A Closer Look At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

A Closer Look At The Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

A Look at the Tri-State’s Active Fault Line

Monday, March 14, 2011

By Bob Hennelly

The Ramapo Fault is the longest fault in the Northeast that occasionally makes local headlines when minor tremors cause rock the Tri-State region. It begins in Pennsylvania, crosses the Delaware River and continues through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic and Bergen counties before crossing the Hudson River near Indian Point nuclear facility.

In the past, it has generated occasional activity that generated a 2.6 magnitude quake in New Jersey’s Peakpack/Gladstone area and 3.0 magnitude quake in Mendham.

But the New Jersey-New York region is relatively seismically stable according to Dr. Dave Robinson, Professor of Geography at Rutgers. Although it does have activity.

“There is occasional seismic activity in New Jersey,” said Robinson. “There have been a few quakes locally that have been felt and done a little bit of damage over the time since colonial settlement — some chimneys knocked down in Manhattan with a quake back in the 18th century, but nothing of a significant magnitude.”

Robinson said the Ramapo has on occasion registered a measurable quake but has not caused damage: “The Ramapo fault is associated with geological activities back 200 million years ago, but it’s still a little creaky now and again,” he said.

“More recently, in the 1970s and early 1980s, earthquake risk along the Ramapo Fault received attention because of its proximity to Indian Point,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

Historically, critics of the Indian Point Nuclear facility in Westchester County, New York, did cite its proximity to the Ramapo fault line as a significant risk.

In 1884, according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website, the  Rampao Fault was blamed for a 5.5 quake that toppled chimneys in New York City and New Jersey that was felt from Maine to Virginia.

“Subsequent investigations have shown the 1884 Earthquake epicenter was actually located in Brooklyn, New York, at least 25 miles from the Ramapo Fault,” according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

How We Missed the Antichrist

Iraqi Militant Qayis Khazali Warned Us About Iran. We Ignored Him.

Bill Roggio is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and editor of the Long War Journal .

Iran has its tentacles all over Iraq, and the United States has no one to blame but itself. It is a bipartisan failure dating back to the March 2003 invasion. Even after the Bush administration adjusted its course in Iraq, waging a large counterinsurgency campaign, the United States was so eager to wash its hands of a messy insurgency that it did little to roll back Iran’s gains. Nearly seven years after President Obama’s disastrous withdrawal from Iraq in December 2011, Iran and its Shia militias wield an enormous amount of power, and the militias’ political arms are set to play a major role in Iraq’s next government.

The seeds of this failure can be seen in the interrogation transcripts of Qais Khazali, the leader of an Iranian-backed militia, one of what the U.S. military used to call the “Special Groups.” Khazali’s interrogation logs were declassified by U.S. Central Command and released via the American Enterprise Institute on August 30. The hundreds of pages of files are part of the U.S. government’s push to designate Khazali, a militant with American blood on his hands, a terrorist. Khazali is now a politician, and his group, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, holds 15 seats in the Iraqi parliament. His rise was no accident. Khazali, who was in U.S. custody from 2007 to the end of 2009, told his interrogators then that Iran had long-term plans to infiltrate Iraqi society at all levels. And the Iranians have done just that.

The Special Groups were paramilitary units embedded in Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. Sadr has long been a Shia powerbroker in southern Iraq. The newly released files confirm that Khazali, who worked for Sadr, came to view his superior as a rival. They also confirm that Sadr’s Mahdi Army received funding, weapons, training, and advice from Iran and its chief proxy, Lebanon’s Hezbollah. The Shia militants primarily targeted coalition forces, killing hundreds of American soldiers. Khazali himself led such operations.

In March 2007, British commandos raided a compound in Basra, Iraq, and captured their targets: Qais, who led the Special Groups at the time, his brother Laith, and a Hezbollah military commander known as Musa Ali Daqduq. Qais was responsible for issuing the order to kidnap and kill five American soldiers in Karbala. Laith was Qais’s deputy, while Daqduq was responsible for organizing, training, and advising the Special Groups.

U.S. military interrogators interviewed Qais at least 70 times during his almost three years in detention. Qais often played coy, pretending not to know about key figures and groups in the Shia insurgency. Yet at other times he divulged important details about his leadership of the Mahdi Army Special Groups, as well as Iran’s role in fueling the fire in Iraq.

Qais was one of several figures with inside knowledge of Iran’s plans for Iraq. During one interrogation, he “let slip” that he had “direct contact with Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) General [Qassem] Suleimani.” As commander of Quds Force, the infamous Suleimani is tasked with directing Iran’s expansion throughout the Middle East.

