Yes, Secretary Mattis, there IS a Land Bridge

So, all terror roads in the Middle East still lead to Tehran. At the direction of Tehran, Hezbollah, the Iranian militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp operations is selection regions across the globe with wild abandon.

January 2018, in a question and answer session: Q: On Iran’s role in Iraq and Syria, do you believe that a land bridge exists between Iran and Syria through Iraq? And, if so, are you concerned about it? Is there anything the United States can do about it?

SEC. MATTIS: No, I don’t — I don’t think there’s a land bridge right now. There’s still enough rough times — you know, rough terrain, rough enemy units that haven’t been cleaned up, and all the usual cleanup going on, and — plus you’ve got the combination of where the people we’re fighting — advising and that sort of thing in Syria are abutting, in some cases, the Russian forces who are helping the regime, abutting the Turkish elements. There’s — I don’t think there’s a land bridge right now.

*** So, while the United States along with France and Britain delivered 105 missiles to take out three chemical weapons locations in Syria, other locations remain in addition to the Assad air assets. Russia, North Korea, and Tehran were all watching for weeks the actions of the West. Russia declares the most recent chemical weapons attack was at the hand of the White Helmets, then it was a ploy by Britain, then it was a CIA operation. Meanwhile, the chemical weapons inspection envoy arriving in Douma, the suburb of Damascus had to find cover after being fired upon.

That brings us back to domestic threats and the strategy as developed by the Trump administration in dealing with Iran and Russia, much less Iraq. Is there one other than the threat of exiting the JCPOA? Not so far it seems. The increasing threat? Satellite land bridges perhaps….from Latin America to covert cells across our homeland.


Iranian-backed militants are operating across the United States mostly unfettered, raising concerns in Congress and among regional experts that these “sleeper cell” agents are poised to launch a large-scale attack on the American homeland, according to testimony before lawmakers.

Iranian agents tied to the terror group Hezbollah have already been discovered in the United States plotting attacks, giving rise to fears that Tehran could order a strike inside America should tensions between the Trump administration and Islamic Republic reach a boiling point.

Intelligence officials and former White House officials confirmed to Congress on Tuesday that such an attack is not only plausible, but relatively easy for Iran to carry out at a time when the Trump administration is considering abandoning the landmark nuclear deal and reapplying sanctions on Tehran.

There is mounting evidence that Iran poses “a direct threat to the homeland,” according to Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee and chair of its subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence.

A chief concern is “Iranian support for Hezbollah, which is active in the Middle East, Latin America, and here in the U.S., where Hezbollah operatives have been arrested for activities conducted in our own country,” King said, referring the recent arrest of two individuals plotting terror attacks in New York City and Michigan.

“Both individuals received significant weapons training from Hezbollah,” King said. “It is clear Hezbollah has the will and capability.”

After more than a decade of receiving intelligence briefs, King said he has concluded that “Hezbollah is probably the most experienced and professional terrorist organization in the world,” even more so than ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Asked if Iran could use Hezbollah to conduct strikes on the United States, a panel of experts including intelligence officials and former White House insiders responded in the affirmative.

“They are as good or better at explosive devices than ISIS, they are better at assassinations and developing assassination cells,” said Michael Pregent, a former intelligence officer who worked to counter Iranian influence in the region. “They’re better at targeting, better at looking at things,” and they can outsource attacks to Hezbollah.

“Hezbollah is smart,” Pregent said. “They’re very good at keeping their communications secure, keeping their operational security secure, and, again, from a high profile attack perspective, they’d be good at improvised explosive devices.”

Others testifying before Congress agreed with this assessment.

“The answer is absolutely. We do face a threat,” said Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who has long tracked Iran’s militant efforts. “Their networks are present in the Untied States.”

Iran is believed to have an auxiliary fighting force or around 200,000 militants spread across the Middle East, according to Nader Uskowi, a onetime policy adviser to U.S. Central Command and current visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

At least 50 to 60 thousand of these militants are “battle tested” in Syria and elsewhere.

“It doesn’t take many of them to penetrate this country and be a major threat,” Uskowi said. “They can pose a major threat to our homeland.”

While Iran is currently more motivated to use its proxies such as Hezbollah regionally for attacks against Israel or U.S. forces, “those sleeper cells” positioned in the United States could be used to orchestrate an attack, according to Brian Katulis, a former member of the White House National Security Council under President Bill Clinton.

“The potential is there, but the movement’s center of focus is in the region,” said Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Among the most pressing threats to the U.S. homeland is Hezbollah’s deep penetration throughout Latin America, where it finances its terror activities by teaming up with drug cartels and crime syndicates.

“Iran’s proxy terror networks in Latin America are run by Tehran’s wholly owned Lebanese franchise Hezbollah,” according to Ottolenghi. “These networks are equal part crime and terror” and have the ability to provide funding and logistics to militant fighters.

“Their presence in Latin America must be viewed as a forward operating base against America’s interest in the region and the homeland itself,” he said.

These Hezbollah operatives exploit loopholes in the U.S. immigration system to enter America under the guise of legitimate business.

Operatives working for Hezbollah and Iran use the United States “as a staging ground for trade-based and real estate-based money laundering.” They “come in through the front door with a legitimate passport and a credible business cover story,” Ottolenghi said.

