New York Quake Overdue (The Sixth Seal) (Rev 6:12)

New York City Is Overdue For Large Earthquake: Seismologist

New York Earthquake Overdue

New York Earthquake Overdue

New York City could start shaking any minute now.

Won-Young Kim, who runs the seismographic network for the Northeast at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said the city is well overdue for a big earthquake.

From Metro New York:

The last big quake to hit New York City was a 5.3-magnitude tremor in 1884 that happened at sea in between Brooklyn and Sandy Hook. While no one was killed, buildings were damaged.

Kim said the city is likely to experience a big earthquake every 100 years or so.

“It can happen anytime soon,” Kim said. “We can expect it any minute, we just don’t know when and where.”

New York has never experienced a magnitude 6 or 7 earthquake, which are the most dangerous. But magnitude 5 quakes could topple brick buildings and chimneys.

Seismologist John Armbruster said a magnitude 5 quake that happened now would be more devastating than the one that happened in 1884.

“Today, with so many more buildings and people … we’d see billions in damage,” Armbruster said. “People would probably be killed.”

Iranian Terrorism Courtesy of the Obama Deal

Iran Using Nuclear Deal Sanctions Relief to Fund Terrorism?

Iranian IRGC units have been fighting in Syria, Iraq and other parts of the region. Photo: Twitter.

JNS.org – As the Trump administration considers its options regarding Iran, how much of Iran’s sanctions relief from the 2015 nuclear deal is funding Tehran’s support for sectarian conflict and terrorism across the Middle East?

Last week, President Donald Trump imposed new sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile program and its human rights violations. The sanctions come amid Iran’s reported efforts to fuel the Temple Mount crisis, and its agreement to bolster relations with Hamas.

Iran and its terror proxy Hezbollah also continue to back President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the Syrian civil war, although Russia’s military support for Assad is far more important for Iran’s involvement there than the sanctions relief that Tehran obtained in the nuclear deal.

“I think what has been crucial for the expansion of Iran’s role in Syria, more than anything, has been the air support [Assad] has received from Russian President Vladimir Putin,” said Meir Javedanfar, a lecturer on Iranian politics at Israel’s IDC Herzliya research college.

Javedanfar estimates that, so far, Iran has received less than $20 billion of the $150 billion in sanctions relief that it secured in the nuclear deal. Even if all of the sanctions relief money had been released immediately, he said, it “wouldn’t have been enough to save Syria.”

While the released funds have aided the Iranian regime, Javedanfar said that President Hassan Rouhani’s government is plagued by around $100 billion in debt carried over from former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s tenure. The new sanctions leveled by the Trump administration will hamper Rouhani’s ability to attract foreign investment, but hardline entities such as Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) “will be happy since less economic growth will give them more ammunition against the government,” he said.

“The IRGC is responsible for these additional sanctions that were imposed,” Javedanfar said. The sanctions were levied after Iran fired a ballistic missile with a banner calling for Israel’s destruction. Javedanfar added: “The real intention of this launch, in practice, was to target Rouhani’s economic achievements.”

Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, said that it remains unclear how much of Iran’s sanctions relief funds have been diverted to causes such as Palestinian terrorism. But he said that “sanctions relief coupled with the campaign to ‘normalize’ Iran has enabled its fighters, money and weapons to go largely unchecked throughout the region.”

The Trump administration’s new sanctions are part of “a desperately needed strategy, since for over a decade, Iran’s regional ambitions and military programs took a back seat to the nuclear issue,” Taleblu said.

Ronen A. Cohen, an Iran expert and the chair of the Department of Middle East Studies at Israel’s Ariel University, said that “Iran will promote terror with or without the sanctions.” Cohen added that since 2015, Iran has spent less on regional terrorism due to Rouhani’s strategy to strengthen the Iranian economy through trade.

“Iran has a pragmatic strategy in the Middle East, and will invest money only where it gains something in return, irrespective of sanctions,” Cohen said.

Last week, Israel Hayom quoted a Palestinian Authority security official as claiming that Iran invested “millions of shekels” to inflame the tensions surrounding the Temple Mount. According to the report, tens of thousands of Muslim protesters received prepackaged meals along with notes citing a quote attributed to 1979 Iranian Revolution leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: “With the help of Allah, Palestine will be liberated! Jerusalem is ours.”

