The Erdogans and Assads are no longer the best of friends
* New Syria photos “document an industrial killing machine by Assad not seen since the Holocaust”
* Yazidi leaders beg Obama to bomb the compound where thousands of Yazidi women and girls are being held. They say that even though some Yazidis would be killed in the bombing, it would give the others a chance to escape. As was the case with similar types of calls during the Holocaust, most Western media are barely bothering to report on these calls.
* Israel “successfully tests naval ‘Iron Dome’ system”
You can see these and other items that are not in these dispatches if you “like” this page: www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia.
1. Is it more moral to turn a blind eye to Assad than to Isis?
2. Inside Bashar Assad’s torture chambers: Photos to be shown at U.S. Holocaust Museum
3. Iran’s former intelligence minister: CIA, MI6, Mossad “created Islamic State”
4. IS magazine calls on European jihadists to target Vatican and Christians
5. IS offer Islamic justification for taking thousands of Yazidi women and girls as sex slaves
6. Still time for thousands of Yazidi girls to escape if only West would help
7. Turkish President Erdogan attacks Lawrence of Arabia, arrests foreign journalists
8. Arab blogger: “Let’s put it that way, If Israel is the one that shelled Kurds, the outcry in the Arab world would be more”
9. British jihadists secretly released by Turkey are named
10. Israel “successfully tests naval ‘Iron Dome’ system”
11. Crime-fighting Jews draw praise for protecting Muslims in London neighborhood
12. Muslim families look after Kolkata synagogues
13. Wounded Syrian reaches Mecca in wheelbarrow
14. Is rebuilding Gaza more important than halting Ebola?
[Notes below by Tom Gross]
IS IT MORE MORAL TO TURN A BLIND EYE TO ASSAD THAN TO ISIS?
While a strong western response to the Islamic State movement (IS, or ISIS) is essential, an equally strong response against the Assad regime, and its Iranian backers who are assisting in some of Assad’s worst atrocities, is, I believe, at least as important.
Is there a moral difference between Isis and Assad and the Iranians?
Is the use of chemical weapons against thousand of men, women and children (which still continues in small incidents today) any less immoral than beheading people, as ISIS and others have done, or torturing people and then throwing them off high-rise buildings as Hamas has done in Gaza, or torturing people in secret prisons all over Iran?
INSIDE BASHAR ASSAD’S TORTURE CHAMBERS: PHOTOS TO BE SHOWN AT U.S. HOLOCAUST MUSEUM
Though many western media are too busy attacking Israel day after day – very often for things Israel has not done, or in some other cases for the most minor infringements – Yahoo News reports in detail on the fact that the U.S. State Department has obtained 27,000 photographs showing the emaciated, bruised and burned bodies of Syrian torture victims – gruesome images that a top official told Yahoo News constitute “smoking gun” evidence that can be used to bring war-crimes charges against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
A small number of the photos were put on public display for the first time on Wednesday at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington.
The photos are “horrific – some of them put you in visceral pain,” said Stephen J. Rapp, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes.
The photos were smuggled out of Syria by an official regime photographer who has since defected and is known only by his code name, Caesar. The FBI says that U.S. citizens may have been among the victims.
According to David Crane, a former war-crimes prosecutor for Sierra Leone, they document “an industrial killing machine not seen since the Holocaust.” They show corpses, some of them lined up in a warehouse, many appearing to be victims of starvation, their ribs protruding from emaciated bodies.
Some show men whose eyes were gouged out; others had bruises and lacerations consistent with beatings and in some cases strangulation.
Ed Royce, a Republican from California, and the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that when he first saw the photos he thought of his father. As a member of Gen. George Patton’s Third Army, “my father had taken photos at Dachau when it was liberated, of the bodies stacked up at the ovens. This is eerily reminiscent. It’s absolutely appalling.”
You can see some of the photos here. Warning: They are horrific.
IRAN’S FORMER INTELLIGENCE MINISTER: CIA, MI6, MOSSAD “CREATED ISLAMIC STATE”
Former Iranian intelligence minister Heydar Moslehi has said that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria was created by “the triangle of Mossad, MI6 and the CIA.” He made the remarks in an interview with Fars News, a news outlet run by journalists close to Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
It is in Farsi, here.
Moslehi’s remarks come a day after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the United States and Britain of creating ISIS. (Surprisingly, perhaps, he didn’t include “the little Satan,” Israel.)