The matter is further complicated by Iran’s presence in Syria, where it has established not only operating bases, but also weapons factories that have fueled Hezbollah’s and Hamas’s war on Israel.

Iran’s development of advanced ballistic missile and rocket technology—which has continued virtually unimpeded since the nuclear deal was enacted—has benefitted terror groups such as Hezbollah.

“Iran is increasing Hezbollah’s capability to target Israel with more advanced and precision guided rockets and missiles,” according to Pregent. “These missiles are being developed in Syria under the protection of Syrian and Russian air defense networks.”

In Iraq, Iranian forces “have access to U.S. funds and equipment in the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and Iraq’s Ministry of Interior,” Pregent said.

The Trump administration has offered tough talk on Iran, but failed to take adequate action to dismantle its terror networks across the Middle East, as well as in Latin American and the United States itself, according to CAP’s Katulis.

“The Trump administration has talked a good game and has had strong rhetoric, but I would categorize its approach vis-à-vis Iran as one of passive appeasement,” said Katulis. “We simply have not shown up in a meaningful way.”

Iran’s Nuclear Program, Deviations From JCPOA

Primer: from a former Pentagon official

The Iran nuclear agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), all but guaranteed a nuclear Iran no later than 2030, necessitating U.S. withdrawal at some point to prevent a critical threat to American national security interests. But there was no urgency for Washington to do so.

What was pressing, following the Iran-Russia alliance with Bashar al-Assad gaining the upper hand in Syria’s civil war in 2016-17, was to roll back Tehran’s growing regional hegemony. Addressing this first would also have offered Trump more leverage with Iran in correcting the nuclear deal’s deep flaws.

Trump pledged to address both elements of the Iranian threat, but he has resisted confronting Iran regionally. Recently, he insisted upon the urgency of pulling out of Syria once Islamic State is defeated and his desire to let “other people take care of it now.” Those caretakers would be Iranians and Russians. This approach will raise the likelihood of an Iranian-Israel conflict over Syria, where the Assad regime is believed to be behind a weekend chemical weapons attack that killed dozens near Damascus and which in turn is blaming Israel for an attack on a Syrian airbase that killed several Iranian military personnel 24 hours later. Much more here to his cogent summary.

Iran to continue building at Arak nuclear site despite ... Arak photo

MEMRI: In advance of Iran’s National Nuclear Technology Day, on April 9, this document focuses on a number of steps taken by the Iranian regime to maintain and further develop Iran’s nuclear capabilities – steps that deviate from the framework of the JCPOA nuclear deal, and that in some cases even blatantly violate it. This paper will address the following:

1. Iran’s intention to enrich uranium above the percentage permitted in JCPOA.

2. Leaving the plutonium core of the reactor at Arak unblocked and usable.

3. Iran’s refusal to allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections at its military sites.

1. Iran Announces Decision “To Construct Naval Nuclear Propulsion” – While Naval Nuclear Propulsion Requires Uranium Enriched To 60%-90%

On December 13, 2016, just six months after the JCPOA was finalized, Iranian President Hassan Rohani sent a letter to Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) director Ali Akbar Salehi instructing him as follows: “As part of Iran’s nuclear program for peaceful purposes, and in the framework of Iran’s international commitments, the AEOI must formulate a plan to produce nuclear fuel for naval transportation, in cooperation with [Iran’s] scientific and research centers.”[1] It should be noted that nuclear propulsion requires uranium enriched to 60%-90%.

Shortly thereafter, on December 26, 2016, AEOI deputy director and spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi, who was a member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, clarified to the Iranian Arabic-language Al-‘Alam TV: “The fuel is in effect for ships and submarines. At this time, Iran has a naval fleet [deployed] around the world, and with regard to submarines, Iran has long-term plans…

“There are various types of [nuclear] fuel, even fuel at 95% [enrichment, which is suitable for developing a nuclear bomb]. What is important is that Iran wants to carry this out in accordance with the JCPOA, but this does not mean that if we require 20%[-enriched] fuel that we will abandon this [the plan to enrich uranium to 60%-90%].”[2]

On March 25, 2017, Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Chairman Alaa Al-Din Boroujerdi explained: “Iran’s naval potential must be addressed, because Iran has a great deal of international maritime transportation, and therefore we need to use nuclear fuel capability. This is a capability that we will leverage for the oceans, and for submarine fuel. The matter of nuclear fuel [for this purpose] is an issue on which the IAEA will be informed… To date, we have not received any objections in this matter from the international institutions.”[3]

It should be emphasized that submarines are not used for civilian or commercial maritime purposes. In an August 28, 2017 interview with the Iranian news agency IRNA, Salehi explained the matter of producing nuclear fuel for naval transportation, saying: “A horizon of 10-15 years should be set so that this project will materialize… At this time, the research team is ready, and we have given it a place to directly advance this project. It should be noted that this industry has its own complications. We must place a pressurized reactor on a vessel and we must consider the risks. If the vessel is harmed or sunk, peoples’ lives will be in danger.