Taleblu said that Iran’s Shiite regime “uses the Palestinian issue to drive a wedge between the Arab world and Israel, as well as to mask … ethno-sectarian differences with its Sunni Arab neighbors, and bolster its Islamist standing in the region.”

Iran has championed the Palestinian cause since its inception, and an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal “would rob Tehran of that card and render naked its regional aspirations,” said Taleblu.

“Iran’s longstanding provision of money and weapons to Palestinian terror groups tells you one thing: Iran has more to gain from perpetual conflict in the Levant and eastern Mediterranean than peace,” he said.

IDC Herzliya’s Javedanfar said that he has seen no real evidence that Iran was behind the recent tensions in Jerusalem. Rather, he said, Iran exaggerated its role in the Temple Mount crisis since “it feels isolated in the region because of its support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and his atrocities against Sunni Muslims.”

Iran’s claims regarding the Temple Mount, Javedanfar said, show “how desperate the Iranian regime has become.”

Why the Antichrist Will Abandon Iran (Daniel 8)

The Iraq Report: Iran implicated in bombing Shia shrines

As Tehran-backed Shia paramilitary units continue to expand their power and influence in Iraq, Iran has been implicated in the bombing of a Shia shrine in Samarra that triggered a sectarian bloodbath more than a decade ago. While this accusation is nothing new, the significance of the allegation’s resurgence is that it comes from a militant Shia Islamist movement that had long been a recipient of Iranian financing, arming and training.

The astonishing about-turn from one of Iran’s Iraqi allies comes as Baghdad continues to be rocked by the interventionist policies of foreign powers. The United States has been implicated in a deadly attack against Shia militants near the Syrian border, while Turkish politicians have threatened that Ankara may intervene in Iraq, based on treaties that are almost a century old. With Iran continuing to play a dominant role across the full spectrum of Iraqi political, economic, cultural and security affairs, sovereignty continues to elude the war-ravaged country.

Iran linked to Shia shrine bombing

A senior leader of the Sadrist Movement, led by firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has directly implicated Iran in the 2006 Askari shrine bombing that triggered a wave of sectarian bloodletting that lasted for years and cost the lives of tens of thousands of Iraqis – mostly Sunni Arabs. The effects of the sectarian slaughter are visible to this day, with continuing examples of torture, murder, sexual violence and other atrocities having their roots in the violence that erupted in the bombing’s aftermath.

Speaking to Dijlah TV on Sunday, Awad al-Awadi said that Iranian operatives had infiltrated Iraq around the time of the Askari bombing, saying “many reports have revealed that there were interests, there were terrorist cells and groups that came in from Iran”. Awadi alleged that Iran had wanted a sectarian war that would pit Iraqis against each other, and ultimately weaken any chance of national reconciliation or future Iraqi sovereignty.

The Askari shrine bombing took place in Samarra, a Sunni Arab-majority city just north of the capital, and was blamed on al-Qaeda extremists – though no group formally took responsibility. Previously, al-Qaeda had been known to claim any attacks against Shia targets in order to boost its propaganda image of being a defender of the Sunnis, but then-leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Mosab al-Zarqawi did not make any of his usual grandiose statements claiming responsibility. He was killed later that year.

However, since the attack, many have suspected Iran of ultimately being behind the bombings, with reports from WikiLeaks purporting to show that Tehran was actively supporting al-Qaeda by supplying them with innovative explosives for carrying out suicide bombings. More recently, the US Treasury sanctioned three senior al-Qaeda operatives in 2016, all of whom reside in Iran with Tehran’s knowledge and consent. This has led to claims that Iran had the most to gain by the sectarian conflagration that followed, and was either directly or indirectly behind the attack.

The shocking allegation comes amid Saudi Arabia’s recalibration of its strategy in Iraq, as Riyadh moves closer to long-time pro-Tehran stalwarts. Riyadh has increased its diplomatic presence in Shia holy cities in its northern neighbour, and has paid millions of dollars towards “legitimising” some Shia leaders over others – seemingly in an attempt to tip the scales more in its favour versus its regional foe, Iran.

