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ISIS-Linked Social Media Claim Texas Shooting

By DEBKAfile, & VOA News

A Twitter account named Sharia is Light and linked to ISIS posted a message with the hashtag "texasattack" moments before two gunmen opened fire Sunday night outside an exhibit of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad at the Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, northeast of Dallas.

A guard was injured in the ankle before police officers shot and killed both gunmen.The event, billed by the organizers as "promoting freedom of expression," offered a $10,000 prize for the best cartoon depicting Prophet Mohammed.

The account, @atawaakul, has now been removed by Twitter. Its profile picture was a photo of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-educated cleric who became the influential mouthpiece of Yemen's Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) before being killed in a US drone strike.

In the message, the poster says: "The bro with me and myself have given ba'yah [allegiance - ed.] to Amirul Mu'mineen [leader of the believers - ed.], may Allah accept us as mujahideen [holy warriors - ed.]"

"Leader of the believers" is an Arabic reference to Islamic State leader and self-declared "caliph" Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who declared himself leader of the Muslim world when announcing his "caliphate" last year. The tweet then ends with the worlds "Make dua" - possibly meaning "dawah," or spreading the word of Islam - and the chilling hashtag #texasattack.

There has been no independent confirmation that the account did indeed belong to one of the two shooters, but counterterrorism experts have speculated that the timing and the message are far too coincidental. Previous tweets from the same account - whose username was Shariah is Light - included numerous posts glorifying ISIS and other jihadists.

Immediately after the attack, city of Garland said in a statement posted on its Facebook page that the two men drove up to the Curtis Culwell Center and began shooting at a security officer. The statement added that Garland Police Department officers engaged the gunmen, who were both shot and killed.

The statement did not indicate, however, whether the shooting was related to the event, saying only the gunmen's vehicle may contain an "incendiary device." A bomb squad was dispatched to defuse it, and nearby businesses were evacuated. If the Twitter account above is confirmed to have belonged to one of the gunmen, it would confirm suspicions that the attack was carried out by Islamists.

The American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) which sponsored the "Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest" is no stranger to the media spotlight. For years before the attack on the Texas event Sunday by two men with assault rifles, AFDI president and cofounder Pamela Geller has been making headlines for expressing staunch, and often controversial, opposition to Islam. Her supporters say she speaks the truth about a topic people are too fearful to address, but her critics call her a bigot.

"We've been concerned about Pamela Geller for several years," said Oren Segal of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a group dedicated to stopping "the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all," according to its website. "Primarily because she is one of the leading American anti-Muslim bigots, consistently vilifying Muslims and the Islamic faith under the guise, of course, of fighting radical Islamists," Segal said. "They preach that Islam is inherently evil and she has said that she prefers that immigration from Muslim countries is limited."

Geller fired back at the bigotry accusation in a comment to VOA. "It is not bigotry to stand up for the freedom of speech and the freedom of expression against those who would violently suppress it," she wrote in an email. "The ADL apparently prefers submission in the face of violent threats to standing up for the liberty and dignity of the individual. And as the ADL chooses slavery, it will get slavery."

Segal said one of the most dangerous aspects of Geller's rhetoric is that she conflates Islamic extremists with all Muslims. Commenting on the Texas shooting on her blog, Geller wrote: "It's not just the Islamic State — it's your everyday, run of the mill moderates praising mind-numbing savagery."

The ADL is not alone in condemning Geller. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a group "dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society," lists Geller in their "extremists files," calling her "the anti-Muslim movement's most visible and flamboyant figurehead."

And her influence is widespread, Segal said. He pointed to Anders Behring Breivik, the man who killed over 70 people in a 2011 shooting spree in Norway as someone influenced by Geller's views. In his manifesto, Breivik praised Geller, writing "there are no important theological differences between jihadists and so-called 'peaceful' or 'moderate' Muslims."

Geller and her associated groups have also sparked debate with provocative advertising on public transportation systems, including New York and Washington. One such ad read "In a war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad." Another read "It's Not Islamophobia ... It's Islamorealism."

