Iran says it will send monkey into space (& French teacher pays tribute to mass killer Merah)

March 28, 2012

* British journalists working for Iranian government’s Press TV imprisoned in Libya over Welsh-Hebrew mix-up

* Outrage after French teacher holds a minute’s silence to respect Mohammed Merah, the murderer of Jewish children last week

* Al-Jazeera TV agrees not to broadcast film footage Merah sent them of him killing all 7 of his victims in Toulouse, after the mother of one of the Muslim soldiers he murdered “begs” them not to. Al-Jazeera Paris bureau chief says the footage includes the cries of his victims, including the children, which has been mixed on the video with Koranic verses about the glories of Jihad. Other stations said to have been sent videos by Merah too. French President Nicolas Sarkozy pleads with them not to broadcast them

* Merah visited Israel “on reconnaissance mission” in 2010

* French Muslim tries to set daughter on fire for dating a Jew

Mohammed Merah, the face of a mass murderer

* Class action suit filed against Jimmy Carter for deliberate misrepresentations in anti-Israel book. “He and his publisher knowingly published inaccurate information while promoting a book as factual”

* Shaul Mofaz has been elected the new head of Kadima, the biggest party in the Knesset, after defeating the incumbent Tzipi Livni by a substantial margin


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1. Iran will send monkey into space in early 2012
2. Finally, the media reports properly: Iran helping Assad to put down protests
3. Drones may be manufactured by Syria itself
4. Shimon Peres’s Persian New Year greetings welcomed by Iranians
5. Rights group says Syrian soldiers using women and children as human shields
6. Amnesty International: Iran executed at least one person every day in 2011
7. British journalists were held in Libya over Welsh-Hebrew mix-up
8. Class action suit filed against Jimmy Carter for deliberate misrepresentations in anti-Israel book
9. “A direct connection can be seen between Shalit’s return and the abduction attempts”
10. Hamas: Two million protesters expected to participate in the “Global March to Jerusalem”
11. French teacher holds a minute’s silence to respect Merah
12. Merah visited Israel “on reconnaissance mission” in 2010
13. Dozens of Jewish graves desecrated in France “in solidarity with Merah”
14. French Muslim tries to set daughter on fire for dating a Jew
15. New York killer finally admits his aim was to kill Jews

[All notes below by Tom Gross]


This is a report reproduced from the official Iranian “Islamic Republic News Agency”, which is one of the news sources I monitor on a regular basis:

Noshahr, March 22, IRNA – Head of Iranian Space Agency, Hamid Fazeli, said that the Iranian shuttle, Kavoshgar-5 (Explorer-5) carrying monkey to space will be launched into space during March-August 2012.

‘Kavoshgar-5 will carry a biological capsule containing a monkey into space. This is actually a prelude to preparing Iran for sending a human astronaut into space before 2021,’ Fazeli told IRNA in an exclusive interview.

Referring to the fact that the world will witness further success of Islamic Republic of Iran in the field of launching satellites into space, he pointed out that sending Fajr satellite into space which was postponed in 2011 will take place in 2012.

Noting that only three countries have succeeded so far to send human astronaut into space, Fazeli pointed out that India is considering to send human astronaut into space by 2016.


Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 80048511



I have reported for over a year now, citing Israeli and other intelligence sources, that Iran has been playing a key role in helping the Alawite-led dictatorship in Syria brutally suppress mainly peaceful protests by the Sunni majority in Syria. They are demanding basic rights and freedoms in “Apartheid Syria”.

This week the general Western media, relying on the often notoriously slow-moving European and American intelligence officials, are reporting the same thing.

The Reuters news agency reports this week: “Iran is providing a broad array of assistance to Syrian President Bashar Assad to help him suppress anti-government protests, from high-tech surveillance technology to guns and ammunition, U.S. and European security officials say.

“Tehran’s technical assistance to Assad’s security forces includes electronic surveillance systems, technology designed to disrupt efforts by protesters to communicate via social media, and Iranian-made drone aircraft for overhead surveillance, the officials said. They discussed intelligence matters on condition of anonymity.

“Iran has also provided lethal materiel that can be used for riot control, they said.” [i.e. gunning down peaceful protestors -- TG]

“Over the past year, Iran has provided security assistance to Damascus to help shore up Assad, aiding the Syrian regime with lethal assistance – including rifles, ammunition, and other military equipment – to help it put down the opposition,” a US official said.

“Iran has provided Damascus (with) monitoring tools to help the regime suppress the opposition. It has also shared techniques on Internet surveillance and disruption,” the official continued.

