Nuclear Deal, Iran’s Missiles, & U.S. Sanctions by Raymond Tanter

 

 

 

Raymond Tanter

20 JUNE 2017,

Nuclear Deal, Iran’s Missiles, & U.S. Sanctions

Breaking News

On June 18, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched several midrange missiles from western Iran across Iraq and hit sources in Syria of Islamic State (ISIS) attacks on Tehran on June 7. In the context of these strikes, consider revelations about Iran’s missile sites on June 20 by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) office in the United States (The People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, PMOI aka Mujahedeen-e-Khalq MEK is the largest unit in the NCRI.)

Nuclear negotiations between Iran and the major powers began during 2013 and culminated in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015. Thereafter, the IRGC intensified its activities to develop and expand Tehran’s missile program based on orders of the regime’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, per the NCRI revelations on June 20.

Evidence:

The NCRI verified locations of over three dozen centers involved in the production, testing, and launching of missiles by the IRGC. A dozen of these sites were exposed for the first time. The NCRI identified 42 IRGC missile centers involved in production, testing, storage, launch, and command. There are 15 that are part of Tehran’s missile manufacturing network.

The centers for building and testing missiles are in Iran’s central regions. Sites for medium-range ballistic missile launches are mostly in Iran’s western mountain regions, and central regions. In the southern provinces, missile launch centers are aimed at the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. The location of these centers across Iran suggests IRGC missile objectives are oriented toward Iran’s western and southern borders.

The Nuclear Deal and U.S. Sanctions

The nuclear accord imposes few restrictions on Iran regarding ballistic missiles and does not prohibit new sanctions from being levied on Iran. UNSCR 2231, which gave international legal authority to the nuclear deal, “called upon (Iran) not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons,” but Tehran vowed to ignore the Resolution. UNSCR 2231 does not prohibit new sanctions from being imposed on Iran, providing an occasion for President Trump to review the nuclear deal. The President told Secretary Tillerson on Apr. 19 to announce Iran is in compliance with the accord but also said the National Security Council (NSC) had 90 days to finish the review, which is coming up in July.

Meanwhile, on June 15, The Senate voted 98-2 in favor of a bill to impose new U.S. sanctions to target Iran’s ballistic missile program, its support for terrorism, and human rights violations.

The Way Forward

First, one outcome of the NSC review should be that the nuclear deal be modified to include ballistic missile research, development, and testing by Tehran. Trump should order the NSC to consider the testimony during passage of the June sanctions bill to justify pressing Iran to accept new restraints on its missiles. And the President should insist the NSC and State include evidence proffered by the NCRI on June 20 to justify revisions of the accord.

Second, the review should mention the NCRI as having provided valid evidence on prior violations by the Iranian regime regarding nuclear sites, testing of trigger mechanisms for nuclear weapons, and the most recent revelations on June 20 concerning ballistic missiles. The NCRI office on Pennsylvania Ave is a stone’s throw from the White House. If its delegation met with the President in the Oval Office and briefed his NSC staff in the Situation Room, it would indicate the tide is turning even further against Tehran. Such sessions with the main opposition to Tehran would place pressure on Iran to renegotiate the nuclear deal.

Third, if President Trump tweets about the Iran Freedom Rally on July 1 in Paris, he will see policies espoused there don’t require compromising on his policy of putting “America first.”

A bipartisan group of present and former legislators have attended or plan to attend the rally. Even more noteworthy, on Apr. 14, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), visited Albania to meet with NCRI officials, including its president-elect, Maryam Rajavi.

There is support across the aisle in Congress to back the NCRI. It has received about three decades of bipartisan congressional support. See H.Con.Res.159– introduced in Nov. 2016 by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and ranking member Elliot Engel (D-N.Y.), as well as Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.).

Although it is standard operating procedure for American Embassy officials to accompany congressional delegations (CODELS), it is remarkable that the Deputy Chief of the U.S. Mission and many of our Embassy staff in Tirana were in the presence of NCRI officials. It is hard to conceive of that situation occurring in the Obama-Kerry era!

