Update: Finished writing a new thriller about ISIS threat. Thanks for your prayers.

jerusalem-siloutteUPDATED (1pm on July 8th) — Thanks so much for your prayers and notes of encouragement. I finished the manuscript for my new novel on June 26th and emailed it to Tyndale. Now that I’m back from a family vacation, I’m editing the book, a process that will last for the next few weeks. Will keep you posted when we’re ready to announce a title and have a final cover. Thanks again.

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  • ORIGINAL POST: My new novel is about a New York Times foreign correspondent who hears rumors that ISIS rebels — the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham — have captured a cache of chemical weapons Syria.
  • The reporter heads into the hellish environment of the Syrian civil war to track down and interview the commander of ISIS and get him to go on the record to confirm or deny the rumors.
  • This sets into motion a rapid-fire chain events that will take this correspondent on a highly-dangerous journey to Lebanon, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Iraq and the United States in pursuit of the story, at the risk of his life.
  • Key questions in the novel: Who will ISIS use the chemical weapons against if they really have them? The US? Israel? A third target?
  • As part of the research on the book, I’ve traveled several times to the Middle East, and met with several former senior CIA officials, Mossad and Shin Bet officials, and Arab intelligence and security officials.
  • The manuscript is due to Tyndale today.
  • My wife, Lynn, is editing the manuscript as I go, and we’re racing to get it all finished by late (probably very late) tonight, so we’d really be grateful for your prayers.
  • The crazy thing is that most people I know hadn’t ever heard of ISIS until just a few weeks ago.
  • Thought I was really “ahead of the curve” on this one, but events in Syria & Iraq are moving so fast and are so similar to my story that it’s been a bit odd and eerie at the same time.
  • Tyndale is hoping to release the novel in March of 2015.
  • No title yet, but I will keep you posted!

One other note: A number of people are asking me if there is a difference between “ISIS” and “ISIL.” The quick answer is, “No.”

  • ISIS & ISIL are names for the same jihadist group — “Islamic State of Iraq & al-Sham,” and “Islamic State of Iraq & the Levant.”
  • The group was originally known as “Al Qaeda in Iraq” (AQI), but morphed since 2006 in ideology and strategy to have a broader focus.
  • Al-Sham is Arabic for the Levant, which refers to Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan & Iraq.
  • ISIS/ISIL wants to capture and control the entire epicenter in order to build and Islamic caliphate, governed by Sharia law.

UPDATE: “Intel Official: Americans Have Joined Militant Group ISIS” (CBS/AP) — excerpts:

  • The Sunni militant group in Iraq is a force roughly 3,000 strong and includes some Americans, a senior intelligence official told CBS News on Tuesday.
  • The majority of fighters in the group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, are of Iraqi and Syrian origin.
  • In all, up to 10,000 are fighting with the group, 3,000 in Iraq and another 7,000 in Syria, the intelligence official said. Between 3,000 and 5,000 are foreigners, though how many of those are in Iraq is difficult to assess.
  • The fighters view Syria and Iraq as one battlefield and have been able to move swiftly inside Iraq with the help of local Sunnis, ties the intelligence official described as more of a “relationship of convenience” than a formal alliance.

UPDATE: “ISIS rapidly accumulating cash, weapons, U.S. intelligence officials say” (Washington Post) — excerpts:

  • The al-Qaeda-inspired insurgent group that has seized a string of cities in Iraq is rapidly gaining strength as it accumulates new weapons, fighters and cash, according to U.S. intelligence assessments disclosed Tuesday by a senior U.S. official.
  • The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria “is the strongest it has been in several years” because of recent gains in both those countries, the senior U.S. intelligence official said, an assessment that suggests the former al-Qaeda affiliate has rebuilt much of the capability it had at the height of the war in Iraq.
  • The description of ISIS, as the group is known, underscores the challenge facing the Obama administration as it seeks to shore up a beleaguered Iraqi government that has alienated much of the country’s population and watched its armed forces­ flee Mosul and other cities when confronted by insurgents.
  • The White House has sent as many as 300 U.S. Special Operations troops to Iraq to help coordinate the government’s efforts to counter the ISIS assault.
  • The U.S. official said that American intelligence agencies had for months provided “strategic warning” that ISIS was growing in strength while the government in Baghdad appeared to be losing its grip on key cities but declined to provide further details.

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The Presbyterian Church USA turns against Israel. But they have already rejected Christ & His Word, so is this surprising? A brief analysis.

PCUSA-logoUPDATED: (Washington, D.C.) — The Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) General Assembly voted last week to divest from companies that operate in Israel.

I was deeply disappointed, but hardly surprised.

Let’s be clear: not all Presbyterians agree with this decision. There are orthodox evangelical Presbyterian churches, leaders, and individuals out there who truly love Christ, love His Word, and love both Israel and the Palestinians.

But PCUSA has completely lost its way. Many of its members are not only theologically liberal, they are engaged is full-blown apostasy. The majority PCUSA pastors and members, according to the denomination’s own data, completely deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. They completely reject the teachings of the Bible on numerous issues. Is it really surprising, then, that so many of its members do not have a Biblical understanding of how to love Israel and her Arab neighbors?

Let’s get back to the divestment issue in a moment. The apostasy issue is far more important, so let’s consider it first.

THE APOSTASY ISSUE

The Lord Jesus Christ warned that in the last days before His return, many who claimed to be His followers but really weren’t would fall away from the faith and many teachers inside the church would teach heresy. “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another,” He warned. “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” (Matthew 24:10-13)

The Apostle Paul also warned that in the last days many inside the church would turn away from the faith. “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction,” the apostle wrote to his disciple, Timothy, who was the pastor in Ephesus. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:1-4)

This is exactly what is happening inside the PCUSA denomination. Consider these examples:

What we are seeing inside PCUSA is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. It is tragic, but at least the Lord warned us ahead of time that things like this would happen.

What’s interesting is that the further PCUSA gets from Biblical orthodoxy, the more its members — and whole congregations — are leaving the denomination.

According to PCUSA’s own statistics and publications:

  • In 1965, the denomination boasted 4.25 million members, but by 2013 that number had declined to 1.84 million.
  • In 2012 alone, the denomination lost 102,000 members.
  • In 2012, the denomination lost 196 congregations — 110 that left, and 86 that dissolved.

Even large congregations are leaving. Religion News Service reported earlier this year that “members of one of the largest congregations in the Presbyterian Church (USA) have voted to leave the denomination, despite facing an $8.89 million cost for leaving. Menlo Park Presbyterian is based in the San Francisco Bay area and led by well-known author and pastor John Ortberg. It is the ninth-largest PCUSA church, with about 4,000 members, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The motion to leave the PCUSA was approved by 93 percent of the church’s members who voted, with 2,024 ballots in favor of the motion and 158 ballots opposed, according to a letter posted by Ortberg. Menlo Park determined that to keep its property and leave the denomination would cost $8.89 million, based on a summary for dismissal agreement. ‘Surprisingly, there are many PC(USA)-ordained pastors who do not believe, for example, in the deity of Christ or in salvation through faith in Christ,’ the rationale states, citing a 2011 PCUSA survey.'”

Let us must pray for Presbyterians to leave PCUSA and seek out orthodox evangelical church congregations that are teaching sound doctrine and preaching the true Gospel of salvation through Christ alone.

“If you are a Jesus-loving, Bible-based member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), unless God has called you to stand as a prophetic voice of rebuke to the denomination, or unless your ministry commitments to individuals make it impossible for you to leave, now is the time to make your exit,” writes Dr. Michael Brown. “The PCUSA has made its rejection of the Word of God official….The sad truth is that these faithful Presbyterians are not so much leaving their church as their church has left them.”

Well put. This is just one more reason we need to pray and fast for the Lord to bring a sweeping revival to all churches and denominations in America, and a Third Great Awakening to the nation at large.

THE DIVESTMENT ISSUE

Now, let’s get back to the divestment issue.

PCUSA leaders say they are taking a stand against what they call Israel’s “occupation” of territory to which they argue Israel no legal, moral or Biblical right. Some PC USA leaders, and some advising the church leadership, accuse Israel of waging a policy of “apartheid” against the Palestinian people.

American Jewish leaders were appalled by the decision, as was Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that the decision was “disgraceful.”

Israel is “a beacon of civilization and moderation” that “protects Christians” while so many “Christians are persecuted throughout the Middle East,” Netanyahu said, while many Islamic countries are riddled “by religious hatred, by savagery of unimaginable proportions.”

“You know, I would suggest to this Presbyterian organization to fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour, go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, see the difference,” Netanyahu added, and then advised them to “first make sure it’s an armor-plated bus, and second, don’t say that you’re Christian.”

Former CIA Director James Woolsey, a Presbyterian, has described the PC USA leadership as “anti-Semitic” for its unfair and biased positions against the Jewish State.

Excerpts from a Haaretz story:

  • Asked on the NBC-TV interview program if he was “troubled” by the Presbyterian Church USA’s move on Friday, when it voted to withdraw its $21 million in investments from Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard, Netanyahu said, “It should trouble all people of conscience and morality because it’s so disgraceful.”
  • Seeming to address his remarks to American Christians, he went on to hold up Israel as “a beacon of civilization and moderation” that “protects Christians – Christians are persecuted throughout the Middle East,” and contrasted it to the rest of Middle East, which he characterized as being riddled “by religious hatred, by savagery of unimaginable proportions.”
  • He continued, “You know, I would suggest to this Presbyterian organization to fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour, go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, see the difference.” Then he advised them to “first make sure it’s an armor-plated bus, and second, don’t say that you’re Christian.”
  • “The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on Friday became the most prominent religious group in the United States to endorse divestment as a protest against Israeli policies toward Palestinians, voting to sell church stock in three companies whose products Israel uses in the occupied territories,” reported the Associated Press. “The General Assembly voted by a razor-thin margin — 310-303 — to sell stock in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. Two years ago, the General Assembly rejected a similar divestment proposal by two votes.”

Excerpts from an AP article:

  • “The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on Friday became the most prominent religious group in the United States to endorse divestment as a protest against Israeli policies toward Palestinians, voting to sell church stock in three companies whose products Israel uses in the occupied territories,” reported the Associated Press. “The General Assembly voted by a razor-thin margin — 310-303 — to sell stock in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. Two years ago, the General Assembly rejected a similar divestment proposal by two votes.”
  • The American Jewish Committee, a policy and advocacy group based in New York, said the vote was “driven by hatred of Israel.” But Heath Rada, moderator for the church meeting, said immediately after the vote that “in no way is this a reflection of our lack of love for our Jewish brothers and sisters.”
  • The decision is expected to reverberate well beyond the church. It comes amid discouragement over failed peace talks that have left activists desperate for some way to affect change and as the broader movement known as BDS — or boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel — has gained some momentum in the U.S., Israel’s closest and most important ally.
  • Presbyterians who advocated for divestment insisted their action was not part of the broader boycott movement. Israeli officials, along with many American Jewish groups and their supporters, have denounced the campaign as an attempt to delegitimize the Jewish state. In a separate vote, the assembly also voted to re-examine its historic support for a two-state solution.
  • The top Presbyterian legislative body has been considering divestment for a decade. Representatives of the Presbyterian socially responsible investment arm told the national meeting in Detroit that their efforts to lobby the three companies for change had failed. Carol Hylkema of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network, a Presbyterian group that advocates for Palestinians and spearheaded the drive for divestment, said their action was modeled on the divestment movement to end apartheid in South Africa.

Pray for peace: Syrians kill 1 Israeli, wound 2 on Sunday. Palestinians in Gaza fires 20+ rockets at Israel. In turn, Israel strikes 9 targets in Syria, strikes targets in Gaza.

????????????????????????(Washington, D.C.) — Please keep praying for peace in the Middle East. Violence is spreading and tensions are running high.

ISIS forces remain on the move in Syria and Iraq, capturing more territory, battling hard to overthrow the Assad regime in Damascus and hoping to get into position to bring down the Maliki government in Baghdad.

Syrian forces on Sunday killed an Israeli teenage boy and wounded two Israeli civilians in attacks against the Israeli side of the border.

In the south, Palestinian terrorists in Gaza have fired at least 20 rockets at Israel since June 15th.

Earlier this month, Hamas terrorists kidnapped three Israeli teenage boys.

The Israeli Air Force has now retaliated in Syria and Gaza, and a massive manhunt continues for the three Israeli youths.

Again, please keep praying and urging others to pray.

Here is the latest on the new Israeli air strikes in Syria:

 “The Israeli Air Force launched retaliatory air strikes on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights overnight Sunday-Monday, confirming direct hits on nine army positions belonging to the Assad regime — including a regional command center – after a 15-year-old boy was killed earlier Sunday in an attack on the Israeli side,” reports the Times of Israel.

“The IDF targeted nine Syrian army positions in response to the earlier attack that originated in Syria killing an Israeli teenager and injuring two other Israeli civilians. The targeted sites include Syrian [regional] military headquarters and launching positions,” the IDF said in a statement.

“Citizens in northern Israel reported hearing large explosions shortly after midnight,” noted the Times, citing Ynet News.

“IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said Sunday’s deadly attack on a car in the Golan Heights, which killed a Mohammed Karkara and injured three others, was ‘an unprovoked act of aggression against Israel, and a direct continuation to recent attacks that occurred in the area.’ Military officials said the car was hit by anti-tank fire from an area under the control of Assad regime forces, though one rebel commander told the Times of Israel it was possible the regime had targeted the car with a heat-seeking missile. In response, Israeli tanks fired at Syrian army positions.”

“The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to breach Israel’s sovereignty and will act in order to safeguard the civilians of the State of Israel,” Lerner said….

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke afterward with Mohammed Karkara’s father Fehmi Karkara and offered his condolences,” reported the Times.

“Israel’s enemies are using every means, they don’t hesitate to attack civilians or kill children, as happened this morning,” Netanyahu said at a Jewish media conference in Jerusalem. “They don’t differentiate between the Jewish and non-Jewish citizens of Israel. As a people, our heart breaks at the kidnap of every child, at the killing of every child and I am sure that I speak for all of you when sending our condolences to the grieving family.”

Haaretz reported:

  • On Sunday, Israeli tanks fired at positions held by Syrian government forces, after a 14-year-old Israeli boy was killed and three others were wounded when an anti-tank projectile fired from within Syria struck near the border fence on the Golan Heights.
  • Muhammad Fahmi Krakara was sitting in a truck with his father, who was doing maintenance work on the fence for the Defense Ministry along with two other contract workers. One employee suffered serious injuries, the father was moderately wounded and the third employee was lightly injured.
  • On Sunday, an Israel Defense Forces officer said it was not known whether Syrian government forces or rebels fired the anti-tank missile, though the segment of the border fence where it landed is under rebel control.
  • The slain boy’s father and the seriously injured employee were evacuated to Rebecca Sieff Hospital in Safed, and the worker with light wounds was taken to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.

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Anne Graham Lotz & new Southern Baptist Convention president call for urgent prayer for a Third Great Awakening.

AnneGrahamLotz-calltoprayerronniefloyd-calltocolumbus“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

(Washington, D.C.) — In recent days, two prominent Christian leaders have issued calls for Christ-followers to faithfully pray and fast for the Lord to bring about a Third Great Awakening in America, to purify and mature the Church, and to reach the lost with the Gospel before the Second Coming.

I wholeheartedly concur and am grateful for their clear voices. I pray that believers will truly heed the wisdom of these two leaders and turn their hearts to the Lord in the spirit of 2 Chronicles 7:14 and the Book of Joel. 

As anyone who has read my non-fiction book, Implosion: Can America Recover From Its Economic & Spiritual Challenges In Time?, knows, I am convinced that we stand at the crossroads: either America will experience a sweeping revival and repent, or we face collapse as a country.

Anne Graham Lotz, the internationally-respected Bible teacher and daughter of Billy Graham, is one of the two leaders speaking out with a renewed passion for a broad-based revival in the Church and the spread of the Gospel.

Dr. Ronnie Floyd, the internationally-respected senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, and just elected this month to be President of the Southern Baptist Convention, is the other leader making prayer for a Third Great Awakening a top priority, and he is doing so inside one of the world’s largest evangelical denominations. More on his message in a moment.

My dear friend, Anne, recently served as the Honorary Chair for the National Day of Prayer 2014 this past May.  At that time, the Lord directed her to speak from the Book of Joel, chapter one, on the theme, “The Day of the Lord is at hand.” She warned that before Christ returns, which she believes is “imminent,” God will bring judgment to America (you can watch that message here). Anne also taught from Joel 1 at the 2011 Epicenter Conference we held in Jerusalem. It was a very powerful message, and I would commend it to your attention (you can watch the video of the message here).

Now, Anne is spear-heading a summer prayer movement. She writes, “In obedience to the Lord, I am blowing the trumpet…sounding the alarm…issuing a national prayer initiative entitled 7 7 7:  An Urgent Call to Prayer. The Call is for God’s people to pray for each of the first seven days in the seventh month—July 1-7.  Then on the 7th day, July 7, we are to pray and fast for 7 hours. The purpose is…

  • For God the Father to restrain, protect, and deliver His people from the evil that has come into our world.
  • For God the Son to be exalted, magnified, and glorified in His church, in our nation, and in our lives.
  • For God the Holy Spirit to fall on us in a fresh way, compelling the church to repent of sin and our nation to return to faith in the living God, resulting in a great national spiritual awakening. To sign up for daily prayer updates from Anne, please click here.

I have not yet had the honor of meeting Dr. Floyd, but am deeply encouraged by the message he delivered upon his election to lead the SBC this year. Here is a summary. Please read it and share this — and Anne’s message — with as many people as you can.

Yes, America is in big trouble. And yes, there are serious troubles inside the Church. But the Scriptures are clear: Jesus Christ is sovereign, and He is good. His lovingkindness is everlasting. He is coming soon. And we must be ready. May you and I be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12) until we see our Savior face to face.

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Message From Dr. Ronnie Floyd, new president of the Southern Baptist Convention:

As the newly elected President of the Southern Baptist Convention, I want to call every pastor, every church leader, and every layperson from a Southern Baptist church to join me in Columbus, Ohio, on June 16-17, 2015. As I work with our Order of Business Committee as well as other leaders, I will respectfully request for us to dedicate as much time as possible in next year’s convention to pray extraordinarily for the next Great Awakening. I want to call you to Columbus, Ohio, to what could be one of the most significant prayer gatherings in our history to pray for the next Great Awakening.

Extraordinary Prayer for the Next Great Awakening

Yes, we have to conduct business at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, and we will do it with great diligence; but we will also bring to fruition a year-long emphasis of praying in an extraordinary manner for the next great spiritual awakening in America. For the next year, I want to humbly request from each church, each national SBC entity, and each state convention that we begin to pray in an over and above way for God to move mightily in our lives, our churches, and our nation.

Why is this Important?

Why is this important? Our convention has bemoaned our continual decline in baptisms, membership, attendance, and giving far too long; now is the time we take aggressive action by calling out to God together in prayer; at the same time, we must take the needed strategic actions to change our trajectory as a convention of churches. While we face these critical times, we know God is doing some amazing things right now through Southern Baptists. As we celebrate those to God’s glory in Columbus, we will also call out to God in urgent desperation.

Why is revival in the church and awakening in the nation so important? I have been greatly convicted that one of the reasons God has placed me as President, for such a time as this, is for the purpose to call His people to what Jonathan Edwards called “extraordinary prayer.” We need extraordinary prayer for the purpose of revival personally, revival in the church, and spiritual awakening in America, so we can see commitment to the Great Commission escalated, and accelerate it to its completion in our generation. I believe this should be our heart and our goal.

I have been privileged to catch a glimpse of extraordinary prayer in the Praying Pastors gatherings. We have led over 1,500 pastors in these four gatherings, two of which have been national gatherings. God is doing something very unique right now, and I believe that extraordinary prayer is our number one need. In extraordinary prayer, we recognize that only God can do what is needed in us personally, congregationally, denominationally, nationally, and internationally.

Pray Now for the Next Great Awakening

We’ve had a great conservative resurgence in the SBC. We are in the midst of a Great Commission resurgence in the SBC. In order for the Great Commission resurgence to be elevated to the proper priority, we need a great spiritual movement and a mighty spiritual awakening, which this nation has not seen in a long time. Yes, we need to pray now in an extraordinary manner for the next Great Awakening.

Mark Your Calendar: June 16-17, 2015

Mark your calendar now for June 16-17, 2015, and join us in Columbus, Ohio. Why should you come? Who knows, this may be the moment, the time, and God’s place to begin the next Great Awakening in the United States. And consider coming in early for Saturday, June 13, to join us in Crossover Columbus. Consider these facts about Columbus, Ohio:

  • 15th Largest city in America
  • 139 Languages spoken in Columbus
  • 111 SBC Churches in Metro Columbus Baptist Association
  • SEND CITY in our national church planting strategy
  • Home of the Ohio State University

Soon We Will Begin To Connect Together

Our team is right now beginning to work on various ways we can begin to connect together via technology. We will use email, Twitter, and Instagram to help all of us be a part of a movement toward Columbus, Ohio. But greater than that, a movement of praying for the next Great Awakening in America, so that we can see commitment to the Great Commission escalated, and accelerate it to its completion in our generation.

Please call upon your church and others to pray for me daily. I want to represent our Lord, our church, and our Southern Baptist family in the highest manner. I cannot do that without you praying for me daily.

Yours for the Great Commission,

Ronnie W. Floyd

[To learn more, please click here.]

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British PM warns ISIS planning to attack England. But pursues new ties with Radicals in Iran. Why?

British PM David Cameron warns ISIS wants to hit England.

British PM David Cameron warns ISIS wants to hit England.

How serious is the ISIS threat? At least one Western leader is raising an alarm.

The crisis in Iraq must not be dismissed as ‘nothing to do with us’ as the same Islamic jihadists are also planning to attack the UK, David Cameron has warned,” reports the UK Guardian.

“The prime minister said the terrorist insurgence in Iraq, as well as related problems in Somalia, Nigeria and Mali, would ‘come back and hit us at home’ if the UK did not help stabilise these regimes.”

The Prime Minister is right to be concerned, and hopefully will enact policies to deal decisively with the threat of Radical Islam.

However, I’m deeply concerned that Cameron is seriously pursuing reestablishing diplomatic ties with Iran, including reopening the British embassy in Tehran.

This is a serious mistake.

  • Iran’s brutal regime is the epicenter of Radical Islam of the Shia variety. 
  • The Ayatollah Khamenei presides over the world’s most aggressive state sponsor of terrorism.
  • Iran defies numerous U.N. resolutions as they illegally develop their nuclear program and pursue nuclear weapons.
  • Iran’s leaders have repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel.

Why in the world would Cameron want to establish ties with this evil regime?

Developing….

Excerpts from the story:

  • Speaking in the House of Commons, he said the “hard attack” of direct intervention by the west was not the only option as that could create its own problems.
  • Cameron set out his argument after the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, pressed him to explain the government’s response to the turmoil during prime minister’s questions.
  • “I’d disagree with those people who think this is nothing to do with us and if they want to have some sort of extreme Islamist regime in the middle of Iraq that won’t affect us – it will,” he said.
  • “The people in that regime, as well as trying to take territory, are also planning to attack us here at home in the United Kingdom. So the right answer is to be long term, hard-headed, patient and intelligent with the interventions that we make, and the most important intervention of all is to make sure that these governments are fully representative of the people who live in their countries, that they close down the ungoverned space, and they remove the support for the extremists.
  • “If we do that, not just in Syria, but we have to help in Iraq, in Somalia, in Nigeria, in Mali, because these problems will come back and hit us at home if we don’t.”
  • Cameron said the Iraqi government needed to take a more inclusive approach to the Shia, Sunni and Kurd populations who live in the country. He also announced a £2m increase in the humanitarian aid budget for Iraq, increasing it to £5m overall.
  • It comes before a meeting of the National Security Council, which the prime minister will chair, to discuss the crisis and the UK’s restoration of diplomatic ties with Iran. These have been cut for more than two years since the UK embassy in Tehran was stormed by protesters in 2011. Miliband said Labour supported the decision to reopen the embassy, but warned that the Iranian regime had shown in the past that it did not support an inclusive and democratic state in Iraq. The prime minister said this would be done with a “very clear eye and a very hard head”.

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Gen. Jack Keane & Sen. John McCain lay out a plan to save Iraq from ISIS & Iran during event in D.C.: Video

Sen. John McCain and U.S. Army General (ret.) Jack Keane speaking at AEI on June 18, 2014.

Sen. John McCain and U.S. Army General (ret.) Jack Keane speaking at AEI on June 18, 2014.

(Washington, D.C.) — What is the latest situation on the ground in Iraq as ISIS jihadists take more and more territory?

What can and should the U.S. do to help the Iraqis stop ISIS in their tracks, and launch a counter-offensive to roll back the ISIS rebels and regain control of the sovereign Iraqi territory?

Are there viable options?

If the President does not take decisive action, what are the risks to the American people, to Israel, and to moderate Arab allies in the region like Jordan?

On Wednesday, the American Enterprise Institute hosted a fascinating conversation with three experts on the subject:

  • Jack Keane, the retired Army General who was the architect of the “surge” strategy that helped the U.S. military win the war in Iraq (before the President pulled out all U.S. forces and left no residual force to help stabilize Iraq)
  • John McCain, the U.S. Senator who was the main advocate for the “surge” strategy in Iraq
  • Danielle Pletka, a defense and foreign policy expert at AEI

I just finished watching the event online, and strongly encourage you to watch it as well.

Summary of the conversation (note: the discussion begins at the 2 minute mark on the video):

  • McCain says the situation in Iraq now is “grave” and that ISIS forces are worse than al Qaeda or any other terrorist group on the planet.
  • He argues we absolutely must help the Iraqis now, or allow ISIS to create a safe haven from which to launch terrorist attacks against the U.S. and our allies, including Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon, to name a few.
  • McCain said the first priority is to help the Iraqis halt the ISIS offensive, and then help the Iraqis launch a counter-offensive.
  • Then, he said it is time for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to step down, and a new coalition government be formed in Iraq that would be led by a moderate Shia Arab, but include moderate Sunni leaders, too.
  • General Keane explained why the Iraqi military has proven so ineffective against ISIS so far.
  • In part, he said, this is because after the withdrawal of all our forces in December 2011, Maliki began to remove the best trained and experienced Iraqi generals and commanders and replaced them with loyalists who weren’t as prepared and didn’t have the trust of the men.
  • Keane also said we took with us our state-of-the-art intelligence systems and battle management systems when we pulled out.
  • Keane said the U.S. absolutely has the capabilities to help the Iraqis turn this thing around, and recommended the President send Army General (ret.) David Petraeus and former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker to Baghdad to assess the situation, reopen lines of communication with the Iraqi leadership, and begin to advise the Iraqis on what to do next.
  • Keane said he did not believe Baghdad was at risk of falling, as ISIS only has about 10,000 fighters and couldn’t control a city of Baghdad’s enormity.
  • However, Keane added that ISIS could start sending suicide bombers into Baghdad to terrorize the people and disrupt daily life.
  • Both men said this challenge was foreseeable, and it’s part of why they strongly opposed the President’s plan to withdraw all U.S. forces in 2011.
  • McCain drew an analogy to Korea in the 1950s, wondering what the world would look like if President Truman had decided not to help the South Koreans stop the invasion from the North, or if President Eisenhower or future commanders-in-chief had refused to leave a residual force of the American military in South Korea to help maintain the peace.
  • Keane warned that our Arab allies in the region are deeply worried that the U.S. cannot be trusted to help them in this or future crisis because America is giving up its role in the Middle East.
  • Both Keane and McCain repeatedly warned that Iran is an enemy, and should not be allowed to gain a foothold in Iraq.

General Keane and Pletka published an oped in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week laying out a plan to stop ISIS. I commend the piece to your attention. Here are a few excerpts:

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A plan to save Iraq from ISIS and Iran

By Jack Keane, Danielle Pletka, oped in the The Wall Street Journal

Suddenly, Israelis & Palestinians are working together. IDF engaged in massive operation to find kidnapped teens. Abbas says Hamas trying to destroy the Palestinians. Netanyahu using moment to dismantle Hamas.

 

Israeli security forces are engaged in a massive operation to find 3 kidnapped teens and dismantle Hamas. (photo credit: IDF website)

Israeli security forces are engaged in a massive operation to find kidnapped teens, dismantle Hamas. (photo: IDF website)

(Washington, D.C.) — The Israeli Defense Forces and intelligence services are presently engaged in a massive operation in the West Bank, as Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government pursue four major objectives:

  1. To find and safely rescue the three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped by Hamas last week — Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gil-ad Shaar, 16 and Naftali Frankel, 16.
  2. To use the moment to arrest hundreds of Hamas leaders, agents and operatives and systematically degrade or dismantle the Hamas terror network being built in the West Bank.
  3. To make it clear to the world and to the Palestinian leadership that Hamas is a dangerous, Radical Islamic jihadist terror organization, like al Qaeda and ISIS that even kidnaps children
  4. To convince the Palestinian Authority to break its recently-established unity agreement with Hamas and join Israel in destroying the Hamas terror network.

The first two are military objectives. The second two are diplomatic and public relations objectives.

Please pray for these boys to be found quickly, and safely returned to their families. Please pray the Lord also comforts them and their families and friends at this critical time. And pray that Israeli and Palestinian leaders use this moment to work together. There are some signs this is happening already.

 What’s fascinating is to see the reaction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Recently, Abbas signed a unity agreement with Hamas, which many analysts — myself included — said was a serious problem. Why? “Because Hamas is a radical terrorist organization,” I noted in a column on June 3rd. “Its 1988 charter makes clear that it is an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood; forbids all peace talks; calls for the annihilation of Israel by armed, violent jihad; seeks to impose Sharia law on every man, woman and child in the Holy Land; and would force all Jews and Christians to convert to Islam or be branded an infidel and suffer.

But on a visit this week to Saudi Arabia, Abbas strongly called for the boys to be released and even denounced Hamas as trying to destroy the Palestinian Authority (PA).

“Those who perpetrated this act want to destroy us [the Palestinians],” Abbas said, according to the Times of Israel. “The three young men are human beings just like us and must be returned to their families.”

“It is in our interest to have security coordination with Israel because that would help protect us,” Abbas added, noting: “I say it frankly, we will never have another intifada — that would destroy us.”

 Israeli media reports indicate that PA security forces are working closely with the Israelis, both to find the teens and capture Hamas operatives. After several years of deeply discouraging relations between Netanyahu and Abbas and their respective governments, we are currently watching the clearest moment of shared sympathy and strategic cooperation between the two. That’s not to say such cooperation will last, but for the moment, at least, it is both noteworthy and encouraging.

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Here are excerpts from the Israel Hayom article on the enormity of the operation Israel is engaged in:

  • “Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who was set to meet with the families of abducted Israeli teens Gil-ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Frenkel on Wednesday, was not expected to have much to say,” reports Israel Hayom, Israel’s largest circulation newspaper. “The military’s premise remains the same — until proven otherwise, the three are alive. The nagging question, however, remains the same: if the three are alive, why have their abductors refrained, so far, from negotiating for their release?”
  • The Shin Bet security agency continues to “shake the trees” across the West Bank, arresting anyone affiliated with Hamas or any other nefarious organization, and anyone ever suspected of terrorism, arms trafficking, or any other related activity.
  • Every intelligence asset is being tapped and everyone is being questioned, in the hopes that someone would be able to provide information that would lead to the teens’ whereabouts, as well as to their abductors.
  • The one thing that has become clear almost immediately is that this was the work of a highly organized terror cell, and that the abduction was meticulously planned….
  • Meanwhile, Israel is systematically working to undercut Hamas’ grip on the West Bank. The directive stretches beyond just the terror group’s operational infrastructure, and includes its political and financial instruments as well.
  • With over 200 operatives arrested so far, the IDF crackdown on Hamas is massive, and the 300,000 residents of the Hebron area, which has been surrounded since Saturday, are feeling the pressure. They are likely to feel it even more as the Islamic holiday of Ramadan draws near, but despite Israel’s hopes, it is highly unlikely that the area’s residents would pressure the abductors to bring this affair to its end.
  • Touring the Central Command on Tuesday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz told his officers that there was no definitive timetable for the operation.
  • A senior officer said, “We have at least a week’s-worth of work cut out for us, during which we will continue to pressure Hamas.”….
  • Meanwhile, the Shin Bet’s Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria departments are stretched thin, for the first time since 2002’s Operation Defensive Shield.
  • The scope of IDF forces deployed on the ground in the West Bank is also the biggest in over a decade.
  • The directive, as GOC Central Command Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon defined it Tuesday, has remained the same — “undermine Hamas both operationally and strategically.”

LATEST HEADLINES:

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With prophetic implications, the Kurds, known as the Medes in the Bible, seize oil-rich region of Iraq. What does it mean?

kurdistan-map(Washington, D.C.) — Could recent developments in Iraq have prophetic implications? Actually, the answer may be yes — especially with regards to the Kurdish people who live in northern Iraq. Let me explain.

As we’ve been seeing in recent weeks, the Radical jihadist forces of the “Islamic State of Iraq & al-Sham” (ISIS) are on the move towards Baghdad. They are leaving a trail of bloodshed and carnage in their wake.

The objective of the ISIS leaders is to topple the Iraqi government, seize control of all of Iraq, establish a jihadist state under Sharia law, and use Iraq to begin a regional — and eventually global — Islamic caliphate, or kingdom.

Now, the Kurdish leaders have taken advantage of the chaos of this moment to seize control of the oil-rich region of Kirkuk for themselves. (see AP story below)

The oil fields of Kirkuk have been a long-standing issue of controversy in Iraq, especially since the liberation of the country in 2003. Whoever controls those fields would control enormous wealth as the oil there is more fully developed and shipped to markets around the globe.

The Kurds, generally, are Sunni Muslims, but they are not ethnically Arabs. Indeed, many Kurds have a deep hatred for the Arabs. Several decades ago, the world create a special, protected, autonomous region for the Kurds in the north region of Iraq, after Saddam Hussein repeated attacked and tried to destroy the Kurds, including with the use of chemical weapons.

Ultimately, many Kurds want to create an independent country of their own, uniting Kurds living in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. Yet each of those national governments strongly oppose the creation of an independent Kurdistan.

What’s fascinating is that the modern Kurdish people were known in ancient, Biblical times as the Medes. Here is where things get interesting.

Bible prophecy indicates that in the End Times, as we get closer to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, God will allow the Medes to gain power, even as the Lord allows the Arabs to gain power and rebuild the kingdom of Babylon in the heart of Iraq.

The Book of Revelation, for example, tells us that Babylon will be the epicenter of evil in the last days of history, and will eventually face the judgment of God. The Hebrew prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel tell us this, as well, indicating Babylon will be completely destroyed and when the judgment is complete, Babylon will be completely uninhabitable. Indeed, Isaiah 13:20 says of Babylon, “It will never be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation; nor will the Arab pitch his tent there, nor will shepherds make their flocks lie down there.”

What’s more, Bible prophecy indicates that God will raise up the Medes — that is, the Kurdish people — to be an instrument of judgment against Babylon.

  • Isaiah 13:17 — “Behold, I am going to stir up the Medes against them [the Babylonians]….”
  • Jeremiah 51:11 — “The Lord has aroused the spirit of the kings of the Medes, because His purpose is against Babylon to destroy it; for it is the vengeance of the Lord….”
  • Jeremiah 51:28-29 — “Consecrate the nations against her, the kings of the Medes, their governors and all their prefects, and every land of their dominion. So the land quakes and writhes, for the purposes of the Lord against Babylon stand, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without inhabitants….”

 How exactly will these eschatological prophecies come to pass? It’s too early to say for certain.

But after studying these prophecies, traveling four times to the Iraqi Kurdistan region, meeting with senior Kurdish leaders — including Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani — and tracking developments there over the past decade or so, I think it is fair to say we may be seeing some of the prophetic battle lines developing:

  • The hatred of the Kurds/Medes against the Arabs, and vice versa, is steadily growing.
  • The Kurds/Medes and the Arabs are in a continued struggle to control the oil resources that will make either or both of them enormously wealthy and powerful in the End Times.
  • The Kurds/Medes are, step by step, forming into their nation, and possibly their own country.
  • The Kurds/Medes are developing an increasingly effective military force that is able to overpower the Iraqi Arabs at times. 

Please keep the Kurdish people in your prayers. There are a growing number of truly born again Christians living in Kurdistan, including many MBBs, Muslim Background Believers. Please pray that they would boldly preach the Gospel, and be able to make many disciples, and help the believers that grow deep in their faith in Christ, especially amidst all the chaos and carnage. 

For more on the latest geopolitical developments, here are excerpts from a recent article from the Associated Press, “HOW THE KURDS SEIZED KIRKUK.”

  • “After a decades-long dispute between Arabs and Kurds over the oil-rich northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, it took just an hour and a half for its fate to be decided,” the Associated Press reports. “As al-Qaida-inspired militants advanced across northern Iraq and security forces melted away, Kurdish fighters who have long dominated Kirkuk ordered Iraqi troops out and seized full control of the regional oil hub and surrounding areas, according to a mid-ranking Army officer. He said he was told to surrender his weapons and leave his base.
  • His account was corroborated by an Arab tribal sheik and a photographer who witnessed the looting of army bases after troops left and who related similar accounts of the takeover from relatives in the army. All three spoke to The Associated Press Friday on condition of anonymity because they feared retribution from Kurdish forces.
  • “They said they would defend Kirkuk from the Islamic State,” said the Arab officer, who oversaw a warehouse in the city’s central military base. He asked that his rank not be made public.
  • He insisted the Iraqi troops had not planned to retreat before the Islamic state. “We were ready to battle to death. We were completely ready,” he said at a roadside rest house just inside the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
  • The Kurdish takeover of the long-disputed city came days after the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and other Sunni militants seized much of the country’s second largest city of Mosul and Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit before driving south toward Baghdad. Their lightning advance has plunged the country into its worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops.
  • A spokesman for Kurdish forces, known as the peshmerga, said they had only moved in after Iraqi troops retreated, assuming control of the “majority of the Kurdistan region” outside the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government.
  • “Peshmerga forces have helped Iraqi soldiers and military leaders when they abandoned their positions,” including by helping three generals to fly back to Baghdad from the Kurdish regional capital Erbil, Lieutenant General Jabbar Yawar said in a statement on the regional government’s website….
  • Kirkuk, 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Baghdad, is home to Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, who all have competing claims to the oil-rich area. Kurds have long wanted to incorporate it into their self-ruled region, but Arabs and Turkmen are opposed.
  • In the 1970s and 1980s the Arab-dominated government in Baghdad drove hundreds of thousands of Kurds out of Kirkuk and surrounding regions, settling Arabs from the south in their place in an attempt to pacify a region that had seen repeated revolts.
  • During the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 the highly disciplined peshmerga swept down from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region and established a strong presence in a belt of largely Kurdish towns and villages stretching south toward Baghdad.
  • But the disintegration of Iraqi forces this week seems to have led the peshmerga to assume full control in areas they have long coveted, further enhancing their autonomy from Baghdad and undermining hard-fought U.S. efforts to bring about a stable, multiethnic Iraq.
  • “To a great extent Kurdish forces had been de facto in control of Kirkuk for some time, but now they’re completely in control,” said F. Gregory Gause, III, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Doha Center.
  • He said it was unlikely the Kurds would seek formal independence from Iraq, however, because such a move would be strongly opposed by neighboring Turkey and Iran — both of which have sizable Kurdish minorities — as well as Washington.

Urgent: please pray for 3 Israeli teens kidnapped by Hamas to be found safe. Here are the latest details.

Three kidnapped Israeli teens, from L-R: Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Frenkel, 16, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16. (photo credit: Times of Israel)

Three kidnapped Israeli teens, from L-R: Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Frenkel, 16, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16. (photo credit: Times of Israel)

Three Israeli teenage boys — including one who is American-born — disappeared last Thursday. Fairly quickly, Israeli authorities determined the boys had been kidnapped and taken into the West Bank. Prime Minister Netanyahu says he has hard evidence that Hamas is responsible.

  • Please pray for the Lord to protect these three young men — and their  families — and give them courage and peace.
  • Please pray that they will be returned safely to their families.
  • Please pray, too, for Israeli authorities to have wisdom to know how to find them, and  for Palestinian authorities to actively assist in their safe and speedy return.
  • Please also share this story with others and encourage others to start praying.

“Yeshiva students Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gil-ad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Frenkel, 16, were abducted while hitchhiking south of Jerusalem Thursday night, Israeli officials said, leading to a wide-ranging manhunt in the West Bank to locate the three,” reports the Times of Israel.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Sunday morning that the Palestinian terror group Hamas was behind the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank on Thursday, and warned there would be ‘severe repercussions,'” the Times noted….”The IDF arrested 80 Palestinians, including senior members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, overnight Saturday as security forces continued to search for information regarding the whereabouts of the students. Among those arrested was Hassan Yousef, one of the founders of Hamas, along with former ministers and members of the Palestinian parliament, according to the Palestinian Ma’an news agency. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the prime minister’s accusation was ‘stupid,’ and ‘designed to break Hamas,’ according to the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency. Abu Zuhri added that the tactic would not succeed, and that Israeli measures in the West Bank — including the wave of arrests — only indicated the IDF’s “state of confusion” with regard to the kidnapping. An IDF spokesperson confirmed to The Times of Israel that it believed Hamas was behind the kidnappings.”

“According to our current evidence we know that Hamas is responsible for the abduction,” the spokesperson said.

“Hamas hailed the ‘success’ of the abduction on Saturday, but a senior official of the group denied that the terror group had any involvement or knowledge about the incident,” the Times reported.

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Chaos in Iraq, Syria setting stage for the Twelfth Imam, says Ayatollah, but more must be done. Iranian leader reveals thoughts on Shia eschatology.

Wars in Syria and Iraq mean the Twelfth Imam is coming soon, says Ayatollah Khamenei.

Wars in Syria and Iraq mean the Twelfth Imam is coming soon, says Ayatollah Khamenei.

(Washington, D.C.) — What are the End Times implications of the enormous upheavals we’re seeing in Iraq and Syria?

In the days ahead, I’ll post some observations from a Biblical perspective.

But first you should know that the highest ranking Shia Muslim leader in the world believes events in the epicenter are preparing the way for the soon arrival of the so-called Islamic messiah, but that more preparations are needed.

As I wrote about in my novel, The Twelfth Imam, Shia leaders — and especially the leaders of Iran — are trying to actively accelerate his arrival by gaining control of Iraq and Syria and preparing for the annihilation of Israel and the United States.

This week, the Ayatollah Khamenei revealed his latest thinking on the subject.

“Iran’s supreme leader is promising a world free of infidels and nonbelievers with the coming of the Islamic messiah, Mahdi, a 9th-century descendant of the prophet Mohammad whom the Shiites refer to as the 12th Imam,” writes Reza Khalili, the former Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps operative who became a double-agent against Iran for the CIA.

“The coming of Imam Zaman (Mahdi) is the definite promise by Allah,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech Wednesday on the anniversary of Mahdi’s birthday at an exhibition of research and historical documents on the 12th Imam.

“Khamenei said one of Allah’s promises was that an Islamic revolution would come to Iran,” notes Khalili.

“Who would have thought that in this sensitive region and in this important country, with a regime (run by Shah Pahlavi) and supported by the international powers, a revolution based on religion and Sharia (law) would take place?” Khamenei asked.

Excerpts from the article:

  • The Shiite clerical establishment ruling Iran believes that Iran’s 1979 revolution was a precursor to the coming of Mahdi, during which all infidels will be killed and the flag of Islam will be raised in all four corners of the world.
  • “The caravan of humanity from the day of creation has been moving through the windings of the hard maze (of life) … to reach an open path, (and) this open path is that of the time of the coming of Imam Mahdi,” he said. “The awaiting for the coming is a hopeful and powerful wait, providing the biggest opening for the Islamic society.”
  • The supreme leader’s representative in the Revolutionary Guards, Ali Saeedi, in a meeting with Guard commanders on Friday, said the coming of Imam Mahdi cannot take place under the current circumstances, and in order for that to happen the Middle East needs to witness major changes. To create those changes, there is a need for “regional preparedness” and that the Islamic revolution in Iran “without a doubt will be connected to the worldwide revolution of Imam Mahdi.”
  • The secret documentary “The Coming Is Upon Us,” produced by the regime for the preparedness of its forces, Hezbollah and other Shiite jihadists and revealed in 2011, covers the centuries-old hadiths by Mohammad and his descendants in providing a timeline of events and what needs to happen for the coming of Mahdi.
  • Iran’s clerical rulers believe the figure “Seyed Khorasani,” who at the end of times facilitates the coming and passes the flag of Islam to Imam Mahdi, is the current supreme leader of the regime, Ayatollah Khamenei.
  • In the documentary, close associates of Khamenei reveal that he personally has acknowledged his role as the facilitator of the coming. Khamenei has also stated openly, “I can tell you with utmost confidence: The promise of Allah for The Coming and the establishment of a new Islamic civilization is on its way.”
  • The Obama administration is currently engaged in intensive negotiations over the regime’s illicit nuclear and missile programs. Iran insists on its right to enrichment and the expansion of nuclear research and development, but international analysts believe the goal is to acquire nuclear weapons to use against Israel and the United States.
  • The supreme leader, in another recent statement covered by The Daily Caller, bluntly said that jihad will continue until America is destroyed.
  • “This battle will only end when the society can get rid of the oppressors’ front, with America at the head of it, which has expanded its claws on human mind, body and thought. … This requires a difficult and lengthy struggle and need for great strides,” he said.

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