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American Resistance To Empire

Russia: an Enabler of Jihad?

Russian officials have had to contain their glee in monitoring recent political events in America and Europe. They appear to think their days in the cold may soon be over. Much has been made of President-elect Donald Trump’s wish to improve relations with Moscow, but the last news out of France appears even more auspicious to Moscow.

The far-right candidate, Marine Le Pen, is known for her pro-Putin sympathies. Now, with François Fillon’s nomination as the center-right candidate, both major contenders in next year’s French presidential election are favorably disposed toward Russia.

These warmer feelings towards Russia are based, mainly, on changing threat perceptions in the West. Since the emergence of the Islamic State and the proliferation of terrorist attacks in Europe and America, many Europeans and Americans appear to view Moscow’s aggression against its neighbors, such as Ukraine and Georgia, as an increasingly esoteric problem.

Particularly after Russia’s intervention in Syria, even on the right many now view Russia not as a threat to the West but as a natural ally in defeating the jihadi threat.

These warmer feelings towards Russia are based, mainly, on changing threat perceptions in the West.

While this notion is gaining popularity, it is at best the triumph of hope over experience, and at worst a dangerous delusion. Russia’s interaction with radical Islam over two decades shows that it is part of the problem, not the solution. In fact, leaders in Moscow have a track record of manipulating radical Islam whenever that has suited their purposes – including systematic collusion with Islamic extremists. A few examples illustrate this policy.

Exhibit one is the twenty-year insurgency in Chechnya and the North Caucasus. In this conflict, the forces fighting for independence from Russia were divided between secular nationalists and Islamic radicals. Because the secular nationalists enjoyed considerable legitimacy both in the West and among the local population, Moscow actively encouraged the growth of the jihadi elements, which were disliked locally and anathema to the West.

Moscow worked hard to kill off the leaders of Chechnya’s secular nationalists. By contrast, there is compelling evidence of collusion between Russia’s secret services and the region’s most notorious radicals, such as Shamil Basayev and Arbi Barayev, and of systematic Russian infiltration of the radical Islamic groups from the North Caucasus.

As Russia imposed a brutal proxy regime in Chechnya, it sought to leave Chechens and foreigners alike with a binary choice: tolerate the brutal Kadyrov regime, or side with the jihadis.

Russia’s interaction with radical Islam over two decades shows that it is part of the problem, not the solution.

Exhibit two is the case of Russia’s foreign fighters in Syria. Ahead of the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics, held next to the North Caucasus, Moscow in spite of its infiltration of jihadi networks faced an acute risk of terrorist attacks. So, as Novaya Gazeta’s Elena Milashina has showed, Russia’s Federal Security Service organized a “pipeline” to facilitate the export of North Caucasian radicals to fight in Syria. Would-be fighters were provided passports and safe passage; some were recruited by Russian intelligence services.

Indeed, foreign fighters from Russia have reached higher in the hierarchy of the Islamic State than any other foreign fighters, and work alongside Saddam Hussein’s former Baathist officers who – similarly – have deep connections to Moscow dating to the Soviet period. Is this a coincidence? The exact nature of these relationships is by nature murky, but the level of state infiltration of the jihadi circles in Russia at the very least raises serious questions about Moscow’s links to the Islamic State.

But, critics may counter, has not Russia’s intervention in Syria served to wipe out these jihadis? Again, while this is the Russian rhetoric, the record shows otherwise. Never mind that Russia has tried, falsely, to take credit for the American drone strikes that have decimated the Islamic State leadership.

By now, it is widely established that Russian airstrikes have not primarily targeted the Islamic State at all, but other rebel groups fighting the Assad regime, as in Aleppo. In reality, Moscow is taking a page from the playbook in Chechnya: by eliminating the rebel groups, it strives to mold a situation that presents a binary choice, and where the only alternative to the Assad regime is the Islamic State.

