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Impose “military sanctions” on Iran, Netanyahu says, while Israeli Ambassador says red line will be reached by summer. Bluff, or is a preemptive strike coming?

In Uncategorized on February 27, 2013 at 7:32 pm
Military sanctions?

Military sanctions?

Even as President Obama and his team are preparing a major tour through Israel and the Middle East next month, two Israeli leaders today significantly ratched up the prospect of an Israeli military strike by this summer. Is it a bluff, or is Jerusalem running out of patience?

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented Wednesday on the nuclear negotiations between the West and Iran, saying that the six powers should clarify to Tehran that if it continues to pursue its nuclear program it would face ‘military sanctions,'” reports Ynet News in Israel. “As the talks drew to their end, Netanyahu said that if Iran’s refusal persists, ‘There are other means of compelling Iran to adhere to the international community’s demands.'”

“Netanyahu said that it was unlikely that the Islamic Republic would capitulate to the West’s demands, and curb its nuclear endeavors,” noted Ynet. “‘Just like North Korea, (Iran) continues to flout all international standards,’ Netanyahu said, adding that the international community should also toughen the financial sanctions imposed on the ayatollah’s regime. As the nuclear talks in Kazakhstan drew to an end Wednesday, Iran’s chief negotiator Said Jalili told reporters that the negotiations were ‘positive’ and that the offers made by the P5+1 group of nations’ delegates were ‘more realistic than those presented in the past and made an effort to approach the positions of Iran.’ According to Iran’s Press TV, the next round of talks between Tehran and the six powers – Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany – will be held in April.”

The Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. is echoing Netanyahu’s message today.

“I think there’s time, but there’s not much time” for sanctions to work, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren told USA Today. “There’s a window for diplomacy, but the window is closing….We know that given the centrifuges that they have now, they will pass a red line. That’s the point where we will no longer be able to prevent them from making a nuclear weapon, and that line is coming up in the summer. If they install the next generation of centrifuges — and they’re installing them right now — (and) if those centrifuges begin to spin, then the time will be even shorter.”

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Iran’s “Plan B” for a nuclear bomb. If only this were fiction.

In Uncategorized on February 27, 2013 at 2:29 pm
Water vapour, circled, is seen being emitted from forced air coolers at the Arak heavy water production plant earlier this month, showing that the facility is operational Photo: DigitalGlobe Inc/McKenzie Intelligence Ltd

Water vapour, circled, is seen being emitted from forced air coolers at the Arak heavy water production plant earlier this month, showing that the facility is operational Photo: DigitalGlobe Inc/McKenzie Intelligence Ltd

If only this were fiction, friends. Unfortunately, it isn’t.

“The Telegraph can disclose details of activity at a heavily-guarded Iranian facility from which international inspectors have been barred for 18 months,” reports the London Telegraph. “The images, taken earlier this month, show that Iran has activated the Arak heavy-water production plant. Heavy water is needed to operate a nuclear reactor that can produce plutonium, which could then be used to make a bomb. The images show signs of activity at the Arak plant, including a cloud of steam that indicates heavy-water production.”

“The striking image of steam over the Arak heavy-water complex is a vivid demonstration that the regime has more than one pathway to a potential nuclear weapon,” notes the Telegraph. “Previously, international talks on Iran’s nuclear programme have focused on the Islamic Republic’s attempts to enrich uranium at plants including Fordow. But the new images of Arak highlight the progress Iran has made on facilities that could allow it to produce plutonium, potentially giving the country a second option in developing a nuclear weapon….Iran has told the IAEA that it will begin operating the reactor at Arak in the first three months of 2014. The country still lacks the technology to reprocess plutonium and use it for a weapon. But North Korea has successfully developed that technology, and some analysts speculate that Iran could do the same.”

“Mark Fitzpatrick, a former US State Department official at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, suggested that Arak could be part of a process that might trigger Western strikes on Iran,” reports the Telegraph. “One option for the Iranian regime would be to acquire the necessary reprocessing technology from North Korea, he said. ‘By then, the option of a military strike on an operating reactor would present enormous complications because of the radiation that would be spread,’ he explained. ‘Some think Israel’s red line for military action is before Arak comes online.'”

UPDATE: “I think there’s time, but there’s not much time” for sanctions to work, Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren told USA Today. “There’s a window for diplomacy, but the window is closing….We know that given the centrifuges that they have now, they will pass a red line. That’s the point where we will no longer be able to prevent them from making a nuclear weapon, and that line is coming up in the summer. If they install the next generation of centrifuges — and they’re installing them right now — (and) if those centrifuges begin to spin, then the time will be even shorter.”

