Al-Qaeda group releases video of first American suicide bomber in Syria

http://rt.com/news/175900-terrorist-video-isis-explodes/

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The Syrian Al-Nusra Front, a jihadist organization aligned with Al-Qaeda, has released a video of a US citizen who blew himself up in a suicide attack in Syria. He is believed to be the first US national to carry out a terror attack in the country.

The American who joined the Syrian rebels becomes the first known US suicide bomber

The man was identified as Moner Mohammad Abu Salha, a US citizen from Florida He went under a different name in Al-Nusra – Abu Hurayra Al-Amriki (Abu Hurayra the American).

Abu Hurayra was among four Al-Nusra men who carried out suicide bombings on army positions in Idlib province, northwestern Syria on May 25. Dozens were killed and wounded, though exact numbers of casualties are still unknown.

In the 17-minute video about ‘the life and death’ of Abu Hurayra, the 22-year-old American from Florida appears smiling and saying he looked forward to going to heaven.

“I want to rest in the afterlife, not in this world… My heart is not at peace here. Hopefully it will be in heaven,” Abu Hurayra says in broken Arabic in the YouTube footage posted on Friday by Al-Nusra Front’s channel.

He sits with three jihadists, allegedly other suicide bombers. One of them was identified as the jihadist from the Maldives. Abu Hurayra talks about his background and life since he arrived in Syria in 2013.

Abu Hurayra Al-Amriki (screenshot from AP Video)Abu Hurayra Al-Amriki (screenshot from AP Video)

“I came to Syria without money to buy a rifle or a pouch. God gave me a rifle and a pouch and everything, and… (Then) he gave me even more,” he said.

US law enforcement and counterterrorism officials confirmed the suicide bombing and said they have identified the American.

The video released right after the attack shows a huge explosion. Then a young, bearded man – Abu Hurayra – cradling a cat appears.

The parents of Abu Salha own a grocery store in Florida, his father is from Jordan and mother is a convert to Islam, local US media outlets said.

Syria plunged into civil war in 2011 when peaceful uprisings against Assad descended into violence. More than 150,000 people have been killed and millions more have been displaced in the three years since fighting began.

The rebels are made up of a very loose coalition of opposition groups, some of whom – like Al-Nusra Front – have openly affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

Al-Nusra Front, operating in Syria and Lebanon, was created in 2012 during the Syrian war. Its aim is to overthrow President Bashar Assad’s government.

Abu Hurayra Al-Amriki (screenshot from AP Video)Abu Hurayra Al-Amriki (screenshot from AP Video)

According to Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, there are about 12,000 foreign fighters in Syria. These numbers show a stunning 50 percent increase in just three months. Of them, more than 1,000 are from Europe and more than 100 are from the US, he said.

“What is also of concern is that there are a number of veteran Al-Qaeda individuals that are now in Syria, taking advantage of the really permissive environment that exists there – basically the opportunity to train and prepare to carry out attacks against the West,” he added.

According to Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, there are about 12,000 foreign fighters in Syria. These numbers show a stunning 50 percent increase in just three months. Of them, more than 1,000 are from Europe and more than 100 are from the US, he said.

“What is also of concern is that there are a number of veteran Al-Qaeda individuals that are now in Syria, taking advantage of the really permissive environment that exists there – basically the opportunity to train and prepare to carry out attacks against the West,” he added.

DC ban on carrying handguns is unconstitutional, federal judge says

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In a landmark gun control case, a federal judge in Washington DC has overturned the city’s total ban on carrying handguns outside the home, saying it is unconstitutional.

“There is no longer any basis on which this Court can conclude that the District of Columbia’s total ban on the public carrying of ready-to-use handguns outside the home is constitutional under any level of scrutiny,” Judge Frederick Scullin said.

“Therefore, the Court finds that the District of Columbia’s complete ban on the carrying of handguns in public is unconstitutional,” Scullin added in his 19-page ruling.

The ruling was made in the PALMER et al v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA et al case.

The court order now allows both city residents and non-residents to carry handguns outside their homes.

The case has been dragging on for five years, with the lead attorney for the Second Amendment Foundation, Alan Gura, asking the federal appeals court twice to force Judge Scullin to issue a decision.

