Antichrist Only Works for Personal Gain

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Recently-declassified reports on the interrogation of Asaib Ahl al-Haq leader Qais al-Khazali reveal further insight on the deterioration in relations with he and Muqtada al-Sadr — who leads the top list in Iraq’s parliamentary election.

The reports were authorized for release by US Central Command months ago, but haven’t officially been made public, although The Wall Street Journal wrote on Thursday it has reviewed copies. He was captured by the United States in 2007 and handed over to Iraqi authorities in 2009.

In a January 2008 interrogation report, Khazali complained that his former comrade Sadr “has no principles and only works for personal gain.”

Khazali’s group has never been listed as a “terrorist” organization by the United States, despite his alleged 2005 attack that killed five US soldiers and the recently revealed depth of training in explosives he received from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran.

In Iran, the native of Baghdad was trained on explosively-formed projectiles (EFPs), also called shape charges, which were responsible for thousands of coalition and Iraqi casualties during the US invasion and the resurgence.

“Detainee said that anyone can receive EFP training and Iran does not care who gets it,” a report said. “This is because of the availability and low cost of EFPs.”

Khazali said in a report that the Iranians did not specify targets in Iraq, but urged Iraq’s Shiite militias to first target British forces “to force a withdrawal,” thus increasing pressure on the United States to leave.

“There are Iranians and Lebanese Hezbollah conducting the training at these bases,” the report said, based on interrogation. “The Iranians are experts in full scale warfare while the Lebanese are experts in urban or guerrilla warfare.”

Khazali said during the interrogations that many Iraqi officials were sympathetic or influenced by Iran, including late PUK leader Jalal Talabani.

In Iraq’s parliamentary election on May 12, Khazali is supporting Hadi al-Amiri’s Fatih, which won 47 seats — second most. They are aligned with former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law Coalition.

Sadr’s Sayirun, Haider al-Abadi’s Nasr, Ammar al-Hakim’s Hikma, Ayad Allawi’s Wataniya are partnered with the New Generation.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) will go to Baghdad on Saturday. They want all Kurdistani parties on board because it would give them as many seats as Sadr won — 54.

Khazali called for all US forces to immediately leave Iraq in October 2017 because ISIS was beaten.

He has recently joined in other calls by Shiite politicians to have a majoritarianism form of government because it would end corruption. Khazali also encouraged discussion of a presidential form of government.

“We have to search for another system such as presidential or semi-presidential,” the sheikh said during an Eid al-Adha sermon on August 22.

New York Subways at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

How vulnerable are NYC’s underwater subway tunnels to flooding?

Ashley Fetters

New York City is full of peculiar phenomena—rickety fire escapes; 100-year-old subway tunnels; air conditioners propped perilously into window frames—that can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest city denizen. But should they? Every month, writer Ashley Fetters will be exploring—and debunking—these New York-specific fears, letting you know what you should actually worry about, and what anxieties you can simply let slip away.

The 25-minute subway commute from Crown Heights to the Financial District on the 2/3 line is, in my experience, a surprisingly peaceful start to the workday—save for one 3,100-foot stretch between the Clark Street and Wall Street stations, where for three minutes I sit wondering what the probability is that I will soon die a torturous, claustrophobic drowning death right here in this subway car.

The Clark Street Tunnel, opened in 1916, is one of approximately a dozen tunnels that escort MTA passengers from one borough to the next underwater—and just about all of them, with the exception of the 1989 addition of the 63rd Street F train tunnel, were constructed between 1900 and 1936.

Each day, thousands of New Yorkers venture across the East River and back again through these tubes buried deep in the riverbed, some of which are nearing or even past their 100th birthdays. Are they wrong to ponder their own mortality while picturing one of these watery catacombs suddenly springing a leak?

Mostly yes, they are, says Michael Horodniceanu, the former president of MTA Capital Construction and current principal of Urban Advisory Group. First, it’s important to remember that the subway tunnel is built under the riverbed, not just in the river—so what immediately surrounds the tunnel isn’t water but some 25 feet of soil. “There’s a lot of dirt on top of it,” Horodniceanu says. “It’s well into the bed of the bottom of the channel.”

And second, as Angus Kress Gillespie, author of Crossing Under the Hudson: The Story of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, points out, New York’s underwater subway tunnels are designed to withstand some leaking. And withstand it they do: Pumps placed below the floor of the tunnel, he says, are always running, always diverting water seepage into the sewers. (Horodniceanu says the amount of water these pumps divert into the sewer system each day numbers in the thousands of gallons.)

