The Nuclear End Is Much Closer (Revelation 9)

Brussels attackers were considering nuclear site, changed their minds: paper

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Suicide bombers who blew themselves up in Brussels were originally considering an attack on a nuclear site in Belgium, but arrests started last week may have forced them to switch to targets in the Belgian capital, the DH newspaper said.
Referring to an incident in December that prosecutors confirmed in which militants covertly filmed the home of an unidentified senior official in the nuclear industry, the paper quoted a police source as saying two of the suicide bombers, brothers Khalid and Ibrahim Bakraoui, had filmed the daily routine of the head of Belgium’s nuclear research and development program.
The police source did not address why investigators thought they had continued to plan to go through with the plan despite the discovery of the covert video three months ago and the ramping up of security around nuclear plants as a result.
The sensitive inner high-security areas of a nuclear power station would almost certainly have been beyond the reach of militants such as the Bakraouis.
A 10-hour video from a camera hidden in front of the nuclear official’s house was found in December during a police raid in Belgium, linked to the Paris attacks a month before.
On February 17, Belgian prosecutors confirmed the existence of the video seized in December and said the man in it was linked to the country’s nuclear industry.
Earlier this month, 140 soldiers were dispatched to guard the country’s three nuclear sites. On Tuesday after the Brussels bombings, the sites were sealed and non-essential staff evacuated as a precaution.
While investigators had known the camera with the video had been removed from its concealment by two men, they did not know their identity. DH said it was now clear that it was the two brothers.
Investigators were not available for comment.
Any plans for an assault on a nuclear site, even a symbolic operation on the perimeter, might have been foiled by a police operation last week in the Brussels borough of Forest, the newspaper said. In that raid, officers unexpectedly stumbled upon armed men in a flat that was searched in connection to the Paris attacks investigation.
One of the men in the flat, later identified as an Algerian national called Mohammed Belkaid, was killed by police in a shootout and police believe one or two others may have escaped.
But clues found in the flat led the police to the arrest three days later of the prime surviving suspect in the Paris attacks Salah Abdeslam and another suspected militant Amine Choukri also using the name of Monir Ahmed Alaaj.
The arrests may have forced the hand of the attackers who decided to shift to targets in Brussels, focusing on the airport and metro: “There is no doubt that they rushed their operations because they felt under pressure,” the police source was quoted by DH as saying.
“Even if one couldn’t prevent these (Brussels) attacks, one can say that their magnitude could have been much bigger if the terrorists had been able to implement their original plan and not opted for easier targets,” said the police source.
(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; editing by Ralph Boulton)

Jaysh al-Mahdi: The Antichrist’s Men (Revelation 13:18)

Iraqi fighters in Syria boon to Assad, bane to Abadi’s authority

Members of an Iraqi Shiite militant group called Asaib Ahl al-Haq, or League of the Righteous, chant slogans against the Syrian opposition as they carry the coffin of a Shiite fighter, Mahdi Adnan, during his funeral procession in the Shiite holy city of Najaf. (File photo: AP)
 


In a southern suburb in the Syrian capital Damascus, Shiite fighters from neighboring Iraq stand to protect a shrine they highly revere.

But these fighters, who are allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, operate far beyond the city’s limits. Their presence reportedly stretches as far as Syria’s second city of Aleppo.
On Monday, an Iraqi Shiite paramilitary organization said on its website that its fighters “have foiled an attack by [Syria’s Al-Qaeda affiliate] Nusra Front in [northwestern city of] Aleppo and killed six.”
The group, known as the Harakat al-Nujaba, or Movement of the Noble, was formed with the help of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds force. In the statement, the group said it also thwarted a Nusra Front attack aimed at cutting aid routes to two Shiite towns.
Nujaba admittance of its presence in Syria was unusual. Other Iraqi Shiite groups typically justify their stay in Syria under the pretext of protecting the capital’s Sayyidah Zaynab shrine.

Mourners carry the coffins of four militia members of a Shiite group, Nujaba movement of Islamic Resistance, during their funeral procession in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, 100 miles (160 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015. (AP)

“Iran deliberately casts a confusing web of these militias and commanders [in Syria],” he added. This makes the groups difficult to track and their escapades abroad  “look like a spontaneous act of religious devotion.”
This covert moves hide Iran’s “imperial power play” in Syria, he added.
Russia, Iran, and the allied Lebanese Hezbollah Shiite movement have been key for Assad’s survival throughout the spiraling conflict, which began in 2011.
Nujaba’s sponsor, the Iranian Quds Force, specializes in foreign expeditions. The elite unit was designated nine years ago by the US as a “terrorist organization” for aiding militant groups in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Some of the leaders of the current Iraqi Shiite groups active in Syria are veterans of the Iran-Iraq war, which began in 1980 and dragged on for eight years.
The oldest Iranian “proxy militia,” the Badr Corps – who fought with Iran during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s – is currently fighting for Assad, he said.
Other Iraqi Shiite militia groups, including Iraqi Kata’ib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) are “splinters from Jaysh al-Mahdi, and who often work through the Lebanese Hezbollah, and are led by Badr commanders,” he added.
The analyst said that two major groups are currently aiding Assad’s forces in Aleppo. These two groups are the Nujaba, led by Akram al-Ka’abi, an old AAH commander; and Kataib al-Imam Ali, headed by Jamal Ebrahimi.
Although of Iraqi origins, Ebrahimi, better-known as Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, is in effect “the deputy of Quds Force Commander Qassem Suleimani,” the analyst claimed.
Some of these groups also have a big role in the hard-hitting Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) – a cohort of 40,000 volunteers formed in Baghdad’s response to ISIS militants seizing large areas of Iraq.
PMU-backed Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces began on Thursday moves to retake Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul, which was seized by ISIS in 2014.
Early this year, a PMU spokesman told Al-Monitor that his group is not sending fighters to Syria – as their main target was to rid Iraq of ISIS. However, he said that independent armed factions were sending their fighters to back Assad.
Another analyst said that both the PMU and Baghdad have pulled a “tactical move” by not admitting that Shiite Iraqi groups were not on the ground in Syria.
“We know that dead [Iraqi] fighters are coming in coffins from Syria,” said Ghassan al-Attiyah, the head of the London-based Iraqi Foundation for Development and Democracy. “And in Iraq, they say the fighters were killed in Syria.”
Baghdad’s inability to keep its allied militias within its borders appears to step on the authority of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi.
The Iraqi constitution states that the country must not interfere in the internal affairs of other states, and stresses “good neighbor” principles.
“Abadi cannot acknowledge their existence because he cannot do anything,” Attiyah said.
Since taking after his predecessor Nouri al-Maliki was pressured to resign in Sep. 2014, Abadi pledged to root out corruption, which he said was one of the most serious issues facing his country.
As a result of his reforms, Washington has pledged $1.5 billion to train Iraqi forces. But among his many adversaries and increasingly powerful militias, Abadi is not seen as having a firm grasp on power.
Abadi tried unsuccessfully last year to absorb PMU forces into a new National Guard. The new elite unit failed as it did not recruit enough Sunni fighters, who felt marginalized by Maliki’s policies over his eight-year rule.
“This is tug of war,” said Attiyah. “How will this happen when Abadi is not strong enough to be decisive and start incorporating the constructive elements in the PMU?”
The analyst described the Shiite-dominated PMU as being made up of three loose groups: pro-Iranian militias, Shiite devotees, and government loyalists.
Some believe that Iraq should stay out of the affairs of other nations altogether.
“As Iraqis, we have paid a high price due to the left and right intervention in Iraq’s affairs,” said Iraqi parliamentarian Abdulkarim Abttan, who heads the secular Wataniya Coalition.
“Abadi is not weak, he works as prime minister for Iraq and not for [non-Iraqi] Arabs.”
Last Update: Friday, 25 March 2016 KSA 16:22 – GMT 13:22

Antichrist Calls For New Iraqi Government (Revelation 13)

Muqtada al-Sadr Calls for New Iraqi Government Members

Edward Yeranian
Thousands of supporters of Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr held what they billed as a “joint” Sunni-Shi’ite prayer service Friday outside the main entrances to the government-controlled “Green Zone.”  Sahttp://andrewtheprophet.comdr has given Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi a Saturday deadline to carry out governmental “reform” and install a new Cabinet composed of technocrats instead of political loyalists.

It was the sixth consecutive Friday that supporters of Iraq’s mercurial Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr protested in central Baghdad to demand government reform.  The mostly Shi’ite crowd chanted slogans and listened to a sermon by Sadr ally Sheikh Asad al-Nasiri.

Nasiri repeated a Sadr ultimatum to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that the Iraqi leader has until Saturday to present a new government to parliament.  Nasiri also threatened to raise the stakes against lawmakers.

