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U.K. intel: Iran 2 years from nukes

U.K. intel: Iran 2 years from nukes | The Re Scoop | Scoop.it

(The Bulletin) - In an unusually public forum, the head of Britain’s foreign intelligence agency, MI6, has forecast that Iran would likely achieve a nuclear weapons capability within two years, a British newspaper reported Friday.
 

The newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, quoted Sir John Sawers, once the ranking British diplomat on the Iranian nuclear issue and now head of the Secret Intelligence Service, as making the disclosure last week to a gathering of around 100 high-ranking civil servants. The reported remarks play into a highly contentious debate over Iran’s intentions and capabilities, in which estimates have varied widely.

 

U.S. intelligence agencies have cited a 2007 assessment stating that Iran, in fact, suspended research on nuclear weapons technology in 2003 and had not decided to take the final steps needed to build a bomb. But Britain and Israel, in particular, have interpreted the same data to mean that a decision has been made to move to a nuclear weapons capability. For its part, Iran has frequently said it has no intention to build such weapons.
 

Sawers was also said to have maintained that covert operations by British intelligence agents had prevented Iran from acquiring the technology as early as 2008. A British government official, speaking in return for anonymity under departmental rules, said Sawers had been “speaking off the record to civil servants at a leadership event, and what he said has been said by others before.”
 

According to The Daily Telegraph, the remarks were Sawers’ first publicly reported assessment of Iran’s nuclear ambitions since his appointment as head of MI6 in 2009. Iran, he said, was now “two years away” from becoming a “a nuclear weapons state,” The Daily Telegraph reported, and when it achieved that status, the United States and Israel would have to decide whether to strike.
 

“The Iranians are determinedly going down a path to master all aspects of nuclear weapons; all the technologies they need,” he said. “It’s equally clear that Israel and the United States would face huge dangers if Iran were to become a nuclear weapon state.”
 

Iran says its nuclear program is designed for peaceful purposes but, reflecting the assessment that Tehran is seeking a nuclear weapons capability, the United States and its allies have imposed a tightening vise of economic sanctions, the latest Thursday, accompanying thus far inconclusive diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to abandon nuclear enrichment.
 

“I think it will be very tough for any prime minister of Israel or president of the United States to accept a nuclear-armed Iran,” Sawers said.


Without previous efforts by British intelligence, he was quoted as saying, “You’d have Iran as a nuclear weapons state in 2008 rather than still being two years away in 2012.”

He did not elaborate.
 

In recent years, several Iranian scientists have been assassinated on the streets of Tehran and a computer virus called Stuxnet has disrupted computer systems at nuclear facilities in Iran. Tehran has accused the U.S., Israeli and British secret services of conducting covert operations against it.
 

Sawers said MI6 has “run a series of operations to ensure that the sanctions introduced internationally are implemented, and that we do everything we can within the Middle East to slow down these remaining problems.”
 

Earlier this month, low-level talks between Iran and the group of big powers over the Iranian nuclear program ended early with both sides saying the deputies of their top negotiators would meet at a later date. Their announcement gave no hint of progress but nonetheless suggested that neither side was ready to declare the effort a failure.
 

The talks, in Istanbul, were part of a series of negotiations this year and were held against a backdrop of increasingly bellicose oratory by Iran and the United States because of the nuclear impasse, which has started to raise tensions again in the Middle East.
 

Iran has renewed a threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, a vital Persian Gulf oil conduit, in response to intensified U.S. and European sanctions meant to paralyze the Iranian oil industry as a pressure tactic in the nuclear talks. Iran has also said the new sanctions will have no effect on its resolve to prevail in the nuclear dispute.
 

Since 2010, Iran has been enriching some of its processed uranium to raise its purity from around 5 to 20 percent, saying it needs the concentrated fuel for a research reactor in Tehran. The purity is less than the 90 percent level needed for nuclear weapons, but facilitates further purification to weapons grade.
 

In 2011, Tehran said it would triple the amount of uranium enriched to 20 percent and slowly move the operation to a once-secret enrichment plant known as Fordo deep inside a mountain near the holy city of Qum and widely considered by experts to be invulnerable to bombing.

 

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Quebec: Islamophobia activist charged with terrorism

Quebec: Islamophobia activist charged with terrorism | The Re Scoop | Scoop.it

This Muslima demonstrates some politically incorrect truths quite clearly. A true believing Muslim is a true believing Muslim regardless of  gender - and Islamophobia is a mythfalse narrative, and psychological attack.


(National Post) - A Quebec activist who fought the stereotyping of Muslims was charged with supporting terrorism on Friday after an RCMP investigation linked her to an alleged scheme to smuggle weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
 

Mouna Diab, 26, was charged with committing a crime “for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group,” the RCMP said in a statement. She faces a possible life sentence if convicted. The Laval woman was arrested at Montreal’s Trudeau airport last year and accused of violating an international arms embargo targeting Lebanon, but police added the far more serious terrorism charge on Friday.


While Canadian police have laid dozens of charges under the anti-terrorism laws enacted after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Ms. Diab is the first woman to face charges related to a foreign terrorist organization.
 

