Friday, February 27, 2015

Wasserman Schultz: Helms Amendment Has Become ‘A Total Ban on Funding for Abortion’

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) urged Secretary of State John Kerry this week to look into what she says is the misapplication of 42-year-old legislation that bans U.S. foreign aid from being spent on abortions. Read

State Dep’t Not Suggesting That Lack of Opportunity ‘Is the Only Factor’ in Terror Recruitment

An Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL) terrorist featured in gruesome beheading videos reportedly has been identified as an educated, middle-class Briton, but State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki responded cautiously Thursday to questions about his profile not fitting the notion that terrorists are being recruited because of a lack of opportunity. Read

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Kerry Clashes With Lawmaker Over Human Rights and Engaging China, Cuba

Secretary of State John Kerry asked Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) Wednesday not to “put words in my mouth” after the Cuban-American lawmaker objected to him citing China as an example when arguing for engaging repressive regimes like the one in Havana. Read

Kerry Says New Religious Freedom Ambassador Will Have Direct Access to Him 'Anytime'

Secretary of State John Kerry assured a Republican lawmaker Wednesday that the newly sworn-in ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom will have direct access to him, after concerns about the position’s junior status in the State Department. Read

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Kerry: Congress Has No Role in Approving Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday declined to “get into” what negotiators are proposing to the Iranians in the nuclear talks, and defended the president’s authority to execute foreign policy, saying he did not believe a negotiated agreement should go through a “formal approval process” by Congress. Read

Obama Praises Qatar, No. 1 Sponsor of Hamas, for Partnership Against Terror

President Obama on Tuesday praised the emir of Qatar for the Gulf State’s partnership against terrorism, less than a year after a senior U.S. Treasury Department official raised concerns about Qatar’s open support for Hamas and financing of jihadists in Syria. Read

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

US, UAE Plan Joint Anti-Terror Project, But Differ Over What Constitutes a Terrorist Group

President Obama’s plan to establish a counterterror communications hub as a joint project with the United Arab Emirates is ironic, given the differences between the two governments over the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in fostering extremism leading to terror, a U.S. counterterror analyst says. Read

Gallup Records Significant Drop in Democrats’ Sympathy for Israel

The proportion of Democrats who sympathize more with Israel than with Palestinians in the Mideast conflict dropped ten points this year to 48 percent, according to a new poll by Gallup. Read

Monday, February 23, 2015

Saudi King’s Counter-Terror Event Hosted by Group Accused of Terror-Financing, Promoting Intolerance

Saudi Arabia’s new king delivered a speech Sunday, opening a three-day counterterrorism conference in Mecca, hosted at his invitation by an organization that for years has been denying U.S. government charges of associations with terrorism. Read

CAIR Praises DHS Report on Domestic ‘Right Wing’ Extremists

Welcoming news that the Department of Homeland Security is circulating an intelligence assessment on the threat posed by “right-wing sovereign citizen extremist groups,” the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) says it’s now time for security agencies to release a report on violence against American Muslims and others of Middle Eastern or South Asian heritage. Read

Friday, February 20, 2015

Kerry Praises Pakistan’s Anti-Terror Moves--Days After Lawmakers Asked Him to Punish Pakistan

Secretary of State John Kerry praised Pakistan Thursday for acting against terrorist groups – one week after U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee leaders urged him to act against Islamabad for not doing so. Read

Netanyahu: We Do Know What’s in the Proposed Iran Nuclear Deal – And It’s Bad

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has gently pushed back at the inference that his government does not know the details of a proposed agreement on Iran’s nuclear program, after the State Department confirmed that it is not sharing everything about the negotiations with the Israelis. Read

Kerry on Terrorist Motivation: 'Desire to Belong to a Group' or Due to a 'Lost Job'

Declaring that “you cannot defeat what you don’t understand,” Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday suggested some reasons why tens of thousands of young people are flocking to join terrorist groups in the Middle East. Read

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Kerry: ‘Gullible’ ISIS Recruits Attracted by Perception of Glamor and Success, Not Religious Fervor

Foreign recruits joining the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are not being targeted for their religious fervor but because they are gullible enough to believe the cause is glamorous and successful, Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday. Read

Administration’s Poverty-Islamic Terrorism Link Has Been Challenged by Studies

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf may be correct in saying that the previous administration spoke of a link between poverty and Islamic terrorism, but a number of studies have challenged the notion, irrespective of who has advanced it. Read

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ayatollah: No Muslim Offenses Against Non-Muslims in Iran Since Islamic Revolution

Iran’s supreme leader seized on Islamic terrorists’ murder of Christians by asserting this week that since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Muslims in Iran have never committed offenses against non-Muslims. Read

Muslim Group Cites Biden as Referring to Extremist Violence ‘in the Name of the Bible’

A U.S. Islamic advocacy group says that Vice- President Joe Biden, addressing a White House summit on “countering violent extremism (CVE)” on Tuesday, referred to right-wing extremists and supremacists committing violence “in the name of the Bible.” Read

