Antichrist’s Men Take Tikrit (Revelation 13:18)

UPDATE: Iraq Claims Gains In Tikrit Offensive Against Islamic State
March 6, 2015

Baghdad (Alliance News) – Iraqi government forces Tuesday said they had gained ground in a major offensive aimed at recapturing the city of Tikrit and other areas along the Tigris river north of Baghdad that have been held for months by the Islamic State militant group.

Military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they had taken the Hamrin district east of Tikrit and two villages east of Dur from the jihadists.

The reported gains suggest that government forces are advancing westwards through mainly desert areas towards the Tigris.

Iraqi state television said that the army had also surrounded the Qadisiyyeh district on the northern outskirts of Tikrit, the hometown of former ruler Saddam Hussein.

Local news site Alsumaria quoted the commander of a mainly Shiite volunteer force, the Popular Mobilization, as saying that troops were also surrounding Islamic State forces in the city centre from the north, south and west.

In a sign of the challenge facing government forces, local news service Alsumaria News reported that they had dismantled 57 bombs and booby traps in just one district south-east of the city.

Security forces fear that Islamic State fighters have rigged explosives throughout the city centre to impede their advance. The extremist group has previously used that tactic before retreating from other areas.

Officials have said some 30,000 members of the security forces and mainly Shiite volunteers are taking part in the operation, which was launched at dawn on Monday.

Large numbers of Shiite militias are also thought to be involved in the operation, despite repeated allegations that they been responsible for abuses against civilians in other Sunni areas.
Radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr warned against the involvement of what he called “brazen militias.”

Al-Sadr, who recently suspended the activities of his own paramilitaries, said in comments reported by Alsumaria that they risked becoming “a black mark on the forehead of the jihad.”

The offensive is the largest to be undertaken by the Iraqi government since Islamic State overran large areas of Sunni Arab northern and western Iraq.

Unlike previous offensives, the Iraqi forces have not been supported with airstrikes by the US-led alliance against the Islamic State.

The Washington Post Monday quoted US officials as saying that Iraq had not informed them of the operation or requested support.

Iran, a key backer of the Shiite militias, has been more forthcoming.

Its semi-official Fars News Agency on Monday published what it said were photographs of Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani who had “offered advice” to Iraqi commanders ahead of the Tikrit offensive.

Like Their Nukes, Iran Prepared To Move (Daniel 8:3)

March 6, 2015
Last week we reported a potential Iranian armored blitzkrieg through Syria to the Golan Heights, on the northern border of Israel. Today’s news may confirm that report.

Israeli General Israel Ziv (res.) reported in Jerusalem that Iranian general officers have taken command of the Syrian front within six miles of the north-east border of Israel, along with 10,000 “volunteers” from Iran, Iraq and Afganistan.

From the Israel newspaper Yedioth Achronoth, as translated by the Washington Free Beacon:

“Iran is taking over the reins in Syria,” said Ziv … “In fact, no military decision [in Syria] is made without [the Iranianian Revolutionary Guard].” He described (Syrian President) Assad as “a puppet looking out at his lost land.”

This dangerous development may lead to a fast-spreading regional war in the Middle East. An Iranian blitzkrieg against the Golan Heights would trigger Israeli defenses in depth in Syria. Iran could potentially bring more than 100,000 Basiji into the battle, as well as IRGC troops. If Israel is directly threatened, it may well resort to unconventional weapons, and even launch a counter-attack against Iran itself. In previous wars Israel has counter-attacked into Syria and Egypt.

This news comes amid signs of further American concessions in nuclear negotiations with Iran. However, Iran’s aggression in Syria may torpedo the nuclear talks. Nobody could possibly believe in Iranian good faith in the face of an attack against Israel, more than 1,000 miles from the Iranian border.

In a separate report, Grand Ayatollah Khamenei published a February 8 statement on his website that “Iran has enriched uranium to the 20-percent level” — after promising the United States that it would not do so.

Iranian Air Force officers in Khamenei’s audience were reported to have responded to his statement with a chant,

“Allah Akbar [God is great]” … “Khamenei is the leader. Death to the enemies of the leadership. Death to America. Death to England. Death to hypocrites. Death to Israel.”

Iranians have been made to chant those words every day since 1979, when Jimmy Carter permitted the modernizing Shah of Iran to be overthrown by martyrdom-preacher Ayatollah Khomeini, leading to more than a million dead in the following Iran-Iraq War.

There Will Soon Be A Fatwa Against The Prophecy (Rev 11)

A question for Obama: what about the Rushdie fatwa?