Iran wasn’t interested merely in giving the U.S. military a bloody nose in Iraq, although surely its leaders enjoyed watching American soldiers be killed and wounded by the militias they sponsored. “The ultimate goal of Iran is to destroy the Americans,” Qais said, according to one interrogation summary. In addition, Qais indicated, “Iran is using both the U.S. and the Iraqis to keep each other busy through fighting while Iran pursues their own agenda and most importantly, nuclear ambitions.”

Qais provided copious information concerning Iran’s use of a vast network of Shia militias, many in competition with each other, to achieve its goals. Yet his interrogators seemed far less interested in the big picture of Iranian expansionism in Iraq than in extracting tactical information they could exploit, as well as how Qais might be used as part of an Iraqi reconciliation process.

The interrogations thus come across as shortsighted. Little effort was made to exploit Qais’s knowledge of the petty jealousies and rivalries within the Mahdi Army and among various Shia factions. And virtually nothing was done to target the network of training camps, weapon supply hubs, and other infrastructure inside Iran that supported the Shia militias. Iran never paid a price for its meddling in Iraqi affairs and its direct responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers, even though Tehran’s culpability was obvious.

Many of the interrogations focus on Qais’s ideas for ending the Shia insurgency. He seems to have sensed his interrogators’ desire for reconciliation and positioned himself as the only man who could play a major role in dialing back the violence and ending Iranian involvement in Iraq. At times, his captors appear to have accepted Qais’s views uncritically. In June 2009, the U.S. military released his brother Laith and more than 100 Asaib Ahl al-Haq commanders and fighters. Qais was released six months later. The reason given: Qais and company were freed so they could take part in a reconciliation plan. The U.S. military believed that the Khazalis and their Iranian-backed terror group would lay down their arms and join the political process.

In exchange for Qais and his men, the U.S. government secured the release of a British hostage, Peter Moore, and the bodies of three of the four men who were kidnapped with him in the spring of 2007. Moore’s compatriots had been murdered by Khazali’s men; three of the bodies that were returned were riddled with bullet holes; the fourth was never recovered.

The U.S. military also handed over Daqduq, the Hezbollah special forces commander who had the ear of Hezbollah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah and Suleimani, to the Iraqi government in 2011 under the promise that he would remain in prison. Daqduq was freed within a year. Qais and Daqduq never paid for the kidnapping and murder of the five U.S. soldiers in Karbala or any of the other attacks they had orchestrated against U.S. forces.

Daqduq’s whereabouts are unknown, but he is thought to have returned to Hezbollah and resumed a senior leadership position with the group. The U.S. government promptly designated Daqduq a global terrorist after he was freed by the Iraqis.

Qais, his brother, and his militia never laid down their arms. He would later lead a portion of his militia into Syria to fight alongside Bashar al-Assad’s regime, at the behest of Suleimani. By 2014, the militia was battling the Islamic State, as well as terrorizing Iraqi minorities in areas it liberated from ISIS.

Qais Khazali is but one player to emerge from the Shia branch of the Iraqi insurgency as a major figure. Iranian-backed commanders Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Mustafa Abu Sheibani, Akram al-Kabi, Abu Duraa, and others lead their own militias and dominate what is known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF. Khazali mentioned these men and their connections to Iran numerous times during his interrogations.

Muhandis is the most notorious of them all. Khazali said that Muhandis’s “closest ties with Iran are with the IRGC” and that he resides in Tehran. The State Department listed Muhandis as a global terrorist, described him as “an advisor to Qassem Suleimani,” and detailed his extensive involvement with the Special Groups. Today, Muhandis leads the PMF, which is dominated by Iranian-backed militias who cut their teeth fighting U.S. forces in Iraq. These militias remain hostile to the United States to this day, even though America has backed the PMF in its fight against the Islamic State.

The PMF was formed in 2014 to battle Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s ISIS goons, but it has since become an official military institution answerable only to Iraq’s prime minister. In many ways it is analogous to Iran’s IRGC, which takes its orders from Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, outside the military chain of command.

As with Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Iraqi militias are more than paramilitary formations. They are political actors and scored a major victory in Iraq’s parliamentary election in May. Running as the Fatah Alliance, they finished second behind Muqtada al-Sadr’s Saairun Coalition and will likely ally with Sadr’s party in parliament. While Sadr maintains a degree of autonomy, Qais noted repeatedly in his interrogations that Sadr and his men were supported in various ways by the Iranians. These two Iranian-backed movements will form the next Iraqi government and select the next prime minister, who will have exclusive control over the PMF.