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Raymond Tanter :

Prof. Raymond Tanter (@AmericanCHR) served as a senior member on the Middle East Desk of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration, Personal Representative of the Secretary of Defense to international security and arms control talks in Europe, and is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. Tanter is on the comprehensive list of conservative writers and columnists who appear in The Wall Street Journal, Townhall.com, National Review, The Weekly Standard, Human Events, The American Spectator, and now in Newsmax.

 

 

 

TWO ALLEGED HEZBOLLAH JIHADISTS ARRESTED IN U.S. by Michael Cutler

Editor’s Note: From our great friend and regular SUA contributor, Michael Cutler, retired Senior Special Agent of the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) whose career spanned some 30 years. He has testified before well over a dozen congressional hearings.

He hosts “The Michael Cutler Hour” on USA Talk Radio Fridays at 7 p.m. (EST) and is frequently interviewed by broadcast media on various aspects of immigration issues, especially the nexus to national security.

 

TWO ALLEGED HEZBOLLAH JIHADISTS ARRESTED IN U.S.

Immigration (naturalization) was the key to their terrorist activities.

June 19, 2017

By Michael Cutler

 

On June 8, 2017  the Department of Justice issued a press release, Two Men Arrested for Terrorist Activities on Behalf of Hizballah’s Islamic Jihad Organization.

As you will see, terrorists understand that naturalization enables them to act as “Sleepers” and hide in plain sight in the United States and facilitate their movement around the world where they threaten our allies and other countries.

While it is reassuring that these two terror suspects have been taken into custody, charged with an extensive list of terror-related crimes, the criminal complaints, filed in conjunction with this case note the extremely disturbing fact that these defendants as well as others, both known and unknown, committed overt acts in support of Hezbollah that are enumerated in the complaints concerning Samer el Debek, a/k/a Samer Eldebek and Ali Mohamad Kourani, a/k/a Jacob Lewis, a/k/a Daniel

In other words, while these two are out of action, others are still “out there” and may not all be known to law enforcement.  That chilling prospect is certainly not conducive to getting a good night’s sleep.

The press releasee, important to read in its entirety, also included this excerpt:

Ali Kourani, 32, of the Bronx, New York, and Samer el Debek, 37, of Dearborn, Michigan, aka, “Samer Eldebek,” were arrested on Thursday, June 1, on charges related to their alleged activities on behalf of Hizballah, a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana Boente, Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim for the Southern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. of the FBI’s New York Office, and Commissioner James P. O’Neill of the NYPD made the announcement.

Acting U.S. Attorney Kim said: “Today, we announce serious terrorism charges against two men who allegedly trained with and supported the Islamic Jihad Organization, a component of the foreign terrorist organization Hizballah.  Recruited as Hizballah operatives, Samer El Debek and Ali Kourani allegedly received military-style training, including in the use of weapons like rocket-propelled grenade launchers and machine guns for use in support of the group’s terrorist mission.  At the direction of his Hizballah handlers, El Debek 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. Kourani allegedly conducted surveillance of potential targets in America, including military and law enforcement facilities in New York City. Thanks to the outstanding work of the FBI and NYPD, the allegedly destructive designs of these two Hizballah operatives have been thwarted, and they will now face justice in a Manhattan federal court.”

It is important to note that, allegedly, they were both given military training overseas, tasked with conducting surveillance at military bases, law enforcement facilities and critical infrastructure in New York City and elsewhere and with establishing contacts who could provide them with weapons.

Recently I wrote about the ENLIST Act: When “Compassion” Endangers National Security.  This ill-conceived legislation would reward illegal aliens with a pathway to lawful immigrant status and put them on the pathway to U.S. citizenship if they serve in the U.S. military.

Aliens who are involved with terrorism could exploit this program to gain access to military bases, military training and military weapons in the United States.

