Syria’s Main Airport Shut Down as Assad’s Regime Weakens

Syria’s Main Airport Shut Down as Assad’s Regime Weakens

alexander kohlhofer/flickr

Rebels are making gains in Syria.

Intense clashes between Syrian rebels and Bashar Assad loyalists near Damascus International Airport forced its closure on Thursday, leaving Assad’s forces weaker than ever.

The fighting—some of the worst since the Syrian civil war began almost two years ago—saw the rebels momentarily taking control of the main road connecting Damascus with the main airport in clashes that reached within 1.2 miles of the airport itself. The airport was then closed, affecting flights by Emirates airline and EgyptAir. These airlines are some of the few that are still operating in Syria. Most other airlines have already suspended services to Syria over the 20 months of the war.

Disruption of the normal operations of Syria’s main airport is significant. Assad’s government relies on it for supplies, money, weapons, and even for its global image. It connects Damascus to the rest of the world. Analysts at Stratfor noted that “Putting the airport in jeopardy is a symbolic success for the rebels” (November 30). These rebels have already seized control of Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, and are now zeroing in on Damascus, Assad’s seat of power. They have taken over some military bases and airfields around the country. But maintaining hold of airfields and airports, Stratfor surmised, is not ideal for the rebels’ guerrilla strategy. “The Syrian rebels don’t necessarily need to take over control of the infrastructure in order to prove that al Assad is weak. Putting the infrastructure in jeopardy is enough to do that,” wrote Stratfor.

Soon after the airport was shut down, the Internet completely blacked out in Syria on Thursday and Friday. While both sides pointed fingers at their adversaries, it appears to be Assad’s forces that were responsible for the communications blackout. The rebels would have more to lose than the government would from the blackout. They use information technology to broadcast images of the civil war, and communicate among themselves and with their foreign supporters.

The U.S. has not yet come out in full support of the opposition forces in Syria. Washington has not formally recognized the newly formed opposition coalition, as have Britain, France, Turkey and other nations. The Washington Post wrote that there were indications from Washington officials that the Obama administration might change its position in two weeks, when the group Friends of Syria will hold a meeting in Morocco. In the meantime, the U.S. has spent about $50 million in “non-lethal” aid to the Syrian opposition, such as satellite telephones and other communications equipment. Quoting State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, the Post noted that this equipment was being put to good use as “the [Assad] regime does appear to be resorting to cutting off all kinds of communication—cellular networks, land lines, as well as Internet service across the country.”

Again, as Stratfor assessed, the blackout is also a sign of a weakening Assad regime, regardless of who was to blame. Stratfor wrote, “Either they [Assad’s forces] lost control of the network or the threat they are facing is so pervasive that they have to shut down the entire national network instead of just localized networks.”

It appears only a matter of time before regime change occurs in Syria. Since Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry first published The King of the South booklet in 1996, we have indicated a prophesied realignment of nations in the Middle East into two main groupings: the king of the south—radical Islam under the sway of Iran—and the “Psalm 83 Alliance” of Arab states that will ally together against Iran’s group. This Psalm 83 prophecy indicates that Syria will not be allied with Iran for much longer. When these alliances fully play out as prophesied in the Bible, the world will be a giant step closer to Jesus Christ’s return. For a deeper understanding of how nations are aligning in the Middle East, and what that means for you, study The King of the South.

Is Iran Infiltrating the United States With Terrorist Sleeper Cells?

Is Iran Infiltrating the United States With Terrorist Sleeper Cells?

BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

In the advent of a military strike against Iran, Hezbollah agents spread throughout the United States could change strategy, moving from surveillance and fund-raising to launching terrorist attacks.

A new congressional report from the House Homeland Security Committee warns that Iran may be smuggling Hezbollah operatives into the United States, assisted by Mexican drug cartels.

According to this report, released in November, the Mexican border has recently become a primary front for terrorist infiltration into the United States. It specifically points to the growing rapport between Iranian-backed terror forces and Latin American drug-trafficking networks as a cause for serious concern.

Republican Rep. Sue Myrick of North Carolina issued a similar warning earlier this year, in the wake of an Iranian plot to assassinate a Saudi diplomat in Washington, D.C., using a hired gun from a major Mexican drug cartel.

In an even earlier document, released in June, the House Homeland Security Committee reported that there are literally hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of people in America who can be described as either Iranian or Hezbollah agents.

