Arab & Israeli media provide inside details of President Sisi’s historic meeting with Evangelical Christian leaders in Cairo. Here’s a sampling of the coverage.

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(Cairo, Egypt) — The first stories on our Delegation are beginning to appear in Arab and Israeli media. 

Here’s the text of the Haaretz article by Washington correspondent, Amir Tibon….

WASHINGTON — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi met on Wednesday with a group of leading evangelical Christian activists from the United States at his office in Cairo, where they discussed the fight against ISIS, the prospects for peace between Israel and the Arab world and the situation of Christians in Egypt and elsewhere in the region

The meeting, the first of its kind, lasted for almost three hours and signaled the Egyptian president’s interest in forging a close relationship with one of the largest and most influential religious denominations in the United States

The meeting was initiated by Joel Rosenberg, an evangelical activist and author who lives in Jerusalem. Rosenberg participated in a meeting that Sissi held earlier this year in Washington, D.C., with experts on the Middle East, leaders of Jewish organizations and former senior U.S. government officials. Following that meeting, he discussed with officials in the Egyptian president’s close circle the idea of arranging a meeting for him with Evangelical leaders, noting that no such meeting has taken place in recent history.                                                                            

Sissi accepted the idea, and on Wednesday, the 12-member group arrived to meet him at the Presidential Palace in Cairo. According to Rosenberg, who spoke with Haaretz after the meeting, “it was supposed to last an hour, but lasted almost three.” Egypt’s intelligence chief, General Khaled Fawzy, and the president of the Protestant Churches of Egypt, Dr. Andrea Zaki, also attended the discussion.

Sissi opened the meeting by expressing his condolences to the American people following Tuesday’s terror attack in New York. He added that Egypt and the U.S. are partners in the fight against terrorism and extremism, and spoke about Egypt’s battle against Islamist terror organizations in the Sinai Peninsula.

Rosenberg added that Sissi told the group that he wants to “build on the legacy of President Anwar Sadat,” the Egyptian leader who signed a peace agreement with Israel in 1978, and paid for it with his life. “The president explained to us that Egypt has learned a lot over the years on how to make and maintain peace, and because it has a leadership role in the Arab world, it can help others move towards peace, based on its unique experience.”

According to Rosenberg, Sissi told the group that he remembers being impressed, as a young man, with Sadat’s determination to sign a peace agreement with Israel. “My sense after the conversation was that after a rough start, he now has more confidence in his stability and position, to start working more on regional issues,” Rosenberg told Haaretz.

With regards to the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations that the Trump administration is trying to renew, Rosenberg said that Sissi “didn’t go into tactics and specifics,” but expressed his support for that effort. Over the last year, Sissi has stated a number of times that Egypt believes an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord could have a positive influence on the entire Middle East, and has encouraged the Trump administration to pursue such a deal.           

Egypt played an important role in forging the recent reconciliation deal between the two leading Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, an issue that naturally came up during the meeting with the evangelical group. “I think that with a different leader, everyone in the room would have been very uncomfortable with discussing this reconciliation deal,” Rosenberg said. “But with him, people felt like they should give him some space and consideration to lead this process. It’s OK to be skeptical, but let’s not be cynical – let’s give the man some credit and see what he can do in a very difficult situation.”              

The evangelical community in the United States is considered very supportive of Israel, and over the last two decades, Israeli right-wing politicians and organizations have created significant partnerships with Evangelical Christian groups. A number of the participants in the meeting on Wednesday are members of President Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Council, and Rosenberg is considered close to Vice President Mike Pence. There are more than 60 million evangelical Christians in the United States, and more than 600 million worldwide.

At some point during his conversation with the evangelical leaders, Sissi asked his aides to organize a meeting for the group with Jehan Sadat, the late president’s widow. “They called her and asked if she would be willing to meet us, and she said – yes, they are invited for tea at 4:00. So right after the meeting with the president, we all went to her house in Cairo. She was fascinating. She told us about the night her husband first told her he was planning to go to Jerusalem and give a speech at the Knesset about the chance for peace.

According to Rosenberg, Sadat also told the group about “her memories from meeting Israeli leaders like Menachem Begin, Shimon Peres and Ezer Weizman. We were truly humbled to spend time with her and hear these stories.

Rosenberg, who was born to a Jewish father, told Haaretz that he was surprised at the level of interest expressed by the Egyptians in the delegation. “For the leader of Egypt to invite a Christian group to sit with him, discuss what he’s doing, talk about some of the difficult issues, that’s very impressive. I was hoping we could get ten minutes with him, and eventually we got almost three hours. From our side, the important thing was to show our appreciation for his fight against terrorism and extremism, for his commitment to peace and security ties with Israel, and for saving Egypt from the darkness of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

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> To pre-order a copy of The Kremlin Conspiracy (which releases March 6th), please click here.

