Mali Islamists Abduct Young Boys, Forcing Them Into Involuntary Service

Islamists lure teens as holy warriors

MALI

Associated Press

In this Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012 photo, young fighters, including 13-year-old Abdullahi, right, and 14-year-old Hamadi, second right, display their Quranic studies notes for a journalist as their Islamist commanders look on, in Douentza, Mali.  Islamists in northern Mali have recruited and paid for as many as 1,000 children from rural towns and villages devastated by poverty and hunger. The Associated Press spoke with four children and conducted several dozen interviews with residents and human rights officials. The interviews provide evidence that a new generation in what was long a moderate and stable Muslim nation is becoming radicalized, as the Islamists gather forces to fight a potential military intervention backed by the United Nations. (AP Photo/Baba Ahmed) Photo: Baba Ahmed, Associated Press / SF

In this Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012 photo, young fighters, including 13-year-old Abdullahi, right, and 14-year-old Hamadi, second right, display their Quranic studies notes for a journalist as their Islamist commanders look on, in Douentza, Mali. Islamists in northern Mali have recruited and paid for as many as 1,000 children from rural towns and villages devastated by poverty and hunger. The Associated Press spoke with four children and conducted several dozen interviews with residents and human rights officials. The interviews provide evidence that a new generation in what was long a moderate and stable Muslim nation is becoming radicalized, as the Islamists gather forces to fight a potential military intervention backed by the United Nations. (AP Photo/Baba Ahmed) Photo: Baba Ahmed, Associated Press / SF

 

Mopti, Mali — Salif Haidara sat drinking tea on the side of the road with other weary bus passengers when a man with a turban and a long beard approached them: Did they want to become holy warriors?

The skinny teen had left his poor hometown in the desert with only the yellow tank top, pants and plastic flip-flops he was wearing. Now Salif was being told he could earn $30 a day for himself and $400 a month for his family – an enormous sum for a boy who had just turned 16.

The car was waiting to take the recruits to a two-week-long training camp in Mali’s vast desert, where they would learn how to fire weapons. But the man named Omar made one thing clear.

“Once you’ve taken the money and eaten, it’s a done deal,” recalled Salif, his troubled face still free of stubble after four days and nights on the bus. “You’re there until you die or the war is over.”

Across northern Mali, Islamists have plucked and paid for as many as 1,000 children from rural towns and villages devastated by poverty and hunger, the Associated Press has found in several dozen interviews with residents, human rights officials, four children or youths and an Islamist official.

The interviews shed new light on the recruitment practices of the Islamists, including first-hand accounts of how much money is being offered to poor youth and their families to join. They also provide evidence that a new generation in what was long a moderate Muslim nation is becoming radicalized, as the Islamists gather forces to fight a potential military intervention backed by the United Nations.

Human Rights Watch says child soldiers are fighting in at least 14 other countries worldwide. Mali, however, was a stable democracy until this year’s coup and experts say the recruitment and religious indoctrination of child soldiers here marks a new and ominous development.

Child soldiers are being used by all the armed groups operating in northern Mali, but the Islamists, including a militant group known as Ansar Dine, have been among the most prominent recruiters, according to residents and human rights groups.

Back at the bus stop, Salif, the 16-year-old offered money, said several of his friends have joined the Islamists, and some are working as security guards for them.

But Salif turned down the offer. He now lives outside rebel territory in Mopti, and is already hoping that one day the rebels will leave. “My parents would not want me taking part in something like that,” he said. “And I’m not brave enough to shoot anybody.”

No Justification for Turkey Describing Legitimate Self-Defense As “Aggression”

[The devious Erdogan Administration has the audacity to describe Syrian self-defense against the  Turkish proxy forces within Syria as “aggression.”  Maybe it is time for some other megalomaniacal would be world dictator to come along and pound the shit out of all of these cocky little minion states like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar?  But that would only be supporting another illegal, immoral insurgency within those countries,  just as those countries have done to the Syrian people, penalizing the innocent along with the guilty.  There is no justification under any circumstances for what we have done in Syria and before that, in Libya, and a dozen other places.  We DID NOT answer a call to support an ongoing revolution, we organized and started that “Syrian revolution” that has been expanded into the Syrian Civil War.  It is all based upon lies, over layers of even more lies.  Everything about the anti-Syrian aggression is a fabrication, just as is the entire “terror war.”  Every dead American or foreign soldier, every dead civilian or “terrorist” has died for a lie.  We are the aggressor in all cases, since the original big aggression in 2001.  

