26th Mar 2024

Israel's terrorist proxies attack Moscow concert hall

By C. Rice, PPEmpire

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Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) made the claim that the US, the UK and Ukraine were all involved in the terror attack on a Moscow concert hall that killed 139 people on Friday and Western intelligence agencies say the claim is credible.

President Vladimir Putin said: "Recent provocative statements by a number of official Westerns structures about the possibility of terrorist attacks in Russia... resembles outright blackmail and an intention to intimidate and destabilise our society."

Mr Putin said the assailants were caught as they were trying to flee to Ukraine.

"Based on preliminary information, a window for crossing the border was prepared for them by the Ukrainian side," Mr Putin said.

“We faced not just a thoroughly and cynically prepared terror attack, but a well-prepared and organized mass murder of peaceful innocent people,” Putin said.

Videos posted online showed gunmen in the venue shooting civilians at point-blank range. Russian news reports cited authorities and witnesses as saying the attackers threw explosive devices that started the fire, which eventually consumed the building and caused its roof to collapse.

Kremlin spokesman Peskov said “when the collective West became a participant in this on the side of Ukraine, for us it already became a war”

"ISIS-K has been fixated on Russia for the past two years," the New York Times cited Colin Clarke, a counterterrorism analyst based in New York.

Russian MP Alexander Khinshtein said the attackers fled in a white Renault car. According to him, police tried to stop the vehicle in the Bryansk region, about 340km (210 miles) away from Moscow, managing to arrest two people as the others fled.

Some 14 hours after the first reports of shooting, Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) announced 11 people had been arrested, including four "directly involved".

In 2022, ISIS-K carried out attacks on the Russian and Pakistani embassies in Kabul and a hotel that was home to many Chinese nationals. More recently, it has also threatened attacks against the Chinese, Indian and Iranian embassies in Afghanistan and has released a flood of anti-Russian propaganda.

It has also struck outside Afghanistan. In January, ISIS-K, carried out twin bombings in Iran that killed scores and wounded hundreds of others at a memorial service for Iran’s former top general, Qassim Suleimani, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike four years before.

The attack came two weeks after the U.S. embassy in Moscow issued a notice urging Americans to avoid crowded places in view of “imminent” plans by extremists to target large Moscow gatherings, including concerts. The warning was repeated by several other Western embassies.

On Friday, the U.N. Security Council condemned “the heinous and cowardly terrorist attack” and underlined the need for the perpetrators to be held accountable. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also condemned the terrorist attack “in the strongest possible terms,” his spokesman said.

IS, which lost much of its ground after Russia’s military action in Syria, has long targeted Russia. In a statement posted by the group's Aamaq news agency, IS's Afghanistan affiliate said it had attacked a large gathering of “Christians” in Krasnogorsk.

In October 2015, a bomb planted by IS downed a Russian passenger plane over Sinai, killing all 224 people on board, most of them Russian vacation-goers returning from Egypt.

On March 7, just hours before the U.S. embassy warned about imminent attacks, Russia’s top security agency said it had thwarted an attack on a synagogue in Moscow by an IS cell, killing several of its members in the Kaluga region near the Russian capital. A few days before that, Russian authorities said six alleged IS members were killed in a shootout in Ingushetia, in Russia’s Caucasus region.

Israel-backed militias' attacks against Russian and Iranian targets are up

TimesOfIsrael: Outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot this weekend acknowledged for the first time that Israel had indeed provided weaponry to Syrian rebel groups, including ISIS, in the Golan Heights during the country’s seven-year civil war.

Until Sunday, Israel would say officially only that it had given humanitarian aid to Syrian opposition groups across the border, while denying or refusing to comment on reports that it had supplied them with arms as well.

In an interview in the British Sunday Times, before ending his tenure as chief of staff this week, Eisenkot said that Israel had indeed provided light weapons to the rebel groups along the border, saying it was “for self-defense.”

“We carried out thousands of attacks [in recent years] without taking responsibility and without asking for credit,” the army chief told the Sunday Times.

The acknowledgment of Israel’s support for ISIS in Syria was highly irregular as, for years Israeli officials repeatedly declared that the country was not getting involved in Syria’s internal fighting — now evidently a lie, in light of Eisenkot’s remarks.

Foreign Policy magazine reported that Israel had covertly provided arms and funds to at least 12 Syrian rebel groups in order to prevent Iran-backed forces and Islamic State jihadists from setting up shop along the border.

The report, citing interviews with numerous rebel figures, said Israeli support included paying rebel fighters a salary of some $75 a month and providing groups with weapons and other materials.

The Syrian army said in 2013 that it had seized Israeli weapons in rebel hands.

The report noted that Israel’s total support was small compared to the funding and backing the groups received from other interested parties including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United States.