Posted by    Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 10:00am

In a previous post at Legal Insurrection, I suggested that the terrorist attacks in Paris and Copenhagen and the Salman Rushdie fatwa issued in 1989 by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran are analogous. In the case of the fatwa, a Muslim leader and cleric called on Muslims to kill a Western author deemed to be guilty of blasphemy towards Islam, more or less the same action the modern-day terrorists have taken on themselves against Western cartoonists who lampoon Mohammed.

In light of Obama’s repeated insistence that terrorists do not act as agents of Islam, doesn’t he need to answer some questions about the Rushdie fatwa? The questions appear in an essay of mine in the Weekly Standard, and whether or not Obama ever addresses them (please do not sit on a hot stove until he does), they point out the absurdity of his denial of the connection between such killings and Islam.

Here’s an excerpt:

The fatwa Khomeini issued makes chilling reading even today. Here’s a translation:

“I would like to inform all the intrepid Muslims in the world that the author of the book entitled ‘Satanic Verses’. . . as well as those publishers who were aware of its contents, are hereby sentenced to death. I call on all zealous Moslems to execute them quickly, wherever they find them, so that no one will dare to insult Islamic sanctity. Whoever is killed doing this will be regarded as a martyr and will go directly to heaven.”

Nothing to do with Islam? I would remind Obama, as he ponders that question, that at the time of the Rushdie fatwa Khomeini had not only been “Supreme Leader” of Iran — a country that has the seventh-largest Muslim population in the world — for almost a decade, but he also had long been considered an expert in Islamic law and had written many books on the subject.

Then in 1991, when Rushdie’s book’s Japanese translator was stabbed to death in Tokyo, and when in 1993 his Italian translator was attacked in Milan but survived, and when the same thing happened to his Norwegian publisher in Oslo, did those murders and attempted murders have nothing to do with Islam?

The Iranian government officially supported the Rushdie fatwa for almost ten more years, until 1998, but that year did not mark the end of the trouble for Rushdie emanating from Iran. In 2012 a state-linked religious foundation increased the bounty that was still on Rushdie’s head. The reward for killing Rushdie now stands at a cool $3.3 million, and the leader of the foundation involved in the bounty money, Hassan Sanei, is also the group’s representative to the current Supreme Leader of Iran, Khomeini’s successor Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

It is a common misconception that the Rushdie fatwa is no longer in place, but that’s only because Iran’s non-clerical leaders appeared to disavow it after nine years. Its highly influential religious leaders did not. Supreme Leader Khamenei reaffirmed it in 2005, as have Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, who “confirmed the Rushdie fatwa and stated its conformance with Muslim thought throughout history.”

Khomeini was no fringe figure in the religion he spent most of his life studying, and in which he rose to such a high position. Although it is certainly true that not every Muslim agrees with the views he espoused and Khameini still espouses, universal assent would be an impossible standard to meet. Obama would not have to be making a judgment about which sect is the true one in order to acknowledge that the official Iranian wing of Islam is accepted as bona fide by many millions in Iran, the seventh largest Muslim country in the world, and that Islamic scholars there consider both Khomeini and Khamenei to be highly respected figures within Islam, possessed of the authority to order “all the intrepid Muslims in the world” to kill writers deemed to have blasphemed.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]

Losing Site Of The Korean Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

U.S. says North Korea nuclear and missile work ‘of great concern’

North Korea Nuclear

WASHINGTON/VIENNA Wed Mar 4, 2015 10:30pm EST

(Reuters) – The United States said on Wednesday that North Korea’s nuclear program and the increased range and precision of its missiles were of great concern, a day after the isolated Asian country said it had the power to deter a U.S. nuclear threat with a pre-emptive strike if necessary.
The U.S. mission to International Organizations in Vienna, home to the U.N’s International Atomic Energy Organisation, said the restart of North Korea’s graphite-moderated nuclear reactor could enable it to produce additional plutonium for weapons in the near future.

“These activities are clear violations of multiple (U.N.) resolutions and must cease immediately,” it said in a statement.

In Washington, General Vincent Brooks, commander of the U.S. Army in the Pacific, said the United States had detected “increased militarization” of North Korea’s nuclear program.

He said the increased range and precision of North Korean missiles were “of great concern” and represented a physical threat to U.S. territory. He emphasized the need to conduct military exercises with South Korea, which have provoked increasingly heated North Korean rhetoric in recent days.
Brooks told the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank it was “difficult to surmise exactly” where North Korea was in terms of its ability to weaponize its nuclear capability by mounting a warhead on a missile.

However he added: “It’s difficult time, it’s a dangerous time, and the potential for miscalculation is high.”

