Brazil opens Jerusalem trade center as step to embassy shift

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend with his wife Sara and Brazilian Federal Deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro (R) the opening ceremony of the Brazilian Ministry Trade And Investment Promotion Agency in Jerusalem on Dec. 15, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 15 December 2019

Brazil opens Jerusalem trade center as step to embassy shift

  • Eduardo Bolsonaro reiterated his father’s pledge to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem soon
  • Brazil is currently still studying the implications of transferring its embassy

JERUSALEM: Brazil opened a trade office in Jerusalem Sunday, in a ceremony attended by President Jair Bolsonaro’s son and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Speaking at the ceremony, Eduardo Bolsonaro, a lawmaker, said his father intended to make good on a pledge he made early this year to move Brazil’s embassy in Israel from the city of Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“He told me that for sure — it’s a commitment — he’s going to move the embassy to Jerusalem, he’s going to do that,” the younger Bolsonaro said, in Netanyahu’s presence.
President Bolsonaro in January pledged to follow US President Donald Trump’s controversial step and relocate his country’s embassy from Tel Aviv.
The Brazilian head of state visited Israel in March, when he announced his country’s intention to open a trade office in the disputed city.
Virtually all countries maintain their embassies in the city of Tel Aviv, insisting Jerusalem’s status be defined through Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, as Palestinians view east Jerusalem as the capital of its own future state.
The United States broke with that decades-long consensus in May 2018 and relocated its Israeli embassy to Jerusalem, with only Guatemala following suit so far. Paraguay made the move but later backtracked.
Hungary has also opened a trade office in Jerusalem.
Fears have been raised that moving the embassy could endanger Brazil’s valuable meat exports to Arab markets but Eduardo Bolsonaro said any delay was due to Brazil wanting to prepare the move in a thorough manner.
“We want to do a movement to Jerusalem not only for Brazil but to be an example for the rest of Latin America,” the Brazilian lawmaker, who is also chairman of his parliament’s foreign relations and national defense commission, said.
Speaking at the ceremony, Netanyahu noted “President Bolsonaro’s commitment to open an embassy in Jerusalem next year.”
Netanyahu thanked Brazil for its support of Israel in international forums and noted recent bilateral aid the Jewish state provided to cope with natural disasters.
“Israel was there, and Israel will always be there for the people of Brazil and for our common friendship,” Netanyahu said.


New Daesh leader was informant for US, says counter terrorism report

Updated 18 September 2020

New Daesh leader was informant for US, says counter terrorism report

  • CTC said it is “highly confident” Al-Mawla became the new leader of Daesh after the previous leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, was killed

NEW YORK: The man widely believed to be the new leader of Daesh was once an informant for the US, according to a new report from the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC), a research body at the US military academy of West Point in New York.

“Stepping Out from the Shadows: The Interrogation of the Islamic State’s Future Caliph” is based on Tactical Interrogation Reports (TIRs) — the paper trail the US military creates when enemy fighters are detained and interrogated — from Al-Mawla’s time in captivity in the late 2000s.

Before his release in 2009, Al-Mawla named 88 extremists involved in terrorist activities, and the information he divulged during his interrogations led US forces in the region to successfully capture or kill dozens of Al-Qaeda fighters, the report claims.

The CTC said it is “highly confident” Al-Mawla became the new leader of Daesh after the previous leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, was killed in a US air raid in Syria in October 2019.

Although Daesh announced that a man called Abu Ibrahim Al-Hashimi Al-Qurashi was Baghdadi’s successor, US officials have also stated that Al-Qurashi’s true identity is actually Al-Mawla — also known as Hajj Abdullah.

Before joining Daesh, Al-Mawla is believed to have been the deputy leader of Al-Qaeda.

While details about the operation resulting in his capture are scarce, the TRIs reveal that he was captured on January 6, 2008.

The following day, US Central Command announced the capture of a wanted individual who “previously served as a judge of an illegal court system involved in ordering and approving abductions and executions.”

In his interrogations, Al-Mawla offered up details of terrorist plots to his interrogators, while minimizing his own involvement. He identified many jihadists by name and offered descriptions of their roles in the terrorist organization and details of their involvement in attacks on US-led coalition forces during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Al-Mawla — a former officer in Saddam Hussein’s army and once Baghdadi’s speechwriter — emerges from the TIRs as a mysterious personality with a vague past, whose ethnicity could not be determined with certainty. The statements in the reports are rife with contradictory elements and open to a wide range of interpretations. As the authors point out in their introduction: “It is incredibly difficult to ascertain whether what Al-Mawla divulges regarding himself or ISI (the forerunner of Daesh) as an organization is true.”

Details of the specific demographics of Al Mawla’s birthplace of Al-Muhalabiyyah in Iraq’s Tal Afar district are sketchy, but it is generally accepted to have a predominantly Turkmen population. The authors of the report point out that some sources have suggested “this could pose legitimacy problems for him because (Daesh) mostly has Arabs in its senior leadership echelons,” but add that at least two other senior members of the group were reported to have been Turkmen.

Al-Mawla also claimed to have avoided pledging allegiance to ISI because he was a Sufi. The report’s authors cast doubt on that claim, given his quick rise to prominence in the terrorist group and the fact that ISI and Daesh branded Sufism as heresy.

But the authors do believe the TRIs give some valuable insights into Al-Mawla’s personality.

“The fact that he detailed activities and gave testimony against (fellow jihadists) suggests a willingness to offer up fellow members of the group to suit his own ends,” they wrote. “The amount of detail and seeming willingness to share information about fellow organization members suggests either a degree of nonchalance, strategic calculation, or resignation on the part of Al-Mawla regarding operational security.

“He appears to have named individuals in some capacity across all levels of the organization, while describing some individuals in some detail,” they continued.

The US Department of Justice has offered a $10million reward for information about Al-Mawla’s identification or location.