The case also marks the first time Canada has laid charges in connection with Hezbollah, and comes amid concerns Tehran is preparing to unleash the Iranian-sponsored terrorist group in the event of a strike on its nuclear program.
 

Although a key political party in Lebanon, Hezbollah is also a paramilitary and terrorist group funded, armed and trained by Iran, which uses it as a proxy force. Canada is among a long list of nations that have outlawed Hezbollah, calling it one of the most technically capable terrorist groups in the world. The United Nations Security Council has ordered Hezbollah to disarm but it has only added to its arsenal and now possesses thousands of missiles and rockets supplied by Iran and Syria. 

Public Safety Canada: “One of the most technically capable terrorist groups in the world, Hezbollah is a radical Shia group ideologically inspired by the Iranian revolution. Its goals are the liberation of Jerusalem, the destruction of Israel, and, ultimately, the establishment of a revolutionary Shia Islamic state in Lebanon, modeled after Iran.” Source: Currently Listed Entities, Public Safety Canada. 

“Despite its foray into Lebanese politics, Hezbollah retains a potent military capability independent of Lebanese state control and a terrorist wing controlled by Hezbollah’s leadership,” reads a June 2010 Canadian intelligence study obtained by the National Post.


“Hezbollah has a proven capability to conduct a mass casualty attack, target unguarded foreign nationals, strike at heavily guarded targets, and carry out multiple and coordinated attacks,” reads the report, released under the Access to Information Act.

 

The charge against Ms. Diab followed an investigation called Project Sagittaire by the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team in Quebec. Police alleged she bought firearms parts in the Montreal area to send to Lebanon and that they could be reassembled to build two complete AR-15-type rifles.
 

“It is alleged that Diab was acting under the direction of a contact person in Lebanon who is associated with Hezbollah,” the RCMP said in a press release. Quebec provincial police and Montreal police were also involved in the investigation.
 

Firearms parts were found in her luggage at Montreal airport on May 19, 2011. “Based on gathered evidence it is also alleged that she was shipping firearms parts through people in her community traveling to Lebanon. The victims were unaware of the contents of the packages they were carrying for the accused,” the RCMP said.
 

The RCMP statement said Hezbollah was “primarily involved in logistics and operational support activities and fundraising” in Canada but there are concerns Tehran has been priming the terror group to conduct reprisal attacks if Iranian nuclear facilities are struck. Hezbollah has also threatened to avenge the 2008 killing of its chief terrorist, Imad Mugniyah. Following his assassination in Damascus, Canadian authorities warned Canadian Jewish groups that Hezbollah might attempt a revenge attack in Canada.

 

The Hezbollah presence in Canada goes back at least two decades. In 1993, a Hezbollah member named Mohamed Hussein Al Husseini told the Canadian Security Intelligence Service that Hezbollah had operatives “in all of Canada.” Several senior Hezbollah members are alleged to be Canadians, including Faouzi Ayoub, a former Toronto man who took part in a hijacking and was added to the FBI’s most wanted terrorists list last July.
 

Militaristic Hezbollah flags have appeared at demonstrations in Toronto and Montreal as recently as last August, and in 2007 members of Windsor’s Lebanese community erected a commercial billboard featuring Hezbollah boss Hassan Nasrallah. It was taken down following complaints.
 

Hezbollah: Hezbollah posted the following tribute to its assassinated chief terrorist, Imad Mugniyah, on its website last year. “They thought silencing him would do the trick. They thought wrong….With every passing month he asks revenge. And with every passing year, they ask themselves when, where, and how they will taste his revenge.” Source: moqawama.org.

“Hezbollah’s fundraising activities can often be boiled down to simply taking advantage of opportunities that arise from having a vast expatriate Shia population sympathetic to the group,” Matthew Levitt, a former U.S. Treasury official, wrote in Terrorism Financing.
 

The group gets an estimated $100-million a year from Iran but also raises substantial funds in Canada and elsewhere through crime, businesses, taxation and front charities such as the Martyr’s Foundation, according to experts and officials.
 

Hezbollah has been responsible for suicide bombings, hijackings, kidnappings and assassinations, including the 2005 killing of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri, and remains a considerable source of instability and insecurity in the Middle East.
 

It ignited a month-long war with Israel in 2006 and any number of triggers might set it off again, notably its ongoing conflict with Israel, the indictment of four Hezbollah members over the Hariri assassination and its support for its closest allies, Iran and Syrian.


Hezbollah has never conducted a terrorist attack on Canadian soil but it has scouted potential targets and its 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre in Argentina showed it was willing to strike abroad and fueled fears it could harm Canada’s large Jewish community.


Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said in a statement Friday the government was working with international partners “to ensure that Canada will not be a source of weapons or other resources for groups or individuals associated with terrorism.”
 

Prior to her arrest, Ms. Diab was vice-president of the Association of Young Lebanese Muslims. Her activism was focused partly on changing the stereotypes that too often associate Muslims with terrorism and violence.

Wearing her hijab, she was part of a delegation that traveled to Herouxville, Que., in 2007 after the town passed a code of conduct aimed at immigrants that banned stonings, female genital mutilation and head coverings. 


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