Exhibit three is Afghanistan, where Moscow since last year established contacts with the Taliban insurgency, which is responsible for the deaths of thousands of American soldiers. Citing the need to fight the Islamic State franchise in the country, Moscow began intelligence sharing programs with the Taliban, and provided this jihadi group with international legitimacy.

Even Russia’s claims to be a bulwark against Islamic radicalization in nearby Central Asia fails to hold up to scrutiny. In fact, it is by now established that most Central Asians fighting in Syria or Iraq are not radicalized in their home countries, where governments have a solid track record of countering radicalization.

In fact, the large majority of Central Asian recruits to Islamic radical movements have been radicalized while toiling as temporary and often illegal workers in Russia itself. Far from being a bulwark against extremism, Russia is domestically an incubator of radical Islam.

This bleak picture raises the question: if Russia is not fighting Islamic extremism, then what are its real goals? The answer is twofold. First, in places a different as Chechnya and Syria, Russia actively tries to shape the actors on the battlefield to leave a binary choice between Islamic extremists and brutal strongmen dependent on Moscow.

Second, in theaters as diverse as Afghanistan and Syria, Russia’s focus is squarely to undermine the national security interests of the United States. In Afghanistan, Russia is supporting the Taliban against Islamic State; while in Syria it claims to fight ISIS, but in fact ignores it and instead targets other rebel groups. The common denominator? Russia alternatively bolsters America’s main enemy, or actively targets its local allies.

The notion that Russia is, or could be, an ally against the threat of radical Islam is a dangerous delusion. Russia’s record makes it clear that it sees America, not Islamic extremism, as its main enemy. So long as Vladimir Putin runs Russia, Russia will remain part of the problem, not the solution.

Pak Army Launches Operation For “Countrywide de-weaponisation and explosive control”

[Army going to try to disarm Tribal Region?  Good luck with that, guys.]

Pakistan Army launches ‘Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad’ across the country

dawn

Pakistan Army on Wednesday launched ‘Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad’ across the country, Inter-Services Public Relations, the army’s media wing, said in a statement.

Radd-ul-Fasaad — which translates roughly to ‘elimination of discord’ — will aim at indiscriminately eliminating the “residual/latent threat of terrorism”, consolidating the gains made in other military operations, and further ensuring the security of Pakistan’s borders, read the statement.

Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Navy, Civil Armed Forces (CAF) and other security and law enforcing agencies (LEAs) will actively participate in and ‘intimately support’ the armed forces’ efforts to eliminate the menace of terrorism from the country, the statement added.

“The effort entails conduct of Broad Spectrum Security / Counter-Terrorism (CT) operations by Rangers in Punjab, continuation of ongoing operations across the country, and focus on more effective border security management,” the ISPR said.

“Countrywide de-weaponisation and explosive control are additional cardinals of the effort. Pursuance of National Action Plan will be the hallmark of this operation,” it added.

The announcement followed a meeting in Lahore between Chief of Armed Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa, the corps commanders of Punjab, the director general of Pakistan Rangers Punjab, and the heads of intelligence agencies.

Earlier in the day, the federal government had approved a request forwarded by the Government of Punjab for the deployment of Rangers personnel in the province.

Punjab had requested the federal government to deploy over 2,000 Rangers personnel in the province, who would be given policing powers to conduct intelligence-based operations (IBOs) against militants, wherever required and with full authority.

Read more: Govt approves Punjab’s request for Rangers deployment

Additionally, at the start of the week, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had informed Senate that the army had been empowered to act against terrorists across the border if it had concrete evidence that Afghan soil had been used to launch recent attacks in the country.

He had said it had been established beyond doubt that foreign soil had been used to orchestrate the attacks in Lahore and Hayatabad.

Recalling Pakistan’s commitment to not allow its soil to be used for terrorist acts in any country, Dar had said the time had come to ensure that no other country’s soil was used against Pakistan either.

Renewed focus on NAP?

