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Posts tagged ‘Foundation for Defense of Democracies’

US Officials: Iran Gained Far More Than $7 Billion in Sanctions Relief.


Senior Obama administration  officials have conceded that the value of sanctions relief to Iran from last month’s Geneva nuclear accord will far exceed the initial estimate of $6 billion to $7 billion, Israeli sources told Haaretz.The new estimate is closer to Israel’s original projection that Iran would receive at least $20 billion worth of relief from the deal it agreed to with six international powers including the United States.

“Economics is a matter of expectations,” Israeli security sources said. “The Iranian stock exchange is already rising significantly and many countries are standing in line to renew economic ties with Iran based on what was already agreed in Geneva.”

China has quickly moved to renew contracts to develop the Iranian oil industry worth around $9 billion,and several German companies have also expressed interest in deals with Tehran, the Israeli sources noted.

The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) has also found weaknesses in the White House’s previous estimate that Tehran gained $500 million worth of relief for  the Iranian auto industry from the Geneva deal.

In a report published this week, the FDD concluded that the White House estimate failed to account for an additional $2.5 billion in economic activity that sanctions relief would provide Iran in the next six months, according to Haaretz.
The United States had originally intended to permit only the unfreezing of about $3 billion to $4 billion in Iranian financial assets. But during the course of negotiations in Geneva, the international powers backtracked and approved a much more generous easing of sanctions.Iran has now been granted sanctions relief in areas including commerce in gold, petrochemicals, cars, and replacement parts for civilian aircraft.

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© 2013 NewsmaxWorld. All rights reserved.

By Robert Brothers

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Former CIA Director: Law Enforcement Didn’t Use Available Tools to Monitor Bombing Suspect.


Ambassador James Woolsey, who ran the CIA under President Clinton, tells Newsmax TV that U.S. law enforcement appears to have failed to use all of the tools at its disposal to monitor Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

“This is not an intelligence matter,” said Woolsey in an exclusive interview on Wednesday. “This is a law enforcement matter. It’s not the CIA’s business to try to prevent crime in the United States or arrest people or any of that.”

Story continues below.

 

While the Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed the 26-year-old bombing suspect, who was killed in last week’s dramatic shootout with police, they presumably concluded that the older brother did not pose a danger or risk to the United States.

Woolsey, who now serves as the chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said that the FBI might have been able to obtain a warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to keep a watchful eye on Tsarnaev, particularly since Russian authorities had attempted to alert the U.S. to his ties with radical Islam.

“The Bureau might have gotten a warrant from a FISA court and been able to follow what Tamerlan was doing for several years given the fact that the Russians had taken the trouble to warn us about him,” Woolsey explained. “I don’t know why they didn’t’ use the FISA warrant. I don’t know why they closed the investigation but it doesn’t look to me as if we — the law enforcement side — used the tools that they had under American law.”

Meanwhile, he said, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police “did a much better job” of keeping tabs on two unrelated suspects who allegedly had been plotting to blow up a train bound from Toronto to New York.

“They’d been keeping up with them for a couple of years and they decided to move and to arrest them, presumably for conspiracy, because they were worried that they might take action,” said Woolsey, who was director of America’s top spy agency from 1993 to 1995.

“The Canadians didn’t close their file after they started looking into it,” he observed. “They kept at it.”

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Woolsey said he could not fault the CIA since it is not the agency’s job to watch American citizens on U.S. soil.

“The CIA doesn’t spy on people in the United States,” he explained. “If anybody is going to have an informant inside an organization here in the US to keep them up to speed on what a potential terrorist might do in the US, that’s law enforcement.”

He praised New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly for being “very aggressive” in tracking down potential threats to his city.

“They run operations in New York to keep track of what’s going on in potential terrorists and they do a very good job of it,” according to Woolsey, who has been labeled a neoconservative Democrat.

“What happened in 9/11 was that there was not good communication between the CIA and the FBI,” he recalled. “That’s true, but that detailed communication was in very many ways barred by a Justice Department ruling that was put out during the Clinton administration that build a so-called Chinese wall not only between intelligence and law enforcement, but between parts of the FBI to where the people doing criminal investigations in the bureau were not able to talk to the people who were doing counterintelligence.”

He said it was a “very close call” as to whether the Obama administration should have treated surviving suspect, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant.

