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Putin Says Russia Will Fight Terrorists Until All Are ‘Eliminated’

Putin Says Russia Will Fight Terrorists Until All Are ‘Eliminated’

ria novosti

Vladimir Putin in his New Year’s celebratory address

Vladimir Putin in his New Year’s celebratory address  © RIA Novosti. Alexey Nikolskiy

KHABAROVSK, December 31 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that his country would continue to battle terrorists until all are eliminated.

“Dear friends, we bow our heads before the victims of cruel terrorist attacks. We will continue fighting terrorists in a confident, tough and relentless manner until they are completely eliminated,” Putin said in his New Year’s celebratory address to residents of the Russian far-eastern city of Khabarovsk.

Putin on Tuesday paid a surprise visit to Khabarovsk, which had been hit by devastating floods in late August and early September.

Two separate suicide bombings in the southern Russian city of Volgograd ripped through Volgograd’s railway terminal on Sunday and a trolleybus on Monday, killing a total of 34 people.

Another attack by a female suicide bomber on a commuter bus in Volgograd in October killed six people and injured 37.

Suicide Bombers Trained Using Trauma of Homosexual Rape

alt

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) claimed in a statement this week that based on investigations there was reason to believe Haqqani Network leaders sexually abuse the young boys they recruit into their training programs. 

Samiullah, now 16 years old and a resident of Seyah Gerd District of Parwan province, was supposed to kill the Khost Governor in a suicide attack, but was arrested by security forces alive.

Sami used to work in one of the hotels of Khost city, where he was taken from by a Haqqani Network recruiter to Miramsha, Pakistan.

“I was raped four nights in women’s clothes and was beaten too,” Samiullah said. “A friend of mine named Muhammad was also raped.”

The NDS confirmed the report that Sami was arrested while attempting to kill the Khost Police Chief with a gun.

“One of the Haqqani commanders gave me the gun in Meramshah and told me to kill the police chief when he comes to the clinic,” Samiullah said.

Terrorist and insurgent use of young pre-adolescent and adolescent boys for suicide bombings and other attacks has become routine knowledge. Madrasas in Pakistan are well-known for recruiting or forcing uneducated kids into their training programs.

The young, inexperienced assailants are often caught by security forces and returned to their families or detained for an extended period of time.

This marks the first time, publically, a captured would-be assassin has admitted to having been sexually abused by his extremist mentors.

Sami’s story in many way resembles the experience of Bacha Baazi, which is a ancient practice in the region involving pedophilia and dressing young boys as girls for the entertainment of older men.

There has been a recent push by human rights activists to fight the practice of Bacha Baazi in Afghanistan. Yet according to most experts it still exists around the country and is often supported by powerful figures.

Bacha Baazi

Egyptian Authorities Intensify Saudi Proxy War Against Qatari Interests

[Have the Saudis annexed Egypt, as they have done in Bahrain and are currently attempting in Yemen and Syria?  The Saudis are revealing their true intentions to use their money to buy the entire Middle East.  In this regard, the Iranians stand-out as obstacles to Saudi ambitions.  So far, the Saudis have repeatedly projected their own evil personality characteristics upon the Iranians and their allies, whenever speaking publicly they describe their own evil, as if they were describing Iran.]

Four Al Jazeera journalists detained in Egypt, accused of illegal ties to Muslim Brotherhood

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CAIRO — Egypt’s government has detained four journalists working for the Qatar-based Al Jazeera English news channel, arresting them during raids on a five-star hotel and at least one private residence Sunday night.

The reporters, including one Australian national, are accused of “harming national security” through links to the recently banned Muslim Brotherhood organization, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

 

 

The arrests are the latest development in a rapidly escalating crackdown against the Brotherhood, an Islamist group that the government last week declared a “terrorist organization.”

Egyptian police said the Al Jazeera English bureau — which had been broadcasting from a suite at the Marriott hotel following the closure of its Arabic-language sister channel during a military coup in July — was being used as a meeting point and press center for members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt’s military-backed government has long accused Al Jazeera, whose Qatari patrons are allies of the Brotherhood, of being a mouthpiece for the organization.

The hotel occupants were “broadcasting news that threatens internal security and spreading false news,” the Interior Ministry said. Police said they also found literature that implicates the journalists for helping to organize recent protests that were illegal under a new law that sharply restricts public demonstrations.

Al Jazeera English identified the reporters who were detained as correspondent Peter Greste, an Australian national; producers Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, and cameraman Mohamed Fawzy.

Greste is an award-winning journalist who previously worked for Reuters, CNN and the BBC, Al Jazeera said. Mohamed and Fawzy are Egyptians. Fahmy holds both Canadian and Egyptian citizenship, according to biographical information in a book he wrote in English, titled “Baghdad Bound: An Interpreter’s Chronicle of the Iraq War.”