> To order a copy of the new mass market paperbacks of the J.B. Collins novels — or to buy as a set — please click here.

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Today in Cairo, Egyptian President Sisi welcomed first-ever delegation of Evangelical leaders for 3-hour meeting. I was deeply honored to participate. Here’s a brief report.

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(Cairo, Egypt) — As regular readers of this blog know, I had the opportunity to meet Egyptian President el-Sisi in Washington in April.

What I could not say at the time was that during the course of our conversation, the President invited me to bring a delegation of Evangelical Christian leaders to visit him in Cairo, as well as to meet with other senior Egyptian government officials and religious leaders. We’ve been working on this with his staff and advisors ever since, and today the project not only became a reality but was far more than I could possibly have hoped for.

What was scheduled to be a one-hour meeting with Mr. el-Sisi in the presidential palace in Heliopolis, a suburb of the capital, lasted almost three hours. 

Joining the President in the meeting with us were two key figures. The first is Khalid Fawzi, the chief of Egyptian intelligence. The second was Dr. Andrea Zaki, the president of the council of Protestant Churches in Egypt, representing some two million Evangelical Christians.

The President invited us to ask anything we wanted, and we covered a wide range of issues. Most importantly, we told the President that we came not simply for a meeting, but to build a long-term friendship between Evangelical Christians and him and the leadership and people of Egypt, as well as our Christian brothers and sisters here. He indicated that’s what he would like, as well.

Please pray for Mr. el-Sisi and his team. They are courageously fighting a winner-take-all-battle against Radical Islamist terrorists. They are working to stabilize a country that was going up in flames under the Hellish tyranny of the Muslim Brotherhood. They are determined to rebuild a shattered economy, safeguard all Egyptians (including the nation’s Coptic Orthodox, Protestant and Roman Catholic Christians), rebuild churches destroyed or damaged during the Arab Spring, maintain the peace treaty with Israel, and rebuild the U.S.-Egyptian alliance deeply damaged under President Obama.

This is not easy work, and there are forces determined to destroy him and his nation.

The President asked us to pray for him and for all Egyptians, and we committed to doing just that.

Over the next few days, I’ll report more on this historic meeting, as well as post news stories that are beginning to run in the Egyptian, American and Israeli media. For now, let me share with you the official photos and press release issued by the palace. 

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PRESIDENT SISI MEETS WITH A DELEGATION OF LEADERS OF THE EVANGELICAL COMMUNITY OF AMERICA

[Official Press Release of the Presidential Spokesman] — President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi welcomed on Wednesday a delegation of leaders of the American evangelical community, in the presence of Khalid Fawzi, head of the General Intelligence, and Rev. Dr. Andri Zaki, head of the evangelical community in Egypt.

Bassam Radi, spokesman for the presidency, said that the president welcomed the delegation members at the beginning of the meeting, expressing condolences to the victims of the Manhattan terrorist incident which took place last night in New York. The President pointed to Egypt’s keenness to strengthen bridges of communication and understanding with various sectors of American society to address the challenges facing the two countries.

The President affirmed Egypt’s openness to all religions and sects and the firm belief that acceptance of diversity, the general framework that must unite the people all over the world and thus highlight the importance of dialogue between these people in all different sects and races. The President also noted Egypt’s eagerness to uphold the principles of citizenship, equality and non-discrimination among citizens on any religious, sectarian or other basis, as well as the consolidation of a culture of pluralism and acceptance of the other.

The Spokesman added that the members of the American delegation expressed their appreciation to Egypt’s leadership and people, pointing out Egypt’s role as the cornerstone of stability and moderation in the Middle East. Members of the delegation expressed their solidarity with Egypt in the face of terrorism, which addresses it with determination and strength, pointing to their confidence in Egypt’s ability to overcome the difficulties posed by the current challenges.

Ambassador Bassam Radi said that the meeting tackled ways to confront terrorism. The President affirmed that the elimination of terrorism in the region and beyond will only be achieved through collective action and the adoption by the international community of a multi-pronged strategy. All elements and parties supporting terrorist organizations will be dealt with, in order to stop providing shelter, weapons, training camps or funding. The President also stressed the importance of supporting efforts to restore stability in the region and to consolidate national institutions with their countries, in order to fill the vacuum that provides an opportunity for the growth of terrorism.

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> To pre-order a copy of The Kremlin Conspiracy (which releases March 6th), please click here.

> To order a copy of the new mass market paperbacks of the J.B. Collins novels — or to buy as a set — please click here.

 

VP Pence says advancement of religious freedom & defense of persecuted Christians & other faith communities must be a top priority. Heading to Israel & Egypt in December. Here’s the latest.