That the allegation comes from a Sadrist leader is interesting in itself, as the Sadrist’s militia at the time, the Army of the Mahdi – better known as Jaysh al-Mahdi, or JAM, to counterinsurgency experts in the US military – was heavily involved in the sectarian killing spree. The Sadrists targeted Sunnis in Baghdad and other major Iraqi cities, alongside many Shia militants, including the Badr Organisation that controls the interior ministry to this day.

However, following Sadr’s visit to Saudi Arabia last week at the invitation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Shia cleric has adopted a more conciliatory stance towards Riyadh, offering to remove anti-Saudi posters in areas under his control. Saudi Arabia also took the step of blessing Sadr’s visit with $10 million to open a Saudi “presence” in the Shia holy city of Najaf, as a way of demonstrating Sadr’s influence and Saudi largesse all at once.

Sadrist statements implicating Iran in one of the most heinous bombings in post-invasion Iraq are therefore likely to be intricately tied to Riyadh’s charm offensive and attempts at prising Shia leaders out of Iran’s grip.

Militia granted further religious authority

Another side-effect of Sadr’s visit to Saudi Arabia was his call last Friday for the Iraqi government to dismantle Shia paramilitary organisations that have been formally absorbed into the armed forces. Sadr called upon Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to dissolve the Popular Mobilisation Forces, saying that “disciplined members” of the Iran-backed militia should instead be “integrated into the army”.

While the PMF, or Hashd al-Sha’abi in Arabic, is part of the armed forces, it operates as a parallel army to the main national army. The PMF has its own budget, barracks, equipment and most of its recruits come from pro-Iran Shia Islamist militant factions, including some associated directly with Muqtada al-Sadr’s militias.

The PMF is at least nominally under the command of Baghdad, but statements released by the group show that they appear to take their orders from Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force. Despite claiming to have been established by religious decree to fight Islamic State group militants in Iraq, the PMF has detachments inside Syria and are actively helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad crush the uprising against decades of Ba’athist rule.

Sadr’s call was almost immediately shot down by the government, as Abadi not only flatly refused to dissolve the PMF, but said that the controversial organisation would stay with government and religious backing. Speaking at an event organised by the PMF on Saturday, the Iraqi leader said the PMF would “never be disbanded, and will remain under the command of the state and the religious authorities”.

Abadi’s remarks have raised concerns that the transformation of Iraq into a theocratic rump state under the influence of ayatollahs both in Iraq and in Iran with a religious armed force to enforce the status quo will kill any chance of Iraqis obtaining the democracy promised to them by the United States when it invaded and toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

By legitimising and strengthening the PMF and other armed factions, Abadi has shown that continuing torture in Iraqi prisons perpetrated by sectarian elements of the Iraqi armed forces primarily against Sunni Arabs is not an issue that concerns him as he struggles ahead of the general elections due next year. The continuing torture – as well as the transformation of homes in Mosul into headquarters for the Iraqi Hizballah – are leading to fears that political failures will lead to a revival of the circumstances that led to the rise of IS in the first place.

US accused of killing dozens of Shia militants

While Saudi Arabia and Iran increasingly have their say in Iraq, other major powers – including the United States – continue to try to secure their interests in the country.

IS has not been the only target of American airstrikes, as the PMF accused the US of bombing its positions in Iraq, leading to the deaths of dozens of fighters as well as Iranians fighting alongside them.

According to Iraqi military sources, as well as the PMF itself, a pair of American air raids killed no fewer than 60 Shia militants in two separate strikes, all on the Syrian border. At least 20 of the casualties came from one group, the Tehran-leaning Sayyid al-Shuhada Brigades militia, one of the many militias under the overall control of the PMF, and under the command of Iranian military leaders. The Brigades vowed they would retaliate against the US, saying they would “not be silent” after the attack.

US Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, the spokesman for the US-led anti-IS coalition, said on Twitter: “Allegations of #Coalition strikes vs. Popular Mobilization Forces near #Iraq – #Syria border are INACCURATE. No coalition strikes there ATT.”

Although the US has denied any involvement, one of the strikes hit the Iraqi side of the border near al-Tanf, the site of several such incidents in Syria, where a US military outpost is positioned. Washington has been quietly concerned that Iraqi Shia extremists to whom they have provided air support in the fight against IS are being quietly sent across the Iraqi-Syrian border on Iranian orders to threaten US interests in Syria.

Trump and the Fire of Judgment (Matthew 13)

Donald Trump warns North Korea of ‘fire and fury’

Pakistan Today

President Donald Trump issued North Korea with an apocalyptic warning on Tuesday, saying it faced “fire and fury” over its weapons programs, as Pyongyang said it was considering a missile strike near the US territory of Guam.

Trump’s comments marked a sharp intensification of Washington’s rhetoric over the North’s nuclear and missile programmes, which saw the seventh set of United Nations sanctions imposed on it at the weekend.

The remarks also appeared to echo Pyongyang’s own regular threats, most recently repeated on Monday, to turn Seoul into a “sea of flames”.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” said Trump, speaking from his golf club in New Jersey. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Trump’s tone was markedly different to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s assurances last week that Washington was not seeking regime change in Pyongyang.

North Korea raised the stakes just hours later, saying it was considering missile strikes near US strategic military installations on the Pacific island of Guam.

Once finalised, the plan could be put into action at “any moment” once leader Kim Jong-Un made a decision, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted a military statement as saying.

The remote island of Guam ─ a 210-square-mile dot in the Pacific ─ is a key US military outpost and home to some 6,000 US troops spread across facilities including the sprawling Anderson Air Force Base, as well as Naval Base Guam.

Guam-based US B1-B bombers overflew the Korean peninsula on Tuesday, which KCNA said: “proves that the US imperialists are nuclear war maniacs”.

Earlier, the Washington Post quoted a Defense Intelligence Agency analysis as saying officials think North Korea now has “nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery” ─ including in its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) ─ making it a potent threat against neighbours and possibly the United States.

The Pentagon did not comment on the story, but the Post said two US officials familiar with the analysis had verified the assessment’s broad conclusions, and CNN said it had confirmed the report.

Experts have long differed over the North’s exact capabilities, and a similar DIA assessment four years ago was dismissed by other intelligence organisations.

But all agree it has made rapid progress under leader Kim Jong-Un.

Last month Pyongyang carried out its first two successful ICBM launches, the first ─ described by Kim as a gift to “American bastards” ─ showing it could reach Alaska, and the second extending its range even further, with some experts suggesting New York could be vulnerable.

Trump said Kim “has been very threatening beyond a normal state.”

“As I said, they will be met with the fire and fury and, frankly, power,” he told reporters.

US officials have repeatedly said this year that military action against the North was an “option on the table.”

But analysts and politicians reacted to the US president’s latest remarks with derision.

“Trying to out-threaten North Korea is like trying to out-pray the Pope,” John Delury of Seoul’s Yonsei University said on Twitter.

Security commentator Ankit Panda added: “Trump’s comments were dangerous and unusual; North Korea’s threat was also specific, but not unusual.”

Congressman Eliot Engel, the Democratic senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, chastised Trump for drawing an “absurd” red line that Kim would inevitably cross.

“North Korea is a real threat, but the president’s unhinged reaction suggests he might consider using American nuclear weapons in response to a nasty comment from a North Korean despot,” Engel said in a statement.

Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said Washington continues to work to make sure China and other countries enforced the new UN sanctions.

On Guam, governor Eddie Calvo downplayed Pyongyang’s statement, saying that “currently there is no threat” and the territory was “prepared for any eventuality.”

The Post also reported that another intelligence assessment estimated North Korea now has up to 60 nuclear weapons, more than previously thought.

Despite the advance, North Korea still must overcome technical hurdles before it will be seen to have perfected the technology.

After Kim’s second ICBM test, experts said it appeared the “re-entry vehicle” that would carry a warhead back into Earth’s atmosphere from space had failed in the intense heat.

Former Los Alamos National Laboratory director Siegfried Hecker told the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists he did not think North Korea yet had sufficient missile or nuclear test experience “to field a nuclear warhead that is sufficiently small, light and robust to survive an ICBM delivery.”

North Korea has vowed that the new UN sanctions would not stop it from developing its nuclear arsenal and that it would never negotiate it away.