January 12, 2020

IRAN: The Killing of Soleimani Was Not an ‘Assassination’. Soleimani Led The Quds Force, Which Is Part Of The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps NOT The Iranian Military. Excellent Piece! ๐Ÿ‘

National Review
written by Daniel Tenreiro, a College Fix Fellow at National Review. @tenreirodaniel
Friday January 10, 2020

The IRGC commander spent his career undermining the international order. He wasn't entitled to the protections afforded to ordinary political leaders.

Since the strike on Qasem Soleimani, newsrooms have debated whether to use the term “assassination” to describe it. Numerous stories, including from the New York Times and NPR, have called the killing an assassination, as have politicians such as Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. NPR’s public editor explained the publication’s policy: “While we have not mandated the word’s use, it has been used in our coverage in headlines and in our stories. We feel it is an appropriate use of the word, which is defined as the killing of a political leader by surprise.”

The killing of foreign political leaders has a fraught history in the United States, detailed by the 1975 Senate Church Committee. That committee’s report implicated the American government in a number of political assassination plots, most notably against Cuban leader Fidel Castro. The Church Committee concluded that “short of war, assassination is incompatible with American principles, international order, and morality,” and in 1976 President Gerald Ford signed an executive order banning political assassinations. But since then, presidents have distinguished between assassinations and “targeted killings,” arguing that the latter are necessary and permissible.

The distinction between targeted killings and assassinations is twofold. First, targeted killing is justified in wartime or in self-defense. Attorney general Eric Holder explained of Obama’s drone program that “the Constitution empowers the President to protect the nation from any imminent threat of violent attack, and international law recognizes the inherent right of self-defense.” Accordingly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo justified the killing of Soleimani with evidence that he was plotting “imminent and sinister attacks.”

Second, and just as important, “targeted killing” is used in reference to non-state actors, not political leaders. Since Donald Rumsfeld termed non-state actors “unlawful combatants” in 2002, the legal consensus has been that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to them. Though the legal status of terrorists remains unclear, the threshold for killing them is significantly lower than that for a military official.

Those using the term “assassination” argue that Soleimani’s status as an Iranian general renders him a political actor. If correct, that makes the killing especially alarming, because, as Karen J. Greenberg argues in the New York Times, “the policy of war designed for nonstate actors has now slipped into a conflict between nation-states.”

But since Ayatollah Khomeini took power in 1979, Iran has conducted itself more like an international crime syndicate than a sovereign state. The concept of state sovereignty as codified in the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 serves as the basis for the rules-based international order. In World Order, Henry Kissinger defines the Westphalian system as one of “independent states refraining from interference in each other’s domestic affairs and checking each other’s ambitions through a general equilibrium of power.” Within this order, national sovereignty carries the obligation of recognizing international borders and the independence of other countries. In other words, a regime can be considered a sovereign state only if it lives up to a standard of behavior.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has never met that standard. In the Ayatollah’s conception of international relations, the state is a tool to be wielded in the service of a revolutionary ideological struggle. The organizing principle of the Islamic Republic of Iran is the unity of the Islamic umma, or community of believers. Accordingly, the Iranian constitution calls on its officials to advance a foreign policy that “prepare[s] the way for the formation of a single world community” transcending national borders. This exhortation emerged from Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1970 manifesto, Velayat-e faqih (Islamic Government), in which he argued that the Middle Eastern borders adopted after World War I “separated the various segments of the Islamic umma [community] from each other and artificially created separate states.” As Kissinger puts it, the Iranian regime claimed “the formal protections of the Westphalian system even while proclaiming it did not believe in it . . . and intended ultimately to replace it.”

Indeed, the inaugural act of Khomeini’s government was to flout international order in holding American diplomatic personnel hostage for 444 days. Given the centrality of diplomatic immunity to the Westphalian system, “revolutionary Iran’s message should have been clear: The Islamic Republic sets itself against the established world order in every regard,” writes diplomat Charles Hill. While American journalists refer to Soleimani as a “senior figure in a sovereign government’s military,” the Iranian government’s foundational text calls for the dissolution of sovereignty altogether.

Soleimani led the Quds Force, which is part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps — not the Iranian military. This is not merely a nominal distinction. As the Council on Foreign Relations explains, Khomeini established the IRGC in order to circumvent the legal and political restraints of state institutions such as the army. As the “IRGC’s de facto external affairs branch,” Soleimani’s Quds Force funds and supports proxy groups across the region in order to export the Iranian revolution.