One law enforcement official has gone on record saying the New York Police Department believes there are somewhere between 200 and 300 Hezbollah sympathizers in New York City alone.

U.S. federal authorities have brought numerous criminal cases against these alleged Hezbollah operatives, but so far it appears that most of their activities have been limited to surveillance missions and fund-raising activities.

It is alleged that Hezbollah funds itself by collecting donations from Islamist sympathizers across the Western Hemisphere and by taking commissions from Latin American drug trafficking networks. One South American drug trafficker who was investigated by Colombian officials back in 2008 admitted that his drug-trafficking network gave 12 percent of its annual profits to Hezbollah in return for its support.

So Iranian-backed Hezbollah operatives spread out across the United States, Mexico and Latin America are using the money that Americans spend on drug addiction to fund terrorism in the Middle East!

They have also been observed examining sensitive U.S. targets such as subway systems, bridges and nuclear power plants. Such behavior has prompted several U.S. officials to express concern that the rules of the game could change dramatically in the event of an Israeli or U.S. strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

They worry that such a strike could prompt Hezbollah to change strategy, moving from surveillance and fund-raising in North America to launching terrorist attacks.

This network of Hezbollah operatives already has detailed surveillance information on American infrastructure and access to vast reserves of drug-trafficking money. This puts them in a prime position to unleash societal chaos if so directed by the Iranian mullahs.

The U.S. government may have the ability to defeat Iran in an outright military attack, but it lacks the ability to squash all the hit-and-run terrorist operations that may result from such an attack.

Anciently, the Prophet Ezekiel foretold of a day when end-time Israel would be beset by terrorism, rioting and societal collapse. This time of chaos is prophesied to result primarily from a great economic siege against America, but it no doubt could be enhanced by violence coming from the hands of foreign terrorists. As it is written in Psalm 127, “Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”

For more information on this scenario and how you can personally escape it, read the booklet Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet by Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry.

Germany Considers More Arms for Saudi Arabia

Germany Considers More Arms for Saudi Arabia

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Hundreds of Boxer armored troop transporters could soon be on their way to Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia has officially requested Germany’s permission to buy several hundred of its Boxer armored vehicles, Der Spiegel reported on December 2. Germany’s Federal Security Council considered the purchase on November 26, but postponed a decision until next year, Spiegel claims.

“The Boxer is one of the most modern battle vehicles in the world,” writes Spiegel. “It can be equipped with a remote-controlled weapons station or converted into a mobile surgical unit. The Bundeswehr uses the Boxer in Afghanistan as an armored personnel carrier.” Saudi Arabia wants them for its Royal Guard, whose main job is to protect the royal family.

“The addition of Boxers … would provide the Guard with international state-of-the-art equipment,” writes Spiegel.

But Spiegel points out that “Boxers are also well suited for suppressing uprisings, particularly because their tires make them useable on roads.” If riots broke out in Saudi Arabia, “one scenario could involve units loyal to the royal family fighting revolting crowds with German tanks,” it wrote.

If approved, this deal would deepen the already strong arms links between Germany and Saudi Arabia. The latter is already planning to buy 270 German Leopard A7 tanks—one of the most advanced tanks in the world.

Germany is using its arms industry strategically to build up the enemies of Iran and create an alliance for itself in the Middle East. Spiegel wrote:

German high-tech weapons are a hot commodity among Arab potentates and other autocrats. They haven’t failed to notice that the coalition government of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right Christian Democratic Union (cdu) and the pro-business Free Democratic Party (fdp) has steadily relaxed Germany’s otherwise restrictive arms export policy ….The numbers suggest that the Merkel doctrine is beginning to have its effect. In accordance with the chancellor’s wishes, Germany is now sending soldiers to conflict zones in emergency situations only. Instead, “partner countries” in the affected regions are to be strengthened through arms exports to handle the job of maintaining peace and security on their own.

This German strategy is one the Trumpet has written about extensively. For more information on it, read our article “Next in Line, Please” from the December print edition of the Trumpet.

Arafat, Still Terrorizing Israel

Arafat, Still Terrorizing Israel

MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images

Yasser Arafat has been dead and buried for eight years. Why dig up his body now?

On November 27, Yasser Arafat’s body was exhumed from its burial place in Ramallah. The reason was so experts from France, Switzerland and Russia could collect samples in order to prove whether or not radiation poison was the cause of the former Palestine Liberation Organization leader’s death.

