eve of the battle that was most effective.  An 86 year old grandmother, a refugee from the Jewish Quarter  in the Old City overrun by Jordanian legionnaires brings out an Israeli flag that had been taken down when she and 1,600 others were forced to leave at the end of the siege.  She  gifted it to Zamosh with the hope  for returning  to fly from the Temple Mount.

One  Battle for Jerusalem episode depicts Gur confronted by IDF Chaplain Rabbi Goren who had driven by jeep from the front in El Arish in the Sinai running breathlessly carrying a torah and shofar to pray at the eventual  breakthrough at  the Temple Mount. Goren urges Gur not to wait for orders from General Uzi  Narkiss of the Central Command. Nevertheless, with Jerusalem surrounded on all sides there is a dramatized conference on the southern overlook involving fabled Gen. Moshe Dayan, IAF operations Commander Ezer Weizmann, General Narkis and Col. Gur when the decision is made, despite some trepidations. to enter the Old City.  In Our Hands shows archival color footage of the breach of Lions Gate and audio of the race to the Western Wall and Temple Mount, amidst sniper fire with Gur’s dramatic  radio transmission, “the Temple Mount is in our hands.”

Gur’s intrepid troopers find a ladder and scamper up with Zamosh’s gifted  Israel flag to fly it from the Dome of the Rock Mosque.  Minister of Defense, Dayan sees the act of reclaiming Jewish sovereignty and requests Gur by radio to have it taken down.  That act of Dayan redounds to this 50th Commemoration given the unresolved  matter of  Israel’s sovereignty over its eternal capital of Jerusalem.  The flag is then flown on the Temple Mount fence overlooking the Western Wall. The dramatized scene of two soldiers at the wall, one Orthodox, the other secular, the latter being  trained to pray the shema was most effective. Another touching scene was Gur breaking down when he asked Achmon to read the list of the 55th brigade fallen in the retaking of  Jerusalem.  55th  brigade commander Gur eventually becomes IDF Chief of Staff and enters politics to serve in Israel’s Knesset. Tragically he took his own life after contracting terminal cancer at the age of 65.

Gordon Robertson, head of CBN and  producer of its Israel documentaries  of which , In Our Hands was the latest, is shown narrating a 10 minute afterward using scripture from Old and New Testaments about the Jewish heritage of Ha  Shem’s gift to his covenanted people of Jerusalem.  Robertson  addressed the attack on Israel’s legal and biblical claims to Jerusalem in UNSC 2334 passed in December 2016 with a 14 to 1 abstention by the former Obama  US Ambassador  to the UN,  Samantha Power. He notes the election of President Trump with  promises to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem and long delayed move of the US Embassy to Israel’s capital.  However,  following the President’s  first trip to Israel and dramatic pictures of him and his entourage  praying for the Peace of Jerusalem at the Kotel or Western Wall appears not in the cards in the foreseeable future. 

We commend your reading and viewing  the video excerpts in Professor Miriam  Elman’s review published  Legal  Insurrection of the CBN production of In Our Hands-The Battle for Jerusalem. It sent an important message about the legacy  of the June Six Days War in 1967 portrayed vividly in the CBN docudrama emblazoned on every Hanukkah dreidel: Nes Gadol Hayah Sham – "a great miracle happened there".

If you missed the one night showing of In our Hands reprise performances in selected theaters as well as the eventual sales of DVDs by CBN.

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Posted on 05/24/2017 6:20 PM by Jerry Gordon
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Wednesday, 24 May 2017
Manchester attack latest: Bomber's brother 'was aware of all details' and 'planned own terror attack'
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A fifth suspect, believed to be carrying a package, has been arrested in Wigan today as detectives probe a "network" linked to the Manchester suicide bomber.

The man was taken into custody in connection with Monday night's attack and officers are assessing the package, Greater Manchester Police said.

Meanwhile, the terrorist's father and brother were detained in Libya while police have confirmed that an off-duty female police officer was among the 22 people killed in the attack.

Libyan security forces said the brother "was aware of all the details" of attack plans.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins has said officers are investigating associates of Salman Abedi when asked if they are seeking a "bomb maker".

