Tag Archive | Israel

Israel’s Key Role in the Refugee Crisis*

Israel’s Key Role in the Refugee Crisis*

By Jim W. Dean

Refugees flood Europe. Terror spreads to the rest of the world. And bankers line up in anticipation of more military spending.

By Phil Butler

[ Editor’s note: Phil Butler reminds us of the vast oil and gas riches at stake in the Golan Heights, and how the West and the Rothschild groupies simply will not be denied claiming Golan as their territory. He also brings to our attention the Golan Knights, operating in the Golan Heights – a wordplay that might be too good for Hollywood producers to miss… ]

“An error doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to correct it” – John F. Kennedy quoting Orlando Battista

Europe has been content to blame its current societal and economic decline on malfeasant leaders like EU Jean-Claude Juncker, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, or France’s ex-president François Hollande. If the people of Europe only knew the real actors behind, Israel would not be unscathed in this whole Arab Spring charade. Yes, Europe has the Israelis to thank for sapping what’s left of the E.U.’s strength. Here’s a story you won’t read in the New York Times, but one the Wall Street Journal will hint at.

This morning I was astonished to find a Wall Street Journal story that framed Israel’s support for Syrian insurgents against the government of President Bashar Hafez al-Assad.

In a strange twist of the fates, by reporters Rory Jones in Tel Aviv, Noam Raydan in Beirut and Suha Ma’ayeh in Amman, Jordan, the newspaper owned by Genie Oil investor billionaire Rupert Murdoch suddenly decided to spill some of the beans on Israel’s role in the Syria. The WSJ story is but one of the recent revelations hinting at how Israel played a key role in the conflict that has destroyed Syria, and which has flooded Europe with refugees and potential terrorists.

The lead from the WSJ is telling:

“Israel has been regularly supplying Syrian rebels near its border with cash as well as food, fuel and medical supplies for years, a secret engagement in the enemy country’s civil war aimed at carving out a buffer zone populated by friendly forces.”

But Murdoch’s newspaper only skims the surface on the Israeli operations directly relating to the war to unseat Assad no matter what. For months I’ve asked the question, “How could the Arab nations’ most hated foe keep from being bloodied by ISIL?” Some of the answers now emerge. This story from Syria Deeply was probably sourced from the same informants that the WSJ used. Its intro paragraph points to a bigger story.

“Over the past five years, Israel has been quietly working to establish a foothold in southern Syria to prevent Syrian government-backed forces from controlling the area and to bolster its claim over the Golan Heights.”

GENIE ENERGY Advisory Board: Former chair of the US Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Mary Landrieu, Former CIA Director James Woolsey, Former V-P Dick Cheney, Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch, Lord Jacob Rothschild, Former Energy Secretary & Governor Bill Richardson, Former engineer of the Glass-Steagall Act Larry Summers, Hedge fund speculator Michael Steinhart.

 

There’s some clear reasons the older Syria Deeply story (June 15th versus June 17th for the WSJ version) is different from the new WSJ one. First and foremost, Israel’s claims over the Golan Heights link Rupert Murdoch and several other prominent western figures to the conflict in Syria via Genie Energy. While it’s no secret the whole Arab Spring upheaval was in part over pipelines and energy wars, the carving up of Syria for select interests has been a lesser known fact.

On Genie Energy, the reader may be interested to know Genie Oil and Gas (GOGAS) found substantial oil and shale reserves in the Golan Heights. This border region is now seems to be associated with more US and British billionaires and power brokers than any stretch of land east of Manhattan. From dumped Donald Trump security adviser James Woolsey to the homicidal maniac former US VP Dick Cheney, the Genie machinates are in our face trying to profit from Syria’s destruction.

By October 2015, Genie Energy Ltd.’s chief geologists assured investors that major oil reservoir were indeed in the Golan, and then in early 2016 Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began losing his mind over the deals the US, Russia and the rest of the West were discussing settlement of the Golan affair as being “Syrian land”. If you’re wondering if Netanyahu has a stake in the western oligarch play for energy in Syrian territory, his later statements were also telling:

“The Golan will always remain in Israel’s hands. Israel will never withdraw from the Golan Heights.”

