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ISIS-Sinai Leader Visiting Gaza to Boost Cooperation with Hamas

By DEBKAfile

Shadi el-Menei, the leader of ISIS in Sinai, has been in Gaza for the last two weeks to coordinate military cooperation with Hamas. He has been engaged in intensive discussions with the military wing of the Hamas and coordinating cooperation between Hamas and Ansar Beit Al Makdis, his terror organization operating in the Sinai.

Contrary to Cairo's announcement that el-Menei was killed in an airstrike by the Egyptian air force in May 2014, he remains the leader of the organization that is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and policemen; the infiltration of a hijacked Egyptian armored vehicle into Israeli territory in the summer of 2012 after the killing of 16 Egyptian policemen; the firing of rockets on Eilat in the summer of 2013; the sinking of an Egyptian navy ship by a missile in August 2015; the downing of a Russian airliner in the Sinai about a month ago; as well as many other terrorist attacks in mainland Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula.

DEBKAfile's counterterrorism and intelligence sources state that as a result of the strengthening of the Salafis in Gaza including the increase of their military strength, the military wing of Hamas decided to cooperate with Ansar Beit Al-Makdis, a Salafi group.

The arms trade advisor of Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow has started supplying S-300 missile batteries to Iran, the Russian media reported Thursday morning. With progress in implementation of the nuclear deal with Tehran and initial steps toward the lifting of sanctions on Iran, Russia announced that the agreement for the supply of S-300 ground-to-air missile batteries, which was signed in the latter half of 2010, will go back into effect.

DEBKAfile's exclusive sources report that Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah has been on a secret nocturnal visit to Baghdad and Karbala.. In the space of a few hours, he held talks with the Iraqi prime minister Khaidar Abadi and heads of the pro-Iranian Shiite militias, the Badr Brigades, the Shiite Popular Mobilization Force, the Kataib Hizbullah and the Asaib Ahl al-Haq, which are fighting alongside Hizbullah in Syria and Iraq.

Earlier, those militia chiefs threatened to kill every American soldier landing in Iraq, in response to US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter's announcement that US Special Operations forces were being assigned to the country.

Nasrallah then traveled to Karbala for a rare audience with Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the Shiite community's most influential spiritual leader. The content of their conversation was not released, but Sistani's willingness to receive the Lebanese Hizbullah chief notched up his pivotal standing in the Iran-Iraq-Syria arena

Israeli President Calls for an Israel-Palestine Confederacy


President Reuven Rivlin has planted himself solidly in the political Left in an interview he gave to a European journal, a recording of which has reached Reshet Bet radio. In the interview, Rivlin proposed that two states – Israel and Palestine – exist side by side, and that they should form a joint confederacy.

Rivlin added that a border should be drawn up between the countries and that exchanges of territory be carried out. He noted that the success of the plan depends on there being only one military – the Israeli one – but two parliaments and two constitutions.

In the past, Rivlin suggested a confederacy but did not refer to a Palestinian state, or mention borders and territorial exchanges. In response to the report, the President's Residence stated that Rivlin is still opposed to the existence of a separate Palestinian state, and continues to believe in a joint confederacy. Rivlin added that the person who decides on policy is the prime minister and not the president.

Islamic State's US Recruits are So Diverse They 'Defy Analysis'


Their average age is 26. Eighty-six percent are male. Most use Twitter and other social media to find and spread propaganda. But other than that, there are frustratingly few traits in common among individuals in the United States who support the Islamic State group, according to a new study.

The report, titled "ISIS in America: From Retweets to Raqqa," is an attempt by the George Washington University's Program on Extremism to provide a snapshot of the "small but active" group of Americans and other U.S.-based individuals who are infatuated with the Sunni Muslim extremist group.

But after spending six months going over court records, social media posts, and U.S. officials' statements, the authors struggled to identify a typical profile for an American IS supporter. Instead, they found the group to be "incredibly heterogeneous" and motivated by a wide range of factors.

"The profiles of individuals involved in ISIS-related activities in the U.S. differ widely in race, age, social class, education, and family background," said the report, authored by Lorenzo Vidino and Seamus Hughes. "Their motivations are equally diverse and defy easy analysis."

In total, there are 900 active investigations into IS sympathizers – some in every state, the report found. Some of those arrested were as young as 15, others were nearly 50. And although the overwhelming majority were male, the authors found that more and more women are becoming attracted to the group. Females, for instance, make up nearly one-third of the 300 U.S.-linked social media accounts actively spreading IS propaganda, the report said.

The report also presented a complex mixture of ideological and personal motivations. Many, as could be expected, were religious radicals, some having formally studied Islam. Forty percent were Muslim converts. Others appeared to have little to no experience with the faith, instead appearing to be thrill seekers drawn to the savage violence committed by IS.

U.S.-based IS supporters also represent a wide range of threats, ranging from those who are merely "inspired" by the group to those who have taken concrete steps to support it. As of fall 2015, 250 Americans have either traveled or tried to travel to Syria or Iraq to join Islamic State, the report said, quoting official U.S. estimates. Many have also been directly involved in plots to carry out attacks on U.S. soil. A few, the report said, have even reached "mid-level leadership positions" in ISIS.

