Iraq and Syria Growing in Terror Again

Billboards with the slogans “Death to America — Death to Israel” have appeared in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad in recent days. There are at least five of the large signs in central Baghdad, some less than a mile from the U.S. Embassy, the Iraqi presidential palace and the national government’s headquarters.

The signs appear to be part of a campaign by Iran, carried out through proxy groups that directly threaten U.S. troops in Iraq, to demonstrate its strength and reach in the region as tension between Washington and Tehran threatens to explode into conflict.

“The billboards erected in the streets of Baghdad are evidence of the government’s inability to control pro-Iranian groups who want to drag Iraq into an international conflict that endangers the country’s future on behalf of Iran,” Atheel al-Nujaifi, the governor of Iraq’s Nineveh province, said last week.

At the end of August, a senior PMU leader made it clear that all Americans in Iraq would become targets in the event of a U.S. war with Iran.

“All those Americans will be taken hostage by the resistance,” said Abu Alal al-Walaei, Secretary General of Kataib Sayed al-Shuhadaa, one of the biggest PMU militias in Iraq. The interviewer was startled by the assertion.

“I will say it again,” al-Walaei said. “All Americans will be hostages of the resistance if a war breaks out, because we will stand by the Islamic Republic (of Iran).” He said he wasn’t speaking in his capacity as a PMU leader, but merely as leader of an individual “resistance faction.” More here.


Then there is Syria.

The market at al-Hol camp is a sea of unidentifiable figures clad in black, clutching their children’s grubby hands as they drag them past those haggling their wares.

Al-Hol is a sprawling encampment for those displaced from the former ISIS territory in northeastern Syria. Wind and sand blow mercilessly against tents in the scorching heat of the Syrian summer.
About 15% of the inhabitants here are foreigners, but the international community has for months neglected the camp. And as living conditions worsen, nostalgia for ISIS’ rule is beginning to brew. “We started to notice that the new arrivals were very well organized,” says Mahmoud Karo, who is in charge of the camps in northeastern Syria’s Jazira district. “They organized their own moral police. They are structured.”
“The camp is the best place to develop the new ISIS. There is a restructuring of the ISIS indoctrination,” says Karo. “You can’t differentiate between who is ISIS and who isn’t.”
Tracking down the perpetrators is difficult, he says. The women, cloaked in niqab, are nearly impossible to identify. They change tents frequently to avoid capture.
A Pentagon report by the inspector general, released last month, warned that the US and its local allies have been unable to closely monitor movements inside al-Hol. A drawdown of the US military presence in the area has allowed “ISIS ideology to spread ‘uncontested’ in the camp,” the report found.
Growing extremism in al-Hol runs parallel to signs of ISIS’ resurgence elsewhere in the region.
While some women continue to enforce ISIS' draconian rules, camp officials struggle to track down perpetrators.  The women are nearly impossible to identify due to the niqab, and switch from tent to tent to avoid capture.
ISIS attacks in northwestern Iraq, where the group formerly ruled large swathes of territory, are becoming more frequent, and the group has claimed responsibility for other attacks in the region in recent months.

“If the situation stays like this and nations don’t help, ISIS will come back,” Khalaf warns. “We hear about it, the sleeper cells, they take advantage of the children, trying to recruit them.”
The al-Hol camp is a desolate, miserable place nations want to wish away. It stands as a legacy of yesterday’s war. More here from CNN.

Possible Details on Iran for Trump Briefings

Image result for un arms embargo iran photo/details

For context, here is the background on the UN Arms Embargo on Iran.

1. The rapidly expiring “sunset provisions” – which will lift existing restrictions on Iran’s military, missiles and nuclear programs – were a key factor in President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the flawed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May last year. The first of the sunset provisions, the arms embargo under U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231, will expire by October 18, 2020.

In its report, JCPOA Sunset Alert, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) details the hazards once UNSCR 2231’s arms transfers provisions expire. Guns, howitzers, mortars, battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships and missiles or missile systems will proliferate throughout the region.

2. The European Union is skirting the Iran sanction architecture by launching INSTEX. Based in Paris, it is managed by Per Fischer a German banker and the UK is heading the supervisory board.

The channel, set up by Germany, France and the UK, is called INSTEX — short for “Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges.”

“We’re making clear that we didn’t just talk about keeping the nuclear deal with Iran alive, but now we’re creating a possibility to conduct business transactions,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters Thursday after a meeting with European counterparts in Bucharest, Romania.

“This is a precondition for us to meet the obligations we entered into in order to demand from Iran that it doesn’t begin military uranium enrichment,” Maas said.

3. Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister has confirmed violations of stockpile limitations as well as uranium enrichment of 300kg. for low-enriched uranium. These two items are violations of the JCPOA and Europe considers this just a distraction.

4. The U.S. has sent an estimated 12 F-22 Raptor stealth fighters to Qatar, based at al Udeid Air Base to bolster defenses Iran threats. There is a B-52 bomber task force in the region. The U.S. has dispatched several army batteries that operate the Patriot Missile launchers. Much of this is due to and in preparation for the asymmetric warfare tactics in use by Iran.

5. Iran is aware they cannot match the United States militarily, so there are two other possibilities and they include attacking Israel and major cyber interruptions.

Speaking at a political conference of ultra-conservatives in Iran’s north, Mashaei said, “If the Zionist regime attacks Iran, the Zionists will have no longer than a week to live.” The semi-official Fars news agency quoted him as saying that the Islamic Republic would destroy Israel “in less than 10 days”. On the cyber front, Iran has the abilities to disrupt networks associated with power systems in the region as well as those connected to oil production and shipping. U.S. Cybercom has the authorization, by way of the NDAA to conduct what is known as TMA, traditional military activities where cyber operations are included. Last month, the NYT’s reported the U.S. did carry out cyberattacks on Iran.

6. Iran has established terror cells in Western allied countries including the United States as noted by this case reported by the FBI just last month. Additionally, Qassem Suleimani has set up terror sites in Africa prepared to strike oil fields, military installations and embassies. These operations are managed by a specialized department of the Quds Force known as Unit 400.

Iran’s New Terror Cells in Africa


Unit 400 is the special forces unit of the Quds Force, focused on planning and conducting attacks outside Iran. Within this remit, it also takes responsibility for transferring military aid to terror and guerrilla organizations around the world and coordinating their activities in order to prepare them to carry out attacks that serve the interests of the Iranian regime.

Unit 400 is an elite unit that works covertly and maintains maximum compartmentalization and secrecy. Given the sensitivity of the unit’s activities, its operations require special authorization from Quds Force chief commander Qassem Suleimani and ultimately from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The unit has been responsible for various attacks and attempted attacks that have been exposed in recent years, including the assassination of a Saudi diplomat in Pakistan in May 2011, plans to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. that were foiled in September 2011, and a series of plots in February 2012 in New Delhi, Tblisi and Bangkok.

The unit is headed by Major General Hamed Abdollahi, from the Shah-Abad district of Tehran. Abdollahi has been involved in violent terror activity including, for instance, the firing of an RPG at a Sunni mosque in Zahedan. He has served in various significant positions, including as commander of the Quds Force intelligence branch, commander of the IRGC in the Zahedan and Zabol provinces of east Iran, and as deputy to Qassem Suleimani when the latter commanded the 41st Division.  More here.

Qods Force | Iran Bulletin photo

Iran is setting up a network of terror cells in Africa to attack US and other Western targets in retaliation for Washington’s decision to impose sanctions against Tehran, according to Western security officials.

The new terror network has been established on the orders of Qassem Suleimani, the head of the Quds Force, the elite section of Iran’s Republican Guard Corps that has responsibility for overseas operations.

The aim of the new terror cell is to target US and other Western military bases on the continent, as well as embassies and officials.

The Iranian cells are said to be active in a number of African countries including Sudan, Chad, Ghana, Niger, Gambia and the Central African Republic.

“Iran is setting up a new terrorist infrastructure in Africa with the aim of attacking Western targets,” a senior Western security source told The Daily Telegraph. “It is all part of Tehran’s attempts to expand its terrorist operations across the globe.”

Intelligence officials say Iran has been working on the new terror network for the past three years since signing the nuclear deal on freezing its uranium enrichment activities with the US and other major world powers in 2015.

The operation is being organised by Unit 400, a highly specialised section of the Quds Force which is run by Hamed Abdollahi, a veteran Republican Guard officers who was designated by the US as supporting terrorist activity in 2012. Khatam-al Anbiya | Iran Business News

The African cell is said to be run by Ali Parhoon, another senior Iranian officer in Unit 400. Details of the terror cell’s existence were uncovered following a series of arrests in Chad in April.

Investigators found that Iran was behind the recruitment and training of men between the ages of 25-35 with the aim of committing terror attacks against Western targets on the continent.

There are estimated to be around 300 militants who have been recruited by the Revolutionary Guard and have undergone rigorous training at Iranian-run training camps in Syria and Iraq.

The last batch of recruits were trained at an Iranian base in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf. Iran’s attempts to establish a new terror operation in Africa follow revelations in The Telegraph earlier this month that British security officials caught terrorists linked to Iran stockpiling tonnes of explosives on the outskirts of London.

The British authorities believe this cell was also set up in 2015 after Iran signed the nuclear deal.

US diplomatic officials say a warning has been circulated to American diplomatic and military missions in the countries where Iranian militants are said to be operating, as well as missions of other Western countries, including Britain, France and Italy.

The revelation that Iran is setting up a new terror network in Africa comes at a time when Tehran has been accused of stoking tensions in the Gulf after Revolutionary Guard commanders confirmed that they were responsible for shooting down a US military drone operating close to the Strait of Hormuz.

In addition Iran has been blamed for carrying out attacks on a number of oil tankers operating in the Gulf that were damaged by mines.

More Executive Action Against Iran

Due to timing, it is assumed rather than a U.S. military strike campaign against designated targets as a result of Iran shooting down a U.S. drone, Cyber Command initiated a cyber operation. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard maintains control of the rocket and missile systems and they have been disabled as the U.S. response. Iran has confirmed the cyber-attack but also says it failed. Iran expected a response by the United States and in advance shut down several radar sites.

The United States has been inside several cyber operations in Iran for a very long time and was ready for a go order. Meanwhile, The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is warning that Iran has been advancing their own cyber operations against select US targets. It is unclear what those targets are.

President Trump spent the weekend at Camp David while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Saudi Arabia and to Abu Dhabi while NSC John Bolton is in Israel. Bolton has on his calendar meetings with the Israeli national security and atomic energy officials as the introduction of the coming peace plan proposal dealing with the Palestinians will be introduced in Bahrain.

President Donald Trump listens to a reporter's question after signing an executive order to increase sanctions on Iran, in the Oval Office of the White House, Monday, June 24, 2019, in Washington. Trump is accompanied by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, left, and Vice President Mike Pence. Photo: Alex Brandon, AP / Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Photo: Alex Brandon AP

Trump has signed yet another addition to the sanctions architecture on Iran. There is talk of sanctions relief if Iran is willing to negotiate on key topics including escalating uranium enrichment. So far, Iran has said they will not meet with the United States and will shoot down other aircraft if they impede Iran airspace. The FAA has ordered all U.S. commercial aircraft to reroute outside of the existing Iran airspace buffer zone.

There are now heavy decisions for Europe to make in their economic trade with Iran versus that of the United States and remaining in the JCPOA, the Obama nuclear deal with Iran.

The Executive Order signed by President Trump goes right to the top of the regime yet does not yet include Mohammad Javad Zarif, the top Iran diplomat, however it is said that could come later in the week.

The new round of sanctions is all about existing monies controlled by the IRGC and the Iran Supreme leader and his associates. This includes access to revenues from oil exports and freezes the financial assets of key officials where the Iran Central Bank is listed.


Additional Executive Order sanctions details:

Today’s action targets commanders of the IRGC’s Navy, Aerospace, and Ground Forces, in addition to the commanders of the IRGC Navy’s (IRGCN) five naval districts. These include the naval district commanders who are responsible for the IRGCN’s activities off the coast of the southern provinces of Khuzestan, Bushehr, and Hormozgan, which lie adjacent to the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz.

OFAC is designating IRGCN Commander Ali Reza Tangsiri pursuant to E.O. 13224 for acting for or on behalf of the IRGC. As recently as February 2019, Tangsiri threatened that the Iranian regime’s forces would close the Strait of Hormuz, an international waterway, if U.S. sanctions stopped Iran’s oil exports, and that the Iranian regime is prepared to target U.S. interests in the region. As the commander of the IRGCN, Tangsiri sits atop a structure—including those regional IRGCN commanders sanctioned today—that is responsible for the sabotage of vessels in the international waters.

Also designated today pursuant to E.O. 13224 for acting for or on behalf of the IRGC is Amirali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force, whose bureaucracy was responsible for downing the U.S. unmanned aircraft on June 20, 2019. Hajizadeh oversees Iran’s provocative ballistic missile program.

OFAC is also designating pursuant to E.O. 13224 Mohammad Pakpour, commander of the IRGC’s Ground Forces, for acting for or on behalf of the IRGC. Under Pakpour’s command, the IRGC Ground Forces have deployed to fight in Syria in support of the IRGC-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and the brutal Assad regime. In 2017, Pakpour said that the IRGC Ground Forces were in Syria to help the IRGC-QF.

OFAC is also designating the commanders of the IRGCN’s five naval districts pursuant to E.O. 13224 for acting for or on behalf of the IRGC. The IRGC is responsible for the Regime’s destabilizing and provocative naval actions in and around the Strait of Hormuz.
IRGCN commanders of five naval districts designated today are:

IRGCN 1st Naval District Commander Abbas Gholamshahi
IRGCN 2nd Naval District Commander Ramezan Zirahi
IRGCN 3rd Naval District Commander Yadollah Badin
IRGCN 4th Naval District Commander Mansur Ravankar
IRGCN 5th Naval District Commander Ali Ozma’i

The IRGC was designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 by OFAC on October 13, 2017 and it was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the Secretary of State on April 15, 2019.

Sanctions Implications

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these individuals that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

In addition, persons that engage in certain transactions with the persons designated today may themselves be exposed to designation. Furthermore, any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction or provides significant financial services for any of the individuals designated today could be subject to U.S. correspondent account or payable-through sanctions.

Iran is Cheating, Does Media Really Care About Truth?

In part from Senator Ted Cruz:

HOUSTON, Texas – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today issued a statement in response to reports that Iran has exceeded centrifuge limits set by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action urging the United States to invoke the multilateral snapback in United Nations Security Council resolution 2231:

“Today’s report by the International Atomic Energy Agency confirms what I have long said: Iran is cheating on the catastrophic Obama Iran nuclear deal. In addition to secretly storing blueprints for nuclear weapons and refusing to turn over materials related to their nuclear weapons program, now they have pushed the envelope so far on centrifuges that the cheating can no longer be denied. The nuclear deal was designed to allow cheating, with the expectation that the Ayatollahs would blackmail the parties into ignoring their behavior. I have long said the nuclear deal should be ripped to shreds, and I applaud President Trump for all of the steps his administration has taken to that end. Now it is time to take the next step and invoke the multilateral snapback in United Nations Security Council resolution 2231, which the Obama administration rushed to pass in order to lock in the nuclear deal before Congress had a chance to weigh in.”


(This may add more context to the U.S. military deployment into the region and gotta wonder what John Kerry’s rebuttal is now…heh)

As Europe has been warned countless times by the the intelligence agencies in the United States, perhaps German intelligence will make a difference…..maybe? I received the one report but could not translate it. So, here is another version.

Iran's Weapons of Mass Destruction | Center for Strategic ... photo

The German intelligence agency for the northern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern wrote in its May report that the Islamic Republic of Iran is involved in the illicit procurement of technology for weapons of mass destruction.

In the 206-page report, that was reviewed by The Jerusalem Post, the intelligence agents wrote: “The fight against the illegal proliferation of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction and the materials needed for their manufacture, as well as the corresponding delivery systems [e.g. rockets], including the necessary knowledge, in cooperation with other authorities, also is the responsibility of counterintelligence.”

The intelligence report continued, “From these points of view, it is essentially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [North Korea] and the Syrian Arab Republic that need to be mentioned. The intelligence services of these countries, in many ways, are involved in unlawful procurement activities in the field of proliferation, using globally oriented, conspiratorial business and commercial structures.”

The Mecklenburg-Vorpommern security officials noted that Iran’s regime, the Russian Federation and China are the main engines of intelligence gathering and should be viewed within a “security-related” context.

The Mecklenburg-Vorpommern report covers the year 2018 and was published just days after a damning Bavarian state intelligence report on Iran’s illicit activities.

According to the Bavarian report, Iran’s regime is “making efforts to expand its conventional arsenal of weapons with weapons of mass destruction.” The Bavarian agents define weapons of mass destruction as “the spread of atomic, biological, chemical weapons of mass destruction.”

Iran was termed a “risk country” in the 335-page Bavarian document outlining serious threats to the security and democracy of the state of Bavaria.

German domestic intelligence agencies are situated in each of the country’s 16 states and are roughly equivalent to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).

The Bavarian report noted that the country’s criminal customs police prevented an electronic beam-welding machine from being sold to Iran.

“The machine can be used for the production of [missile] launch vehicles,” said the document.

According to the report, extensive attempts were made “to disguise the actual customer in Iran” with respect to the machine. The real end-user was in Iran but the illicit activity said the end-user company was in Malaysia. The efforts to illegally bypass German export control regulations resulted in a criminal conviction of the director of the Bavarian-based company that sought to sell the welding machine to Iran.

The Bavarian agency said it will continue “to monitor whether Iran consistently and consequently complies with the agreement signed in July 2015.”