Operation Radd-ul-Fasad has been announced as a continuation of the National Action Plan (NAP), the ISPR said in its Wednesday notification.

Widely criticised for its apparently half-hearted implementation, NAP had been formulated after the devastating attack on Army Public School Peshawar in December 2014.

Security forces conduct an intelligence-based operation. -File

As part of the plan, military courts were established to fast-track terrorism cases. Intelligence-based operations across the country were initiated to disrupt and destroy terror networks in urban and rural areas. The plan had also laid an emphasis on curtailing terror financing.

NAP had also promised to take action against seminaries involved in militancy, but the government had dithered on bringing them under control, apparently for fear of backlash from religious parties as well as militants.

Read more: National Inaction Plan?

Resurgence in terror attacks

Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad was announced in the aftermath of a fresh resurgence in terror attacks in Pakistan.

On Feb 21, security forces killed three suicide attackers who attempted to wreak havoc at a local court in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Charsadda district. The attack had killed five civilians and was claimed by the proscribed Jamaat-ul-Ahraar (JuA).

On Feb 16, the shrine of Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan was struck by a suicide bomber affiliated with the militant Islamic State. The worst in the recent flurry of militant activity in Pakistan, it saw at least 88 killed and more than 300 injured after a suicide bomber targeted devotees during the evening dhamaal.

Aftermath of attack on the shrine of Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. -File

Earlier the same day, an explosive device had targeted an Army convoy in the Awaran area of Balochistan, killing three soldiers.

On Feb 15, a suicide bomber had struck in Mohmand, killing three personnel of the Khasadar force and five civilians. This attack was also claimed by the JuA.

The same day, a suicide bomber rammed his motorcycle into a vehicle carrying judges in Peshawar’s Hayatabad Phase 5 area, killing the driver and injuring its four other occupants. This attack was claimed by the TTP.

On Feb 13, a suicide bomber had struck a protest on Lahore’s Charing Cross interchange, killing 13 and injuring 85. The attack had happened right outside the gates of Punjab’s Provincial Assembly.

The attack was claimed by the JuA.

On the same day, two personnel of Balochistan’s bomb disposal squad were killed as they attempted to defuse an explosive device planted under the Sariab Road bridge in Quetta, the provincial capital.

Chronology of military operations in Pakistan

The following are major military operations carried out by armed forces against local and foreign militants in the recent past:

  • Operation Rah-i-Haq-I in Swat valley and Shangla district (2007)

  • Operation Rah-i-Haq-II in Swat valley and Shangla (2008)

  • Operation Sirat-i-Mustaqeem in Khyber Agency (2008)

  • Operation Sherdil jointly launched with Frontier Corps in Bajaur Agency (2008)

  • Operation Rah-i-Haq-III in Swat valley and Shangla (2009)

  • Operation Black Thunderstorm in Buner, Lower Dir and Shangla district (2009)

  • Operation Brekhna in Mohmand Agency (2009)

  • Operation Rah-i-Rast, commonly known as Swat Operation, (2009)

  • Operation Rah-i-Nijat in South Waziristan (2009)

  • Operation Zarb-i-Azb in North Waziristan along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border (2014)

  • Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad across the country (2017)

America Should Stay Out Of Another Middle Eastern Ground War–Forbes

Proposals for combat intervention in demonstrate Syria yet again that Washington’s interventionist elite learns nothing and remembers nothing from the past. President Trump has an opportunity to begin anew. The American people desperately need a president willing to put them first and say no to more social engineering, more foreign intervention, and more foolish wars.

U.S. Troops Don’t Belong In Syria: America Should Stay Out Of Another Middle Eastern Ground War

forbes

 

President Donald Trump instructed the Pentagon to develop a strategy to defeat the Islamic State. Apparently one of the options is introducing U.S. combat forces to confront ISIS. Americans could be fighting in Syria in just a few weeks. That would be an extraordinarily foolish policy.

