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Obama: Opening the Pandora’s Box of Nuclear Proliferation?

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, former Ambassador to the U.S., was a target of a failed bombing plot by the Iran’s Quds force at a Washington restaurant. He was at the State Department yesterday in preparation for a meeting with President Obama today regarding the Kingdom’s concerns about the announced nuclear pact with Iran.

The White House committed a faux pas on announcement of the Iran nuclear deal when it first suggested that the Quds force commander, General Qassem Suleymani, was not on a list of 700 Iranians whose travel bans and asset restrictions were lifted. General Suleymani had been deemed responsible for hundreds of U.S. Service personnel casualties during the Iraq War and now is involved with advising Iraqi Shiite militias fighting ISIS.  The Iran FARS news agency and ABC News both confirmed that the legendary head of the Quds Force was indeed on the list. We trust that President Obama will apologize when he meets with Foreign Minister al-Jubeir today. A Wall Street Journal report set the stage for today’s meeting:

Saudi Arabia is the largest of the Arab states that have been deeply skeptical of Mr. Obama’s diplomatic outreach to Iran.

The Saudis have been deeply worried about the Iran agreement; both because of fears it won’t stop the Iranian nuclear program and because of broader concerns that it will allow Iran to grow as a regional power when it receives the financial windfall from the end of sanctions under the accord.

The Sunni Saudi government already is locked in a proxy battle with Iranian allies in neighboring Yemen. The Iran-backed Houthi rebels overran Yemen’s capital earlier this year and were targeted by a Saudi airstrike campaign backed by the U.S. In addition, Shiite-led Iran is the most important backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; Saudi Arabia is committed to his removal.

However, there is the overarching issue of Saudi Arabia and other Middle East Sunni countries opting to secure their own nuclear infrastructure and weapons.  A  WSJ  op ed in today’s edition  by Karen Elliot House, former publisher and Pulitzer Prize winner for her coverage of the Middle East, addressed what many observers belief is a potential nuclear Pandora’s Box, “Obama Pours Gas on the Mideast Fire”:

The short subdued statement this week by Riyadh’s embassy in Washington again calling for “strict sustainable” inspections speaks volumes about the kingdom’s precarious position and the lack of good options.

[…]

A final option open to the Saudis: Get a nuclear weapon as soon as possible. Prince Turki al Faisal, the kingdom’s former head of intelligence vowed in the spring that “whatever the Iranians have, we will have.”

[…]

The nuclear deal with Iran will stoke more Sunni-Shiite violence, and the Saudis may go shopping for nukes.

On Tuesday, July 14, 2015, a Middle East Roundtable discussion was convened by Northwest Florida’s Talk Radio 1330 AM WEBY’s co-hosts  of “Your Turn,” Mike Bates and this writer. Our panelists were Omri Ceren, Managing Director for Press and Strategy of The Israel Project (TIP) and Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center.  Bryen was calling in from Washington, D.C.  Ceren was calling in from Vienna, Austria where he had spent 19 days working with journalists covering the final deliberations of the nuclear pact with Iran. Ceren had also been in Lausanne, Switzerland covering the April 2nd announcement of a framework for a final JPOA.  The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming August 2015 New English Review article on the Iran nuclear agreement based on the radio panel discussion. This excerpt reveals the dangers that could result should nuclear proliferation spread in the Middle East, beginning with Saudi Arabia. The arguments presented here are the opinions of Ceren and not necessarily those of TIP.

Omri Ceren(1)

Omri Ceren, Managing Director at the Israel Project.

Jerry Gordon:   What is the risk in this region that non-proliferation ends and the opposite occurs?  Is this the opening of a Pandora’s Box?