Segal, while critical of the Texas event, condemned the violence. "As abhorrent as we find her views and as divisive as the event that she held was clearly meant to be, nothing – obviously – sanctions the type of violence that we saw," he said.

Al Qaeda's Syrian Forces are Being Armed by US, Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and UAE

By DEBKAfile

For the first time in the nearly five-year Syrian war, opposition forces, such as the Army of Conquest and the Free Syrian Army, are receiving substantial quantities of heavy weapons from the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, DEBKAfile's military sources report.

The balance of strength in the Syrian war has accordingly shifted in favor of rebel forces which are are winning victories against Bashar Assad's army. In the last two weeks, the rebels have captured Jisr al-Shughour, in the northern Idlib province, able to move into new positions directly opposite Assad's Alawite stronghold of Latakia and the Homs plain. Rebels have also gained ground in southern Syria in the Quneitra region opposite the Israeli Golan.

Our intelligence sources report that the opposition is now armed as never before with such heavy weapons as T-55, T-62, and T-72 tanks, BMP infantry fighting vehicles, rocket launchers, mortars, and vehicle-mounted heavy antiaircraft machine guns (12.7, 14.5, and 23 mm). They now command at least four types of antitank weapons, including RPG-7s, RPG-22s, M79s, and an extra-large supply of thousands of TOW missiles. All the hardware has come with night-vision attachments.

Each of the powers putting out now has reasons of its own for doing so. The United States for instance, is determined to prevent the Syrian ruler and his allies, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hizbullah and Afghan and Pakistani Shiite militias, from winning the war.

Israel needs to distance the Iranian Guards and Hizbullah from its borders with Syria. Saudi Arabia seeks Assad's overthrow. However, on the way to these objectives, the rebels' champions have come up against a disturbing by-product of their support: The lion's share of the weaponry lavished on the opposition is being funneled to rebel groups associated or identified with Al Qaeda.

It is not lost on any of the foreign governments arming the Syrian opposition that they are in fact boosting radical Islamist organizations, some of which are close to al Qaeda. But it is not openly admitted. US officials prefer to depict the recipients of those weapons as "moderate" rebels. Israel sources admit that their military assistance reaches the hands of Al Nusra, but claims it is a local group, which operates independently of Al Qaeda.

It is hard to see much good coming out of the Syrian policy pursued these days by the US, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf emirates and Turkey: If the opposition militias they are arming are victorious, either Al Qaeda-associates will end up swallowing broad regions of Syria; or else they will overthrow the Assad regime, and rule in its stead in Damascus. Syria would then be the first Arab country to fall into Al Qaeda's hands.

Hizbullah Recruiting Children as Young as Eight as Its Next Generation of Terrorists


The terrorist organization Hizbullah has begun recruiting children as young as eight to join the Mahdi Scouts, which prepares boys to become armed jihadists when they grow up. The scouts number some 50,000 members ranging in age from 8 to 18 and has branches in areas such as Beirut and south Lebanon, according to the Lebanese newspaper Al-Janubiya (Arabic link).

According to the Lebanese newspaper, The Mahdi Scouts constitute a main element to the military body of Hizbullah, as the majority of the scouts' members engage in jihadi work after the age of 16. At this age, the members get into their first military course called `combat literacy,' in which teens recognize the principles knowledge of the weapon, and how to shoot at fixed targets.

They then get intensive summer courses, and after two years, these youngsters graduate as experienced fighters in various types of weapons and are ready to get engaged in the bloodiest battles at the orders of the Secretary General of Hizbullah. All this is in preparation for the real battles when they reach adulthood.

Quoting "well-informed sources," Shiite journalist Wissam Al Amin wrote last week: Hizbullah Scout movement started a new branch for the association in Syria in the wake of the Syria crisis. One of the opposition sources said that the Syria branch is organizing activities and exhibitions, and is participating in rallies supporting the regime, and the Information Office of the Scouts Association recently issued new patrol Scouts in Syria under the name "Tawasol."