An F/A-18F Super Hornet takes off from the US navy’s super carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) (‘Ike’) in the Mediterranean Sea on July 7, 2016. (ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

Defeating the Islamic State is not America’s responsibility. It arose out of Syria’s spiral into civil war and Iraq’s descent into sectarian rule. In the first ruthless Islamists proved to be the most effective opponents of the Assad regime. In the second desperate Sunnis preferred ISIS’s 7th century warriors to Baghdad’s modern sectarian killers.

Originally the Islamic State in the Levant, which grew out of al-Qaeda in Iraq, focused on creating a “caliphate,” or quasi-government. Although hostile to America, its principal enemies were states in the Middle East: Shiite Iraq, Syria’s Alawite-dominated government, independence-minded Kurds, Sunni monarchies from Jordan to Saudi Arabia, and Turkey with its secular, practical heritage. Add to that military-ruled Egypt, drawn into the struggle after the slaughter of Coptic Christian workers kidnapped in Libya. Despite the Islamic State’s initial defeat of ill-led Iraqi forces and assumption of a lead role in the Syrian insurgency, the insurgent group faced an overwhelming if largely disorganized coalition.

Bringing these forces to bear would have been complicated and time-consuming. But the initial success of Daesh, as it is known in the Middle East, would have forced its opponents to commit more to defeat the movement. And the Islamic State’s terrorist retaliation, its only means of fighting back against nation states with an overwhelming conventional military advantage, would have been focused on its Middle Eastern opponents.

However, in 2014 the U.S. took the lead in attempting to build an anti-ISIS coalition. Unfortunately, turning the battle into one between Islamic crusaders and the Great Satan helped the Islamic State’s recruitment efforts. America’s involvement also allowed allied states to back away. Turkey and the Gulf states were more interested in ousting Bashar al-Assad than defeating ISIS. Ankara actually accommodated ISIS for some time before moving against the Islamists, and even now more seriously battles Syrian Kurdish forces. The Gulf States largely abandoned the conflict, launching an unprovoked, aggressive assault on Yemen, which the Obama administration backed in a misguided show of allied solidarity.

A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces made up of US-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters, stands guard near the village of Bir Fawaz, 20 km north of Raqa, during their offensive towards the Islamic State’s Syrian stronghold, on February 8, 2017. (DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

In Syria Washington found itself lost amid a welter of conflicting powers with different objectives. The administration sought to overthrow Assad, even though he was the strongest barrier against Islamic extremists. The Obama administration sought to simultaneously work with the Kurds and Turkey. In Iraq, America found itself backing a sectarian government guilty of war crimes allied with Iranian militias.

Perhaps worst of all, the Obama administration turned the U.S. and its allies into terrorist targets. After the horrific attacks in Paris a shocked French President Francois Hollande declared that his nation was at war—14 months after his government began bombing ISIS. He obviously had expected a bloodless crusade.

Although the U.S. apparently has not suffered from any terrorist incidents organized by the Islamic State, Americans have died in ISIS-inspired attacks, Moreover, as the group’s defeat looms, it is more likely to try to turn itself into a super al-Qaeda, better at staging murderous attacks on the homelands of those Western nations which attacked the caliphate. While the West could not count on immunity no matter what happened in the fight against ISIS, America’s leading role has dramatically increased the danger.

Despite the failure of most of Washington’s Mideast allies to treat the Islamic State’s rise as an existential threat, the group is losing, and is now “a dead man walking” in the words of  Daniel Davis of Defense Priorities. While the struggle certainly is not over, Daesh faces too many foes to succeed. And it is losing to indigenous ground forces. Although U.S. training and air support have helped, the boots on the ground are almost entirely Muslim, from countries and forces directly threatened by ISIS.

Some 500 U.S. military personnel are on station in Syria—special operations forces, bomb squad members, trainers, and commandoes. Introducing American combat units would relieve the pressure on other governments to maintain their efforts. For instance, Turkey has a 400,000 man military and could do much more. The Gulf State could devote both ground and air forces.