“I’m very pleased with the decision that the city can’t forbid the exercise of a fundamental constitutional right,” Gura told Fox News. He added, however, that he expects the District to appeal the decision.

The Supreme Court struck down DC’s ban on the possession of handguns in the home in the 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller, under the basis that it violated the right to bear arms guaranteed by the US Constitution’s Second Amendment. Following the ruling, the DC Council approved regulations that permitted residents to register certain handguns.

Barack Obama has already checked out of his job

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The degree to which Barack Obama is now phoning it in – sleepwalking perfunctorily through his second term, amid golf rounds and dinner parties – is astonishing

By Matt K Lewis12:04PM BST 26 Jul 2014

President Obama has emotionally checked out of his job a couple of years early, it seems. How can one tell?
Candidates for president who brazenly assume they are the inevitable victor are sometimes accused of “measuring the drapes” for the White House.
Obama, conversely, seems to be prematurely packing his bags in hopes for an early departure.

Top priority? Barack Obama greets people in Delaware (AFP/Getty)
Just last week, for example, the Los Angeles Times reported that “The First Family is believed to be in escrow on a contemporary home in a gated community where entertainers Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby once maintained estates”.
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Once again, tough talk followed by soft action against Putin 23 Jul 2014
George Santayana observed that “Americans don’t solve problems, they leave them behind”. Perhaps the president is taking this to heart.
For rumours to catch fire, an element of truth must typically be involved.
The fact that the press would find relevance in speculating on Obama’s post-White House residence – and identify California as the kind of scene the future ex-president would want to hang out in when he leaves office – is perhaps telling.
And, indeed, this comes on the heels of multiple reports from outlets such as The New York Times and Politico, detailing how Obama has increasingly been spending his time at trendy restaurants and fancy, late-night dinner parties with celebrities and various intellectuals.
Rubbing elbows with the rich and elite is fine enough. Unfortunately, the work suffers. The degree to which he is now phoning it in – sleepwalking perfunctorily through his second term – is astonishing.
And based on his recent handling of situations much more serious than a possible post-presidential move to sunny California, it seems as if “No Drama Obama” is no longer even worried about keeping up appearances; he doesn’t care enough to fake it.
Consider this: In recent days, a) Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down, apparently by Russian separatists in Ukraine, b) In the Gaza strip, the numbers killed continued to mount as Israelis and Palestinians exchange rocket fire, c) a huge influx of children fleeing Central American poverty and gang warfare swamped America’s southern border, creating a humanitarian crisis. And, oh yeah, d) Christians living in Mosul were given the choice to either convert to Islam or flee the area they have inhabited for nearly two thousand years.
You know what else has happened during this time? a) Obama played many rounds of golf, b) he attended numerous fund-raisers, c) he dined on barbecue in Texas and burgers in Delaware, and d) he almost appeared on the comedian Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night television show in Hollywood.
I say “almost” because the White House finally relented. “We ultimately elected not to have the president do that interview over the course of this trip,” the White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, conceded. “And that is at least in part related to the challenges of doing a comedy show in the midst of some of these other more serious matters that the president’s dealing with in the international scene.”
The irony is that Obama won election in 2008, partly based on his ability to demonstrate leadership (at least, rhetorically).
And, despite a less-than-perfect first term, the public believed enough in his “hope and change” mantra to return him to office – a move reminiscent of Samuel Johnson’s observation about second marriages being “a triumph of hope over experience”.
But today, one wonders if Obama even has the energy left to summon some of the old magic that got him elected. A souffle, as they say, doesn’t rise twice.
While we tend to think of them as polar opposites, Obama’s predecessor had been similarly excoriated for similarly botching a few big moments where he should have been on the job. For President George W Bush, the images of Hurricane Katrina continue to haunt his legacy. He later regretted not going to there immediately after the hurricane hit.
“I should have touched down in Baton Rouge, met with the governor, and walked out and said, ‘I hear you. We understand. And we’re going to help the state and help the local governments with as much resources as needed’,” he confessed in 2010.
Woody Allen famously said, 80 per cent of life is just showing up. He wasn’t wrong. But, in lieu of showing up, there is an even easier way to avoid looking quite so out of touch. If Obama were worried about bad optics – about appearing out of touch – he might play a bit less golf (another lesson he could have learned from his predecessor).
During one unfortunate event caught on tape, and featured in the Fahrenheit 9/11 film trailer, the then President Bush was unfortunately filmed saying: “I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you.” Then, holding up a golf club, he added: “Now, watch this drive.”
This was a brutal blow. Fair or not, playing golf has a way of making one look simultaneously elitist and aloof. Obama tends to dismiss such cautionary tales.
For example, the suggestion that while in Texas he should have gone to the border and addressed the growing humanitarian crisis (instead of attending fund-raisers) was dismissed as the suggestion he do a theatrical “photo-op”.
This is at best unromantic, and, at worst, cynical. Words matter.
Showing up matters. Was it a “photo-op” when Ronald Reagan spoke in front of the Brandenburg Gate and declared: “Tear down this wall!”?
I suppose one could have made that argument.
Obama’s not dumb, and he’s clearly capable of marshalling an effective propaganda campaign when he wants to. So what explains this series of bad optics, which might be described by PR professionals as political malpractice?
The only thing that makes sense is that he is exhausted and, perhaps, has checked out of the job early.
If Nero fiddled while Rome burned, then Obama is dining out, golfing, and raising money while the world collapses.
Matt K Lewis is a senior contributor at The Daily Caller website in Washington, DC