In a statement posted to its Web site, Al Jazeera demanded the immediate release of the journalists.

Security forces have arrested hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters in recent weeks as fresh demonstrations and an uptick in militant attacks have again reignited the battle between the Islamist movement and the state.

The interim cabinet declared the group a terrorist organization last week following a deadly car bomb attack on a security building north of Cairo, for which the Sinai-based jihadist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claimed responsibility. Government officials have since admitted they do not have direct evidence linking the Brotherhood, whose leaders are in jail, to the bombing.

The terrorist designation has given rise to tensions ahead of a referendum on Egypt’s new constitution, planned for next month. Authorities had hoped the vote would advance the country’s transition to a new government and usher in a period of stability.

In a report released Monday, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, a press advocacy group, named Egypt one of the most dangerous places to work as a journalist in 2013.

 

Sharaf Al-Hourani contributed to this report.

Incompetent Japanese Govt. Using the Homeless for Fukushima Clean-Up

[SEE: China says Japan PM not welcome after visit to war shrine ;  US Risking War With China To Defend Imperial Japan’s War Conquests  ; Looming battle: China vs. Japan]

SPECIAL REPORT- Japan’s homeless recruited for murky Fukushima clean-up

Reuters

Homeless recruited for Fukushima at minimum wages

* Labor brokers skim their pay; charge for food, shelter

* Some say better homeless than going into debt by working

* Little oversight on companies getting clean-up contracts

* Gangsters run Fukushima labour brokers; arrests made

By Mari Saito and Antoni Slodkowski

SENDAI, Japan, Dec. 30 (Reuters) – Seiji Sasa hits the train station in this northern Japanese city before dawn most mornings to prowl for homeless men.

He isn’t a social worker. He’s a recruiter. The men in Sendai Station are potential laborers that Sasa can dispatch to contractors in Japan’s nuclear disaster zone for a bounty of $100 a head.

“This is how labor recruiters like me come in every day,” Sasa says, as he strides past men sleeping on cardboard and clutching at their coats against the early winter cold.

It’s also how Japan finds people willing to accept minimum wage for one of the most undesirable jobs in the industrialized world: working on the $35 billion, taxpayer-funded effort to clean up radioactive fallout across an area of northern Japan larger than Hong Kong.

Almost three years ago, a massive earthquake and tsunami leveled villages across Japan’s northeast coast and set off multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Today, the most ambitious radiation clean-up ever attempted is running behind schedule. The effort is being dogged by both a lack of oversight and a shortage of workers, according to a Reuters analysis of contracts and interviews with dozens of those involved.

In January, October and November, Japanese gangsters were arrested on charges of infiltrating construction giant Obayashi Corp’s network of decontamination subcontractors and illegally sending workers to the government-funded project.

In the October case, homeless men were rounded up at Sendai’s train station by Sasa, then put to work clearing radioactive soil and debris in Fukushima City for less than minimum wage, according to police and accounts of those involved. The men reported up through a chain of three other companies to Obayashi, Japan’s second-largest construction company.

Obayashi, which is one of more than 20 major contractors involved in government-funded radiation removal projects, has not been accused of any wrongdoing. But the spate of arrests has shown that members of Japan’s three largest criminal syndicates – Yamaguchi-gumi, Sumiyoshi-kai and Inagawa-kai – had set up black-market recruiting agencies under Obayashi.

“We are taking it very seriously that these incidents keep happening one after another,” said Junichi Ichikawa, a spokesman for Obayashi. He said the company tightened its scrutiny of its lower-tier subcontractors in order to shut out gangsters, known as the yakuza. “There were elements of what we had been doing that did not go far enough.”

OVERSIGHT LEFT TO TOP CONTRACTORS

Part of the problem in monitoring taxpayer money in Fukushima is the sheer number of companies involved in decontamination, extending from the major contractors at the top to tiny subcontractors many layers below them. The total number has not been announced. But in the 10 most contaminated towns and a highway that runs north past the gates of the wrecked plant in Fukushima, Reuters found 733 companies were performing work for the Ministry of Environment, according to partial contract terms released by the ministry in August under Japan’s information disclosure law.

Reuters found 56 subcontractors listed on environment ministry contracts worth a total of $2.5 billion in the most radiated areas of Fukushima that would have been barred from traditional public works because they had not been vetted by the construction ministry.

The 2011 law that regulates decontamination put control under the environment ministry, the largest spending program ever managed by the 10-year-old agency. The same law also effectively loosened controls on bidders, making it possible for firms to win radiation removal contracts without the basic disclosure and certification required for participating in public works such as road construction.