“We have said many times that this type of activity is Iran’s certain right. It creates capability for us. I also spoke about this to [IAEA secretary-general Yukia] Amano, and the important thing is that our activity is carried out under IAEA oversight.”[4]

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, who was  a senior member of the nuclear negotiating team, told Iranian Channel One in a January 13, 2018  interview: “We have responded to America’s moves for renewal of the ISA [Congress’s 1996 Iran Sanctions Act, extended by the Senate on December 1, 2016 for a further 10 years], and Iranian President [Rohani] has ordered the production of nuclear fuel [for maritime transportation, which requires enrichment to 60%-90%], and this is considered a strategic move [on our part].”[5]

On February 22, 2018, an IAEA report noted for the first time that Iran had, in a January 6, 2018 letter, informed the agency that it had decided “to construct naval nuclear propulsion in future.” The IAEA said in the report that it had asked Tehran to provide “further clarifications and amplifications under the Additional Protocol” by May 2018.

Also according to the IAEA report, Iran had added that since this matter was still in the early stages, it would provide the required information as soon as it was available.[6]


The Iranian regime’s intention to “construct naval nuclear propulsion” means only one thing: an advance announcement that it intends to enrich uranium to a higher level that it was permitted on the JCPOA (3.67%) to a level of 60%-95% required for nuclear propulsion for ships or submarines. As noted, submarines are not used for civilian or commercial maritime traffic. It should be noted that 95% enriched uranium can be used by Iran to produce a nuclear bomb.

With this announcement, Iran is taking the first practical step to eliminating its fundamental obligation in the JCPOA not to enrich uranium above 3.67%.

2. Is Iran Permitted To Maintain The Plutonium Core At Arak?

According to a series of tweets on January 21-22 by Iranian Ambassador to the UK Hamid Baeidinejad, who was also a member of the Iranian nuclear negotiating team, during the talks for the JCPOA Iran had demanded that it be allowed to keep the core of the heavy water reactor at Arak undamaged. He added that Iran had filled only the core’s holes with cement, so that it could reactivate it when necessary, as had been previously confirmed by AEOI director Salehi (see below). Baeidinejad tweeted:

“For us, preserving the essence of the reactor at Arak as a heavy water reactor, and modernizing it, are considered the most important outcomes, and the achievement of which we are the most proud, in the JCPOA. The Western psy-ops organization wants to convert this triumph into a defeat [for us], and therefore presented a false picture of the filling of the reactor core with cement, which was attended by reporters who realized that this was fake. We must beware of the enemy’s plot.”[7]

“After we forced the members of the P5+1 into allowing us to preserve the reactor at Arak as a heavy water reactor, and to modernize it, they claimed that modernizing the core, i.e., the  calandria, meant replacing it with a new one. In order to prevent the misuse, or the possible use [of the old calandria], they insisted on sending it outside Iran.”[8]

“Iran objected to this, and noted that it would not send any of its nuclear equipment out of the country. After lengthy talks, we realized that there was a need to find a technical way to prevent the immediate use of the core. They proposed welding the core, which is steel, and cutting it into pieces.[9]

“Iran opposed this proposal and noted that it wants to put the core in a museum on public display showing the creativity of Iran’s scientists. Ultimately, it was suggested that the holes of the core, not the core itself, be filled with cement so that it could not be used immediately.”[10]

Supporters of Baeidinejad’s statements tweeted the photo below and noted that the image on the right had been doctored to show the core filled with cement, and that this photo had been circulated by opponents of the JCPOA in Iran who wanted to show a false picture of Iran’s submission to the demands of the West. The image on the left, they said, was an actual photo of the Arak reactor taken by the reporters mentioned by Baeidinejad.

Photos of the Arak plutonium reactor (Source:, January 22, 2018.

AEOI director Salehi also stated that the core had not been filled with cement, and that “we [actually] poured cement only into some of the reactor’s pipelines, [pipes] several centimeters in diameter and two to three meters long. [We poured it] not into the reactor itself but [only] into the external pipes… ” (see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1341, Head Of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization: Only External Pipelines Of Arak Reactor Were Filled With Cement, Its Core Was Not; Within Five Days, We Can Begin Enriching Uranium To 20%, September 1, 2017).

3. Is The IAEA Allowed Access To Iran’s Military Sites?

The discussion on the issue of IAEA access to Iran’s military sites has been ongoing since July 2015, with the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2231 that set out the elements of the JCPOA. Iranian regime spokesmen continue to claim that neither the JCPOA, the NPT nor the Additional Protocol allow IAEA inspectors to enter Iranian military sites.

On January 14, 2018,  AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said: “No one in Iran will allow the IAEA access to the military sites, and this matter is not mentioned in the [NPT] treaty, the Additional Protocol, or the JCPOA. I reject the four conditions of the American president in the matter of continuing [the implementation ] of the JCPOA. In the past, there was the matter of visits to military sites such as Parchin. [But] this file was closed, and now there is no issue that the IAEA has presented in this matter that [justifies] allowing them access to military sites. The American president is making unfounded statements in this matter, perhaps because he knows that we, like other countries, are sensitive in this matter, and he expects us to immediately say that we do not agree and in fact oppose it vehemently. Thus he is trying to leverage [our refusal] so that he can say that Iran is not willing to allow access under any conditions.

“There are rules for access [to military sites]. We cannot possibly allow access casually, or allow [visits] out of [mere] curiosity. Everything [in this matter] has rules, and these rules are presented and set out in the Additional Protocol. Actually, the Protocol does not mention access to undeclared sites. Even when a particular place is declared [as nuclear, proof must be presented that] nuclear activity [actually] takes place there.

