memri
March 7, 2018 MEMRI Daily Brief No. 153

Russia-Developed Texas-Based Encrypted Communication App Zello: Growing In Popularity Among Jihadis – And Growing In Usage In Terror Attacks; Zello CEO Declines MEMRI Advice, Leaves Jihadi Content On Platform

March 7, 2018 | By Steven Stalinsky
Russia | MEMRI Daily Brief No. 153
Islamic State (ISIS) supporters and other jihadis from around the world are using the Austin, Texas-based communication application Zello for planning and executing terrorist attacks in the U.S., the U.K., European countries, Turkey, and elsewhere around the world. On January 30, 2018, it was reported that the perpetrator of the April 2017 Stockholm truck attack had used Zello to communicate with other jihadis immediately after he drove the vehicle into crowds on a main street, killing five people and injuring 14. In March 2017, a Texas-based ISIS recruiter who moderated a Zello channel, instructed followers to kill infidels, and personally approved terror attacks was indicted by a federal grand jury. The Zello push-to-talk app can be used on smartphones, tablets, and PCs, and is available for Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and Windows PC operating systems, and for two-way radios. Users can create private or public channels that allow them to easily chat with others and listen to conversations. The main Zello app is free; the Zello@Work app is fee-based. The Zello website states that the app's "advanced encryption ensures all communications are secure." It adds: "Services may disclose personally identifiable information when it's required to comply with law enforcement requests or subpoenas when you violate the Terms of Service." On September 11, 2017, it announced that all private voice messages on Zello on the version released after June 6, 2017 are end-to-end encrypted.[1] The company states that its app has been downloaded 65 million times. Zello's Russian Connection The technology that would later become Zello, initially developed in Russia by Alexey Gavrilov under the name Loudtalks, was announced at the September 2007 TechCrunch 40 Mobile and Communications Conference.[2] Zello bought the Loudtalks technology, moved its development team to Texas, and brought Gavrilov on as CTO; under CEO Bill Moore, it was rebranded, other apps were added, and its products were announced in June 2012. Moore is also founder and CEO of the TuneIn radio streaming service; Gavrilov and his team created some popular apps for that service as well.[3] Zello's Popularity Increased In U.S. During And After Hurricanes Irma And Harvey In Late Summer 2017 When Hurricanes Irma and Harvey struck Florida, Puerto Rico, and the southern Atlantic Ocean in August and September 2017, over a million new users downloaded Zello. It became the top free download in both Apple's App Store and the Google Play store, after gaining fame as the top communications tool of the "Cajun Navy" Harvey rescuers in Houston. "Over one million people have joined [Zello] in the last day, with most coming from Puerto Rico and Florida," Gavrilov said, but went on to warn users that the app was not designed for disaster communications and required either WFi or a cellular data link, despite online rumors to the contrary. Jihadis Use Zello To Plan Attacks in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Italy, Sweden, Russia, And Elsewhere Over the past three years, Zello has been at the center of terrorism cases worldwide, as the following example highlights: The Dallas, Texas-based ISIS recruiter Said Azzam Mohamad Rahim, who was moderator of a Zello channel called State of the Islamic Caliphate, told his listeners to kill as many "infidels" as possible with poison, rocks, and trucks, by burning, and by pushing people off buildings.[4] He gave the go-ahead to Salman Abedi, perpetrator of the May 2017 Manchester suicide bombing; in August 2016, Abedi had sought Rahim's approval via Zello, saying: "Sheikh, I live in Manchester, in Great Britain. I live among non-Muslims. I have found work with them. Am I allowed to kill them? Is it permitted to kill them with a bomb?" To which Rahim responded on Zello: "To the boy from Manchester I say, okay, kill them! Show no mercy to civilians."[5]Also receiving instructions from Rahim was Abdulgadir Masharipov, the perpetrator of the New Year's Day 2017 attack at Istanbul's Reina nightclub, in the month preceding the attack.[6] In March 2017, Rahim was indicted by a federal grand jury for making false statements to federal agents about his alleged support of ISIS.[7] According to the indictment, he had posted his support of ISIS on social media, solicited violence, and praised attacks for which ISIS had claimed responsibility – including the Istanbul nightclub attack and the July 2016 Nice, France truck attack.[8] Rakhmat Akilov, who carried out the April 2017 Stockholm truck attack, communicated using Zello following the attack. He wrote on the app: "My trousers are burned. I thought it was going to explode but it didn't... Around ten are dead."[9] Also in April 2017, Italian police arrested a resident of the country who had used Zello to discuss his plans to carry out an attack in Italy. A judge called him "an extremely dangerous subject" who posed a "very high risk of moving on to carrying out series acts of violence." In one Zello message, he had called for "non-believers" to be "roasted on kebab skewers" and fed to dogs.[10] Tajik national and ISIS member Murodbek Kodirov was arrested in August 2017 for posting a voice message on Zello that included "calls for inciting religious hatred." He had been making plans with another individual, "D. Sharipov," to carry out first an ax attack and then a suicide bombing in a crowd.[11] Murad Atajev, a Daghestani preacher at a mosque in Berlin attended by Russian-speakers, was arrested in October 2015; he had attempted to recruit ISIS militants, and broadcasts of his sermons were featured on Zello.[12] MEMRI JTTM Research And Analysis Exposes Extent Of Zello's Popularity Among Jihadis A September 7, 2016 MEMRI JTTM report[13] revealed that jihadis, ISIS members, and ISIS supporters from around the globe were using Zello. More recently, on April 28, 2017, a link to the pro-ISIS "Zello Channel" group was circulated on numerous pro-ISIS Telegram channels; the link shows that it has nearly 13,000 subscribers.[14] MEMRI JTTM research over the past two years has discovered a range of ISIS channels in numerous languages on Zello. For example, the Zello "Islamic State channel," which includes "Recruiting new members" in its description, operates in French, Arabic, and Hebrew. It is notable that all the jihadi Zello groups revealed by MEMRI in the report are apparently still active. The accounts are easily identifiable; they have names such as "The Islamic State" and "The State of the Islamic Caliphate." They have avatars of the well-known black jihadi flag, and of jihadi leaders such as Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and Osama bin Laden. They share images of weapons, and threatening messages. All of these are easily recognizable, and Zello should be able to flag them as terrorist content if it wants to. Zello CEO Requests MEMRI Reports On Jihadis On Zello – But Won't Shut Down Their Accounts In March 2015, following reports that Zello was being used by ISIS, Zello CEO Moore said that he had not heard that the app was popular among ISIS fighters, and noted, "It's terrible that Zello is used for evil." The company, he said, is putting "a fair amount of effort... into figuring out ways to minimize the app's use by bad guys... so that only healthy conversations can flourish."[15] The first MEMRI report on jihadi use of Zello, published September 7, 2016, showed that jihadi channels on the platform had thousands of subscribers. Shortly after the report's publication, MEMRI received a request from Moore for a full version of the report and also offered him an opportunity to speak with MEMRI staff about the jihadi content on accounts on the app. Moore ignored this offer, and the content was left on the platform. Later that month, on September 26, MEMRI again contacted Moore to offer assistance, and let him know that the jihadi content was still on Zello. He did not reply, and the content remained. A follow-up MEMRI report, published in April 2017, noted that the content still had not been removed. In August 2017, Moore publicly acknowledged that Zello was being used by malicious actors, noting: "Oh, it's used for bad, yes. Cartels, gangs, ISIS, and others. Like any communications tool, it's used for good and evil both... It's a net positive, but it's not without risk. It doesn't replace law."[16] Shortly thereafter, in September, he underlined that even though Zello was available to ISIS and other bad actors, he preferred to take a "libertarian" view regarding policing his users – though, he said, he understands the "moral quandary" that this presents.[17] On February 1, 2018, MEMRI JTTM staff reexamined the accounts and found that most, if not all, remain active. Zello's Leadership Shows Little Interest In The Fact That The Platform Is Becoming Jihadis' Favorite App – What Can Be Done? Zello's failure to take responsible action to remove jihadi content on its platform is reminiscent of other tech companies' similar lack of action. In 2010, MEMRI met with representatives from YouTube/Google about such content on their platforms. At that time, I was told that they were not interested in removing it – yet now they do what was recommended. Twitter too brushed off early MEMRI warnings about the jihadi content on it. Now, Zello is ignoring its facilitation of jihad worldwide. MEMRI's research over the years on jihadi content on these platforms, and repeated attempts to make sure that YouTube and Twitter remained aware of the extent of the problem, contributed to their eventual efforts to remove it. The same can be done for Zello and might compel them to act more responsibly. The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT), a partnership of Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and YouTube for collaboration on the issue of terrorist activity online, works to "forge new partnerships" with small tech companies. Joining it would be a good first step for Zello and could steer them to normal industry standards about removing terrorist content.    *Steven Stalinsky is Executive Director of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).   [1] Support.zello.com, accessed February 2, 2018. [2] Techcrunch.com, September 17, 2007. [3] Techcrunch.com, June 20, 2012. [4] Dallasnews.com, October 30, 2017. [5] Theaustralian.com.au, August 14, 2017. [6] Hurriyet.com.tr, April 25, 2017. [7] Newsweek, August 14, 2017. [8] Dallasnews.com, March 23, 2017. [9] Thelocal.se, January 30, 2018. [10] Thelocal.it, April 25, 2017. [11] En.crimerussia.com, October 11, 2017. [12] Rferl.org, October 16, 2015. [13] See MEMRI JTTM report U.S.-Based Walkie-Talkie Encrypted Chat Application Zello Used By ISIS Members And Supporters From Around The World, September 7, 2016. [14] See MEMRI JTTM report U.S.-Based Walkie-Talkie Encrypted Chat Application 'Zello' Continues To Serve As A Meeting Place For Jihadists; Calls For Attack On France Transmitted On App, April 28, 2017. [15] VOAnews.com, March 17, 2015. [16] Buzzfeed.com, August 31, 2017. [17] Inc.com, September 8, 2017.

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Conflicting Reactions To Newly Appointed Deputy Commander Of Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) Signal Further Division Among Iraqi Shi'ite Ranks, Underline Iran's Struggle To Keep PMU United

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The Cyber & Jihad Lab

The Cyber & Jihad Lab monitors, tracks, translates, researches, and analyzes cyber jihad originating from the Middle East, Iran, South Asia, and North and West Africa. It innovates and experiments with possible solutions for stopping cyber jihad, advancing legislation and initiatives federally – including with Capitol Hill and attorneys-general – and on the state level, to draft and enforce measures that will serve as precedents for further action. It works with leaders in business, law enforcement, academia, and families of terror victims to craft and support efforts and solutions to combat cyber jihad, and recruits, and works with technology industry leaders to craft and support efforts and solutions.

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Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) Releases Video Stressing Its Determination To Continue Fighting In Syria To Defend Islam Following Taliban's Example

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February 24, 2020

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The Cyber & Jihad Lab

The Cyber & Jihad Lab monitors, tracks, translates, researches, and analyzes cyber jihad originating from the Middle East, Iran, South Asia, and North and West Africa. It innovates and experiments with possible solutions for stopping cyber jihad, advancing legislation and initiatives federally – including with Capitol Hill and attorneys-general – and on the state level, to draft and enforce measures that will serve as precedents for further action. It works with leaders in business, law enforcement, academia, and families of terror victims to craft and support efforts and solutions to combat cyber jihad, and recruits, and works with technology industry leaders to craft and support efforts and solutions.

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February 24, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8581

'Is It Not A Shame That Money Belonging To The Nation And State Is Poured Into These Palaces?' – Turkish Journalist Criticizes President Erdoğan's Construction Of Extravagant Palaces

February 24, 2020
Turkey | Special Dispatch No. 8581
In a February 15, 2020 column in the Turkish daily Sözcü, investigative journalist Emin Çölaşan criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's construction of extravagant palaces.[1] He counted three palaces that President Erdoğan's AKP government has in various stages of construction: one completed in Ankara; one under construction in Marmaris Okluk; and one by Lake Van. Çölaşan wrote: "The nation is suffering a lot from hunger, from unemployment, from corruption... Is it not a shame that money belonging to the nation and state is poured into these palaces?" Turkish investigative journalist Emin Çölaşan (source: Sozcu.com.tr). Since December 2015, President Erdoğan has resided at the Turkish Presidential Complex in Ankara, which, with 1,150 rooms, is often referred to as a palace.[2] While Turkey's then Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek announced in November 2014 the cost of the construction of the palace as 1.3 billion Turkish lira,[3] Tezcan Karakuş Candan, then director of the Ankara branch of the Chamber of Architects, has said: "We are face to face with an expenditure of 20 billion Turkish lira at the palace."[4] Twenty billion Turkish lira is about 8.7 billion USD based on an exchange rate from October 2014, when the palace was opened.[5] Sixty million Turkish lira were spent on roads to reach the palace.[6] The palace's toilets cost five to ten thousand lira apiece[7] and it has 63 elevators. The drinking glasses used at a reception at the palace were 1,000 lira apiece,[8] which is about as much as a minimum wage worker earned in a month in Turkey in 2014.[9] The palace's doors cost 170,000 lira apiece, and there are reportedly about 150 such doors in the palace's main building.[10] The palace's 22,000 square meters of windows cost about 701 million lira.[11] The Ankara branch director of the Chamber of Architects estimated the cost of the palace as $8.7 billion. The cost of the palace's basic monthly upkeep, including its electricity, water, natural gas, heating, cooling, cleaning, and landscaping, is about 21 million lira.[12] Heating the palace for six months costs about 10 million lira, or approximately the price of heating all the homes in the Turkish province of Bayburt, which has a population of about 80,000 people, for a season.[13] The personnel costs are seven times higher than those at Çankaya Mansion, which was the residence of the Turkish president until 2014.[14] and its annual cleaning costs are 104 million lira.[15] Maintaining the palace tulips costs 1.6 million lira per year,[16] while the landscaping in general costs 108 million lira per year.[17] While the Presidential Complex is also called Ak Saray ("White Palace"), it has been nicknamed Kaçak Saray ("Fugitive Palace") because it was illegally built[18] on the Atatürk Forest Farm, which had been about 25,000 acres of nationally protected land that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Republic of Turkey known for his secularist policies, established in 1925 in west Ankara from land purchased from individuals. Urbanologist Dr. Ruşen Keleş estimated in 2014 that at that time approximately 8,000 acres, or approximately 1/3, of the Atatürk Forest Farm remained as a result of illegal transfers, grants, and sales of the land.[19] Following is a translation of Çölaşan's February 15 column: "We All Know The Famous, Magnificent Palace In Ankara... He Is Having A Gorgeous Summer Palace Built For Himself In Marmaris Okluk... Another New Palace Is Being Built Overlooking Lake Van" "My dear readers, this government, above all the party-member president loves palaces and living in palaces. And they are right, their mothers gave birth to and raised all of them in palaces like Ottoman sultans! That must be where their love of the Ottomans comes from. "By now we all know the famous, magnificent palace in Ankara with 1,150 rooms and halls (even if it is closed to the public). Only Recep would not be content with this much. Now he is having a gorgeous summer palace built for himself in Marmaris Okluk. Billions have been spent on it, and it is almost finished.[20] From now on he will spend a portion of his summer vacations there. Their fondness for palaces is such that they hold normal day-to-day meetings in the state's Dolmabahçe Palace.[21] "But their palace passion does not end there. Now another new palace is being built overlooking Lake Van in the Ahlat district of Bitlis for the gentleman and his family. No one knows what the cost of the Ahlat palace will be or what it will be for. The gentleman wanted it, and it is being built." "The Nation Is Suffering A Lot From Hunger, From Unemployment, From Corruption... Is It Not A Shame That Money Belonging To The Nation And State Is Poured Into These Palaces?" "While all of this was happening, the nation is suffering a lot from hunger, from unemployment, from corruption. The number of unemployed has passed five million, who cares! Is it not a shame that money belonging to the nation and state is poured into these palaces? "There is a more interesting aspect to this... The Constitutional Court cancelled the legal ruling preventing the construction of the Ahlat palace in January of last year. Now the construction of the palace has been approved once again with a clause crammed into a newly prepared bag law in parliament.[22] With AKP and MHP votes! May they live in the old and new palaces together with their children and enjoy it. What else can I say!"   [1] Sozcu.com.tr/2020/yazarlar/emin-colasan/ille-de-saray-5626239, February 15, 2020. [2] Aksam.com.tr/siyaset/cumhurbaskani-erdogan-sarayin-kac- odali-oldugunu-acikladi/haber-360731, December 6, 2014. [3] Cnnturk.com/haber/turkiye/maliye-bakani-acikladi-saray-ucak-1-8-milyar-tl, November 5, 2014. [4] Cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/turkiye/290463/Saray_20_milyari_gecti.html, June 3, 2015. [5] Paracevirici.com/doviz-arsiv/merkez-bankasi/gecmis-tarihli-doviz/2014/amerikan-dolari, accessed August 30, 2019. [6] Fortuneturkey.com/tmmob-cumhurbaskanligi-sarayi-yol-baglantisina-60-milyon-tl-harcandi-3239, November 19, 2014. [7] Diken.com.tr/itibardan-tasarruf-olmaz-ak-sarayda-kullanilan-klozetlerin-fiyati-5-bin-tlden-basliyor, December 10, 2014. [8] Emo.org.tr/genel/bizden_detay.php?kod=105687, December 3, 2014. [9] Muhasebedersleri.com/haber/2014-yili-asgari-ucret-brut-ve-net-tutarlar, December 31, 2013. [10] Sozcu.com.tr/2015/gundem/ak-sarayin-kapisi-170-bin-tl-794699, April 6, 2015. [11] Yeniasya.com.tr/gundem/ak-saray-in-ithal-camlarinin-maliyeti-en-az-701- milyon-lira_321748, February 18, 2015. [12] Haberler.com/mimarlar-odasi-cumhurbaskanligi-sarayi-nin-aylik-7002827-haberi/, February 24, 2015. [13] T24.com.tr/haber/16-askerli-ak-sarayin-6-aylik-dogalgaz-gideri-10-milyon-lira,283790, January 15, 2015. [14] Patronlardunyasi.com/haber/Cankaya-dan-Ak-Saray-a-tasinmak-pahaliya- patladi/163184, November 11, 2014. [15] Sozcu.com.tr/2015/gundem/ak-sarayin-temizlik-maliyeti-104-milyon-740094, February 11, 2015. [16] Diken.com.tr/yeni-lale-devri-ak-sarayin-lale-giderleri-yillik-1-milyon-600-bin-tl, January 21, 2015. [17] T24.com.tr/haber/ak-sarayin-yesil-alan-duzenlemesinin-yillik-gideri-108-milyon,286433, February 7, 2015. [18] Cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/turkiye/285035/Danistay_noktayi_koydu...__Saray_h_l__kacak_.html, May 26, 2015. [19] T24.com.tr/haber/ataturk-orman-ciftligi-arazisinin-ucte-ikisi-gitti-102-bin-dekardan- elde-kalan-338-bin-dekar,268139, August 19, 2014. [20] Çölaşan actually said that "trillions" had been spent on the palace, but he was referring to the pre-2005 Turkish lira, which was revalued in 2005. He meant "billions" in terms of the new Turkish lira. [21] Dolmabahçe Palace, located in Istanbul, was the center of the Ottoman Empire's administration from 1856-1887 and 1909-1922. [22] The phrase torba yasa ("bag law") refers to legislation that makes rulings on many different subjects. Vergidosyasi.com/2019/04/15/torba-kanun-yasa-nedir-vergi-duzenlemesi-torba-kanunla-yapilir-mi, April 15, 2019.

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AQIM Leader In Audio Message On Anniversary Of Anti-Regime Protests in Algeria: Cut All Connection With Regime To Overthrow It

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The Cyber & Jihad Lab

The Cyber & Jihad Lab monitors, tracks, translates, researches, and analyzes cyber jihad originating from the Middle East, Iran, South Asia, and North and West Africa. It innovates and experiments with possible solutions for stopping cyber jihad, advancing legislation and initiatives federally – including with Capitol Hill and attorneys-general – and on the state level, to draft and enforce measures that will serve as precedents for further action. It works with leaders in business, law enforcement, academia, and families of terror victims to craft and support efforts and solutions to combat cyber jihad, and recruits, and works with technology industry leaders to craft and support efforts and solutions.

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February 24, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8580

Lebanese Mock Nasrallah’s Call To Boycott American Products

February 24, 2020
Lebanon | Special Dispatch No. 8580
In a February 16, 2020 speech, Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah stated that the U.S. economy and the dollar are America’' Achilles heel, and therefore called to boycott American products as part of the struggle against the U.S. Nasrallah's call drew mocking responses from Lebanese media figures and social media users. Taking to Twitter, they accused Hizbullah of hypocrisy, because its members and leaders openly use the dollar, American social media platforms and various American products. They posted many photos showing prominent Hizbullah members using such products, and similar photos of officials from Iran, which is Hizbullah’s patron. For example, photos were posted of Nasrallah's son Jawad and of the late Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani wearing the Timberland brand, as well as a photo showing the car that carried Soleimani's coffin during his funeral: a U.S.-manufactured Chevrolet. The following is a sampling of the reactions in Lebanon to Nasrallah's call for a boycott on American products. Poster of Hizbullah's campaign to boycott U.S. goods: "Boycott Is Resistance" (Source: Twitter.com/MhmdMahdiNasr9, February 19, 2020) Hizbullah, Iranian Officials Use American Products Nasrallah's Son And Qassem Soleimani Wearing The Timberland Brand One of the pictures that went viral as part of the mocking response to Nasrallah's call was a photo of his son, Jawad, wearing a shirt bearing the logo of the American Timberland brand. Twitter activist Fatima Eid posted it with the comment: "Nasrallah: Boycott American Goods. [His son] Jawad Nasrallah: No way."[1] Photo of Jawad Nasrallah in a shirt saying "Timberland USA.73" User Abu Awadi tweeted two versions of this photo, one titled "before the boycott" and showing Jawad wearing the shirt, and another titled "after the boycott," showing him without it.  The comment above the photos says "Boycott American products, says Sayyed [Hassan Nasrallah]."[2] It should be mentioned that Jawad Nasrallah replied to these tweets with a sarcastic tweet of his own, saying: "They are responding to the logo on my shirt. I can't reply, because I am boycotting American products, and I'm about to sell my iPhone," followed by kiss and wink emojis.[3]  Another picture circulated widely in response to Nasrallah's call showed Qassem Soleimani, the former commander of Iran's Qods Force, who was recently killed in a U.S. airstrike and is greatly revered by Nasrallah, wearing a Timberland jacket. Shi'ite Lebanese media figure Dima Sadek tweeted the photo with the word "Timberland".[4]  Dima Sadek's tweet Soleimani's Coffin Was Carried In A Chevy; Hizbullah Uses Envoy Vans And Other GMC Vehicles Twitter user Charlotte Halby wrote, "Nasrallah [says], 'why not boycott American goods? It's part of the struggle." Below this she posted a picture of Nasrallah giving the speech, along with a picture of the car that carried Soleimani's coffin during his funeral: a Chevrolet.[5]  Charlotte Halby's tweet User HAKIMEXX tweeted "boycott American goods," with a photo of a GMC van bearing Hizbullah's shield. [6] User Fadi Nasrallah tweeted: "I swear I can't see the boys from Hizbullah trading in their [American] Envoy [vans] for [French] Renault Meganes…"[7] User Gino Raidy from Lebanon tweeted a photo of Nasrallah giving his February 16, 2020 speech, along with a picture of the chair he was sitting on, manufactured by the American Herman Miller company, and commented in English: "Teb [ok] if the Sayyed [Nasrallah] sits on an American-made chair worth 1,300-1,500USD while he is demanding we boycott US products, shu mna3mel [what are we supposed to do]?"[8] Gino Raidy's tweet Another Lebanese user tweeted: "Death to America and long live its products."[9] Hizbullah Officials Use Twitter, American Currency Many users noted that Hizbullah uses American websites and technology. User Hussein Nasrallah wrote: "The three Hizbullah MPs and the Hizbullah minister [all] use Twitter, an American website. They also use that icon of American technology, the iPhone, and a long list [of other products]…"[10] Hussein Nasrallah's tweet In another tweet, he alluded to the fact that Hizbullah conducts transactions in U.S. dollars, commenting: "First boycott the dollars you receive via Latin America. Lebanon will not boycott any American goods, and whoever has a problem with that can emigrate. Bless Donald Trump." Below this he posted an image of imported products sold in Lebanon, many of which are American.[11] Another user tweeted: "Boycott American goods – sure thing, Nasrallah. Yeah, you genius. Yeah, [you are really] scaring [the Americans]. Yeah, it took you years to come up with this big idea. Yeah, you conqueror of American social media. Yeah, you bury your dead with American Envoy [vans]. Yeah, you import American dollars [provided by] the Iranians. Yeah, you idiot."[12] Lebanese Journalist: Hizbullah Is Two-Faced Lebanese journalist Nasrin 'Ajab reacted to Nasrallah's call to boycott American goods in an article on the Elaph news website titled "Hizbullah and the U.S. – The Devil and the Compass". She accused Hizbullah of hypocrisy because it curses the U.S., while some figures close to it "rush into America's arms." She added that the American dollar is not responsible for the dire situation in Lebanon, and neither is Lebanon itself; rather, the ones responsible are the politicians, including Nasrallah's allies, who are robbing the country. She wrote: "'Why not boycott American goods,' wondered Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, in his [February 16] speech, in which he brutally attacked the U.S. Yes, that is a legitimate question… But wait a minute, is it the dollar that turned [Lebanon] into a plundered state? No, it is the politicians, including Sayyed Nasrallah's closest allies, who have been diligently looting the country for 30 years and concoct [shady] deals instead of taking care of its electricity, water and even garbage[-collection infrastructures]. So before flooding us with declarations against the U.S. and its economy, let him stop backing his corrupt allies, and then maybe this small country will regain some of its stolen funds, start paying some of its mounting debt and find a way out of its economic hell… "Yes, [the call to boycott American goods] would have been legitimate coming from someone who has severed all his ties with the one he calls 'the Great Satan.' But the problem with Hizbullah's handling of this issue is its double standard: On the one hand, [it treats] America as the Great Satan, who must be fought, but at the same time, figures close to Hizbullah rush into America's arms and brag about it…" The Lebanese Al-Jumhouriya daily, known for its opposition to Hizbullah, published a cartoon captioned "Nasrallah calls to boycott American goods," in which a Hizbullah supporter shouts “No, no, no [to American goods], except dollars, Cherokees and Jeans!!"[13] The Al-Jumhouriya cartoon      [1] Twitter.com/Fatima_Eid9, February 16, 2020. [2] Twitter.com/Firasg72, February 17, 2020. [3] Twitter.com/mohammadjdns, February 16, 2020. [4] Twitter.com/DimaSadek, February 17, 2020. [5] Twitter.com/HalbyCharlotte, February 17, 2020. [6] Twitter.com/HAKIMEXX, February 16, 2020. [7] Twitter.com/Fidodido901, February 16, 2020. [8] Twitter.com/GinoRaidy, February 17, 2020. [9] Twitter.com/GrFr39267907, February 17, 2020. [10] Twitter.com/Hussein_nasrlah, February 17, 2020. [11] Twitter.com/Hussein_nasrlah, February 16, 2020. [12] Twitter.com/icomefromrivia, February 16, 2020. [13] Al-Jumhouriya (Lebanon), February 17, 2020.

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February 24, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8579

Putin's Televised Remarks On Ukraine Cause A Storm

February 24, 2020
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 8579
On February 20, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave an interview to TASS, where he responded in depth to 20 questions posed by his interviewer, Andrei Vandenko. One of these questions concerned Russia's relations with the Ukraine. In the interview, Putin made many controversial statements about the historical relations between the two countries. Inter alia he claimed that Russians and Ukrainians were one people and this unity had been fractured by foreign powers, who sought to pull the countries apart in order to gain a competitive advantage. A union between Russia and Ukraine would obviously strengthen both countries. These foreign powers were aided and abetted by Ukrainian leaders, who used power to line their pockets and then fobbed off the citizens with Russophobic rhetoric. Naturally, these comments provoked a heated response in Ukraine from the country's current and former leadership. In Russia they also aroused debate with pro-Putin pundits defending the president's remarks, while liberal commentators challenged the remarks and the direction they portended. Below is the segment from the interview dealing with Ukraine and the responses that it elicited: Putin plays 20 questions (Source: Online47.ru) The TASS Interview Vladimir Putin: Ukrainians [with an accent on the first a] were the people who lived on the frontiers of the Russian state. There were Ukrainians in Pskov; Ukrainians were the people who defended the southern frontiers from attacks by the Crimean khan. Ukrainians were in the Urals. Ukrainians were everywhere. We had no language differences. Moreover, around the same time, before the 14th and 15th centuries, even those people, the east Slavs, who lived in the territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth – both in Muscovy and in Poland – were called Russians. The first language differences appeared much later… Andrei Vandenko: History is history, but now we are talking about the present day. Vladimir Putin: To talk about today or tomorrow we need to know history, need to know who we are, where do we come from, what unites us. What unites us is… Andrei Vandenko: Now many things divide us. Vladimir Putin: Many things divide us. But we should not forget about things that unite us. And should not destroy what we have. For example, the Church. Why did one need to destroy the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church? You know that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate is in fact fully autonomous; it has been fully autonomous before, including in terms of the election of hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. The Moscow Patriarchate has never had any influence on the election of hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. In fact, it has always been independent, completely. There has been only spiritual unity and mentioning. The Patriarch of Moscow has been mentioned, recalled all the time in churches. That's it! It has been the only thing uniting the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. But they needed to cut the cords that bind. Why? You say people do not understand. They simply do not know it. If they know, they will understand better. They should be told that. Why should one be embarrassed? Is it insulting for people? Some time passed. As a result of people sharing the border with the Catholic world, with Europe, a community of people feeling to some extent independent from the Russian State began to emerge. How should we feel about that? I have already said: we should respect that. But we should not forget about our shared community. Moreover, in the modern world our joint efforts give us huge competitive advantages. And, vice versa, division makes us weaker. The Ukrainian factor was specifically played out on the eve of World War I by the Austrian special service. Why? It is well-known – to divide and rule. Absolutely clear. Nevertheless, if it happened this way, and a big part of the Ukrainian population got a sense of their own national identity and so on, we should respect that. We should proceed from the reality but not forget who we are and where we come from. By the way, the fathers of the Ukrainian nationalism, they never spoke about the urgent need to break up with Russia. Strange as it may seem, but their major works of the 19th century say that Ukraine is: a) multinational and should be a federal state, and b) should build good relations with Russia. Today’s nationalists seem to have forgotten that. I will tell you why they have forgotten that. You know why? Because the interests of the Ukrainian people are not the main issue on their agenda. How can it be the interest of the Ukrainian people if the break-up with Russia has led to loss of space engineering, shipbuilding, aircraft engineering and engine manufacturing; it is virtually the deindustrialization of the country that is happening. How can it be among interests? The World Bank demands to stop cross-subsidizing. What's good in it? Or, they make them export round wood from the Carpathians. Soon the Carpathians will turn bald. Why do this if, by joining efforts, we increase our competitive advantages manifold? Why lose it? Why throw everything away, what for? Because the Ukrainian leaders or those who got power pursued their self-interests. And what were they? It was not even to earn more by robbing the Ukrainian people but to retain what has been plundered before. This was the main objective. So, where is the ‘dough’? Pardon my French. Where is the money? In foreign banks. What do they need to do for this? Show that they serve those who have this money. Hence, the only thing they sell is Russophobia. Because some like dividing Ukraine and Russia, they believe it's a very important mission. Because any integration of Russia and Ukraine, along with their capacities and competitive advantages, would lead to the emergence of a rival, a global rival for Europe and the world. No one wants it. That's why they'll do anything to pull us apart. [1] Ukrainian Political Leaders Respond Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky was quick to respond to Putin and his office chose the pro-Trump Administration Washington Examiner as the place to reply: “Russian-Ukrainian relations should not be determined by the geopolitical ambitions of individual leaders...These relations are based on the relations of people who live, work, create, and strive for peace nearby on both sides of the border." Zelensky also defended the decision to form a Ukrainian Church independent of the church in Moscow: "In Ukraine, the church and state are separate...The recent unification of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine was a decision exclusively of the people, initiated by the congregation, according to the rules of the church and legalized by the church document, the Tomos."[2] Zelensky's predecessor Petro Poroshenko, who was on the receiving end of Putin's barbs gave as good as he got: "And his [Putin's] goal is to take not only Ukrainian land, but also the Ukrainian soul. In order to make sure that peace with Ukraine is not included in his plans, do not look into his eyes. Just listen to what he says."[3] Poroshenko in a topical comparison called Putin "a worse danger than the Coronavirus and therefore I advise the [Ukrainian] authorities not to remain silent.[4] Pro-Putin Opinion Leaders Try To Back His Arguments Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov sought to make sense of Putin's comments without causing a diplomatic incident. Asked by journalists what Putin meant when he said that Russia and Ukraine are being “pulled apart” to prevent unification, Peskov responded: "The head of state had in mind a circle of countries that have consistently sought to ensure that relations between Russia and Ukraine are maintained in their current deplorable state." At the same time, Peskov emphasized that he did not want to name these countries specifically.[5] Others were less reticent about naming the trouble-makers who spoiled relations between Moscow and Kiev. Leonid Slutsky, who chairs the Duma's International Affairs Committee tweeted: "The reason for Zelensky’s objections to 'geopolitical ambitions' in relations with Russia is simple: Ukraine since 2014 has become a pawn in the US geopolitical game. And the longer Kiev will "trade in Russophobia", the more it will miss out on a joint competitive advantage in tandem with the Russian Federation.[6] Mikhail Pogrebinsky, director of the Kiev Center for Political Research and Conflict Studies, also blamed the Americans: "“Of course, this in fact is what happened, the West, and in particular the USA, played a major role for many years by funding and actively working with youth towards creating an atmosphere to estrange Ukraine from Russia and cause separation. Yes, this is a strategic goal – to prevent rapprochement, but on the contrary, to exploit Ukraine. And the way you can exploit Ukraine - is by fostering nationalist, anti-Russian sentiment, in Ukraine. This was successfully done and and still continues to work. “ The West adopted a divide and rule policy because like Putin it realized that Russia and Ukraine acting in unison was a game changer: “The West is not interested in this combination of efforts, coordination, and active cooperation, since, in a certain sense, Ukraine, actively cooperating with Russia in various fields, of course, strengthens Russia's potential in some areas and creates additional competitive advantages in world markets. This applies to space and weapons and much more."[7] Viktor Mironenko, head of the Center for Ukrainian Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Europe, argued that Putin was merely voicing an objective opinion that was shared by Western experts: "Our president is not original, before him this idea was expressed quite a long time ago by a well-known Sovietologist who was well versed in our situation. His name was Zbigniew Brzezinski. And then he said bluntly that the point is not that Russia without Ukraine will be weaker, but the fact is that Russia without Ukraine is a different country. And in this regard, I think, both he and Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] were absolutely right. ” [8] Liberal Russians Voice Understanding For The Ukrainian Position Journalist Nicolai Svanidze, interviewed by Alexei Narishkin on the Echo of Moscow radio station accused Putin of mustering only the historical facts that fortified his position while disregarding less convenient facts. There was no dominant Russian culture and there were many tribes and linguistic groups. As for the bad state of relations with Kiev, Svanidze believed Russia was mainly to blame: "'And how do you feel about the relationship [between Russia and Ukraine] being messed up.' Naturally the answer is: 'I feel bad about it' But where does this bad relationship derive from? Bad relations ensued since the annexation of Crimea. It is difficult to expect from the country from which you take a piece ... Crimea belonged to Ukraine - now it belongs to Russia. And it’s hard after such a ... to expect that Ukraine will react to this normally and will love you like its own kin.[9] Echo of Moscow also published an article by Putin's former economic adviser Andrey Illarianov, who has parted ways with his former boss and has predicted that Russia will soon invade Belarus and the Ukraine. Illarianov claimed that Putin's exposition on Ukraine was built on five myths but showed that Putin was bent on no less than a total annexation of Ukraine and not merely the annexation of a few Russian speaking enclaves: " The vast majority of modern Ukrainians not only had no idea about the 'subversive activities of the Austrian General Staff' and the work of the founding fathers of Ukrainian nationalism, but also exhibited an exceptionally benign and in many cases truly brotherly attitude to Russia. This attitude was torn to shreds not by Austrian spies and Bandera nationalists, but by the Kremlin's master, who stole the Crimea and unleashed a bloody massacre in the Donbass, which claimed the lives of more than 13 thousand Ukrainians, crippled the lives of more than 30 thousand inhabitants of Ukraine, and turned several million people into refugees." "...The strategic goal of Vladimir Putin is the unification of Russia and Ukraine... "Although in recent years Putin has regularly spoken out about Russians and Ukrainians, about the so-called “single people”, about relations between the two countries, nevertheless, until yesterday, it seems, he has never yet so openly formulated his main strategic goal. Now it’s not just Sevastopol and Crimea, not some Lugandonia, not even New Russia and the Black Sea region, now it’s the unification of Russia and all of Ukraine."[10] Andrey Illarianov (Source: Inosim.ru)   [1] Kremlin.ru, February 21, 2020. [2] Washingtonexaminer.com, February 22, 2020. [3] Iz.ru, February 21, 2020. [4] Strana.ua, February 22, 2020. [5] Mk.ru, February 21,2020; Rosbalt.ru, February 21, 2020. [6] Twitter.com/l_Slutsky, February 22, 2020. [7] Gazeta.ru, February 21, 2020. [8] Gazeta.ru, February 21, 2020. [9] Echo.msk,ru, February 21, 2020. [10] Echo.msk,ru, February 22, 2020.  

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February 24, 2020

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Feb 11, 2020
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10-Year-Old Palestinian Girl at Pro-Abbas Demonstration Curses Trump, Says: If You Want War, We Declare War

#7832 | 01:26
Source: Palestinian Authority TV

On February 11, 2020, Palestine TV aired a report from a pro-Abbas demonstration. Addressing U.S. President Donald Trump, a 10-year-old Palestinian girl named Juman recited a poem with the following lines: "If you want war, we declare war... We will curse your honor, you vagabond. You are the sibling of a grungy woman... My homeland is not a toy in your hands. The Zionists will be thrown out... Hear it, you son of a bitch."

Reporter: "This girl, Juman, is 10 years old, and she insists on delivering this message and reciting this poem on Palestine TV."

Juman: "If you want war, we declare war. We will ignite it in the East and in the West. We will curse your honor, you vagabond. You are the sibling of a grungy woman, Trump. If you want war, we declare war. We will ignite it in the East and in the West. That's it! We're done with the flattery. That's it! We're done with the flattery. Hate us! We don't want to be loved. My homeland is not a toy in your hands. The Zionists will be thrown out of my homeland. Add, subtract, and divide, but I won't allow any multiplication. Listen! Listen to me well and hear it, you son of a bitch."

Reporter: "Thank you, Juman. Yes, Ahmad. This is the picture here. This is the voice of the Palestinians who will not stop fighting on their land, until they attain liberation and freedom. Back to you to continue our coverage."

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Feb 17, 2020
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Jordanian MP Yahya Saud: Our Trade Unions Wouldn’t Even Tolerate Their Members Saying “Hello” to a Jew; Arabs Must Pressure Their Governments to Stop Normalizing Relations with Israel

#7831 | 01:24
Source: Jordanian TV

Jordanian MP Yahya Saud, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Palestine, said in a February 17, 2020 interview on Jordan TV that the Arab people completely reject President Trump’s Deal of the Century, and he called for the people to pressure their governments to stop all forms of normalization with Israel. ea

He added: “The trade unions are very strict when it comes to normalization. I dare any lawyer, engineer, or doctor to say hello to a Jew. This is something that we reject completely.”

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