All ISIS/Daesh wounded are taken to Israel for medical treatment, all expenses paid and those that can be are returned to Iraq or Syria to attack and torture

Fast forward to this presidency and Donald Trump’s kinship with Netanyahu and Israel. Political analyst Anthony Bellchambers encapsulated what a Trump presidency means for Golan and for Syria overall. He wrote for Global Research on what a Trump White House means:

“It would almost certainly embolden Israel to unilaterally annex the occupied Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Syrian Golan Heights in gross violation of international law and in contempt of the United Nations…It would increase the likelihood of a global war between the U.S. and Russia, and their respective allies…”

Returning to the Israeli real and logistical support for insurgents inside Syria, this recent UNDOF report spoke of “a significant increase in interaction” in between the IDF and the opposition to Assad across the alpha-beta fence in between Golan and Syria proper. The report speaks of both “personnel and supplies being observed to have been transferred in both directions.”

Instances of the Israelis treating “moderate jihadist wounds”, as well as government-organized aid entities trucking in medical aid, food and clothing are well documented (US News & World Report from 2015); but what’s not so publicized are the funding and support for Israel’s own Free Syrian Army faction, known as the Golan Knights (Liwa Forsan al Joulan) made up of between 300 and 1000 fighters.

On the wider scale, the Israelis have also been promoting the National Salvation Front leader Fahad al Masri, who has publicly called for Israeli intervention in Syria. All of this activity exactly mirrors what the Israelis did in Lebanon back in the early 1970’s to the mid 2000’s.

Once ISIL reared its ugly head to further the effort to unseat Assad, Israeli officials began expanding Israeli settlements in Golan, as well as infrastructure projects there.

Where funding of ISIL is concerned, the Russian air forces bombing black market oil headed from ISIL-held territory to Israeli ports was well documented by me and many others.

Environmentalists slammed the Northern Regional Committee’s approval of fracking in the Golan, which they said was obtained in underhanded ways that did not reveal the large area that was being approved for exploration until the approval process had reached advanced stages. “This is a very grave case of rejecting public participation [in a decision] to give an oil company [licensed access to] public and agriculture land,” said Dr. Orr Karassin, environmental policy expert.

Direct contact in between anti-Assad insurgents, Israel’s military and leadership, and U.S. Senator John McCain has also been documented by Global Research founder, Professor Michel Chossudovsky and others.

In the story linked here, there’s a photograph showing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon visiting a wounded mercenary at an Israeli military field hospital at the occupied Golan Heights’ border with Syria, 18 February 2014.

Finally, the underneath support from Israel to anyone opposing the Assad government was made clear by me on my personal blog some months back. Supported by reports from other sources, this was my conclusion on the Israel role in all this back in September of 2015, when the Russia air campaign was about to go into full swing. Israel is set to benefit from Assad’s downfall accordingly:

With Assad gone, and with U.S. duplicity in these matters, Israel would become the ultimate powerhouse of stability in this region. Her enemies dispersed like wandering nomads, the Jewish state could go ahead and eradicate the Palestinians, expand her territories uninhibited, and dictate policy for the whole region. That is, with Washington’s say so.”

Back then the Jerusalem Post revealed most of Israel’s oil actually came from Kurdistan, so my theories were not unsupported by evidence of Israel’s role. Looking at the situation today, one nation has benefitted more than any other since the onset of what became known as “Arab Spring”.

Gabriel Scheinmann, Ph.D. candidate in international relations at Georgetown University, wrote a piece evidencing just such a win. “The Real Big Winner of the Arab Spring” reflects on what I would call “the subterfuge the Israeli lobby inserted” into think tank mentalities from the start, that somehow Israel lost from this upheaval in the Arab world. The article also reveals a more logical reality.