According to Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Knesset member Aida Touma-Suleiman made the assertion - which, she said, were based on UN documents - that Israel purchased oil for ISIS: “These links have been well documented, with reports surfacing of oil purchases from the Islamic State [i.e., Daesh], which the Israeli government headed by [Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu has done”.

According to an intelligence adviser quoted by Seymour Hersh, a "highly classified assessment" carried out by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2013 concluded that Turkey had effectively transformed the secret U.S. arms program in support of moderate rebels, who no longer existed, into an indiscriminate program to provide technical and logistical support for al-Nusra Front and ISIS.

In an August 2014 email leaked in the Podesta emails, apparently from former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to then counselor John Podesta, a memo states that the governments of both Saudi Arabia and Qatar "are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIS and other radical Sunni groups in the region."

The State of Israel has been accused of engaging in state-sponsored terrorism, as well as committing acts of state terrorism on a daily basis in the Palestinian Occupied Territories.

An early example of Israeli state-sponsored was the 1954 Lavon Affair, a botched bomb plot in Egypt that led to the resignation of the Israeli defense minister at the time. In the 1970s and 1980s, Israel was also a major supplier of arms to dictatorial regimes in South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia. In the 21st-century, it has been accused of sponsoring and supporting several terrorist groups as part of its proxy conflict with Iran.

The 'Lavon Affair' was an unsuccessful Israeli covert operation, code named 'Operation Susannah', conducted in Egypt in the Summer of 1954. As part of the false flag operation, a group of Egyptian Jews were recruited by Israeli military intelligence to plant bombs inside Egyptian, American and British-owned civilian targets, cinemas, libraries and American educational centers. The attacks were to be blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian Communists, "unspecified malcontents" or "local nationalists" with the aim of creating a climate of sufficient violence and instability to induce the British government to maintain its occupying troops in Egypt's Suez Canal zone.

The operation ultimately became known as the 'Lavon Affair'. Following this operation the Israeli defense minister Pinhas Lavon was forced to resign. Even though Israel denied any involvement in the operation for 51 years, the surviving members were honored by Israeli President Moshe Katzav in 2005.

Four Iranian nuclear scientists—Masoud Alimohammadi, Majid Shahriari, Darioush Rezaeinejad and Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan—were assassinated between 2010 and 2012. Another scientist, Fereydoon Abbasi, was wounded in an attempted murder. Two of the killings were carried out with magnetic bombs attached to the targets' cars; Darioush Rezaeinejad was shot dead, and Masoud Alimohammadi was killed in a motorcycle-bomb explosion. At the time, unnamed US officials confirmed to NBC that the People's Mujahedin of Iran (MEK) had been financed, trained, and armed by Israel as part of the killing of the Iranian nuclear scientists.

According to a 2012 report in Foreign Policy, Mossad agents disguised as Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officers also recruited members of Jundallah—"a Pakistan-based Sunni terrorist organization ... responsible for assassinating Iranian government officials and killing Iranian women and children"—to carry out "false flag" operations against Iran, straining Israel's relations with the United States.

The Goldstone Report concluded that the Israeli strategy was "designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population" Falk stated: "The civilian infrastructure of adversaries such as Hamas or Hezbollah are treated as permissible military targets, which is not only an overt violation of the most elementary norms of the law of war and of universal morality, but an avowal of a doctrine of violence that needs to be called by its proper name: state terrorism."

Throughout the 1960s and ‘70’s, Israel secretly backed a Kurdish insurgency against Iraq as part of its Middle East geopolitical strategy to forge alliances with non-Arabs.

The Kurdish majority areas are home to a decades-old separatist movement that precedes the 1979 Islamic revolution, and in past decades it has morphed into a low-level guerrilla insurgency that trades fire with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

LobeLog: Throughout the 2000s, Israel militarily supported Kurdish forces, including training in Syria and Iraq. Around the same time, it sold 170 M60T tanks, worth $688 million, to Turkey, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Arms Transfers Database.

How can we explain this Israeli support for the Kurdish people in both practice and rhetoric, while it simultaneously arms one of the main forces oppressing Kurdish people? The answer is rather simple: Israeli governments have supported the Kurdish people when it has been convenient, and backed their oppressors when that better served Israel’s political and economic interests. At times — during most of the 2000s, for example — Israel did both at the same time.

If supporting the Kurdish authorities in Iraq serves Israel’s interest of weakening Syrian and Iranian influence in the region, great. If Israel can profit off selling Turkey drones, including Heron drones used in a Turkish invasion of Kurdish northern Iraq in 2008, great.