Additionally, MTA crews routinely repair the grouting and caulking, and often inject a substance into the walls that creates a waterproof membrane outside the tunnel—which keeps water out of the tunnel and relieves any water pressure acting on its walls. New tunnels, Horodniceanu points out, are even built with an outside waterproofing membrane that works like an umbrella: Water goes around it, it falls to the sides, and then it gets channeled into a pumping station and pumped out.

Of course, the classic New York nightmare scenario isn’t just a cute little trickle finding its way in. The anxiety daydream usually involves something sinister, or seismic. The good news, however, is that while an earthquake or explosion would indeed be bad for many reasons, it likely wouldn’t result in the frantic flooding horror scene that plays out in some commuters’ imaginations.

Horodniceanu assures me that tunnels built more recently are “built to withstand a seismic event.” The older tunnels, however—like, um, the Clark Street Tunnel—“were not seismically retrofitted, let me put it that way,” Horodniceanu says. “But the way they were built is in such a way that I do not believe an earthquake would affect them.” They aren’t deep enough in the ground, anyway, he says, to be too intensely affected by a seismic event. (The MTA did not respond to a request for comment.)

One of the only real threats to tunnel infrastructure, Horodniceanu adds, is extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused flooding in the tunnels, which “created problems with the infrastructure.” He continues, “The tunnels have to be rebuilt as a result of saltwater corroding the infrastructure.”

Still, he points out, hurricanes don’t exactly happen with no warning. So while Hurricane Sandy did cause major trauma to the tunnels, train traffic could be stopped with ample time to keep passengers out of harm’s way. In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed all the MTA’s mass transit services to shut down at 7 p.m. the night before Hurricane Sandy was expected to hit New York City.

And Gillespie, for his part, doubts even an explosion would result in sudden, dangerous flooding. A subway tunnel is not a closed system, he points out; it’s like a pipe that’s open at both ends. “The force of a blast would go forwards and backwards out the exit,” he says.

So the subway-train version of that terrifying Holland Tunnel flood scene in Sylvester Stallone’s Daylight is … unrealistic, right?

“Yeah,” Gillespie laughs. “Yeah. It is.”

Got a weird New York anxiety that you want explored? E-mail tips@curbed.com, and we may include it in a future column.

China and Russia Prepare for Nuclear War

REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

  • Russia and China, the two foremost threats to the US named in official Pentagon reports, will carry out their biggest-ever military drill to reportedly include simulations for nuclear warfare.
  • Russia, the world’s largest nuclear power, and China, another long-established nuclear power, have often clashed in the past and still hold many contradictory goals, but have become main targets of the US.
  • But Russia and China have deep differences in nuclear philosophy, so it’s unclear how the pair will work together. 

Russia and China, the two key threats to the US named in official Pentagon documents, will carry out their biggest-ever military drill to reportedly include simulations for nuclear warfare.

US defense officials told the Washington Free Beacon’s Bill Gertz that the drills, the largest in Russia since 1981 and the largest joint Russian-Chinese drill ever, will include training for nuclear war.

Russia, the world’s largest nuclear power, and China, another long-established nuclear power, have often clashed in the past and still hold many contradictory policy goals, but have become main targets of the US.

Under President Donald Trump, the US has redefined its national security and defense postures, and in both documents pointed towards China and Russia, rather than terrorism or climate change, as the biggest threat to the US.

It’s unclear how China and Russia may coordinate nuclear war, as they have very different models of nuclear strategy. Russia holds the most nuclear warheads in the world, and has employed them on a growing number of dangerous and devastating platforms. Russia hopes to soon field an underwater doomsday device that could cripple life on earth for decades. Also, US intelligence reports indicate Russia is struggling with a new nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile.

China, on the other hand, has taken the opposite approach to nuclear weapons by opting for minimum deterrence.

Where Russia and the US have established nuclear parity and a doctrine of mutually assured destruction where any nuclear attack on one country would result in a devastating nuclear attack on the other. Russia and the US achieve this with a nuclear triad, of nuclear-armed submarines, airplanes, and ground-launched missiles so spread out and secretive that a single attack could never totally remove the other country’s power to launch a counter strike.

But China, with just around 200 nuclear weapons, has its force structured to simply survive a nuclear attack and then offer one back weeks, or even months later. Nonetheless, the Pentagon’s annual report on China said that Beijing trains for strikes on the US using nuclear-capable bombers.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said this week that about 300,000 troops and 1,000 aircraft will participate, using all of the training ranges in the country’s central and eastern military districts.

Beijing has said it will send about 3,200 troops, 30 helicopters, and more than 900 other pieces of military hardware.

