Syrian government forces, backed by the armed group Hezbollah, say they now control large parts of the western city of al Qusayr. – AlJazeera English
9. Samir Kuntar: Druze member of the PLF in Lebanon who murdered an Israeli policeman, Eliyahu Shahar, 31 year-old Danny Haran, and Haran’s 4-year-old daughter, Einat Haran, whom he killed with blunt force against a rock and for indirectly causing the death of two-year-old Yael Haran by suffocation, as her mother tried to quiet her crying while hiding from Kuntar. In November 2008, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad presented Kuntar with Syria’s highest medal.
8. Mahmoud al-Zahar: Founding father of HAMAS and considered a hard line hawk, even by HAMAS’ standards
6. Ali Moussa al-Daduq: Senior Hezbollah advisor captured in Iraq while acting on Iran’s behalf and responsible for the killing of U.S. military personnel in southern Iraq.
3. Hamid Arabnejad: Managing-Director of Mahan Air, the Iranian regime’s airline tasked with ferrying weapons/explosives, IRGC-QF personnel, and mayhem all over the world.
1. Bashar al-Assad: How many lives could have been saved by rubbing out this man Christopher Hitchens once famously dubbed, “The human toothbrush”. Sic Semper Tyrannus.
Michael Ross was born in Canada and served as a soldier in a combat unit of the Israel Defence Forces prior to being recruited as a “combatant,” (a term designating a deep-cover operative tasked with working in hostile milieus) in Israel’s legendary secret intelligence service, the Mossad. In his 13 year career with the Mossad, Ross was also a case officer in Africa and South East Asia for three years, and was the Mossad’s counterterrorism liaison officer to the CIA and FBI for two-and-a-half years. Ross is a published writer and commentator on Near Eastern affairs, intelligence and terrorism. He is the author of The Volunteer: The Incredible True Story of an Israeli Spy on the Trail of International Terrorists. You can follow him on Twitter.
Beirut Spring rounds up the disgust. Here’s a sample:
I cannot believe we are cheering for an animal that is being freed from Israeli prisons …We are cheering for a man who killed a 4 year old baby after killing her father in front of her ..You tell me he was retaliating ?? By killing innocent children & civilians you retaliate ?? Or even worse, some people tell me 2 kills is ok compared to the atrocities Israel committed over the years. ..As if it makes any difference if you kill one or 20 !! Killing is killing & KILLING IS WRONG !! Shame on our people … shame shame shame !!
Shame is right.
Israeli forensic experts have begun trying to identify the remains of what are believed to be two captured Israeli soldiers, the Israel Defense Forces said.
Hezbollah officials handed over two black coffins to Red Cross officials, who will carry them over the border to Israel.
The families had hoped for the best:
A day before the transfer, Goldwasser’s father, Shlomo, held out hope about his son’s fate.
“They were kidnapped alive. [Hezbollah leader] Hassan Nassrallah swears on it the first day that he announced to the world he kidnapped two soldiers alive,” the father said. “If tomorrow he brings them in coffins, it means that he killed them — his words. It means that they killed them, and if he killed them, I am waiting for him to be punished.”
The Israeli’s released a monster in exchange:
Kuntar, who had been a member of the Palestine Liberation Front, led a group of four men who entered Israel from Lebanon by boat in 1979. They killed a police officer who came across them. Then they took a 28-year-old man and his 4-year-old daughter hostage.
Kuntar shot the father dead at close range in front of his daughter and tossed his body in the sea. Then he smashed the girl’s head, killing her.
A 2-year-old girl suffocated as her mother tried to stop her from crying as they hid from Kuntar.
And what do terrorists take away from such an exchange?
Islamic Hamas movement Wednesday said the prisoner swap between Israel and Hezbollah is a victory for the resistance and the Lebanese guerillas.
“This is very big victory for the resistance and for Hezbollah and it is a festival for the prisoners and their families,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.
“This is also a proof that kidnapping Zionist soldiers is the best way to free the prisoners since the occupation keeps arresting them,” Abu Zuhri added.
You can imagine how Kuntar and friends will be received:
Hezbollah has pitched tents with washing facilities near the border crossing in south Lebanon, where the five men are expected to change into commando attire like that which they wore on the day of their capture.
A red carpet leads from the crossing to a stage where Samir Kantar — a convicted murder serving multiple life sentences — and Khaled Zidan, Maher Kurani, Mohammed Sarur and Hussein Suleiman are set to make an appearence.
Five horses, their riders waving Hezbollah flags, made their way along the carpet in preparation for the moment when they will greet the prisoners in a military style procession.
Two hundred Hezbollah volunteers and supporters, dressed in black and wearing yellow caps reading “Divine Victory”, ushered crowds and ensured that the road was kept clear.
“Today Lebanon witnesses an unprecedented victory over Israel,” proclaimed the Ad-Diyar which backs the Hezbollah-led opposition. “Today the Lebanese prisoners return to their country with their heads held high.”
Hamas and Hezbollah now figure that if the Israelis will release a man like Kuntar anything is fair game. The advantage is clearly theirs:
Hamas said that the release of Kuntar, who was serving multiple life sentences, had broken Israel’s refusal to free prisoners serving long terms for deadly attacks, and that the group would redouble its efforts to release such prisoners in exchange for Shalit.
Tzahi Hanegbi, a member of Olmert’s Kadima party and head of the Israeli parliament’s foreign affairs and defense committee, said that in retrospect, the swap had undermined the rationale for launching the Lebanon war after the two soldiers were seized on July 12, 2006.
“In the end we gave what we could have given on the morning of July 13,” Hanegbi said. “Ultimately we are surrendering.”
It was an understandable moment of weakness but the consequences will be disastrous and far-reaching.
Once upon a time, Karl Marx assigned power to those who own the means of production. Today it’s safe to say that power is in the hands of those who either own the means of communication or otherwise manage to communicate their messages directly to their target publics. Governments and influential interest groups have always understood this, and so have terrorists. This point was once again driven home in the latest clash between the Lebanese government and its backers and Hezbollah, the terrorist organization that has actually grown into a mighty guerilla and de facto ruling force. While Hezbollah’s own al-Manar television and radio networks carried the threats and hard-line rhetoric of Hezbollah’s leader Sheik Nassan Nasrallah, the organization’s fighters silenced the Sunni majority party by taking its television station off the air and setting its newspaper offices on fire.
Brigitte is right. Governments have always understood this. However, few governments seem to translate that understanding into competent and timely action as successfully as your average terrorist:
To a large degree, though, the U.S. military cannot be blamed for being caught off-guard by their enemy’s sophistication in managing the way battles and campaigns are perceived. In the past two decades, insurgent, terrorist, and guerrilla groups in the Middle East have grown exponentially more sophisticated in the way they use the media available to them in order to affect the way battles are perceived. From the perspective of someone who studies military innovation, it is a remarkable achievement.
Huge advantages in this war, especially the propaganda component, will be secured by the nimble and those who understand that the channels of communication extend far beyond the old media. Our understanding of this has advanced significantly since 2003 but there are still gaps. And, again, understanding has to translate into change or it’s useless. Bureaucracy sucks the life out of anything that requires immediacy and forcefulness. It fears change and fights it at all costs. So even relatively simple concepts like these take root slowly because the roots of bureaucracy and stupidity are set stronger and much deeper:
I note that the US government because of ‘budgetary shortfalls’ is forced to fire analysts in Radio Free Europe/Free Liberty. Those receiving pink slips are apparently to include RFE/RL analysts Daniel Kimmage and Kathleen Ridolfo authors of important reports on Iraqi insurgent use of media The War of Images and Ideas and Al Qaeda’s use of the Internet The Virtual Network Behind the Global Message.
I really don’t get this administration. Actually I do get something: six years into the GWOT they still haven’t got a clue about the nature of the war they are in. It’s not just the ignorance which galls its the studied, committed blindness and warped priorities which they exhibit. RFE/RL’s annual budget is $79 million. By comparison that kind of money would buy you about one half of a single F-22–pilot and fuel not included.
It’s going to be a long war and we’re going to need every bit of it to complete the transformation required to fight and win.