The human race has to find some other way to communicate with each other, other than through our usual “dialogue of weapons.”   The dialogue of weapons is a type of “body language” that is measured in body counts, rather than through nuance.  Nations speak with weapons whenever words fail them, just as individuals do.  Breaking this cycle is the most important task that any human being may undertake in life.  But then, we would still be stuck with all of those corrupted individuals in government, as in all human endeavors, who harbor aggressive intentions towards their fellow man.  World Peace would require that all such individuals be resisted with ultimate, absolute force.  The missing dialogue, to eliminate this “dialogue of weapons,” begins whenever we start to defend the integrity of our language against concerted attacks upon reason itself, differentiating between legitimate “self-defense” and “aggression.”  What we have today in Syria is a legitimate war of self-defense against foreign-sponsored aggression against the Syrian state.  

There seems to be only one way to prevent the Obamas, the Clintons, the Erdogans and the Thanis of this world from turning the deteriorating Syrian situation into a regional or worldwide conflagration, and that is, to begin our own self-defense right here, where the psychopaths are staging their semantic attacks, blurring the definitions of key words which define their aggressions.  That one concept, that of twisting definitions, is the key to all psychological warfare and the primary tactic being deployed by the Imperialists today.  Whenever they successfully flip certain concepts, substituting their false definitions, then they can successfully paint Syrian defenders as “aggressors,” whenever an errant, or purposefully misfired artillery shell lands on the territory of the real “aggressor state.”  Whenever these evil deceptions truly take hold, resulting in American and Russian forces ultimately standing eyeball-to-eyeball in Syria, then there will be no limit to the number of big shells, missiles and gravity bombs that will fall on Turkish territory.  Turkey will then pay a heavy price for volunteering to be a front-line state, as they try to push that border line southward, into Syrian space.] 

“In New York, Turkey’s United Nations ambassador, Ertugrul Apakan, wrote to the presidency of the security council. ‘This is an act of aggression by Syria against Turkey,'”

Turkey approves military operations in Syria

Turkey’s parliament has approved military operations against targets in Syria following the deaths of five Turkish citizens from Syrian shelling.

Turkish soldiers in a military vehicle patrol near the Akcakale border gate, southern Sanliurfa province, October 4, 2012. Turkish artillery hit targets near Syria's Tel Abyad border town for a second day on Thursday, killing several Syrian soldiers according to activists and security sources, after a mortar bomb fired from the area killed five Turkish civilians. Turkey's government said

Turkish soldiers patrol near the Akcakale border gate, southern Sanliurfa province Photo: REUTERS/Murad Sezer

By , Middle East Correspondent, and Barney Henderson

The mandate, valid for one year, was passed by 320 votes in the 550-seat Turkish parliament, it added.

Turkey’s deputy prime minister, Besir Atalay, said authorising the use of force in Syria is not a declaration of war but is intended as a deterrent.

The vote came as Turkey resumed shelling Syrian government military positions on Thursday morning in retaliation for a mortar round which landed over its border killing five of its citizens.

Turkish state media said artillery units based in the border town of Akcakale had begun striking targets inside Syria early this morning, and that the attacks were continuing.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based monitor, said a number of Assad regime soldiers had been killed in the overnight shelling at a base near the town of Tal al-Abyad.

The shelling, the first direct intervention in the Syrian conflict by an outside power, began on Wednesday night in retaliation for the deaths of five Turkish civilians, a woman and her three daughters and another woman, in Akcakale earlier in the day.

