Friday, December 09, 2016

09-Dec-16: Espionage and indignation

The on-line version of the
Le Monde revelations [Source]
We're not proposing any value judgements here. Simply alerting readers to things they might keep in mind the next time a spokesperson for one of the world's major powers expresses official public indignation at some alleged deed or ommission of Israel's government.
The UK’s intelligence agency GCHQ carried out surveillance on the Israeli military, defence firms and diplomatic missions, French newspaper Le Monde has reported, based on leaked documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden.
“The Israelis constitute a true threat to regional security, in particular because of the position of this country with respect to the Iranian dossier," a top secret file from Britain's intelligence-gathering unit reportedly read, despite the UK's professed support for Israel and the closeness between the two countries...  Among those spied on were an unnamed person described as the “second-highest ranking official in the Israeli foreign ministry”, the Israeli ambassadors to Nigeria and Kenya, and a fibre optics firm called Ophir Optronics which has contracts with the Israel Defence Forces, and the research departments at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Racah Institute of Physics... ["Britain called Israel a ‘threat to the Middle East’, leak shows", The Independent UK, December 8, 2016]
And this
Previous reports by the Wall Street Journal and German magazine Der Spiegel have already revealed how US spies monitored the communications of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his predecessor Ehud Olmert. These new revelations show how Israel’s closest political allies – Britain and the United States – are clearly keeping tabs on all areas of Israeli politics, including government departments, civil servants, and diplomats. Le Monde also names defense company Ophir Optronics and research centers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as institutions that have been hacked by GCHQ. Ophir Optronics is known for developing, manufacturing, and dealing in infrared optics and laser measurement equipment – pivotal elements in modern armaments. It is believed that GCHQ and the NSA have collected 18 years’ worth of drone transmissions between Israeli army drones, fighter jets, and army bases. The operations of the Israel Defence Force (IDF) in the Gaza Strip were also carefully monitored, amid suspicions that Israel might carry out a strike on Iran. ["British spies monitor Israeli diplomats, with help from US and Jordan – Snowden docs reveal", RT (formerly called Russia Today), December 7, 2016]
Spy vs Spy
(See this link for more background about the nearly two decades of British and US espionage activity  - code-named "Anarchist" - directed at Israeli drone operations and reportedly done from a Royal Air Force facility in the Troodos Mountains, near Mount Olympus, the highest point in Cyprus.)

When we mention "public indignation", readers might want to think back to instances like these:
And this: "Next Time Someone Gets Indignant about Israeli Spying on the United States" [Daniel Pipes website, June 5, 2005]

Thursday, December 08, 2016

08-Dec-16: At Tapuah Junction, yet another young man and a knife... and a familiar outcome

This cartoon appeared recently in the Palestinian
Arab media after yet another knifing attack on Israelis.
The Arabic text reads: "Good morning Palestine"
[Image Source]  
The attractions of Tapuah Junction to the stabbers and shooters of Palestinian Arab society proved irresistable this morning yet again to another would-be 'resistance hero'.

Just before 9 this morning (Thursday), a Palestinian Arab attacker was thwarted attempting to launch a stabbing attack at the frequent scene of stabbing and shooting attempts in Israel's Samaria district. The outcome this time? He
was shot and killed by troops, police said. No Israelis were hurt in the attempted stabbing attack at a bus stop at the Tapuah Junction in the northern West Bank. Police spokesperson Luba Samri said the assailant, an 18-year-old resident of the West Bank city of Qalqilya, alighted a bus at the junction and began moving toward border guards there. After ignoring orders to stop, the man “continued to move toward them and at a certain point even pulled a knife out and attacked them,” Samri said in a statement. He was shot and killed. Security forces are regularly stationed at and near the junction, which has been a flashpoint of violence over the past year. Photos from the scene of the attack showed the assailant lying lifeless on a sidewalk as a soldier stood watch nearby... ["Palestinian pulls knife on troops in West Bank, shot and killed", Times of Israel, December 8, 2016]
The Palestinian Arab media allegedly have their allegedly standard way of reporting such attacks, as Ma'an News Agency demonstrates today:
A Palestinian youth was killed by Israeli border police force... after he allegedly attempted to carry out a stabbing attack... Locals identified the slain Palestinian as Jihad Hussein Harb, 19, from Qalqiliya... While Israel alleges many of those were attempting to attack Israelis when they were shot, Palestinians and rights groups have disputed Israel's version of events in a number of cases... ["Palestinian youth killed by Israeli forces after alleged attempted stabbing near Nablus", Ma'an, December 8, 2016]
Ma'an's Arabic edition (but not the English language version), in its news ticker - the story doesn't yet have its own page - calls the thwarted killer a "martyr"
شهيد برصاص الاحتلال عند مفرق زعترة جنوب نابلس بزعم محاولة الطعن
His portrait is already all over the Arabic social media (here for instance) as are photos of his dead body at the bus shelter (here for instance). Martyrdom posters and a celebratory funeral and mourning wake are surely not far behind.

The weaponization of their youth and children continue to be a core value of Palestinian Arab culture and society, with the formal and very public backing of its political echelon starting with its president and continuing all the way down to its schools and mosques.

The possibility of acheving peace in circumstances like these? Absolutely none.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

07-Dec-16: The alleged failures at World Vision and a toxic ideological background

World Vision's Middle East involvement goes
beyond mere "humanitarianism" and includes
"advocacy" with such far-left Israel-based partners
as "Breaking the Silence" and B'tselem.
Note that the word "terror" appears nowhere in its
brochure [check here]
The terrorism-centered scandal at the multi-billion dollar global Christian charity World Vision ["06-Dec-16: World Vision and terrorism: Hazy accounting is the last thing this scandal needs"] has brought some even larger issues out of the dark.

First, what are the charges against World Vision's chief manager in Gaza, El-Halabi? NPR says they are about the charity's funds being "diverted" to these ends:
Money raised to support injured children in Gaza was diverted to the families of Hamas militants who claimed their children were wounded. Money was paid as salaries to Hamas militants who were falsely registered as World Vision employees. Costs for legitimate projects such as greenhouses were inflated, with the extra money going to Hamas. Fake charities that were actually Hamas fronts received World Vision donations. And entire lists of aid beneficiaries were fictitious, so instead of giving money to needy farmers, the money was handed out to Hamas members. Hamas spokesman Hazem Qasim told NPR that the allegations were made by "an enemy entity that has no credibility at all to us," and that "Israel is trying to make fake media wins." Pressed on whether Halaby was a member of Hamas, Qasim declined to comment... ["Israel Accuses World Vision Employee Of Embezzling Millions For Hamas", NPR, August 5, 2016]
A wide-ranging article seeking to put the current allegations, now under scrutiny in an Israeli criminal court, into a broader context has just been published today. In "World Vision’s Decades-Long Hate Campaign Against Israel" that appears online and in the December 2016 issue of The Tower Magazine, Luke Moon, deputy director at the Philos Project ("the network hub for leaders and future leaders who are committed to promoting positive Christian engagement in the Middle East") provides some background we have not seen elsewhere.

He refers to the criminal charges we mentioned yesterday and to the charity's problematic reaction:
World Vision has responded by questioning the charges, claiming that the entire budget for Gaza over the last ten years is just $22.5 million. They also claim to be impartial and neutral on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, rejecting any involvement in political activities. While this claim may be true in other conflict zones where World Vision operates, it is not true in regard to Israel. Not only does World Vision have a long history of antagonism toward the Jewish state, it has done more to undermine Christian support for Israel than any other organization... [The Tower, December 2016]
How much should that worry us? A lot, we think, because
World Vision is the largest and most respected Christian humanitarian organization in the world. In homes and churches across the U.S., it is widely known for assisting children and families in need... [The Tower, December 2016]
Moon traces the changes in this important charity's orientation to the entry of a handful of named individuals. One of them, Tom Getman, became director of World Vision's Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza (JWBG) operation in 1997.
World Vision advocates for the
Palestinian Arab argument on the
security barrier issue [Image Source]
Under his leadership, World Vision’s work in the Holy Land became increasingly anti-Israel. It was not uncommon for Getman to travel the world promoting World Vision, as well as the work of Sabeel, one of the most aggressive anti-Israel and anti-Zionist Palestinian Christian organization in the region. Sabeel promotes “Palestinian liberation theology,” which tends to justify Palestinian nationalism as a theological construct by regularly using themes from the New Testament to demonize Israel and Christians that support Israel... Under Getman’s leadership, World Vision also began to drift away from its evangelical roots, even as it began accepting more and more money from the U.S. government and expanded into a global organization... [The Tower, December 2016]
Moon goes on to make the case that World Vision's alleged failure to identify the lethal corruption (our term, not his) in their Gaza office
stems from three sources: Willingness to overlook terrorist atrocities, institutional antagonism toward Israel, and hostility towards Christian Zionism... [Senior management] never seemed to be overly bothered by Palestinian terrorist organizations’ role in the conflict with Israel. Mooneyham’s willingness to compare Israeli soldiers with Nazis, Getman’s friendship with Hezbollah leaders, and Snary’s repetition of Hamas talking points shows the depth of World Vision’s institutional distaste for Israel and the absence of critical voices within its leadership... [The Tower, December 2016]
Those, naturally, are not the factors that an Israeli criminal tribunal is going to examine. But they surely ought to be on the minds of charity-minded people - and certain NGOs and governments and their foreign aid programs (like the UN's World Food Programme, the UK's DFID, the EU, Australia's AusAID, the United States' USAID, Canada's CIDA and the German Humanitarian Assistance office) - before they entrust further donation funds to World Vision's Gaza program.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

06-Dec-16: World Vision and terrorism: Hazy accounting is the last thing this scandal needs

The man in charge of World Vision's Gaza operations inside an
Israeli criminal court [Image Source]
The trial of a top-level World Vision manager got underway in an Israeli criminal court in Beer Sheva a few days ago. Fresh revelations disclosed today in an Australian newspaper (and below) suggest the credibility of the global Christian charity is going to be as much on trial as the man himself.

Mohammad El Halabi, who held a leadership role in World Vision's Gaza office, is charged with
funnelling tens of millions of dollars to Hamas... [He's] alleged to have led a double life as a senior figure in the Islamist organisation and used his position “to divert the humanitarian organisation’s funds and resources from the needy to benefit of Hamas’s terrorist and military activities”. According to the allegations from Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security agency, the money given by British donors was used to build a military base, dig military tunnels and pay salaries in Hamas’s military wing. Other donations were allegedly transferred to buy weapons for Hamas in the Sinai during the period that Mohamed Morsi was president of Egypt. The announcement of Halabi’s arrest followed a raid on World Vision’s office [in August 2016]... [H]e was indicted on a number of charges, including funding terrorism. ["Israel accuses World Vision's Gaza director of diverting cash to Hamas", The Guardian, August 4, 2016]
It amounts to an appalling set of suspicions: Christian charity in service of the murder and maiming of Jews? We pulled together a lot of the background to this deeply worrying scandal in an earlier post: "14-Aug-16: Who actually cares that foreign aid is diverted from needy Gazans to terror? Not who most people think".

Today, an investigative journalist at The Australian, Anthony Klan, drills down into some of the evidence, and in particular the unusual accounting deployed by World Vision's record keepers:
World Vision’s Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza charity operations — of which Australians are among the biggest funders — have spent millions of dollars on programs such as “keeping children safe ­online” and “home gardens”, ­internal accounts show.
World Vision is under scrutiny following allegations by Israeli authorities that its Gaza head, ­Mohammad El Halabi, funnelled $US43 million to Hamas, a proscribed terror group since 2010. The sum was about 60 per cent of World Vision funding to Gaza.
Investigations by The Australian show the poor transparency of World Vision’s operations in the region, with the agency ­appearing to publish no breakdowns of where or how funds are spent. For the year to September 2015, World Vision Australia reported $4.786m “disbursed” to “Jerusalem/West Bank/Gaza” without any further information.
The Australian has now ­obtained, through the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, a document filed by World Vision Israel with a local charity regulator, containing curious entries for expenditures, including “drawing a smile on children” and “South Gaza transformed families”.
The document sheds light on World Vision’s otherwise secretive disbursements in the region. ­Israel’s Registrar of Non-Profits wrangled with World Vision for ­almost two years to obtain it. Only in recent months — after the Israeli regulator on June 26 threatened World Vision Israel with “dissolution” — was the document provided.
World Vision Australia has been unable to provide The Australian with breakdowns of spending in the region. But the 56-page World Vision Israel document filed with the Israeli Register of Non-Profits shows cash flows ­associated with the group. The document is not properly labelled, but appears to be a banking or cashflow statement from December 2012. Entries include “more enjoyable learning” alongside the figure 196,138.14, understood to be Israeli shekels, each worth 35c, amounting to $68,648.
Other entries include “transformed relationships”, 416,871 ($145,905); “drawing a smile on children”, 104,926 ($36,724); ­“special gifts reserve”, 495,352 ($173,387); “South Gaza empowered children”, 408,443 ($142,955); and “South Gaza transformed families”, 106,327 ($37,214). Citing the ongoing trial of Mr Halabi, a World Vision spokeswoman declined to comment on the accounts, other than to say they would be subject to a wider audit the group had commissioned. Mr Halabi’s trial began last week in an Israeli court, however no pleas were entered and it has been adjourned until January 12... ["World Vision hazy on how it spent Gaza cash", The Australian, December 6, 2016"]
Four months ago when the explosive charges emerged, there was a flurry of World Vision activity via the media plainly aimed at blunting the Israeli claims and pooh-poohing the credibility of the Shin Bet. This for instance from an Amira Hass piece in Haaretz:
The indictment against Halabi describes a sophisticated, far-sighted scheme involving the planting of a person within the organization, with the aim of misappropriating funds and materials, and passing them on to the military wing of Hamas. To accomplish this, Halabi would have had to overcome World Vision's meticulous and centralized system of allocating money and equipment, contracting suppliers and the regular oversight of accountants. He also would have had to evade the main office of his organization, in East Jerusalem. Workers at other aid organizations are familiar with this well-organized system, and therefore they have cast doubt on the Shin Bet's statements... ["Israel's Allegations Against World Vision: Credible Charges or Political Ploy?", Haaretz, August 9, 2016]
We don't claim to know more than Hass or the editors at Haaretz, and we certainly know less than what World Vision's management team know. But if the filing at the Registrar of Not-for-Profits in Jerusalem is to be believed, a charity that allocates large outlays to such expese categories as “Drawing a smile on children” and “Special gifts reserve” and then claims to be meticulous and well-organized has some serious credibility issues.

And perhaps also some major shortcomings when it comes to the responsibility, maturity and probity required when you run a global enterprise that raises many hundreds of millions of dollars annually from trusting donors and you keep telling them this is going to help do good in the world.

They want El Halabi free again: Protestors outside
 UNESCO headquarters in Gaza City, October 16, 2016
[Image Source: APA]
The trial has some way to go. But it's notable that several major donor states have frozen further payments into World Vision's Gaza activities pending resolution. They are Great Britain, Australia, Austria and Germany (according to DeutschlandFunk, November 30, 2016). The effect on World Vision's work in field must be devastating [see "World Vision fires 120 in Gaza as Israel freezes funds over Hamas accusations", Times of Israel, September 9, 2016].

But then there's the matter of just how surprised World Vision's serious and responsible management must have been when the scandal broke. The same investigative reporter at The Australian noted a week ago that
Allegations that World Vision Gaza head Mohammad El ­Halabi funnelled millions of dollars to the Hamas terror group were raised with the charity last year but dismissed after an internal investigation... World Vision has described the allegations against Mr Hal­abi as “very explosive” but said it has “no reason” to believe the claims were accurate...  The case is particularly relevant locally because, as ­revealed by The Australian yesterday, the Australian government has been the single biggest donor to World Vision’s operations in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza since Mr Halabi became the charity’s Gaza head... ["World Vision charity dismissed Hamas funds link", The Australian, November 29, 2016]
According to a feisty unfriendly-to-Israel report in Foreign Policy ["Israel Declares War on Gaza’s NGOs", September 20, 2016]
World Vision had already investigated Halabi in 2015, after one of its accountants, who had recently been fired, accused him of stealing money and working with Hamas. The charity brought in an outside investigator to review its books; the audit turned up nothing suspicious.
An audit that turned up nothing suspicious? In a failed-state place like Gaza? With millions of free-floating dollars involved? Alright, everyone has to be treated as innocent until proven otherwise. But given the life-and-death nature of what this scandal is really about, shouldn't some sharp questions be asked in the wake of a finding like that? NGO Monitor, whose work we think is exemplary, thought so, and does that sort of drilling down well. They asked -
Which World Vision framework led the investigation [the one mentioned by both Foreign Policy and The Australian] and to which bodies or departments did the investigator report? Did investigators contact Israeli authorities concerning these allegations, or request assistance in the investigation? [NGO Monitor]
Naturally, NGO Monitor raises numerous additional concerns ["Questions for World Vision", NGO Monitor, November 01, 2016] and articulates them soberly and without melodrama. We wish World Vision had addressed them, but so far, no. Notably, some pertain to World Vision's accounting practices and diligence. Others touch on the only-too-obvious political and ideological agenda that appears to underpin World Vision's often-valuable work in this part of the world.

Friends in Australia tell us there is a real desire by the Jewish community specifically, and Australians in general, to see the dark cloud removed from over World Vision's head and for irresponsible allegations to be avoided. We can understand them and bear in mind there are certainly places and times where World Vision does valuable work.

But there's another way of viewing this, and that is that a charity of World Vision's scale ["active in more than 90 countries with a total revenue including grants, product and foreign donations of $2.79 billion", according to Wikipedia] ought to have been doing somersaults in the air to avoid even the slightest taint of scandal, let alone permit itself to be accusedm as it now is, of failing to prevent tens of millions of dollars from being siphoned out of its operations and applied to funding jihadist terror warfare against innocents.

Failures of management, if that's what has happened here, don't come more expensive than that.

Friday, December 02, 2016

02-Dec-16: Kenya, seeking Iranian oil and gas, learns again that it's getting a very different Iranian export

Kenya and Iran have been trying for some time
to identify what they have in common when it
comes to terrorism [Image Source]
Iran and terrorism are linked in the news again today. This time it's about a thwarted terror attack on Israelis in East Africa. And if that sounds vaguely familiar, it's because it should. Kenyan anti-terror police
detained two Iranian men using forged Israeli passports to enter the East African country, on suspicion that they may have been involved in a plan to carry out an attack there...
That was two years ago. We looked at the surrounding circumstances in a post at the time ["20-Sep-14: Iran is not commenting but Kenya may have just thwarted another Iranian terror attack"]

Here's what happened yesterday:
A Kenyan prosecutor has charged two Iranian men with collecting information to carry out a terrorist attack after they were allegedly found with video footage of the Israeli embassy. State Prosecutor Duncan Ondimu said in court on Thursday that Sayed Nasrollah Ebrahim and Abdolhosein Gholi Safaee were arrested Tuesday in an Iranian diplomatic car while taking the pictures of the Israeli mission using a mobile phone, including when they were intercepted. They were detained in the capital, Nairobi after they had come from visiting Kamiti Prison where they saw two other Iranians who have been jailed for 15 years on terrorism charges... A Kenyan driver, Moses Keyah Mmboga, who was chauffeuring the vehicle belonging to the Iranian embassy has been charged along with the suspects and also faces a separate charge of “abetting terrorism,” Ondimu said. [Times of Israel, today]
There was more trouble of a similar nature even earlier than two years ago. See another of our earlier blog posts: "3-May-13: Kenya discovers it is hosting a "vast network" of terrorists; convicts two Iranians and hopes for the best". 

In June 2013 a Kenyan court convicted two Iranian nationals of plotting attacks against Western targets in Kenya and sentenced them to life in prison (reduced on appeal to 15 years imprisonment). Ahmad Abolfathi Mohammad and Sayed Mansour Mousavi had been arrested in June 2012 and led officials to a massive stash of explosives. Kenyan anti-terror officials said at the time that the Iranians were members of the notorious Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Iran's English-language media kept silent about the 2012 arrests of Iranian terror suspects, about the 2013 convictions of Iranian terrorists and, as far as we can tell, about the thwarted 2014 Iranian terror attack. Truly, we can understand that.

We searched the English-language edition of the Iranian regime's FARS news site just now, and didn't see any mention of what has just happened in Nairobi. Searching there for "Kenya" produces nothing about IRGC people plotting to kill Israelis or Kenyans. We understand that too.

But strikingly there is this from two years ago:
Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani and his Kenyan counterpart Justin Bedan Njoka Muturi [met] in Tehran on Saturday [and] conferred on mutual cooperation in the fight against terrorism. "A part of our negotiations with the Kenyan speaker was focused on the terrorism crises which are seen in our region and East Africa as Kenya is in the fight against some terrorist groups," Larijani told reporters today in a press conference after meeting with Muturi. "Our views about war on terrorism are close and the two countries have identical determination to this end and we hope to expand our mutual cooperation in campaign against terrorism," he added. Muturi, for his part, underlined the need for activation of parliamentary friendship groups between Iran and Kenya, and said, "During my talks with Mr. Larijani, we underscored strengthening friendly ties and improvement of economic and cultural relations..."
In February 2015, Kenyan Foreign Minister Amina Chawahir Mohammed said that expansion of all-out relations with Iran stands atop her country's foreign policy agenda. "Nairobi is particularly interested in expansion of cooperation with Iran in oil and gas fields," the Kenyan foreign minister said in a joint press conference with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif in Nairobi. ["Iran, Kenya Discuss Anti-Terrorism Cooperation", FARS, September 24, 2016]
Not to sound rude, but how well do the Kenyan authorities understand what it means to pursue counter-terror co-operation with the Islamic Republic of Iran?

We have had our doubts in the past (see "24-Jul-15: Terror here? 'Ridiculous' say Kenyans, deploying their largest ever security blanket" and "16-May-14: More jihadist killings in East Africa today" and "27-Sep-13: Freeing terrorists and the Nairobi massacre"). If the US State Department doesn't return their calls (and the State Department knows a lot about Iranian terror even if they don't always own up to it), the Kenyans could go searching on the web.

A good starting point might be "Iran and state-sponsored terrorism" from Wikipedia.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

30-Nov-16: An Islamist mole inside Germany's homeland security office?

A BfV security person [Image Source]
Less than two weeks ago, we wrote here ["21-Nov-16: German experts "discover" that Islamist terrorists are "being trained" to come into Europe as asylum seekers"] about some serious terrorism-related matters that had just been uncovered in Germany.

In addition to being Europe's strongest economy, Germany has the additional distinctions of (a) being home to what has just become Europe's largest community of Muslims and (b) having admitted a seven-digit number of immigrants in the past year under a remarkably flexible and generous asylum-seeker program,

The problems that have followed are life-impacting in a variety of serious ways.

We ran down a list of deeply worrying developments in the context of Germany's embrace of a huge influx of largely undocumented migrants in a single year and expressed our concern that German officialdom seemed to be unsure of what it ought to be doing:
Forgive us, but given the scale of the threat and the indications that serious-minded malevolents with Islamist doctrine as their guide have targeted their towns and public places, these German voices strike us as being sadly indecisive. For their sakes, we hope we're wrong.
German Salafist Islamists at a spiritual gathering [Image Source]
And for the sake of those who place their faith in the German government's security apparatuses, we hope what has just been uncovered - see the next paragraph - is quickly addressed by decisive and effective action.

This ["Germany Arrests Suspected Islamist Mole in Spy Agency"] comes from today's Wall Street Journal:
A suspected Islamist mole in Germany’s domestic intelligence service has been detained, officials said Wednesday, sparking criticism of an agency that has been on high alert following a string of attacks and foiled plots this year. Prosecutors in Düsseldorf said they had arrested a 51-year-old German national and recent Islam convert on suspicion of preparing an attack on the agency’s headquarters in Cologne and attempting to violate professional secrecy. Officials said the man had offered to help other Islamists launch an attack, but there was no proof he had started work on a plot...
The suspect was intercepted sharing agency secrets in an online chat and offering “fellow believers” access to its headquarters for an attack, the prosecutor’s office said. His chat partner was in fact an undercover agent. The suspect said he was “ready for anything to help his brothers” and that an attack against “infidels” was “in the interest of Allah,” according to the prosecutor’s office. The office said the man had confessed to infiltrating the agency to warn “fellow believers” about investigations into them.
But an AFP report [here] suggests the suspicions are actually more concrete than that: the suspect
is believed to have been planning a bombing at the BfV headquarters in the western city of Cologne, according to the German press [though] there was no immediate suggestion he had any ties to ISIS.
And in Der Spiegel, it's said that the arrested intelligence man "made a "partial confession" to the plot".

(BfV stands for Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, the domestic intelligence service of the Federal Republic of Germany. In English, the name translates ambitiously to "Office for the Protection of the Constitution".)

Germans watched in horror during this past summer as ISIS claimed several mass-terror attacks carried out by so-called asylum-seekers:
The Wall Street Journal report says these attacks
most of them by recently arrived refugees, showed the country was a prime terror target. The arrival of well over a million refugees, mainly from the Middle East, since the beginning of last year has stretched the agencies’ already limited surveillance capacity. The domestic intelligence agency started a recruiting drive recently to try to keep up. The suspect was hired in April 2016 after a change of career and was part of a team observing followers of the fundamentalist Salafi branch of Islam. The number of Salafists in Germany has tripled since 2012.
Putting "tripled" into a concrete perspective, the BfV believes Germany has about 40,000 Islamists today, among them some 9,200 Salafists (ultra-conservative Islamists).

A BfV spokesman says the suspect
hadn’t behaved suspiciously during his recruitment, his training or his work
and even though he
was thought to have pledged allegiance to Mohamed Mahmoud, the Austrian leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorist group [Telegraph UK, November 29, 2016]
the man's wife and family
reportedly knew nothing of his conversion to Islam two years ago and subsequent radicalisation. [Telegraph]
That last line might be the most incredible thing about this newest European encounter with lethal jihad. And in certain ways, the most alarming.

30-Nov-16: What do the Palestinian Arabs *not* want?

Palestinian Authority boss among friends yesterday
in Ramallah [Image Source]
If you saw our earlier post of the day ["30-Nov-16: Remind us again just how central the conflict with Israel is to the Arab world"], you will be aware that not only did the largest and controlling faction of the Palestinian Authority - Fatah - just re-elect Mahmoud Abbas to be its leader in its first general assembly in more than seven years. But its 1,400 delegates did so unanimously.

(A Guardian piece from 2015 on extremely one-sided election results makes for some good background reading, and suggests names of politicians who might be green with envy at Abbas' attainment.)

Oh, as the New York Times report that we quoted points out, and in a hall into which journalists were not admitted. For several reasons, that's a shame (and "shame" is just what we mean). Among them is the fact that Abbas's advisor for Strategic Affairs said in the Jerusalem Post ten days ago that "the upcoming congress will be a turning point for Palestinian politics". In the Palestinian Arab context, a turning point might be very welcome. And certainly worth reading about if reporters knew what they were.

But turning point or not, it's worth considering whether re-electing the feckless, reckless, terrorism-friendly "moderate" Abbas to be its leader is something that reflects popular Palestinian Arab will. 

The answer is clearly no

We refer often in this blog to Palestinian Arab public opinion as measured by Palestinian Arab public opinion polls. (They're very likely the only polls worth studying in this context.) In our most recent post on polls ["18-Oct-16: What do the Palestinian Arabs think and feel now?"] we provided evidence that, in terms of the latest Palestinian Arab opinion poll numbers:
two thirds demand Abbas resignation, Fatah has not gained any additional support during the last three months, and a majority of Palestinians believes that the PA has become a burden on the Palestinian people... Level of satisfaction with the performance of president Abbas stands at 34%...
And to this:
Dissatisfaction is related to the sense that Palestinian Arabs live lives mired in official corruption: 80% of them say they believe the PA's institutions are corrupt. The signs are they are astute enough to understand that press freedom is not going to make things better. Only 17% say there is press freedom in the West Bank. In the Gaza Strip, belief in freedom of the local press stands at 16%.
Aljazeera, November 26, 2016 [Source]
Bottom line: the Palestinian Arabs have just gotten precisely what they overwhelmingly don't want: more Abbas kleptocracy, corruption, nepotism, suppression, missed opportunities, stagnation.

Israel's hand in this? None.

The prospects of an Abbas-led regime bringing us all closer to peace? Roughly the same.

The one positive thing to come from this mess? That true to their core values as an honor/shame society and in the words of last week's Aljazeera news report [here], "Fatah will give Abbas an honourable exit".

And what, other than saving innocent lives on all sides, bringing an end to the weaponization of Palestinian Arab children and ending the reign of a massively corrupt, geriatric and manipulative regime, could be more important than that?

30-Nov-16: Remind us again just how central the conflict with Israel is to the Arab world

Abbas and the newly energized, broad-shouldered forward-looking PA/Fatah
leadership at its Ramallah conference yesterday [Image Source]
As the news cycle absorbs yesterday's momentous non-changes in the Palestinian Arab world ["Mahmoud Abbas, Re-elected as Fatah Leader, Moves to Solidify Power", New York Times, November 29, 2016], here's a timely reminder from the current issue of The Economist of where the Arab world's problems really lie:

Horrifyingly, although home to only 5% of the world’s population, in 2014 the Arab world accounted for 45% of the world’s terrorism, 68% of its battle-related deaths, 47% of its internally displaced and 58% of its refugees. War not only kills and maims, but destroys vital infrastructure accelerating the disintegration.
The Arab youth population (aged 15-29) numbers 105m and is growing fast, but unemployment, poverty and marginalisation are all growing faster. The youth unemployment rate, at 30%, stands at more than twice the world’s average of 14%. Almost half of young Arab women looking for jobs fail to find them (against a global average of 16%).
Yet governance remains firmly the domain of an often hereditary elite. “Young people are gripped by an inherent sense of discrimination and exclusion,” says the report, highlighting a “weakening [of] their commitment to preserving government institutions.” Many of those in charge do little more than pay lip-service, lumping youth issues in with toothless ministries for sports. “We’re in a much worse shape than before the Arab Spring,” says Ahmed al-Hendawi, a 32-year-old Jordanian and the UN’s envoy for youth... 
Source: "Another Arab awakening is looming, warns a UN report", The Economist, November 29, 2016

And if anyone out there is still laboring under any illusions about a new and freshly energized PA/Fatah leadership that's going to take initiatives, prepare the Palestinian Arabs for painful compromises and for the challenges of peace and prosperity, give its young people a vision for a future that makes sense and meets their real needs, then reflect for a moment on this observation in that New York Times report:
The conference, Fatah’s first in seven years, comes as the Palestinians face economic troubles, violent clashes among competing clans and the continuing Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Critics complain that Mr. Abbas’s leadership has grown insular and out of touch.... The carefully selected delegates wasted little time in formally re-electing Mr. Abbas as the leader of Fatah, the party that controls the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. “Everybody voted yes,” a spokesman for Fatah, Mahmoud Abu al-Hija, told reporters who had not been allowed into the conference hall for the decision... [NYT]
Not much room here for optimism - neither for them nor for us.

Now let's remind ourselves of how often political figures, analysts, reporters and editors tell us Israel and the challenge of its conflict with the Palestinian Arabs are at the heart of addressing global terror and the Middle East's (and the world's) problems.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

27-Nov-16: What lies behind the conflagration

Haifa on Friday [Image Source: Bloomberg/AFP/Getty]
The New York Times' assessment of the massive fires that had erupted all over Israel in the previous 48 hours was summed up in these striking opening sentences of Isabel Kershner's report this past Friday:
Parts of the port city of Haifa in northern Israel were ablaze on Thursday as wildfires raged through the country for a third day, devouring forests, damaging homes and prompting the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.
Asked how long Haifa was likely to be battling the blazes, Mayor Yona Yahav told reporters, “This is a question that has to be referred to God.”
Israeli officials said the fires had been fanned by unusually strong winds and made worse by a dry atmosphere, but they also said they suspected that many of them had been caused by arson and negligence. Dozens of people have been slightly affected by smoke inhalation, but no serious injuries or fatalities have been reported.
["As Wildfires Rage, Israel Suggests Arson and Asks for Foreign Help", New York Times, November 24, 2016]
For us, the tone of that piece was set by "Israel Suggests Arson" in the headline and the words we have bolded above: "slightly affected by smoke inhalation, but no serious injuries..." Knowing the scale of the massive blazes and which places were - and which were not - affected makes the wording appear especially shabby. It goes on to make mention of Israeli concerns, articulated by the government minister in charge of public security, Gilad Erdan, that
"the professional assessment was that almost half the fires were the result of arson."
For many, the details of that professional assessment might have been something worth knowing. But even though Erdan is quoted further down, none of his views as to how or why the government's people formed the view that arson has played a serious role are stated.

What is stated, in a style that we have come to expect from news channels that share the New York Times approach to the Arab/Israeli conflict, is a restatement of the familiar Palestinian-Arabs-as-victims refrain:
Arab leaders in Israel protested the widespread allegations that Palestinian nationalists were behind many of the fires, saying their land was burning, too, and they condemned what they viewed as unfair accusations against Israel’s Arab citizens, who make up about a fifth of the population. Ahmad Tibi, a veteran Arab lawmaker in the Israeli Parliament, wrote on Twitter: “I called Yona Yahav. Our homes are open to the evacuees. Sad and painful. Let’s join hands to overcome the fire and let’s also douse the flames of incitement. [NYT]
(Israeli allegations about "Palestinian nationalists"?!)

It's now early Sunday morning, and those fires and the price paid by Israeli society are very much in the news here. Much less reported are the very widespread sounds of celebration from right across the Arab world, particularly via the social media.

Click to view our tweet
On Friday we Tweeted [here] a link to a Twitter search of the Arabic words for "Israel burns", calling the many ugly posts a "glimpse into the hatred at the core of the generations-long confrontation of the Arab world with Israel". We also noted [here] that although the search results were all in a language most of our readers probably don't understand, "No Arabic language skill needed to absorb what's in the air".

Here's a situation update [Sunday November 27, 2016 at 2:30 am], with direct quotes from various sources. Note that the New York Times' choice of descriptor - the word "slightly" - somehow doesn't appear even once in any of these reports:
  • As of Saturday night, security forces had arrested more than 35 people suspected of either arson or encouraging others to commit arson since Tuesday... Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said Saturday that most of those arrested in connection with the fires are Palestinian residents of the West Bank. A “small minority” of the suspects are Arab Israelis, he added... He called the cases of arson “a new kind of terror,” and said that whereas in the past there was incitement on social media that “encouraged people to go out and stab and car-ram” Israelis, this new version “now encourages them to go out and burn people alive, burn communities alive.” [Times of Israel]
  • The IDF and police captured a suspect that was sighted by a Nature and Parks Authority worker starting a fire in the north-western Etzion region. The suspect was handed over to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) for investigation. The IDF spokesperson's unit stated that during the night an IDF force near Dir Kaddis in the Ephraim region captured three suspects in a vehicle that had two full bottles of fuel, one empty bottle of fuel, a sack with fabric, gloves and lighters... [Jerusalem Post]
  • The wildfires that have raged across Israel over five days have left at least 133 people injured, rendered hundreds of homes unlivable and consumed tens of thousands of dunams of protected parks and nature reserves. The Magen David Adom rescue service reported Saturday that among the 133 people treated by the organization for fire-related injuries, one was seriously hurt and three others were moderately injured. The overall tally is likely higher, officials said, as some people – one estimate suggested as many as 50 – may have gone to hospitals on their own for injuries such as smoke inhalation. [Times of Israel]
  • Some 2,000 firefighters battled the fires since Tuesday, many of them working in grueling 24-hour shifts alongside 450 soldiers from the Home Front Command and 69 Cypriot firefighters... The battle to push back the flames marked among the most difficult operations ever undertaken by Israel’s firefighters. [Times of Israel]
  • Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Croatia, Russia, and the Palestinian Authority have sent planes, helicopters, trucks, and ground crews to assist the some 250 Israeli firefighters and soldiers who have been working for days to extinguish fires in areas surrounding Beit Shemesh, Modi'in, and Jerusalem, as well as in Haifa, Hadera, Zichron Yaakov, Umm al-Fachm, Lachish, Nesher, the Etzion settlement bloc, and outside the northern town of Kfar Vradim... [i24news]
  • Haifa was the worst-hit city from the blazes, with 527 homes completely destroyed, according to a Ynet News tally. Other reports have indicated a lower number, more than 400 homes, that were rendered unlivable in the northern city. Some 1,700 Haifa residents are not able to return home by late Saturday, Channel 2 said, because their homes are unlivable... Haifa city officials said Saturday that the fires ravaged some 28,000 dunams (6,900 acres) of land in the city since Thursday. The evacuation of some 60,000 Haifa residents from about a dozen fire-threatened neighborhoods on Thursday was said by Mayor Yona Yahav to have been the biggest such operation in Israeli history... [Times of Israel]
  • In all, as much as 130,000 dunams (32,000 acres) of natural forests and bushes were destroyed, about 30 percent more than the territory affected by the Carmel Forest fire of 2010. A great deal of the Judean Hills National Park and the Kfir Nature Reserve were burned... [Times of Israel]
  • An arsonist evidently caught in the act on Saturday [Image Source]
  • On Friday night, all the residents - 350 families - of the town of Neve Tzuf (Halamish) in Samaria were forced to leave their homes after arsonists set fire to 3 different locations throughout the town. Fifteen houses were completely destroyed and collapsed, while 25 other houses were seriously damaged from the flames. Four civilians were lightly injured, including two firefighters... [Israel National News]
  • The fires that devastated Halamish were “apparently the result of arson by a gang of Palestinians,” Channel 10 reported on Saturday night. Security officials were quoted as saying that petrol bombs had been found at the scene... [Times of Israel] [NOTE: Halamish, known also as Neve Tzuf, is the Israeli community located immediately adjacent to the notorious Arab village of Nabi Saleh, about which we refer readers to "17-Mar-13: A little village in the hills, and the monsters it spawns"]
And entirely as expected
  • Israeli-Arab politicians said that the government was taking advantage of situation to incite against Arabs and the Palestinians... [National Post quoting the Washington Post]
Those "Israeli-Arab politicians" don't refer to a past history of arson as a tool of Palestinian Arab terror. But Elder of Ziyon does: see his excellent commentary along with newspaper clippings in a Friday post [here]. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

22-Nov-16: At Qalandiya, yet another would-be Pal Arab stabbing attacker is thwarted

The Qalandiya security checkpoint on a quieter morning
[Image Source: Mati Milstein]
At the Qalandiya Crossing on Jerusalem's northern edge, another Palestinian Arab man wielding a knife and evidently intent on finding an Israeli victim has been stopped by forceful Israeli scurity action.

Today's attempted assault happened at about 10:30 this morning (Tuesday). Not much is known at this stage about the attacker - his name, his age and where he comes from are all as yet unannounced in the news media - other than that the Arabic-language media already (no surprise in this) call him "martyr" (see for instance Ma'an News Agency's Arabic report here).

A spokesperson for Israel Police is quoted by Times of Israel saying
The attacker was declared dead of his wounds at the scene... [as] he attempted to stab a guard... [T]he assailant approached guards manning an area meant for vehicular traffic with a knife drawn and was shot. No Israeli guards were hurt.
Click here for our previous posts about the long, sad history of Palestinian Arab attacks on Israelis at Qalandiya.

UPDATE 1:30 pm Tuesday November 22: It's reported in Arab media that he Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Health identifies today's failed stabber as Jihad Muhammad Said Khalil, 48, from the village of Beit Wazan, near Nablus.

Monday, November 21, 2016

21-Nov-16: German experts "discover" that Islamist terrorists are "being trained" to come into Europe as asylum seekers

Asylumn seekers arrived in Germany [Image Source]
Whether or not there are genuinely new disclosures here, the article published  a week ago on the website of Deutsche Welle ("Germany’s international broadcaster [where] 3,000 employees and freelancers from 60 countries work") is sober and plain-spoken even if its conclusions are emerging a little late.
'Islamic State' reportedly training terrorists to enter Europe as asylum seekersDeutsche Welle, November 14, 2016 | Germany's spy agency has warned that the "Islamic State" (IS) is infiltrating refugee groups to get into Europe. Officials and analysts are now looking into methods by which potential terrorists can be spotted early. | On November 13 last year, three teams of militants from the so-called "Islamic State" (IS), armed with Kalashnikovs, stormed the Stade de France stadium, the Bataclan concert hall and several pubs in Paris. The rampage left 130 people dead, 85 of them in Bataclan, where the band, the Eagles of Death Metal, was playing.
Meanwhile, investigations have revealed that all nine men involved in the attacks had traveled to Europe together with the stream of refugees that entered the continent in 2015. According to German weekly "Welt am Sonntag," the country's spy agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) has warned that IS is specifically training terrorists to merge with asylum seekers looking for safer havens in Europe. The report's authors say that the BND suggests that terrorists train potential attackers on how to answer questions during border interrogations so they can prove their credibility as refugees. The spy agency has refused to comment on this matter. Responding to an email query by DW, an agency press spokesman said: "Basically, the BND communicates its information only to the German government or to responsible bodies of the German parliament in confidential sessions." Many refugees have fled from IS terror in regions like Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq...
A million immigrants arrived in Germany last year, and Muslim organizations assert [here] that "at least" 800,000 of them are Muslim. They keep coming in large numbers that have no precedent even as news stories about the massive influx of 'asylum seekers' disappear from news sites and television screens.

Germany's total population was about 80 million five years ago. It's currently about 82 million. An estimate quoted here suggests that Germany was home, as of the end of 2015, to 5,945,000 Muslims. Pew Research says [here] France has 4.7 million Muslims, and that Germany has slightly more,

The European Commission, aware of how much misinformation and disinformation accompanies this issue, publishes a valuable though laconic document entitled "Asylum quarterly report". Using notably dry language, its most recent issue published [here] in September offers some startling data:
  • The number of first-time asylum seekers arriving in the European Union's 28 countries during the month of September 2015 alone was 170,825. (We're selecting September to enable a comparison to be made. Otherwise, September has no special significance.) Of those, 47,185 sought asylum in Germany, representing about 28% of the entire human 'asylum seeking' tidal wave now arriving at Europe's shores.
  • The same numbers for the month of September 2016, a year later show a total of 101,765 arrived in all the 28 countries taken together. That's notably down on a year earlier, But of those, no fewer than 76,320 came to Germany. That's 75% of the entire EU number. 
  • If that tidal wave of 'asylum seekers' is subsiding, as the greatly diminished amount of news coverage might imply, there's simply no sign of it in Germany
  • (The numbers for all 28 European countries are on display in this dynamic online table. If these stats interest you, this is an excellent and authoritative source,)
Asylum seekers in Berlin [Image Source: Uriel Heilman/JTA]
When Islamists carried out shocking terrorist attacks in Paris almost exactly a year ago ["14-Nov-15: The Friday 13th terror assault on Paris"], European and German public officials were anxious to downplay - even to deny - any connection between such outrages and the flood of Muslim "asylum seekers".

Thus, for instance, an un-named "source in Germany's federal police" quoted in an Israeli report a few days after the coordinated massacres that took the lives of 130 people and injured an astounding 400 more at the Stade de France, numerous Parisian cafés and restaurants and the Bataclan theatre in the centre of the French capital.
"That is what I fear, people on the right side of political spectrum confusing the refugee problem with the Islamic terrorism problem, even though there is no connection," admitted a source in Germany's federal police... [, November 15, 2015]
No connection, he said? Did he have any actual idea at the time? Does he now? When Germany's government officials say a year later that they are "now looking into methods by which potential terrorists can be spotted early", the realists among us can only offer them the best of luck.

And for a European reaction, consider this brief extract from a news report published in a respected news source in the wake of the Paris savagery:
The European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, has warned Europe against confusing refugees and terrorists, asking the public not to “give in to such basic reactions”. And speaking to the AFP News Agency, a Syrian refugee named Ghaled said he wished the empathy for the scores killed Paris could be translated to empathy for the hundreds of thousands dead in his home country... ["Paris attacks: Syrian refugees put shootings in French capital in perspective", The Independent (UK), November 16, 2015]
A year on and "confusing refugees and terrorists" turns out not to have been such a "basic" reaction.

That DW report we mentioned above goes on to provide a platform for some German voices that don't seem the least bit surprised by what's just been conceded:
Regardless, the fact that IS terrorists have slipped into the continent with hundreds of thousands fleeing from war in the Middle East is nothing new, says Susanne Schröter, expert on Islamic terrorism at Frankfurt University. "This was known since the beginning. I warned about such a possibility even before there were any examples of terrorists slipping in," she told DW. "This is because IS announced that it would send attackers to the continent through the route which refugees were taking. At the time, politicians denied this," she added, referring to over 1 million refugees from Syria and Iraq, who landed in Europe last year. The situation in European countries like Germany, which took in over 840,000 refugees in 2015, was difficult. Border controls had to be given up and many of those coming in could not be registered by authorities properly, compounding the problem, Schröter said... [Deutsche Welle, November 14, 2016]
The DW article goes on to provide plenty of exposure to the more conventional sort of European and German viewpoint. For instance (and these bullet points are all direct quotes):
  • "The steady flow of refugees at the time also unleashed a sequence of violent attacks against asylum seekers, especially in the states of former East Germany. "Our leaders thought, if we now admit that there could be terrorists among refugees, then it would serve as fodder for right-wing populists and lead to more anti-migrant feelings. So they played it down, but ultimately that was not the right thing to do," the analyst said.
  • "Bataclan was not the last target on the list of attacks in Europe. A major attack on Brussels' main airport and an underground station on March 22 this year killed 32 people and wounded many others. 
  • "Smaller knife attacks and a suicide explosion in the southern German town of Ansbach shook the country and Europe. 
  • "Most of these attackers were refugees themselves or had contacts with asylum seekers, highlighting the fact that the newcomers were especially vulnerable to terrorist recruiters. "There are different kinds of people who come in as refugees. They have different political backgrounds and there are some who are close to IS, and some who have fled from IS," said Schröter.
  • "Most of the asylum seekers who come to Europe are young men, who are disillusioned when they land in Europe, because smugglers have promised them something completely different, like more money, a house and a car, Schröter said. 
  • "The long registration and waiting process until they finally know what is going to happen to them, adds to the discontent, she explained. Many people simply leave refugee homes and never return, and terror groups and Islamic fundamentalist organizations, like Salafists, use this to their advantage and recruit young people to stage attacks.
  • [Schröter says] "the state will have to monitor people more closely. The possibility of terror attacks and cyber invasions has now prompted the German spy agency BND and the domestic intelligence organization, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, to plan a 73 million euro ($78 million) project for supervising internet and telecom messaging services. The agencies have not revealed exact plans, but according to a combined report by the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" daily, and public broadcasters WDR and NDR, the BND wants to react faster to messages sent on mobile services like "WhatsApp." 
  • "The agencies justify the project, called "Panos," by saying that the "security of Germany and its citizens can no longer be taken for granted. [Can anyone's today?]
  • "It is likely that the heightened supervision of communication channels will affect normal citizens and refugees not involved in terrorism. But, as Schröter says, "considering the present situation, there could be nothing worse than a big terror strike, not only because of the possible victims, but also because of the effect it will have. And that is why everything needs to be done so that there is no big attack."
Forgive us, but given the scale of the threat and the indications that serious-minded malevolents with Islamist doctrine as their guide have targeted their towns and public places, these German voices strike us as being sadly indecisive.

For their sakes, we hope we're wrong.

Friday, November 18, 2016

18-Nov-16: American service personnel killings in the Mid East get scant reporting and even less comprehension

A US soldier (in green) and his Afghan counterpart (blue) in a joint patrol
near Kandahar, Afghanistan, [Image Source]
Relatively little attention gets paid in the mainstream news media when American military personnel come under attack from so-called friendly forces while they serve in the Middle East. That's a shame became those killings tend to throw light on tendences that ought to be better understood.

A couple of recent examples.

Case number one: Two men - Army Sgt. Douglas J. Riney, 26, of Fairview, Illinois, and Michael G. Sauro, 40, a civilian employee of the US Army from McAlester, Oklahoma - were shot to death by "hostile enemy forces" in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, according to a US the military announcement in late October, quoted by the Chicago Tribune.

But how hostile were they?

According to a Military Times report, the attack happened at Camp Morehead, an ammunition supply point outside Kabul:
The shooter was reportedly wearing an Afghan Army uniform. The Riney’s unit was at the base to determine whether the Afghans were tracking their ammunition inventories properly, defense officials said. [Military Times, November 4, 2016]
So was the shooter an Afghan soldier? Merely dressed up as one? And does that count as hostile enemy action? Or was this the result of so-called friendly fire? We will probably never know since "the attacker was later killed", according to this source.

But we know there are precedents. For instance, it was announced back on September 15, 2012, that four International Security Assistance Force personnel "died... in southern Afghanistan following an insider attack suspected to involve members of the Afghan police". As later became via a Talbian report, the American soldiers were killed by policemen "loyal to the movement" in "a carefully premeditated attack on six US troops at a vulnerable observation post by a team of six Afghan policemen working with them that night." [Long War Journal, May 15, 2013]

Case number two: Three US military personnel were killed on November 4, 2016 in an attack at the gates of an air base in southern Jordan. The Al-Jafr air-field, in a remote desert location near the southern Jordanian city of Ma'an (population: 50,000) and closer to Saudi Arabia than to Iraq, supports US air operations in the region. Called the King Faisal Airbase in the Jordanian media, it also serves as the venue for joint US/Jordan training operations. The shooter fired at a car carrying the Americans as they were entering the base. A Jordanian officer was wounded.
The Americans were in Jordan on a training mission, officials said. The U.S. military typically maintains about 2,000 U.S. forces on the ground in Jordan to support training with the Jordanian military and operations against the Islamic State in neighboring Iraq and Syria... Pro-Western Jordan is a key member of a U.S-led military coalition against the Islamic State group, which controls parts of neighboring Iraq and Syria... The United States has spent millions of dollars to help the kingdom fortify its borders. For the West, any sign of instability in Jordan, a key ally, would be of great concern. ["Officials say three U.S. service members killed in Jordan attack", Military Times | Andrew Tilghman | November 4, 2016]
Was this a terrorist attack? Could be, now it's revealed the shooter was not only dressed as a member of "friendly" forces but actually was one.
U.S. officials are investigating the fatal shootings of three American soldiers at a Jordanian air base earlier this month as a possible act of terrorism. “Investigators are considering all potential motives and reasons for why American service members came under fire and they have not yet ruled out terrorism as a potential motive,” the American embassy in Jordan said in a statement Wednesday, the New York Times reported... Jordanian officials told reporters soon after the shooting that the vehicle carrying the service members failed to stop at the security gates. Two days after the incident, the Pentagon said the service members were killed when their vehicle came under fire as it was entering a Jordanian military base, indicating there was no issue with the vehicles failing to heed orders to stop. The Jordanian soldier who initiated the exchange of fire was wounded in the incident and remains in custody... The U.S. military has hundreds of trainers in Jordan, a close American security partner, to help bolster the country’s defenses against threats stemming from the Syrian civil war and terrorists in the region... [U.S. Investigating Deaths of American Soldiers in Jordan as Terrorist Attack | Natalie Johnson | Washington Free Beacon | November 17, 2016]
Here's how Jordan's government paints the killings:
A senior official on Saturday described the killing of three US instructors in a shootout at an airbase a day earlier as “unfortunate”. In remarks to The Jordan Times, Minister of State for Media Affairs Mohammad Momani extended Jordan’s condolences to the families of the persons who lost their lives. Meanwhile, Momani, who is also the government’s spokesperson, stressed that Jordan values its relationship with the US, reiterating that an investigation into the incident is under way... A Jordanian non-commissioned officer was injured, said the source, who warned against circulating the names of any of those involved in the incident, whether they are Jordanians or foreigners, threatening legal action against violators...  In a statement released Friday, a spokesperson for the US embassy in Amman said more information will be reported “when available and appropriate”... [Jordan Times, November 5, 2016]
At the risk of offending the Hashemite regime and violating its threats, the American victims are Staff Sgt. Matthew Llewellyn, 27, of Lawrence, Kansas, Staff Sgt. Kevin McEnroe, 30, of Tucson, Arizona, and Staff Sgt. James Moriarty, 27, of Kerrville, Texas. All are from the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky from where its men and women specialize in operations in the Middle East, Persian Gulf, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa.

President Barack Obama said the US took the attack "very seriously", according to a BBC report.

Seriously or not, a reasonable person might wonder how likely it is that a full expose of what happened will ever be done by the Jordanian authorities, given their disdain for informing the public. If we knew the name of the injured Jordanian, we would certainly publish that too.

As to whether some of the blame attaches to the American victims, as Jordanian voices have said, a spokesperson for the US embassy in Amman said this past Wednesday that the investigation continues to be "ongoing and has not yet reached any conclusions... [and the Americans] appreciate the assistance of the government of Jordan... Contrary to press reports, there has been absolutely no credible evidence to suggest that US personnel acted contrary to orders or established procedures when accessing the base...” [Jordan Times, November 16, 2016].

Eric Barbee, the Embassy spokesperson, was evidently referring to this:
...Jordanian state media reported that the servicemen, from the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Fort Campbell, Ky., sparked the incident by disobeying orders from Jordanian soldiers... ["U.S. refutes claim its soldiers sparked Jordan shooting", USA TODAY, November 17, 2016]
The ongoing inability to solve the mystery of the October killings is less understandable once two especially notable previous Jordanian killings are considered.
  • 2015: At least five people, including two Americans, two Jordanians and a South African, were killed after a Jordanian police officer opened fire at a US-backed police training facility near Amman, before being shot dead himself. At least four other people, including two more Americans, were injured in the attack, according to US officials. The attack took place at the Jordan International Police Training Center in al-Muwaqqar, on the outskirts of Amman... President Obama addressed the shooting before a White House meeting... “We take this very seriously and we’ll be working closely with the Jordanians to determine exactly what happened, but at this stage I want to just let everyone know this is something we’re paying close attention to... ["At least five killed by Jordanian police officer in training centre shooting", The Guardian, November 9, 2015]. Though the killings took place on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist human-bomb attacks on three Amman hotels, the Jordanian authorities declared the shooter to be "a lone wolf", "not a terrorist", and motivated by "financial pressures" [source]. By contrast, at least one Western news report quoted "security sources" saying the shooter was "a sympathiser of Islamic State with strong anti-Western feelings".
  • 1997: A Jordanian soldier opened fire on a large group of about 40 Israeli schoolgirls from grades 7 and 8 at the AMIT Fuerst School in Beit Shemesh who were on a class excursion to the so-called “Island of Peace” at Naharayim, a scenic peninsula on the Jordan River near the Israeli border. He killed seven of them and injured six others. The Wikipedia account says he "expressed pride for his actions, was imprisoned by Jordanian authorities, but was later called a "hero" by the Jordanian Justice Minister, Hussein Mjalli, and Parliament, who called for his release". They were not alone. As an Alarabiya news report from 2011 observes, "Jordan's powerful Islamist movement and the country's 14 trade unions, which have more than 200,000 members, have repeatedly called for Dakamseh's release... The motives of Dakamseh [the shooter]... were never clear... [In the words of a letter handed to the government] demanding Dakamseh's release "We cannot imagine that a great fighter like Dakamseh is in jail instead of reaping the rewards of his achievement..."
The confusion and doubt about the involvement of "friendly forces" in the cold-blooded killings (sometimes called "blue-on-green" attacks - and here's a list of some others) of US service personnel on active duty in Moslem countries, and about their motivations, very likely contributes to the success of the terrorists rather than to their defeat. We shudder to think what it does to the feelings of the bereaved families back home.