Reuters also found five firms working for the Ministry of Environment that could not be identified. They had no construction ministry registration, no listed phone number or website, and Reuters could not find a basic corporate registration disclosing ownership. There was also no record of the firms in the database of Japan’s largest credit research firm, Teikoku Databank.

“As a general matter, in cases like this, we would have to start by looking at whether a company like this is real,” said Shigenobu Abe, a researcher at Teikoku Databank. “After that, it would be necessary to look at whether this is an active company and at the background of its executive and directors.”

Responsibility for monitoring the hiring, safety records and suitability of hundreds of small firms involved in Fukushima’s decontamination rests with the top contractors, including Kajima Corp, Taisei Corp and Shimizu Corp, officials said.

“In reality, major contractors manage each work site,” said Hide Motonaga, deputy director of the radiation clean-up division of the environment ministry.

But, as a practical matter, many of the construction companies involved in the clean-up say it is impossible to monitor what is happening on the ground because of the multiple layers of contracts for each job that keep the top contractors removed from those doing the work.

“If you started looking at every single person, the project wouldn’t move forward. You wouldn’t get a tenth of the people you need,” said Yukio Suganuma, president of Aisogo Service, a construction company that was hired in 2012 to clean up radioactive fallout from streets in the town of Tamura.

The sprawl of small firms working in Fukushima is an unintended consequence of Japan’s legacy of tight labor-market regulations combined with the aging population’s deepening shortage of workers. Japan’s construction companies cannot afford to keep a large payroll and dispatching temporary workers to construction sites is prohibited. As a result, smaller firms step into the gap, promising workers in exchange for a cut of their wages.

Below these official subcontractors, a shadowy network of gangsters and illegal brokers who hire homeless men has also become active in Fukushima. Ministry of Environment contracts in the most radioactive areas of Fukushima prefecture are particularly lucrative because the government pays an additional $100 in hazard allowance per day for each worker.

Takayoshi Igarashi, a lawyer and professor at Hosei University, said the initial rush to find companies for decontamination was understandable in the immediate aftermath of the disaster when the priority was emergency response. But he said the government now needs to tighten its scrutiny to prevent a range of abuses, including bid rigging.

“There are many unknown entities getting involved in decontamination projects,” said Igarashi, a former advisor to ex-Prime Minister Naoto Kan. “There needs to be a thorough check on what companies are working on what, and when. I think it’s probably completely lawless if the top contractors are not thoroughly checking.”

The Ministry of Environment announced on Thursday that work on the most contaminated sites would take two to three years longer than the original March 2014 deadline. That means many of the more than 60,000 who lived in the area before the disaster will remain unable to return home until six years after the disaster.

Earlier this month, Abe, who pledged his government would “take full responsibility for the rebirth of Fukushima” boosted the budget for decontamination to $35 billion, including funds to create a facility to store radioactive soil and other waste near the wrecked nuclear plant.

‘DON’T ASK QUESTIONS’

Japan has always had a gray market of day labor centered in Tokyo and Osaka. A small army of day laborers was employed to build the stadiums and parks for the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. But over the past year, Sendai, the biggest city in the disaster zone, has emerged as a hiring hub for homeless men. Many work clearing rubble left behind by the 2011 tsunami and cleaning up radioactive hotspots by removing topsoil, cutting grass and scrubbing down houses around the destroyed nuclear plant, workers and city officials say.

Seiji Sasa, 67, a broad-shouldered former wrestling promoter, was photographed by undercover police recruiting homeless men at the Sendai train station to work in the nuclear cleanup. The workers were then handed off through a chain of companies reporting up to Obayashi, as part of a $1.4 million contract to decontaminate roads in Fukushima, police say.

“I don’t ask questions; that’s not my job,” Sasa said in an interview with Reuters. “I just find people and send them to work. I send them and get money in exchange. That’s it. I don’t get involved in what happens after that.”

Only a third of the money allocated for wages by Obayashi’s top contractor made it to the workers Sasa had found. The rest was skimmed by middlemen, police say. After deductions for food and lodging, that left workers with an hourly rate of about $6, just below the minimum wage equal to about $6.50 per hour in Fukushima, according to wage data provided by police. Some of the homeless men ended up in debt after fees for food and housing were deducted, police say.

Sasa was arrested in November and released without being charged. Police were after his client, Mitsunori Nishimura, a local Inagawa-kai gangster. Nishimura housed workers in cramped dorms on the edge of Sendai and skimmed an estimated $10,000 of public funding intended for their wages each month, police say.

Nishimura, who could not be reached for comment, was arrested and paid a $2,500 fine. Nishimura is widely known in Sendai. Seiryu Home, a shelter funded by the city, had sent other homeless men to work for him on recovery jobs after the 2011 disaster.

