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  • An Associated Press reporter on Monday grilled a State Department spokesperson over the US’s condemnation of an Israeli strike on a UN-run school in Gaza last summer, contrasting that response to Washington’s failure to condemn its own apparently accidental strike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan last week.

    The US government has said that the bombing of the hospital in Kunduz, which killed at least 19 people and wounded dozens more, was a “tragic incident,” but has refrained from condemning the attack as “the facts are still emerging” and it is still under investigation.

    During the daily press briefing, reporter Matthew Lee recalled that the State Department had issued a “very, very strong” statement after Israel bombed the UN school in the Gaza Strip, saying, “The suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians.”

  • Syria's President Bashar Assad attends prayers on the first day of Eid al-Adha at al-Adel mosque in Damascus. (photo credit:REUTERS)

    President Bashar Assad said a military campaign by Russia, Syria and its allies will decide the fate of the Middle East, and a year of US-led air strikes against Islamic State militants had only helped the spread of terrorism.

    In an interview with Iranian television broadcast on Sunday, Assad said if Syria, Russia, Iran and Iraq unite in battling terrorism their efforts would yield practical results.

    He was speaking days after Russian jets, based in western Syria, launched air strikes against targets Moscow has identified as Islamic State bases, but which Assad's opponents say disproportionately hit rival, foreign-backed insurgents.

    "The chances of this alliance's success are big, not small," Assad said, adding that failure would mean "we face the destruction of the whole region."

  • al-Qaida cheif Ayman al-Zawahiri sits with predecessor Osama Bin Laden during an interview in 2001 . (photo credit:REUTERS)

    A month after the leader of al-Qaida said that the Islamic State and its leader are illegitimate, a recording of Ayman Zawihri was released Monday, documenting an even harsher tirade against ISIS and the man who refers to himself as the Caliph of Islam, ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

    "You spill blood and attack the Muslim people in order to rule," Zawihiri said in his fourth recorded lecture released as part of his "Islamic Spring" lessons. He added that, "Baghdadi's Caliphate is a Caliphate of explosions, damage and destruction."

    The bulk of the criticism dealt with the manner in which ISIS forces those under its rule to convert to Islam and succumb to the organization's rule. "Pledging allegiance by force, which some spiritual leaders have allowed, is not our way," he said.

  • The Census Bureau’s 2014 American Community Survey  (ACS) reveals that Arabic and Urdu – Pakistan’s national language– are the fastest-growing foreign languages spoken at home, according to a new report by the Center for Immigration Studies.

    After five decades of large-scale immigration, a record 63.2 million U.S. residents, or more than one-in-five, speak a language other than English when at home. 

    Previous reports have shown that the United States is now the second largest Spanish speaking country in the world. But the new census study shows that the fastest-growing foreign languages, in percentage terms, are languages spoken by immigrants from Muslim-majority countries.

    Between 2010 and 2014, there was a 29 percent increase in Arabic, a 23 percent increase in Urdu, and a 9 percent in Persian, which is spoken in Iran.

  • The chief of the aerospace division of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, left, listens to an unidentified colonel as he points to US RQ-170 Sentinel drone / AP

    A senior Iranian military leader warned this weekend that “all U.S. military bases in the Middle East are within the range of” Iran’s missiles and emphasized that the Islamic Republic will continue to break international bans on the construction of ballistic missiles.

    Much of this missile work, like the details of Iran’s advanced arsenal, remains secret, according to Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force.

    Hajizadeh dismissed the threat of military action by the United States, warning that all U.S. assets and allies are in range of Iran’s current missile arsenal, according to comments made Sunday in Tehran and recorded by Iran’s state-controlled Fars News Agency.

    The threats of attack on the United States were issued as Iran unveiled new high-tech torpedoes and the formation of a joint war room along with Russia, Syria, and Iraq.

  • Russia’s deputy chief of staff, Gen. Nikolay Bogdanovsky, accompanied by a large military delegation, arrives in Israel for a two-day visit on Tuesday, Oct. 6, to discuss increased coordination between the two militaries. However, Moscow seems to be sending Jerusalem an altogether different message: Friday, Oct. 2, the Russian Defense Ministry announced the surprise deployment of Navy cruiser, the Moskva, armed with 64 advanced anti-aircraft missiles S-300 ship-to-air missiles opposite the Syrian coastal town of Latakia.

    DEBKAfile’s military sources point out that Russia, without saying so publicly, has thus created an effective no-fly zone over most of Syria, most of northern Israel, including the Golan, as well as southern Turkey, for US aircraft based there for air strikes in Syria; Cyprus, the site of British air force bases; and Jordan.

    Since 2012, The Obama administration has been discussing the possibility of establishing no-fly zones in northern and southern Syria on a number of occasions, but has shelved the plan whenever a decision was imminent. Now, with one move, Moscow has imposed a no-fly zone over Syria.

  • NATO warned Russia to stay away from Turkey on Monday after the Turkish Air Force intercepted Russian warplanes that strayed into its airspace from Syria, underscoring the heightened risk of a wider conflagration as Russia escalates its intervention in the Syrian conflict.

    The alliance of Western allies, to which Turkey belongs, also expressed concern over Russia’s continuing military buildup in Syria, urging it to halt attacks on rebel-held areas in northwestern Syria that “led to civilian casualties and did not target Daesh,” using an acronym for the Islamic State, according to a NATO statement issued after a meeting to discuss the weekend incident.

    Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the Russian ambassador had informed him that the incident was a mistake, but it nonetheless contributed to the sense that Moscow’s intervention in Syria had added a dangerously unpredictable new dimension to the war.

  • Eitam Henkin and Naama Henkin of Neria, who were murdered in a drive-by terror attack near Nablus on Thursday, October 1, 2015. (screen capture: Channel 2)

    Israeli security forces have arrested the Palestinian terror cell that carried out the murders of Naama and Eitam Henkin in the West Bank on Thursday, the Shin Bet security service said Monday evening.

    A statement from the Shin Bet said it had carried out the operation in conjunction with the Israel Defense Forces and Israel Police. The suspects had been taken in for questioning by the Shin Bet and had admitted their involvement in the attack, the statement said.

    The five cell members are Hamas members from Nablus, the Shin Bet said.

    The Israeli couple, both in their 30s, were driving in their car with their four children when they came under attack from Palestinian gunmen. The two were shot dead in front of their children; the children were unharmed.

  • An Israel Air Force airplane F-16 D takes off, June 28 2010. (Ofer Zidon/Flash90)

    Israeli jets bombed a target in the Gaza Strip early Monday morning after a Palestinian terror group launched a rocket into southern Israel.

    Palestinian media in Gaza reported Israeli strikes shortly after 2:30 a.m., a matter of hours after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip Sunday night landed in open territory in the Eshkol Regional Council in southern Israel, causing neither injury or damage.

    There were no immediate reports of injuries.

    The IDF said in a statement that Israeli aircraft struck “a Hamas terror site in the northern Gaza Strip.”

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Provocative Commentary

“The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day.” 
― E.M. Bounds