Key headlines I’m tracking:

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Just one week until #DamascusCountdown releases. Here’s a sneak preview.

In Uncategorized on February 26, 2013 at 9:38 pm

damascuscountdown

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just one week from today — Tuesday, March 5th — Damascus Countdown releases. This international political thriller is the last novel in a trilogy that includes The Twelfth Imam and The Tehran Initiative.

The series focuses on David Shirazi, an Iranian-born operative for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Shirazi has been sent undercover to Tehran to identify and sabotage the Ayatollah’s top secret nuclear weapons program, a program that is being developed in coordination with North Korea. Meanwhile, even as an American President realizes he has waited too long to stop Iran, he pressures Israeli leaders not to take action of their own. But all Hell breaks loose when the Israeli Prime Minister does, in fact, order a massive preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Then comes the blowback as Iran and her enemies — Hezbollah, Hamas but especially Syria — join the holy war to annihilate Israel and usher in the End of Days and the caliphate of the Islamic messiah.

You can pre-order it now in hardcover, audio book, and e-book formats (to be read on the Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc, as well as on your mobile phone).

In the meantime, here are excerpts from Chapter One.

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CHAPTER ONE — QOM, IRAN

David knew one of Iran’s largest nuclear facilities—the uranium enrichment plant at Fordow—was just a few miles away over the ridge, and sure enough, a split second later, he heard the deafening roar of explosions, one after another in rapid succession. He turned and saw enormous balls of fire and plumes of smoke rising into the sky and the four Israeli jets disappearing into the clouds.

But then another strike package came swooping down behind them. Four more Israeli fighters—emblazoned with the blue Star of David on their wings—descended like lightning. He assumed their mission, too, was to attack the facility down the road. But David watched in horror as one of the jets first fired an air-to-ground missile at the heart of the mosque behind him. They were sending a message to the Twelfth Imam and to all his followers. But they were about to destroy David’s plan.

His instinct was to get up and run for cover, but it was too late, and he had to do everything possible to protect Javad Nouri. That was his mission. Under no circumstances could he allow Nouri to die. He absolutely had to deliver the aide back to the Mahdi wounded but alive and indebted to David. It was, he believed, the only chance to gain the Mahdi’s trust and the only shred of a chance he had to be invited into the inner circle. Then again, did any of that matter now? The war he had been sent to prevent was under way. The carnage on both sides was going to be incalculable. The entire region was about to go up in flames. What was left for him to do?

Suddenly the ground convulsed as a series of explosions ripped through the complex. The minarets began to totter. People were screaming again, running in all directions as the first tower came crashing down and the second followed. David covered his head and made sure Nouri was covered too. Then, as the smoke began to clear, he turned and surveyed the carnage. Bodies were sprawled everywhere. Some were dead. Others were severely wounded. David turned Nouri over. He was covered in blood. His eyes were dilated, but he was breathing. He was still alive.

Guns drawn, three injured bodyguards soon rushed to David’s side. With his help, they carefully picked up Nouri and carried him to the white SUV, severely damaged by the car bombing nearby but still intact and still running. Together, they laid Nouri down on the backseat. One security man climbed in the back with him. Another climbed into one of the middle seats. The third shut and locked the side door, then got in the front passenger seat.

“Wait, wait; you forgot these,” David yelled just before the guard closed the door. He grabbed the box of satellite phones and gave them to the guard. “The Mahdi wanted these. They don’t all work. But some of them do.”

Then he pulled out a pen and quickly wrote his mobile number on the box. “Have the Mahdi’s people call me and tell me how Javad is. And tell me if there’s anything I can do for the Mahdi himself.”

The guard thanked David and shook his hand vigorously. Then he shut the door, and what was left of the motorcade raced off.

David stood there alone as the ground shook again. More Israeli jets were swooping down from the heavens. They were firing more missiles and dropping more bombs on targets just over the mountains. For a moment, David couldn’t move. He stared at the billows of smoke rising from the air strikes over the horizon and tried to calculate his next move.

He looked to the street, searching for the taxi he’d asked to wait. It was nowhere to be seen, but he could hardly blame the driver. People were panicked from the gunfire, the car bombing, and the air strikes. They were fleeing as rapidly as they could in every direction. David knew he had to get away as well. He couldn’t afford to be caught by the police and dragged in for questioning. He had a mission. He had a plan. He had a team that was counting on him. He knew he had to stay focused, yet he grieved for those wounded around him. So he turned and rushed to the side of one severely wounded guard who was slipping into unconsciousness. Hearing sirens approaching from every direction, David took off his jacket and used it to put pressure on the man’s bleeding leg. As he did, he silently prayed over the man, asking the Lord to comfort and heal him.

Ambulances began arriving on the scene. Paramedics were soon rushing to the wounded to triage them and get the most critical cases to the nearest hospitals. Amid the chaos and confusion, David saw his opportunity. He took a pistol off the wounded bodyguard and slipped it into his pocket. Then he moved to another of the downed guards. The man seemed to be staring up at the sky. His mouth was open. But when David checked for a pulse, he found none. David closed the man’s eyes, then quickly lifted a spare magazine and took the guard’s two-way radio.

Firefighters were now arriving to battle multiple blazes. More police officers were pulling up as well. They began to secure the crime scene and interview what few witnesses had not fled the scene quickly enough. David tried to use the commotion as cover. He was determined not to be questioned, much less exposed. But then he heard someone shouting behind him. David turned and saw an elderly cleric, blood splattered all over his robes, pointing at him.

“Talk to that man!” the cleric said to a police officer. “He was here when all the shooting started. And I think he just took something off that dead body.”

The policeman looked directly at David and ordered him to stop. David didn’t dare. With a surge of adrenaline, he pivoted hard and began sprinting into the blazing wreckage of the mosque. The officer shouted again for him to halt and began running after him, blowing a whistle and calling other officers to join the pursuit.

Continued…

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Hagel wins confirmation vote in “narrowest vote ever for a defense secretary.” Bodes ill for U.S. policy in the Mideast.

In Uncategorized on February 26, 2013 at 5:56 pm

capitol

>> UPDATE: “Mr. Hagel was confirmed 58 to 41—the narrowest vote ever for a defense secretary. Some believe the largely party-line vote could leave Mr. Hagel, the successor to Leon Panetta, in a weakened position,” reported the Wall Street Journal. “A former Republican senator from Nebraska, Mr. Hagel becomes the first defense secretary who needed to garner 60 votes to pass a procedural hurdle before Tuesday’s confirmation vote. Earlier Tuesday, more than a dozen Senate Republicans put aside qualms about Mr. Hagel to join Democrats in a procedural vote that effectively ended a filibuster, paving the way for a confirmation vote. Just four GOP senators—Kentucky’s Rand Paul, Alabama’s Richard Shelby, Nebraska’s Mike Johanns and Mississippi’s Thad Cochran—voted for Mr. Hagel’s nomination. Mr. Paul had voted twice to delay the nomination, but after the second attempt failed, he decided to vote for Mr. Hagel….The hyperpartisan battle over a cabinet nominee is rare. Mr. Hagel will be the first Pentagon head to win confirmation despite opposition from dozens of senators. Eleven senators voted “no” on George C. Marshall’s nomination in 1950, the previous high, according to Senate records. Still, President George W. Bush’s attorney general nominees won confirmation by slimmer margins: John Ashcroft won by 16 votes, and Michael Mukasey won by 13.”

ANALYSIS: Hagel’s confirmation bodes ill for U.S. policy in the Middle East. More than three dozen Senators do not trust his judgment and lack of experience. Still others question his judgment and experience yet decided to vote for him in deference to the President. What teeth does U.S. diplomacy have with Iran over nuclear issues — and what credibility do we have in putting serious military option “on the table” (even as we hope not to have to use it) — when the new Secretary of Defense is on record as being strongly opposed to military action against Iran, and has had harsher words for Israel than for Iran?

ORIGINAL POST: “Chuck Hagel cleared a 60-vote procedural hurdle to confirmation Tuesday, setting up a final vote on his nomination as Defense secretary at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday,” reports Roll Call newspaper. “The Senate voted 71-27 in favor of invoking cloture on the nomination of former Sen. Hagel, R-Neb., to be the next Pentagon chief. Eighteen Republicans voted in favor of the motion, which required a three-fifths majority.”

“Hagel fell just shy of cloture on Feb. 14, with the Senate rejecting the motion to end debate 58-40; Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, voted present,” notes the Capitol Hill publication. “Tuesday’s cloture vote was a motion to reconsider the earlier vote that made Hagel the first Defense secretary nominee to be filibustered. Hatch and John McCain, R-Ariz., were among 11 senators who changed their vote. McCain, who called Hagel ‘the least impressive witness’ he has ever seen in his 26-year tenure in the Senate, said Monday he voted against cloture on Valentine’s Day because he ‘wanted the questions answered.’ Senators submitted more than 150 questions to Hagel after his Jan. 31 confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee. To be confirmed, Hagel only needs a simple majority, which should be easily achieved considering Hagel’s support among all Democrats and at least three Republicans.” Please call your Senators immediately to express your opposition to Mr. Hagel. The Senate switchboard number is 202-224-3121.

Rosenberg joins Santorum & Jewish and Christian leaders to oppose Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary.

In Uncategorized on February 26, 2013 at 4:00 pm

A group of Jewish and Christian leaders joined together today with former Senator and U.S. presidential candidate Rick Santorum to call on members of the United States Senate to vote to stop the confirmation of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. I was honored to be part of this group.

While we share different views on a range of other subjects, on this issue we are united. We believe Mr. Hagel is a terrible choice. He does not truly understand the critical issues in Iran, Syria, and the rest of the Middle East. He doesn’t not truly understand or appreciate the importance of a strong and healthy U.S.-Israel alliance. He has neither the experience nor the wisdom for this job, and he would send the exact wrong signal to the mullahs in Tehran.

Thus, we sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the rest of the Members expressing our concerns and asking them to do everything in their power to stop Mr. Hagel’s confirmation. The text of the letter follows.

I’m deeply concerned about the President not having a strong, principled policy to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Nor do I believe he has the right approach to prevent Iran, Syria and Hezbollah from seeking to annihilate Israel. That’s why I wrote this new novel, Damascus Countdown, which releases next week, to help people see what could happen when Washington misunderstands the nature and threat of evil. But it’s not enough just to write fictional accounts of worst case scenarios that may be coming our way. We need to take action when we can, and this is one of those moments.

A cloture vote ending debate on the Hagel nomination could come as early as noon eastern today. Please call your Senators immediately to express your opposition to Mr. Hagel. The Senate switchboard number is 202-224-3121.

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Senator Harry Reid

522 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Senator Reid:

                 We write to urge you to oppose Chuck Hagel’s nomination to become the next Secretary of Defense.  The evidence that has accumulated in recent weeks makes one thing clear:  Notwithstanding assurances he has made privately to your colleague, Sen. Chuck Schumer, in the course of his confirmation hearing and in other settings, Sen. Hagel’s longstanding hostility towards Jews and Israel is reprehensible and should disqualify him from this sensitive post.

                 That is especially true at the present moment.  As you are well aware, the next few years may be among the most turbulent in the history of U.S.-Israeli relations.  This is the case thanks to the developing perfect storm of: continuing and intensifying violence perpetrated by al Qaeda and other jihadists throughout the Middle East and adjacent regions; the ascendancy there and elsewhere of a Muslim Brotherhood equally committed to Israel’s destruction; and an Iranian regime that explicitly and repeatedly declares its intention to wipe Israel off the map nearing the realization of its nuclear weapon ambitions.       

                 Particularly under such circumstances, the myriad examples of former Senator Hagel’s hostility towards Jews and the Jewish State cannot be dismissed on the basis of disavowals or apologies that clearly have much more to do with the needs of his imperiled confirmation than with a change of heart.  Consider just a few of the cases in point: 

  • Sen. Hagel’s long-held notions about the “Jewish lobby” intimidating Senators.
  • His moral equivalence between Israel and those bent on its destruction. 
  • His view that Israel’s putative nuclear arsenal is more worrying than an Iranian one. 
  • His claim that the State Department is an “adjunct to the Israeli Foreign Ministers’ office.” 
  • His contention that Israel is becoming “an apartheid state.” And
  • His co-authorship of a report that recommends inserting U.S. forces on the West Bank to facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian state there.  Such a step would inevitably embroil us in that conflict – probably, in due course, with the effect of protecting Palestinian terrorists against Israeli defensive measures.

All these bespeak a deep-seated animus that will surely dangerously influence Senator Hagel’s conduct should he become Defense Secretary. 

No true friend of the Jewish people and Israel can support that outcome.  We call upon you to preclude it from happening.

Sincerely,

  • Hon. Rick Santorum, Co-Founder, Patriot Voices
  • Pastor John C. Hagee, Founder and National Chairman of Christians United for Israel
  • Mort Klein, President, Zionist Organization of America
  • Rev. Rick Joyner, President, The Oak Initiative
  • Beth Gilinsky, President, National Conference on Jewish Affairs
  • Lieutenant General William G. Boykin, Ordained Minister, Kingdom Warriors
  • Rabbi Jon Hausman, Policy Committee Member, National Conference on Jewish Affairs
  • Sarah Stern, President, Endowment for Middle East Truth
  • Joel Rosenberg, New York Times Best-selling Author
  • Nicholas F. Papanicalaou, Chief Executive Officer, Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem

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With Iran/Syria threat looming, Israel successfully tests Arrow 3 missile defense system. But it won’t be operational until 2016.

In Uncategorized on February 25, 2013 at 10:35 pm
A diagram by the US Missile Defense Agency depicting missile interception by the Arrow system. (graphic credit: Jerusalem Post)

A diagram by the US Missile Defense Agency depicting missile interception by the Arrow system. (graphic credit: Jerusalem Post)

“The Ministry of Defense carried out its first successful test of the Arrow 3 missile defense interceptor on Monday morning, firing it into space from a coastal military launching pad in central Israel,” reports the Jerusalem Post. “Set to become operational in around 2016, the Arrow 3 missile defense system operates in space, traveling at twice the speed of a tank shell to leave the atmosphere. It is designed to seek and destroy Iranian Shihab 3 missiles, as well as other long-range projectiles.”

“A senior defense source said the interceptor took off at around 8 a.m. on Monday morning over the Mediterranean Sea,” noted the Post. “‘It obtained hypersonic speed, and reached an altitude of 100 kilometers, entering space. It followed various objects, such as stars, and gained further altitude. Its engine stopped after six minutes,’ the source said.”

“Israel’s hand is always extended in peace, but we are also always prepared for other possibilities,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a statement released following a meeting with Mideast Quartet envoy Tony Blair, according to Haaretz. “He went on to praise the successful completion of the advanced system’s first test flight earlier on Monday. ‘It demonstrates the State of Israel’s high technological capability, the State of Israel’s high defense capability … and our cooperation with the U.S.,’ Netanyahu said. ‘It will help us maintain the safety of the citizens of Israel, whether it is in a time of peace, or when peace is threatened.'”

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Two Jewish groups raise concerns about Hagel’s approach to Iran, Israel. Senate vote could be Tuesday.

In Uncategorized on February 25, 2013 at 9:43 pm
Will Hagel be stopped?

Will Hagel be stopped?

With a vote on the Chuck Hagel nomination looming — possibly as early as Tuesday — two major Jewish organizations have raised serious concerns and asked Senators to review Hagel’s record regarding Iran, Syria, Israel and the Middle East more in-depth before making a final decision. One group was the American Jewish Committe (AJC). The other was B’nai B’rith International.

Hagel is a terrible choice to be Secretary of Defense. He would send the exact wrong message to Iran and our enemies in the epicenter. I recommend doing everything you can to contact every U.S. Senator to express your opposition to his confirmation. 

Meanwhile, I thought it was important for you see what these two prominent Jewish groups are saying.

 B’nai B’rith International has released the following statement:

B’nai B’rith International remains concerned with many aspects of former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel’s responses to questions during his confirmation hearing for the position of secretary of defense. Since then, more questions have been raised about Hagel’s views on a number of important issues.

During the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Hagel did not assuage our reservations on how he would approach such topics as terrorism, Iran and Israel. We urge all Senators, as they prepare to vote, to carefully review Hagel’s record and hearing responses to determine his qualifications for the post.

We are concerned that Hagel, unlike the vast majority of his Senate colleagues, underestimates the threat of the Iran-backed terrorist group Hezbollah.

Hagel was in the minority when 88 of his then-Senate colleagues called on the European Union to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Hezbollah has been a global terror group since it was founded some 30 years ago. Its decades of terror include the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon that killed 241 Marines, soldiers and sailors, and the July 2012 attack on Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria that killed five Israelis, their Bulgarian bus driver and wounded 30 others. After a six month investigation, the Bulgarian government issued a report unequivocally blaming Hezbollah for that attack.

We are troubled that Hagel, during his confirmation hearings, undermined the importance of preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He appeared to endorse a policy of containment of a nuclear Iran before being advised that containment was not administration policy.

In recent days, Hagel has disavowed, or said he didn’t remember, making certain past comments about Israel. At a 2007 speech he is said to have referred to the U.S. State Department as “an adjunct of the Israeli foreign minister’s office.”

Our hesitation on his nomination is based on our uneasiness with such updates to his record.

B’nai B’rith International expresses the expectation that members of the Senate will give his record a thorough review prior to the vote. 