Omri Ceren:  Not just the obvious, but the well nigh undeniable. We talked earlier of what a lot is dangerous about this Administration’s communications with American lawmakers and the American public is that they just don’t tell the truth.  They make excuses for Iranian cheating. But another aspect that has been widely remarked upon is they say insulting things in order to defend their policies. One great example is their answers to the potential that Saudi Arabia will respond to a bad deal by going nuclear.  Let’s be clear, Saudi Arabia will respond to a bad deal by going nuclear. They have not been bashful and have told us in as many words that they will not wait to gain their own nuclear capabilities till the Iranians get a nuclear bomb. They’ve said that they will respond with their own infrastructure when they believe that it is now inevitable that they will get a nuclear bomb.  And they have said that this deal makes it inevitable that Iran gets its nuclear bomb, which is correct. You then have these very clear declarations from a traditional American ally that sits in the center of the world’s energy markets that they intend to go nuclear in response to this deal. If they go nuclear then the entire deal is trashed because there is no chance that the Iranian military will permit the Sunnis to get a bomb without their having a nuclear bomb.  They will respond by backing out of the deal. Now obviously this is a worst case scenario for the White House.  Yesterday, you were in a world where you had no deal and no Iranian bomb. Now you have a deal and you may have an Iranian bomb. What have been their responses? I don’t want to overemphasize this but it is difficult not notice that we have a scenario that will trash everything that the Administration has hoped to create, all costs and no benefits.  What is their answer? They say two things about the Saudis. One is that the Saudis lack the resources  to go nuclear which is insane given the example of North Korea and given what we know about Saudi Arabia’s GDP and how they allocate their resources. The second is what one of the top hands at the NSC wrote in a pamphlet was that the Saudis will never go nuclear because they are afraid of an international oil embargo. I’m sorry but that is not a sophisticated argument. The entire success of the deal and the potential that the deal will fail could leave an entire nuclear Middle East in its wake.

RELATED ARTICLE: UN Set to Adopt Iran Nuke Deal Monday in Obama Blitzkrieg

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Texas Muslim Shooters’ Profile: Elton Simpson and Nadir Hamid Soofi

Elton Simpson and Nadir Hamid Soofi, both suspects killed in the Garland, Texas jihad attack have been identified from the Arizona vehicle registrations and driver photo IDs. Simpson, 30, and Soofi, 34 were roommates in a central Phoenix condominium. The Phoenix condominium was the subject of an FBI and police bomb squad investigation early this morning

Simpson was the author of the tweets sent just before the attack. He has been the subject of an FBI terrorism investigation since 2006 and was convicted in a Federal Court trial in 2011 for material support for terrorism, an attempt to travel to Somalia to Join Al Shabaab. One of the two perpetrators is alleged as having connections to CAIR, the self-styled Muslim civil rights group, an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood.

 ISIS in a series of tweets,  sent prior to the May 3rd Muhammad Art Contest sponsored by Pam Geller’s American Freedom  Defense Initiative,   inspired brothers  in the U.S. to undertake an attack on the event. ISIS social media claimed responsibility for the attack in which both perpetrators were killed and a security officer slightly injured. The pre-event ISIS tweets doubtless increased the security arrangements at the AFDI event. A purported Muhammad Art contest  that featured a speech by Dutch Freedom Party leader, Geert Wilders and appearances by Rep. Louie Gohmert, Geller and Robert Spencer and others.  200 attendees were in lockdown following the attack and vehicles impounded as evidence in the crime scene. The event was webcast yesterday by the team from The United West led by Tom Trento.

Trento will discuss his experience at the Garland, Texas Muhammad Art Contest event with this writer and Mike Bates, co-host of “Your Turn” on 1330am WEBY, Northwest Florida‘s Talk Radio.  You may listen live here.

Heavy.com has compiled a dossier on the perpetrators of last night jihad attack in Garland, Texas, “Elton Simpson: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.”  The article reported:

Elton Simpson has been identified as one of the two gunmen who opened fire Sunday night outside the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Texas. An unarmed security guard was shot, but survived with a non-life-threatening wound, before Simpson and his accomplice were killed by police.