Pence-InDefenseofChristians(Jerusalem, Israel) — In the face of genocide against Christians in the Middle East, the United States government is finally making the advancement of international religious freedom — and solidarity with persecuted Christians and other faith communities — a top priority.

Several days ago, Vice President Mike Pence delivered the keynote address at a conference in Washington organized by the group, “In Defense of Christians.” You can watch the full speech by clicking here. You can read the full text by clicking here. I encourage you to do both, and share it with family friends. It was an excellent address, and very encouraging to see the seriousness with which this administration is taking the issue.

Pence said he will soon travel to Israel and Egypt, in part to advance the issue. “President Trump has directed me to go to the Middle East in December,” the V.P. told the assembled Christian leaders. “And I promise you one of the messages that I will bring on the President’s behalf to leaders across the region is that now is the time to bring an end to the persecution of Christians and all religious minorities.”

Pence also noted that “President Trump has nominated a great leader and a great man of faith to be our Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Governor Sam Brownback.” I’ve known Brownback for more than twenty years (and recently had dinner with him and his wife in Jerusalem), and I can’t tell you how encouraged I am by his appointment. He co-wrote the U.S. dealing with religious freedom, and I have full confidence he will pursue the issue with vigor.

Please continue praying for persecuted followers of Jesus Christ and other religious minorities throughout the Middle East and around the world. Please pray for the President, Vice President, Ambassador-designate Brownback and other administration and Congressional leaders as they work to defeat the forces of Radical Islam and come alongside suffering faith communities of all kinds in the region.

I also commend to your attention a new report we just issued from The Joshua Fund on “The State of the Epicenter 2017: How Many Followers of Jesus Are There?”

Here are excerpts from the VP’s address…..

AMONG THE MOST PERSECUTED IN THE WORLD

  • The Bible tells us that: “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” and the flocks you shepherd are among the most persecuted in all of the world. It’s largely what brings us here tonight.
  • Nearly 2,000 years ago, the disciples of Jesus left their home country. They left their land, radiating outward from Israel in every direction, bringing with them the Good News that is proclaimed to this day. But sadly today, Christianity is under unprecedented assault in those ancient lands where it first grew….
  • Let me assure you tonight, President Trump and I see these crimes for what they are — vile acts of persecution animated by hatred for Christians and the Gospel of Christ. And so too does this President know who and what has perpetrated these crimes, and he calls them by name — radical Islamic terrorists.
  • The practitioners of terror seek to stamp out all religions that are not their own, and believers of many backgrounds have suffered grievously at their hands — Yazidis, Druze, and even their fellow Muslims.
  • Yet these barbarians harbor a special hatred for the followers of Christ. And under the unwavering attacks, Christianity now faces an exodus in the Middle East unrivaled since the days of Moses.

GENOCIDE  IN SYRIA AND IRAQ

  • It’s heartbreaking to think that the Christian population in Syria has been cut in half in just the past six years — plummeting from over 1.25 million to only 500,000 today.
  • In Iraq, the followers of Christ have fallen by 80 percent in the past decade and a half. And across the wider Middle East, we can now see a future in many areas without the Christian faith. But tonight, I came to tell you: Help is on the way….

WINNING THE WAR AGAINST THE ISLAMIC STATE IN THE MIDDLE EAST

  • Under the leadership of President Donald Trump be assured this administration calls these vicious actions by ISIS what they truly are — they are genocide and they are crimes against humanity. And we will call them what they are.
  • As a candidate, our President pledged to “crush and destroy ISIS.” And today, thanks to the courage of American Armed Forces and the resolve of our Commander-in-Chief, I’m pleased to report that ISIS is on the run.
  • Three years ago, those barbarians celebrated in the streets of their self-declared capital in Raqqa. They proclaimed the start of a thousand-year caliphate as they raised their black flags across the region, but those black flags no longer fly in Raqqa.
  • Just last week, American and allied forces liberated Raqqa, and across Syria, and Iraq, the caliphate is crumbling. And you can be assured, we will not rest, we will not relent until we hunt down and destroy ISIS at its source — so it can no longer threaten our people or anyone who calls the Middle East home.
  • But for the believers in that ancient land, we know that victory in combat is only half the battle. Just as important as driving ISIS out of existence is making sure that we provide aid and comfort to those who have suffered so much loss and grief and ensure that they can avail themselves of their right to return….

PROMOTING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

  • The right to worship according to the dictates of our conscience is at the very heart of who we are as Americans, as men and women created in the image and likeness of God. And protecting and promoting religious freedom is a foreign-policy priority of the Trump administration.
  • As evidence, President Trump has nominated a great leader and a great man of faith to be our Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Governor Sam Brownback.