Former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked clearly stated her support for the Kurds, saying: “We must openly call for the establishment of a Kurdish state that separates Iran from Turkey, one which will be friendly towards Israel.” Why support a Kurdish state? So that it will be a friendly ally to Israel between Iran and Turkey. This call for independence for an occupied people is extremely ironic coming from Israel, which denies the right of self-determination to millions of Palestinians that it controls under occupation.

Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, then Foreign Minister, allocated the Kurds $100,000 in 1963.

Soon after, the humanitarian aid expanded into military assistance for training, arms, and ammunition, and eventually anti-aircraft weaponry. In 1980, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin admitted that the Israelis assisted the Kurds during their uprising against the Iraqis between 1965-1975.

To protect its strategic relationship with Moscow, Israel has stayed mostly on the sidelines of Russia's Ukraine war, giving Ukraine some humanitarian aid but refusing its pleas for sophisticated air defense systems and other military equipment. Israel has also "refrained from enforcing strict economic sanctions on Russia and the many Russian-Jewish oligarchs who have second homes in Israel," The Associated Press adds.

Russia's purchase of Iranian missiles and suicide drones touches a special nerve in Israel. "We're looking at it closely and thinking about how these can be used by the Iranians toward Israeli population centers," Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht tells AP. Some lawmakers in Tel Aviv are now advocating for arming Ukraine, but Israel's government has so far declined to take that step.

Israel regularly strikes targets in Syria to prevent Tehran from cementing a foothold close to Israel's northeastern border.

Many have questioned why Russia became involved in the Syrian war but often overlook the fight over natural gas.

As Harvard Professor Mitchell A Orenstein and George Romer wrote in Foreign Affairs, Russia currently supplies Europe with a quarter of the gas it uses for heating, cooking, fuel and other activities.

In fact 80 per cent of the gas that Russian state-controlled company Gazprom produces is sold to Europe, so maintaining this crucial market is very important.

Russia built the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to deliver gas to Europe. Donald Trump and his ambassador in Germany, Richard Grenell, in January 2019 went so far as to send threatening letters to German companies involved in the pipeline. READ MORE: Trump Imposes Sanctions To Stop Nord Stream 2 – But It’s Too late (Forbes)

READ MORE: Is the fight over a gas pipeline fuelling the world’s bloodiest conflict? and No More Blood for Oil

TimesOfIsrael: Russia warned Israel on Wednesday against supplying weapons to Ukraine after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was considering military aid for Kyiv and was willing to mediate in the conflict.

“We say that all countries that supply weapons [to Ukraine] should understand that we will consider these [weapons] to be legitimate targets for Russia’s armed forces,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters.

The Kremlin has warned of an escalation in the conflict as Ukraine’s Western partners vow to supply more weapons to Kyiv.

Newsweek: Comparing Russia's actions in Ukraine to the militant Hamas group's attacks on Israel on October 7, Erdan said his country knows "exactly how it feels to be aggressively invaded, (and) to have our towns and cities attacked" as he took aim at the "paralyzed" UN for not condemning the massacre that preceded the war in Gaza.

"The state of Israel will always remain committed to Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," he said, telling the assembly that his country was "working to provide Ukraine with early warning systems to save civilian lives from Russia's indiscriminate missile and drone attacks."

He added that Russia would be hosting a Hamas delegation in Moscow, making "it one of the only places outside of the Middle East where Hamas terrorists and Houthi Jihadists are given the red-carpet treatment, even after October 7."

Social media users noted how Erdan's comments have signaled a shift in Israel's position, which at the start of Vladimir Putin's full-scale invasion saw it try to hold a neutral stance and maintain ties with both Ukraine and Russia.

The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel is concerned at the growing cooperation between Russia and Iran, which supplies Moscow with drones to target Ukrainian infrastructure.

Moscow concert hall attack: Why is ISIS targeting Russia?

Assailants dressed in camouflage uniforms opened fire and reportedly threw explosive devices inside the concert venue, which was left in flames with its roof collapsing after the deadly attack.

ISIL’s Afghan branch – also known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, ISKP (ISIS-K) – has claimed responsibility for the attack and United States officials have confirmed the authenticity of that claim, according to the Reuters news agency.

There’s another factor, too: Largely away from the world’s attention, the armed group, with Israel's help, has regrouped into a formidable force after setbacks in Syria and Iran.

ISKP social media channels are “jubilant” following the attack on Moscow, said Abdul Basit, a senior associate fellow at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore.

“They are celebrating the attack,” Basit told Al Jazeera, adding that supporters are “translating and recirculating the responsibility claim” issued by the ISIL-linked Amaq News Agency.

The Israeli authorities have provided significant amounts of cash, food, fuel and medical supplies to ISIS-K the Wall Street Journal reported.

A special Israeli army unit was created to oversee the costly aid operation, the WSJ reported, which gives Fursan al-Joulan - Knights of the Golan - an estimated $5,000 (£3,900) a month.

Israel may be funding up to four other rebel groups which have Western backing. The groups use the cash to pay fighters and buy ammunition.

“We can – and we intend to – make it as difficult as possible and inflict a price tag that the Russians aren’t willing to pay,” the IDF official said. 

After the 1967 Six-Day War, Soviet fighters were sent to Egypt. This led to a notorious July 1970 incident when in a well-planned aerial ambush over the Suez Canal, Israeli fighters shot down five Soviet-piloted MiG-21 jets in three minutes.

As always with the Arab-Israeli (or Iranian-Israeli) conflict, the real danger isn’t the regional conflict, but how it might escalate. In the 1973 war, the Soviets threatened to send troops to Egypt unless Israel agreed to a cease-fire. The United States responded by going on nuclear alert.

Were the Israelis and Russians to come to blows, or if Moscow were to seriously threaten military force against Israel, could the United States risk a grave loss of prestige by not intervening to back its longtime ally? Could Russia—whose Syrian intervention is a proud symbol of its reborn military muscle and great power status—not retaliate for another downed Russian plane or a dead Russian soldier?

Which leads to the ultimate question: could tensions between Israel and Russia lead to a clash between American and Russian troops?

All this volatility is raising the spectre of "nuclear war", former Defense Intelligence Agency officer Matt Shoemaker has warned.

He explained: "The threat of nuclear war currently remains unlikely but has become a plausible threat in this crisis.

"Not only because of Iran’s nuclear weapons program but because Israel is a nuclear power."

As Mr Shoemaker points out, Iran’s foreign minister has ominously warned Israel will suffer “a huge earthquake" if it invades Gaza.

"Iran would not remain an observer in the conflict," the DIA expert predicted, adding: "As a former intelligence officer, and based on news reports I’ve seen over the past year, some estimate that if Iran initiated a nuclear weapons 'crash course', it could develop a working bomb within six weeks."

He added: "That’s an extraordinarily short amount of time and gives the West a small window if Iran chooses to do that."

Iran's nuclear capabilities have been a source of grave concern in Washington ever since then-President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 nuclear deal in 2018, restoring crippling sanctions on the autocratic country.

Iran began breaking the terms a year later, including by enriching uranium to higher levels.

In Mr Shoemaker's estimation, the Israel-Hamas conflict may just tip Iran over the edge.

However, the threat of nuclear war is not just coming from Iran, he warns.

"Not far off in Tartus, Syria, Russia has a well-established naval presence and has the largest nuclear stockpile in the world," he said.

Mr Shoemaker makes the point that Russia has backed pro-Palestinian and Iranian causes.

"To make matters even more complicated, China, another nuclear power, has extensive economic and financial interests in the region," he added.

"Fifty percent of China’s oil and gas comes from the Middle East so if this became a regional war, China would certainly have an incentive to get involved to protect its energy resources." READ MORE: Air Force general predicts war with China in 2025

In 2018, under the supervision of Secretary of Defense James Mattis, the US declared in its national security strategy that “Great power competition—not terrorism—is now the primary focus of US national security.”

The document codified what had in fact for years been the dominant concept in Pentagon planning: that the US military should focus on preparations to fight a war with Russia and China. To this end, the Obama administration had already initiated a more than one trillion-dollar expansion of the US nuclear arsenal, a plan continued and intensified under Trump and now Biden.

Clearly, what is being prepared is a level of mass killing far beyond the bloodbaths carried out in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.

Addressing the nation on Sunday, an official day of mourning, President Vladimir Putin condemned the “bloody, barbaric terrorist act”.

“All the perpetrators, organisers and those who ordered this crime will be justly and inevitably punished. Whoever they are, whoever is guiding them. I repeat, we will identify and punish everyone who stands behind the terrorists, who prepared this atrocity, this strike against Russia, against our people,” he said.

Written by freelance investigative journalist Christopher Rice who's Vote Strike movement helped to spawn the Occupy Wall Street, Tea Party, People's Party and Black Lives Matter movements. READ MORE: Call for a General Strike Gaining Huge Momentum (Op Ed News)

And in 2011 and again in 2013, Christopher Rice helped to coordinate hunger strikes in protest of inhuman and degrading conditions of confinement in California's state run prison system.The hunger strikes also spurred successful litigation that would ultimately end the use of long-term solitary confinement in California.

Do yourself a favor. Think for yourself. Be your own person. Question everything. Stand for principle. Champion individual liberty and self-ownership where you can. Develop a strong moral code. Be kind to others. Do no harm, unless that harm is warranted. Pretty obvious stuff...but people who hold these things in their hearts seem to be disappearing from the earth at an accelerated rate. Stay safe, my friends. Thanks for being here.


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