To quote Scheinmann:

“There is good reason to think, however, that this assessment is largely incorrect. In fact, the changes wrought by the Arab Spring are likely to be of long-term benefit to Israel. Its most dedicated enemies, especially the Iran-led “Axis of Resistance,” have been seriously weakened, both economically and militarily. The Arab states, hostile and otherwise, will be unable to directly challenge Israel for a long time. “

Israel, surrounded by enemies, is one of a handful of neighbouring states that have been totally unscathed by these wars and revolutions. Meanwhile, millions of refugees flood Europe. Terror spreads to the rest of the world. And bankers line up in anticipation of additional military spending, trillions in reconstruction costs in Syria and elsewhere, and the economic loans half a hundred nations will soon need.

The E.U. is sinking under austerity and added pressure from this crisis, and somehow nobody looks at who is benefitting? If there is any real justice in the world, then Israel’s role in all these conflicts will be revealed.

Source*

Related Topics:

Israel Moves to Restructure Fatah Al-Sham/al Nusra Command in Quneitra*

Israeli Warplanes Missile Attack on Syrian Army in Quneitra*

Israel Helps Refugee Pawns Migration as Weapons of War in Europe*

Mass Migration as Weapons of War*

Norway Aiding Israeli Fuel Extraction on the Golan Heights Under Fire*

U.N. Passes Resolution Urging Israel to Leave Syria’s Golan Heights*

Israel Consolidates Grip on Golan under Cover of Syria’s Engineered Chaos*

Israel Starts Demolition of Homes in the their Illegal Occupation of Syria’s Golan Heights*

Syrian Army Seizes Control of Al-Amal Farms in Golan Heights*

Greater Israel and the Tale of Two Temples*

3,000 Year Old Plan: The Real Nakba*

Noble Energy’s Natural Gas Discovery in the Levant Launched U.S.-Israeli Operation ISIS to Oust Assad*

Trump-Israel Struggling to Save ISIS to divide and Conquer Syria and Iraq*

Hack of Netanyahu Chief of Staff Shows Israeli Control of ISIS*

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U.S. Vast Military Buildup in Raqqa City*

U.S. Vast Military Buildup in Raqqa City*

By Ian Greenhalgh

Local sources in Northeastern Syrian reported that a large number of U.S. military vehicles and troops have been observed in the different neighbourhoods of the Eastern part of Raqqa.

The sources said that a number of the U.S. military vehicles have been seen in al-Mashlab neighborhood that has been recently captured by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

In the meantime, the U.S. military helicopters have increased flights over Raqqa in recent days.

Meantime, footage released recently revealed that the U.S. is operating an airbase in the Eastern parts of Aleppo near the provincial border with Raqqa.

According to AMN, the footage showed a large U.S. plane taking off and plenty of Humvees protecting the site.

Also, an American flag is hoisted above the airfield which is located in the territory controlled by the SDF.

Meanwhile, Colonel Ryan Dillon, the US-led Coalition Spokesman, confirmed dozens of U.S. military advisors were deployed inside Raqqa city with U.S. marines providing artillery support against the ISIL from the surrounding areas.

He said the troops, many of them special operations forces, are working in an “advise, assist and accompany” role to support Kurdish fighters in battle against ISIL.

“They are much more exposed to enemy contact than those in Iraq,” Dillon added.

He stressed that the number of U.S. forces in Raqqa was “not hundreds” and that they had been working closely with SDF fighters since the operations to encircle Raqqa began.

The Pentagon is secretive about exactly how big its footprint is in Syria, but has previously declared that some 500 U.S. special forces are there to train and assist the SDF.

Kurds heavily assisted by U.S. soldiers and bombers – have captured some 35% of Raqqa city despite facing fierce resistance from the ISIL militants.

A Kurdish commander announced early July that the U.S. Army established seven military bases in regions controlled by the Kurds in Eastern Syria.

Siban Hamou was quoted as saying by al-Sharq al-Awsat that the U.S. army established six military airports and a base on the Eastern bank of the Euphrates River, adding that a modern large airport in Kobani (Ein al-Arab) was the most important one of them.

“The U.S. has set up two airports in Hasaka, one airport in Qamishli, two airports in al-Malekiyeh (Dirik), and one more airport in Tal Abyadh at border with Turkey in addition to a military squad center in the town of Manbij in Northeastern Aleppo,” Hamou said.

Hamou went on to say that 1,300 forces of the U.S.-led coalition were deployed in the airports and centre.

Meantime, other reports declared that the U.S.-led forces have several times transferred the ISIL leaders from Iraq and Syria to other regions by heliborne operations.

Source*

Related Topics:

New U.S-backed Rebel Group being formed to further U.S. interests in Syria*

Inside Syria: Father Maes Discusses the True Situation*

U.S. Planes Caught Sneaking ISIS Terrorists Out Of Syria again*

U.S. Amassing Spy Planes Off Syria, Aircraft Carrier to Arrive in Israel*

CIA officer – ‘we have no business being in Syria’*

Syrian Refugees Return Home in the Hundreds of Thousands, U.N. says*

U.S.-led Coalition Killed Nearly 500 Civilians in Syria during Ramadhan*

Rothschild’s Israel Pushes Russia and U.S. Towards Nuclear Confrontation Over Syria*

U.N. Declares Hebron as a Palestinian World Heritage Site, of Course Israel is Upset*

U.N. Declares Hebron as a Palestinian World Heritage Site, of Course Israel is Upset*

By Ian Deitch, Monika Scislowsk

Israeli police stand guard on a site known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque, in Hebron

Israeli police stand guard on a site known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque, in Hebron

The U.N. cultural agency on Friday declared the old city in the West Bank town of Hebron as a Palestinian world heritage site, a decision that outraged Israeli officials who say the move negated the deep Jewish ties to the biblical town and its ancient shrine.

The move was the latest chapter in Israel’s contentious relationship with UNESCO, an agency it accuses of being an anti-Israeli tool that makes decisions out of political considerations.

While the Palestinians welcomed the action, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it “another delusional decision by UNESCO.”

Both Jews and Muslims revere the same site in Hebron as the traditional burial place of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs — Jews call it the Tomb of the Patriarchs, while for Muslims it is the Ibrahimi Mosque.

The 12-3 vote, with six abstentions, came on a secret ballot at an annual UNESCO World Heritage Committee meeting in Krakow, Poland. The proposal came from the Palestinian side. Israel contended that its historic links to Hebron were ignored and its ambassador to UNESCO left the session.

UNESCO spokeswoman Lucia Iglesias confirmed that Hebron’s old city was put on the agency’s World Heritage list and on the list of sites in danger. She would not elaborate, saying the exact wording would be decided later.

The decision obliges the World Heritage committee to review its status annually.

“This is a historical development because it stressed that Hebron and the Ibrahimi Mosque historically belong to the Palestinian people,” said Palestinian Minister of Tourism Rula Maayah.

But Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said UNESCO’s “automatic Arab majority succeeded in passing the proposed resolution that attempts to appropriate the national symbols of the Jewish people.”

She added: “This is a badge of shame for UNESCO, who time after time chooses to stand on the side of lies.”

Netanyahu expressed outrage that UNESCO determined the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron “is a Palestinian site, meaning not Jewish, and that the site is in danger.”

“Not a Jewish site?!” he asked sarcastically.

“Who is buried there? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah — our patriarchs and matriarchs!”

Netanyahu pointed to extremists blowing up religious sites in the Middle East and said,

 “It is only in those places where Israel is, such as Hebron, that freedom of religion for all is ensured.”

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the vote “does no one any good and causes much harm.”

“It represents an affront to history. It undermines the trust that is needed for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to be successful. And it further discredits an already highly questionable U.N. agency,” she said in a statement.

She had sent a letter to two senior U.N. officials before the vote, urging them to withhold the designation from UNESCO, according to the U.S. Mission to the U.N.

Hebron is part of the West Bank, a territory captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. The international community considers it to be occupied.

Palestinians claim the West Bank is an integral part of a future independent state, a position that is widely backed internationally.

Israel says the territory’s fate, along with other core issues like security, should be resolved in negotiations.

In the meantime, Israel has built dozens of settlements in the West Bank housing about 400,000 Israelis. The Palestinians — and most of the world — consider these to be illegal obstacles to peace. Israel says the future of the settlements also must be decided through talks.

Hebron is especially contentious. Several hundred ultranationalist settlers live in heavily guarded enclaves in the city, amid about 170,000 Palestinians. There is frequent friction between the two populations.

Many viewed Friday’s UNESCO decision as the latest example of an ingrained anti-Israel bias at the U.N. and its institutions, where Israel and its allies are outnumbered by Arab countries and their supporters.

Although their rocky relationship goes back decades, recent resolutions by UNESCO also drew outrage in Israel for diminishing the deep Jewish ties to Jerusalem.

In September, Israel suspended cooperation with UNESCO after it adopted a resolution that Israel says denies the deep historic Jewish connection to holy sites in Jerusalem.

The UNESCO resolution, titled “Occupied Palestine” and sponsored by several Arab countries, used only the Islamic name for a sacred hilltop compound in Jerusalem. The compound is the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads Israel’s national UNESCO committee, said after Friday’s vote that

“Israel will not resume its cooperation with UNESCO so long as it remains a political tool, rather than professional organization.”

In a statement, Netanyahu said he would cut another $1 million from the membership money Israel sends to the U.N. and use it to establish a “Museum of the Heritage of the Jewish People in Hebron and Kiryat Arba and Hebron” and for other heritage projects related to Hebron.

Yitzhak Reiter of the independent Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research said UNESCO’s decision would allow the Palestinians to “score points” in negotiations over the future of West Bank territory, since they could claim that UNESCO has sided with them.

It also could bolster their efforts to fight what they believe are Israeli attempts to take over disputed religious sites in the Holy Land.

Israel strongly rejects Palestinian claims it is trying to change the status quo in either Hebron or in Jerusalem’s Old City.

“They want to make sure that there will be an international forum to monitor the situation in Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs that will prevent Israel from future transgressions or overstepping its current presence in the city,” Reiter said.

Hebron has a long history of violence.

In 1929, Arabs killed 67 Jews in a rampage still seared into Israeli minds. In 1994, an Israeli settler shot and killed 29 Palestinian worshippers at the holy site before he was beaten to death.

Many of the Palestinians involved in the current wave of attacks that began in 2005 came from Hebron. The attacks on Israeli civilians and security forces since then have killed 43 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British student, mainly in stabbings, shootings and vehicle assaults. In that period, 251 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire. Israel identified most of them as attackers.

Israel blames the violence on incitement by Palestinian religious and political leaders, compounded by social media. Palestinians say it stems from anger over decades of Israeli rule in lands they claim for their state.

Source*

Related Topics:

Lord Rothschild Discusses How His Family Created Israel!*

When Palestine was 85% Arab, 15% Israeli and U.K. and U.S. Paid the Jews from the Caucasus to Live There*

Palestine to Sue U.K. for the Creation of ‘Israel’*

A Sacred Place

Palestine Before Israel*

The Protocols of Zion

The ‘Jewish National Fund’ and Its Role in Israel Thus Palestine*

Electricity Shortages in Gaza Lead to Beach Pollution Just Over the Border in Israel*

Electricity Shortages in Gaza Lead to Beach Pollution Just Over the Border in Israel*

Palestinians enjoy their time at the beach of the Mediterranean sea on the coast of Gaza City, during an electricity crisis that has shut down the territory’s sewage treatment plant, on June 30, 2017. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)

 

By Almog Ben Zikri

The Israeli Health Ministry believes that the shutdown of a Gaza sewage plant due to power shortages led to pollution at Zikim beach and Ashkelon National Park, which have been closed to swimmers

Beaches in southern Israel were closed to swimmers on Wednesday due to pollution, after power shortages in nearby Gaza led a sewage treatment plant there to shut down.

The electricity shortages in the Gaza Strip appear to have caused untreated sewage to flow just over the border into Israel’s Mediterranean waters. The Health Ministry banned swimming on the beaches at Zikim and Ashkelon National Park after sewage was detected in the water.

Officials suspect that the pollution is sewage that was left untreated after the plant was shuttered due to severe electricity shortages in Gaza, and that it drifted north onto Israeli beaches.

There is no forecast as to when the beaches will reopen.

Gaza’s sewage treatment plant has not been in operation for some time due to the electricity crisis in the Hamas-ruled enclave, which was exacerbated further last month when the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority cut its payments for electricity supplied to the Strip by Israel.

The PA asked Israel to reduce its power to the enclave as part of a years-long effort by the PA, led by the rival Fatah party, to force Hamas into relinquishing political power in Gaza and joining a unified government.

Fatah was ousted from power in Gaza by Hamas in 2007.

Since the sewage plant halted its operations, an estimated 110,000 cubic meters a day of sewage have been flowing into the Mediterranean off the Gaza coast. On Wednesday, the Israeli Health Ministry detected excessive bacterial and fecal levels just to the north of Gaza.

EcoPeace Middle East, an organization that brings together Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian ecologists, reported that sewage levels have increased by a third since the reduction in power to the Gaza Strip.

After the Health Ministry’s swimming ban was announced, Ashkelon Mayor Tomer Glam wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asking him to find an immediate solution to the electricity crisis in Gaza, or at least to find a solution to the problem of untreated sewage.

In a public statement, the mayor noted that this is the height of the swimming season, and “the last thing we want to happen is to close beaches.”

Source*

Related Topics:

72 Percent of Aid to Palestine Ends Up ‘In Israeli Hands*

Pathological Israeli Security Forces Spray Raw Sewage on Palestinian Homes

‘Israeli Planes Spray Crop-Killing Chemicals On Gaza Farms’*

Evict 120 Bedouins from their own Land and Build a Trash Dump Instead*

World’s Leading Medical Journal Sends an Open Letter to Gaza*

First Account: Opening Two Dams on Gazans midst a Flood*

Iran Arrests 4 Saudis on a Vessel inside Its Territorial Waters*

Iran Arrests 4 Saudis on a Vessel inside Its Territorial Waters*

By Tyler Durden

On June 19, just around the time it emerged that Israel had been secretly funding Syrian rebel groups and was explicitly aligned with Saudi Arabia in the Syrian conflict, Saudi media reported that the kingdom had captured three members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps from a boat as it approached the kingdom’s offshore Marjan oilfield. The Saudi Centre for International Communications added that the boat carried explosives, and the Iranians aboard “intended to carry out terrorist act in Saudi territorial waters” with the Marjan Saudi offshore oilfield allegedly targeted.  In other words, Saudi paraded that it had caught what appeared to be three Iranian terrorists belonging to IRGC, suggesting this was an operation ordered from the very top.

Of course, Iran’s take on things was different: Iran’s Tasnim news agency said that Saudi border guards had opened fire on an Iranian fishing boat in the Gulf on Friday, killing a fisherman. It said the boat was one of two Iranian boats fishing in the Gulf that had been pushed off course by waves. So on one side terrorists, on the other fishermen: about par.

Three weeks later, there has been no resolution to this alleged hostage crisis, however in a new development, on Friday Iran’s Fars news agency reported that Iran has returned the favour.

According to the Iranian news agency, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards – this time on the offensive – intercepted a Saudis boat for violating Iran’s territorial waters, and arrested the four passengers on board.

According to the Fars report, the boat came from the Saudi port of Darien and violated Iranian naval water borders where it was stopped by the Revolutionary Guards in the waters of the Bushehr province in southern Iran.

The Iran source told Fars that the IRGC had started an investigation regarding the four passengers on board the boat.

So far there has been no official statement on any Saudi news agency either confirming or denying the report, which likely means that a “behind the scenes” transfer of hostages on both sides is already in place.

Source*

Related Topics:

Iran Seizes Arab Vessels Entering its Territorial Waters*

Terror Attacks in Iran Were Joint Saudi-Israel-U.S. Project*

Saudi Arabia Cuts Ties with Qatar for Not Wanting War with Iran*

Hacked Emails Show Top UAE Diplomat Coordinating With Pro-Israel Think Tank Against Iran*

Russia and Iran Escape the Petro-dollar*

Russia, Iran, Turkey Reach Consensus on De-escalation Zones in Syria*

Iran Sticks to Nuclear Deal in Spite of Threats from Warmongers*

Aged U.S. Hawks Planning for Iran at Adelson Backed Conference*

U.S. Fires Captain Detained by Iran in January*

U.S. DoJ Files Civil Action to Forfeit Thousands of Ancient Iraqi Artifacts Imported By Hobby Lobby*

U.S. DoJ Files Civil Action to Forfeit Thousands of Ancient Iraqi Artifacts Imported By Hobby Lobby*

By Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

Cuneiform Tablets Were Falsely Labeled as Product “Samples” and Shipped to Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., and Two Corporate Affiliates

Earlier today, the United States filed a civil complaint to forfeit thousands of cuneiform tablets and clay bullae. As alleged in the complaint, these ancient clay artifacts originated in the area of modern-day Iraq and were smuggled into the United States through the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel, contrary to federal law. Packages containing the artifacts were shipped to Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (“Hobby Lobby”), a nationwide arts-and-crafts retailer based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and two of Hobby Lobby’s corporate affiliates. The shipping labels on these packages falsely described cuneiform tablets as tile “samples.”

The government also filed a stipulation of settlement with Hobby Lobby, in which Hobby Lobby consented to the forfeiture of the artifacts in the complaint, approximately 144 cylinder seals and an additional sum of $3 million, resolving the civil action. Hobby Lobby further agreed to adopt internal policies and procedures governing its importation and purchase of cultural property, provide appropriate training to its personnel, hire qualified outside customs counsel and customs brokers, and submit quarterly reports to the government on any cultural property acquisitions for the next eighteen months.

The complaint and stipulation of settlement were announced by Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York.

“American collectors and importers must ensure compliance with laws and regulations that require truthful declarations to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, so that Customs officers are able to scrutinize cultural property crossing our borders and prevent the inappropriate entry of such property,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde.

“If they do not, and shippers use false declarations to try to clandestinely enter property into the United States, this Office and our law enforcement partners will discover the deceit and seize the property.” Ms. Rohde thanked U.S. Customs and Border Protection for its role in intercepting shipments and safeguarding the seized antiquities.

“The protection of cultural heritage is a mission that HSI and its partner U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) take very seriously as we recognize that while some may put a price on these artifacts, the people of Iraq consider them priceless,” stated Special Agent-in-Charge Melendez.

According to the complaint and stipulated statement of facts filed with the court, in or around 2009, Hobby Lobby began to assemble a collection of historically significant manuscripts, antiquities and other cultural materials. In connection with this effort, Hobby Lobby’s president and a consultant traveled to the UAE in July 2010 to inspect a large number of cuneiform tablets and other antiquities being offered for sale (the “Artifacts”). Cuneiform is an ancient system of writing on clay tablets that was used in ancient Mesopotamia thousands of years ago.

In October 2010, an expert on cultural property law retained by Hobby Lobby warned the company that the acquisition of cultural property likely from Iraq, including cuneiform tablets and cylinder seals, carries a risk that such objects may have been looted from archaeological sites in Iraq. The expert also advised Hobby Lobby to review its collection of antiquities for any objects of Iraqi origin and to verify that their country of origin was properly declared at the time of importation into the United States. The expert warned Hobby Lobby that an improper declaration of country of origin for cultural property could lead to seizure and forfeiture of the artifacts by CBP.

Notwithstanding these warnings, in December 2010, Hobby Lobby executed an agreement to purchase over 5,500 Artifacts, comprised of cuneiform tablets and bricks, clay bullae and cylinder seals, for $1.6 million. The acquisition of the Artifacts was fraught with red flags. For example, Hobby Lobby received conflicting information where the Artifacts had been stored prior to the inspection in the UAE. Further, when the Artifacts were presented for inspection to Hobby Lobby’s president and consultant in July 2010, they were displayed informally. In addition, Hobby Lobby representatives had not met or communicated with the dealer who purportedly owned the Artifacts, nor did they pay him for the Artifacts. Rather, following instructions from another dealer, Hobby Lobby wired payment for the Artifacts to seven personal bank accounts held in the names of other individuals.