In keeping with the revolutionary vision of a vast caliphate, the Quds Force has successfully established footholds in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain. First developed in Lebanon with the creation of the Islamic Jihad group in 1982, the model entails establishing Shia militia groups in sovereign states undergoing sectarian conflict and supplying them with weapons and training, all in the service of Iranian revolutionary ideology.

Had ISIS succeeded in supplanting the Iraqi or Syrian government, declared itself a sovereign state, and successfully governed their territory, would the killing of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi have been considered a political assassination? I doubt it. The principal difference between ISIS and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is that the latter has existed for a longer period of time, inuring the West to its menacing behavior. None of this is to render a judgment on whether killing Soleimani was the most prudent course of action. But as journalists are fond of saying, words matter. Calling the attack on Soleimani an assassination obscures the nature of the Quds Force as well as the nature of the Iranian regime.

Monitor Mideast published July 13, 2014: Sunni Palestinian Islamic Jihad Thanks Iran and Hezbollah (English Subtitles). Vast billboards had appeared in Gaza expressing thanks to Iran for its help in the conflict between Hamas and Israel in 2012. More recently, Iran is involved in the arming of Palestinian groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In this video, a spokesman for the PIJ thanks Iran and Hezbollah for their support.
Clarion Project
written by Alex VanNess
January 14, 2019

Following a swearing-in ceremony in Detroit, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib hosted a private dinner for close friends and family. One of her guests was Abbas Hamideh, an anti-Semite and supporter of Hezbollah, one of the world’s most powerful terrorist organizations.

Meanwhile, while Tlaib was feting Hamideh, the U.S. government was busy ramping up pressure on Lebanon to clamp down on Hezbollah.

Hamideh is one of the founders of Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, an anti-Israel group that regularly vilifies Israel and opposes its right to exist. Hamideh regularly praises Hezbollah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah. He also claims Jews have no history in Israel and that the Jews should “go back to Brooklyn.”

Clarion Project recently highlighted Tlaib’s connection to a variety of hateful anti-Semites, including Hamideh, as well as his role in Tlaib’s public flip-flop regarding her stance on the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, writing:
Why did Tlaib publicly reverse the policy stances, which she claimed to support? Hamideh is taking credit for Tlaib’s reversal.

On August 8 2018, Hamideh publicly backed Tlaib. Following his endorsement, Electronic Intifada reported on J Street’s endorsement. This news did not sit well for people in Hamideh’s activist circles, so Hamideh assured supporters he “would get to the bottom” of this matter and boasted she was just a phone call or “perhaps a personal meeting” away. Shortly after, Tlaib was upset on Facebook that Hamideh was trying to define who she was and where she stood and accused him of ‘attacking’ her and her friends.

Tlaib later went public with her reversal of her policy stances. Hamideh expressed his continued support and seemed distressed at the accusation that he was “attacking” Tlaib and boasted about how ‘close’ he was with members of her family.
Up until Tlaib’s private dinner, it seemed Tlaib was angry at Hamideh. However, it now appears that Hamideh is back in Tlaib’s good graces.

This raises the question of how much influence will Hamideh have with Tlaib going forward?

It also raises the question of why a member of Congress is supporting someone who supports a terror organization. Just this week, amid feverish American diplomatic activity surrounding Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Middle East visit, Washington is urging Lebanon to do what it can to disrupt Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

The terror organization has a big say in the political life of Lebanon. Undersecretary David Hale expressed U.S. concerns during meetings in Beirut over the weekend. A statement from the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon ahead of Hale’s visit made the point clear:
“Hale will also underscore U.S. concerns about Hizballah’s destabilizing activities in Lebanon and the region, including the recent discovery of Hizballah’s cross-border tunnels [into Israel], which defy UN Security Council Resolution 1701, jeopardize the security of the Lebanese people, and undermine the legitimacy of Lebanon’s state institutions.”
American officials have long objected to Hezbollah’s aggression, expansionist operations and its reported 150,000 missiles and rockets, making it the second-strongest military in the Middle East. Now, the State Department and other arms of government believe Hezbollah poses a threat much closer to home, controlling drugs, arms and other activities in Latin America.