Khamenei said on Monday that Washington and “the wicked government of Britain” created both ISIS and Al-Qaeda, in order “to fight against the Islamic Republic [of Iran],” and that “dollars from Saudi Arabia and some of the Gulf countries” had financed the creation of ISIS. His speech, the first since undergoing prostate surgery last month, was reported by presstv.com and Khamenei.ir among other outlets. It seems that his illness has not tempered his views.
Yet some prominent American and European news outlets are, even now, still trying to insist that the “new-look” Iranian regime – which seems on track to soon to get nuclear weapons (after the appeasement by Western powers towards them) -- is somehow “moderate”.
(Incidentally, some staff at the Fars news agency seem to be readers of these dispatches and have occasionally reproduced material from them.
See also: How the Iranian government spins these dispatches (May 17, 2011)
IS MAGAZINE CALLS ON EUROPEAN JIHADISTS TO TARGET VATICAN AND CHRISTIANS
The newly-released (fourth) issue of the Islamic State’s English-language propaganda magazine “Dabiq” has been published. It features the Vatican on its front cover, with the IS black flag with white Arab lettering flying on top of the obelisk at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.
Not content with territory it has seized in the Middle East, the lengthy cover story (titled “The Failed Crusade” about the failure of Christianity) envisions the Italian capital under the rule of a Caliph and a Sharia regime.
The article calls on aspiring jihadists to target both the Catholic Church and individual Christians, saying they can only be saved if they convert to Islam and adhere to Sharia law.
The article claims that IS will one day conquer Rome. It threatens to “break the crosses” of infidels and sell their women “in accordance with Sharia”.
Tom Gross adds: IS often use the term “crusader” and “Christian” interchangeably, and includes non-practicing Christians in this term.
It has already killed (or in some cases captured as sex slaves – see below), thousands of Christians and other religious groups in the area they’ve seized, including Kurds, Yazidis, and Shia. Hundreds of thousands of others have fled.
ISIS OFFER ISLAMIC JUSTIFICATION FOR TAKING THOUSANDS OF YAZIDI WOMEN AND GIRLS AS SEX SLAVES
ISIS jihadists is attempting to justify seizing thousands of Yazidi teenage girls and women in northern Iraq and offering them to fighters as sex slaves.
The (London) Daily Telegraph reports: “When stories of mass murder and enslavement first emerged in August there were suggestions they might be exaggerated.
“Now, however, researchers who have talked to survivors and imprisoned women on hidden mobile phones believe that up to 5,000 men may have been shot dead and bulldozed into mass graves, and 7,000 women held in detention centres to be offered as slaves.
“After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Sharia amongst the fighters of the Islamic State.
“Moreover, ISIS has not only admitted taking the women, but issued a lengthy theological justification.”
After capture, the Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the Sharia amongst the fighters of the Islamic State,” says a new article in their English-language online magazine Dabiq.
The article, titled “The Revival of Slavery before the Hour,” says that “well-known” rules are observed, including not separating mothers from their children.
When the jihadists attacked areas occupied by Yazidis, the West’s attention focused on tens of thousands of refugees who crowded the barren hills of nearby Mount Sinjar. But thousands more were captured in nearby villages.
“My 13-year-old sister was separated from my family,” said one man, Ahmed Naif Qasem. His parents, wife and extended family were seized from their home in Snuny, near Sinjar, and taken over the Syrian border to be converted to Islam at gunpoint.
When the family returned, his sister and his wife had been taken away. His wife was later allowed to rejoin her family after having been “treated badly,” but no one had seen his sister since.
What has happened to the women has been relayed in a series of phone calls from families, and in some cases by women and girls who managed to escape.
According to a new UN report, Bakat Khalaf, 60, another refugee in Ba’adre, said his 13-year-old niece had escaped seven weeks after being “taken away” but had so far been too distressed to describe what had happened to her. Other escapers have told of being “married” to older jihadi leaders, in some cases raped, and made to watch acts of barbarity.
STILL TIME FOR THOUSANDS OF YAZIDI GIRLS TO ESCAPE IF ONLY WEST WOULD HELP
Matthew Barber, a leading scholar of Yazidi history at the University of Chicago who was in Kurdistan as the assaults happened, says he had a list of 4,800 names of women and children being held captive.
“In every place where Yazidi women or families are held, jihadists come and randomly select women that they take away,” he said. “A final total above 7,000 is perfectly feasible.”
The town of Tal Afar alone is thought to hold around 3,500 women and children in five detention centres. Others are being held in Mosul.