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AJC called today for further review of Senator Chuck Hagel’s views on vitally important national security and foreign policy issues, as the Senate stalled in its confirmation of the Secretary of Defense nominee. A day after a procedural bid to end debate and move toward confirmation of the former Nebraska senator failed on a mostly party-line vote, AJC Executive Director David Harris said that recent reports of the nominee’s views on Middle East policy and the U.S. role merit more thorough examination. The full AJC Harris statement follows:

“Chuck Hagel has served this country, and his state, with distinction, as we have had the privilege to tell him in person. But in light of his complex record in the Senate and controversial statements he has made since his public service on strategic and political affairs – notably grappling with the range of pressing Middle East issues – AJC believes that further Senate deliberation is called for before any final vote is taken.

“Moreover, reports are now circulating that the nominee purportedly spoke derisively in recent years of U.S. policy-making regarding Israel and the vital U.S.-Israel relationship. Thus, we feel it especially important that Senator Hagel be given a full opportunity to clear the air, so that the Senate can have a more thorough picture of the nominee’s views.

“In calling for more Senate discussion on the nomination, let me stress one key point. AJC is a strictly non-partisan organization. We speak up now only out of concern for policies we deem vital to our nation and central to our organizational mission.”

Iran, evil, the CIA & why “Argo” matters.

In Uncategorized on February 25, 2013 at 3:00 pm

argoCongratulations to Ben Affleck and the cast and crew and producers of Argo, which deservedly won three Oscars last night, including Best Motion Picture of the Year.

I loved Lincoln and was grateful that Daniel Day Lewis won Best Actor for his stunning portrayal of our greatest American president (and who knew Daniel was so funny?).  Despite some of Lincoln’s historical flaws (which should be corrected before being released on DVD), I thought Steven Spielberg should have won Best Director.

That said, I believed Argo was going to win the big prize and was thrilled to see it happen. The film has its own flaws, some historical, and not the least of which was the foul language which earned it an “R” rating. But as I Tweeted out last night, it’s an important film. It is the first serious major motion picture to take Americans and the world inside the fanaticism of the Islamic Revolution of 1979. It is the first serious film to show how badly the Carter White House and the CIA leadership misunderstood the nature and threat of the evil that was unfolding in Iran at the time. It effectively portrays how terrifying it is to see a Middle Eastern nation implode and how scary it can be for us and our allies when the American government looks or acts weak and/or indecisive. What’s more, it shows the heroism of a CIA agent and his team as they seek to do the impossible, and it honors our dear friends in Canada who are some of the biggest heroes of the story.

Indeed, the story of what happened in 1979 in Iran is so fascinating and important that I sought to portray it in my novel series that begins with, The Twelfth Imam, which begins with the violent takeover of the Embassy and even weaves the Argo story into the tale.

Indeed, here are a few excerpts from that novel I thought you might find interesting in the aftermath of the Oscars.

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“David, I need you to tell me the story of our parents,” Marseille whispered. “Please. Don’t say no.”

He couldn’t refuse her now.

So with mesmerizing detail, David Shirazi explained how Marseille’s mother had vetoed at least three plans the CIA and the State Department had drawn up, schemes—in her view—ranging from impracticable to suicidal. Then he explained how Marseille’s father had devised the plan that was finally accepted and executed. The Harpers, the Shirazis, and the other American FSOs would be given false Canadian passports. This, however, would take a special, secret act of the parliament in Ottawa, since the use of false passports for espionage was expressly forbidden by Canadian law. They would also be given false papers that identified them as film producers from Toronto working on a new big-budget motion picture titled, Argo, set in the Middle East, in conjunction with a major Hollywood studio. Their cover story would be that they were in Iran scouting locations. The CIA would set up a front company in Los Angeles called Studio Six, complete with fully operational offices, working phone lines, and notices in the trade papers announcing casting calls and other elements of preproduction. The Americans and the Shirazis would then further develop and refine all the details of their cover stories, commit them to memory, and rehearse them continually. Eventually, the CIA would send in an operative named Jack Zalinsky to go over the final details and to see if they were ready for any interrogation they might encounter. When the time was right, Zalinsky would take the team to the airport and try to get them through passport control without getting caught—and hanged.”

“You’re saying my father came up with this idea?” Marseille asked when David was finished.

“Actually, your mom helped quite a bit,” David replied.

“That doesn’t make sense,” she protested. “How would my parents even know . . . ?”

Her voice trailed off. The wind rustled through the pines. Once again, dark clouds were gathering overhead. Another storm front seemed to be brewing, and it was getting colder. David glanced at his watch. They needed to get back to the camp before people got worried about them.