PROVIDING U.S. AID TO PERSECUTED COMMUNITIES

  • Our fellow Christians and all who are persecuted in the Middle East should not have to rely on multinational institutions when America can help them directly. And tonight, it is my privilege to announce that President Trump has ordered the State Department to stop funding ineffective relief efforts at the United Nations.
  • And from this day forward, America will provide support directly to persecuted communities through USAID.
  • We will no longer rely on the United Nations alone to assist persecuted Christians and minorities in the wake of genocide and the atrocities of terrorist groups. The United States will work hand-in-hand from this day forward with faith-based groups and private organizations to help those who are persecuted for their faith.
    This is the moment. Now is the time. And America will support these people in their hour of need.

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> To pre-order a copy of The Kremlin Conspiracy (which releases March 6th), please click here.

> To order a copy of the new mass market paperbacks of the J.B. Collins novels — or to buy as a set — please click here.

How many followers of Jesus are there in the Mideast? Read the new “State of the Epicenter 2017” report.

Epicenter-Stateof-2017

(Jerusalem, Israel) — Over the last few months, my Joshua Fund colleagues and I have been working on a new report concerning the “State of the Epicenter 2017.”  Working with pastors, ministry leaders and experts in the region, we carefully examined the question of how many followers of Jesus Christ currently reside in Israel, the Palestinian territories, and in the five Arab neighbors around Israel.

It was the first time since my wife, Lynn, and I founded The Joshua Fund in 2006 that our team has drilled down into the data — and the trend lines — to assess the health and growth (or decline) or the church, country by country.

Personally, I found the research fascinating, and the results encouraging. At the recent Epicenter Conference held in Orange County, California, I shared those results with the attendees. Now I’d like to share the results with you

STATE OF THE EPICENTER 2017: HOW MANY FOLLOWERS OF JESUS ARE THERE?

“I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” – The Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:18, ESV)

Many in the Epicenter are being shaken as perhaps never before in human history. Syria is imploding. Iraq is convulsing. Lebanon and Jordan have been overrun by millions of refugees. Egypt has undergone multiple revolutions. Israelis and Palestinians, meanwhile, have faced repeated waves of violence.

The Church has also been deeply shaken. Many followers of Jesus Christ throughout the region have been horribly persecuted and targeted by terrorists. Church buildings have been bombed, set ablaze, and riddled with machine gun fire. Christians have been captured, enslaved, tortured, and beheaded. Some have even been crucified.

Yet even amidst such darkness, we can rejoice and give thanks because the Holy Spirit is on the move to advance Christ’s unshakeable kingdom. “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe.” (Hebrews 12:28)

Consider these encouraging facts:

  • News of such wars, persecution and suffering has unleashed a great movement of prayer by believers around the world for the Church and the lost in the Epicenter.
  • Followers of Jesus in the Middle East are boldly and creatively communicating the Gospel to their people using satellite television, radio broadcasts, the Internet, Bible distribution, literature distribution, and their own personal witness – indeed, they are reaching more people in the region than ever before.
  • Millions of Jews and Muslims are now able to hear, read and consider the Gospel message in their own heart languages – just as remarkable, many are open to considering the claims of Jesus for the first time in their lives.
  • As a result of so much prayer and faithful seed planting, pastors and ministry leaders throughout the Epicenter report signs of hope – after centuries of spiritual drought, the Church in the Middle East is bearing fruit again. Jews and Muslims are coming to faith, and are being baptized and discipled. There is much to do, but real progress is being made.

In some ways, the current environment is evocative of the First Century. Amidst tremendous hardship and persecution, believers are reaping a harvest by God’s grace.

  • “The news about Him [Jesus] spread throughout all Syria, and….large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.” (Matthew 4:24-25)
  • “When the Gentiles heard [the Gospel], they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.” (Acts 13:48-49)
  • “After we arrived in Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. After he had greeted them, he began to relate one by one the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, ‘You see, brother, how many ten thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed….” (Acts 21:17-20)

To be sure, one must be careful with numbers. Some Western ministry leaders and local pastors can, at times, be tempted to exaggerate progress to friends and donors. Likewise, Radical Islamists and Jewish anti-missionaries can report to their compatriots and donors inflated numbers of Jews and Muslims coming to faith in the Lord Jesus in an attempt to exaggerate a perceived “threat” to their communities.

That said, interviews with a wide range of Arab and Messianic pastors and ministry leaders in the region, and a review of relevant articles, books and studies, provide a useful, if imprecise, snapshot of the state of the Church in the Epicenter.

ISRAEL

  • 25,000 to 30,000 born again believers attend Messianic congregations in Israel.
  • 4,000 to 5,000 Arab Evangelical Christians openly worship Jesus in Israel….

[To read the rest of this report, including the most recent estimates of followers of Jesus in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq — including detailed end notes — please click here.]

[To watch videos of the speakers and panel discussions at the 2017 Epicenter Conference in Orange County, California, please click here.]