A new UN report says 250-300 men were killed in the village of Hardan, including 10 by beheading; another 400 were gunned down in the village of Khocho; another 200 civilians were killed by IS shelling them as they left the village of Adnaniya; as another group of refugees reached the village of Qiniyeh, the men were separated from the women and children, and 70 to 90 of them were lined up by a ditch and shot.
On another road, witnesses reported dozens of bodies left behind, including those of four elderly men with disabilities, who had been shot dead.
In some massacres, the bodies were bulldozed into mass graves. In others, men were herded into Yazidi temples that were then blown up.
Tom Gross adds: For weeks now, Yazidi leaders have been begging President Barack Obama to bomb the compound where thousands of Yazidi women and girls are being held. They say that even though some Yazidis would be killed in the bombing, it would give the others a chance to escape. If they can’t escape soon, the others will be sold on to men in Baghdad or even taken as far as Riyadh and the Gulf States, kept as sex slaves, and likely never be able to see their families again. The pleas are reminiscent of the calls by some Jewish leaders during the Holocaust for President Roosevelt to bomb the railways lines to Auschwitz.
As was the case during the Holocaust, most Western media are barely bothering to report on these calls.
Among previous dispatch on Yazidis:
* The item “Threats against Yazidis were predictable and predicted” in this dispatch.
* “Genocide” of Yazidis waiting to happen if America pulls out of Iraq too soon (November 16, 2007)
TURKISH PRESIDENT ERDOGAN ATTACKS LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, ARRESTS FOREIGN JOURNALISTS
In yet another speech that will outrage many in the West, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Western “spies” and journalists were supporting ISIS’s plan to redraw the region’s borders, and he criticized Lawrence of Arabia, comparing him with ISIS.
Erdogan compared the current interference in the Middle East to the role the renowned British army officer played during the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans during World War I.
Erdogan made his televised speech earlier this week in an angry response to Western criticism that he should stop bombing and killing besieged Kurds on Turkey’s borders, and instead help rescue them.
Erdogan blamed Lawrence of Arabia for the Sykes-Picot Agreement, a secret understanding that divided the Middle East after World War I into largely British and French spheres of influence, calling him “an English spy disguised as an Arab.” (In fact it was signed behind Lawrence’s back and Lawrence opposed it.)
Erdogan said that “there are modern-day Lawrences in Turkey right now disguised as journalists, religious men, writers and terrorists.”
His remarks came on the day five foreign journalists, including three Germans, were put on trial in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, following their arrests last weekend by Turkey’s anti-terrorist police. They had dared to report on the shooting dead by the Turkish police of dozens of Turkish Kurds protesting Turkey’s refusal to help save the besieged Syrian-Kurdish border town of Kobani.
German freelance photographer Christian Grodotzki said he and other journalists were punched and kicked in the stomach. “It was a pretty rough arrest. They tried really hard to get us to confirm we were spies or trick us into signing false confessions.”
Last summer, after seizing Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, IS produced a video called “The End of Sykes-Picot,” in which they blew up a border outpost and said they would destroy other Western-imposed borders too. You can view it here.
“LET’S PUT IT THAT WAY, IF ISRAEL IS THE ONE THAT SHELLED KURDS, THE OUTCRY IN THE ARAB WORLD WOULD BE MORE”
“The indifference of the Arab world to the slaughter of Kurds at Kobani is only the latest manifestation of a deeper malaise,” says Nervana Mahmoud, an influential Arab blogger and commentator on the Middle East.
In a blog post titled “Kobani, a victim of our sins” and in other posts, she said that the Islamic State knows that its actions against minorities like the Kurds will provoke no protests from fellow Arabs, “in contrast to the outcry that followed Israel’s assault on Gaza.”
“I have no recollection of protests in Arab streets when Saddam Hussein bombed Halabja and there is no response now, when ISIS is shelling Kobani and killing Kurds,” she said.
“Let’s put it that way, If Israel is the one that shelled Kurds, the outcry in the Arab world would be more. Arabs are more angry when a foreign enemy commits the same crime, sadly!” she told the Rudaw news outlet.
Tom Gross adds: It’s not only the Arabs but the whole world that is indifferent to Kurdish suffering.
Dozens of Canadian Jews joined Kurdish demonstrators gathered in front of the U.S. Consulate in Toronto last weekend in support of Kobani.