But Marseille urged him not to leave. “Just a few minutes more,” she said, taking his hand and squeezing it gently. “I want to know the rest of the story.”

“Marseille, it’s getting late.”

“I’ll make it worth your while,” she smiled….

“Okay,” he said. “D-day was set for January 28, 1980. There were a bunch of regional elections going on. Ayatollah Khomeini’s people were trying to maintain control. The secret police had their hands full murdering dissidents and killing the opposition, so this Zalinsky guy believed they might have a window where the police might be distracted somewhat. It was a long shot, but it was the best they could do. So Zalinsky got the team to the main airport in Tehran. They were going through passport control, and my parents were absolutely terrified. Your parents were cool as cucumbers, but my parents—not so much. They don’t exactly look Canadian, after all, and they were never convinced your parents’ plan was going to work. But your father and Mr. Zalinsky kept insisting that if the tickets and passports said they were Canadians, then the guards at the airport would accept it. And they did.”

“That’s amazing,” Marseille said.

“So before Khomeini’s thugs knew what was happening, your parents, mine, and the others were taking their seats on board Swissair flight 363, heading for Toronto via Geneva. As soon as they cleared out of Iranian airspace, Mr. Zalinsky ordered champagne for the whole team.”

“But my parents don’t drink,” Marseille said.

“Neither do mine!” David said. “But believe me, they did that day. From what I hear, they finished off two bottles while Mr. Zalinsky toasted them and asked what they were going to do with their newfound freedom.”

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Podcast: North Korean nuclear cooperation with Iran “a match made in Hell”

In Uncategorized on February 23, 2013 at 7:22 pm

“Earlier this month, North Korea conducted what appears to be its largest and most sophisticated nuclear test to date, but what may also be emerging from the story is the extent that Iran and North Korea are colluding in their efforts to grow their nuclear programs,” reports Radio America correspondent Greg Corombos. “One of the most telling indicators of this collaboration may be the reported presence of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi at the North Korean test.  Mahabadi is the chief Iranian nuclear scientist and rarely travels outside of Iran.”

“That prospect is very troubling to foreign policy expert and accomplished fiction and non-fiction author Joel C. Rosenberg,” notes Corombos. “He is the author of The Twelfth Imam trilogy.  The final installment of the trilogy, Damascus Countdown, debuts March 5. ‘That…certainly raises further concern that North Korea is actually doing the testing for Iran. In other words, Iran would essentially be paying for North Korea to be its research and development system, both for ballistic missiles but also for warheads,’ said Rosenberg. ‘So Iran might be assembling a bomb right now. We don’t know that for sure. North Korea might be providing the data for how to test it and make sure that it works. This convergence, this collaboration, between Iran and North Korea is exceedingly dangerous for the United States but also clearly for Israel and for the rest of the Middle East….North Korea is starving for cash but it has nuclear technology and has already tested nuclear weapons several times. Iran has plenty of cash, not the people but the government. It’s starving for hard data of what a nuclear test looks like without inviting an American or Israeli airstrike before Iran can get its weapons built and ready to launch. This is a match made in hell.”

>> To read full article — or to listen to a podcast of the full interview (see link at bottom of the article) — please click here.

Sneak preview from chapter one of #DamascusCountdown.

In Uncategorized on February 22, 2013 at 9:02 pm

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Damascus Countdown is my forthcoming international political thriller. It is the last novel in a trilogy that includes The Twelfth Imam and The Tehran Initiative.

The series focuses on David Shirazi, an Iranian-born operative for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Shirazi has been sent undercover to Tehran to identify and sabotage the Ayatollah’s top secret nuclear weapons program, a program that is being developed in coordination with North Korea. Meanwhile, even as an American President realizes he has waited too long to stop Iran, he pressures Israeli leaders not to take action of their own. But all Hell breaks loose when the Israeli Prime Minister does, in fact, order a massive preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Then comes the blowback as Iran and her enemies — Hezbollah, Hamas but especially Syria — join the holy war to annihilate Israel and usher in the End of Days and the caliphate of the Islamic messiah.

The novel releases nationwide on Tuesday, March 5th. You can pre-order it now in hardcover, audio book, and e-book formats (to be read on the Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc, as well as on your mobile phone).

In the meantime, here are excerpts from Chapter One.

CHAPTER ONE — QOM, IRAN

David knew one of Iran’s largest nuclear facilities—the uranium enrichment plant at Fordow—was just a few miles away over the ridge, and sure enough, a split second later, he heard the deafening roar of explosions, one after another in rapid succession. He turned and saw enormous balls of fire and plumes of smoke rising into the sky and the four Israeli jets disappearing into the clouds.