Simpson, 30, and the other gunman, his roommate, 34-year-old Nadir Hamid Soofi, are from Phoenix, Arizona.

Simpson was “well known” by the FBI and was the subject of a previous terror investigationABC News reports. He and Soofi were armed with assault rifles and wearing body protection, police said. They exchanged fire with a Garland police officer armed with handgun.

Simpson’s father, Dunston Simpson, told ABC News, “We are Americans and we believe in America. What my son did reflects very badly on my family,” adding that his son “made a bad choice.”

WFAA reports that FBI agents were searching the gunmen’s Phoenix, Arizona home.

Police also remain at the scene of the shooting, and have been examining the gunmen’s car. They were concerned about explosives being hidden inside it.

[…]

The FBI began investigating Simpson in 2006, when they began recording conversations he was having with an informant. He was arrested in 2010.

According to court records, Simpson received a sentence of three years probation in 2011 after he was found guilty of making a false statement to the FBI.

Simpson told FBI agents he had not talked with others about traveling to Somalia, when he in fact had talked to others about traveling to the African country, according to court documents. Judge Mary H. Murguia found there wasn’t enough evidence to support the FBI’s claim that the travel was related to terrorism. He had elected for a trial by the judge, rather than a jury.

The FBI had claimed that Simpson was traveling to Somalia to engage in “violent jihad.” The FBI claimed he was planning to travel to Africa to join the al-Shabaab terror group, which has since been responsible for the deadly Kenyan terror attacks at the Nairobi mall and Garissa University.

Simpson’s probation ended in 2014.

The Volokh Conspiracy blog wrote about the case in 2011, calling it a “partial government victory / partial defeat.”

Read the court order explaining why Simpson was found guilty:

According to court documents, Simpson was born in Illinois and then moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where he “converted to the Muslim religion at a young age.”

His attorney during the 2010 trial, Kristina Sitton, told ABC News that Simpson was on the no-fly list and the FBI had tried to convince him to cooperate with them, including after his conviction. Sitton said she thought Simpson was “harmless,” according to ABC News:

He grew up the most normal guy. Just a normal high school guy… Converting to Islam seemed like a good thing for him. He had been going down a bad path and then he found Islam. He never struck me as someone who would do this sort of thing. I’m not a bleeding heart, I’m a Republican. I’ve seen some pretty bad guys and he seemed pretty normal.

Simpson was working at a dentist’s office in Arizona, but had been on vacation prior to the shooting, his father told ABC News. Dunston Simpson said he last spoke to his son three weeks ago, but they “had not much to talk about, because we had some very serious differences.” Dunston Simpson said Elton was a “good kid.”

Here are some items from the Heavy.com dossier on Nadir Hamid Soofi, “Nadir Hamid Soofi: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know”:

According to his Facebook page, Soofi spent a considerable amount of time with his little brother. He’s a graduate of the University of Utah and the International School of Islamabad in Pakistan. His page also shows multiple posts featuring Palestinian and anti-police propaganda. Frequently, he posts the phrase “Eid Mubarak” meaning celebration to the blessed. Soofi was the owner of Effinity Solutions, a carpet cleaning business in Phoenix. In July 2013, he called himselfa “newbie to the carpet cleaning industry.”

[…]

AZ Family reports that the two gunmen lived at an apartment on 19th Avenue and Thunderbird Road (above) in Phoenix. The day after the shooting, FBI agents, some clad in bomb squad gear, searched the apartment. The car they drove to the attack in Garland was registered in Arizona. The car, a 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt, was owned by Soofi. He tried to sell it back in March 2015 for nearly $9,000.

Police said prior Soofi’s name being released that the two had gone to the event with the intention of killing people. Both were armed with assault rifles. Garland cops stopped short of calling the attack a terrorist incident.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Elton Simpson and Nadir Hamid Soofi perpetrators of Garland, Texas attack on May 3, 2015.