“He seemed like such a nice guy,” said Yota Iozawa, a shelter manager. “It was bad luck. I can’t investigate everything about every company.”

In the incident that prompted his arrest, Nishimura placed his workers with Shinei Clean, a company with about 15 employees based on a winding farm road south of Sendai. Police turned up there to arrest Shinei’s president, Toshiaki Osada, after a search of his office, according to Tatsuya Shoji, who is both Osada’s nephew and a company manager. Shinei had sent dump trucks to sort debris from the disaster. “Everyone is involved in sending workers,” said Shoji. “I guess we just happened to get caught this time.”

Osada, who could not be reached for comment, was fined about $5,000. Shinei was also fined about $5,000.

‘RUN BY GANGS’

The trail from Shinei led police to a slightly larger neighboring company with about 30 employees, Fujisai Couken. Fujisai says it was under pressure from a larger contractor, Raito Kogyo, to provide workers for Fukushima. Kenichi Sayama, Fujisai’s general manger, said his company only made about $10 per day per worker it outsourced. When the job appeared to be going too slowly, Fujisai asked Shinei for more help and they turned to Nishimura.

A Fujisai manager, Fuminori Hayashi, was arrested and paid a $5,000 fine, police said. Fujisai also paid a $5,000 fine.

“If you don’t get involved (with gangs), you’re not going to get enough workers,” said Sayama, Fujisai’s general manager. “The construction industry is 90 percent run by gangs.”

Raito Kogyo, a top-tier subcontractor to Obayashi, has about 300 workers in decontamination projects around Fukushima and owns subsidiaries in both Japan and the United States. Raito agreed that the project faced a shortage of workers but said it had been deceived. Raito said it was unaware of a shadow contractor under Fujisai tied to organized crime.

“We can only check on lower-tier subcontractors if they are honest with us,” said Tomoyuki Yamane, head of marketing for Raito. Raito and Obayashi were not accused of any wrongdoing and were not penalized.

Other firms receiving government contracts in the decontamination zone have hired homeless men from Sasa, including Shuto Kogyo, a firm based in Himeji, western Japan.

“He sends people in, but they don’t stick around for long,” said Fujiko Kaneda, 70, who runs Shuto with her son, Seiki Shuto. “He gathers people in front of the station and sends them to our dorm.”

Kaneda invested about $600,000 to cash in on the reconstruction boom. Shuto converted an abandoned roadhouse north of Sendai into a dorm to house workers on reconstruction jobs such as clearing tsunami debris. The company also won two contracts awarded by the Ministry of Environment to clean up two of the most heavily contaminated townships.

Kaneda had been arrested in 2009 along with her son, Seiki, for charging illegally high interest rates on loans to pensioners. Kaneda signed an admission of guilt for police, a document she says she did not understand, and paid a fine of $8,000. Seiki was given a sentence of two years prison time suspended for four years and paid a $20,000 fine, according to police. Seiki declined to comment.

UNPAID WAGE CLAIMS

In Fukushima, Shuto has faced at least two claims with local labor regulators over unpaid wages, according to Kaneda. In a separate case, a 55-year-old homeless man reported being paid the equivalent of $10 for a full month of work at Shuto. The worker’s paystub, reviewed by Reuters, showed charges for food, accommodation and laundry were docked from his monthly pay equivalent to about $1,500, leaving him with $10 at the end of the August.

The man turned up broke and homeless at Sendai Station in October after working for Shuto, but disappeared soon afterwards, according to Yasuhiro Aoki, a Baptist pastor and homeless advocate.

Kaneda confirmed the man had worked for her but said she treats her workers fairly. She said Shuto Kogyo pays workers at least $80 for a day’s work while docking the equivalent of $35 for food. Many of her workers end up borrowing from her to make ends meet, she said. One of them had owed her $20,000 before beginning work in Fukushima, she says. The balance has come down recently, but then he borrowed another $2,000 for the year-end holidays.

“He will never be able to pay me back,” she said.

The problem of workers running themselves into debt is widespread. “Many homeless people are just put into dormitories, and the fees for lodging and food are automatically docked from their wages,” said Aoki, the pastor. “Then at the end of the month, they’re left with no pay at all.”

Shizuya Nishiyama, 57, says he briefly worked for Shuto clearing rubble. He now sleeps on a cardboard box in Sendai Station. He says he left after a dispute over wages, one of several he has had with construction firms, including two handling decontamination jobs.

Nishiyama’s first employer in Sendai offered him $90 a day for his first job clearing tsunami debris. But he was made to pay as much as $50 a day for food and lodging. He also was not paid on the days he was unable to work. On those days, though, he would still be charged for room and board. He decided he was better off living on the street than going into debt.