He says his supporters want to see the prime minister come up with convincing, new reforms, including an independent government of technocrats, with new ministers loyal to the people and not to the political parties which are battling to dominate the political arena.

Nasiri pledged to support Prime Minister Abadi if he goes ahead and presents the new government to parliament, but warned of the potential wrath of demonstrators if the legislators vote down the new administration.

A member of the parliamentary committee vetting potential candidates for the government positions told Iraqi state TV that ministers will be required to have strong experience:

He says the committee is requiring ministerial candidates to have a higher degree in their field of specialization and at least 15 years of experience, as well as a plan of action.

Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, tells VOA that he thinks authentic reform will require more than a new government of technocrats.

“The new Iraqi political system was modeled after Lebanon’s.  That is: a confessional political system, based on sectarian and ethnic accommodation.  The political system in itself invites corruption.  So, unless we deal with the political question and the future of Iraq as a nation-state, dealing with corruption is a waste of time,” said Khashan.

Iraqi TV indicated that Prime Minister Abadi has spent the past 24 hours meeting with the country’s top political leaders to win their approval for his new government.

On The Brink Of The Nuclear Fire (Revelation 15)


UN atomic chief warns on ‘nuclear terrorism’

AFP By Simon Sturdee 6 hours ago

Vienna (AFP) – The world needs to do more to prevent “nuclear terrorism”, the head of the UN atomic watchdog has warned ahead of an important summit and in the wake of the Brussels terror attacks.

“Terrorism is spreading and the possibility of using nuclear material cannot be excluded,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano told AFP in an interview late Thursday.

“Member states need to have sustained interest in strengthening nuclear security,” he said. “The countries which do not recognise the danger of nuclear terrorism is the biggest problem.”

Amano’s comments came before a summit of around 50 leaders in Washington on March 31-April 1 on ensuring that nuclear material in the world’s roughly 1,000 atomic facilities are secured.

Highlighting the risks, in December Belgian police investigating the November 13 Paris terror attacks found 10 hours of video of the comings and goings of a senior Belgian nuclear official.

The material, filmed by a camera in bushes outside the official’s home, was reportedly found at the property of Mohamed Bakkali, incarcerated in Belgium for his links to the Paris attackers.

One Belgian newspaper reported that the device was collected by none other than brothers Ibrahim and Khalid El Bakraoui — two of the suicide bombers in this week’s Brussels attacks.

– Grapefruit-sized –

The Washington summit is part of a process begun by US President Barack Obama in a speech in Prague in 2009 and follows similar gatherings in Seoul in 2012 and The Hague in 2014.

Major progress has been made, with countries reducing stockpiles of nuclear material, experts say. Japan for example is this month returning to the US enough plutonium to make 50 nuclear bombs.
But according to the International Panel on Fissile Materials, enough plutonium and highly enriched uranium still exist to make 20,000 weapons of the magnitude that levelled Hiroshima in 1945.

A grapefruit-sized amount of plutonium can be fashioned into a nuclear weapon, and according to Amano it is “not impossible” that extremists could manage to make a “primitive” device — if they got hold of the material.

“It is now an old technology and nowadays terrorists have the means, the knowledge and the information,” he said.

But he said that a far likelier risk was a “dirty bomb”.

This is a device using conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material other than uranium or plutonium.

Such material can be found in small quantities in universities, hospitals and other facilities the world over, often with little security.

“Dirty bombs will be enough to (drive) any big city in the world into panic,” Amano said. “And the psychological, economic and political implications would be enormous.”

This is thought to be well within the capabilities of extremists. The Islamic State group has already used chemical weapons, CIA director John Brennan told CBS News in February.

– Tip of the iceberg –

Since the mid-1990s, almost 2,800 incidents of illicit trafficking, “unauthorised possession” or loss of nuclear materials have been recorded in an IAEA database. One such incident occurred in Iraq last year.

Only a few involved substances that could be used to make a actual nuclear weapon, but some could be used to create a dirty bomb.
 

 A vital step, he said, would be the entry into force of the arcane-sounding but important 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM).

It is the only legally-binding international undertaking for the physical protection of nuclear material.
Amano said it will reduce the likelihood of a dirty bomb by making it legally binding for countries to protect nuclear facilities and to secure nuclear material in domestic use, storage and transport.

Pakistan this week became the latest country to ratify the CPPNM, bringing to just eight the number of adherences still required.

“The weakest link (in nuclear security) is that this amendment. .. has not entered into force. This is a top priority,” Amano said, expressing hope that this could happen “in the coming months”.