Abedi's father Ramadan has reportedly been detained by Libyan counter terrorism police while recording television interviews, according to ITV News.

It follows an interview in which he denied his son Salman's involvement in the blast and said: "We don't believe in killing innocents. This is not us."

Abedi's younger brother Hashem has also reportedly been arrested in Tripoli, Libya, on suspicion of having links to the Islamic State group that claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Posted on 05/24/2017 1:00 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 24 May 2017
Two dead in suspected suicide bombing in Jakarta
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From Reuters

Indonesian police said on Wednesday that a suspected suicide bomber and a police officer were killed in explosions near a bus station in the eastern part of the capital, Jakarta.

There were two blasts in Kampung Melayu that went off five minutes apart late in the evening, police said in a statement. It said some people, including police officers, were wounded and being taken to a nearby hospital.

Authorities in the world's biggest Muslim-majority nation have been increasingly worried about a resurgence in radicalism, driven in part by a new generation of militants inspired by Islamic State. There has been a series of low-level attacks linked to Islamic State since January 2016, when four militants mounted a gun and bomb assault in the heart of Jakarta.

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Posted on 05/24/2017 11:45 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 24 May 2017
Who shares responsibility for the Suicide Bombing at the Manchester Arena?
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Salman Abedi at Mosque Class in Manchester UK

The emerging profile of 22 year  Salman Abedi, the home grown  suicide bomber or shahid (martyr) who perpetrated the Manchester Arena massacre, whose family were Libyan refugees, raises questions about the political future of UK Prime Minister Theresa  May in the looming June 10, snap elections called over the Brexit impasse.  Abedi was claimed by ISIS as one of their own, “a solider of the Caliphate.”  With arrests of four suspects, following the Manchester Arena massacre, police are now saying “we may be dealing with a network.”  The Manchester Arena attack triggered UK PM May ordering the deployment of thousands of soldiers to prevent an imminent attack after raising the threat level to the highest level, “critical.”

 

 In the wake of the dastardly Manchester Arena bombing that killed 22 people, especially young girls, injuring 59, many with life threatening wounds, questions abound about the policies May implemented as former UK Home Minister.  May had been the long term Home Minister in the former Cameron Conservative governments.  Her  track record on lax immigration controls and surveillance of radical Muslim communities  ironically may have contributed to the massive  terror explosion at 10:30PM at the close of US pop star Ariane Grande’s concert that shredded the lives of those killed and injured with  a bomb loaded  with  deadly shrapnel of nuts and bolts.

Here’s what we know about Abedi, the perpetrator of this heinous attack on the 20,000 attendees at Ms. Grande’s Manchester Arena concert.  Police obtained a photo ID card from his remains identifying him as the suspected bomber. They stormed his residence in South Manchester seeking information about both him and possible jihadist network connections.    He was born in the UK to Libyan refugee parents who lived in a tight émigré community.  He prayed at a Mosque with known Al Qaeda connections to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.   A number of worshippers who left to join ISIS as foreign fighters.

Abedi had made numerous trips to Libya following the fall of the Gadaffi regime and may have received training in bomb making with powerful ingredients.  His travels to and from Libya must have put him on the Mi-5 watch list. Abedi had enrolled at a local university studying business management. He appears to have enrolled for the 2016 academic year but not attended classes. More concerning was he had outward vestiges of becoming radical such as wearing a long Islamic Islamic gabilla gown, Kufi skull cap and growing a beard. 

Note what this UK Telegraph article revealed, “Everything we know about Salman Abedi, named as the Manchester suicide bomber;”

Salman Abedi, 22, who was reportedly known to the security services, is thought to have returned from Libya as recently as this week.

A school friend told The Times: "He went to Libya three weeks ago and came back recently, like days ago."

He had become radicalized recently - it is not entirely clear when - and had worshipped at a local mosque that has, in the past, been accused of fundraising for jihadists.

Abedi’s older brother Ismail had been a tutor at Didsbury mosque’s Koran school. The imam last night said that Salman Abedi, who wore Islamic dress, had shown him “the face of hate” when he gave a talk warning on the dangers of so-called Islamic State.