“We’re an easy target for recruiters,” Nishiyama said. “We turn up here with all our bags, wheeling them around and we’re easy to spot. They say to us, are you looking for work? Are you hungry? And if we haven’t eaten, they offer to find us a job.”

Israel Holding Hezbollah To Blame for Sunni Terrorist Attacks

Dangerous new strategic reality taking shape around Israel

haaretz logo

Even though Israel’s military believes Sunni jihadists could be behind Sunday’s rocket attack, Netanyahu blames Hezbollah.

 

Sunday’s Katyusha rocket fire from Lebanon has created a certain lack of clarity in the Israeli defense establishment.

No organization took responsibility for firing the rockets, most of which fell on the Lebanese side of the border. The cautious and non-committal assessment of military sources is that it seemed to be the work of a Sunni Jihadist faction, meaning one of the extremist factions identified with a loosely-connected network that intelligence officials call Global Jihad.

In addition to its enmity for Israel, Global Jihad devotes most of its time to the battle to depose Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria and engages in lengthy tit-for-tat murderous attacks with Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apparently doesn’t share the cautious view. At the outset of Sunday’s cabinet meeting, he informed the media that there were two entities that should be seen as the address regarding the rocket fire: the Lebanese government, which bears responsibility for any attack from Lebanese territory, and Hezbollah, which has thousands of missiles and rockets positioned within the civilian population of southern Lebanon.

Confiscatory Socialism Alive and Well In Hollande’s Effete Empire

napoleon-hollande

Sacrebleu! Top French court approves 75% ‘millionaire’s tax’ on country’s highest earners

daily mail

 

By This Is Money Reporter

 

 

A controversial tax of 75 per cent on the highest earners in France has been approved by the nation’s top court.

A key policy of President Francois Hollande, a new ‘millionare’s tax’ will levied on companies that pay salaries of more than €1million-a-year after it was approved by France’s Constitutional Council today.

The tax was ruled ‘unconstitutional’ by the same council just last year, but it has now been given the green light after it was changed so that the tax was levied on employers rather than individuals.

Policy: The new tax is a key policy of Francois Hollande's.Policy: The new tax is a key policy of Francois Hollande’s.

 

It was originally designed as a 75 percent tax to be paid by high earners on the part of their incomes exceeding €1million euros.

This prompted outrage, with celebrities such as iconic actor Gerard Depardieu leaving the country in protest

2nd Wahhabi Bomber Strikes Volgograd In Two Days

[Stop the Russian Suicide-Bombers At Their Source–The next time that a Wahhabi suicide bomber hits in Russia Mr. Putin should bomb the state sponsors of the Chechen terrorists in Riyadh. After all, Bandar admitted that the Saudis controlled Doku’s mass-murderers.]

Fatal Bomb Blast Shatters Volgograd Trolleybus

ria novosti

An explosion went off on a trolleybus in Russia’s southern city of Volgograd

VOLGOGRAD, December 30 (RIA Novosti) – A fatal bomb explosion ripped apart a trolleybus in Volgograd on Monday morning, killing at least 14 people and injuring dozens, in the second terrorist attack in the southern Russian city in less than 24 hours.

Several of the 28 wounded, who officials said included a six-month-old infant, are in serious condition, meaning the death toll could still rise.

Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said investigators believe a male suicide bomber was responsible for the attack, which he said was linked to another fatal bombing in Volgograd one day earlier.

Authorities believe an explosion at a railway station on Sunday afternoon that killed 17 people and injured over 40 others was also the work of a suicide bomber.

Markin said that remains of both suspected bombers, which were recovered at the scenes, are undergoing DNA testing.

Monday’s blast marks the third such attack in Volgograd in two months, and comes just weeks before Russia is due to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in February in the city of Sochi.

The bomb tore through the trolleybus packed with morning commuters at about 8:10 a.m. (0410 GMT), the Investigative Committee said.

Television footage filmed near a market in the city’s Dzerzhinsky district showed debris strewn across the street around the blackened shell of the trolleybus, its roof blown outward by the explosion.

State television said the force of the blast also blew out the windows of the nearby houses.

Local resident Sergei Stukalov told RIA Novosti that passengers began getting off buses and trams and walked to work after hearing about the explosion.

President Vladimir Putin has ordered a tightening of security in Volgograd, Moscow and throughout the country after the back-to-back attacks, and met with the heads of Federal Security Service and Interior Ministry on Monday.

Putin also asked to receive daily reports from the National Anti-Terrorism Committee on measures to bolster security in Volgograd, a committee spokesman told journalists.