The Reuters report continues:

“He added that Iran had also provided Assad’s government with unarmed drones that Damascus is using along with its own technology to monitor opposition forces.”

“Iranian security officials have also traveled to Damascus to advise Assad’s entourage how to counter dissent, the official said. Some Iranian officials have stayed on in Syria to advise Assad’s forces, the U.S. official added.”

“U.S. officials said Iranian efforts to bolster Syria’s surveillance capabilities have been supplemented by deliveries to Syria of Iranian-made unarmed surveillance drone aircraft.”



Earlier this month a specialized website, The Aviationist, reported that a drone flying over the city of Homs, the site of recent violent suppression and massacres of Sunni protestors by the Assad regime, had been identified as an Iranian-made “Pahpad” drone. (Pahpad means “remotely piloted aircraft” in Farsi.)

In February another specialized website, Open Source GEOINT, published freeze-frame images from what purported to be an amateur cameraman’s video of a suspected Iranian drone flying over a Damascus suburb.

Last weekend the Iranian Fars news agency announced that Iranian experts had produced what it called a “new type of drone” known as the Shaparak, or “Butterfly,” which it said was “capable of carrying out military and border patrol missions.”

However, Israeli intelligence sources, while maintaining that Iran is playing a key role in helping the Assad regime cling to power (as it has done for over two decades now) add that Syria’s defense industry can now produce drones that are technologically identical to Iranian-produced models and that these domestically produced models are what Syrian security forces appear to have deployed over Damascus.



Israeli President Shimon Peres’s “special greetings to the Iranian People to mark the Persian New Year” last week, has been welcomed by pro-democracy activists inside Iran, Iranian subscribers to this email list tell me.

One wrote to me: “It has a very passionate message that reached the hearts of Iranians inside Iran. It was much better than Obama’s lame attempts to do the same. Obama pays too much deference to the very Mullahs that make our lives so miserable and that we hate so much.”

President Peres’s greeting was played on Israel Radio’s Persian language service, which is popular in Iran.

Peres began with the traditional Persian greeting Iranian-e gerami, dar harkoja ke hastid, novruzetan piruz bad (“Dear citizens of Iran, wherever you are, a Happy Noruz”).

He then said: “I would like to wish the Iranian people a genuine and happy holiday which will fill their hearts. I wish they will have a true and not seeming holiday in which they can taste freedom, respect and human dignity.”

“I call on the Iranian people. It is still not too late to change the corrupt regime and return to your glorious Persian heritage. The Iranian people have a brilliant heritage of culture and values, not bombs and missiles. Sometimes I ask myself how such a cultured people, with such a glorious history, allows such an extremist, blind and hate-filled group to shame its historic heritage. How could the people allow the regime to sow fear, steal people’s freedom and shake the younger generation that is seeking its way out of dictatorial Iran? Iran, which was once loved by so many countries around the world, is, today, causing the entire world to be against it.”

Peres commented on the poverty in Iran and said, “When a child wakes up in the morning, anywhere in the world and in Iran as well, he must be allowed to have breakfast. The Iranian regime is investing all its money in the nuclear project and is abandoning its people to wallow in poverty and hunger. Enriched uranium cannot feed the hungry in Iran.”

He appealed directly to his listeners and said, “The Iranian people need to raise their voice for an Iranian Iran. The entire world will help the people raise its voice for the restoration of an Iranian Iran that returns to itself and if not – force will lead to a forceful response. It is in the hands of the Iranian people to prevent an external deterioration.”



Taking a leaf out of the tactics of Hamas, which was until recently headquartered in Damascus, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s soldiers are using human shields for protection as they fight opposition forces, according to Human Rights Watch.

The rights group said that Syrian troops have been forcing women and children to march in front of them as they entered towns in Idlib province that are controlled by opposition forces.

Human Rights Watch said the practice has been used in army assaults on at least four towns. The claim has been supported by videos posted on YouTube.

Opposition sources within Syria say security forces are “carrying out a large-scale cleansing campaign” in Idlib province and villages near Aleppo, killing anyone who gets in their way, and sometimes killing their entire families too.



Iran executed one citizen per day in 2011, according to a report published yesterday by Amnesty International. Among the “crimes” punishable by death in Iran are adultery and homosexuality.

Officially, Tehran executed 360 people last year but Amnesty said that this does not “account for the probable extent of Iran’s use of the death penalty – Amnesty International has had credible reports of substantial numbers of executions not officially acknowledged.”