Greater U.S. involvement also would reinforce the meme of Christian America versus Muslims. It would more directly entangle Washington in the complicated conflicts among anti-ISIS combatants. And, most important, it would expand Washington’s role in yet another Middle Eastern conflict. And the more deeply involved the U.S. gets, the more difficult it will be to extract itself.

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

While direct combat would be the worst policy, lesser intervention would create many of the same risks while providing even fewer potential benefits. Arming the so-called moderate insurgents so far has proved to be of dubious value; often these forces have surrendered personnel and weapons to the radicals. Arming insurgents with anti-aircraft weapons would risk leakage to radicals interested in downing Western passenger planes. Creating no-fly or safe zones would bring the U.S. directly into the war against not only ISIS but also Syria and Russia.

Yet none of these measures would guarantee the fall of the Assad regime, let alone creation of a democratic, humane Syrian government friendly to America and the West, as desired by Washington. And having further inflamed the conflict, the U.S. would find it even harder to back away. If the American people liked the outcomes in Iraq and Libya, they would love Washington’s participation in the bitter, bloody, multi-sided Syrian civil war.

Of course, Washington officials who make a career of justifying every conceivable military intervention are trying to stampede the Trump administration. For instance, House Speaker Paul Ryan proclaimed: “It’s in our vital national interest. We must destroy ISIS in Syria.” The question is why, since other nations are doing the job?

The Islamic State is an evil organization, but it has yet to demonstrate an ability to strike the U.S. As for the Middle East, Israel is a regional superpower and secure. The international oil market has changed, diminishing the importance of Gulf oil supplies. In blowing up both Iraq and Libya Washington demonstrated that it in fact cares little about regional stability, whatever its rhetoric. While the human tsunami has unsettled Europe, that is no justification for America going to war.

Finally, such a mission would not be quick and simple. If American forces took Raqqa, the Islamic State’s capital, then what? Hop onto helicopters the next day and wave good bye? The usual “unnamed source” at the Pentagon told CNN “it’s possible that that you may see conventional forces on the ground in Syria for some period of time.” Once introduced, there would be a multitude of reasons why they could not be quickly withdrawn, and “some period of time” likely would turn into “a long period of time.” Yet it is hard to imagine greater harm to U.S. interests and credibility than getting involved in another lengthy no-win guerrilla conflict, losing support from the American public which comes to feel misled, and finally racing home claiming “peace with honor” when neither in fact prevails.

Let Daesh’s Arab and Muslim enemies defeat it.

Iraqi Shiite fighters from the Popular Mobilisation units flash the sign of victory as they hold a position near Lake Thar Thar in the desert West of the city of Samarra, Iraq, on March 4, 2016 during a military operation aimed at retaking areas from the Islamic State jihadist group. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)

Congress should reclaim its authority and insist that the Trump administration request authorization before prosecuting yet another undeclared war. The Obama administration relied on the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force approved after 9/11, even though the measure explicitly targeted the perpetrators of those attacks. The Islamic State didn’t even exist at that time.

Proposals for combat intervention in demonstrate Syria yet again that Washington’s interventionist elite learns nothing and remembers nothing from the past. President Trump has an opportunity to begin anew. The American people desperately need a president willing to put them first and say no to more social engineering, more foreign intervention, and more foolish wars.

“Well, no one presents me with a fait accompli,”–Marine Le Pen Refuses Head Scarf To Meet Lebanese Mufti

Le Pen, Deryan Meeting Skipped over Headscarf Tilt

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية

naharnet

 

 

W460

France’s far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has refused to go into a meeting with Lebanon’s grand mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Deryan after his aides asked her to wear a headscarf.

Le Pen was scheduled to meet with Mufti Deryan as part of her three-day visit to Lebanon this week where she met senior officials.

She was scheduled to meet Deryan on Tuesday morning.

Shortly after she arrived at his office, one of his aides tried to give her a headscarf to put on.

She refused and said: “I have met before with (Grand Imam) Sheikh al-Azhar (in Egypt) without wearing a veil.”

Once she was told that customs are different in Lebanon, Le Pen walked toward her car and left.

Le Pen said she had told Deryan’s office on Monday that she would not don a headscarf: “They did not cancel the meeting, so I thought they would accept that I will not wear the scarf.”

“They wanted to impose this on me, to present me with a fait accompli. Well, no one presents me with a fait accompli,” the French presidential candidate said.

In a statement on Tuesday, Dar al-Fatwa said “its press office had informed the presidential candidate, through one of her assistants, of the need to cover her head when she meets his eminence, according to the protocol assumed by Dar al-Fatwa.”

“Dar al-Fatwa officials were surprised by her refusal to conform to this well-known rule,” it said.

– ‘Fascists flock together’ –

Fewer than a dozen protesters gathered near Beirut’s Zaytuna Bay on Tuesday afternoon to protest against Le Pen’s visit.

“From Beirut to Damascus to Paris to Washington, fascists flock together,” one placard read.

One banner read “Fascists out!”, and demonstrators carried pictures of Le Pen and U.S. President Donald Trump.

At a news conference to cap her trip, Le Pen insisted she “has never confused the religion of Islam with fundamentalist Islam.”

“I oppose Islam as a political project. I am fighting a war against fundamentalist Islamists,” she told gathered reporters.

Islamic dress is a hot-button issue in France, where the full-face veil is banned in public places.

Le Pen’s deputy Florian Philippot swiftly lauded her controversial move.

“A magnificent message of liberty and emancipation sent to the women of France and of the world,” Philippot wrote on Twitter.

After leaving Daryan’s office, Le Pen headed to Bkirki, north of Beirut, to meet Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi.

There, she saluted Lebanon’s “moderate” culture, “created by Christians and Muslims.”

Le Pen had arrived over the weekend and met on Monday with President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Speaker Nabih Berri, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil and Kataeb party leader Sami Gemayel.

Le Pen, the National Front leader, is leading polls of voters’ intentions for the first round of France’s presidential election on April 23.

She is running on an anti-immigration and anti-European Union platform; critics say that is a cover for anti-Islamic and anti-foreigner views.

The FN leader called Sunday for the international community to step up humanitarian aid to keep the refugees in Lebanon.

Rival presidential hopeful and former French economy minister Emmanuel Macron visited Beirut on January 24, where he met both Aoun and Hariri.

Le Pen has met few top foreign officials since taking control of the FN in 2011. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has refused to meet with her.

And Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy have said last week that “a victory of the populists would be the end of Europe,” a clear reference to Le Pen’s call for a referendum on France’s EU membership.

AIR STRIKES have killed “dozens” of militants in a tribal region along the Afghan border

[SEE:  Kabul Will Use ‘All Means’ To End Pakistani Missile Attacks ]

Pakistan: ‘Dozens’ of jihadists killed in air strikes

morning-star-uk

AIR STRIKES have killed “dozens” of militants in a tribal region along the Afghan border, the Pakistan military said yesterday.

 

Pakistan had vowed to fight back after a series of suicide bombings last week killed over 100 people, including 88 worshipers at a famed Sufi shrine.

The attacks were claimed by various jihadist groups, which have long operated in the porous border region.

The war planes targeted militant hideouts in the Wucha Bibi area of North Waziristan.

Pakistan carried out a blistering artillery assault on suspected terrorist camps in Afghanistan on Friday and Saturday after giving the Afghan government a list of 76 alleged Pakistani terrorists it said were sheltering there.

In response, the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan handed Islamabad a list of 85 suspected terrorist leaders that Kabul says have found refuge in Pakistan as well as the locations of 32 insurgent centres it wants Pakistan to destroy.