Terrorist incidents have persisted in southern Russia despite the authorities’ efforts to step up security precautions ahead of the Olympics starting in February.

The 2014 Winter Olympic Games – a major prestige project for Putin and Russia – open on February 7 in Sochi. The city located about 430 miles (690 kilometers) from Volgograd, which was formerly known as Stalingrad and remains best remembered for the grueling siege it endured during World War II.

Six people were killed and 37 injured in another terrorist attack in Volgograd in late October, when a bomb carried by a young woman from the southern republic of Dagestan went off while she was traveling on a crowded commuter bus.

On Friday, a car bomb killed three people in the city of Pyatigorsk, which is 530 kilometers south of Volgograd and 270 kilometers east of Sochi.

The cities blighted by the latest attacks are located in and near the North Caucasus, a volatile multiethnic region that suffers frequent attacks on officials, police and civilians by local Islamist militant groups.

The persisting violence has its origins in a separatist struggle in the unruly republic of Chechnya in the early 1990s that has evolved into an Islamist insurgency that has spread to neighboring predominantly Muslim republics, particularly Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria.

Most of the militants responsible for terrorist attacks in Russia over the last decade – including female suicide bombers who have taken part in 20 attacks claiming at least 780 lives since June 2000 – have come from Dagestan.

Updated with number of dead and injured, information about suicide bomber, quotes, background detail throughout

The involvement of Salafism/Wahhabism in the support and supply of arms to rebel groups around the world

EUR PARLIAMENT

The involvement of Salafism Wahhabism in the support and supply of arms to rebel groups around the world

The involvement of Salafism/Wahhabism in the support and supply of arms to rebel groups around the world

DIRECTORATE-GENERAL FOR EXTERNAL POLICIES OF THE UNION
DIRECTORATE B
POLICY DEPARTMENT
STUDY

Corporate author(s):

European Parliament,
Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union
Private author(s):
Claude Moniquet

Abstract
The war in Afghanistan is undoubtedly a key moment in the emergence of an armed
rebellion in the Muslim world. The impact of this conflict quickly exceeded the borders of
Afghanistan to extend Pakistan. Since then, the Iraq war, the civil war that engulfed Syria
and the armed conflict in the Sahel have helped to increase guerrillas in the Muslim
world. This study aims to analyze the role of the Salafi / Wahhabi networks in financing
and arming rebel groups.

Lebanese army to receive $3 billion from Saudi ‘to purchase French arms’

Lebanese army to receive $3 billion from Saudi ‘to purchase French arms’

France 24
© File photo AFP/HO/SPA – Michel Sleiman (L) and Saudi’s Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud

Lebanese President Michel Sleiman said Sunday that Saudi Arabia will give $3 billion to buy weapons from France to help support and strengthen the Lebanese army.

The surprise announcement was made during a televised national address as French President François Hollande was visiting Saudi Arabia. Sleiman called the $3 billion in aid “the largest grant ever given to the country’s armed forces”.

“I am happy to tell the Lebanese people that the Saudi ruler will give a grant of $3 billion to strengthen the army,” Sleiman said, according to a quotes published by the state news agency. “The Saudi grant will allow the Lebanese army to purchase weapons from France.”

Hollande said that France was ready to supply weapons to the Lebanese army in a press conference Sunday in Saudi capital Riyadh.

Growing sectarian tensions

Fragile in the best of times, Lebanon is struggling to cope with the fallout from the civil war in neighboring Syria. That conflict has deeply divided Lebanon along confessional lines, and paralyzed the country’s ramshackle political system to the point that it has been stuck with a weak and ineffectual caretaker government since April.

It has also seen a wave of deadly bombings and shootings that have fueled fears that Lebanon, which suffered a brutal 15-year civil war of its own that only ended in 1990, could be slowly slipping back toward full-blown sectarian conflict. The latest violence took place on Friday, when a car bomb killed a senior Sunni politician who had been critical of Syria and its Lebanese ally, the Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

In a nod to those concerns, Sleiman said in his address that “Lebanon is threatened by sectarian conflict and extremism,” and said that strengthening the army is a popular demand.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and REUTERS)

2nd Egyptian Security Center Bombed North of Cairo

Governorates_of_Egypt

The Mansoura bombing was in Daqahliya (7), Sharqiya province (23), Ismailia (12)

[Look for the Egyptian Security building in Ismailia to be hit next, since this security zone is now the only path from Cairo to the Sinai with a fully intact security organization (Massive Terror Bombing Near Egyptian Security Directorate—13 dead, 134 injured).]

