IDF captures top terror leader, Israel braces for major response
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
Train service in the Ashkelon area and certain roads near the Gaza border were closed Tuesday morning as a precaution against possible retaliation from Gaza for the IDF’s capture Monday of a top Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist in Jenin.
IDF intelligence reported that the terror group’s leadership in the coastal enclave may order its forces to shell the transportation routes with anti-tank fire in response to the arrest of Basam al-Saadi, its chief of operations in Judea and Samaria.
Out of concern for civilian casualties, traffic was halted while army forces were put on high alert.
“The preventive measures were in place to prevent the group from bringing about a deterioration of the security along the border,” said one senior military source.
After news of the arrest broke, with the IDF announcement saying that al-Saadi had been slightly injured by an army dog, PIJ issued a threat “in response to the aggression against the senior commander Sheikh Bassam al-Saadi and his family.
“We warn Israel against harming the life of al-Saadi and are ready to respond to the aggression with force if it does not stop.”
A video posted online shows IDF troops chasing the 61-year-old terrorist down and across a street; he fell down at one point and seemingly protested before a soldier grabbed his arm.
The army also arrested al-Saadi’s son-in-law, who acted as his close aide, and handed them both over to the Shabak for interrogation.
Israel considers al-Saadi a top target. Military intelligence found him to be behind the significant buildup of PIJ forces within the Palestinian Authority over the past year. They also believe him to be the cause of the radicalization of many Palestinians against Israel, especially in Jenin, and responsible for sending out many of the group’s suicide terrorists over the years who have come from the city.
Al-Saadi had been arrested seven times in the past for his involvement in terror activities, which stretch back to the early 1990s. He was one of the 400 Palestinian terrorists banished to Lebanon in 1992, and then spent seven years in jail in the early 2000s with an extra stint in administrative detention.
According to a Ynet report, the last time he was arrested, in March 2021, he was apprehended in Jenin and then released the same day.
During Monday’s operation, which included Border Police, Nahal Brigade soldiers and IDF troops dressed as Palestinians, the forces encountered live fire from those trying to protect al-Saadi, who had barricaded himself inside a building.
Explosive devices were also thrown at the troops, who suffered no casualties as they fired back, killing one terrorist and injuring several others, according to a joint police and IDF statement.
The IDF has conducted dozens of arrest raids over the past several months in Jenin, considered one of the biggest hotbeds of terrorism in Judea and Samaria, with Palestinian Authority influence waning rapidly.
A few thousand terrorists have been captured overall during what has been dubbed “Operation Breaking the Wave” against Palestinian terrorists that began at the end of March after a series of attacks in several Israeli cities.
‘Hellish Ruin’: NY Will Get Nuked if Israel Attacks, Claims Iran
By Pesach Benson, United with Israel
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps vowed to develop nuclear weapons and turn New York into a “hellish ruin” if it is attacked by Israel or the U.S., reported Iran International, a London-based opposition web site.
The threat was issued in a video posted on two Telegram channels operated by the IRGC on Saturday.
The video was titled “When Will Iran’s Sleeping Nuclear Warheads Awaken” on the Bisimchi Media (Radioman Media) Telegram channel. On the Sepah-e Qods Telegram channel, the video was posted with the caption “Iran Prepared To Carry Out Top Secret EMAD Project: Building First Nuclear Warhead If Natanz Comes Under Attack.”
The Emad referred to by the IRGC is a ballistic missile said to have a range of 1,700 km (1,000 miles).
“Iran can immediately return to Emad project and build an atomic bomb if Natanz facilities are attacked,” the IRGC wrote.
A brief video said Tehran could quickly develop nuclear weapons “if the US or the Zionist regime make any stupid mistakes.” The video added that Iran’s ballistic missiles give the Islamic Republic the capability of “turning New York into hellish ruins,” insisting that the Fordow nuclear facility would survive any attack.
Tehran can rapidly move its “peaceful nuclear program to a nuclear weapons program,” the video declared.
Fordow is a uranium enrichment facility built underneath a mountain in northern Iran.
The Telegram post marks the second time in July that Iranian officials confirmed the existence of a nuclear weapons program. A top advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameinei recently claimed that Tehran is now capable of manufacturing a nuclear weapon.
Kamal Kharazi told Al Jazeera, “It is no secret that we have the technical capabilities to manufacture a nuclear bomb, but we have no decision to do so.”
Karazi, who heads Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, added, “In a few days, we were able to enrich uranium up to 60 percent, and we can easily produce 90% enriched uranium.”
Iran’s uranium stocks are at 60% purity — far higher than the 3.67% necessary for a civilian nuclear program. A nuclear weapon requires uranium enriched to 90% purity. It’s widely believed that Iran could finish enriching enough uranium to produce an atomic bomb in about four weeks.
