After embassy shooting, Israel to appoint new envoy to Jordan

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Israeli source says ambassador Einat Schlein will be replaced in wake of Amman’s anger over handling of deadly June embassy shooting by Israeli guard who was attacked by screwdriver-wielding Jordanian in June; ‘The Jordanians don’t want her back, and this has been a big obstacle in patching things up.’

Israel plans to appoint a new ambassador to Jordan in a bid to calm Amman’s anger over the current envoy’s handling of a shooting by an embassy guard in July, an Israeli diplomatic source said on Wednesday. During July’s incident, an Israeli security guard shot and killed a Jordanian teenager who stabbed him with a screwdriver in the Amman mission compound, as well as the Jordanian landlord, who was killed by stray bullets.

Mossad Head Yossi Cohen has been reported to be the one carrying out negotiations on Israel’s behalf with Jordan, to return an Israeli ambassador to Amman.


A senior official confirmed that current Ambassador to Jordan Einat Schlein—who was photographed with the guard and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the Israeli mission was hastily called back—will not be returning to Amman. “The Jordanians don’t want her back, and this has been a big obstacle in patching things up.”

It has been further speculated that Israel will express regret over the death of the landlord, and that it will pay his family compensation.

Jordanian authorities say they suspect the shooting was unprovoked but could not investigate the guard due to his diplomatic immunity. A televized welcome he and Schlein received from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outraged Amman.


Since Schlein’s departure on July 24 the embassy has been shuttered, casting a pall over Israel’s ties with Jordan, a U.S-backed regional security partner and one of only two Arab countries that recognise Israel.


Emmanuel Nahshon, spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, declined comment on the case.

Israeli officials have said they were looking into the possibility of compensating the family of the second man caught in the crossfire.


They say it is highly unlikely Israel would prosecute the guard, as demanded by Jordan. His prospects of continued work in Israeli diplomatic security abroad were in doubt, however, after a Jordanian newspaper published his details.

Israel’s consulates in Turkey have been handling Jordanian applications for Israeli visas since the incident.



Despite the move, Israel has shown no sign of meeting Jordan’s demand that it launch criminal proceedings against the guard, who killed two Jordanians after one of them stabbed him with a screwdriver without provocation.


The Jordanian daily Al-Rad published shortly after the attack a picture and identity of the Israeli security guard, Ziv Moyal, 28, and his diplomatic identity card, delivering a blow to Israel which had censored the publication of his details.


Libyan militant cleared of US envoy’s murder in Benghazi, convicted of terror

Benghazi (AFP)
An armed man waving his rifle as buildings are engulfed in flames inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi on 11 September 2012 (AFP)

A US jury on Tuesday acquitted accused militant Ahmed Abu Khatallah of the most serious charges he faced in connection with a 2012 attack on a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya that killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

The jury in US District Court for the District of Columbia found Khatallah guilty on only four of the 18 counts he faced and acquitted him on murder and other charges, according to the Justice Department.

He was convicted on one count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, one count of providing material support to terrorists, one count of maliciously destroying property and one count of using and carrying a semi-automatic weapon during a violent crime, according to a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.


The jury reached its verdict after five days of deliberations.

Khatallah is the first person to be tried in connection with the 2012 attack in Benghazi. A second person alleged to be involved, Mustafa al-Imam, made his first court appearance earlier this month.

The attack, which coincided with the 11th anniversary of 9/11, was carried out by some 20 men armed with grenades and heavy weapons.

Stevens and the second State Department official, Sean Smith, died of smoke inhalation after the consulate caught fire, while the two CIA contractors, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, were killed in the firefight by mortar rounds.

The case marks a major test of the government’s ability to capture and try alleged terrorists in civilian courts rather than military proceedings.

Prosecutors acknowledged that Khatallah did not directly participate in the attack on the US consulate or nearby CIA annex. Rather, they sought to convince the jury that he helped orchestrate it behind the scenes.

Khatallah was captured in 2014 by US military and FBI officials in Libya and transported to the United States aboard a Navy vessel.

He was first questioned by US intelligence officials and later by the FBI. Khatallah waived his right to speak first with an attorney, and prosecutors used his statements in the trial.

They also presented evidence including phone records showing that the defendant made calls to his associates right before they were captured on grainy videos participating in the attack and testimony from a variety of witnesses.

Defence attorneys for Khatallah said the witnesses lacked credibility, especially one witness who was paid $7 million to inform on their client and lure to him the place where he was captured.

In August, the court ruled against his lawyers’ motion to suppress whatever he told his interrogators as evidence because his rights to remain silent, knowing the charges against him, and having a lawyer present were violated.

His lawyers also argued that the lengthy 13-day trip by ship back to the United States was part of a scheme to extract information from him without legal protections.

Khatallah faces a statutory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison for each of the two terrorism charges, 20 years for the property destruction charge and 10 years for the firearms offence.

The Benghazi attack led to a political firestorm in Washington that factored into the 2016 presidential elections, where Republicans repeatedly accused then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton of failing to adequately protect the diplomatic compound.

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Russia condemns new mortar attack on its embassy in Damascus.

MOSCOW, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) — Russia on Monday denounced the latest mortar attack on its embassy in Syria‘s capital Damascus, which caused damage to certain building facilities.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, a mortar shelling hit hit the fence of the Russian Embassy close to a building of its residential quarter, causing damages to power transmission lines and water supply system.

None of the staff in the embassy were injured, the ministry added.

Noting that the embassy was purposefully targeted, the ministry also called upon the United Nations Security Council to condemn the “brazen action”.

The Russian embassy in Damascus has been shelled several times since Moscow started to participate in anti-terrorism operations in Syria in September 2015.

The Russian air force is currently providing support to the advancing Syrian government troops in the east of the country against Islamic State (IS) terrorists.

Dozens of strikes have been launched by Russian bombers and submarines near Abu Kamal, one of the last IS strongholds in Syria, since the beginning of November.



Isis urges jihadists to attack the Vatican in chilling new online poster

Islamic terror group Isis has unveiled a poster urging jihadists to attack the Vatican in the run up to Christmas.

The haunting image shows a terrorist at night with a wolf at his side looking down over St Peter’s Square. Behind him lies a rocket launcher and a machine gun.


Its chilling text begins: “‘The Crusaders’ feast is approaching”.

The poster, circulated online by the pro-Isis Wafa media group, continues: “Show them the meaning of terrorism. Kill them and do not hold back with your blood the reward is paradise and let them know that you are from an ummah [Muslim community] where mountains bow down to.

“We will not forget our revenge for every drop of blood that they have shed we will not exclude the young, elderly or women you are all in the crosshairs of our arrows and what is about to come is more even worse.”

The image was highlighted by the US based the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks the online activity of white supremacist and jihadist groups.

This is not the first time Isis and its affiliates have made threats against the Vatican and Pope Francis.

Recently, a group that supports Isis released a gruesome image depicting a beheaded Pope.
In the lurid picture a jihadist stands over the body of a prisoner in an orange jump suit and clutches the decapitated head of the Pope Francis.

Next to the severed head the pontiff’s given name is written, Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

Last year Italian police said they arrested least four people who planned to carry out terror attacks against the Israeli Embassy in Rome and the Vatican.

And in 2015 the authorities in Italy said they broke up a network of Islamist radicals that may have been planning an attack on the Vatican.

Police arrested nine suspects, including two men who were bodyguards of al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden before he was killed in a raid by US special forces in Pakistan in 2011.

“For Isis, the Vatican in particular is a symbol of the ‘Crusader’ West, and any attack made against it would be widely accepted by all of its followers,” Rita Katz, director of the SITE Intelligence Group, told Newsweek last month.