Bomb hits Egypt intelligence building, wounds 4

daily star

 

FILE – In this Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013 file photo, Egyptian security forces and others gather at the scene of a powerful explosion believed to be caused by a car bomb at a police headquarters building, in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura. (AP Photo/Ahmed Ashraf, File)

CAIRO: A bomb went off near a military intelligence building in northern Egypt on Sunday, wounding four soldiers, the army said.

The explosion occurred in the Sharqiya province in the Nile Delta and destroyed the front compound wall of the building, the army said in a statement.

The blast comes after Egypt was hit by two attacks in less than a week. On Tuesday, a suicide car bomber killed 15 people at a police building in Mansoura, north of Cairo.

And on Thursday a bomb in Cairo wounded five people on a bus.

The army said Sunday’s attack was a “continuation of cowardly terrorist acts”.

The day after the Mansoura attack, which was claimed by Al-Qaeda-inspired jihadists, Egypt’s military-installed authorities accused the Muslim Brotherhood of ousted president Mohamed Morsi and listed it as a “terrorist organisation”.

But the Brotherhood said in a statement that “it is innocent of any violent incident that has (been) or will be committed”.

The designation means hundreds of thousands of members of the Islamist organisation now face prison sentences if they hold demonstrations or are found in possession of Brotherhood recordings or literature.

Since Morsi’s ouster by the military on July 3, security forces have launched a crackdown on the group, that has seen more than 1,000 people killed and thousands of the toppled president’s backers arrested.

Despite the repression, there have been several demonstrations across Egypt in the past three days and at least seven people have been killed in clashes between Morsi’s supporters and opponents.

US Caught With Its Undersea Pants Around Its Knees

[Ongoing events requires the re-re-running of the following article from 2008 (SEE:  Cutting Cables, Lighting Fuses–Rerun).  Der Spiegel is running a series of articles on the NSA/Snowden leaks, the latest of which reveals the Am/Brit tapping of undersea phone and computer lines.  One submarine cable mentioned in the report below is TAT-14, which runs from Germany northward through Denmark and west through the UK.  Both ends of the cable end-up in New Jersey (Burgundy colored line on map below).  The full interactive submarine cable map is HERE.]

TAT 14

TAT 14A

Friendly Fire: How GCHQ Monitors Germany, Israel and the EU

der spiegel

By Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark

Satellite dishes at GCHQ's outpost at Bude, close to where the trans-Atlantic...
REUTERS

Satellite dishes at GCHQ’s outpost at Bude, close to where the trans-Atlantic fiber-optic cables come ashore in Cornwall. From Bude and other GCHQ sites, the agency appears to be systematically monitoring country-to-country telephone calls made through satellite connections.

The American spy stayed in northern Cornwall for three weeks. He was delighted with the picturesque setting, with its dramatic cliffs and views of the Atlantic.

In a classified report, the NSA employee also raved about the British signals intelligence agency GCHQ‘s field of antennas, located high above the Atlantic coast, about 300 kilometers (190 miles) west of London. Her Majesty’s agents have been working at the site, where 29 satellite antennas are aimed skyward, for decades. The Cornwall intelligence base, once part of the Echelon global signals intelligence network, was previously known as “Morwenstow.” Today the site is known as “GCHQ Bude.”

In addition to its geographical conditions, which are ideal for monitoring important communications satellites, Bude has another site-specific advantage: Important undersea cables land at nearby Widemouth Bay. One of the cables, called TAT-14, begins at German telecommunications company Deutsche Telekom’s undersea cable terminal in the East Frisia region of northern Germany.

There were suspicions as early as this summer that the British intelligence service in Bude was eavesdropping on German targets. Now documents from the archive of US whistleblower Edward Snowden contain the first concrete evidence to support this suspicion: German telephone numbers. SPIEGEL, Britain’s Guardian and the New York Times, as part of a joint effort, were able to view and evaluate the material.

List Includes Embassies, Leaders

According to the documents, the GCHQ Bude station listed phone numbers from the German government network in Berlin in its target base as well as those of German embassies, including the one in Rwanda. That, at least, was the case in 2009, the year the document in question was created. Other documents indicate that the British, at least intermittently, kept tabs on entire country-to-country satellite communication links, like “Germany-Georgia” and “Germany-Turkey,” for example, of certain providers.

The name of the European Union’s competition commissioner and current European Commission vice president, Joaquin Almunia, also appears in lists as well as email addresses that are listed as belonging to the “Israeli prime minister” and the defense minister of that country.

The details from the British intelligence agency’s databases could have political consequences. The British will now face an uncomfortable debate over their activities, which are apparently also directed against partner countries in the EU and the political leaders of those nations. SPIEGEL already reported in September on a GCHQ attack on partly government-owned Belgian telecommunications provider Belgacom.