“We are conducting no nuclear activity whatsoever at any of our sites, and we are not a country that wants a [nuclear] bomb or weapons.

“It is the Americans who have stated that Iran wants [nuclear] weapons, and because they themselves are acting to [produce them?] at [their own] military sites, they have concluded that there must be access to these sites [in Iran].

“In recent years, the only instance presented in this matter was the issue of the PMD [Possible Military Dimension s] and they [the Americans] made a lot of noise about it for no reason. They raised the issue of Parchin, and after [IAEA General Director Amano] visited [there] and samples were provided [by Iran], it became clear that their noise in this matter was baseless, and this file was closed forever. Therefore the IAEA has not brought up any plan in the matter of access to military sites, and also is not talking about it [any longer]. If Trump thinks that Iran or any other country will open the doors of its sites, particular military sites, so that they [the West] will take advantage of this and want to spy, [he needs to know that] this is not going to happen in Iran, and that Iran will not allow anyone to do such a thing.

“Our obligations under the JCPOA are carried out according to the Additional Protocol. We are responding to the IAEA’s questions, and  complementary access  is in accordance with what is presented in the Additional Protocol. The IAEA has indicated this in several reports, and it is completely satisfied, and as of now no issue in the matter of access is on its table. If there are such matters, the IAEA must present them, and say so.

“It is inconceivable for America to say that it wants access to Iran’s military sites without asking the IAEA, or that it has any information at all on them [the sites] . These actions on its part are aimed solely at finding a pretext to elicit a negative response from Iran. Iran will certainly say ‘no,’ and this [access to its military sites] will not happen. Trump must not interpret this matter as Iran’s insufficient cooperation with the IAEA. We are sufficiently cooperating with the IAEA, as cooperation was clearly defined in the [NPT] treaty, in the [Additional] Protocol, and in the JCPOA. Even the IAEA has expressed satisfaction [with Iran’s cooperation]. The IAEA has no question in the matter that is on the table, and therefore it is not concerned. Trump needs to worry [only if] the IAEA is worried…”[11]

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, told Iranian Channel One in his January 13, 2018 interview: “The Americans thought that visiting military centers constitutes a weak point for us, and Iran cannot agree to [these visits] in any way. They tried to pull the IAEA in this direction, and invested months of efforts in ripping up the JCPOA at Iran’s expense, but did not succeed…

“It is the IAEA that needs to determine where and what to visit. This is a technical and professional matter whose framework is set out in the Additional Protocol and the JCPOA.

“Our nuclear facilities are under oversight. Beyond this, there are principles. America cannot tell the IAEA where it should go. We have acted with the IAEA in a way that [the agency] always stresses – and that way is that Iran is fully cooperating [with it].

“The IAEA has not asked to visit military centers, and things don’t work that way either – i.e. that it asks and that we approve [the request]. We will not allow the IAEA to interfere any more than it has to…”[12]


* A. Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iran Media Project; U. Kafash is a MEMRI Research Fellow.

Why Did Trump Hire McMaster in the First Place?

Much has been written about Trump’s now former National Security Counsel advisor H.R. McMaster who at one time was General Petraeus’ ‘go-to’ tank operations expert in Iraq. The 3-star general from the outset never really gelled in a cohesive policy relationship with President Trump and the chatter for months in DC was that his time at the White House was going to be short.

McMaster Worked at Think Tank Backed by Soros-Funded Group ...

Question is who recommended McMaster to Trump in the first place and who did the background investigation such that Trump accepted and confirmed him to lead the National Security Council?

“After 34 years of service to our nation,” the lieutenant general said, “I am requesting retirement from the U.S. Army effective this summer, after which I will leave public service.” A White House official told VOA that the president and McMaster had mutually agreed upon McMaster’s resignation, after discussing it for some time. The official said the president asked McMaster to stay on until mid-April to ensure a smooth transition, and McMaster agreed. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, known as West Point, McMaster earned a Silver Star for leadership during the Persian Gulf War when, as a cavalry commander, he led a small contingent of U.S. tanks to destroy 80 Iraqi tanks and other vehicles. More here.

Well, the Daily Caller did some remarkable deeper work on McMaster spelling out how Trump never should have brought him on board in the first place. The other question remains on why the Pentagon did not advise McMaster on terminating his outside relationship especially with some rogue nations.

  • Outgoing National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster worked for a foreign-based think tank for 11 years before assuming his post
  • The think tank has ties to Russia, China, the Uranium One deal and Bahrain
  • Career armed forces officers spoke out against the arrangement

Outgoing National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster served for more than a decade as a consultant to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, a foreign-based think-tank that has received funding from hostile foreign governments to include Russia and China, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.

The career soldier ended his employment at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in February 2017 after President Donald Trump tapped him to serve as his national security adviser following the resignation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

McMaster is planning to leave the NSC in April, to be replaced by former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The outgoing NSC official said in a statement, he was “requesting retirement from the U.S. Army effective this summer after which I will leave public service.”

The general, who did not leave the Army to assume his NSC post, was one of only two White House national security chiefs who retained active duty status while working at the White House. The other general was Gen. Colin Powell.

McMaster never publicized his decade-long outside consultant work with the foreign-based think tank that often supported a globalist agenda opposed by Trump. IISS often espoused foreign and military policies that served as the centerpiece of the Obama presidency, including support for the former president’s Iran nuclear deal.