The Syria branch of the Mahdi Scouts Association provides children with military training similar to training in military units, as well as instilling religious education, especially in the minds of children through attending religious classes in Shiite mosques, where they are introduced to the Shiite ideology, and where the ideas of revenge and Shiism are implanted in their minds.

Website with Ties to Iran's Leadership Publishes Anti-Semitic Blood Libel


An article published in the influential Persian-language Iranian website Alef claimed that Jews are "human history's most bloodthirsty people." The article provided "evidence" based on "historical events" drawn from some of the most infamous blood libels in Europe, which were previously used to justify the mass killings of Jews.

Alef is owned by Ahmad Tavakkoli, a member of Iran's parliament and a cousin to Mohammad Javad Larijani, the secretary of Iran's Human Rights Council; Sadeq Larijani, the Chief Justice of Iran; and Ali Larijani, the powerful speaker of Iran's parliament.

The article pushes the classic lie that Jews require human blood for the baking of matzahs for Passover, and acquire it by sacrificing the children of their enemies. More generally, the article repeats the libel that throughout history, Jews murdered Christian children during the celebration of their various holidays. It also claims that those performing ritual Jewish circumcision suck the blood of Jewish infants and cause them harm.

In his analysis of the article, Mehdi Khalaji, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, explained how anti-Semitism has become an influential ideology of revolutionary Iran.

Although anti-Judaism is well known in Iranian Islamic tradition and literature (even in the works of well-known classical poets such as Saadi), this is fundamentally different from modern anti-Semitism, which was imported into Iran by leftist and Islamist intellectuals and political activists before and after the 1979 revolution. Secular intellectuals were heavily influenced by anti-Semitic trends in Europe and the Soviet Union, while Islamists were influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Arab anti-Semitic writers.

In addition, some Iraqi Shiite clerics transmitted anti-Semitic literature from the Arab world to Iran. For instance, Sayyed Muhammad Shirazi — head of the Shirazi family, who are known for their ultraconservative tendencies and run dozens of satellite television networks, websites, organizations, and mosques in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East — published several anti-Semitic books in the 1960s. One of these, titled The World As Jews' Plaything, was translated by Sayyed Hadi al-Modarresi, an Iraqi cleric who is now a Shiite religious authority (marja).

Judaism is an official minority religion in the Islamic Republic, and Jews have a representative in the parliament and are free to practice their religion in synagogues across the country, including in Tehran — a city whose hundreds of thousands of Sunni residents are not allowed to have a mosque of their own. Nevertheless, Iranian officials are known to make implicitly and explicitly anti-Semitic statements against Israel and Jews, and the government makes no effort to curb anti-Semitic propaganda by local extremists.

In the past, such statements were generally political, with some element of the traditional Muslim complaints about Jews falsifying God's message and rejecting the true prophet Muhammad. Since 1979, however, the spread of more primitive anti-Semitic lies has increased, especially the blood libel.

Googling such accusations in Persian turns up many related articles, particularly on apocalyptic websites. More disturbingly, the blood libel has been creeping into mainstream media for some time, with occasional statements made by commentators on important websites or even state television. Although no Iranian officials have made such statements, none of them have reacted to the spread of this libel, including this week's prominent Alef article. Similarly, no Iranian clerics have denounced this libel against what is officially regarded as a divine religion, i.e., Judaism.

In today's Iran, anti-Judaic and anti-Semitic discourses are sometimes mixed in textbooks, media, religious/political propaganda, and secular intellectual literature. This helps the regime justify its anti-Israeli agenda in the region, casting Jews as genuine enemies who do not want to see the Islamic Republic progress, especially with regard to nuclear technology. What matters most is that such mixed discourse cannot easily be criticized inside Iran by those intellectuals who are concerned about the long-term negative ramifications of anti-Jewish sentiment.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the previous Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, publicly denounced and demonized the Jews, referring to them as "infidels" and "impure creatures." Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran's leading clerics and politicians have consistently denounced Israel, calling for its destruction.

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