Iran has played the long game in Iraq, but one whose outcome was by no means assured. The U.S. military heavily targeted Iranian-backed proxies between 2007 and 2009, forcing many of their leaders and fighters to flee to Iran. But President Obama was determined to fulfill his campaign promise to end all U.S. involvement in Iraq, whatever the cost. In 2012, he claimed that “we have responsibly ended the war in Iraq.”

However, the war in Iraq did not end just because Obama declared it was over. After he withdrew U.S. troops in December 2011, Al Qaeda in Iraq reorganized and took advantage of the growing insurgency in neighboring Syria. Khazali had warned his interrogators about the nefarious influence of the “salafis” and “wahhabis,” by which he meant groups like Al Qaeda in Iraq. But he also warned that Iran was ecumenical when it came to fighting Americans. “Detainee [Khazali] said that every group that is fighting in Iraq trained in Iran, including al Qaeda,” one log reads. The passages that followed are redacted, likely indicating that some in the U.S. government are still uncomfortable discussing this Shia-Sunni cooperation against their common foes. Other newly released interrogation files, which have also been redacted, allude to this anti-American arrangement as well.

By early 2014, Al Qaeda in Iraq controlled the Iraqi city of Fallujah and many towns in Anbar Province. By that summer, the terrorist group had seized nearly one-third of Iraq, including the city of Mosul. It renamed itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Thus the Islamic State was born. But the Sunni jihadists weren’t the only ones who capitalized on America’s retreat.

Buoyed by Obama’s precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, Iran expanded its influence there. Support for the Shia militias and their political parties continued unabated. Iran was able to enlist many of these militias, including Khazali’s Asaib Ahl al-Haq, to fight on the side of the Syrian regime against rebels and Sunni jihadist groups. This built their stature in Shia communities in Iraq, while raising fears among Iraq’s Sunnis that the militias were merely tools of the Iranian government.

When the Islamic State rampaged throughout central and northern Iraq, threatening Baghdad during the summer of 2014, Iraq’s military was on the brink of defeat. The Iranian-backed militias came to the rescue and spearheaded every major operation against the Islamic State. Iranian generals and IRGC officers embedded with the Shia militias to increase their effectiveness. Militia commanders were frequently photographed with Suleimani on Iraqi battlefields. Suleimani reportedly created battle plans and directed operations in some theaters.

The Shia militias, with Iran’s help, were instrumental in liberating Mosul, Ramadi, Fallujah, Tikrit, Baiji, and Sinjar. But the operations to liberate Iraqi cities from the Islamic State came at a high cost to Iraqi civilians.

Ironically, the U.S. military, which had been forced to reengage in Iraq by the rise of ISIS, abetted the militias by providing air support during their operations to clear the Islamic State from Iraq’s cities. U.S. airpower, in other words, supported the same Shia militias that had killed American soldiers and abused their own countrymen.

There is one aspect of Iran’s primacy in Iraq that has gone virtually unreported: its access to a vast recruiting base among Iraq’s Shia population. In Lebanon, Iran stood up Hezbollah, which has waged proxy war against Israel for over three decades and lived to tell about it. Today, Hezbollah is the most influential player in Lebanon, and its military eclipses the Lebanese Army. Iran was able to set up Hezbollah by recruiting from Lebanon’s 1.65 million Shia. Iran has more than 24 million Shia to recruit from in Iraq.

Iraq’s Shia militias have not been content with fighting the Islamic State inside of Iraq and Syria. As Jonathan Spyer noted in the last December, Qais Khazali visited the village of Kafr Kila on the Lebanese border with Israel, where he gave a speech highlighting his desire to take the fight beyond Iraq and Syria and provide direct support for Hezbollah.

“I’m at the Fatima Gate in Kafr Kila, at the border that divides south Lebanon from occupied Palestine. I’m here with my brothers from Hezbollah, the Islamic resistance. We announce our full readiness to stand as one with the Lebanese people, with the Palestinian cause, in the face of the unjust Israeli occupation,” Khazali declared.

Khazali’s threat is real. With Iran’s help, he branched out from a localized Shia insurgency in Iraq and expanded his operations into Syria. The rise of Khazali and other Iranian-backed Shia commanders was abetted by a feckless U.S. policy in Iraq. That war never really ended, and the United States and its allies will be paying the price for that failure for years to come.

is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and editor of the Long War Journal .