Iranian Islamic Cells Within the US

Islamist Group in Arizona Hosts Supporter of Iran Regime, Hezbollah Terrorists

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February 22, 200: Hezbollah militants make their way into a huge hall as thousands of mainly Shiite Muslims gather to watch a televised speech by Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Shiite Muslim Lebanese Hezbollah militant group, in Beirut’s southern suburb, ten days after the assassination of top Hezbollah commander Imad Mughnieh in a bomb attack in Damascus. (Photo: Mazen All / AFP / Getty Images)

By Ryan Mauro, Justen Charters & Alex VanNess

A Shiite Islamist group in Arizona hosts a supporter of the Iran Regime and Hezbollah terrorists. Coming out of Mesa, Arizona, the group turned its back on Iranians protesting the theocracy earlier this month by hosting a sheikh who supports the Iranian regime and the Hezbollah terrorist group it sponsors. Online advertisements posted by the Islamic Education Foundation of Arizona shows that the group selected Sheikh Usama Abdulghani to preach to its congregation on September 8 and 9.

Abdulghani’s website hosts a shocking lecture of his titled “How to Remain on the Right Path.” In it, he teaches that Muslims should follow the Iranian Supreme Leader and Hezbollah chief into battle.

He fondly recalls learning from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah when he was a student in Qom, Iran.

He then compares the celebration of Nasrallah’s arrival to an Islamic holiday. He says, “Normally for the students, that’s like Eid,” referring to the day that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims.

Abdulghani continues to refer to Nasrallah’s speech, saying:

“This was years before the victory in Lebanon. He said brothers I’m going to tell you right now I’ll be frank with you–I’m paraphrasing.

He said ‘brothers if all of the ulama [body of Islamic religious scholars] go into a valley and Sayyid Ali Khamenei goes into a valley, brothers you go into that valley that Sayyid Ali Khamenei goes in.’”

Abdulghani then reiterates that Muslims should handle any confusion they have by following the teachings of Nasrallah and Supreme Leader Khamenei:

“So, brothers and sisters when times are tough—when you see that you don’t know where truth is, everybody’s talking—just remember the words of the man who was more old school than any of us. Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, may Allah protect and preserve him…and all our leaders, especially the leader, Sayyid Ali Khamenei.”

Another unsettling feature of the sermon is its apocalyptic theme. He tells the audience that the 12th Imam will soon appear.

He says:

“Right now, brothers and sisters we are getting closer and closer to the time of the Imam. The return of the Imam is imminent brothers and sisters. It is very, very close. We don’t want to get lost now.”

According to Islamic End Times prophecies that the Iranian regime frequently references, the 12th Imam will appear during a cataclysmic war. The 12th Imam delivers a final victory for the true Muslims, ushering in global Sharia-based rule.

In another video from 2017, Abdulghani provided a voiceover describing ISIS as a plot of Israel and the West. It referred to Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei as “the Leader.

Abdulghani was born in Washington D.C. and moved to Qom, Iran when he was 20 years old, according to his bio. He studied at the Islamic Seminary there for another 20 years before moving back to the U.S.

He currently lives in Dearborn, Michigan. His teachings reflect the extremist education he received under the terrorism-sponsoring Iranian regime.

In July, the Clarion Project reported on three mosques in Michigan that promoted the Iranian regime’s ideology. One of them, the Zainabia Center of Michigan, had hosted Abdulghani as a guest lecturer.

The mosque posts messages from the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, treating him as a respected religious authority who Muslims should listen to.

The hosting of a pro-Khamenei, pro-Hezbollah sheikh is a strong indication that the Islamic Education Foundation of Arizona is promoting Shiite extremism.

Another strong indication is what the organization is not doing: It is not siding with the Iranian people over the theocratic regime.

Surely, if the Arizona organization sided with the oppressed Iranians, it could find a speaker to discuss the regime’s human rights violations. It could give a platform to Shiites that oppose the Iranian regime’s Islamism. It could help mobilize Shiites on the side of the Iranian protestors or at least bring some attention to their cause.

Yet, it doesn’t. Instead, the person it brings in as a religious authority sides with the terrorism-sponsoring regime and terrorist group Hezbollah.

What does that say about the ideology of the Islamic Education Foundation of Arizona?

Ryan Mauro

Iran Prepares to Nuke Up (Daniel 8:4)

Khamenei's remarks came as Tehran tried to cope with the return of US sanctions [Supreme Leader Press Office/Anadolu]

Ayatollah Khamenei: Iran ready to abandon nuclear deal

Ayatollah Khamenei tells Iran’s president and cabinet they cannot count on European support for landmark agreement.

Khamenei’s remarks came as Tehran tried to cope with the return of US sanctions [Supreme Leader Press Office/Anadolu]
 

Iran’s supreme leader warned the country might abandon its nuclear deal with world powers, casting doubt on the ability of European states to save the accord following the US withdrawal.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a meeting with President Hassan Rouhani and his cabinet on Wednesday they “should give up hope on [Europe] over economic issues or the nuclear deal”, according to his website.