But then another strike package came swooping down behind them. Four more Israeli fighters—emblazoned with the blue Star of David on their wings—descended like lightning. He assumed their mission, too, was to attack the facility down the road. But David watched in horror as one of the jets first fired an air-to-ground missile at the heart of the mosque behind him. They were sending a message to the Twelfth Imam and to all his followers. But they were about to destroy David’s plan.

His instinct was to get up and run for cover, but it was too late, and he had to do everything possible to protect Javad Nouri. That was his mission. Under no circumstances could he allow Nouri to die. He absolutely had to deliver the aide back to the Mahdi wounded but alive and indebted to David. It was, he believed, the only chance to gain the Mahdi’s trust and the only shred of a chance he had to be invited into the inner circle. Then again, did any of that matter now? The war he had been sent to prevent was under way. The carnage on both sides was going to be incalculable. The entire region was about to go up in flames. What was left for him to do?

Suddenly the ground convulsed as a series of explosions ripped through the complex. The minarets began to totter. People were screaming again, running in all directions as the first tower came crashing down and the second followed. David covered his head and made sure Nouri was covered too. Then, as the smoke began to clear, he turned and surveyed the carnage. Bodies were sprawled everywhere. Some were dead. Others were severely wounded. David turned Nouri over. He was covered in blood. His eyes were dilated, but he was breathing. He was still alive.

Guns drawn, three injured bodyguards soon rushed to David’s side. With his help, they carefully picked up Nouri and carried him to the white SUV, severely damaged by the car bombing nearby but still intact and still running. Together, they laid Nouri down on the backseat. One security man climbed in the back with him. Another climbed into one of the middle seats. The third shut and locked the side door, then got in the front passenger seat.

“Wait, wait; you forgot these,” David yelled just before the guard closed the door. He grabbed the box of satellite phones and gave them to the guard. “The Mahdi wanted these. They don’t all work. But some of them do.”

Then he pulled out a pen and quickly wrote his mobile number on the box. “Have the Mahdi’s people call me and tell me how Javad is. And tell me if there’s anything I can do for the Mahdi himself.”

The guard thanked David and shook his hand vigorously. Then he shut the door, and what was left of the motorcade raced off.

David stood there alone as the ground shook again. More Israeli jets were swooping down from the heavens. They were firing more missiles and dropping more bombs on targets just over the mountains. For a moment, David couldn’t move. He stared at the billows of smoke rising from the air strikes over the horizon and tried to calculate his next move.

He looked to the street, searching for the taxi he’d asked to wait. It was nowhere to be seen, but he could hardly blame the driver. People were panicked from the gunfire, the car bombing, and the air strikes. They were fleeing as rapidly as they could in every direction. David knew he had to get away as well. He couldn’t afford to be caught by the police and dragged in for questioning. He had a mission. He had a plan. He had a team that was counting on him. He knew he had to stay focused, yet he grieved for those wounded around him. So he turned and rushed to the side of one severely wounded guard who was slipping into unconsciousness. Hearing sirens approaching from every direction, David took off his jacket and used it to put pressure on the man’s bleeding leg. As he did, he silently prayed over the man, asking the Lord to comfort and heal him.

Ambulances began arriving on the scene. Paramedics were soon rushing to the wounded to triage them and get the most critical cases to the nearest hospitals. Amid the chaos and confusion, David saw his opportunity. He took a pistol off the wounded bodyguard and slipped it into his pocket. Then he moved to another of the downed guards. The man seemed to be staring up at the sky. His mouth was open. But when David checked for a pulse, he found none. David closed the man’s eyes, then quickly lifted a spare magazine and took the guard’s two-way radio.

Firefighters were now arriving to battle multiple blazes. More police officers were pulling up as well. They began to secure the crime scene and interview what few witnesses had not fled the scene quickly enough. David tried to use the commotion as cover. He was determined not to be questioned, much less exposed. But then he heard someone shouting behind him. David turned and saw an elderly cleric, blood splattered all over his robes, pointing at him.

“Talk to that man!” the cleric said to a police officer. “He was here when all the shooting started. And I think he just took something off that dead body.”

The policeman looked directly at David and ordered him to stop. David didn’t dare. With a surge of adrenaline, he pivoted hard and began sprinting into the blazing wreckage of the mosque. The officer shouted again for him to halt and began running after him, blowing a whistle and calling other officers to join the pursuit.

Continued…

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