Why now—eight years after his death in a French hospital? Access was granted to Arafat’s body last week after tests in January on some of the clothes he wore the day of his death revealed high levels of polonium 210, a radioactive isotope. In July, following the tests showing high polonium levels, Al-Jazeera reported the findings in a documentary about the iconic Arab leader. This resulted in an outcry from Palestinians for an international inquiry. Arafat’s widow, Suha Arafat, lodged a formal legal complaint for murder. French authorities soon launched a formal inquiry.

The desire for answers may be understandable among Arafat’s family and supporters, but one has to question the timing and motivation of the investigation. Are authorities really trying to discover if he was assassinated, or is this just a stunt designed to stir up hatred toward Israel?

Speculation that Arafat was assassinated has swirled for years, even though conclusive evidence has never been discovered. (At the time of his death in 2004, his widow did not permit an autopsy to be done, so there were no definite answers as to the cause of Arafat’s sudden illness.) But a French website notes that a document confirms the military hospital in which Arafat died would have conducted a routine series of tests for radiation poisoning. While polonium 210 would not have been specifically tested for, the website states that “given the characteristics specific to polonium, it is very unlikely that the French specialists could have, in 2004, not identified its urinary presence if it was still present eight years later in his personal items.” The website goes on to cite reports issued a few days after Arafat’s death that suggested his symptoms more closely fit those of poisoning by toxic mushrooms, not polonium.

In short, there is much more evidence proving he was not poisoned than evidence proving he was poisoned. So, why go grave digging?

The motivation for this investigation is further called into question when you consider its timing. Polonium has an extremely short half-life—the time it takes for the radioactivity of an element to be reduced by half. Polonium has a half-life of just 138 days. Darcy Christen, spokesman for the Institute of Radiation Physics in Lausanne (the institute that discovered the polonium on Arafat’s belongings earlier this year), said, “Since President Arafat died, we’ve gone through 20 or 21 cycles, which is a lot. That means the polonium—if there was any originally—should be very low now.” Because of polonium’s quick decay, “Eight years is considered a limit to detect any traces of the deadly radioactive substance,” according to the Swiss Institute of Radiation Physics. Arafat died just over eight years ago. As Christen went on to say, “We have actually put a deadline to the end of November, saying that beyond that date, scientifically, [exhuming the body for samples] would not make much sense.” So they have exhumed the body at the very last moment that any evidence can be gained.

Why has no one decided to investigate this till now? Surely in the eight years since his death, these tests on his clothes could have been done.

The results of the tests will not be known for another three to four months, but already, the Palestinians have made up their minds on the issue. Gen. Tawfiq Tirawi, who heads the Palestinian investigation committee, said, “If the investigation yields negative results, that does not concern me. If I reach a deadlock, I will announce it. But for now, we will continue regardless of the results of the examinations.”

Tirawi’s admission reveals the real agenda behind this investigation. He also said, “We have evidence that President Arafat was assassinated. And we will continue with our investigation until we get all the relevant details.”

Many Palestinians believe Israel is responsible for killing Arafat. But if they already have evidence Arafat was assassinated, why do they need to exhume the body? Even if the tests do prove positive, it still would not prove who killed him—only how he was killed.

It’s not hard to see the true motive behind these tests. The Christian Science Monitor quoted Tirawi as saying, “We need proof in order to find those who are behind this assassination and take it to the icc,” the International Criminal Court.

Now, in order to take a case to the icc, an entity needs to be recognized as an “observer state” by the United Nations. Conveniently, the Palestinians obtained that status from the UN the same week that they exhumed Arafat’s body. Could it be that all the evidence pertaining to Arafat’s alleged assassination had been held back until a time in which it could be exploited? Is this investigation really about providing closure, or is it just a step in a larger plan to take Israel before the International Criminal Court for Arafat’s death?

The Palestinian Authority is following in the steps of its former leader and attacking Israel politically on the international scene. With this stunt, it is sullying Israel’s reputation by selling the narrative to the international community via the mainstream media that Israel—in this case, by supposedly assassinating Yasser Arafat, the Nobel-winning Palestinian leader—is actively and unfairly working to destroy the interests of the Palestinian people.

In the last half of Leviticus 26, God outlines the curses He would bring upon the nations of biblical Israel if they failed to obey Him. God specifically mentions that He would “appoint terror” over the people if they refused to obey. That is exactly what the State of Israel is facing today. The exhuming of Yasser Arafat is a stark reminder: Even from the grave, the former Palestinian leader is still bringing terror upon Israel.