Is It Treason To NOT Consider Russia As An “Enemy”?

The word is hurled like a thunderbolt: Treason!

There are few more serious charges than taking up the cause of America’s enemies and colluding to undermine the country from within.

Yet that very accusation has been leveled against President Trump by some of his most fevered critics. They cite, among the particulars, the president’s evident high regard for his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, and Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, which helped Trump and badly undermined Democrat Hillary Clinton.

It’s not just left-wing celebrities like film director Michael Moore who are wielding the T-word. Rep. Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Democrat and Iraq war veteran, used it during a CNN interview.

“If members of the administration are essentially conspiring with Russia … that’s the definition of treason,” Moulton said. “This is a very, very serious affair.”

Trump and his top aides have emphatically denied any knowledge of Russia’s efforts to tilt the election, much less involvement. The president has repeatedly insisted he would have won the White House regardless and suggests the focus on Russian interference is a way of undercutting his administration.

“The whole Russian thing, that’s a ruse,” Trump said at last week’s frenetic news conference. “It’s a ruse.”

Casually tossing out political rhetoric is one thing, provocative as it may be. The laws that define treason are quite specific, however, making it unlikely in the extreme the accusations that Trump and his aides conspired against America will go anywhere beyond the purview of late-night comedians and the president’s hardest-core detractors.

What is treason?

It is the one crime that is spelled out in the Constitution. Article III, Section 3 states: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

It is a distinct crime from others covered by law, such as sedition — inciting revolt against the government — or espionage.

What is the punishment for treason?

That was left up to Congress. Lawmakers decreed the mandatory minimum punishment would be five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. In the most egregious cases, the penalty is death.

Presumably the accusations against Trump et al don’t go to waging war against the United States but rather the matter of alleged “aid and comfort.”

Yes.

So what does the law say in that regard?

Offering aid and comfort covers a range of activities. Giving shelter to an enemy soldier or providing material assistance to a hostile government would be two examples. Merely sympathizing with a foreign government does not, in itself, constitute treason. The law requires a specific action to be undertaken.

How difficult is it to obtain a conviction?

Very. A guilty verdict requires either a confession in open court or the testimony of two witnesses “to the same overt act.”

How common are prosecutions for treason?

Rare. In the whole history of the country, there have only been a few dozen cases brought to trial. Less than half resulted in convictions.

Wasn’t Benedict Arnold convicted of treason?

Actually, no. Even though he is perhaps the most famous traitor in U.S. history, his collaboration with the British occurred during the Revolutionary War, before the Constitution was drafted.

Perhaps the most celebrated case of treason involved Aaron Burr, in 1807. In what was then known as the “Trial of the Century,” the former vice president was accused of waging war against his young country by allegedly seeking to entice western territories to break away and form their own nation.

President Jefferson helped direct the prosecution from the White House. Nonetheless, Burr was acquitted after a trial presided over by the Supreme Court’s chief justice, John Marshall.

Wow! Sensational stuff!

Indeed. And something we’re unlikely to see replicated anytime soon.

mark.barabak@latimes.com

@markzbarabak 

What is Jamat ul Ahrar?

A complete history: What is Jamat ul Ahrar?

shafaqna

 

Jamt

Once again Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has claimed the responsibility of the blast. The explosion took place during the Chemist and Pharmaceuticals Association protest. Rescue 1122 has arrived at the site of incident. 18 people have lost their lives and almost 72 are badly injured in a blast took place at Mall Road, Lahore.

It was not first deadliest attack of Jamat ul Ahrar but previous year on the ever of Easter a  suicide attack on Gulshan-e-Iqbal amusement park in Lahore, Pakistan had claimed more than 70 lives.

Pakistan is in a state of shock and dismay as eye witnesses on television screens recalled scattered body parts and pools of blood across the park, and hospital officials tweeted calls for blood donations.