The aftermath of a mortar strike launched from within Syria on the town of Akcakale, which killed five people and later prompted retaliatory strikes (Reuters)

They were struck by a mortar round fired from inside Syria and thought to be aimed from the military base at the Tal al-Abyad border post, which fell into Syrian rebel hands last month.

As well as ordering the military response, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, prepared a concerted diplomatic offensive against Syria, calling an emergency meeting of the Nato council and demanding action at the United Nations security council.

“Our armed forces in the border region responded immediately to this abominable attack in line with their rules of engagement,” his statement read. “Targets were struck through artillery fire against places in Syria identified by radar.

“Turkey will never leave unanswered such kinds of provocation by the Syrian regime against our national security.”

The initial mortar attack was a sign of the increasing desperation of the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad as it loses control of the north of the country.

Earlier, a series of explosions had levelled buildings in Aleppo and killed scores of people, many of them soldiers. On Thursday morning, an explosion in Damascus killed 18 members of the elite Republican Guard.

Last month, rebels seized a northern border post with Turkey at Tal al-Abyad, and are now reported to be moving on the town of al-Raqqah.

It was regime mortar fire aimed at rebel positions at Tal al-Abyad which fell on the wrong side of the border that triggered the Turkish reply. As well as the five deaths, a number of people were injured, two critically.

Syrian fire has previously crossed the border, but these were the first deaths of Turkish citizens recorded as a result. Ankara regularly stages attacks over the Iraqi border aimed at Kurdish rebels using Iraq as a base for attacks inside Turkey, and this action may be a warning to Syria whose own military offensive, particularly its aerial bombardments, have crept ever closer to the frontier.

There was no initial indication that this was a precursor to a wider use of force against the Syrian regime. Ibrahim Kalin, an adviser to Mr Erdogan, insisted that Turkey had no interest in a war with Syria and was “protecting its borders”.

But Mr Erdogan has been pressing for western backing for a “safe zone” in northern Syria, and Nato ambassadors went into an immediate emergency session last night under Article 4 of its charter. Turkey has previously invoked Article 4, which calls for consultation in cases where a member feels its territorial integrity is under threat, and will be expecting its allies to rally behind it.

A Nato statement accused Syria of “flagrant violations of international law”.

In New York, Turkey’s United Nations ambassador, Ertugrul Apakan, wrote to the presidency of the security council. “This is an act of aggression by Syria against Turkey,” he said. “It constitutes a flagrant violation of international law as well as a breach of international peace and security. Turkey calls for an immediate end to such unacceptable violations.”

The security council was likely to issue a statement “strongly condemning” the Syrian government, though Russia, which has backed the Assad regime and vetoed previous resolutions condemning it in the security council, asked for a delay for further discussions.

A spokesman for Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, said he urged Turkey to “keep open all channels of communication with the Syrian authorities with a view to lessening any tension,” and Damascus to “respect fully the territorial integrity of its neighbours as well as to end the violence against the Syrian people”.

The attack in Aleppo on Wednesday hit the main Saadallah Jabri Square, the seat of a number of government buildings.

Syria’s state news agency put the death toll at 31.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 48 people died. Residents told The Daily Telegraph that most of the victims were members of the security forces lodging in the buildings during the fighting which has consumed the city since mid-July.

An online video purporting to be from Jabhat al-Nusra, a jihadist group accused of ties to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility.

Free Syrian Army Fires Mortar Into Turkey, Turkey Shells Own Allies In Response

[It is never possible to know for certain exactly what is going on inside Syria.  Having said that, the only semi-reliable means for knowing the truth of the matter is to give both versions of a reported incident, on the theory that the truth is somewhere in between them.  The two quotes below were taken from a British source, the Telegraph and a Chinese source, the Xinhuanet news report given in its entirety below that.  The Telegraph reporter pinpointed the source of the errant mortar round which killed five Turkish citizens–a rebel-occupied Syrian Army base.   The Xinhuanet reporter quotes a Turkish Zaman news article to report the calculated Turkish destruction of that target.  Two-plus-two equals a “false flag attack” upon Turkey by its own allies.]

“They were struck by a mortar round fired from inside Syria and thought to be aimed from the military base at the Tal al-Abyad border post, which fell into Syrian rebel hands last month.”