Woolsey could only recall one case of U.S. citizens being arrested, prosecuted, and executed on American soil during World War II.

“World War II was a different kind of war than we are in now and some people would say we’re really at peace and these are just isolated incidents,” he said. “And so we ought to deal with each terrorist as if he were a bank robber and give him all the rights that an American criminal defendant has, whereas an illegal combatant overseas, say in Afghanistan today, obviously does not have those kinds of rights.”

While the Tsarnaev brothers may have posed a legal tightrope for law enforcement officials, the Obama administration has stretched “political correctness” in a number of cases, according to Woolsey.

“The administration really, really stretches the political correctness there to try to make it look as if they’ve already won the war on terror and this is just something else,” he said, pointing to the case of the Ft. Hood shooter, whom the administration classified under workplace violence.

“He has a business card that effectively calls himself a jihadi, and when he kills the 13 soldiers at Ft. Hood, he’s shouting, ‘Allahu Akbar,’” Woolsey recalls. “Now, it’s pretty hard to think of that as workplace violence but that’s what the administration has done and the report on Major Hasan never even mentioned the words ‘Islam,’ ‘jihad,’ or anything like that.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Paul Scicchitano and Kathleen Walter

Insight: In Syrian sanctions, some gains but much uncertainty.


  • A boy stands amongst Free Syrian Army fighters atop a tank after they defeated government troops at Salqin city near Idlib October 29, 2012. Picture taken October 29. REUTERS/Abu Baker Al-Shemali/Shaam News Network/Handout

    Enlarge PhotoReuters/Reuters – A boy stands amongst Free Syrian Army fighters atop a tank after they defeated government troops at Salqin city near Idlib October 29, 2012. Picture taken October 29. REUTERS/Abu Baker Al-Shemali/Shaam …more 

BUCHAREST/BRUSSELS/DUBAI (Reuters) – Two months into anti-government protests in Syrialast year, as the military crackdown grew more vicious, the European Union and United States introduced sanctions against President Bashar al-Assad, his security chiefs and members of his family.

The sanctions were designed to freeze property and bank accounts, make it harder to access money and move assets around, and, ultimately, bring about an end to the violence. Eighteen months on, though, the fighting is worse and Brussels and Washington are struggling to make these sanctions bite.

There is no official tally of the amount of Assad riches frozen by the U.S., EU and Arab League under targeted sanctions on individuals and companies. But based on the amounts known to have been blocked by Britain and non-EU Switzerland, it is likely to be several hundred million dollars.

Switzerland has blocked about 100 million francs ($106 million) in assets linked to Assad, his associates and Syrian companies, in line with EU sanctions. Britain has frozen Syrian assets worth about 100 million pounds ($160 million), a source familiar with the situation said in July.

But Western diplomats and experts in asset tracing say the search has unearthed only glimpses of a suspected international financial network supporting Syria’s ruler and his inner circle.

Western governments appear to be more focused on applying a set of broad based sanctions, such as those blocking Syria’s central bank from U.S. markets and imposing curbs on trade and services including a European Union ban on Syrian oil imports.

In part, this may be because the size of Assad’s personal wealth – the assets he could realistically offload to generate funds – is probably no more than $1 billion, according to private sector experts in corporate investigations. This is much less than the multi-billion dollar hoard that his opponents alleged he owned when the conflict began in March 2011.

Iain Willis, Director of Research at UK-based business intelligence company Alaco Ltd, said that early in the uprising “enormous figures” of more than $120 billion were being floated as estimates of Assad’s wealth, based on the fact that the Assads in effect controlled most of the levers of the economy.

“In reality, while they certainly had fingers in an awful lot of industries, it’s nowhere near that, in terms of what’s realizable, liquid, practical and moveable. I would say one percent of that is likely to be a realistic figure,” he said.

Efforts to freeze whatever money he does have access to have been hindered by lawsuits lodged by some of those who appear on sanctions lists, Russian and Chinese opposition, lack of intelligence resources, and perhaps even a policy to calibrate the amount of pressure on Assad to give him a path to exile.

“There’s been a sense that at the end of the day it’s not a lot of money, that it doesn’t have a significant impact on the decision-making calculus of the leadership,” said Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank in Washington, though he said he did not know this was fact.

“The other operating theory is that – and this is potentially pretty cynical – if your goal is to get rid of Assad and there is an opportunity to get him to agree to step down, potentially you don’t want to go after his assets because you want to be able to give him an escape route where he can end up in exile and enjoy the fruits of his despotic regime. ‘Let’s not squeeze him entirely’.”

Another explanation may be psychological tactics, said Charles Crawford, a former British ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia/Montenegro and Poland who helped implement sanctions intended to topple late Serb strongman Slobodan Milosevic. He said sanctions officials might want to list some regime hardliners but not others to stir up paranoia.

But a simple lack of manpower may also have hurt. A Western envoy in the United Arab Emirates, where Assad and the family of Rami Makhlouf, Assad’s cousin and main financial ally, are believed to have assets, said the probe into their private wealth was valuable but “we just don’t have the resources. There is so much happening in the region right now that there are many other issues that take priority.”

Nick Bortman, Gulf-based head of London corporate investigation firm GPW’s Middle East practice, said Bashar’s wealth had been meticulously invested overseas, over many years, and behind multiple layers of proxies and offshore companies and in countries where disclosure laws were weak or not enforced.

“Such groundwork dulls the blade of broad sanctions regimes,” he said. “Freezing wealth requires identifying wealth, and that ultimately comes down to accessing advisors and consiglieri figures, something beyond the typical remit of financial and commercial watchdogs and other would-be enforcers.”

Information from Gulf Arab states has been meager, some Western officials say. A senior Western diplomat said: “We have been discussing with Russia and the Gulf countries in terms of our concerns they may be using their banking systems. It’s not clear the extent that the regime money may have gone there.”

BENIFICIARIES

There has been some progress.

Take Makhlouf, accused by European Union foreign ministers in May 2011 of bankrolling Assad. The tycoon has been under U.S. sanctions since 2008 for what Washington calls public corruption. Brussels brought in its own sanctions last year.

In July this year, evidence released by the U.S. Senate’s permanent sub-committee on investigations into anti-money laundering weaknesses at HSBC showed that Makhlouf and his father Mohammed were beneficiaries of a trust established in the Cayman Islands by the British bank.

On August 16, the EU listed a Luxembourg company, Drex Technologies Holding S.A., saying Makhlouf was the beneficial owner. It said Makhlouf used the firm to facilitate and manage his international financial holdings, including a majority share in mobile phone operator Syriatel, which the EU has previously listed on the grounds that it provides financial support to the Syrian regime.

Drex Technologies could not be reached for comment. Paolo Poveda, a client relations analyst at Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, described as a registered agent of Drex in the EU listing, said they had resigned that position in June 2012. On Aug 30, the Swiss sanctions department listed the Luxembourg company.

Makhlouf could not be reached for comment and questions sent through Syriatel were not answered. Makhlouf is believed to live in Syria still.

Swiss prosecutors last year froze roughly 3 million euros held in a Geneva bank by Makhlouf, on grounds of suspected money-laundering. The money was unfrozen when Makhlouf appealed, saying it predated sanctions imposed by the Swiss last May.

Mahlouf’s lawsuit was one of 35 legal challenges against the Syria sanctions at the European Court of Justice, according to one EU official. The majority of those are still pending. Several European officials said the bar for evidence of wrong doing was being set much higher than in the early months of the uprising.

In another case, a Syrian businessman, Emad Ghreiwati, was taken off the sanctions list this year after he challenged his listing in a lawsuit at the European Court of Justice. The court ruled there was no need to make a formal finding in the case, as he had been taken off the list, for undisclosed reasons, after his lawsuit was launched, an official said.

Asked about the pace of the EU’s efforts to target Assad’s circle, a senior EU official said it was up to member states to propose “ideas for potential candidates” and legal challenges to the measures had resulted in a more cautious approach.

“Sometimes when mistakes are being made, evidence that is put on the table is not strong and solid enough, then there is always a possibility for legal recourse. And we are having a few of them in front of European courts and we have to be careful, to have solid ground,” he said.

THE ROMANIAN CONNECTION

Perhaps the most interesting case study is Romania.

Romania’s former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and Assad’s father Hafez al-Assad had a long and warm friendship. Romania-based Syrian dissident Mohamad Rifai alleges close ties continue between the two countries, specifically the Syrian ambassador to Romania Walid Othman, who isRami Makhlouf’s father-in-law.

Rifai, a dentist who left Syria in the early 1980s to study in then-communist Romania, wants the EU and the United States to investigate companies linked to Othman as possible havens and conduits for funds belonging to Assad and his extended family, including Makhlouf.

Former Syrian Oil Minister Abdo Husameddin said Othman was “one of the people making (money transfer) dealings on behalf of the Assad family.” But Othman’s opponents have produced no evidence of any wrongdoing.

A Romanian investigative journalism website called Rise Project published documents in May 2012 that show the extent of Syrian commercial activity in Romania, including companies owned by Othman’s sons, but no evidence of any connection to Assad himself, or to his assets.

An EU diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said Othman’s name and that of his sons and his daughter, Razan, were on a list of potential sanctions targets presented by Syrian opposition activists to the EU in mid-September. But Razan’s was the only name that drew interest.

On October 15 the EU added her and 27 other names to a list of individuals targeted by EU asset freezes and travel bans, bringing the total number of people facing such sanctions to 181. Razan Othman is married to Makhlouf. The EU said she was “associated with the Syrian regime and benefiting from it”.

A request for an interview with Walid Othman delivered to the Syrian embassy in Bucharest went unanswered. Reached for comment, an embassy employee, who declined to be identified, confirmed Othman had received the request.

There was no answer to a request for comment from Razan Othman delivered via Syriatel.

A Western official, speaking on condition of anonymity when asked about Othman, said only that Romania was one of several countries being studied as a potential location of activity by Assad’s private financial network.

(Additional reporting by Martin de Sa’Pinto in Zurich, Georgina Prodhan and Michael Shields in Vienna, Chris Vellacott, William Maclean, Mo Abbas, Dave Cutler and Tom Bill in London, Dominic Evans in Beirut, Regan Doherty in Doha, Thomas Grove in Moscow, Khaled Oweis and Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman, Editing by Janet McBride)

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Radu Marinas and Sam Cage and Justyna Pawlak and Raissa Kasolowsky | Reuters

The Palestinian ‘Right Of Return’ Hoax Exposed.


Since the rebirth of the Jewish State, there has been a plethora of paltering emanating from those whose purpose and goal it is to deny the Jewish people their homeland. One of the greatest falsehoods is that of the ‘palestinian’ refugees and their ‘right of return’.

Misrepresentation of the Palestinian refugee phenomenon is meant to delegitimize Israel and to claim “right of return” as a way to destroy Israel.

Let’s look at some of the REAL facts concerning the ‘refugees’…

First, thousands of wealthy Arabs left in anticipation of a war, thousands more responded to Arab leaders’ calls to get out of the way of the advancing armies, but most simply fled to avoid being caught in the cross fire of a battle.

Israel did NOT exile them and create refugees.

Second, if the Arabs accepted the 1947 UN resolution, not a single Palestinian would have become a refugee. An independent Arab state would now exist beside Israel. The responsibility for the refugee problem rests with the Arabs. AND, 90% of the inhabitants of Jordan are so-called palestinians. Jordan won’t allow them to become citizens. The other Arab countries use these people as a battering ram against Israel…but none of their brethren will help them or allow them to become citizens of their nations. Nothing like brotherly love…

Jonathan Schanzer, of the US-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, has reportedly found that the number of people still living who were actually displaced during Israel’s War of Independence stands at only 30,000.

But the overwhelmingly ‘Palestinian’ staffed UNRWA (United Nations Relief Works Agency), the faction responsible for providing “assistance, protection and advocacy” exclusively for the ‘ Palestinian’ Arab refugees arrives at the number of 5 million “registered Palestine refugees” living in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, Samaria and Judea.

Interestingly enough, UNRWA has a budget of $1.2 billion. The US is the largest single donor, giving about $280 million to the agency yearly.

Here are some interesting facts about UNRWA:

  • US tax dollars given to UNRWA to be used to pay their staff, ended up in the coffers of Hamas (Oopsie!)
  • The agency has done nothing to promote creative resolutions to the ‘ Palestinian refugee’ problem. Instead, it has done everything possible to support the ‘ Palestinians’ “right of return” aspirations. The agency has fermented a policy that seeks to maintain the ‘Palestinians’ refugee status. (Gee, could the $1.2 billion have anything to do with that? Nah.)
  • Certain members of UNRWA’s teaching staff actually carry out jihadist activities themselves. Awad al-Qiq, a respected science teacher and deputy headmaster at the Rafah Prep Boys School run by UNRWA in Gaza. Al-Qiq, who taught at UNRWA schools for eight years, worked by night as a leader of a rocket engineering squad for Islamic Jihad. (Terrorist version of the Nutty Professor? Hmm)