While his 11 years at the institute were never part of his official military biography, former military officers who learned of it were harshly critical of his unusual moonlighting.

Veteran military officers expressed disbelief at McMaster’s consulting work at a foreign-based think tank that receives funding from hostile governments. They called the arrangement “unethical” and “unprecedented.”

IISS operates offices in the Bahrain, Singapore and Washington, D.C. It generally reflects a globalist “realist” Eurocentric view of foreign and military postures that’s at odds with Trump’s foreign policy. The think-tank was a major advocate of former President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

IISS receives funding from friendly Western sources such as aerospace firms and even the British army, but is also has received funding from the Russian Federation, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the governments of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Qatar, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, according to the IISS website.

During McMaster’s time at IISS, the think tank also received $700,000 from George Soros’s Open Society and $140,000 from Ploughshares, the pacifist organization that aggressively pushed for Obama’s Iran nuclear deal.

The organization’s council — its board of directors — also is filled with people who have ties to the Kremlin, to the Qatari emir who has been accused of supporting terrorists, to people associated with the Uranium One scandal, and with a Russian investment bank that paid former President Bill Clinton $500,000 for a single speech.

“This is bizarre,” retired Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin said in an interview with TheDCNF. “If that kind of information was available to The Trump administration before they selected him, the question is: Would they have selected him for this very job?”

The Army told TheDCNF that from 2006 when he first joined IISS as a “senior research associate” until he left in 2017, he did file annual financial disclosure forms notifying the Army of payments he received from the institute.

McMaster’s office did not respond to a DCNF request for his current financial disclosure form, which he was required to submit in 2017 as a White House employee.

Retired Rear Adm. James “Ace” Lyons, who served 35 years in the Navy, including a stint as commander of the Pacific Fleet, told TheDCNF McMaster’s consulting role at the think tank was “absurd.”

“It is really absurd that an active duty military officer, particularly one of flag rank, is a consultant to a foreign organization that is taking money and contributions from questionable countries that are known enemies of the United States,” Lyons told TheDCNF in an interview. “This to me seems to be outside the bounds of what we’re committed to. This is atrocious.”

“I’ve never seen this kind of thing before,” said Boykin, a 36-year veteran who served as under secretary for defense intelligence for President George W. Bush.

Boykin said he was convinced any commanding officer would have rejected McMaster’s proposed consulting work at IISS. “I cannot believe that the ethics people of the U.S. Army would approve of him doing that, and I can’t believe that any responsible person he worked for in the Army would have agreed to that.”

William J. Sharp, a public affairs civilian attached to U.S. Army Headquarters, told TheDCNF the Army accepted McMaster’s proposed consulting work at IISS without any prior approval because they regarded the think tank as not falling under the category of a “prohibited source.”

The term “prohibited source” relates to a company that seeks a business or other formal contractual relationship from the Department of Defense. Using that limited standard, the Army concluded IISS was not a prohibited source and McMaster did not need to obtain prior approval from military superiors.

“IISS is not a prohibited source for Army personnel,” Sharp told TheDCNF in an email. “Therefore, LTG McMaster was not required to obtain approval prior to consulting for IISS.”

“I’m surprised at this,” Boykin said. “I find this in my view and in my experience of 36 years to be unprecedented, and I would love to see an authorization. And if it’s an open-ended authorization — if there’s one at all — then I would be willing to bet you it was an error on the part of whoever provided that authorization. You just can’t do this on your own,” he told TheDCNF.

Retired Special Forces Col. James Williamson told TheDCNF he considered it “very unusual” for an active duty officer to serve for a decade at any educational institution. “It’s very unusual for a general officer on active duty to have that type of affiliation over that timespan,” he said. “I’ve had friends that have gone to Harvard or the Fletcher School at Tufts, but they’re U.S.-based.” He said most terms were for a short duration — usually six months to a year.

In fact, the military approves and even encourages active duty officers to seek temporary assignments with American educational institutions and think tanks. But those assignments are very short and rarely extend for more than a year.

Williamson said active duty military officers have plenty of private sector and think tank opportunities after they leave military service. “We have other people who served in London, but they’re not on active duty. They’re retired officers and there’s no problem with that,” he said.

Williamson, a counter terrorism specialist who served with NATO and U.S. Southern Command, said he regarded McMaster’s work as posing a basic “conflict of interest” in light of funding from hostile governments. That funding “would almost make it a de facto conflict of interest in my eyes.”

Retired U.S. Air Force Col. James Waurishuk, who also worked at the NSC, agreed. “I would be concerned about the work he’s doing and how it applies in relation to a think-tank that’s taking money from perhaps adversarial foreign governments. That would be of concern to me,” he said.

Williamson also shared the same view and added that even working at a London think tank poses problems. “Even our closest allies don’t have the same agendas and priorities that we do,” he said.

During his 11 years with IISS, the group promoted McMaster’s activities. A review of previous IISS websites by TheDCNF shows he was highlighted between six and 10 times each year.

IISS praised McMaster when he joined the Trump White House. Jonathan Stevenson, an Obama NSC official who also is a senior fellow at IISS, wrote a fawning opinion piece about McMaster in The New York Times. He called him a “compelling choice: a scholar-warrior” and “both a proven cavalry officer and a formidable defense intellectual.” Stevenson wrote McMaster could save Trump, and the general’s appointment, “should augur at least a fleeting period of stability at the dysfunctional National Security Council.”