Iraqi Anger Against Iran Hegemony

Angry Iraqi Protesters Torch Iran Consulate in Basra

Friday, 7 September, 2018 – 19:15 –

Iraqi protesters torched on Friday the Iranian Consulate in Basra as demonstrations raged on in the southern city.

The protesters shouted anti-Iranian slogans outside the consulate, including “Iran, out, out!” before they stormed it and set a fire inside. Protesters also burned an Iranian flag.

A spokesman for the consulate said that all diplomats and employees were evacuated from the building before the protesters attacked, and that none of them were hurt.

Many residents of the city accuse Iranian-backed political parties of interfering with Iraqi politics and some hold them responsible for mismanagement and the poor services in the city.

Later Friday, angry protesters marched to the city’s presidential palaces compound, where Shiite paramilitary troops are stationed, and tried to breach it. One person was killed and four wounded in ensuing scuffles with security forces, according to a health official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media.

Elsewhere in the city, protesters tried to attack the headquarters of Assaib Ahl Al-Haq militia and the guards stationed there opened fire. It was not immediately clear if there were casualties.

Other protesters set tires on fire on main streets and highways, ignoring the curfew imposed by the authorities.

Unidentified attackers also fired shells into Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone in a rare attack on an area housing parliament, government offices and the US embassy. There were no casualties.

The country’s newly-elected parliament called for an emergency session to address the unrest.

The protesters have been rallying against poor services in Basra for weeks.

The city has seen a surge in protests since Tuesday, with demonstrators torching government buildings as well as political party and militia offices, as anger boils over after the hospitalization of 30,000 people who had drunk polluted water.

At least nine demonstrators have been killed since then in clashes with security forces, Mehdi al-Tamimi, head of Basra’s human rights council, has said.

The wave of protests first broke out in July in oil-rich Basra province before spreading to other parts of the country, with demonstrators also condemning corruption among Iraqi officials and demanding jobs.

“We’re thirsty, we’re hungry, we are sick and abandoned,” protester Ali Hussein told AFP Friday after another night of violence.

“Demonstrating is a sacred duty and all honest people ought to join.”

Parliament said that lawmakers and ministers, including Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, will meet on Saturday to discuss the water contamination crisis, the latest breakdown in public services to infuriate residents.

The meeting was demanded by Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr, whose political bloc won the largest number of seats in May parliamentary elections although a new government has yet to be formed.

Sadr, whose supporters held protests inside the Green Zone in 2016 to condemn corruption among Iraqi officials, called for “demonstrations of peaceful anger” in Basra after the main weekly prayers on Friday.

And the representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shiite majority, in his Friday sermon denounced “the bad behavior of senior officials” and called for the next government to be “different from its predecessors”.

At least 24 people have been killed in the demonstrations since they erupted in Basra on July 8.

Human rights activists have accused the security forces of opening fire on the demonstrators.

But the government has blamed provocateurs in the crowds and said troops have been ordered not to use live rounds.

Amnesty International on Friday denounced “the use of excessive force by security forces” and called for an investigation into the deaths.

The anger on Basra streets was “in response to the government’s intentional policy of neglect” of the oil-rich region, the head of the region’s human rights council Tamimi said.

Abadi has scrambled to defuse the anger and authorities have already pledged a multi-billion dollar emergency plan to revive infrastructure and services in southern Iraq.

But Iraqis remain deeply skeptical as the country remains in a state of political limbo.

Sadr on Thursday called for politicians to present “radical and immediate” solutions at the emergency meeting of parliament or step down if they fail to do so.

The Rising Pakistani Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:8)

File image of Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan. AP

Pakistan may have 250 nuclear warheads By 2025; could emerge as world’s 5th largest nuclear weapons state, says report

Washington: Pakistan currently has 140 to 150 nuclear warheads and the stockpile is expected to increase to 220 to 250 by 2025 if the current trend continues, according to the latest report by authors keeping a track of the country’s nukes.

The current estimate of 140 to 150 nuclear weapons exceeds the projection made by the US Defense Intelligence Agency in 1999 that Pakistan would have 60 to 80 warheads by 2020.

“We estimate that the country’s stockpile could more realistically grow to 220 to 250 warheads by 2025, if the current trend continues. If that happens, it would make Pakistan the world’s fifth-largest nuclear weapon state,” Hans M Kristensen, Robert S Norris and Julia Diamond said in the report ‘Pakistani nuclear forces 2018’.