Iranian-backed terror cells in the U.S. pose “a direct threat to the homeland.” That was the conclusion of Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.) after hearing from a panel of intelligence experts testifying before the House subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence, The Washington Free Beacon reported last year.
written by Spencer Ackerman
December 13, 2011

According to federal prosecutors, Hezbollah has started to learn the lesson that took funk legend Rick James a lifetime to absorb: cocaine is a hell of a drug.

The Lebanese terrorist group isn't selling blow itself. It's doing something more lucrative: getting a percentage of the drug trade, through money laundering. ProPublica's Sebastian Rotella reports that U.S. federal prosecutors are putting together a case linking Hezbollah to a massive, multi-continent cocaine smuggling operation, one that worked with the bloody Zetas cartel to launder drug money.

Ayman Joumaa, an accused Hezbollah financier, "allegedly coordinated the smuggling of at least 85 tons of Colombian cocaine through Central America and Mexico in partnership with the Zetas," Rotella reports, citing an indictment released on Tuesday. About $85 million in cash got laundered through "money exchange houses, used car businesses and other companies" on four continents. Joumaa's operation dates back to 1997.

The cocaine ended up on American streets, by way of Mexico.

It's hard not to think of the bizarre story, also told by federal prosecutors recently, that Iranian operatives tried to work with the cartels to assassinate a Saudi ambassador in Washington. The Drug Enforcement Agency has long suspected that Mideastern terrorists were starting to collaborate with drug gangs, but the evidence thus far has been scant.

It's also unclear what the indictment really means for Hezbollah. The terrorist group and Iranian proxy is now ensconced in the Lebanese government. It recently rolled up several CIA informants trying to infiltrate the organization, thanks to the spies' faulty codewords.

Then again, if the Mexican-Hezbollah drug connection all seems a bit paranoid, well, you know, paranoia is a side effect of cocaine. Rick James could certainly tell you that.
The United States Dept. of Justice
Thursday May 30, 2013
(Obama was President)

Manssor Arbabsiar, aka “Mansour Arbabsiar,” was sentenced today in New York City federal court to 25 years in prison for participating in a plot to murder the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the U.S. while the Ambassador was in the U.S., announced John Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division at the Department of Justice and Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Arbabsiar, a 58 year-old naturalized U.S. citizen holding both Iranian and U.S. passports, was arrested on Sept. 29, 2011, at John F. Kennedy International Airport. He pleaded guilty on Oct. 17, 2012, to one count of murder-for-hire, one count of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire, and one count of conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries before U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan, who also imposed today’s sentence.

“Thanks to the collaborative efforts of many U.S. law enforcement and intelligence professionals, Manssor Arbabsiar is today being held accountable for his role in this assassination plot,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin. “I applaud all those responsible for ensuring that Arbabsiar and his co-conspirators in Iran’s Qods Force failed in their efforts. Today’s sentencing serves as a reminder of the evolving threat environment we face.”

“Manssor Arbabsiar was an enemy among us – the key conduit for, and facilitator of, a nefarious international plot concocted by members of the Iranian military to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to the United States and as many innocent bystanders as necessary to get the job done,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara. “And but for the vigilance of our FBI and DEA partners, his plot, and the unspeakable harm it would have caused, may well have come to fruition, which is exactly why our commitment to using every resource we have to root out, prosecute and punish people like Arbabsiar, who act as emissaries for our enemies, remains unflagging.”

According to the complaint and indictment filed in federal court:

From the spring of 2011 to October 2011, Arbabsiar and his Iran-based co-conspirators, including members of Iran’s Qods Force, plotted the murder of the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the U.S. In furtherance of this conspiracy, Arbabsiar met on a number of occasions in Mexico with a DEA confidential source (CS-1) who posed as an associate of a violent international drug trafficking cartel.  Arbabsiar arranged to hire CS-1 and CS-1’s purported accomplices to murder the Ambassador with the awareness and approval of his Iran-based co-conspirators. Arbabsiar wired approximately $100,000 to a bank account in the U.S. as a down payment to CS-1 for the anticipated killing of the Ambassador, which was to take place in the U.S, also with the approval of his co-conspirators.

The Qods Force is a branch of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which conducts sensitive covert operations abroad, including terrorist attacks, assassinations, and kidnappings, and is believed to have sponsored attacks against Coalition Forces in Iraq. In October 2007, the U.S. Treasury Department designated the Qods Force as a terrorist supporter for providing material support to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations.
UPDATE 1/12/2020 at 12:46pm: Added info below.
UPDATE 1/12/2020 at 1:11pm: Added info below.

No comments: