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Jan 14, 2020
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Iranian Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda: U.K. Ambassador Should Be Chopped into Pieces; Hundreds of Thousands of U.S. Soldiers Were Killed in Our Missile Attack; Iranians Who Refused to Step on Flags of Israel, U.S. Should Be Court-Martialed, Executed

#7733 | 02:33
Source: Khorasan Razavi TV (Iran)

Iranian Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda, Supreme Leader Khamenei's representative in the Khorasan Razavi province, said in a January 14, 2020 memorial ceremony for the victims of the Ukrainian airliner, which aired on Khorasan Razavi TV (Iran) that Islam is about to take over the world and "cast a shadow over Planet Earth in its entirety." He claimed that hundreds of thousands of American soldiers were "turned to dust and ashes" by the missiles that Iran launched at the Americans' Ayn Al-Asad base in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of Qasem Soleimani. In addition, he said that Iranians who collaborate with the U.S. are a fifth column who should be court-martialed and executed and that the Iranian protesters who refused to walk on the flags of the U.S. and Israel are actually Americans and Israelis. Furthermore, Ayatollah Alamolhoda said that England's ambassador to Iran, who he said leads English and American spies, should be "chopped into pieces." For more from Ayatollah Alamolhoda, see MEMRI TV Clips No. 7102, No. 7498, No. 7586, No. 7282.

 

Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda: "Islam has appeared in the arena of global powers. This power is about to take over the world. The rule of Islam will cast a shadow over Plant Earth in its entirety.

 

[...]

 

"[Trump] has become the target of our fighters' fast missiles, and in his military base, hundreds of thousands of his soldiers were turned into dust and ashes. According to the reports, he still denies it. He says that not a single American soldier was killed. This is on the one hand. On the other hand, the Leader of [our] regime says: 'Tell the public that we were the ones who downed the plane by mistake.'

 

[...]

 

"We are at war with that country [America]. In an atmosphere of war, people who collaborate with the enemy constitute a fifth column. They should be court-martialed.

 

[...]

 

"In the battlefield, members of a fifth column are executed. They are court-martialed. They constitute a fifth column. It is said that the flags of the U.S. and Israel were on the floor, and that [the protestors] would not walk on them, but passed on the side. These people are Americans! They are Israelis!

 

[...]

 

"Some people say that the ambassador of England should be deported. Deporting the ambassador of England would be the most polite thing to do. It would be a huge concession by our public. No way! The ambassador of England should be chopped into pieces.

 

[...]

 

"England should be grateful to our dear police and security forces. They saved him that night. Had this impure one fallen into the hands of the followers of Qasem Soleimani's line – the people on whose foreheads was written 'We Are Qasem Soleimani' – the ear would have been the largest piece left of this body. He is a fifth column working for our enemy. He came [to the demonstrations] to lead the English and American spies."

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Jan 01, 2020
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Fatah Revolutionary Council Member Abdel-Elah Atira: Arafat Hinted to Us to Start the Intifada

#7732 | 00:51
Source: Palestinian Authority TV

Fatah Revolutionary Council member Abdel-Elah Atirs said in a January 1, 2020 interview on Palestine TV (Palestinian Authority): "Yasser Arafat, may he rest in peace, signed the Oslo Accords and came here. Later, when he saw [the opening of] the Western Wall Tunnel, he was the one who told the people to take to the streets and fight, and so we waged an Intifada. When he went to Camp David and saw that Jerusalem, or part of it, was not part of the deal, he came back and hinted to us to start the Second Intifada. Fatah's thermometer is ready to move in any direction."

 

Abdel-Elah Atira: "Yasser Arafat, may he rest in peace, signed the Oslo Accords and came here. Later, when he saw [the opening of] the Western Wall Tunnel, he was the one who told the people to take to the streets and fight, and so we waged an Intifada. When he went to Camp David and saw that Jerusalem, or part of it, was not part of the deal, he came back and hinted to us to start the Second Intifada. Fatah's thermometer is ready to move in any direction."

Activity Review Of ISIS-Affiliated Fighters In The Philippines, On Facebook

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January 15, 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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Article In Jihadi Magazine Urges Syrian Women To Play Auxiliary Role In Jihad

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January 15, 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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Jan 12, 2020
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Kuwaiti TV Host Fajer Alsaeed: I Used to Think Iran Was Strong Until I Saw How It Retaliated against U.S. for Soleimani’s Killing; Iran Is All Talk

#7731 | 01:48
Source: Scope TV (Kuwait)

Kuwaiti TV Host Fajer Alsaeed said in a January 12, 2020 show on Scope TV (Kuwait) that Zeinab Soleimani, the daughter of IRGC Qods Force commander General Qasem Soleimani who had been killed in a U.S. airstrike earlier in the week, had spoken in Arabic at a Friday sermon in which she held a weapon and said she wanted to pray in Jerusalem. Alsaeed said that Zeinab had spoken in Lebanese-accented Arabic, but that she should have spoken in English if she wanted to threaten the Americans or in Farsi in if she wanted to inspire Iranians. In addition, Alsaeed said that she used to think Iran was a strong country until she saw how it retaliated against the U.S. for the killing of Qasem Soleimani. She added that she has realized that Iran is "nothing but talk."

 

Fajer Alsaeed: "Zeinab, the daughter of Qasem Soleimani, held a weapon and spoke in Arabic during the Friday sermon.

 

[...]

 

"She said that she wanted to pray in Jerusalem. I have prayed in Jerusalem three times, without war or anything... By the way, Zeinab speaks Arabic with a Lebanese accent. She learned Arabic in Lebanon. I don't understand why she didn't speak in Farsi. She was supposedly addressing the Iranians, so why didn't she speak in her mother tongue? If she was addressing the Iranians, why did she speak in Arabic? She wasn't addressing us. She threatened America. She said that she would avenge her father, and that all the [Iranian] people will exact revenge. She should have spoken in English so the Americans could understand, and it would put the fear of death in them, or she should have spoken in Farsi, in order to incite and excite the Iranians, and so that they would say: 'Let's go and destroy America.' Why did she speak in Arabic? This means that the threat is directed at us. Why did you speak like that, Zeinab? It was America that slaughtered your father, not us. Speak English so that they understand.

 

[...]

 

"I am one of the people who thought that Iran was a strong country, but on the day that I saw how it retaliated for the killing of the second most powerful man in the country, who was the Leader's right hand man and whom they considered to be the greatest military commander, by a missile from a drone that killed him and his companions... That's when I realized that Iran is nothing but talk."

 

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Jan 05, 2020
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Yemeni Journalist Ahmed Al-Musaibily: Israel Is Our Number One Enemy but at Least It Does Not Try to Convert Muslims to Judaism the Same Way That Iran Converts Sunnis to Shia Islam

#7730 | 02:34
Source: Suhail TV (Yemen)

Yemeni journalist Ahmed Al-Musaibily, an advisor in the Yemeni Ministry of Information, said in a January 5, 2020 interview on Suhail TV (Yemen) that even though Israel is the Arab world's number one enemy, it at least doesn't aim to convert people to Judaism in the same way that Iran tries to convert people to Shia Islam. He said that Iran is destroying the Arab world, but not for the sake of Sunni Arabs, and he claimed that it is doing so in agreement with Israel. He argued that there is no enmity between Iran and Israel and that no Iranian has ever carried out any attacks against Israel. He also said that the Houthis and Hizbullah, which are backed by Iran, haven't carried out operations against ISIS or Al-Qaeda because terrorism and Israel are "two sides of the same coin." Al-Musaibily also claimed that there are economic connections between Israel and Iran that might even include joint gas and oil projects.

 

 

Interviewer: "No one can lecture the Arabs and the Muslims. Their real battle is with the Zionist entity that occupies the Palestinian lands. They pass this resistance down from one generation to the other, from father to son. So the number one enemy of the Arab and Islamic peoples in the region is the Zionist entity. Having said that, what services has Iran provided to that [Zionist] entity, under the pretext of fighting it?"

 

Ahmed Al-Musaibily: "This question is repeated everywhere. Brother, Israel is our number one enemy, but even Israel doesn't try to Judaize others. It doesn't want Jews. It doesn't want anyone to convert. It has enough Jews and doesn't want any more. Iran wants to convert people to Shi'a Islam. [They say:] 'You must become a Shi'ite.' You must curse [Muhammad's wife] 'Aisha and Muhammad's companions, and you must believe in pleasure marriages and in everything that is wrong.

 

[…]

 

"The Israeli enemy is number one, of course. No one disputes this. But brother, what has Iran done? Everything. For whose sake is Iran killing people? For whose sake is it killing Sunni Arabs? For whose sake is it killing the Islamic countries? For whose sake is it destroying the Arab world? It does this in agreement with the Israelis. One may say: 'No brother, they are our enemies.' Show me the enmity between Israel and Iran. Show me a single operation against Israel that was carried out by an Iranian.

 

[…]

 

"Show me a single martyrdom-seeking operation, or a defensive attack operation, or a so-called patriotic attack, carried out by the Houthis or by the pagan Hizbullah against Al-Qaeda or ISIS. There are none. These are two sides of the same coin – the coin of terrorism and Israel. The economic balance between Iran and Tel Aviv is higher than 60 billion, man. The economic balance between them is great. Only God knows whether they have joint underground oil and gas projects."

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January 14, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8496

After Meeting In Iran, Shi'ite Militia Leaders And Cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr Call For One Million Man March To End U.S. Military Presence

January 14, 2020
Iraq | Special Dispatch No. 8496
On January 14, 2020, Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr posted a statement[1] to his Twitter account calling for a mass demonstration to end the U.S. military presence in Iraq. The statement comes one day after his meeting with leaders of armed factions in the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) in Qom, Iran, where those present agreed on a unified position regarding their new roles following the deaths of Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.[2] In his statement, Al-Sadr says that "the sky, land and soverignity of Iraq is being violated by the invading forces, so let us rise with an Iraqi revolution, not eastern nor western [not associated with Iran nor the U.S.], that will bring victory and blessings to Iraq, and its people." Al-Sadr further says that Iraqis should join his call and peacefully march in a "one-million man" march that condemns the U.S. presence in Iraq and defends their country and the highest authority of the Shi'a, referring to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. "Soldiers of Allah, soldiers of Iraq, let us have a peaceful demonstration (of one million man) that denounces the U.S. presence and its violations. Make up your mind and do not spare any efforts, Iraq and Marjayia [Highest Authority of the Shi'a] are calling upon you, so do not fall short." He reiterates that Iraqis "will not kneel to the power of the international arrogance [the U.S. and its western allies], we shall only kneel to Allah." He closes by noting that there will be further parliamentary and political steps taken to ensure and maintain the dignity of the Iraqi people and the sovereignty of their country. Hadi Al-Amiri, the new deputy commander of the PMU, and commander of the Badr Organization, was the first one to issue a statement[3] endorsing Al-Sadr's call, telling Iraqis "to reject the U.S. and foreign occupation and maintain Iraq's sovereignty over its land and skies." Akram Al-Kaabi, Secretary-General of the Al-Nujaba Movement in Iraq, also voiced his support in a statement[4] that he tweeted, in which he calls upon "our proud people to refuse the humiliation and submission, and to forcefully rise to the slogan 'No to the U.S. presence.'" The Secretary-General of the Imam Ali Brigades, Shibl Al-Zaidi, commented on Al-Sadr's call in a statement,[5] saying that the U.S. is to blame for all the hardships in Iraq: "The occupation brought a blockade, the occupation divided the country and laid the foundations for quotas, the occupation brought destruction and death squads, bombing, and displacement, the occupation dissolved the Iraqi state and ended its ministries and local industrial institutions, the occupation slayed the national identity by planting sectarian and ethnic representation in all the branches of the state, the occupation targeted and marginalized our competencies, the occupation is the cause of all woes and tragedies, the occupation does not want good for us." Within the same context, the leader of the Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq, Qais Khazali, called for rejecting the U.S. presence in Iraq, further calling for a "national" stance that sends a message to the whole world: "The people of Iraq refuse to be humiliated, they refuse occupation and aggression."[6] Abu Dua'a Al-Issawi, the military advisor to the Sadrist Movement, commented on Al-Sadr call by saying: "Stay tuned for an epic written by the brave sons of Iraq, all of their sects, to denounce the violation of their country's sovereignty, and to demand the dismissal of the vicious occupying forces from the land of sacredness."[7]   [1] Twitter.com/Mu_AlSadr/status/1217083534432768001,January 14, 2020. [2] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8491 Commanders Of Shi'ite Militias In Iraq Continue To Threaten U.S. Forces While Seeking To Mend Internal Rifts, January 13, 2020. [3] Nasnews.com, January 14, 2020. [4] Twitter.com/Akram_Alkabee/status/1217103332470378496, January 14, 2020. [5] Twitter.com/alzaidyshibl/status/1217120171107717122, January 14, 2020. [6] Nasnews.com, January 14, 2020. [7] Twitter.com/AleysawiD/status/1217108799447883777, January 14, 2020.

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January 14, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8495

Shi'ite Militias Crack Down On Reporters, Activists Covering Anti-Iran Protests In Iraq

January 14, 2020
Iraq | Special Dispatch No. 8495
Over the past three months, Iraqi journalists covering the anti-government demonstrations appear to be facing growing pressure from pro-Iran militias according to local media. The assassination of two reporters in Basra on January 10, 2020, is the latest example of an escalating threat to silence media coverage supportive of the protests. Ahmad Abdel-Samad, a 39-year-old correspondent for the local television station Dijla, and his cameraman Safaa Ghali, 37, were killed near a police station late on Friday in Basra when a group of armed men in a 4x4 vehicle approached their car and opened fire, according to witnesses. Ahmad Abdel Samad, a 39-year-old correspondent for local television station Dijla, and his cameraman Safaa Ghali, 37, were killed near a police station late on Friday in Basra. (Source Radio Al-Mirbad) Their killing comes only a few days after correspondents from the U.S.-funded Al-Hurra TV in Najaf and Baghdad announced on their social media accounts that they had submitted their resignations without providing reasons. Reports in Iraqi media have raised questions about the timing of these resignations, pointing out that the correspondents had been in their roles for over ten years and would therefore be unlikely to announce their resignations without giving an explanation.[1] On December 17, 2019, several Iraqis on social media reported that the Iran-backed Shi'ite militia Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq (AAH) in Iraq had issued a hit list that includes the names of Iraqi journalists and activists, including Iraqi nationals living abroad, who use social media to show support for the ongoing protests. While local and pan-Arab media outlets reported that the list includes 700 names, the leaked photos show only 18 names, all of whom live outside Iraq, including those in countries such as the U.S., U.K., France, and Canada. It is worth noting that the U.S. Treasury Department announced on December 6, 2019, that it sanctioned four Iraqi officials, two of whom are leaders of AAH: Qais Al-Khazali, and his brother Laith Al-Khazali, for their roles in killing protestors. This report will review the reports on the hit list, and the reactions to it: On December 17, Noora Qaissi,[2] shared on her Facebook account two photos showing two pages of the AAH hit list. Qaissi, an Iraqi blogger who is based in Sweden, whose name is on the list, explained in her post that the list includes names of bloggers who promote content on social media in support the protesters as well as those who support them financially, warning that those who want to visit Iraq should think twice before doing so. Qaissi said in her post that she can not confirm the authenticity of the photos, adding that she only received a list of 18 names. Qaissi also did not reveal the identity of her source. One photo shows the official letter, dated December 8, 2019. The letter is signed by the head of the AAH organizational office. The letter was sent from the AAH organizational office to AAH's media and military offices. The letter opens with a Quranic verse, that reads: "Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity". Surah Ali 'Imran [3:104]. The letter further states: "Because Asa'ib Ahl Al-Haq is facing an aggressive assault conducted by foreign agendas, we confirm that the names listed below are among those who support the protests financially or promote them in the media. They are from different provinces and others are based outside Iraq, and their places of residency is included. They are contributing to the escalation inside the country and therefore they should be pursued even if they live abroad." The second photo shows 18 names of popular Iraqi activists along with their locations, including those who live in the United States, Sweden, Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Cyprus, Turkey, India, and Jordan. Al-Anwar2, a pro-Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) satellite channel, posted recently a video[3] on its Twitter account identifying some of the names mentioned in the list and accusing them of working as agents for the U.S. and German intelligence. In the video, the channel accuses Ahamd Al-Bashir, an Iraqi comedian, who presents a weekly political satire show on the Arabic Deutsche Welle TV channel, saying that he is inciting violence in Iraq on behalf of the "German BND intelligence." Another video,[4] released by the channel on its twitter account, identifies U.S. national Steven Nabil, who was mentioned in the AAH hit list, as the one behind the American "sabotage scheme."  AAH Denies Accusation On December 19, 2019, AHH issued a statement[5] saying that the photos of the documents that are circulating on social media are fake and are aimed at distorting the image of the organization for political reasons. "We would like to make it clear that the documents that have been circulating on social media, that were supposedly leaked from the organizational office of the Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq Movement, under the title (Prosecuting Activists), are fake. The organizational office's role, as in any political organization is restricted to an administrative role, the purpose of which is to manage the organization and the members, and and has nothing to do with anyone outside the movement." The statement described the leaked documents as "desperate and cheap attempts to distort the reputation of the movement, and a clear indication of the political and social bankruptcy of the enemies [the organization]." It concludes by urging social media activists to seek verification when reporting news, and "not to help the enemies of the Iraqi people in their evil goals." Tech 4 Peace,[6] the Facebook page of an Iraqi fact-checking organization, confirmed that the documents were fake, saying the logo used in the letters is the old AAH logo, and the signatures on the two pages, which are supposed to belong to the same official, do not match. It further says that the format of the paper used by the Secretary-General of AAH is not the one used in the circulated photos.  "Could Be Fake, Still Intimidating" Basim Mardan,[7] another activist whose name was on the "fake" list, shared the Tech 4 Peace post while claiming that it was leaked purposely by AAH to "intimidate those who support the protesters." He explains that these kinds of "fabricated" lists are used as a "scare tactic" against Iraqis in Iraq, by saying that they can even get to their critics who live abroad. "They want to say to the Iraqis inside the country that we can get to those living abroad and silence them, so imagine what can we do to you." A video[8] of Qais Al-Khazali, the leader of AHH, denying the accusation was posted by Noora Qaissi's Facebook account on December 19, 2019. The 36-second video shows Iraqi journalist Haroon Rashid asking Al-Khazali if the hit lists are real. Al-Khazali responds that the lists are fake, saying that he will not provide immunity to any group that will commit practices such as assassinations or abductions against activists. He concludes by asking the activists jokingly "not to curse him." In her post, Qaissi mocks Al-Khazali saying his performance was "comical."   [1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 8486 Iraqi Media Hints Pro-Iran Militias Intimidating Staff Of U.S.-Funded Al-Hurra TV Following Soleimani Assassination; Misinformation Campaign Spreads False Statement Of Secretary Pompeo, January 10, 2020. [2] Facebook.com, December 17, 2019. [3] Twitter.com/alanwartv2, December 31, 2019. [4] Twitter.com/alanwartv2, December 16, 2019. [5] Nas News, December 18, 2019. [6] Facebook.com, December 18, 2019. [7] Facebook.com, December 18, 2019. [8] Facebook.com, December 18, 2019.

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January 14, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8494

The Iranian People's Loss Of Faith In The Iranian Regime And Its Leader: 'Liar, Step Down!'

January 14, 2020
Iran | Special Dispatch No. 8494
After three days of denial, the Iranian regime finally, on January 11, 2020, acknowledged that it was responsible for the January 8 downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 shortly after its takeoff from Tehran. Most of the 176 passengers who were killed were young, promising Iranian students from the country's elite. That day, IRGC Aerospace Force commander Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh tearfully took responsibility for the downing of the plane. Also that day, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called for an investigation into the "regrettable incident" that, he said, was the result of human error. On January 13, government spokesman Ali Rabiei said that "[President Rohani's] government had not lied" about the circumstances of the plane crash because it had neither known the facts nor been informed of them.[1] Beginning on January 11, public anti-regime and anti-Khamenei demonstrations spread in cities across Iran, primarily at the universities. The protestors expressed their rage at the regime's and the leadership's lies and subterfuge about the plane crash, particularly at Khamenei, who had been busy with the campaign of the mourning for Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani, and in presenting the January 8 IRGC missile attack on two military bases in Iraq housing U.S. military personnel as having caused the widescale loss of life and property to the U.S. that the leadership had promised in the days preceding the attacks.   Protests Reflect The Iranian Public's Loss Of Faith In The Regime And The Supreme Leader – January 2020 While previous public protests, in December 2017 and in the "fuel revolt" of November 2019, had erupted against a backdrop of the economic situation in the country and of regime decisions that negatively impacted the public, the current protest is the result of a severe crisis of confidence among the Iranian people vis-à-vis the Khamenei regime – a protest against its culture of lies and denial of responsibility for the consequences of its actions that typifies it. This time, intellectuals and other figures identified with the reformist camp joined the people filling the public squares to protest against the regime and its leader over the lies and the refusal to take responsibility for the downing of the plane and the killing of some of the best of Iran's young people. Many young people are taking to the streets and city squares with calls of "Death to the Leader [Khamenei]," "Death to the Dictator," "The Islamic Republic [of Iran] Should Be Annihilated," and "Death to the Religious Scholars who Killed the Youth of the Homeland!"   To view this clip on MEMRI TV, click here or below: Another manifestation of the anti-regime protests was university students' demonstrative rejection of the regime's enmity towards the U.S., as expressed by their refusal to walk on the flags of the U.S. and Israel painted on the ground on the campus – even though the U.S. had killed Qods Force commander Soleimani, beloved of the regime, mere days before. In these incidents, crowds of students booed the few who stepped on the American flag, chanting at them "You have no honor!" – expressing their moral high ground over the regime and its members.   To view this clip on MEMRI TV, click here or below:   On January 12, the front pages of the newspapers close to reformist and moderate circles called on the country's political leaders to step down, calling their conduct in the airplane downing was "unbelievable" and "inexcusable," and publishing the names of all those who had died in it.[2] Against the backdrop of the public's loss of confidence, three news presenters for the state broadcasting network announced their resignation, expressing their regret for collaborating with the regime by reporting lies to the people for years. A number of former top politicians from reformist circles – among them former Majlis speaker and Green Movement leader Mehdi Karroubi and his advisor Abbas Abdi[3] – also called on Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to step down because of his responsibility for the airplane disaster, and for lying about and whitewashing it to the public. Karroubi and Abdi, along with exiled journalist Akbar Ganji, protested against the regime-led culture of lying in Iranian society and argued that the crisis of loss of public confidence in the regime and in Khamenei were irreparable. The following are highlights of statements by Karroubi, Abdi, Ganji, and reformist Ayatollah Mahmoud Amjad:   Former Majlis Speaker Karroubi To Khamenei: "You Have None Of the Resourcefulness, Courage, Administrative [Ability], Or Strength Required of A Leader" Former Majlis speaker Mehdi Karroubi, a leader of the Green Movement who has been under house arrest since 2011 for his part in protesting against the brutal suppression of Iranian citizens demonstrating against fraud in the 2009 presidential elections, published an open letter to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on January 11. In it, he recalled Khamenei's direct responsibility for the downing of the passenger plane, as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and argued that Khamenei was unfit to lead Iran, enumerating his responsibility for the repression and murder of his people in this and earlier incidents. Karroubi listed among these incidents the series of 1998 assassinations of Iranian intellectuals and writers who had dared criticize the regime, the 2009 election fraud and the brutal suppression of the Green Movement protests in its aftermath; and the repression of public protests in 2017 and 2019. He added that he did not believe that Khamenei had not known the truth of the Ukrainian airliner affair from day one, as was hinted in the media, and that Khamenei was responsible for concealing the truth from the people for days. He wrote: "... I am writing to you in connection with the catastrophic situation prevailing in the country as a result of your failed leadership and your wrongheaded intervention in all affairs in the country. Today, after three days of brazen denial and deceit [by the regime], comes the news of our forces' downing of the passenger plane with a missile – only after the West exposed the truth of this disgrace – that left bereft the families whose dear ones were on that flight. [Today], I decided to remind you of an important point, in this brief letter. "As the commander in chief of the armed forces, you bear on your shoulders direct responsibility for this affair. Tell me, on the morning of Wednesday, January 8, 2020, did you know about the disaster? Or, as the media claim, did your associates inform you of it only on Friday, January 10, 2020? If on Wednesday you already knew [the truth] and nevertheless allowed the military, security, and propaganda authorities to deceive the public, woe betide you. Because you certainly have none of the qualifications and attributes required by the constitution for the position of leader of Iran. "But this disgrace is not the only disgrace for which you are directly responsible. [Others include] the failure to accurately deal with the series of murders [of intellectuals] in 1998, the election fraud and the subsequent bloody suppression of the protests in 2009, the suppression of demonstrators in 2017, and, recently, the suppression of the exhausted public in the fuel price hike of November 2019. "And if, as [the media] claim, you knew nothing of this disaster and did not follow the exposure of the truth, please tell me: What kind of supreme leader are you, who is being played for a fool, as is the country? Even if this is the case, it is clear that you have none of the resourcefulness, courage, administrative [ability], or strength required of a leader."[4]   Abbas Abdi: "There Was No Lie Here – There Was Organized Concealment, Which is Worse Than A Lie" In an open letter to Khamenei dated January 12, 2020, reformist leader Abbas Abdi protested to Khamenei against the regime's systemic culture of lies and against its regular false reports to its citizens. The problem, he wrote, is not the lie itself, but the organized concealment of it, to the point where the top regime echelons claimed days after the airliner had been downed that they knew nothing of the actual events. Abdi maintained that this claim of ignorance was worse than the order to fire the missile that downed the plane. He also protested against the lack of a free media in the country, and against the establishment media's inability to criticize the regime and its actions. He wrote: "... In this affair, from the outset, it seemed as if lying about it would be idiotic... Therefore, [I thought] that the authorities were telling the truth [that the plane crash was the result of a technical glitch]. Not because the regime does not lie, but because I thought that it had the sense not to lie about this... "On the evening of Thursday, January 9, 2020, I met a senior government official at a certain gathering... He spoke about the airplane and said vehemently and in one word that the reason [for the crash] was a technical glitch. His words were so firm that I was convinced that he himself really believed them! That same night, I phoned someone I knew who was one of those in charge of [Iran's] national aviation organization. At first he didn't answer, but then he called me back and it turned out that he had participated, together with the organization's president, [in an interview aired by] the [national] broadcasting authority to explain why 'it wasn't a missile that downed the airplane!'  "Although some of the excuses were understandable to simple folk... there were points that went unmentioned. For example, what about the [shell] fragments in the airplane... why was there no recording [of the communications] between the pilot and [flight] control, and how could they make excuses for what is [clearly] visible in the video of the incident? My acquaintance in the national aviation organization said that the organization's president had vehemently denied that there had been a missile strike... but he had to tell me the truth, or at least express doubt, because the national aviation organization and the Transportation Ministry surely knew the truth... "[Time] passed... and on Friday, January 10, 2020, the government spokesman Ali Rabiei phoned me... He told me that 'this whole story [about a technical glitch] was a lie, and my blood is being spilled [because now they are saying I lied].' It is interesting that Rabiei too thought first of all of his honor! Indeed, he was right, because in a system that has no mercy for itself there is no reason for its members to think of its honor. Rabiei explained that [President] Rohani had explained to him that the last part of his [Rabiei] statements [at the press conference at which Rabiei had stated that crash was due to a technical glitch] was not true... "At the same time, I attempted [to obtain information] via another channel – and the outcome was terrible. That channel attempted to obtain information from his closest connections, and [also] they categorically denied that there had been any missile involved in downing the plane. "I am absolutely amazed that this is a system in which even the closest to it know nothing [about what really happens]. Later, it became clear that the problem is more than just a lie. There was no lie here – there was organized concealment [of the truth], which is many times worse than a lie... The problem, as I see it, goes beyond lies. We are dealing with a flawed and inefficient [regime] structure... "The main problem in this story is not the principle of lying. It is whether such an incident could happen and [still] not be known to the country's top political and military echelons three days later [hinting at Khamenei and Rohani]. Is it conceivable that a certain level of the operational arm [of the IRGC] made this mistake [of firing the missile] but did not allow anyone outside of its own circle to know about it? ... "Systematic concealment is the root of this crisis, and it is worse than lies. I will say clearly that I have said the same about the murders of writers in 1998: The authorities' ignorance in the matter of these murders was even worse than if they had been ordered by the authorities. Today too, the ignorance about what happened – on all levels that should have known about it – is much worse than the affair itself. "This disastrous affair reminds us of several points. The first of these is the lack of a free media, which is the mother of all the troubles in Iranian society. A media that cannot examine anything is better off not existing. This is the media that should have proven that the missile downed the airplane... The concealment and the lying to the public, not to mention under such circumstances, is unacceptable. There is no mistake here – there is only a plan and a method that were chosen as a modus operandi... "[5]   Exiled Journalist Ganji: "In The Dictatorship Of The Islamic Republic, The Media And The Majlis Cannot Question Khamenei – Because In The Absence Of Democracy And Freedom... Those In Power Are Not Responsible [For A Thing] – But This Does Not Relieve Khamenei Of Responsibility" In a January 12 article posted on Mehdi Karroubi's Telegram channel, exiled Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji called on Khamenei, in an open letter,  to account for his actions and to step down from his post. Also in the letter, he underlined a comparison between "the two commanders in chief, Trump and Khamenei," noting that Khamenei is responsible for downing a passenger plane and for the deaths of sons of Iran. He added that the crisis of confidence following the regime's conduct is so severe that it cannot be repaired. The clerics who control the country have achieved a culture of lies in the country and the crisis in the public's confidence in the regime, he said, and he called on the regime leaders not to drag the people into war and to relinquish power so that a secular democratic republic committed to citizens' freedom can arise in the regime's stead. Ganji was arrested in 2001 after publishing a series of articles about the 1988-98 murders and disappearances of oppositionist writers and intellectuals in which he hinted that senior Iranian officials were involved. He was imprisoned from 2001 to 2006, during which time he called for boycotting presidential elections in the country on the grounds that they perpetuate the Khamenei regime's totalitarian order. He wrote in his letter: "What should Khamenei do, as the one responsible for downing the plane and for the death of dozens of people? Ayatollah Khamenei is [Iran's] leader and he has absolute control. He is the commander in chief of the armed forces. Therefore, he bears all the responsibility for the launching of the missile at the passenger plane, which took the lives of Iranians and non-Iranians. "In America, Trump, as commander in chief of the armed forces, is under attack from all corners... The criticism of Trump for his decisions as commander in chief is completely reasonable, since as commander in chief  he is accountable. America's democratic society enables, via freedom of speech – which is part of its essence – attacks against Trump every so often, and there are demonstrations against him. He also responds to his critics... Besides the media, the Congress [sic] and the Senate harass him, and his election rivals criticize his foreign policy... "Khamenei too is commander in chief of the armed forces. He gave the order for 'severe retaliation' against America following Soleimani's assassination. A few hours after the declaration of 'severe retaliation' in a situation in which [IRGC] officials claimed they were on the alert [after they fired on the bases in Iraq], the passenger plane was downed by a missile, and the best of Iran's sons lost their lives. This is one of the consequences of that order. Khamenei is the one responsible for the entire operation, and he must be held accountable for its consequences.   "In the dictatorship of the Islamic republic, the media and the Majlis cannot question Khamenei. This is because in the absence of democracy and freedom, the reality is that those in power are not responsible [for a thing]. But this does not relieve Khamenei of responsibility. The responsibility for the blood of those killed falls on him, because he is the commander in chief of the armed forces. "Notice that the crash of the passenger plane that was caused by a missile took place during an operation that was conducted on Khamenei's orders, and this is because Operation Severe Retaliation was carried out on his orders, and because afterwards he said that this [operation of missiles fired at bases in Iraq housing U.S. soldiers] was just a slap in the face [for Trump] but that the [true] retaliation was still pending. The mistake and the error of firing [the missile at the airplane] does not relieve Khamenei of responsibility. He is the commander in chief of all the armed forces, and he commanded this operation,. "This incident came as a mighty shock. The [Islamic] Revolution and the violence [of the regime] that came after it caused confidence [in the regime] to atrophy over the past four decades. The main thing is that the public's lack of faith [in the regime of the] Islamic Republic has impacted the regime so severely that it cannot be rehabilitated. It has also spread to society. When it is so useful to lie, lying becomes the lot of everyone. Who believes anyone now? "The crisis of confidence has been gradually spreading for decades. Now we have arrived at a situation in which we have no national figures that anyone can trust. When we point out a particular figure, everyone attacks him [as a liar]... "This is one of the achievements of the jurisprudent. The jurisprudent has left behind the worst possible report card. The death of Iran's beloved [sons caused by] launching a missile in the warlike atmosphere that prevailed following [Iran's] missile attack [on bases in Iraq] is one of their achievements. "With all this, Iran yet exists. You have done everything possible, but do not do this to the Iranians; do not drag Iran into war, and do not bring about the dismantling and destruction of Iran. If war breaks out, tens of millions of Iranians will be killed, wounded, and uprooted. Even if you do not value human life, at least do not allow such an event to be carried out in the name of the clerics. "Iran needs a nonviolent transition to a secular and democratic republic committed to freedom, human rights, and justice, and rejecting all ethnic, religious, gender, and status discrimination. [The clerics must] abandon power – for the sake of Iran and the Iranians – and prepare a nonviolent move to shift the power from the Islamic Republic to a secular republic. This [should be] Khamenei's response to this disaster. This response will be for the good of all."[6]   Ayatollah Mahmoud Amjad: The Regime "Must Not Play With The Iranian People" Seminary instructor Ayatollah Mahmoud Amjad said on January 11: "The absence of integrity and capability in the senior Iranian officials in the matter of addressing the passenger plane crash is the great catastrophe. Now there is a need to return to God and to the truth. "These officials need to ask the people for forgiveness. Why not declare a period of public mourning? The Iranian officials must give the people an opportunity to attend the funerals of those martyred in the plane crash catastrophe and an opportunity to convey their message. The officials must not repeat the mistakes that they made in the November 2019 unrest. They must not play with the Iranian people."[7]   [1] IRNA.ir, January 13, 2020. [2] Etemad, Arman-e-Meli, and Iran, respectively. [3] Abdi was one of the students who took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979, but later became a reformist. He has been accused by ideologues in recent years of involvement in spying for the U.S., after he publicly expressed support for a renewal of Iran-U.S. relations and was even sent to prison for this. [4] Sahamnews.org, January 11, 2020. [5] Etemadnewspaper.ir, January 12, 2020. [6] Sahamnews.org, January 12, 2020. [7] Kaleme.com, January 11, 2020.

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ISIS's West Africa Province Claims 114 Nigerien Soldiers Killed In Two 'Bloody' Attacks In Niger's Tillabéri Region Near Border With Mali

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