Holder: Little to Be Gained by Calling Islamic Terrorism 'Islamic Terrorism'

Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder took a swipe Tuesday at critics of the Obama administration’s reluctance to call Islamic terrorism Islamic terrorism, reserving a particular dig for Fox News. Read

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

US Islamic Groups See WH Summit on Violent Extremism As Unfairly Focusing on Muslims

Ahead of a three-day White House summit on “countering violent extremism,” some U.S. Islamic groups are expressing concern about the administration’s “CVE” initiative, claiming that it unfairly focuses on Muslims and is tantamount to racial profiling. Read

White House Avoids Mentioning That 21 Beheaded Christians Were Christians

On the eve of a White House summit on “countering violent extremism” that has already drawn complaints from some Muslim groups, the administration in its response to the beheading of 21 Egyptian Copts has not mentioned the religious affiliation of either the killers or victims. Read

Islamic Bloc Meets to Discuss Terrorism, But First Condemns Israel

At a time when world headlines are dominated by brutal acts of violence perpetrated by Muslim groups and individuals, the bloc of Islamic nations at an emergency weekend meeting rejected recent “terrorist acts” by name – topped by the “practice of state terrorism by Israel.” Read

Monday, February 16, 2015

Mass Beheading Video Appeared After ISIS Called on Muslims Everywhere to Kill ‘Coptic Crusaders’

The appearance of a video Sunday purporting to show Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) jihadists beheading 21 Egyptian Christians abducted in Libya comes just days after the terrorist group’s propaganda publication called for the murder of “Coptic crusaders” everywhere. Read

Tough Gulf Stance on Yemen Not Seen Reflected in UN Security Council Response

The bloc of Gulf Arab states hinted at the weekend that it would act on its own to end the crisis in Yemen if the international community does not do so, but a U.N. Security Council resolution adopted on Sunday gave no indication that such action was on the cards. Read

Friday, February 13, 2015

Free Speech vs. ‘Blasphemy’ Features in Geneva Panel Discussion

At a time when some Islamic figures are renewing calls for a ban on religious “defamation” push in the wake of the Mohammed cartoon furor, diplomats in Geneva took part Thursday in a panel discussion on balancing religious intolerance and free speech. Read

Satellite Images of Iranian Site Barred to Nuclear Inspectors May Point to Cover-Up

As a deadline draws nearer for a nuclear deal with Iran, a leading nonproliferation and security think tank reports that new satellite imagery of a military facility near Tehran shows evidence of activity likely designed to conceal past banned nuclear-related activity. Read

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Iran’s Top Commander: Shi’ite Takeover in Yemen Proves ‘Islamic Revolution’ is Spreading

Amid reports that the Shi’ite militia now claiming to control Yemen had taken possession of U.S. Embassy vehicles and U.S. Marines’ firearms, Iran’s top general declared Wednesday that developments in the troubled Gulf state were evidence of the spread of the “Islamic revolution” throughout the region. Read

Marine Corps: ‘No Marine Handed a Weapon to a Houthi, or Had One Taken From Him’

The U.S. Marine Corps late Wednesday rejected reports that the Marine security detachment at the American Embassy in Yemen had surrendered their weapons at Sana’a airport before leaving the troubled Gulf state with evacuated embassy staffers. Read

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Earnest, Psaki Take to Twitter to Clarify Position on Terror Targeting of Jewish Store

White House and State Department press secretaries took to Twitter Tuesday to underscore that the administration believes a terror attack on a kosher store in Paris last month was anti-Jewish, hours after both appeared reluctant during daily press briefings to acknowledge that. Read

Defiant Assad Sees No ‘Lifeline’ From the U.S.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in an interview broadcast Tuesday played down a suggestion that Secretary of State John Kerry had recently offered him “a lifeline,” saying his regime’s survival was in the hands of the Syrian people, not the United States. Read

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Effort to Declassify Key Material on Saudis and 9/11 Attacks Edges Ahead

With the Obama administration declining to comment on fresh claims of close ties between al-Qaeda and prominent Saudis in the run-up to 9/11, a congressional effort to prod the administration to declassify documents on the topic is gaining support – although at a glacial pace. Read

Monday, February 09, 2015

Obama, Susan Rice Repeat Claim to Have ‘Halted’ Iran’s Nuclear Progress

More than two weeks after saying during his State of the Union address that an interim agreement with Iran had “halted the progress of its nuclear program” – a claim since disputed – President Obama repeated the assertion in his National Security Strategy report, released on Friday. Read

Cruz: Administration Pursues ‘Photo-Op Foreign Policy’

Criticizing the Obama administration for not arming Ukrainian forces fighting Russian-backed separatists, or Kurds fighting Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorists, Sen. Ted Cruz on Sunday derided what he called its “photo-op foreign policy.” Read