Igor Yurgen has been on the IISS Council since 2010. He is chairman of Rennaissance Capital Group, which awarded Bill Clinton $500,00 in speaking fees.

Russia Today, a pro-Kremlin news organization, once described Yurgen as “one of Russia’s most influential experts close to [former] President Dmitry Medvedev.”

“He is remarkably skilled at combining public, business and political careers,” according to RT.

Another council member is Michael Rich, an executive vice president of the RAND Corp. But significantly, he is co-chair of the board of overseers of a project called the RAND Qatar Policy Institute.

The Qatar Policy Institute is also part of the Qatar Foundation, started by Qatar’s former emir, Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, and his wife, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser.

Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states accuse Qatar of supporting Islamic terrorism. Al Thani has supported the Taliban in Afghanistan, Hamas in the Gaza Strip, militias in Libya, and the Muslim Brotherhood, The New York Times reported in 2014. The Emir personally traveled in 2012 to the Gaza Strip, where he received a hero’s welcome as he pledged to work with the terrorist group Hamas. Al Thani also founded Al Jazeera, the pro-Muslim Brotherhood television news channel.

Badr Jafar, another current council member, is the son of Hamid Jafar, who founded the biggest private equity firm in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Badr is the CEO of Crescent Enterprises who, with his father Hamid Jafar, engineered an oil exploration partnership between their Emirates-based company, Crescent Petroleum with the Boris Kovalchuk, CEO of the Russian company of Inter Rao UES.

News agencies in the United Arab Emirates hailed the 2010 financial deal between Crescent and Moscow. “Russian state news agencies began their coverage of the recent high-level meeting in Moscow between Crescent officials, the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, and the Iraqi former prime minister Dr Ayad Allawi by linking the names of Hamid Jafar and Mr Putin,” according to the National Business report.

Russian President Vladimir Putin decreed that all shares of Inter Rao UES be transferred to the Russian state-owned atomic energy agency called Rosatom. Kovalchuk is a Kremlin confidant who served as a vice president of Rosatom. Americans know about Rosatom because of its purchase of Uranium One, which was made possible by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s support for the Russian acquisition.

While McMaster was a consultant at IISS the organization was a strong, unwavering supporter of President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

Mark Fitzpatrick, its director for non-proliferation and disarmament was the most outspoken IISS director for the nuclear deal calling it in 2015 a “a potential game changer in many ways, opening a path to better relations with Iran that has been closed for more than 35 years.” Fitzpatrick said the deal “makes it demonstrably less likely Iran will become nuclear-armed now and in the future.”

IISS also entered domestic American politics by defending the Democratic Party during the 2016 presidential campaign. It flatly stated following the release of emails from the Democratic National Committee it “revealed no evidence of significant wrongdoing within the Democratic Party.”

IISS also has been criticized for the secrecy of its activities and its routine denial of visas for reporters seeking to attend its overseas events, particularly its annual event in Bahrain where human right groups accuse the government of silencing critics and keeping journalists away.

BahrainWatch, a human rights group published an investigation in December 2016 claiming that even well known American journalists have been barred from its Bahrain conferences called the “Manama Dialogue.”

“New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof has openly called for an invitation since 2011, though his media visa was once again rejected last year. Wall Street Journal journalist Yaroslav Trofimov was also denied a visa.

Waurishuk concluded that McMaster’s relationship with IISS raises too many alarms.

“There’s too many red flags that kind of go up,” he said.

Neither IISS Washington nor IISS London returned repeated queries about McMaster.

How Israel Protects Schools



By: Michael Csere, Legislative Fellow

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What steps Israel has taken to protect its public schools and university students from terrorist attacks and gun violence? Granted, Israel is smaller and has a vast number of terror threats as compared to the United States, however security there is a duty of just about every citizen.


Our research indicates that Israel has taken a number of steps to protect schools and students from terrorist attacks and gun violence, with a greater emphasis on the former.

Israeli law currently requires a guard in schools of 100 or more students. These guards are generally employed by private security companies, while the Israel Police (the country’s civilian police force) have overall responsibility for guidance, oversight, and control for the entire security system of educational institutions, from kindergartens through universities. The law permits certain individuals to carry firearms in schools.

There has been considerable controversy over the law’s funding and implementation, including criticism of the expertise and capability of the guards. While not required to have them, some schools, notably smaller ones, have experienced difficulty funding security guards.

Additionally, the Israeli Ministry of Education has provided funding to (1) construct shelters and fences, (2) add reinforced protection to school buses, (3) hire and train security guards, and (4) provide professional psychological care to treat students’ emotional reactions to terrorist attacks. Armed security guards sometimes accompany students on field trips, although it is unclear whether this is currently mandated or how frequently it occurs.

The Ministry has also collaborated with the Israel Police to provide security awareness training elementary-age students. And at least one high school has adopted its own security protocols.


Security Guards

According to officials at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem and the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., Israeli law currently requires educational institutions with more than 100 students to post a guard. The Security and Emergency Department within the Israel Police has the overall responsibility to provide security for all schools and surrounding areas, while the guards actually stationed at the schools are generally employed by private security companies working with local authorities. The principal of each school oversees the specific security arrangements, and must appoint a designated security aide to assist with these arrangements.

By law, the guard must check the school site 30 minutes before school starts. He or she then checks people and vehicles entering the school and can permit or refuse entry to unauthorized people. The guard is generally stationed at the school entrance and is responsible for security outside the school (but not internal security issues, like fights between students). In the event of actual hostile activity (essentially terrorist in nature), the guard must engage with the attacker or attackers.

In the last Knesset (the Israeli legislature), a bill was introduced authorizing guards to intervene in certain cases inside schools. This was in response to a perceived rise in non-terror-related violent incidents in schools (i.e., fights between students). The proposal failed.

Authorization to Carry Firearms in Schools

The law permits the following people to carry firearms in schools:

  1. the guards (provided they are the security company’s property and not their own weapons),
  2. authorized Education Ministry personnel using ministry firearms,
  3. the police, and
  4. the army.

According to the U.S. and Israeli embassies, the lawful purposes for carrying firearms are to (1) protect school personnel and students, (2) create a sense of security, (3) deter the ill-intentioned, and (4) provide self-defense. The guard must possess a valid license to carry guns issued by the Ministry of Public Security and the Israel Police. The qualifications of the license holder normally include a high school diploma, clean record, and weapons training. Additionally, strict protocols and guidance exist regarding carrying a weapon and the types of weapons that can be carried.


According to an Israeli Embassy official, the security apparatus for each educational institution is determined by the threat level for that particular institution. For instance, there is a difference in specific security arrangements between institutions near the Green Line (the demarcation lines set out in the 1949 Armistice agreements between Israel and its neighbors), those in cities with mixed populations, and those in cities near conflict zones (i.e., the northern and southern borders). Most of the institutions have fences, cameras, and an armed security guard stationed at the school entrance.

The Israel Police create a file for each institution, which includes the number of students and staff, phones, means of communication, and private security companies that work with the school. The Police also visit and inspect schools, and make daily contact with civilian security companies. The Police inspect and train private security companies, and provide guidance to local government security officers.

Professor Gerald Steinberg, a professor of Political Science at Bar-Ilan University in Israel and the Executive Director of NGO Monitor (an organization that provides information and analysis on the activities of non-governmental organizations), noted that the specific response to terrorist attacks and gun violence varies by school. While armed guards, police, or soldiers are stationed at some schools, in less threatened areas unarmed guards or parents are stationed at the school’s entrance to check for unauthorized people and suspicious packages. Professor Steinberg also noted that cameras are used in some schools, and in his opinion, provide only a minor deterrent. He further asserted that the greater threat of attacks in Israel comes from Palestinian and allied terrorists living outside Israel’s borders rather than domestic threats, thus schools are defended on that basis. In fact, he stated, Israelis have used weapons in domestic conflicts in very few cases.

The U.S. Embassy official noted several areas of controversy over the posting of security guards in schools. For example, the actions and competence of the guards have been criticized, and there have been arguments over funding.

As noted above, the guards are generally private security company employees. Local police refuse to guard schools themselves: for professional reasons, they regard it as a waste of manpower and prefer to use roving car patrols and intelligence activities to protect the educational institutions. The guards themselves have been criticized: they are not highly paid (frequently earning close to minimum wage), leading some to question their ability to repel a determined attacker. Also, a few guards have used their company guns to pursue inappropriate or illegal matters, which has drawn further criticism. For example, in one case, a guard was tried for manslaughter after shooting dead an electrical repair technician who tried to get into a school by climbing over a fence..

Additionally, disputes have arisen between the finance ministry, local authorities, the Ministry for Internal Security (oversees the Israel Police), and the Education Ministry as to who should pay for the guards. Because certain minimum student enrollment is required to qualify for government funding for security needs, a number of smaller schools have had difficulty paying for security guards. In response, the United Jewish Communities’ Israel Emergency Campaign and various Jewish communities abroad have raised money to provide security at smaller schools.


The Ministry of Education, together with the Israel Police’s Community & Civil Guard Department, designed and implemented a preventive care program for elementary schools called “Elementary Security.” The program aims to encourage safe behavior and prevent all forms of violence through a series of classroom lessons taught by a community police officer in conjunction with the teacher. It focuses on the role of police officers, forms of violence, and safe behavior.

The Eisendrath International Exchange High School in Israel reports that it has taken the following safety and security measures to protect students:

  1. daily review of itineraries and changes as needed to provide the highest level of security,
  2. daily consultations with the security department of the Jewish Agency for Israel,
  3. no travel through Palestinian controlled areas of the West Bank or Gaza Strip,
  4. use of the school’s own chartered buses rather than public transportation,
  5. Israeli-trained security guard traveling with each group on a daily basis,
  6. orientation for staff and participants including safety and security procedures and protocols, and
  7. contingency plans to move groups to safety or bring groups home if necessary.


Eisendrath International Exchange High School in Israel, Safety and Security, last visited on February 4, 2013.

Israel Ministry of Education, The Israeli Education System Strives to Protect Its Schools and Students from Terror, last visited on February 4, 2013.

Israel Ministry of Public Security, Elementary Security: Learning About Crime Prevention, last visited on February 4, 2013.

The Jewish Agency for Israel, Safety of Children a Top Priority, last visited on February 4, 2013.