NOTE: Please share this report and the Epicenter Conference videos with family and friends on social media.

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> To pre-order a copy of The Kremlin Conspiracy (which releases March 6th), please click here.

> To order a copy of the new mass market paperbacks of the J.B. Collins novels — or to buy as a set — please click here.

New York Times bestselling trilogy about ISIS threat released as mass market paperbacks this week from Tyndale.

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(Orange County, California) — I’m excited to announce that all three of my political thrillers about the threat of ISIS to the U.S., Europe and our allies in the Middle East have just been released  in mass market paperback. You can buy them individually, or a set.

All of my previous novels initially release in hardcover (a growing rarity in the publishing world these days), and are later as “trade paperbacks.” These are the first to be released in the smaller mass market format and are now available at airports, drug stores, etc., and, of course, are available for purchase on-line.

Here is the press release from Tyndale:

The Complete Collection of J.B. Collins Novels by Joel C. Rosenberg Now Available In Mass Market Paperback From Tyndale House Publishers

CAROL STREAM, Ill., Oct. 3, 2017 The J.B. Collins Collection featuring three New York Times bestselling political thrillers by author Joel C. Rosenberg, The Third Target, The First Hostage and Without Warning, is now available as a paperback series from Tyndale House Publishers.

This is the first time all three novels are available in a bundled collection; the first book in the series released in 2015. All three titles garnered critical acclaim upon release and endorsements from CIA directors, generals, members of Congress, governors and even world leaders. Additionally, The Third Target was a 2016 Christian Book Award finalist and Without Warning is currently a finalist for a 2017 Christy Award in the Mystery/Suspense/Thriller category.

“If there were a Forbes 400 list of great current novelists, Joel Rosenberg would be among the top ten … One of the most entertaining and intriguing authors of international political thrillers in the country … His novels are un-put-downable,” said Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes magazine.

The J.B. Collins Collection follows New York Times foreign correspondent J.B. Collins as he trails a journalistic lead that takes him down a dangerous path.

The page-turning story begins in The Third Target when Collins hears rumors that an al-Qaeda splinter cell—ISIS—has captured a cache of chemical weapons inside Syria. He knows this is a story he must pursue at all costs. With terrorist forces trying to bring down two Arab governments and the U.S. president about to make a trip to the region, Collins attempts to uncover the terrorists’ plot before it’s too late.

JBCollins-massmarkets-graphic

Collins’ journey continues in The First Hostage when he puts the entire world on high alert with an alarming message: “The president of the United States … is missing.” With leaders of Israel and Palestine critically injured, Jordan’s king fighting for his life, and the U.S. president presumed captured, Collins must work with the Secret Service to locate and rescue the leader of the free world before ISIS’s threats become a catastrophic reality.

The saga concludes with a surprising ending in the final book, Without Warning, which follows Collins as he attempts to convince the President of the United States of the possible imminent catastrophic attack inside the American homeland if an all-out manhunt to capture or kill Abu Khalif, the leader of ISIS, is not conducted immediately.

Upon releasing in March 2017, Without Warning landed on numerous prominent bestsellers lists, including The New York Times, USA Today, Publisher’s Weekly and The Washington Post.

As a former political aide to U.S. and Israeli leaders, Rosenberg’s story lines are derived from his personal conversations with world leaders and intelligence operatives and have been described as being “ripped from tomorrow’s headlines.” A wide range of leaders around the world endorse his books, including Lt. General (Ret.) William G. “Jerry” Boykin, the former commander of Delta Force; former presidential candidates Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Rick Santorum; former Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon; former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Porter Goss; and former CIA operative in Iran and bestselling author Reza Kahlili.

Rosenberg’s next novel, The Kremlin Conspiracy, will release in March 2018 and is the first book in a new series that will introduce readers to Marcus Ryker, a former United States Secret Service agent. For more information about the forthcoming title or The J.B. Collins Collection, visit JoelRosenberg.com.

October 6 & 7 — I’ll be speaking at the 2017 Epicenter Conference in Orange County, California. The focus of the conference is, “What does the Future Hold for Israel and Her Neighbors?” Please register today.

 

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> To pre-order a copy of The Kremlin Conspiracy (which releases March 6th), please click here.

> To order a copy of the new mass market paperbacks of the J.B. Collins novels — or to buy as a set — please click here.

 

“Deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.” 59 dead, 500+ wounded. Here’s what we know so far from Las Vegas. (updated)

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UPDATES:

ORIGINAL POST: Americans are waking up to horrific news of sheer evil in Las Vegas. At least 50 people have been murdered, and more than 200 have been wounded.

Here’s what we know so far….