His mother, Samia Tabbal, 50, and father, Ramadan Abedi, a security officer, were both born in Tripoli but appear to have emigrated to London before moving to the Whalley Range area of south Manchester where they have lived for at least a decade.

Abedi went to school locally and then on to Salford University in 2014 where he studied business management before dropping out. His trips to Libya, where it is thought his parents returned in 2011 following Gaddafi’s overthrow, are now subject to scrutiny including links to jihadists.

A group of Gaddafi dissidents, who were members of the outlawed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), lived within close proximity to Abedi in Whalley Range.

[…]

Among them was Abd al-Baset Azzouz, a father-of-four from Manchester, who left Britain to run a terrorist network in Libya overseen by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s successor as leader of al-Qaeda.

Azzouz, 48, an expert bomb-maker, was accused of running an al-Qaeda network in eastern Libya. The Telegraph reported in 2014 that Azzouz had 200 to 300 militants under his control and was an expert in bomb-making.

Another member of the Libyan community in Manchester, Salah Aboaoba told Channel 4 news in 2011 that he had been fund raising for LIFG while in the city. Aboaoba had claimed he had raised funds at Didsbury mosque, the same mosque attended by Abedi. The mosque at the time vehemently denied the claim. “This is the first time I’ve heard of the LIFG. I do not know Salah,” a mosque spokesman said at the time.

At the Abedi family home in Elsmore Road, a non-descript red-brick terrace, neighbors told how Abedi had become increasingly devout and withdrawn.

Lina Ahmed, 21, said: “They are a Libyan family and they have been acting strangely. A couple of months ago he [Salman] was chanting the first kalma [Islamic prayer] really loudly in the street. He was chanting in Arabic.

“He was saying ‘There is only one God and the prophet Mohammed is his messenger’.’

A family friend, who described the Abedis as “very religious”, said most of the family had returned to Libya, leaving only Salman and his older brother Ismail behind.

UK PM Theresa May

 Source: The Independent

 

As to why UK PM Theresa May is partly to blame for the lax surveillance of radicals like suicide bomber Abedi, we turn to a UK Spectator article in July 2016 by Jonathan Foreman about May’s track record as Home Secretary under former Conservative PM David Cameron, “Theresa May’s record as Home Secretary is alarming, not reassuring.”  Foreman wrote:

Despite her carefully fostered reputation for toughness, Mrs. May’s record on extremism is perhaps the least impressive aspect of her checkered tenure at the Home Office. Any public official who seriously addresses radicalization, ghettoization and extremism risks being labeled an Islamophobe or worse. It takes a brave politician, one more committed to doing the right thing than to securing a glorious political future, to take on this hornets’ nest; Mrs. May was not such a politician. This began to be clear during the Trojan Horse affair, when official reluctance to confront radicalization in Birmingham schools prompted a concerned Education Secretary to venture onto the Home Secretary’s turf. (Her characteristic fury at this trespass was damaging to both departments at the time, and may well wreak havoc into the new government. Certainly her firing of Michael Gove’s as Justice Minister, despite the fact that his incomplete prison reforms have been universally lauded, looks like a destructive act of petty vengeance and personal spite.)

[…]

It became more apparent when Mrs. May, having delivered some appropriate sound-bites, avoided potential career-inhibiting controversy by ensuring that the Home Office’s efforts to deal with tricky issues like female genital mutilation, honor killings and forced marriage remained as low key – and low impact – as possible. But it is even more obvious in the investigation Mrs. May eventually set up into whether Britain’s Sharia courts, some legal, some not, might possibly discriminate against women in matters of divorce, domestic violence and child custody, as a result of a ‘misuse’ of Sharia teaching. (In the past the Home Secretary has implicitly claimed a surprising intimacy with Islamic law and political thought, asserting in 2014 that the actions of Isis ‘have absolutely no basis in anything written in the Koran.’)

[…]

Then there was the cynical political correctness. Mrs. May talked about coming down hard on hate crimes and lambasted the police about a lack of diversity. But she abjectly failed to identify the child rape rings of Rotherham, Rochdale, Sheffield, Bradford and Oxford as the racially and ethnically motivated hate crimes that they were.  [SEE:  Peter McLoughlin, Easy Meat:  inside Britain’s Grooming Gang Scandal,   New English Review Press, 2016.]