Hamas and North Korea in secret arms deal

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Exclusive: Hamas has paid North Korea for missiles and communications equipment in arms deal worth hundreds of thousands of dollars

Con Coughlin By Con Coughlin, Defence Editor7:00PM BST 26 Jul 2014

Hamas militants are attempting to negotiate a new arms deal with North Korea for missiles and communications equipment that will allow them to maintain their offensive against Israel, according to Western security sources.
Security officials say the deal between Hamas and North Korea is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and is being handled by a Lebanese-based trading company with close ties to the militant Palestinian organisation based in east Beirut.
Hamas officials are believed to have already made an initial cash down payment to secure the deal, and are now hoping that North Korea will soon begin shipping extra supplies of weapons to Gaza.
“Hamas is looking for ways to replenish its stocks of missiles because of the large numbers it has fired at Israel in recent weeks,” explained a security official. “North Korea is an obvious place to seek supplies because Pyongyang already has close ties with a number of militant Islamist groups in the Middle East.”
Using intermediaries based in Lebanon, Hamas officials are said to be intensifying their efforts to sign a new agreement with Pyongyang to provide hundreds of missiles together with communications equipment that will improve the ability of Hamas fighters to coordinate operations against Israeli forces.
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Like other Islamist terror groups in the region such as Hizbollah, Hamas has forged close links with North Korea, which is keen to support groups that are opposed to Western interests in the region.
The relationship between Hamas and North Korea first became public in 2009 when 35 tons of arms, including surface-to-surface rockets and rocket-propelled grenades, were seized after a cargo plane carrying the equipment was forced to make an emergency landing at Bangkok airport. Investigators later confirmed that the arms cache has been destined for Iran, which then planned to smuggle the weapons to Hizbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.
Following Israel’s latest military offensive against Hamas operatives based in Gaza, Western security officials say Hamas is now trying to persuade North Korea to provide fresh supplies of rockets to replace the thousands of missiles that have been fired at Israel since the commencement of hostilities two weeks ago.
Israeli military commanders supervising operations against Gaza believe North Korean experts have given Hamas advice on building the extensive network of tunnels in Gaza that has enabled fighters to move weapons without detection by Israeli drones, which maintain a constant monitoring operation over Gaza.
The North Koreans have one of the world’s most sophisticated network of tunnels running beneath the demilitarised zone with South Korea, and Israeli commanders believe Hamas has used this expertise to improve their own tunnel network.
The Hamas arsenal has become increasing sophisticated with foreign assistance and now boasts five variants of rockets and missiles. Its basic weapon is the Iranian-designed Qassam rocket with a range of less than ten miles but it also has a large stockpile of the 122mm Katyushas which boast a range of up to 30 miles.
The introduction of the M-75 and Syrian-made M0302 missiles means Hamas boast offensive weapons with a longer range of up to 100 miles and a much greater explosive impact.
Since the 2012 eight-day war, Hamas has increased the size and strength of its rocket arsenal. Israeli military intelligence puts its stockpile at around 10,000 rockets and mortars, including long-range rockets capable of reaching Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the northern port city of Haifa.