  • “Deadliest shooting in U.S. history.” (CNN) (ABC News)
  • Warning 45 minutes before the attack: “You’re all going to die.” (UK Express)
  • “Las Vegas gunman suspect is Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada.” (CNBC)
  • “[T]he Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said the suspect was shot dead by officers and that authorities were confident there was no longer a threat….police found numerous firearms in the room he occupied and that officers were also at his residence.” (Wall Street Journal)
  • “Authorities said law enforcement swarmed the hotel and killed the gunman in a room on the 32nd floor. Responding officers used an explosive device to force the door open into the room to shoot Paddock dead, law enforcement officials told Fox News.” (Fox News)
  • “Police don’t believe there are any more shooters. ‘Right now, we believe it’s a sole actor, a lone-wolf-type actor,’ the sheriff said.” (CNN)
  • “A gunman killed at least 50 people and wounded more than 200 at a country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday, raining down rapid fire from the 32nd floor of a hotel for several minutes before he was shot dead by police.” (Reuters)
  • “The death toll, which police emphasized was preliminary and tentative, would make the attack the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, eclipsing last year’s massacre of 49 people at an Orlando night club.” (Reuters)
  • “Pray for Las Vegas,” the city’s mayor, Carolyn Goodman, tweeted. “Thank you to all our first responders out there now.” (CNN)

Developing….

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>> To pre-order a copy of The Kremlin Conspiracy (which releases March 6th), please click here.

On the eve of Yom Kippur, “Putin in Ankara to forge alliance of Russia, Turkey & Iran.” Here’s why that’s interesting.

Putin-Erdogan

>> I’m speaking Saturday evening in Denver on the threats posed by Radical Islam, Russia and North Korea. Q&A will follow. Tickets are $25. Best is to register online, but you can buy a ticket at the door. Click here for more details.

(Denver, Colorado) — Readers of my novel, The Ezekiel Option, and non-fiction book, Epicenter, and this blog know how interested I am in the ancient prophecies of Ezekiel 38 and 39 and what is known by rabbis, pastors and Bible scholars as the “War of Gog and Magog.”

The Hebrew prophet Ezekiel wrote some 2,500 years ago that in the “last days” of history, the Jewish people will be gathered back to the land of Israel from all the nations where they have been scattered and exiled, they will rebuild the State of Israel, and they will create a nation of ever-increasing security and prosperity.

At that time, Ezekiel indicates an evil dictator identified as “Gog” will rise up in Russia (known in Biblical times as “Magog”) who will form an alliance with Iran (known in Biblical times as “Persia”), Turkey (known in Biblical times as “Gomer”), and several other Middle Eastern and North African countries. Together, this alliance will surround and then seek to attack and consume Israel and the Jewish people.

Skeptics of the Bible dismiss all talk of prophecy as uneducated, unsophisticated and downright ridiculous, despite the fact that over the last century we’ve been seeing one Bible prophecy after another come to pass:

  • Jews from all over the world have been streaming back to live in the Land of Israel (myself included)
  • Israelis have been rebuilding the ancient ruins and building a modern, flourishing, prosperous economy.
  • Israelis have been creating the strongest and most successful military in the entire Middle East, have forged an enduring alliance with the world’s only superpower, and feel more secure today than ever in their modern existence.

So some of us find headlines like these particularly interesting:

Keep in mind that tensions between Russia and Turkey (a NATO member) have been running quite high in recent years.

So it’s not exactly obvious that Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan would be meeting in the Turkish capital to forge an alliance together, much less with Iran.

Yet that’s exactly what happened this week.

Consider excerpts from Al Arabiya:

  • Putin’s visit to Ankara comes a few days prior to the scheduled visit of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s to Moscow on October 5-7, 2017. After patching up an acrimonious row between the countries over the downing of a Russian jetfighter in November 2015 over Syria, both leaders have pledged to restore their political and economic relations to pre-crisis levels….
  • Moscow called for a peace conference in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, which involved Turkey and Iran. The countries formed a diplomatic triad for setting up de-escalation zones in Syria in order to end the war and stop the division of the country. Russia chose Astana as a venue for the talks to send a message to the US that it should not get close to Russian borders through former republics of the Soviet Union….
  • Turkish leadership is seeking strategic relationship with Russia to replace the loss of its Western alliance. In other words, Ankara is effecting a shift toward a more “Eurasian-ist” orientation due to the proximity of the region, the overlapping of interests, common cultural values and language.
  • After winning the war in Syria, Russia is now seeking to ensure its peace – a mission no less difficult than going to war. Initially, Russia used Turkey as a key partner to make the Syrian opposition accept a truce and join peace talks for reaching a political settlement….
  • Russian-Turkish bilateral relations have several common traits: pragmatism, multi-faceted approach, commonalities, reliance on energy resources, geopolitical power, military performance, circumspection toward the West. All of this has fueled the Russian and Turkish pursuit to play a pivotal role at the Eurasian and Middle Eastern landscapes….
  • In 2014, Putin and Erdogan signed several agreements on bilateral trade with the two countries hoping that their annual trade volume would reach $100 billion by 2020. However, the most important achievement of the meeting was the agreement to expand cooperation in natural gas trade. Russia aimed through these agreements to also increase its gas exports to Turkey by more than 3 billion cubic meters because of the latter’s increasing need for energy.
  • Turkey imports 93 percent of its energy needs, 97 percent of which is natural gas. Ankara buy 60 percent of its gas from Russia, which makes it the second largest importer of Russian natural gas after Germany. The value of Turkish exports to Russia does not exceed $6 billion….
  • The recent military rapprochement between Ankara and Moscow with the S-400 deal has upset NATO officials because the Russian system, an anti-air defense system, is incompatible with NATO’s. With this deal, Russia will be the third biggest arms exporter to Turkey after Germany and the US.
  • Erdogan, who plans to visit Iran in October to bolster military cooperation, will also be discussing the repercussions of any independent Kurdish state that might inflame separatist tensions in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria….