“The nuclear deal is a means, not the goal, and if we come to this conclusion that it does not serve our national interests, we can abandon it,” he was quoted as saying.

Iran would never negotiate with “indecent and confrontational” US officials on a new agreement, Khamenei said.

Following US President Donald Trump‘s exit from the important international accord to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, European powers have scrambled to ensure Tehran continues to receive economic benefits needed to keep it in compliance.

Khamenei set out a series of conditions in May for European powers if they wanted to keep Iran in the deal. They included steps by European banks to safeguard trade with Tehran and guarantee Iranian oil sales.

Political tumult

Khamenei’s remarks came as Iran tries to cope with the return of US sanctions, which triggered mounting economic problems that in turn are causing political tumult.

Rouhani has been battered by the return of US sanctions that saw a rapid departure of foreign firms and ended his hopes of attracting large-scale investment.

Conservative opponents of Rouhani, who have long opposed his outreach to the West, are smelling blood.

Rouhani was criticised over his handling of the economy and parliament attacked his key ministers. On Tuesday, he was grilled in parliament over economy for the first time in five years as president.

Legislators also sacked the minister of economy and finance as well as the labour minister.

“The nuclear deal is a means, not the goal, and if we come to this conclusion that it does not serve our national interests, we can abandon it.”

Iran\’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Iran’s official unemployment rate is 12 percent, with youth unemployment as high as 25 percent in a country where 60 percent of the 80 million population is under 30. The riyal has lost more than two-thirds of its value in a year.

The worst may yet lie ahead as senior US officials say they aim to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero after the new round of sanctions in November.

Iran has said if it cannot sell its oil because of US pressure, then no other regional country will be allowed to do so either, threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz – the strategic artery linking Gulf crude producers to the world.

A senior Iranian military official warned on Wednesday if foreign forces in the Gulf do not follow international laws, they would face the Revolutionary Guards’ firm response.

Iran Hegemony Continues in Iraq

1Iran accused of coercing Iraqi politicians into Shiite alliance

Iraqi and Kurdish officials on Thursday accused Iran of exerting pressure on lawmakers to align with Tehran loyalists.

Political jockeying is at its height in Iraq as the country works towards forming a new government, following the victory of populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr’s Sairoon coalition in the May elections.

Today Mr Al Sadr is leading a quartet of major parties looking to form the next government if they can secure just 28 more seats to meet the required majority in Parliament.

But while Mr Al Sadr has made a point of distancing himself from Tehran, Hadi Al Amiri, whose coalition came in second, is a staunch supporter of the neighbouring regime.

Tensions have been mounting since Mr Al Amiri and former prime minister Nouri Al Maliki – also favoured by Iran – joined forces against Mr Al Sadr’s quartet bloc.

Meanwhile, Tehran watches closely as the power struggle unravels.

“Iran has held a gun to the head of political parties and politicians across the Kurdistan Region and Iraq to form a majority among [Nouri Al Maliki’s] State of Law and [Hadi Al Amiri’s] Al Fatah, some Sunni Lists and Kurdish political parties for the formation of the government,” an official in Kurdistan told The National on condition of anonymity.

“Iran sees this issue and the rivalry with the US as a matter of survival,” the official said, adding that Tehran is seeking to exclude both Mr Al Sadr and incumbent Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi from forming a ruling coalition.

Both blocs have also been competing to strike a deal with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) as well as Sunni blocs to establish the biggest ruling alliance in parliament.

former senior official in Gorran, the Kurdish political bloc, said that Iran is pressuring her party and the PUK to postpone the upcoming Kurdish parliamentary elections.

“They are pressing us to postpone elections in order to focus our full attention on joining the Maliki-Amiri bloc,” Ms Abdel Wahid said in a press statement.

But Kurdish parties have set out conditions for allying with the major blocs, an official in the KDP told The National, asking to remain anonymous.

“The next few days will see meetings between the Kurdish delegation and officials in Baghdad. Our decision will be made in the interest of the Kurdish people and with respect to the Iraqi constitution,” he said.

“The decisions of Kurdish parties will not be influenced by either Tehran or Washington,” he said, confirming that Kurdistan’s authorities have received officials from Iran, Turkey and the US in recent weeks.

Next Monday Iraq’s parliament is expected to convene its first session where MPs will elect a new speaker and two deputies. They will later elect a new president and task the leader of the largest bloc with selecting the next prime minister.

The next elected premier will inherit the mammoth task of balancing Iraq’s interests with those of the US and Iran, whose intensifying rivalry complicates matters further.

But political wrangling over who is appointed prime minister is likely to delay the process for weeks or even months.