Syrian Kurds have received a “symbolic” amount of military aid from Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government that is meant for Kobani but is stuck in northeastern Syria because Turkey will not open an aid corridor, a Syrian Kurdish official told Reuters.
BRITISH JIHADISTS SECRETLY RELEASED BY TURKEY ARE NAMED
Last week, it was reported that Turkey freed Islamists – including European and British jihadis – in a swap deal for Turkish diplomats captured in Mosul and held hostage by ISIS.
British officials said that they were shocked that the Turkish government, a member of Nato, could have made the deal.
Details of the reported trade, published in the Turkish daily Taraf, surfaced in the wake of the beheading of Alan Henning, the British taxi driver, by ISIS.
The two British jihadis released by Turkey and allowed in to Syria were named as Shabazz Suleman, aged 18 (an elite grammar school pupil), and Hisham Folkard, 26. Three French citizens, two Swedes, two Macedonians, one Swiss and one Belgian are among other Europeans thought to have been released in the deal.
ISIS captured 49 Turkish consulate staff in Mosul in June. They were released on September 20.
ISRAEL “SUCCESSFULLY TESTS NAVAL ‘IRON DOME’ SYSTEM”
The Israel Hayom newspaper has reported that the Israeli navy has successfully tested a naval anti-missile system.
“The Israeli Navy secretly tested an upgraded anti-missile system designed to protect naval vessels several months ago. The test was a success,” reported the paper. “The test was conducted as part of a general overhaul of the navy’s defense systems, which also provide protection for offshore drilling rigs.”
Not all the details of the test were released, but according to the paper, the exercise involved a mock Russian-built Yakhont missile fired from sea, which was successfully intercepted by the Israeli Barak missile, fired from an Israeli Navy missile boat.
The ship-based anti-missile system is similar to the land-based Iron Dome system, which intercepted 90% of the rockets that were fired into populated areas of Israel this past summer by Hamas.
Israel is also developing the Iron Beam system, a laser system designed to destroy incoming mortars.
Israeli military intelligence believes that Hizbullah has acquired Russian Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles from Syria.
The mock-Yakhont missile used in the test was developed by an Italian company.
And now for three more positive, “human interest” stories…
CRIME-FIGHTING JEWS DRAW PRAISE FOR PROTECTING MUSLIMS IN LONDON NEIGHBORHOOD
Australia’s channel 9 news reports:
The unusual sight of crime-fighting Orthodox Jews pounding the streets of a tough London neighborhood after dark has captured the attention of grateful locals, but their ongoing protection of local Muslims has seen their profile go global.
The work of the 25-strong “Shomrim” even caught the eye of US Secretary of State John Kerry, who praised the neighbourhood patrol group’s “remarkable courage”.
Members of the Haredi Jewish community in Stamford Hill formed the group - named after the Yiddish word for guards - in 2008 in response to high crime levels.
Police initially feared vigilantism but now cooperate closely with the volunteers, who helped in 197 arrests last year and even apprehending the area’s “most wanted burglar”.
It is Shomrim’s role in helping protect the area’s large Muslim population, however, that has secured its place in the community and garnered international praise.
MUSLIM FAMILIES LOOK AFTER KOLKATA SYNAGOGUES
Muslim caretakers are maintaining three synagogues in eastern Indian city, which was once home to a thriving Jewish community, reports al-Jazeera:
“The city’s Jewish population has dwindled over the decades to just about 20 as compared to 3,000 at its peak before the country became independent from British rule in 1947.
“Khalil Khan, 71, has been working as caretaker of Beth El synagogue, one of the city’s three synagogues, for the past 55 years. His two sons - Anwar and Siraj - have chosen the same job.
“… There are no regular services conducted on Saturdays nowadays: only one person from the Jewish community visits each of the synagogues on Friday evenings - to light a candle.
WOUNDED SYRIAN REACHES MECCA IN WHEELBARROW
AFP reported earlier this month (on October 3):
“Wounded Syrian rebel Abdulkarim al-Naseef had to be pushed in a wheelbarrow during his long journey to Saudi Arabia, where he will perform the hajj and hopes to start a new life.
“Proudly showing off his artificial iron leg, and with a rebel scarf draped over his shoulders, Naseef said he had journeyed to Saudi Arabia not only as a hajj pilgrim but also in the hopes of receiving treatment.
Along the road from Syria to Turkey the tall, bearded ex-fighter and former businessman had to be pushed in the wheelbarrow part of the way. He waited hours until he entered Turkey, travelling on from there to Saudi Arabia.
Naseef is among some 12,000 Syrians performing hajj this year, around half of them from inside the country, according to Mohammed Ismael Ahmed, who heads a group of 800 pilgrims.
I attach one further article, below, by Michael Freund, a subscriber to this list:
-- Tom Gross
IS REBUILDING GAZA MORE IMPORTANT THAN HALTING EBOLA?
Is rebuilding Gaza more important than halting Ebola?
By Michael Freund
October 14, 2014
This past Sunday, some 50 nations from around the world gathered for a major donor conference aimed at raising billions of dollars to tackle what organizers described as an urgent humanitarian predicament.
A host of prominent figures, including UN Secretary- General Ban Ki Moon, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende all set aside time in their busy schedules to attend the gathering, underlining its importance to much of the international community.
And just what, you might be wondering, was the pressing issue that prompted such extensive and concerted action? Well, it wasn’t the mounting Ebola crisis, which has already killed thousands in western Africa and threatens to take the lives of many more. Nor was it the growing disaster confronting Syrian refugees, over 2.3 million of whom have fled to other countries to escape fighting at home.
Believe it or not, the vital topic on the agenda was to raise money to rebuild parts of Hamas-controlled Gaza.
That’s right, despite the Islamist terrorist group’s cynical use of the area as a launching pad for thousands of rocket attacks against Israel, Western powers and others have rushed to open their checkbooks to help with reconstruction.
This is morally obtuse, politically obscene and strategically oblivious behavior, and Israel should loudly and forcefully protest against it.
Consider the following. At the Gaza donor conference, which was held in Cairo, a whopping $5.4 billion was pledged, half of which will go towards rebuilding efforts while the rest will be used to sustain the budget of the Palestinian Authority, which now includes Hamas, through 2017.
In other words, even though the Palestinians siphoned off previous aid and used it to prepare for war with Israel, they are once again becoming recipients of Western largesse.
Needless to say, the funds pledged are not contingent on Hamas disarmament, nor will any demands be made of the terrorist group to cease building tunnels to try and burrow into Israel and murder innocent civilians.
Worse yet, by alleviating the humanitarian difficulties confronting Gaza residents, the international community is effectively reducing popular pressure on Hamas to refrain from sparking another conflict and mitigating popular anger against the terrorist group.
Indeed, the decision to funnel billions to Gaza is so dramatically short-sighted, and so remarkably stupid, that it makes one wonder if Europe and the Obama administration even understand what their own interests are. After all, why on earth would they want to assist Hamas, even indirectly, to strengthen its position vis-à-vis the Palestinian population? The inanity at work here is even more pronounced when one considers that the United Nations has been having difficulty raising just $1b. to fight Ebola.
Although the disease has killed more than 4,000 people and spread to at least seven countries, UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said on Friday that just $250 million – a mere one-quarter of the amount needed – has been raised thus far. “I now appeal to all member states to act generously and swiftly,” Eliasson said, adding that, “Speed is of the essence. A contribution within days is more important than a larger contribution within weeks.”
And so, even though the number of Ebola cases is reportedly doubling every three to four weeks, billions of dollars will be lavished on Gaza rather than on the jeopardized populations of Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Similarly, a recent donor conference in Washington aimed at combating cholera in Haiti, which has killed more than 8,000 people and infected 700,000 others, raised just $52.5m. out of the $400m. needed for the program’s first two years.
And just last month, Ertharin Cousin, the head of the World Food Program, said that because of funding shortages, the organization has had to reduce food rations and distributions.
“We’re going to need to cut rations to those people we’re supporting inside Syria and to cut the size of the vouchers to those Syrians who are refugees outside Syria,” Cousin told the Associated Press (September 23).
Clearly, the money that countries can afford to spend on humanitarian crises is not unlimited, so hard choices often have to be made. But no reasonable moral calculus can justify prioritizing the reconstruction of Gaza apartment buildings over preventing an Ebola epidemic that threatens millions of people.
To be fair, some countries, such as the US, are spending money to combat the disease in other ways, outside the purview of the United Nations.
But what John Kerry and others fail to appreciate is that every dollar they are pouring into Gaza is a dollar that can best be spent saving lives elsewhere.
Rather than strengthening Hamas’s hand, they should be looking to rally international support to stem Ebola before it is too late.
In the meantime, however, thousands of Africans will inexplicably continue to perish while Palestinian contractors and Hamas terrorists in Gaza reap the benefits.