To be clear, I’m not saying that as Yom Kippur begins this year, Israel faces an imminent threat of attack from Russia, Turkey or Iran. Nor am I saying that this week’s meeting between Putin and Erdogan necessarily fulfills Biblical prophecy. It’s simply too early to say whether the alliances that are forming between have Biblical significance. Likewise, it’s also too early to say that Putin is Gog, though he certainly seems “Gog-esque.” We simply don’t have enough information, so we should not be quick to draw conclusions.

That said, even skeptics of the Bible should find recent events not only troubling geopolitically, but also curiously consistent with the words of the ancient Hebrew prophet Ezekiel. I certainly do.

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>> To pre-order a copy of The Kremlin Conspiracy (which releases March 6th), please click here.

 

BREAKING: New audio indicates ISIS leader still alive. World’s most wanted terrorist urges “soldiers of the Caliphate” to “fan the flames of war.”

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(Denver, Colorado) — For months, we’ve heard rumors that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State, had been killed.

  • In June 16th, the New York Times reported that Russian forces had killed him.
  • Then the Iranians said they were sure he was dead.
  • In July, the Pentagon said they could not confirm his death, though the rumors persisted.

Now a newly-released audio tape strongly suggests the world’s most wanted terrorist is still alive and calling on “soldiers of the caliphate” to launch a new wave of attacks.

“The date of the 46-minute recording, released via the Al-Furqan news organization, was not clear,” reports Reuters. “But in it, Baghdadi makes an apparent reference to recent events including North Korean threats against Japan and United States and the recapture two months ago of Mosul by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces.”

“Beware of retreat, or the feeling of defeat, beware of negotiations or surrender,” Baghdadi implores ISIS fighters. “Do not lay down your arms…Oh Soldiers of the Caliphate, fan the flames of war on your enemies, take it to them and besiege them in every corner, and stand fast and courageous.”

On Saturday night in Denver, I will speak at length about the progress the U.S. and coalition partners have been making in the war against ISIS, and assess the threat that remains. We’ll talk specifically about the al-Baghdadi tape and its implications. This will be part of a message titled, “Brace For Impact: An Evening Discussing The Latest Threats From Radical Islam, Russia, and North Korea.”  Q&A will follow.

This Fall, my publisher will also release my ISIS novel trilogy — The Third Target, The First Hostage and Without Warning — in mass market paperback. I’ll have more details on that very soon.

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>> To pre-order a copy of The Kremlin Conspiracy (which releases March 6th), please click here.

The U.S. & West should support Kurdish independence. Here’s why. [Analysis of Kurdish referendum]

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UPDATE: Kurds vote overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Iraq (CNN headline). “Iraqi Kurds have voted overwhelmingly in favor of declaring independence from Iraq in a historic and controversial referendum that could have wide-ranging implications for the Middle East,” reports CNN. “More than 92% of the roughly 3 million people who cast valid ballots on Monday voted ‘yes’ to independence, according to official results announced by the Kurdish electoral commission on Wednesday.”

ORIGINAL POST: On Monday, September 25th, the Kurdish people of northern Iraq will vote on a highly controversial referendum on whether to secede from the Republic of Iraq and create their own independent state. It is expected to pass overwhelmingly. But then what?

Marsoud Barzani, the Kurdish president, laid out the case in a June 28th op-ed in the Washington Post, “The time has come for Iraqi Kurdistan to make its choice on independence.”

Most world governments, however, oppose the referendum. They see the move by the Sunni Muslims of the Kurdistan province as ill-timed and needlessly complicating an already highly volatile geopolitical situation in the Middle East. Especially adamant against the move are the Shia leaders in Baghdad and Tehran, as well as the Turkish government, which hates the Kurds with a vengeance.

Unfortunately, the Trump administration also opposes the referendum, or at least its timing. This is a mistake. The Kurds deserve their freedom now.

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I have had the honor of visiting the Kurdish province in northern Iraq four times. Over the years, I have met with Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani (who was the Kurdish representative in D.C. at the time), a range of other Kurdish government officials, and Christian pastors and ministry leaders in Kurdistan. I have been moved by their history, have fallen in love with their people — especially the children — and have been praying for the people and leaders ever since.

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The referendum the Kurds have drafted is not perfect. Indeed, in some ways it is overreaching. And yes, it will complicate diplomatic matters in the region. Rather than oppose it, however, the U.S. and Western powers should be working with the Kurds and regional leaders to negotiate a peaceful and reasonable conclusion, one that gives the Kurds their independence but ensures they are cooperating partners in the region’s security and economy.

The Kurds have been patient for the better part of a century, while the world continues to cut them loose. Enough is enough. It is time to support their bid for self-determination. If not now, then when?

The column expresses my own personal opinions. It does not reflect the views of The Joshua Fund, which is a non-political organization, and takes no position on legislative or political issues in the U.S. or other countries.

(Top photos: Meeting with Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani in Erbil.)

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>> To pre-order a copy of The Kremlin Conspiracy (which releases March 6th), please click here.

Is Egyptian President el-Sisi about to help broker a major breakthrough in the Arab-Israeli peace process? Fascinating signals this week. [My new Jerusalem Post op-ed + analysis of el-Sisi’s UN speech]

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Four decades after the historic Camp David Accords, is Egyptian President el-Sisi signaling he is about to take the lead in helping broker dramatic peace agreements not just between Israelis and Palestinians but perhaps between Israel and the rest of the Arab world, including the Saudis and Gulf States?

Given his warm, even effusive, public meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, there are surprising and growing reasons for optimism, as I discuss in my new op-ed in The Jerusalem Post, “Behind The Smiles: Why Did Sisi Go Public With His Close Relationship With Netanyahu?” [see excerpts below]

What’s more, I strongly encourage you to watch or read the full text of President el-Sisi’s courageous address to the U.N. General Assembly, especially went he went off script to speak of Egypt’s “wonderful and excellent experiment in peace” with Israel and to urge both sides not to miss a “rare” opportunity to make peace that “may not be repeated.”

Mr. President, let me put the text aside and appeal to those who may concern. My first appeal is to the Palestinian people. I tell them that it is extremely important to unite behind your target and overcome differences, not lose the opportunity and be ready to coexist with the Israelis in safety and peace to achieve stability and security for all. I appeal to the Israeli people, telling them that Egypt has a wonderful and excellent experience in peace with you for more than 40 years. We can repeat this experiment and wonderful step. The security and safety of the Israeli citizen should be put side by side with that of the Palestinian citizen. I appeal to you to stand by your political leadership. Don’t hesitate. I assure the Israeli public opinion that we stand with you all to render this opportunity a success.

This opportunity may not come again. I address also all peace loving states and all sisterly Arab countries to support this magnificent step. I appeal to the rest of the world to back this step, which if it succeeds, it will change the history. In addition, I appeal to the US president that we have an opportunity to write a new page in the history of humanity for achieving peace in this area. 

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EXCERPTS FROM MY JERUSALEM POST OP-ED

Monday’s tete-a-tete between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, held on the sidelines of the opening session of the UN General Assembly in Manhattan, was their first-ever publicly announced meeting, and it went better than both men had hoped.

But why was President Sisi willing to go public with the relationship now?….

Is something even bigger going on?

Sisi is not a politician by training. He’s a military man, a strategist. He doesn’t make moves – certainly not vis-à-vis Israel – without carefully thinking them through. To go public now, especially with such warm and friendly photographs, strongly suggests something else is brewing.

Is the Egyptian leader about to invite Netanyahu to come to Cairo for an official, formal state visit, the first ever by an Israeli premier? Might Sisi even host a summit and introduce Netanyahu to other Arab heads of state? Will he offer to host serious peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians for a comprehensive and final treaty, having secured Netanyahu’s agreement to such talks ahead of time?

At the same time, is Netanyahu about to invite Sisi to come to Jerusalem for an official state visit? Will he invite the Egyptian leader to address the Knesset and lay out his vision for a broad regional peace, sharing lessons Egypt has learned about making – and maintaining – peace with the Jewish state?

It would be the first time an Egyptian leader set foot on Israeli soil since Anwar Sadat stunned the world and melted the hearts of the Israeli people with his bold visit to Jerusalem in 1977. It would be powerful by itself, but could it also be designed to lay the groundwork for an historic visit by another major Arab leader, or by several?….

Could another breakthrough be in the works?

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>> To pre-order a copy of The Kremlin Conspiracy (which releases March 6th), please click here.