“Our armed forces on border region have given the required response in line with the rule of engagements. Targets in Syria, which were detected by radar, were shot by shelling,” the Turkish prime ministry said in a statement.

Turkey continues to hit targets in Syria

 

English.news.cn

ANKARA, Oct. 4 (Xinhua) — Turkey’s military continued artillery strikes early Thursday on targets in the Tel Abyad district near the Syrian border, local newspaper Today’s Zaman reported.

Some Syrian soldiers at a military post in Tel Abyad were killed, the paper said on its website, without giving the exact number of deaths.

Turkey started the military strikes on Syrian targets on Wednesday after mortar shells from the Syrian side killed five people in Akcakale, a border town in Turkey’s southeastern Sanliurfa province.

“Our armed forces on border region have given the required response in line with the rule of engagements. Targets in Syria, which were detected by radar, were shot by shelling,” the Turkish prime ministry said in a statement.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has contacted NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and UN-Arab League joint special envoy on Syria, Lakhdar Brahim, according to the statement.

“Turkey will never remain unresponsive against these sorts of provocations of Syrian regime within the framework of rules of engagement and international law,” the statement added.

Three or four Syrian artillery shells landed in Akcakale, in Sanliurfa province bordering Syria, the semi-official Anatolia news agency reported, citing Sanliurfa Governor Celalettin Guvenc.

One of the artillery shells hit a house, killing a mother and her four children. “In the incident, 10 people were wounded, including police officers. Two of those wounded are in serious condition,” Guvenc said.

“We have evacuated 30 residents in the region close to the Turkish-Syrian border, and schools went on a recess as a precaution,” Guvenc added.

NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said on Wednesday that NATO was closely monitoring the situation in southeastern Turkey. Turkey is a member of the alliance.

Ankara has repeatedly complained about the spillover of Syrian artillery and gun fire into its territory. Last week, the Turkish government signaled that it would take action if mortar strikes were repeated on its territory from Syria.

Putin Prepares To Attend Birthday Party, Sign Base Agreement In Tajikistan with Emomali Rahmon

Putin Plans Defense, Energy Agreements During Tajikistan Visit

By Ilya Arkhipov

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Tajikistan to sign accords on defense cooperation, migration and energy with the former Soviet state that borders Afghanistan and China, according to Putin’s foreign policy aide.

The president kicks off his visit tomorrow, with the main events set for Oct. 5, when his Tajik counterpart, Emomali Rakhmon, celebrates his 60th birthday, Yuri Ushakov, a former ambassador to the U.S., told reporters in Moscow yesterday. Putin turns 60 two days later.

Russia wants to shore up its military presence in central Asia by extending the lease on a Tajik base that terminates in 2014. Tajikistan is a part of the northern supply route used for about a half of all non-lethal provisions for American troops in Afghanistan. U.S. forces are scheduled to exit Afghanistan in 2014, which Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned in June will boost the threat of terrorism and drugs trafficking.

“Tajikistan need this base as much as we do,” Ushakov said. “This base provides security for the country, taking into account the future development of the situation in neighboring regions.”

Tajikistan allows overflights for U.S. aircraft supplying the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan. The Tajik government has also granted permission for ground transit routes that is an alternative to land routes to Afghanistan that cross volatile areas of Pakistan from the south.

Kyrgyz Base

Putin’s trip follows his visit last month to neighboring Kyrgyzstan, the only country in the world to host Russian and U.S. bases, where he signed an agreement allowing Russia to keep its facility there for at least 15 more years after 2017.

Last year, then-President Dmitry Medvedev said during his visit to the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, that an agreement on a 49- year lease will be signed this spring. Russia’s ground forces commander, Vladimir Chirkin, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station last week that there are still “some friction” between the two countries.

Tajikistan’s economy is heavily reliant on remittances sent by migrant workers from Russia. Funds sent by more than a million Tajik laborers, which average about $3 billion, make up about 50 percent of the country’s economic output.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ilya Arkhipov in Moscow at iarkhipov@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net