Both of the defendants are naturalized United States citizens and, in point of fact, the New York Times article about this investigation, Bronx Man Accused of Casing J.F.K. Airport for Potential Hezbollah Attack included this paragraph:

The man, Ali Kourani, a 32-year-old naturalized citizen from Lebanon, told the F.B.I. in a series of interviews that he believed he had been recruited to join Hezbollah’s Islamic Jihad Organization as part of an effort to develop “sleepers” who lived ostensibly normal lives but could be “activated and tasked” with conducting operations, the complaint said.

“Sleeper Cells” are an area of concern for our law enforcement agencies and I have addressed this vulnerability in some of my Congressional testimony and in some of  my articles such as, Sleeper Cells: The Immigration Component of the Threat.

Often terrorist sleepers seek to acquire lawful immigration status by submitting fraud-laden applications for immigration benefits such as  falsely claiming political asylum, by acquiring resident alien status and ultimately, attaining U.S. citizenship through the naturalization process, concealing their connections with terrorist organization and their overt and covert actions.

The New York Times article went on to note:

Mr. Kourani said in the interviews that he had been allowed to attend a Hezbollah “boot camp” in Lebanon when he was 16 years old because of his family’s connections to a high-ranking Hezbollah official, according to the complaint.

“Kourani considers his family name to be akin to the ‘bin Ladens of Lebanon,’ and one of his brothers is the ‘face of Hezbollah’ in Yater, Lebanon,” the complaint said.

Mr. Kourani said he had been recruited to join the organization in 2008, in light of his education and because he lived in the United States, the authorities said in the complaint. They said that he had told the authorities that one of his first instructions from his “handler” in Lebanon, a man called Fadi, was to obtain American citizenship as soon as possible, which he did in 2009.

Given the above paragraph, apparently Terrorists Value U.S. Citizenshp More Than Our Politicians Do.

If, in fact, Kourani’s family’s relationship wth Hezbollah was so public, the obvious question is how he could have been naturalized or, going further back, how could he have been lawfully admitted into the United States in the first place?

All applicants for United States citizenship are supposed to undergo a “Good Moral Character Investigation.”  This is supposed to be a far more stringent investigation than simply running fingerprints to search for any criminal history, but has been all but eliminated by a succession of administrations.

As United States citizens these alleged terrorists could use their U.S. passports  to keep a lower profile, gain access to corporate and government office buildings and access to airliners.  They use their may use their U.S. passports to get jobs that may have national security or critical infrastructure implications and to more easily gain entry into countries that might have required that they apply for and receive visas before seeking entry.

Furthermore, having multiple passports makes it easier for terrorists and transnational criminals to cover their tracks by using their passport alternately as they travel around the world.

The complaint filed in the Eastern District of New York concerning defendant El Derek includes this statement by FBI Special Agent Daniel M. Ganci:

“El Debek said he was first recruited by Hizballah in late 2007 or early 2008 and began to receive a salary from Hizballah shortly thereafter.  Although El Debek said he did not know why he was recruited, he said he believed he was recruited because he held a U.S. passport.”

That complaint, in articulating in part, the justification for declaring Hizballah (Hezbollah) a terrorist organization, reported on four individuals who were Lebanese dual-nationals who acquired citizenship in Sweden, France and Canada and had carried out activities in support of Hezbollah’s acts of terrorism, murder and violence in the Middle East and elsewhere as members of IJO (Islamic Jihad Organization).

It is important to note that those three countries are all Visa Waiver countries.

For example, at the time of his arrest in Cyprus in 2015 Bassam Abdallah, a Lebanese-Canadian possessed a fraudulent passport when he was found in possession of 8.2 tons of ammonium nitrate.

There are those who claim that young people turn to terrorism because of a lack of opportunities and hence, poverty, however, the New York Times article also reported:

The complaint said that Mr. Kourani had also obtained a bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering in 2009, and in 2013, a master of business administration. The complaint did not identify the colleges, but a LinkedIn page for a man with his name who obtained those degrees in those years identifies the schools as City College of New York and DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management.

Kourani’s engineering degree could be described as a case of Educating ‘Engineers of Jihad’ at US Universities and certainly equipped with him with the essential skills to carry out sophisticated terror attacks in the United States.

In point of fact, the ability of terrorists to acquire such high tech training at U.S. universities that would thereby enable them to construct weapons of mass destruction was a concern voiced by Senator Feinstein at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing conducted on February 24, 1998 on the topic, “Foreign terrorists in America : five years after the World Trade Center.”

Nevertheless, today there are college administrators at schools across the United States who have turned their campuses into Sanctuary Campuses that refuse to cooperate with DHS.

After the attacks of September 11, 2001 a veritable parade of politicians strutted up to podiums bristling with microphones to complain bitterly that “No one connected the dots.”

Today we have connected a number of those dots and it is time for our politicians irrespective of political affiliations to act and act swiftly, indeed.  Time is not on our side.

 

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Supporting Links:

HZB in the U.S.

HZB in the U.S.

 


Welcome to the land of Disney. I wonder what the permit looked like.

I wonder where all our tax dollars went thanks to Obama’s “deal” of the ages.

 


2017 Fund Raising Initiative

Support Stand Up America US, The Glacial Forum and The Legacy National Security Advisory Group

MG Paul Vallely’s Message for 2017

To all my friends, supporters and all who are Americans and Patriots First, we continue to witness America at a crossroads. Our country has been ‘fundamentally changed’ for the worse but we can Restore America and the Republic. We cannot stand by idly nor should we. 2017 is a pivotal year for our country and will present challenges and threats that will be unparalleled in our history.

The members of Congress are not performing in the best interests of the citizen’s pledge to be “Americans First” for which they were elected over partisan political parties and issues. We must take back our nation; re-establish and restore our values and traditions that have made the USA great and a shining light to the world We must re-double our efforts now in 2017 to ensure success on the long road back to the ideals our forefathers laid before us. We need leadership committed to the Constitution in all branches of our government.

We must peer into our souls and find the strength to Stand Up and be Americans first once again, to shun the mechanisms of power and party, and to support leaders who act first as Americans. We must cast aside those who lead only for personal gain, power, and party.

Please join me today and support our efforts at Stand up America (founded in 2005) because we are witnessing the accelerating decline of America; the dismantling of our Constitution, and the destruction of the very fabric of our society.

Our mission has been to educate and inform Americans and others to uncover and expose wrong doing and focus on the ‘Realities’ of the world and help right our ship of state.

To do this, I need your help and support

Since Obama was first elected, our diplomatic and military influence, power, reputation is at a new low around the world. The morale and readiness of our Military has now hit dangerous levels. ISIS, the Mullahs of Iran and the Radical Jihadists are on the offensive.  Iran continues its destiny to be the hegemonic power of the Middle East.

We are faced in 2017 with potential financial chaos, domestic civil disturbance and threats from abroad that are real.

Our National Security team needs a well thought-out strategy to continuously counter emerging threats. The Federal Government appears to be broken across all agencies and branches. Our Federal government seems unable to correct itself. Congress and the Courts are negligent as well in the decline of American prestige and respect. Bottom line is that Government is not working very well!

We are thankful for the support we have received from so many generous sources over the years, both in funding and volunteerism, but sadly, our job is far from over and we have much more to do. Please join me today.

PLEASE HELP Stand Up America US continue on its mission and stop our precipitous decline as a nation.

Thank you again for your support – please make a donation today at www.standupamericaus.org or by check:

PO Box 1596, Bigfork, Montana 59911

 

Facebook: Paul Vallely, Legacy National Security Advisory Group; and Paul Vallely- The General’s Group

All my best. We will not let you down!

MG Paul E. Vallely, US Army (Ret.) Chairman- Stand Up America US

 

GEDRICH: Coping with NATO Freeloaders

GEDRICH: Coping with NATO Freeloaders

 

 

 

by Fred Gedrich 5 Jun 2017

In a recent gathering of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member country leaders at their Brussels, Belgium Headquarters, U.S. President Donald Trump formally asked those whose governments aren’t fulfilling their treaty defense funding obligations to pay up.

His request for payment is appropriate, although met with scorn and snickers by some European leaders, who seemingly would much rather invest their nations’ valuable resources on matters like climate change than their collective and national defense. The subsequent terrorist attack in London provides another grim reminder of the dangers NATO countries face.

NATO’s purpose is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means. The United States, Canada, and several Western European nations created the organization in 1949 to provide collective security against the Soviet Union. It subsequently expanded to 28 member nations and changed its mission after the 1991 Soviet Union collapse.

More than ten years ago all NATO members agreed to spend at least two percent of their gross domestic product (goods and services produced) on defense spending to ensure all of them are at a satisfactory defense readiness level. Currently, only 5 of 28 members are meeting their defense funding commitments. As a result, U.S. taxpayers are shouldering the burden of building up the U.S. military to compensate for other member shortfalls. If NATO is to carry out its mission effectively, each member must invest in its defense at prescribed levels to ensure each can respond to contemporary threats in Europe like Russian aggression and radical Islamic terrorism.

Those threats are very real. In recent years, Putin’s Russia seized parts of the Ukraine and Georgia and is intimidating some other European neighbors as well with its military and hefty nuclear arsenal. And who can forget the recent wanton slaughter of innocent civilians in NATO country urban areas by radical Islamic terrorists such as occurred in Belgium, France, Germany, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States?

How does the NATO funding scheme work? Its most important element is member country readiness, achieved through defense spending of at least 2 percent of each nation’s GDP. The collective GDP for the 28 NATO member nations in 2016 was $38.4 trillion. If all members invested 2 percent of their GDP on defense spending then about $768 billion ($38.4 trillion x 2 percent) would be available for the organization’s common defense.

However, despite repeated attempts by two previous U.S. presidents, Bush and Obama, only a handful of NATO members have met or exceeded their financial defense spending commitments. In fact, as of 2016, only the United States, United Kingdom, Poland, Estonia, and Greece have done so.

The failure of 23 NATO members to meet their defense funding commitments means that those delinquent nations may not be able to meet the minimum manpower, equipment, and support expected of NATO members in the event of a security emergency, which could be devastating for the countries and the alliance. It also means that there is a collective defense funding shortfall of $134 billion among those nations.

Who are the freeloaders?  The 23 include nearly all of the richest Western European nations. Germany – Europe’s wealthiest NATO member with a $4 trillion GDP – is $38.2 billion short on its $80 billion spending bill by only investing 1.18 percent of its GDP on defense. Italy is $23.1 billion short; Spain is $18.8 billion short; Canada is $16.7 billion short; NATO host Belgium is $5.6 billion short; France is $5.5 billion short; and Luxembourg – which has Europe’s greatest average annual income per person at $102,000 – contributed less than .5 percent of its GDP for defense. There may be an excuse for the newest members from Eastern Europe with developing economies for not being able to meet these funding levels, but there is no excuse for the wealthy nations.

How does NATO make up the defense funding shortfall? Like it always does, delinquent member countries rely on the United States to make up the difference. Since the organization’s founding, the United States has served as its chief benefactor. In 2016, the U.S. invested $672 billion in defense spending, $300 billion more than the alliance required, and supplying about 68 percent of NATO’s total resources.

After President Trump’s payment demand, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that “we Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands.”  She might instead consider taking some of the other European leaders for a trip down memory lane to fully appreciate the sacrifices in blood and treasure Americans have made for European nations during the 20th Century. Here are a few things for them to consider:

  • 521, 925 Americans died liberating Europe during World War I and II.
  • 874,848 Americans were wounded in Europe during World War I and II.
  • 104,366 Americans killed during World War I and II never returned home and are buried in European cemeteries.
  • The United States spent about $130 billion current year dollars rebuilding Europe after World War II through the Marshall Plan.

It is largely because of U.S. efforts and American goodwill that Western Europeans survived Germany tyranny during World War I and II and protected Western Europeans, including West Germany, from Soviet Union domination during the Cold War. In addition, it also allowed Chancellor Merkel’s country to eventually overcome its Nazi and communist (East Germany) past and evolve into a free, self-governing unified country that many currently consider Western Europe’s leader.

If Chancellor Merkel and other disenchanted European leaders truly want to take their fate into their own hands, they might want to first consider meeting their NATO defense spending obligations, because it would enhance their own national security as well as the alliance’s – and give Europeans a pathway for their own self-reliance rather than continued U.S. security dependence.  And it would surely please U.S. taxpayers and President Trump if they did.

Fred Gedrich is a foreign policy and national security analyst. He served in the departments of State and Defense.

 

Balochistan: A wider strategic context in the Afghanistan debate by Lawrence Sellin, Phd.

Editor’s Note: From our great friend Dr. Lawrence Sellin, Phd. Dr. Sellin is also a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq.

 

 

 

Balochistan: A wider strategic context in the Afghanistan debate

 

by Lawrence Sellin, Phd. June 9, 2017

Yes, the primary mission is still to protect the homeland by preventing Afghanistan from being used again as a safe haven for terrorists to attack the U.S. or our allies.

And, yes, troop levels and the operational tempo have always been predicated on a single proposition, to buy enough time so that Afghan security forces can successfully take the lead against the Taliban or any other terrorist entity who plan to use Afghanistan as a training or operational base.

But there is a bigger picture.

Pakistan created and supported the Taliban as an instrument of its foreign policy and has always viewed Afghanistan as a client state, a security buffer against what they consider potential Indian encirclement and as a springboard to extend its own influence into the resource-rich areas of Central Asia.

In line with those objectives, Pakistan has an economic incentive to force the U.S. and NATO out of Afghanistan in order to pursue the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is part of China’s larger Belt and Road Initiative that aims to connect Asia through land-based and maritime economic zones, a project that includes exploitation of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and, more broadly, the Belt and Road Initiative are China’s attempt to extend its strategic reach to the Indian Ocean, East Africa and the Middle East. That approach is similar to what China is doing in Southeast Asia, building artificial islands in the South China Sea as military and logistical bases. It all reminds one of Imperial Japan’s “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” of the 1930s and 1940s, to create a self-sufficient “bloc of Asian nations led by the Japanese [Chinese] and free of Western powers”.

What should be an even greater concern to the U.S. is China’s growing military ambitions in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.

China has established a military base in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, construction of which started in February 2016 and is expected to be completed in 2018.

To complement that effort, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor allows China to develop the port of Gwadar in Balochistan, a region forcibly incorporated into Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947.

Look at the map.

Gwadar would provide China with a military and logistics base at the entrance of the Gulf of Oman, the shipping route to the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf, a potential chokepoint for Middle East oil exports. Gwadar will also be supplied by a transportation network directly linking China to the port.

The Chinese military base in Djibouti is at the entrance of the Red Sea, transit point to the Suez Canal.

Upon completion of those facilities, China will have a strategically critical region bracketed by its military.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to conclude that the success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Chinese military ambitions depend on the stability of Balochistan, and, thus, presents a possible lever to influence the regional strategic environment including the situation in Afghanistan.

It is an incontrovertible fact that the U.S. and NATO cannot succeed in Afghanistan without a significant change in the strategic conditions because the operational tempo of the war and the supply of our troops are regulated by Pakistani whims.

Balochistan, a region rich in minerals and other natural resources, has been the home of a festering ethnic insurgency. Despite its mineral wealth, the Baloch people have been intentionally kept underdeveloped by the Pakistani government, along with oppression and alleged extrajudicial killings by the Pakistani military.

An autonomous or independent Balochistan could counter Chinese military expansionism, provide a potential bulwark against the terrorism-exporting nations in the region and offer a more reliable sea-land link to Afghanistan.

Frankly, unless the U.S. starts learning to play strategic chess, it could be checkmate.

 

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