Jamaat-ul Ahrar, a breakaway faction of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attack. Ahsanullah Ahsan, the spokesman for Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, said the group had targeted Christians celebrating Easter, although the police are still investigating the claim. Warning Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that “we have entered Lahore”, the capital of the Punjab province and the political power base of Sharif, the militant group threatened further attacks.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has so far launched several attacks on Pakistani civilians and security forces in recent months in an apparent attempt to boost its profile among Pakistan’s increasingly fractured militants, who since June 2014 have been at the receiving end of a fully-fledged military operation in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). So far, the military has killed and arrested hundreds of suspected militants in the operation.

This has eased militant violence to some extent but certain groups, such as Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, retain the ability to launch devastating attacks. In March 2015, the group claimed responsibility for two suicide attacks on Christian churches in Youhanabad, Lahore, that killed at least 15 people. The Easter Sunday bombing is the fifth attack by the group since December 2015.

Omar Khorasani is the head of Jamaat-ul Ahrar and former TTP leader of the Mohmand Agency chapter. He established the splinter group in August-September 2014 after he was ousted by the incumbent TTP chief, Mullah Fazlullah, following internal differences.

Jamaat claims to be fighting for the establishment of an Islamic state in Pakistan. It is likely to have some support in Mohmand, and the other FATA agencies: Bajaur, Khyber and Aurakzai. Some media outlets recently reported the group’s allegiance to Islamic State (IS) but there is no evidence of any active involvement at present.

The latest attack was the deadliest since the December 2014 massacre of 134 children at the Army Public School in Peshawar by the Pakistan Taliban. This attack prompted Pakistan’s civil-military leadership to resolve to take on the terrorists and their facilitators, not only in the tribal areas but also within Pakistani cities.

Protests in Islamabad

Some in Pakistan are of the opinion that the bombing in Lahore may be seen within a broader context. At a Corps Commanders’ conference on March 21, the army chief, General Raheel Sharif, emphasised the need to consolidate gains of military operations for long-term stability.

For this he stressed the escalated pace of intelligence-based operations across the country to destroy the entire terrorist infrastructure in the country.

The very next day an alliance of more than 30 religious groups that run madrassahs and religious charities – and are generally known to sympathise with the militant’s Islamic agenda – set March 27 as the deadline for the Punjab provincial government to withdraw a recent law protecting women that they oppose as un-Islamic.

At the same time, supporters of Mumtaz Qadri, a police guard executed last month for the 2011 killing of the Punjab governor, Salman Taseer, for publicly advocating reform of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, also launched a protest. On Easter Sunday, as the suicide bomber played havoc in Lahore, several thousand Qadri supporters occupied the high-security zone, known as the Red Zone, outside Pakistan’s parliament in Islamabad.

After the complete failure of the civilian administration to control the situation, the army has been deployed and at the time of writing the situation appears to be under control. Whether or not the two incidents are connected is anybody’s guess at the moment.

Military crackdown

It is ironic that despite democratic governments in Pakistan since 2008, it is the military, under the incumbent army chief Raheel Sharif, that the general public sees as willing to take on the militants. Conversely, the Nawaz Sharif government is increasingly perceived as lacking the political will to take on the militant groups in southern Punjab because of parochial political interests.

In the aftermath of the bombing, Raheel Sharif chaired a high-level meeting late Sunday night and ordered concerned commanders and intelligence officials to immediately start operations to detain perpetrators of the attack. According to the latest media reports, an army and paramilitary crackdown is being launched against banned terrorist outfits across Punjab.

The prime minister is due to address the nation on Monday night. It is likely that the government will allow a full-scale paramilitary rangers operation in the Punjab province – something it has been resisting until now. An ongoing operation in the southern city of Karachi already gives powers to the paramilitary rangers to conduct raids and interrogate suspects – a strategy that has brought about some stability in the port city after years of violence and lawlessness.

pk.shafaqna.com

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