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US Report Claims Islamic State Can Falsify Syrian Passports

By Reuters & Israel Hayom

A U.S. government agency report has warned that the Islamic State group has the ability to create fake Syrian passports, a federal official confirmed. A spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed the contents of a story by CNN about the report, but declined to provide a copy of the report.

The report says ISIS has access to Syrian government passport printing machines and blank passports, raising the possibility the travel documents could be faked, CNN reported, citing a law enforcement source.

The CNN source added that there was also concern that because the group had access to biographical and fingerprint data on Syrian citizens, there was also a possibility of identity theft. ABC News, which first reported the story last week, said the report was released to law enforcement by the Homeland Security Investigations agency and raised the possibility that militants could use the documents to travel to the United States.

"Since more than 17 months passed since Raqqa and Deir ez-Zour fell to ISIS, it is possible that individuals from Syria with passports 'issued' in these ISIS-controlled cities or who had passport blanks, may have traveled to the U.S.," ABC News quoted the report as saying.

State Department spokesman John Kirby, asked at a briefing about the ABC report, replied: "We have been aware of reports, not just in the press, that they may have obtained this capability." FBI Director James Comey told a Senate committee hearing : "The intelligence community is concerned that they [ISIS] have the ability, the capability to manufacture fraudulent passports, which is a concern in any setting."

Trump: Netanyahu Snub Was 'Inappropriate'


Donald Trump, who is currently the favored candidate in the Republican race for the presidential nomination, criticized Binyamin Netanyahu Sunday for rejecting his statement regarding the need to block Muslims from entering the US. Trump canceled a planned trip to Israel to meet with Netanyahu after the prime minister's response to his initiative.

"I saw Netanyahu put out a statement distancing himself from you," CNN's Jake Tapper said to Trump in an interview, after suggesting that world leaders are distancing themselves from him.

"They're not distancing themselves. I had a meeting with Netanyahu. I could be at the meeting right now," Trump replied. "But he condemned your remarks is all I'm saying," Tapper said.

"He did, and that was sort of interesting. He modestly condemned them, and I thought it was sort of inappropriate that he condemned them, but that's OK. He wanted to condemn them, that's what he does. OK? But we have a problem," Trump answered. "I'm not looking to be politically correct. I'm doing this to do the right thing. This and other things. When I say this -- I'm running to do the right thing. I'm doing the right thing. Our country has a problem. People are in fear. They're waiting for the next attack."

Trump also said that he wants to discover why terrorists have "total hatred" for the U.S. "We want to find out what's going on. Here's what I want to ask: Why is there such hatred? Why is there such death? Where does this hatred come from?" he asked.

U.S. Soldiers in Sinai Losing Combat-Zone Tax Exemption

By The Army Times

Hundreds of soldiers serving in Egypt stand to lose thousands of dollars after an Army review determined troops were unfairly claiming a combat-zone tax exemption.

The approximately 700 active-duty, National Guard and Reserve soldiers who make up Task Force Sinai support the Multinational Force and Observers that enforce the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

Thanks at least in part to increased security concerns brought about by threats from groups connected to the Islamic State group, they do so at camps with blast-proof bunkers, HESCO barriers and fencing designed to repel rocket-propelled grenades. The HESCO firm defines the barrier as "perimeter walls to complex city-like fortification, defending personnel, equipment and critical assets of the US Army...(It is) manufactured from welded Zinc-Aluminum coated steel mesh and lined with heavy-duty non-woven polypropylene geotextile. When joined and filled, the system can be used to create barriers of exceptional strength and structural integrity." Multiple attacks have been launched against service members in the region in recent months; a convoy leaving the MFO's North Camp in September hit two improvised explosive devices,

Despite these dangers, Egypt is not considered a combat zone, a designation set by presidential executive order. Until recently, many soldiers with the task force still received the combat-zone tax exemption by participating every month in combat water survival tests held in the Red Sea at the MFO's South Camp. The Red Sea is covered by the exemption.

A review of pay policy for soldiers in the task force requested by U.S. Army Central did not address added security concerns. Instead, it found that the swim training "is being conducted as a personal convenience merely to entitle a Soldier to CZTE" and that its participants should not be eligible for the exemption, according to a Nov. 13 memo from the Army's G-1 to the headquarters of 1st Theater Sustainment Command, the Fort Bragg, North Carolina-based parent unit of the task force.

The review also instructed soldiers entitled to Basic Allowance for Subsistence while serving with the task force to pay for their government-furnished meals, and that the "supporting finance officer will establish a debt for each Soldier … who did not pay for the meals furnished to him or her," the memo states. The changes went into effect immediately, Army spokesman Paul Prince said.

Active-duty soldiers typically spend a year with the task force, while Reserve and National Guard troops spend about nine months. Either way, they can expect a four-figure hit to their wallet come tax time, according to one military tax preparer.

"If nothing changes from year to year, an E-4, one income, two kids, no college credits, nothing like that, the tax return for eight months of combat pay in year one, and in year two they have zero months combat pay … could change as much as $3,500," said John Eakins, owner of San Diego-based Military Tax Services who prepares hundreds of military tax forms per year. "And that's conservative."

Welcome materials on the unit's website include a review of entitlements that point to the training as a way soldiers can qualify for the tax break. All task force members were eligible to undergo the 30-minute test each month, according to soldiers in the unit who did not wish to be identified. This included the roughly 300 soldiers stationed at the North Camp, who fly about an hour to South Camp for the training.

The September IED incident wasn't an isolated one: In August, a soldier was shot at the MFO's North Camp. In June, an ISIS-linked group claimed responsibility for a rocket attack on an MFO-operated airport in North Sinai. An Obama administration review of U.S. participation in the MFO mission includes an option to remove American forces altogether out of security concerns, The Associated Press reported over the summer.

The MFO's 2014 annual report, illustrated by a photo of the sun breaking through clouds behind a North Camp fence covered in razor wire, frequently refers to the "challenging" security environment and discusses work on "protective measures for personnel and key facilities against stray rounds coming onto the Camp due to fighting in the vicinity, at times from several kilometers away."

"Someone in DC needs to change the policy on this area," a soldier wrote to Army Times via email. "[The Islamic State] is here and conducting operations around us and sometimes against us."

Blood Brothers: The Rabbi and the Former Hizbullah Activist


He was born in a Shi'ite village in Lebanon as Ibrahim Yassin, moved up the Hizbullah ranks and decided to spy for the State of Israel. After being caught and tried, he was sentenced to death. And then, as he was locked underground with only a Koran, the questions began emerging, along with the fear, mortal fear.

Rabbi Avraham Sinai's amazing story was recently shared with Ynet and Orot TV and he revealed the pivotal aspect of the long journey he went through before reaching a state of tranquility in the northern Israeli city of Safed.

"I was executed several times - but the executor was unsuccessful. He cocked the gun, pressed the trigger - and the bullet didn't come out. There, in jail, I realized that a man comes here on a mission, and God Almighty says to the man: 'You won't die until I say so.'"

While he was in jail, he had a strange dream. Today he calls it a "revelation." In his dream, he saw a man of Jewish appearance sitting in an unfamiliar office, and greeting him cordially. Fifteen years later, Yassin arrived in Safed for the very first time. His hosts took him to visit the city rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, in his office. When he entered, Yassin couldn't believe his eyes.

"The same dream was revealed before my eyes," he says. "The same entrance, the same room, the same person I met in my dream. Suddenly, I actually saw him."

"When he came here for the first time, I felt as if we were brothers from the six days of creation," Rabbi Eliyahu says excitedly. "An Arab guy from beyond the border, who barely speaks my language, walks in - and I had such a strong feeling of love that I just stood up in his honor, although I had never seen him before. We love each other so much, that we feel it's not a 15-year friendship but family. I feel that he is my brother."

Today, Rabbi Sinai focuses his efforts on spreading his amazing story. As a former Muslim who is well-versed in the Koran, he exposes the huge gaps between the religious text of Islam, which talks about comradeship and peace and opposes murder and killing, and the radical religious leaders who encourage their followers to commit indiscriminate killing in the name of religion.

"Every sheikh has a different opinion," he says, and strongly denounces the sheikhs who send young people to commit suicide in the name of Islam. "It says in the Koran that whoever kills himself has no right to the afterlife. Where do they bring these things from?

"I know I am here on a mission. I came here in order to live, not in order to die. When they tried to kill me, I asked God: Why are you protecting me? And then I understood: He is not protecting me because of the Koran, but in order for me to come here. He prepared me there, so that I would come here."

Shocked Newlyweds: Friend Stole Wedding Gifts and Disappeared


Lior and Kineret held a commitment ceremony with each other last Thursday, with assistance from their best friend who helped plan and organize the occasion.

The next day, when the couple woke up at the hotel room they had traveled to with friends who celebrated with them the night before, the girls were shocked to discover their best friend had disappeared - and cash saved up to pay for the event disappeared with her, in addition to some gift money.

"We are shocked, I never thought anything like this could happen and that she would do it," says Lior. "We tried to contact her since that morning and she just never answers. At first we worried for her safety, but now she is considered missing. Later we found out that she had stolen a larger sum of money from us than we first thought."

According to Lior, the friend in question was her friend since the age of 12 - who later in life lived with her and her partner for five years: "I gave her financial and emotional help; she is deep in debt and is not in contact with her family. We could not believe she was even able to do something like that. We saved up money for this wedding - she helped us organize it, and now she disappeared with the money and some gifts. "

The two planned to pay for the banquet hall with wedding gifts and the money they saved up, and now they owe money to the hall: "She stole from us 25,000 shekels when the wedding cost double. She really planned everything and insisted that she keep charge of the money. She knew exactly how much to take - that's why she didn't take it all, but a large part - and the majority of cash. She just ran away, leaving her clothes and belongings behind. "

"She danced and celebrated with us in our wedding, when in fact she knew all along that after the event she is going to steal the money. We told her that after the wedding, we will continue to help her - that she could still live with us or we would help her pay for an apartment close to us," says Lior.

Lior and Kineret filed a complaint with the Petah Tikva police. "I did not expect it, my partner took it really hard and she did not stop crying. She does not understand how our friend did this to us. Good people and friends are helping us and sharing the post we have published on Facebook. We hope they find her soon. "

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