With Hobby Lobby’s consent, a UAE-based dealer shipped packages containing the Artifacts to three different corporate addresses in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Between one and three shipments arrived at a time, without the required customs entry documentation being filed with CBP, and bore shipping labels that falsely and misleadingly described their contents as “ceramic tiles” or “clay tiles (sample).” . After approximately 10 packages shipped in this manner were received by Hobby Lobby and its affiliates, CBP intercepted five shipments. All of the intercepted packages bore shipping labels that falsely declared that the Artifacts’ country of origin was Turkey. No further shipments were received until September 2011, when a package containing approximately 1,000 clay bullae from the same purchase was received by Hobby Lobby. It was shipped by an Israeli dealer and accompanied by a false declaration stating that the bullae’s country of origin was Israel.

In executing the stipulation of settlement, Hobby Lobby has accepted responsibility for its past conduct and agreed to take steps to remedy the deficiencies that resulted in its unlawful importation of the Artifacts. Hobby Lobby has agreed to the forfeiture of all of the Artifacts shipped to the United States.

The government’s case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorneys Karin Orenstein and Ameet B. Kabrawala.

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 17-CV-3980 (LDH) (VMS)

Exhibit A
Sample Images of the Defendants in Rem

Cuneiform Tablets

Clay Bullae

Attachment(s):

Download Cuneiform In Rem Complaint .pdf

Component(s):

USAO – New York, Eastern

Contact:
John Marzulli
Tyler Daniels
United States Attorney’s Office
(718) 254-6323

Source*

Related Topics:

ISIS Stealing and Selling Ancient Syrian Artefacts to Buyers from the U.S. and Europe*

Looted Palmyra Treasures Discovered in Geneva Warehouse*

The Treasure at the Heart of Iraq

This Week the ‘Arch of Baal’ Was Displayed For the Third Time in Honour of ‘The World Government Summit’*

Indians Sue Britain for Return of Queen’s ‘Koh-i-Noor’ Crown Jewel*

Blood and Gold: Children Dying as Egypt’s Treasures are Looted*

European Museums to ‘loan’ Looted Benin Bronzes to Nigeria!?*

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New U.S-backed Rebel Group being formed to further U.S. interests in Syria*

New U.S-backed Rebel Group being formed to further U.S. interests in Syria*

By Andrew Illingworth

A new Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebel group is being formed-up in eastern Syria as the regime in Washington, anxious about the success of pro-government forces in central Syria against ISIS, hopes to curtail the efforts of the Damascus government in restoring the country’s sovereignty.

The new militant group – called Fursan Al-Sharqiyah – will be directly trained and supplied by the United States and placed under the operational command of one Colonel Mahmoud Al-Sofi.

The group’s strength in manpower and equipment is unknown and no professional estimates yet exist.

The group is intended to be militarily active in the Syrian regions of Badia Al-Sham and east Qalamoun. Most its fighters will be natives from the Deir Ez-zor Governante just as with the personnel make-up of the Jaish Asoud Al-Sharqiyah and Jaish Maghawir Al-Thorah FSA groups (which are also vetted by the U.S.).

It is worth noting that virtually all FSA fighters from the province of Deir Ez-zor were, prior to mid-2014, allied with the Jabhat al-Nusra Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist militant group. It was only after significant portions of al-Nusra in eastern Syria merged into ISIS that FSA fighters were expelled from the region.

Since then, the U.S. Department of State appears to have forgotten that these exiled Islamist militants from Deir Ez-zor once cooperated with jihadist terror factions.

The stated purpose of Fursan Al-Sharqiyah will be to reach the city of Deir Ez-zor and fight both ISIS and pro-government forces.

The creation of this new FSA group stands as yet another testament to Washington’s warped perception of the conflict in Syria whereby it believes that in order to defeat ISIS, forces aligned with the secular government in Damascus must also be destroyed.

Source*

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