The WH, DHS and State Taking on a Higher Middle East Threat

We have been making demands to list the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror organization for years. While other allied nations have taken a more aggressive posture with listing the Muslim Brotherhood as a threat, the United States remains uncommitted. Are some pieces beginning to line up for national security?

The State Department is at least taking ‘some’ steps however in the right direction, but it regards Egypt.

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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid welcomed the decision made by the United States to include the groups of “Hasm” and “Lewaa El-Thawra”, affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization, on the US list of terrorist organizations. He regarded the decision as a positive development in the recognition of Egypt’s international partners, primarily the UnIted States, of the danger the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots pose to the security and stability of Egypt and its people.

 The Spokesperson added that the US decision is a practical display of solidarity with Egypt against terrorism, and the despicable attempts that aim to hinder its developmental trajectory and economic launch. This stance was recently expressed by the US officials at the highest levels, and represents an important step forward towards adopting an international comprehensive and effective strategy to eradicate and root out terrorism.

Okay, that is a good thing. But there are a few more piece of news to add.

A Department of Homeland Security draft report from late January called on authorities to continuously vet Sunni Muslim immigrants deemed to have “at-risk” demographic profiles.

The draft report, a copy of which was obtained by Foreign Policy, looks at 25 terrorist attacks in the United States between October 2001 and December 2017, concluding there would be “great value for the United States Government in dedicating resources to continuously evaluate persons of interest” and suggesting that immigrants to the United States be tracked on a “long-term basis.”

The CBP draft report comes on the heels of a controversial study by DHS and the Justice Department, released on Jan. 16, which claimed that three out of every four individuals convicted of international terrorism or terrorism-related offenses were immigrants. Critics have charged that the joint report had serious methodological issues and cherry-picked the data to justify the Trump administration’s restrictive immigration policies. Read more here for context.

What is the Trump administration coming to learn that the previous administration refused to address?

Following the events of September 11, 2001, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard helped relocate al-Qaeda members and leadership by providing them with new clothes, shoes, Iranian passports and money.

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These details were discovered in a series of letters from the al-Qaeda communication officer Atiyyatullah al-Libi, whose real name is Jamal Ibrahim al-Shtaiwi al-Musrati. He was appointed by Osama bin Laden himself as an al-Qaeda envoy in Iran.

The letters also reveal the nature of the cooperation between Iran and one of the al-Qaeda fighting factions in Libya.

Image result for iranian revolutionary guard corp meets nader

Letters from a member of the Libyan al-Qaeda fighting groups called Nader, addressed to Atiyyatullah al-Libi who in turn informed bin Laden about its content, showed that the Iranian regime’s approach to its international relationships is based on interests, not friendship.

This is what the Iranian Revolutionary Guard confirmed in a meeting with Nader while arranging for his departure from Iranian territory in 2007. They said: “We have no friends in the world, even the place you are going to, there are only common interests between us.”

According to the letter, this took place at the headquarters of al-Qaeda leaders and the al-Zarqawi group in one of the compounds dedicated for them.

An Iranian passport and a warning not to return

At the end of these discussions, the Revolutionary Guards granted the al-Qaeda fighter, Nader, an Iranian passport with an entry stamp, according to the letter. He added that he met a “Kurdish brother” who lent him a sum of money, after which al-Qarry (an al-Qaeda leader who was killed by an unmanned US drone in Afghanistan in 2017) sent him another $1,080.

Al-Masry becomes Ayman al-Zawahiri’s deputy in Syria

The escape was in 2007, as mentioned in a letter from Atiyyatullah to Osama bin Laden which was found as part of what is known as the Abbottabad files.

Nader remained in Iran along with Abu al-Khair al-Masry and Muhammad Rajab Abdul Rahman, the second-highest ranking commander of al-Qaeda.

“Abdulhadi al-Libi left a week before me, and I do not know anything about him. As for Abdullah Rajab, he stayed with us for a year and 4 months, while his family stayed in a house in Zahedan, which made him psychologically ill. But after a year and 4 months, they reunited him with his family and told him you have to stay here,” Nader said.

Despite the fact that Iran kept Abu al-Khair al-Masry for more than a decade and a half, the Revolutionary Guard sent him to Syria in 2013 as a deputy of Ayman al-Zawahiri who was the top leader of al-Qaeda. Al-Masry was killed in Idlib, north of Syria, in 2015.

Al-Qaeda recruitment and the move to Syria

The Iranian’s coordination with the Syrian regime in recruiting al-Qaeda elements, and directing them according to the common interests of both parties, was revealed in a letter showing parts of negotiations between the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and a number of al-Qaeda factions in Evin prison.

Nader reunited with al-Qaeda members in Evin prison three weeks before he was released, and they were all sent to a “secret location”.

Bin Laden’s companions and al-Zarqawi

Iran’s Evin prison was not limited to Osama bin Laden’s companions and fighters, it also housed the al-Zarqawi group, including Abu al-Qasim, known as “Khaled Al Arouri”, al-Zarqawi’s assistant who is currently based in Syria and is part of what is known as the Khorasan Qaeda group.

This group’s leaders moved from Iran to Syria in 2013. The prison also housed the Yemeni Ali Saleh Hussein, known as “Abu al-Dahak”, who was close to Osama bin Laden, and was the link between al-Qaeda and its supporting organizations in Chechnya.