Amnesty says the real number of executions in Iran were at least double the government figure. Several were juveniles. In numerous cases executions were carried out based on “confessions” extracted from suspects after torture, according to Amnesty.

It is interesting that when Amnesty International releases reports on Israel, the BBC, the world’s biggest broadcasting network, and other Western broadcasters, almost always highlight them -- in the BBC’s case often as their lead world news story. But Amnesty’s reports on Iran and other countries hardly seem to be given the same prominence by the BBC and others.

Amnesty International says the rise in executions in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq last year was large enough to create an overall global increase compared to 2010, even though a growing number of other countries have moved away from using the death penalty.

Their full report is here:



Two British journalists detained in recent weeks in Libya have revealed they were held because their captors confused a passage of Welsh written on their medical supplies for Hebrew, leading to suspicions they were Israeli.

Gareth Montgomery-Johnson, from Carmarthen, and Nicholas Davies-Jones, from Berkshire, flew back to Britain on Monday night after being held by a militia group for almost a month.

Montgomery-Johnson said they were taken into detention in Tripoli on February 22nd by the Misrata Brigade, and kept in a small cell and treated harshly after discovering the Welsh language writing.

“My father, who’s a nurse, had given me some bandages in case we got into trouble,” he told the BBC. “Some had Welsh written on and they thought this was Hebrew and we were Israeli spies.”

It was an ironic mistake given that they were working for Press TV, the Holocaust-denying state broadcaster for Israel’s sworn enemy, Iran.

Although Welsh is a Celtic language and Hebrew has ancient Asiatic origins, the two languages share idiom and structure, according to Welsh language experts.



Claiming that “Perhaps no individual more than former American President Jimmy Carter has sought every possible opportunity to defame the Jewish State and endeavored to challenge its right to exist,” a class action suit has been filed in the U.S. against the former president and the Simon & Schuster publishing company alleging that “Carter’s book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, contained numerous false and knowingly misleading statements intended to promote the author’s agenda of anti-Israel propaganda and to deceive the reading public instead of presenting accurate information as advertised.”

The suit, captioned Unterberg et al. v. Jimmy Carter (11 cv 0720), filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeks compensatory and punitive damages against the defendants.

The suit claims that: “The plaintiffs, who hope to have the case certified as a class action, are members of the reading public who purchased Carter’s book expecting that they were buying an accurate and factual record of historic events concerning Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. The lawsuit contends that Carter, who holds himself out as a Middle-East expert, and his publisher, intentionally presented untrue and inaccurate information and sought to capitalize on the author’s status as a former President to mislead unsuspecting members of the public.”

The complaint alleges that the defendants’ misrepresentations, all highly critical of Israel, violate New York consumer protection laws, specifically New York General Business Law § 349, which makes it unlawful to engage in deceptive acts in the course of conducting business. While acknowledging Carter’s right to publish his personal views, the plaintiffs assert that the defendants violated the law and, thus, misled those who purchased the book.

This is the first known suit against a former President and a publishing house for violating consumer protection laws by knowingly publishing inaccurate information while promoting a book as factual.

Representing the plaintiffs, attorney David Schoen, Esq. of Montgomery, Alabama, said: “It is, indeed, a sad day for all of us as Americans, when a former President demeans the dignity of his office by intentionally misstating critically important facts concerning events of great historic significance and public interest, simply to advance a personal anti-Israel animus and to foster the agenda of the enemies of Israel who pump so much money into the Center which bears his name.”


Tom Gross adds: I have many times pointed out the misstatements of former President Carter.

For example, in this dispatch of 2010:

* Nobel peace-prize winner Jimmy Carter in 2008: Gazans are being “starved to death.”
* Jimmy Carter in 2009: “the people in Gaza are literally starving.”
* Jimmy Carter in 2010: suddenly silent on Gaza after human rights groups, The New York Times and Time magazine all finally admit there is no one even malnourished in Gaza, led alone people starving.



The Israeli army has mounted an advertising and information campaign to make off-duty Israeli soldiers even more aware of the danger of abduction. The move follows several foiled attempts to kidnap Israeli soldiers since Gilad Shalit was released last year.

A source in IDF intelligence said: “A direct connection can be seen between Shalit’s return and the fresh wave of abduction attempts.”



This is a report (written at times in poor English) from Hamas’s website concerning the planned so-called Global March to Jerusalem on Friday:

Two million protesters expected to participate in the Global March to Jerusalem
Hamas website 22-03-2012,08:52

AMMAN - The organizing committee of the Global March to Jerusalem expects the participation of more than two million people in the march which will be started from the surrounding countries of Palestine, the Palestinian territories, and some other capitals on March 30, 2012.