No country maintaining a purely civilian nuclear program has ever enriched uranium to the degree that Iran has. Until July, Tehran insisted its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes.
US assassinates al-Qaeda leader, ‘one more measure of closure’
Al-Zawahri’s death eliminates the figure who more than anyone shaped al-Qaeda, first as bin Laden’s deputy since 1998, then as his successor.
By Associated Press
President Joe Biden announced Monday that al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul, an operation he said delivered justice and hopefully “one more measure of closure” to families of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
The president said in an evening address from the White House that U.S. intelligence officials tracked al-Zawahri to a home in downtown Kabul where he was hiding out with his family. The president approved the operation last week and it was carried out Sunday.
Al-Zawahri and the better-known Osama bin Laden plotted the 9/11 attacks that brought many ordinary Americans their first knowledge of al-Qaeda. Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, in operation carried out by U.S. Navy SEALs after a nearly decade-long hunt.
As for Al-Zawahri, Biden said, “He will never again, never again, allow Afghanistan to become a terrorist safe haven because he is gone and we’re going to make sure that nothing else happens.”
“This terrorist leader is no more,” he added.
The operation is a significant counterterrorism win for the Biden administration just 11 months after American troops left the country after a two-decade war.
The strike was carried out by the CIA, according to five people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Neither Biden nor the White House detailed the CIA’s involvement in the strike.
Biden, however, paid tribute to the U.S. intelligence community in his remarks, noting that “thanks to their extraordinary persistence and skill,” the operation was a success.
Al-Zawahri’s death eliminates the figure who more than anyone shaped al-Qaeda, first as bin Laden’s deputy since 1998, then as his successor. Together, he and bin Laden turned the jihadi movement’s guns to target the United States, carrying out the deadliest attack ever on American soil — the Sept. 11 suicide hijackings.
The house Al-Zawahri was in when he was killed was owned by a top aide to senior Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, according to a senior intelligence official. The official also added that a CIA ground team and aerial reconnaissance conducted after the drone strike confirmed al-Zawahri’s death.
A senior administration official who briefed reporters on the operation on condition of anonymity said “zero” U.S. personnel were in Kabul.
Over the 20-year war in Afghanistan, the U.S. targeted and splintered al-Qaeda, sending leaders into hiding. But America’s exit from Afghanistan last September gave the extremist group the opportunity to rebuild.
U.S. military officials, including Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have said al-Qaeda was trying to reconstitute in Afghanistan, where it faced limited threats from the now-ruling Taliban. Military leaders have warned that the group still aspired to attack the U.S.
After his killing, the White House underscored that al-Zawahri had continued to be a dangerous figure. The senior administration official said al-Zawahri had continued to “provide strategic direction,” including urging attacks on the U.S., while in hiding. He had also prioritized to members of the terror network that the United States remained al-Qaeda’s “primary enemy,” the official said.
The 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon made bin Laden America’s Enemy No. 1. But he likely could never have carried it out without his deputy. Bin Laden provided al-Qaeda with charisma and money, but al-Zawahri brought tactics and organizational skills needed to forge militants into a network of cells in countries around the world.
U.S. intelligence officials have been aware for years of a network helping al-Zawahri dodge U.S. intelligence officials hunting for him but didn’t have a hint on his possible location until recent months.
Earlier this year, U.S. officials learned that the terror leader’s wife, daughter and her children had relocated to a safe house in Kabul, according to the senior administration official who briefed reporters.
Officials eventually learned al-Zawahri was also at the Kabul safe house.
The planned operation
In early April, White House deputy national security adviser Jon Finer and Biden’s homeland security adviser Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall were briefed on this developing intelligence. Soon the intelligence was carried up to national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
Sullivan brought the information to Biden as U.S. intelligence officials built “a pattern of life through multiple independent sources of information to inform the operation,” the official said.
Senior Taliban figures were aware of al-Zawahri’s presence in Kabul, according to the official, who added the Taliban government was given no forewarning of the operation.
Inside the Biden administration, only a small group of officials at key agencies, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris, were brought into the process. Through May and June, Biden was updated several times on the growing mound of intelligence that confirmed al-Zawahri was hiding out in the home. Over the last few weeks, Biden brought together several Cabinet officials and key national security officials to scrutinize the intelligence findings.
On July 1, Biden was briefed in the Situation Room about the planned operation, a briefing in which the president closely examined a scale model of the home Zawahri was hiding out in. He gave his final approval for the operation on Thursday. Al-Zawahri was on the balcony of his hideout on Sunday when two Hellfire missiles were launched from an unmanned drone, killing him.
Al-Zawahri’s family was in another part of the house when the operation was carried out, and no one else was believed to have been killed in the operation, the official said.
“We make it clear again tonight: That no matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out,” Biden said.
Al-Zawahri was hardly a household name like bin Laden, but he played an enormous role in the terror group’s operations.
The two terror leaders’ bond was forged in the late 1980s, when al-Zawahri reportedly treated the Saudi millionaire bin Laden in the caves of Afghanistan as Soviet bombardment shook the mountains around them.
Al-Zawahri, on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist list, had a $25 million bounty on his head for any information that could be used to kill or capture him.
Al-Zawhiri and bin Laden plotted the 9/11 attacks that brought many ordinary Americans their first knowledge of al-Qaeda.
NINJA ROCKET: Did Sword-Armed Missile Kill Anti-Israel Al-Qaeda Boss?
Why It’s Time for Defense Secretary Austin to Resign
The compounded failures of a progressive ideologue.
The consequence of the Department of Defense COVID vaccine mandate? A self-inflicted national security threat to readiness, recruitment, retention and ultimately to the all-volunteer force. Secretary of Defense Loyd Austin made a foolish decision to throw away battle tested, combat proven service members with years of priceless war fighting experience and leadership who were an incredible asset to the fighting force. This deliberate decision has caused irreversible damage to the military and the force’s ability to accomplish the mission.
Austin should resign for his failures to maintain necessary force end strength, the worst recruitment crisis since the Vietnam war, for playing politics with soldiers’ careers over the COVID vaccine mandate, and the botched Afghanistan withdrawal. His failure to intervene early in order to tackle these issues prior to becoming full-fledged crises has significantly degraded the military’s capabilities, readiness and national security.
But Austin’s failures started long before COVID.
During the Obama administration, Secretary Austin was the CENTCOM commander, in charge of the fight against ISIS in Iraq when the nation quickly fell to the terrorist group. He was tactically and operationally in charge of the area where ISIS captured hundreds of U.S. military tanks, vehicles and other equipment and paraded them around for the world to see. In 2015, Austin testified to congress that a $500 million U.S. military program had only trained “4 or 5” Syrian rebels to fight ISIS. And for those who served under his leadership in CENTCOMs area of operation, his reputation for indecisiveness was an open secret.
Not only that, Secretary Austin was the top Pentagon official in charge of the 2021 Afghanistan withdrawal that was not only an epic failure that exposed many of our weaknesses to our adversaries, but got 13 service members killed. Additionally, in a rushed and retaliatory drone strike, 10 innocent civilians were killed, many of whom were children. For some time the Pentagon maintained the strike was “righteous.” To this day no one has been held accountable for this failure of epic proportions.
In August 2021, Austin announced the COVID vaccine mandate for the military “to preserve readiness” of the force. To the contrary, the COVID vaccine mandate has done more to damage the readiness of the force than service members contracting COVID has. Thousands of very capable active duty service members, many with combat experience, were forced out. With little notice, they had to leave behind medical benefits, education benefits, pensions and careers they had worked for years to establish.
Today, about 40,000 National Guard members are not vaccinated. About 22,000 Reserve members are not vaccinated. That is over 60,000 troops who the federal government counts on for national emergencies, national disasters like fires and hurricane response, as well as to backfill the active duty force during a time of war – all who will likely be kicked out of the service due to Austin’s vaccine mandate. Many have already lost pay and benefits and priceless federal military training required for readiness. Losing that many service members is a catastrophic blow to the military and its capabilities. In turn, the vaccine mandate has contributed to the recruitment crisis we are witnessing today. The mandate, in conjunction with woke policies and post 9/11 strategic and operational failures are why young Americans who are eligible to serve are saying “no thank you.”
On Tuesday, Congressman Mike Waltz (R-FL) along with 49 other representatives, sent a letter to the Pentagon requesting its leadership reconsider the COVID vaccine mandate that is having such a disastrous consequence on our fighting force.
“As a matter of national security, the capabilities and readiness of the fighting force, and respect for the personal rights of our men and women in uniform, we ask that you reconsider the Department’s COVID vaccine mandate…”
This is a step to mitigate one of the issues, but it is merely treating one of the symptoms of the Austin problem. Secretary of Defense Loyd Austin could end this today. But he hasn’t — and based on this track record, he won’t. It’s time for Congress to come to this realization and demand Austin’s resignation.
With over two years left in the Biden administration, there is still plenty of damage to be done. Our military institution is still salvageable, but not with Secretary Austin in the lead. A single resignation isn’t a magical fix, but it will allow someone else to tackle many of the issues Austin proved he could not.
Amber Smith is a former Pentagon official and U.S. Army Kiowa Warrior helicopter pilot and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. She is the author of ‘Danger Close’.