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong told the U.N.-backed Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Tuesday that his country had the power to deter an “ever-increasing nuclear threat” by the United States with a pre-emptive strike.

Ri said the military exercises being staged by South Korea and the United States were “unprecedentedly provocative in nature and have an especially high possibility of sparking off a war.”
North Korea fired two short-range missiles off its eastern coast on Monday, South Korean officials said, in a move seen as a response to the exercises, which Pyongyang regularly denounces as a preparation for war.

Brooks said in an interview with Reuters earlier on Wednesday that North Korea’s demonstrations of increased capabilities emphasized the need for nations to cooperate on missile defense.

Brooks did not respond to a question at the think tank on whether he believed a prediction by a U.S. research institute last month that Pyongyang could possess as many as 100 nuclear weapons within five years.

(Reporting by Shadia Nasralla and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Robin Pomeroy and Ken Wills)

Iran Already Producing 20% Uranium (Rev 15:2)

Ayatollah Tells Air Force: We Enriched Uranium 20%; Commanders: ‘Death to America, ‘Death to England,’ ‘Death to Israel’

March 5, 2015 – 12:26 AM

Ali Khamenei

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressing Iranian Air Force personnel on Feb. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Office of Iranian Supreme Leader)

( – In a speech delivered last month to commanders and other personnel in the Iranian Air Force, whom he described as “officials who have very sensitive occupations,” Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei—Iran’s Supreme Leader and commander in chief—boasted that Iran had enriched uranium to the 20-percent level.

At the same time, the Supreme Leader noted that his government had agreed to shut down its production of 20-percent enriched uranium “for a while” in its effort to reach a deal with United States and other foreign powers that would include lifting the sanctions now imposed on his country.
“It was a very great achievement to produce 20-percent uranium,” the ayatollah told a Feb. 8 Iranian Air Force gathering, according to a transcript posted on his website.

“Those who are experts on this matter know that producing 20 percent from 5 percent is much more significant than producing uranium which is higher than 20 percent,” he said. “However, our youth and our committed scientists did so.”

A report published last month by the Congressional Research Service explains why Iran’s efforts to produce uranium enriched to the 20 percent level is a problem.

“LEU used in nuclear power reactors typically contains less than 5% uranium-235,” said CRS, “research reactor fuel can be made using 20% uranium-235; HEU used in nuclear weapons typically contains about 90% uranium-235.”

“Iran’s production of LEU enriched to the 20% level has caused concern because such production requires approximately 90% of the effort necessary to produce weapons-grade HEU, which, as noted, contains approximately 90% uranium-235,” said CRS.

“Tehran argues that it is enriching uranium for use as fuel in nuclear power reactors and nuclear research reactors,” said CRS.

In his speech to the Air Force commanders, the ayatollah followed his assertion that Iran had been able to enrich uranium to the 20 percent level by accusing the U.S. and its allies of being “greedy” in negotiations for a nuclear deal and asserting that the “Iranian nation will not submit to greed and tyranny.”

The audience of Air Force commanders and other personnel responded to this with a chant, according to an English-language transcript produced by BBC Worldwide Monitoring and available through Nexis.

“Allah Akbar [God is great],” they chanted, according to the BBC transcript. “Khamenei is the leader. Death to the enemies of the leadership. Death to America. Death to England. Death to hypocrites. Death to Israel.”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has testified in Congress that Iran has the technical capability to build a nuclear weapon and that whether it does so will be personally decided by Ayatollah Khamenei.

“Clearly, Tehran has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity to produce them, so the central issue is its political will to do so,” Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 18, 2013. “Such a decision, we believe, will be made by the Supreme Leader, and at this point we don’t know if he’ll eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.”

Then-Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin asked Clapper: “Have they made a decision, in your assessment, to produce nuclear weapons?”

“They have not,” said Clapper. “We continue to hold that they have not yet made that decision. And that decision would be made singly by the Supreme Leader.”

Clapper echoed this assessment in another Senate Armed Services Committee hearing held last week.
“Iran will face many of the same decision points in 2015 as it did in 2014,” he said. “Foremost is whether the Supreme Leader will agree to a nuclear deal. He wants sanctions relief but, at the same time, to preserve his options on nuclear capabilities.”

“We believe the supreme leader would be the ultimate decision maker here,” Clapper said. “As far as we know, he’s not made a decision to go for a nuclear weapon.

“I do think they certainly want to preserve options across the capabilities it would take to build one,” Clapper said. “But right now they don’t have one, and have not made that decision.”