Kristensen, the lead author, is the director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) in Washington, DC. Over the past decade, the US assessment of nuclear weapons security in Pakistan appears to have changed considerably from confidence to concern, particularly as a result of the introduction of tactical nuclear weapons, the report said.

“With several delivery systems in development, four plutonium production reactors, and its uranium enrichment facilities expanding, however, Pakistan has a stockpile that will likely increase further over the next 10 years,” says the report. Pakistan continues to expand its nuclear arsenal with more warheads, more delivery systems and a growing fissile materials production industry, it said.

“Analysis of a large number of commercial satellite images of Pakistani army garrisons and air force bases shows what appear to be mobile launchers and underground facilities that might be related to nuclear forces,” said the report. The authors observe that the size of the increase will depend on many factors.

Two key factors will be how many nuclear-capable launchers Pakistan plans to deploy, and how much the Indian nuclear arsenal grows.

“Speculation that Pakistan may become the world’s third-largest nuclear weapon state – with a stockpile of some 350 warheads a decade from now – are, we believe, exaggerated, not least because that would require a buildup two to three times faster than the growth rate over the past two decades,” the authors said. According to the report, Pakistan is modifying its nuclear posture with new short-range nuclear-capable weapon systems to counter military threats below the strategic level.

“The efforts seek to create a full-spectrum deterrent that is designed not only to respond to nuclear attacks, but also to counter an Indian conventional incursion onto Pakistani territory,” it said. “This development has created considerable concern in other countries, including the United States, which fears that it lowers the threshold for nuclear use in a military conflict with India,” the report added.

Published Date: Sep 06, 2018 14:14 PM | Updated Date: Sep 06, 2018 14:14 PM

Iran Prepares to Spin Uranium

Deal Falls Apart

RFE/RL

Iran will relaunch its nuclear program and enrich uranium at a higher level than it has previously if Russia, China, and European powers follow the U.S. example and stop honoring Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement, Iran’s nuclear agency has warned.

“We will not return to previous levels if our counterparts leave the [nuclear deal], but will instead reach even more advanced levels,” Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi was quoted as saying by state broadcaster IRIB on September 5.

“We are at a considerably more advanced status than when we signed the deal. The country is moving ahead in nuclear activities at a favorable pace,” he said.

Iranian leaders have repeatedly said they will resume high-level uranium enrichment if the nuclear deal — which put curbs on Iran’s nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief — falls apart. High-level enrichment is needed to produce uranium that can be used in nuclear weapons.

Following the withdrawal of the United States in May, the agreement’s other parties — Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, and the European Union — all vowed to keep honoring it and have been scrambling to find ways to answer Iran’s demands that it continue to experience the deal’s promised economic benefits.

But Tehran has expressed increasing skepticism that those countries will be able to counter the negative effects from renewed U.S. economic sanctions, including a steep drop in the Iranian currency, which are already battering Iran’s economy.

Last week, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran should be ready to “set aside” the agreement if it is no longer in the country’s national interests.

That statement came even as the International Atomic Energy Agency certified that Iran has continued to abide by the agreement, despite the U.S. move to begin reimposing sanctions last month.

The nuclear deal allowed Iran to continue some low-level uranium enrichment activities for civilian purposes. The Iranian agency’s disclosure on September 5 that it already has advanced beyond levels reached before the 2015 agreement is likely to stoke skepticism about the effectiveness of the nuclear accord in Washington.

U.S. President Donald Trump said he decided to withdraw from the deal in part because it did not do enough to prevent Iran from eventually developing the capacity to produce a nuclear weapon.

Despite escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran, on September 5 Trump said he was still open to negotiating with Iran over a new nuclear deal — an offer he has made several times in recent months, only to be spurned by Tehran.

Trump told reporters at the White House that he would be willing to meet with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rohani, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York later this month.

“It’s possible. Anything is possible,” Trump said. “We’ll see what happens with Iran. Whether they want to talk or not, that’s up to them, not up to me.”

Trump claimed that “Iran is a much different place than when I took over the presidency,” describing the country as currently “in turmoil.”

“When I took office, it was just a question of how long until they took over the entire Middle East. Now they are just worrying about their own survival as a country,” he said.

Trump is due to lead a September 26 meeting of heads of state of the UN Security Council, with the goal of ramping up pressure on Tehran over its alleged violations of UN council resolutions.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters