Weekend long read

1) At the JNS Yaakov Lapin takes a look at a story ignored by the BBC this week.

“Since the end of the 2014 conflict, enough cement has entered Gaza to build 16 Burj Khalifa skyscrapers in Dubai—the tallest building in the world. That cement has largely gone underground, feeding Hamas’s war machine.

Gaza’s soft sandstone made it possible for diggers to make rapid progress during the peak days of the tunnel project. The tunnels contained rails, electricity, ventilation, communications lines and oxygen tanks—tanks that were originally sent to Gaza for hospital use.

The tunnels are a symbol of Hamas’s priorities: The military build-up always takes precedent over investing funds in Gaza’s civilian population.”

2) Some background to another recent story which the BBC chose not to cover is provided by the FDD’s Tony Badran.

“The Treasury Department designated Hezbollah security chief Wafiq Safa on Tuesday, along with two Hezbollah members of parliament. Safa’s activities epitomize Hezbollah’s domination of Lebanese state institutions, illustrating that the supposed distinction between the two is fictional.

Treasury’s announcement of the sanctions identified Wafa as “the head of Hezbollah’s security apparatus” and “part of Hizballah Secretary General Nasrallah’s inner circle.” It went on to say that Wafa is “responsible for Hizballah’s coordination with the international community and with Lebanese security agencies.” While true, this description greatly understates his influence.

Safa, who reportedly played a role in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, is now the central figure in Lebanese politics and security. As head of Hezbollah’s Liaison and Coordination Unit, Safa is Nasrallah’s troubleshooter. He manages Hezbollah’s relationship with Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.”

3) The JCPA provides context to a story reported on BBC World Service radio last week – “The Truth about Jerusalem’s City of David – The Lies about Silwan”.

“Over the years, hundreds of Silwan residents took part in the archaeological digs of the Antiquities Authority funded by the NGO “Elad” (its name is an acronym for “To the City of David”). More than once the digging was done below the houses of these same Arab workers. They would have kept working there until this very day had they not been threatened with violence by emissaries of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in eastern Jerusalem. These threats forced them to leave their work.

Political opponents of the archaeological excavations in the City of David, which have been conducted for almost 50 years, try every few years to impede the work of the Antiquities Authority, often resorting to legal proceedings. Once or twice they have even gotten as far as the Supreme Court, whose justices are known to be particularly sensitive to claims of the infringement of human rights. The petitioners claimed that the excavations endangered the residents of Silwan, and the Supreme Court looked into their allegations and rejected them.”

4) Israel’s public broadcaster Kann recently aired a documentary series about the work of the police force in Jerusalem. All the episodes of ‘Jerusalem District’ are now available on Youtube with English subtitles.

“Jerusalem District: A nine-episode series that provides a rare glimpse into the activities of the intelligence, detective and Border Police officers in the Jerusalem district and exposes the unrecognized sides of the work of the Jerusalem policemen who are fighting crime and do their best to maintain order in the volatile city.”

 

 

No BBC coverage of US designation of Hizballah MPs

The imposition of terror-related sanctions by the US Treasury on sitting members of parliament in another country is a story one would expect major media outlets to cover and indeed the New York Times, the Washington Post and the AP and Reuters news agencies, among many others, have done just that.

The BBC, however, has to date chosen to ignore the July 9th announcement concerning the designation of three members of Hizballah.

“Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated key Hizballah political and security figures leveraging their privileged positions to facilitate Hizballah’s malign agenda and do Iran’s bidding.  Specifically, OFAC designated Hizballah Members of Parliament Amin Sherri and Muhammad Hasan Ra’d, and Hizballah security official Wafiq Safa, for acting for or on behalf of Hizballah.  These individuals were designated under Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.”

AFP noted that:

“It was the first time the U.S. Treasury had placed Hezbollah lawmakers on its blacklist, which forbid U.S. individuals and businesses with a U.S. branch – including leading international banks – from doing business with those sanctioned.

“It is time we believe for other nations around the world to recognize that there is no distinction between Hezbollah’s political and military wing,” a senior administration official who insisted on anonymity told journalists.”

Reuters reported that:

“Lebanon’s dollar-denominated sovereign bonds fell and the cost of insuring exposure to its debt rose on Wednesday after the sanctions move. […]

Lebanon is saddled with one of the heaviest public debt burdens in the world.”

Meanwhile, the most recent entry on the BBC News website’s ‘Lebanon’ page dates from June 24th.

Related Articles:

Hizballah London explosives story not newsworthy for the BBC

Usual mantras in BBC News report on Hizballah designation

Whitewashing Hizballah on BBC Radio 4

BBC News gives anodyne portrayal of new Lebanese government

 

 

BBC’s chief international correspondent misleads on IRGC terror designation

Visitors to the BBC News website last weekend found no shortage of reading matter concerning the US president’s decision not to recertify (under the terms of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act – INARA) the JCPOA.  

What will Trump do about the Iran nuclear deal?” Jonathan Marcus 12/10/17

Iran nuclear deal: Trump ‘will not sign off agreement’” 13/10/17

Trump’s ‘new’ Iran policy and the difficulties ahead” Jonathan Marcus 13/10/17

Trump aims blow at Iran and threatens landmark nuclear deal” 13/10/17

Trump hands Iran chalice to Congress” Anthony Zurcher 13/10/17

Europe backs Iran deal, Saudis hail Trump’s move” 13/10/17

Iran nuclear deal: Global powers stand by pact despite Trump threat” 14/10/17

Some of those BBC articles include statements concerning Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps  – IRGC.

“The activities of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and its missile-research effort have continued. […]

One suggestion is that the Trump administration might decide to brand the whole of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity.

This body – part security force, part military, part ideological vanguard – also controls a significant part of the Iranian economy.” [source]

“It is thought he [Trump] will also focus on its non-nuclear activities, particularly those of the Revolutionary Guards (RIG), which has been accused of supporting terrorism. […]

Who are the Revolutionary Guards?

Set up shortly after the 1979 Iranian revolution to defend the country’s Islamic system, they provide a counterweight to the regular armed forces.

They are a major military, political and economic force in Iran, with some 125,000 active members, and oversee strategic weapons.

They have been accused of supporting Shia Muslim militants in Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and Syria.” [emphasis added] [source]

“He [Trump] also called for new sanctions on Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, which he called the “corrupt personal terror force of Iran’s leader”, and restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile programme, which is not covered by the deal.” [source]

Two of the reports (see here and here) include an insert of analysis by the BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet in which readers are told that:

“The new approach imposes new sanctions but stops short of designating Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group – a step Iran says would be tantamount to a declaration of war.” [emphasis added]

But is that an accurate portrayal?

On October 13th the US Treasury Department issued a statement headlined “Treasury Designates the IRGC under Terrorism Authority and Targets IRGC and Military Supporters under Counter-Proliferation Authority”.

“Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) pursuant to the global terrorism Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 and consistent with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.”

Executive Order 13224 was created in 2001 and it is one of two ways by which groups or individuals can be designated under US law.

“There are two main authorities for terrorism designations of groups and individuals. Groups can be designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Under Executive Order 13224 a wider range of entities, including terrorist groups, individuals acting as part of a terrorist organization, and other entities such as financiers and front companies, can be designated as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs).”

The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) came into effect in August 2017 and inter alia it:

“…directs the President to impose sanctions against: (1) Iran’s ballistic missile or weapons of mass destruction programs, (2) the sale or transfer to Iran of military equipment or the provision of related technical or financial assistance, and (3) Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated foreign persons.”

The US Treasury clarified that while the IRGC has not been designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation under the Immigration and Nationality Act, it had been designated under the second possible route.

“Consistent with that requirement of CAATSA, OFAC designated the IRGC on October 13, 2017, pursuant to E.O. 13244 for providing support to the IRGC-Qods Force, which previously had been designated for its support to various terrorist groups.”

At the FDD, Amir Toumaj explains:

“President Donald Trump has levied a terrorism designation against Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in its entirety pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224. […]

A decade ago, the US sanctioned the IRGC’s exterritorial branch, the Qods Force, for terrorism pursuant to E.O. 13224 for its role in providing material support to terrorist groups such as the Taliban and Iraqi-Shiite militias. […]

Per the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which passed in August, the US president was to by Oct. 30 designate the IRGC as a whole pursuant to E.O. 13224, or justify to Congress why a waiver is in America’s vital national security interest.”

Lyse Doucet’s claim that the US administration “stops short of designating Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group” is hence inaccurate and materially misleading.

 

 

 

 

More Hamas terror designations ignored by BBC News

For over a year now the BBC has consistently avoided telling its audiences about the senior Hamas member based (at least until recently) in Turkey who directs the terror group’s military operations in Judea & Samaria. As has been noted here before:No news

“Back in August 2014 the BBC managed to avoid telling its audiences about a thwarted coup against the Palestinian Authority engineered by Hamas’ Saleh al Arouri from his base in Turkey. In the same month, al Arouri’s public admission that Hamas had been behind the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers two months earlier was also not covered by the BBC.

In November 2014, when the ISA arrested some 30 Hamas operatives in Judea & Samaria, the BBC made only a veiled reference to “Hamas officials based in Turkey” despite the fact that al Arouri was named in the ISA’s report as the organiser and financer of the terror network.

When the BBC reported on the resumption of PA tax transfers in March 2015 it failed to inform audiences of related professional assessments of al Arouri’s role in attempts to increase terrorist activity in Judea & Samaria.

And when a report on Hamas recruitment in Malaysia – which involved sending recruits for training run by Hamas’ branch in Turkey – appeared in May 2015, the BBC ignored that story altogether.”

It comes therefore as little surprise to find that BBC News also apparently has no interest in reporting on the recent designation by the US Treasury  of both Saleh al Arouri and Mahir (Maher) Salah (a dual nationality British citizen) along with others.

“Al-Aruri is a Hamas political bureau member who funds and directs military operations in the West Bank and against Israel.  In the late 1990s, al-Aruri was a key Hamas recruiter and his authority over Hamas military activity extends back to at least the early 1990s, when he served as a commander in Hamas’s military wing.  In 2010, immediately after his release from a 10-year prison term, al-Aruri resumed his military activity for Hamas and reconnected with Hamas political figures. Since 2010, al-Aruri has also maintained longstanding relationships with SDGTs and Hamas political bureau officials Khalid Mishaal and Musa Abu Marzouk.  Since 2011, al-Aruri has maintained a working relationship with Saudi Arabia-based senior Hamas financial officer Mahir Salah, who is also being designated today.  In 2011, al-Aruri facilitated a transfer of funds in coordination with Mahir Salah for the families of convicted terrorists and deceased Hamas fighters. 

Since at least 2013, al-Aruri has overseen the distribution of Hamas finances and has been a key financier and financial facilitator for Hamas military cells planning attacks and fomenting unrest.  As of 2014, al-Aruri had authority over Hamas military personnel in the West Bank and was in charge of a Hamas initiative to destabilize the Palestinian Authority in preparation for a Hamas takeover.  He also financed and directed a Hamas cell in the West Bank that sought to instigate clashes between Israeli and Palestinian forces. 

In 2014, al-Aruri directed and financed Hamas military cells in the West Bank and Jordan and facilitated the transfer of hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hamas, including to the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, for the purchase of arms and storage facilities for weapons.     

In 2014, al-Aruri publicly praised and announced Hamas’s responsibility for the June 2014 terrorist attacks in which three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed in the West Bank.

As of early 2015, al-Aruri was responsible, along with other Hamas members, for money transfers for Hamas.”

Clearly, as long as the BBC continues to avoid telling audiences about Hamas’ infrastructure in Judea & Samaria (and its management from a NATO country) it cannot be said to be meeting its remit of enhancing “audiences’ awareness and understanding of international issues”. But the really interesting question is why the corporation has consistently buried this story for over a year.

Related Articles:

BBC covers US terror designations for Hamas and Hizballah operatives – but not in English

The return of the BBC’s Jon Donnison and his tall Twitter tales

Jon Donnison’s breach of BBC editorial standards unravels

BBC sticks to inaccurate narrative despite Hamas claim of June kidnappings