“Several international personalities and organizations will join the Global March to Jerusalem that will take place in Jordon and the other surrounding countries except Syria,’ said the GMJ’s chief executive and coordinator Dr Ribhi Haloum in a press conference.

Halloum added that the Prime Minister Awn Al-Khasawneh expressed satisfaction about the march’s preparation as a peaceful and civilized march offering the government’s help to the organizers.

The PM also said that the Israelis are worried about the march and that they phoned him several times to ask about the route the march will take. Another indication of the Israelis taking this march seriously is the formation of a mini-cabinet to deal with it, according to the PM.

For his part, the president of the national preparatory committee for the Global March to Jerusalem Abdullah Obeidat confirmed the Prime Minister Awn Al-Khasawneh’s aid to the preparations efforts adding that this will be an annual activity to stress the necessity to end the occupation and free Jerusalem.

Representatives of the participating delegations will present their speeches in a festival which will be held on the same day with the attendance of about 500 guests from outside the Kingdom.



France’s education minister has called for disciplinary proceedings to be taken against a teacher in the north of France, after she asked her students to observe a minute’s silence for Mohamed Merah, the man who murdered seven people, including three young children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse last week.

Students in the English language teacher’s class in Rouen complained to their principal after she called the killer a “victim.”

Several students refused to take part and left the classroom, though some stayed behind to “try to understand what she was talking about,” Agence France Presse reported.



France’s Le Monde newspaper reported that Merah, who liberal American and British papers have wrongly described as “poor” despite the fact he owned two expensive cars and a vast array of weaponry, visited Israel two years ago. Le Monde’s report was based on an exclusive by Metula News Agency.

French and Israeli authorities confirmed the report that Merah’s passport had Israeli stamps in it. Israel says he entered over the Allenby Bridge from Jordan. The purpose of his visit is not known, but analysts suspect he was either trying to visit the Palestinian territories or do reconnaissance to plan a terror attack.

Based on the stamps in his passports, Merah also visited Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Afghanistan that year.


It is bad enough having to read the kind of nonsensical excuses written on behalf of Merah by editorial writers in left-leaning papers like The New York Times, The Guardian -- and The Financial Times, which didn’t manage to mention Jews or anti-Semitism once in its lead editorial on Merah -- without the center-right (London) Daily Telegraph joining in.

The Daily Telegraph’s Ed West wrote: “Islam is not to blame for the Toulouse killings… It is not religion that turns some young Muslim men in the West violent, but the sense of alienation and frustration that inevitably comes from being a second-generation immigrant.”

Tom Gross comments: If radical Islam has nothing to do with it, there would be “inevitable” terrorist violence from second generation Sikhs, Hindu and Jews in Britain, France and elsewhere.


One Jewish schoolboy wounded in Merah’s attack in Toulouse remains in hospital in critical condition. He has been operated on twice. The damage is mainly to his stomach and lungs, the bullet just missed his heart.



Over 30 Jewish graves were badly vandalized in the southern French city of Nice two days after Merah died in a firefight with French police last week.

According to reports, the vandals tore off 22 Stars of David that were affixed on candle lamps built into the tombstones.

The large cemetery in the eastern part of the city has some 600 graves, mostly non-Jewish, but the damage was only inflicted on Jewish graves, the district’s head of investigations said.

Nice’s Chief Rabbi said he believed the attack was linked to Merah’s deadly shooting spree and subsequent death.

Nice’s Mayor Christian Estrosi said that police patrols around the cemetery were being reinforced following the desecration. “We are at a time when we cannot be off guard against anti-Semitism,” he added.



A French Muslim of Tunisian origin has attempted to set fire to his daughter’s face after she went out on a date with a Jewish boy.

A French media report said that “He attacked her with teargas and poured petrol over her head and face, after which he pulled out a lighter and attempted to set fire to her. But she managed to scream and push him away in the struggle that ensued.”



A Lebanese-born man who shot at young Chasidic Jewish children on a bus on the Brooklyn Bridge in March 1995, killing a 16-year-old boy and seriously wounding several others, has admitted that his aim was “to kill Jews”. He previously refused to give a reason.

He is already serving a prison sentence of over 100 years for murder, so the new information will not be used to pursue a further hate crime charge, prosecutors say.

[All notes above by Tom Gross]

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.