Back to the ‘refugee’ problem…

The ‘right of return’ is false and is simply: A battering ram the Arab/Muslim world hopes will finally destroy the Jewish State evermore. But does Israel owe these people a return to Israel? Harvard Law Prof. Alan Dershowitz explains why Israel doesn’t need to open its doors to Arabs who fled in 1948:

“The “right of return” is a claim made by the Arab nations that Arab residents of Israel who were driven out of their homes in the course of the 1948 Independence War should be allowed to return. But as Michell G. Bard in his work Myths & Facts documents, many Arabs left by choice preferring to adhere to promises of the invading Arab armies that if they evacuated their homes, they would return after the war to their own homes as well as those of their Jewish neighbors.”

One refugee quoted in the Jordan newspaper, Ad Difaa (September 6, 1954), said: “The Arab government told us: Get out so that we can get in. So we got out, but they did not get in.”

The interminable number claimed by UNRWA is seen as counterfeit by the US Representatives as well. The US Senate Appropriations Committee has approved an critical amendment to a bill, which was proposed by Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois. The amendment would change the definition of “Palestinian refugee” so the number of people now given that status would shrink from about 5 million to about 30,000. Kudos to Sen. Kirk…that took righteous chutzpah…

Just imagine for a moment…what would happen to Israel if the false number of ‘refugees’ were allowed into Israel? Columnist Gil Ronen gives a perfect illustration, “The readmission of the refugees would be the equivalent to the admission to the U.S. of nearly 70,000,000 sworn enemies of the nation.”

Indeed, Gil…that’s the idea. The Arab/Muslim nations have never wanted the Jewish State. They have…and still do…make that unequivocal. It’s time for Israel’s closest ally (the American people, not the administration) to stand up. Sen. Kirk is in the vanguard. Who will stand with him?

May we each say “I will!”

Shalom through strength…

by Audrey Russo.

Exclusive: U.S. offers millions in bounty for top Somali militants.


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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is offering rewards of up to $7 million for information leading to the location of seven key leaders of Somalia‘s al Shabaab, seeking for the first time to target top echelons of the al Qaeda-linked militant group.

              U.S. officials said the rewards, to be announced on the State Department‘s “Rewards for Justice” website on Thursday, opened a new front in the battle against al Shabaab and signaled Washington’s determination to press the fight against terrorism across Africa.

              “This is the first time we’ve had key leaders of al Shabaab as part of the Rewards for Justice program,” said Robert Hartung, an assistant director at the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which administers the program.

              “Every time we add someone to the Rewards for Justice site, that is a signal that the U.S. government is sending that it takes the fight against terrorism very seriously,” Hartung said.

              The U.S. government in 2008 named al Shabaab to its list of foreign terrorist organizations, imposing financial and other restrictions on the group that had seized control of large areas of south and central Somalia and sought to impose its strict version of Islam on the impoverished Horn of Africa nation.

The United States has also joined international efforts to bolster Somalia in the face of its multiple crises, pledging $300 million to support an African Union force battling al Shabaab and $250 million for humanitarian relief after drought struck the region last year.

“What we’re about in Somalia is a comprehensive broad effort with a variety of partners in the region and around the world to bring stability to Somalia,” said Karl Wycoff, deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs.

PRICE ON THEIR HEADS

Thursday’s announcement will for the first time set specific prices on the heads of al Shabaab leaders, topped by a reward of up to $7 million for information on the whereabouts of Ahmed Abdi aw-Mohamed, the group’s founder and overall commander.

Rewards of up to $5 million are being offered for Ibrahim Haji Jama, another al Shabaab co-founder, and group financier Fuad Mohamed Khalaf, along with military commander Bashir Mohamed Mahamoud and Mukhtar Robow, who often serves as the group’s spokesman.

The U.S. government will pay rewards of up to $3 million for information on the whereabouts of intelligence chief Zakariya Ismail Ahmed Hersi and Abdullahi Yare, another senior figure, Hartung said.

U.S. officials say the Rewards for Justice program has paid out more than $100 million to more than 70 informants since it was established in 1984 and helped to find and convict 1993 World Trade Center bombing mastermind Ramzi Ahmed Yousef, among others.

The program has not been without recent controversy. The State Department in April placed a $10 million bounty on Hafiz Saeed, suspected of masterminding the 2008 attack in Mumbai, India, that killed 166 people. Saeed’s whereabouts in Pakistan were not usually a mystery, and he responded to the U.S. move by holding a news conference mocking it.

Counterterrorism analysts said the new rewards could boost pressure on al Shabaab as it faces a three-pronged offensive by Kenyan troops in the south, Ethiopian troops in central Somalia and an African Union force near the capital, Mogadishu.

              “Al Shabaab is starting to show some signs of fatigue and fissures that are going to hinder the group,” said Rick “Ozzie” Nelson, a senior security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

              “Putting these individuals on Rewards for Justice at this juncture is another thing which might encourage the demise of al Shabaab. We are at a tipping point here.”

              Other analysts said that while the Rewards for Justice program had shown only moderate success in capturing senior leaders, it was useful as a signpost of U.S. priorities.

              “The large rewards haven’t had an impact in bringing the top guys to justice, but these notices are important to help define the enemy and informing people about who we believe to be the top-level threats,” said Bill Roggio, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and editor of its “Long War Journal” on counterterrorism efforts.

              Hartung said he was sure the large U.S. reward offers would tease out new clues about the whereabouts of al Shabaab’s top leaders.

              “We are confident that we will receive information pertaining to these seven,” Hartung said. “What we do with that information, and the quality of that information, we’ll have to wait and see.”

              (Reporting By Andrew Quinn; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

ReutersBy Andrew Quinn | Reuters

Israel a Christian Haven Amid Islamic Persecution.


Israel
(CBN)

The so-called Arab Spring has given a big boost to radical Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood. For Christians, it’s been a much different story.

Believers in Jesus are suffering major persecution throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

But there is one place left in the region where they don’t have to fear: Israel.

Growing Islamic Threat Before Islam’s prophet Muhammad died in 632 AD, he declared that no two religions could co-exist on the Arabian Peninsula, meaning Islam must reign supreme in the region.

Muslim leaders there today take Muhammad’s words seriously. Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti recently issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, that all churches on the peninsula must be destroyed.

The decree was a stunning statement by Saudi Arabia’s top religious authority. Yet it received little attention in the mainstream press and the Obama administration has yet to comment.

“This is giving license to the destruction of churches, by the way, at a time when churches are being burnt in Egypt, in Nigeria, Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia, country after country—sometimes with the worshipers inside them,” Cliff May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said.

May told CBN News the Saudi mufti’s statements are part of a troubling pattern.

“What we have right now—and this is, I think, one of the biggest stories taking place in the world that most of the media are refusing to cover—is increasing and widespread persecution and cleansing of Christians throughout the so-called Muslim world,” May said.

Middle East expert Raymond Ibrahim recently wrote that in the month of February alone, churches and Christian monasteries were attacked or destroyed in nine different Muslim countries.

During that same time frame, Ibrahim noted, dozens of Christians were murdered, beaten, or harassed across the Muslim world. Those were just the incidents that were reported.

Last Middle East Safe Haven The so-called Arab Spring, which has seen radical Islamic groups like the Brotherhood rise to power, has only made things more difficult for the region’s Christians.

In Israel, however, it’s a different story.

While Christians are fleeing the Muslim Middle East in droves, their numbers have increased by a thousand percent in Israel since the nation’s re-founding in 1948.

“Christians are in every aspect, every realm of Israeli society. They’re in the Knesset. They’re on the Supreme Court; they’re in academia,” Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren said.

“The Israeli Defense Forces was at one point printing out Hebrew versions of the New Testament because there’s so many Christians swearing in for duty,” he noted.

Oren told CBN News that Arab Christians living in the Jewish state are among the most educated and prosperous in the Middle East. And all Christians, citizens and tourists alike, have free access to their holy sites.

“And we protect them,” Oren said. “Several years ago there was an attempt to build a mosque in Nazareth right over the Church of the Annunciation, and Israel intervened and stopped that from happening.”

Things aren’t always perfect. Jewish believers in Jesus have experienced difficulties over the years.

Yet Israel’s overall acceptance of Christians is like night and day when compared with the Palestinian-controlled areas of Gaza and the West Bank, where Christians are frequently persecuted and even killed.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

By Erick Stakelbeck.

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