But the report concludes that most U.S.-based ISIS supporters "will never make the leap from talk to action, from being keyboard warriors to actual militancy. Some will mature out of what is just an awkward adolescent phase. Others simply lack the personality traits necessary for committing terror attacks or setting out for ISIS territory. On a more mundane level, others find themselves restrained by the practical commitments of their daily lives," it said.

Islamic State's radicalization process has been greatly aided by social media, allowing it both to recruit new supporters and potentially call on them to either travel to the Middle East or carry out attacks at home, the report said. While stressing there is no "silver bullet," the authors recommended a comprehensive approach to "blunt ISIS' allure," including stronger intelligence gathering, renewed law enforcement tactics, and putting a greater emphasis on countering the group's message.

GOP Candidates Vow to Revolutionize Israel Alliance

By & AFP

Republican presidential hopefuls voiced their support for Israel on Thursday, with promises to scrap President Barack Obama's controversial nuclear deal with Iran. All 14 Republican contenders for the White House are taking part in the presidential forum sponsored by the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group funded by conservative billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who recently has been climbing in presidential polls, said he would make scrapping the nuclear deal the first order of business after assuming office following the next November's White House vote. "If I am elected president, I have pledged on the very first day in office to rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal," he said of the agreement with the leading state sponsor of terror.

Cruz stated that Obama's former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who is running to succeed her ex-boss in the White House, would be equally catastrophic were she to become America's next commander-in-chief. "If you vote for Hillary Clinton, you are voting for the Ayatollah Khamenei to have nuclear weapons," he said, in remarks echoed by his fellow Republican presidential contenders.

Obama has had a rocky relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and Republican critics accuse him of not doing enough to support the Jewish state and of making too may concessions to Iran in the recently concluded nuclear accord.

Another senator campaigning for America's highest office, Florida Senator Marco Rubio - who also has seen a marked rise recent polls - invoked recent terror attacks by Islamist extremists around the globe, vowing to stand up "to those who single out Israel."

Rubio also called the move by the European Union to label Jewish goods imported from Judea, Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights an anti-Semitic decision. "We must not separate the threat to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv from the threat to Paris, or London, or Washington, or even Miami," Rubio said, also criticizing a rise in anti-Semitism in Europe. "Discriminatory laws that apply only to Jews are now being written into European law for the first time in more than half a century," the Florida senator said, to sustained applause.

He joined with Cruz in declaring that if elected president, he would move Washington's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the 3,000-year-old capital of the Jewish people.

Lindsey Graham, a US senator from South Carolina and former military attorney, joked that as president "I may have the first all-Jewish cabinet in America." On a serious note, he insisted that on the topic of defense of Israel, his bona fides were second to none. "ISIL will be destroyed, Iran will be defanged," under his administration, the senator proclaimed, using an alternate acronym for Islamic State (ISIS).

Graham also used his remarks to take a potshot at billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump, who for months has been leading the field of Republican hopefuls despite a succession of controversial and inflammatory statements that pundits predicted would sink his campaign. "I believe Donald Trump is destroying the Republican party's chance" to claim the White House, he said.

Trump gave an interview on Thursday, stating forcing peace talks on Israel and the Palestinian Authority is at the top of his priorities. He also placed the onus for the lack of peace on the Jewish state, saying, "a lot will have to do with Israel and whether or not Israel wants to make the deal - whether or not Israel's willing to sacrifice certain things."

How Do You Say 'Shema Yisrael' in Sign Language?


Going to shul on Shabbat is something most religious Jews take for granted, but how many synagogues - in Israel or the Diaspora - are just as accessible to those with physical disabilities?

This weekend, the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization will be hosting the first ever "Accessibility Shabbat" in communities across Israel, to highlight that very issue. The program is designed to highlight the need for greater respect for the handicapped and disabled within the religious community and Israeli society in general. The initiative was launched by prominent religious-Zionist Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, the Chair of the Tzohar Committed on Jewish Ethics and one of Israel's leading thinkers on Ethics in Religious Society.

Accessibility Shabbat is being held in coordination with the International Accessibility Day, which took place around the world on Thursday. See

"The reality is that the specific challenges posed by the handicapped are all too often overlooked within our religious community and many of our synagogues and community facilities are not made amenable to the needs of this population," Rabbi Cherlow said in a letter announcing the initiative. "This cannot be the Jewish way of doing things and we must re-examine our approach and make our facilities and communities more accommodating in every possible way."

Accessibility Shabbat is composed of multiple components, including educational elements as well as proactive initiatives intended to enact practical approaches to benefit the handicapped. Via the organization's website and its network of community rabbis across Israel, Tzohar has distributed educational materials stressing approaches to the disabled in the Jewish sources which community members will be encouraged to learn over the Shabbat.

As part of its efforts, Tzohar is encouraging synagogues to allot a specific budget for the needs of the handicapped with the goal of making as many religious facilities as possible as accessible as possible.

According to Tzohar Executive Vice President Yakov Gaon, while the program is currently being launched in Israel alone, plans are already being put in place to take the initiative globally in coming years.

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