God is looking for Israel to look to Him for deliverance. Sadly, Bible prophecy shows that Israel will not turn to God for help, but to Germany. Watch this investigation to see how it may help speed that along.

JPL-NASA Scientists Cooperated With Herbert W. Armstrong

JPL-NASA Scientists Cooperated With Herbert W. Armstrong

NASA

1976 Viking 1 Mars landing shown at Ambassador Auditorium

“Much of the government’s space project is being worked out at what is locally called the jpl, Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory,” Herbert W. Armstrong appraised co-workers in a letter dated Feb. 3, 1964.

“The president of Caltech lives only three doors from Mrs. Armstrong and me, but we don’t know one another. Our spheres of interest run in opposite directions. In fact, the present expansion program of Caltech is going to take our home away from us, and we expect to be paid only half of what its value should be.”

jpl was formed in 1936 and facilities constructed in Pasadena, where it is managed by the California Institute of Technology under the direction of nasa. Its Space Flight Operations Facility has been designated by the government as a National Historic Landmark.

Funded by billions of U.S. tax dollars, nasa’s exploration in the recent past has placed men on the moon, and satellites, probes, modules, landing craft, shuttles and spectacularly powerful telescopes like Hubble and Keplar throughout our solar system, providing knowledge over time, through picture and video, of an ever expanding universe of undiscovered galaxies, solar systems and planets.

“This morning at 5:12 a.m. (Pacific Daylight Time), I sat in our Ambassador Auditorium here in Pasadena, looking in on Mission Control headquarters, located only walking distance away, as scientists manipulated at jlp the safe landing of Viking 1 on Mars” (co-worker letter, July 20, 1976).

This particular mission to the red planet was undertaken by Viking 1 and, weeks later, Viking 2. Both were constructed with orbiter and lander connected throughout the almost year of travel time it took them to reach projected orbit.

These craft captured captivating images of the surface of the famed planet, then separated as planned, ensuring continued pictures from the orbiters and soft landing for the landers.

“The jlp scientists had cooperated with Ambassador College so that everything at Mission Control, as the scientists maneuvered the Mars landing, was shown on a large screen in our auditorium. We had opened the auditorium to the public. A thousand or more were there” (ibid).

“Enthusiastic applause, filling the auditorium, greeted the landing,” Mr. Armstrong continued. “Very soon, just before 6 a.m., the first strip of two spectacular pictures arrived. We at the Ambassador Auditorium were looking in, just as if we were in Mission Control ourselves. Dr. Thomas Mutch, geology professor and leader of the team of scientists in the Mission Control room, gave a cry of delight as the first strip of the first picture came through.”

The images were high resolution for the mid 1970s. The scientific community was captivated by the pictures taken from a vantage point just a few feet above the Martian surface.

As the second image was shown on the screen at the auditorium, the audience gazed at a red planet horizon which looked, to Mr. Armstrong’s recollection, “as a sandy desert littered with rocks—from very minute size up to perhaps a foot or more in diameter.”

The Viking Orbiter 1 captured 360-degree pictures including the 3,000-km-long, 8-km-deep Valles Marineris canyon expanse. Both orbiters thermally mapped Mars and measured its water vapor, obtained and verified soil samples, and checked wind and temperature, which ranged from 150 to 250 K.

Dust storms and changes in pressure, along with gases across Mars’s polar caps, added to nasa’s mission file verification that “The Viking missions revealed further details of volcanoes, lava plains, huge canyons, and the effects of wind and water. Analysis of the soils at the landing sites showed them to be rich in iron, but devoid of any signs of life.”

Mr. Armstrong wasn’t surprised at the images or findings of the Viking mission to Mars. In fact, he expected them! For he knew, as revealed from the pages of the Bible, that such planets as Mars are uninhabitable, crusty, barren tracts of land, decomposed and useless (Genesis 1:2). Too few today conceive of the God-revealed facts, rather blindly devoting their lives to futile speculation and baseless hypothesis of the origin, sustenance and future of the universe surrounding planet Earth.

However fascinating, noble and sincere the efforts before and after Viking’s mission to Mars, their spellbinding pictures continue to verify the universal wisdom and word of the Creator (Genesis 1:1).

Speaking of the world to come, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Hebrews, “For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak” (Hebrews 2:5).

The world’s best-selling but least-read history records three worlds. First, a world that extended from the first man created, Adam, to builder of the great ark, Noah. Second, today’s lawless world, held captive. And finally, the prophesied Millennium, which Mr. Armstrong termed the wonderful World Tomorrow in his booklet. Request your free copy.

In addition, the Bible describes three heavens. Earth’s atmosphere, the outer space, and the heaven where God’s throne is.

Paul continues by referencing “the world to come,” then asks, “What is man, that thou [God] art mindful of him? … Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he [God] put all in subjection under him [man], he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him” (Hebrews 2:6-8).

The Moffatt Bible translates “all things” as “the universe,” which, so defined, encompasses all that God has created. This revealed truth outlines mankind’s incredible human potential. The resurrected Jesus, the “firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29), is preparing our way. He sustains this entire creation of the universe via the power of His word (Hebrews 1:2-3).

Two years after the Viking mission, Mr. Armstrong completed his book The Incredible Human Potential, in which he recalled, “I personally, in communication with the jpl scientists, arrived at the auditorium about 4:50 a.m. The first pictures began coming in on the large motion picture screen at about 5:10 a.m. … It had been planned to try to land the unmanned spacecraft Viking on Mars on the 200th anniversary of the United States as a nation.”

“It’s positively astounding! It has remained undiscovered by science! No religion has revealed it! Higher education has never taught it! Is it possible the whole world has been deceived—regarding the awesome purpose of human life—about the way to world peace and how it will come?” asked the unofficial ambassador for world peace, friend of jpl-nasa’s space program. “And could it be true that the real gospel message Christ brought from heaven revealed this missing dimension—but was suppressed?”

Request this vital book for, as Mr. Armstrong wrote, “This is the eye-opening story of the real gospel message of Jesus Christ—of how this missing dimension was withheld, and the whole world deceived.”

UN Elevates Palestinians’ Status

UN Elevates Palestinians’ Status

John Moore/Getty Images

A historic resolution by an overwhelming majority of the United Nations General Assembly has upgraded the status of the Palestinian Authority from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state.” The vote on Thursday was deliberately planned to be passed on the 65th anniversary of the founding of today’s State of Israel.

Since 1974, the Palestinians have held a “non-member observer entity” status. Over the years, they have been gaining recognition. In 1998, the Palestinians were granted special rights to participate in the work of the General Assembly. Last year, under Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinians failed to receive full UN membership because such a move would be subject to a U.S. veto. But being recognized, like the Vatican, as a “non-member observer state” is not subject to a veto. It only requires majority approval of the UN’s 193 members. And that’s what they did on November 29.

A whopping 138 states, including France, Italy, Russia, China and New Zealand, voted in favor of the resolution. Forty-one, including the UK, Germany and Australia, abstained. Only nine countries were opposed to the resolution. The majority were small Pacific Island nations. The only major powers were the United States, Canada, the Czech Republic and Israel.

Israel condemned the resolution, saying it will “hurt peace.” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the vote “unfortunate and counter-productive” to the peace process. A Palestinian state, opponents of the resolution have said, should only emerge out of bilateral negotiations, as set out in the 1993 Oslo peace accords. Palestinian leader Abbas, on the other hand, sees the international community as the “last chance to save the two-state solution.”

The Vatican too has welcomed this resolution, and has pushed for full recognition of Palestinian sovereignty. The Vatican also called for the recognition of “an internationally guaranteed special statute” for the city of Jerusalem, an agreement “safeguarding the freedom of religion and of conscience, the identity and sacred character of Jerusalem as a holy city, [and] respect for, and freedom of access to its holy places.”

While the recent UN resolution does not grant statehood or independence to the Palestinians, it is a significant diplomatic score for them. They can now take part in UN debates and even join the International Criminal Court and potentially prosecute Israel for war crimes. They may seek to resolve territorial disputes through the International Court of Justice.

The Palestinians’ new UN status will not lead to peace. Statehood or no, the Bible reveals that the Palestinians will soon take control of half of Jerusalem through violence. The recent elevation within the UN will only serve to embolden them.

Watch Jerusalem closely. As Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has written, “When half of Jerusalem goes into captivity, that crisis triggers a series of events that leads to the return of Jesus Christ! One half of Jerusalem being taken captive is like the first domino to fall leading to Christ’s return.” For more on these climactic events, read Jerusalem in Prophecy.