[…]

May has also done little to reverse various policing trends that have alienated the public from the police, including the abandonment of neighborhood policing, the substitution of decoy-like PCSOs and CCTV for beat patrols, and the massaging of crime statistics, At the same time Mrs. May has given the nod to massive, transformative budget cuts that may genuinely make Britain’s police forces unfit for purpose.

 

[…]

 

As the then shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper pointed out, three years after May took over the ministry, the number of people refused entry had dropped by 50 per cent, the backlog of finding failed asylum seekers had gone up, the number of foreign prisoners removed had gone down, and the number of illegal immigrants deported had also gone down. Tens of thousands of international students kicked out of the country by the Home Office – in a panicked response to a TV documentary about a test cheating scam – then turned out to have been wrongly deported.

UK PM  Theresa May’s track record as Home Secretary may now been thrust into the public limelight as a result of the Manchester Arena massacre by  UK born  Jihadist, the late Salman Abedi.  The prior neglect by Mi-5 and UK security services monitoring jihadists in the country’s midst may impact on the looming snap election originally called to empower her to resolve the Brexit impasse. With her raising  the terror threat to its highest level in the UK following the Manchester Arena attack, perhaps Conservative backbenchers might question her policies and performance.

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Posted on 05/24/2017 11:27 AM by Jerry Gordon
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Wednesday, 24 May 2017
The bomber - Salman Abedi: A quiet university dropout whose father left Britain to run terrorist network in Libya
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One wonders why they were allowed to remain in the country. They were hardly at risk from the regime in Libya they made so many visits to and fro. From the Telegraph

The Manchester Arena suicide bomber had made trips to Libya as intelligence agencies combed his connections with al-Qaeda and Islamic State in his parents’ homeland.

Salman Abedi, 22, who was reportedly known to the security services, is thought to have returned from Libya as recently as this week.

A school friend told The Times: "He went to Libya three weeks ago and came back recently, like days ago.

Abedi born in Manchester and grew up in tight-knit Libyan community that was known for its strong opposition to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. He had become radicalised recently - it is not entirely clear when - and had worshipped at a local mosque that has, in the past, been accused of fundraising for jihadists.

Abedi’s older brother Ismail had been a tutor at Didsbury mosque’s Koran school. The imam last night said that Salman Abedi, who wore Islamic dress, had shown him “the face of hate” when he gave a talk warning on the dangers of so-called Islamic State.

His mother, Samia Tabbal, 50, and father, Ramadan Abedi, a security officer, were both born in Tripoli but appear to have emigrated to London before moving to the Whalley Range area of south Manchester where they had lived for at least a decade.

Abedi went to school locally and then on to Salford University in 2014 where he studied business management before dropping out. His trips to Libya, where it is thought his parents returned in 2011 following Gaddafi’s overthrow, are now subject to scrutiny including links to jihadists.

A group of Gaddafi dissidents, who were members of the outlawed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), lived within close proximity to Abedi in Whalley Range.

Among them was Abd al-Baset Azzouz, a father-of-four from Manchester, who left Britain to run a terrorist network in Libya overseen by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s successor as leader of al-Qaeda. Azzouz, 48, an expert bomb-maker, was accused of running an al-Qaeda network in eastern Libya. The Telegraph reported in 2014 that Azzouz had 200 to 300 militants under his control and was an expert in bomb-making.

Another member of the Libyan community in Manchester, Salah Aboaoba told Channel 4 news in 2011 that he had been fund raising for LIFG while in the city. Aboaoba had claimed he had raised funds at Didsbury mosque, the same mosque attended by Abedi. The mosque at the time vehemently denied the claim. “This is the first time I’ve heard of the LIFG. I do not know Salah,” a mosque spokesman said at the time. 

At the mosque, Mohammed Saeed El-Saeiti, the imam at the Didsbury mosque yesterday branded Abedi an dangerous extremist. And you reported him under the Prevent programme when?

Salman visited the mosque on a number of occasions to pray, but the imam insisted “he was not my friend, he is not close..." 

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Posted on 05/24/2017 9:34 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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