At a background briefing sponsored by the White House on Sept. 25, 2009, “senior administration officials” explained that Iran had twice been caught secretly constructing a facility for enriching uranium—first at Natanz and then at Qom. One of the officials at this briefing explained why the administration believed the second facility appeared particularly designed to produce enriched uranium not for peaceful use but for a weapon.

“[T]he Iranian nuclear issue first became public back in 2002, when it was revealed that Iran was building a secret underground enrichment facility, which we now know as the Natanz facility,” a senior administration official said at that briefing. “Once the Iranians were caught building the secret underground enrichment facility with centrifuge machines in it, they were forced to declare the facility, to allow the IAEA inspectors to inspect the facility and to place it under safeguards.”

“So the obvious option for Iran would be to build another secret underground enrichment facility, and our intelligence services, working in very close cooperation with our allies, for the past several years have been looking for such a facility,” said the senior administration official. “And not surprisingly, we found one. So we have known for some time now that Iran was building a second underground enrichment facility. And as the president mentioned this morning, it’s located [at Fordo] near the city of Qom, a very heavily protected, very heavily disguised facility.”

“Our information is that the facility is designed to hold about 3,000 centrifuge machines,” said this senior administration official. “Now, that’s not a large enough number to make any sense from a commercial standpoint. It cannot produce a significant quantity of low-enriched uranium. But if you want to use the facility in order to produce a small amount of weapons-grade uranium, enough for a bomb or two a year, it’s the right size. And our information is that the Iranians began this facility with the intent that it be secret, and therefore giving them an option of producing weapons-grade uranium without the international community knowing about it.”

Another problematic Iranian nuclear project is a heavy-water reactor it is building at Arak.
“Iran is constructing a heavy water-moderated reactor at Arak, which, according to Tehran, is intended to produce radioisotopes for medical use,” said the CRS report published last month.
“The Arak reactor is a proliferation concern because heavy water reactors produce spent fuel containing plutonium better suited for nuclear weapons than plutonium produced by light water moderated reactors,” said the CRS report.

In his speech last month to his Air Force commanders, Ayatollah Khamenei first stressed that he supported a nuclear deal that is “workable.” He then went on to praise Iran’s achievement in enriching uranium to the 20 percent level and hailed the construction of the Arak reactor and the Fordo uranium enrichment facilty.

“I want to say that first of all, I consent to an agreement that is workable,” said the ayatollah, according to the translation of his speech posted on his official website. “Of course, I do not mean a bad agreement. The Americans constantly repeat, ‘We believe that making no agreement is better than making a bad one.’ We too have the same opinion. We too believe that making no agreement is better than making an agreement that is to the disadvantage of national interests, one that leads to the humiliation of the great and magnificent people of Iran.”

In mentioning that the Arak and Fordo facilities had been closed—which was done as part of the temporary agreement (or “Joint Plan of Action”) that Iran made with the United States, France, the United Kingdom, German, Russia and China, the ayatollah stressed that these facilities were closed “for now”—according to the translation posted on his own website.

“The Iranian side has done whatever it could to reach an agreement,” the ayatollah said. “It has done many things: it has stopped developing enrichment machines. Well, it deemed it necessary to stop these machines for a while. It has stopped producing 20-percent uranium which is a very great feat. It was a very great achievement to produce 20-percent uranium.”

“Those who are experts on this matter know that producing 20 percent from 5 percent is much more significant than producing uranium which is higher than 20 percent,” said the ayatollah. “However, our youth and our committed scientists did so.

“In any case,” he said, “the Iranian side stopped this because negotiations required it. The Iranians have closed the Arak Factory–which was a very great achievement and a very important innovation in the area of technology–for now. They have closed–for now–Fordo which is one of the best innovations made by our domestic forces for the sake of ensuring the security of our centrifuges. They have achieved so many great tasks. Therefore, the Iranian side has acted in a reasonable way. It has acted according to the requirements of negotiation.”

Toward the end of his speech, the ayatollah indicated that his over-arching goal is to have sanctions lifted from Iran.

“Everything that is done is for the sake of taking the weapon and option of sanctions away from the enemy’s hands,” he said.

“However, if they fail to make such an agreement, the people of Iran, officials, the honorable administration and others have many different options,” the ayatollah said.

“By Allah’s favor,” he said, “the people of Iran will show on the 22nd of Bahman, that those who want to humiliate the people of Iran will face their counterblow.”

According to the BBC, 22nd of Bahman—or February 11—is the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution.

At this point in the BBC transcript of the speech, the audience of Iranian Air Force commanders and other personnel repeated the chant they had made earlier in the speech: “Allah Akbar. Khamenei is the Leader. Death to the enemies of the leadership. Death to America. Death to England. Death to hypocrites. Death to Israel.”