Possible Headache for Cameron

At a dinner during the Brussels EU summit in late October, two days after SPIEGEL’s revelation that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone had been tapped, French President François Hollande began a debate during the meal over surveillance practices in Europe and called for the establishment of a code of conduct for intelligence agencies.

British Prime Minister David Cameron remained oddly silent during the discussion, in solidarity with his American friends — but also, presumably, because the GCHQ intelligence service doesn’t behave very differently from its big brother, the National Security Agency, and because of their agency’s close cooperation with the NSA in the realm of satellite surveillance. If it is confirmed that the British targeted the phones of German government officials and EU Commissioner Almunia, Cameron will have a problem.

The documents do not indicate the intensity and length of any collection of targets. The German numbers are only a small part of a bundle of documents filled with international telephone numbers and corresponding annotations. The documents viewed by SPIEGEL, the Guardian and the New York Times appear to represent only a small cross-section, and they include hundreds of telephone numbers from more than 60 different country codes. The bundle of documents provides the first glimpse of the scope of Britain’s surveillance ambitions.

EU Figures, Companies Targeted

The documents also show that the surveillance net cast by GCHQ and its political overseers is remarkably comprehensive. From Bude and other GCHQ sites, the agency appears to be systematically monitoring international country-to-country telephone calls made through satellite connections, as well as email communications (known as “C2C,” or computer-to-computer). This is evidenced by, for example, long lists relating to connections between places like Belgium and various African countries.

The entry “EU COMM JOAQUIN ALMUNIA” appears in an “informal” analysis of the communication paths between Belgium and Africa prepared in January 2009. At the time, the peak of the euro crisis, Almunia was still the EU economics and finance commissioner and he already had his own entry and personal identification code in the British target database, with the codename “Broadoak.”

It’s unlikely that the surveillance interest in him — at least when it comes to industrial espionage — has diminished since then. Almunia, now the EU’s competition minister, is currently ruling on, among other issues, whether US Internet giant Google is abusing its market power, thereby harming European companies. Almunia recently imposed fines on US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, as well as financial companies like Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase.

Non-Governmental Organizations Included

The EU commissioner’s name also appears in a second document from 2008, which describes a communication path between France and Africa. According to the document, Almunia, or a number assigned to him in the British target database, called a number in Ivory Coast on Oct. 30 or 31, 2008. SPIEGEL was unable to obtain a response from Commissioner Almunia on the incident by the time it went to press.

In addition to many political and “diplomatic targets,” the lists contain African leaders, their family members, ambassadors and businesspeople. They also include representatives of international organizations, such as those of United Nations agencies like the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). A noticeably large number of diplomatic missions to the United Nations in Geneva are also listed.

Even non-governmental organizations like Doctors of the World (Médicins du Monde) appear on the British intelligence agency lists, along with a representative of the Swiss IdeasCentre and others. Individual companies can also be found on the list, especially in the fields of telecommunications and banking. The partly government-owned French defense contractor Thales, along with Paris-based energy giant Total, is also mentioned.

Another Alleged “Rocket Attack” Provocation From Lebanon, According To Zionist Sources

[The following photo is from the last “rocket attack” into Israel from Lebanon, using “wooden rocket launchers.”  The “launcher” turned-out to be a single 2″ x 12″ board.  The “rocket” found had no warhead, meaning that it could not explode by launching it.  No authority has yet confirmed that rockets were fired into Israel from Lebanon, except for the lying Zionist press.  This was clearly intended to open the door to Israeli aggression against Southern Lebanon, meaning that this alleged attack, if there really was an attack,was by Sunni terrorists, looking to blame Hezbollah.]

https://therearenosunglasses.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/ee.jpg

Israel Fires Shells at Southern Lebanon in Response to Morning Rocket Attack

naharnet

W460

Two missiles fired from southern Lebanon exploded Sunday in northern Israel, prompting the Israeli military to hit back with three artillery shells, an army spokesman said.

“The Israeli artillery responded to rocket attacks from Lebanon against Israel that left no victims, targeting the area where these projectiles were fired from,” an army spokesman told AFP.

The Katyusha-style rockets landed in a field west of the town of Kiryat Shmona, without causing any casualties or damage, Israeli military radio reported.

The National News Agency said that the Israeli army retaliated by firing over 20 shells at the region located between Rashaya, Rashaya al-Fakhar, al-Mariyeh, Ibl al-Saqi, al-Wazzani, Kfarshouba Hills, Wata al-Khiyam, and Sarda.

Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) said that the Israeli army fired over 100 shells.

The Lebanese army has been conducting a sweep of the region where the rockets were fired from towards Israel and where the Israeli shells landed, reported LBCI television.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon also contacted the Lebanese and Israeli sides, urging them to exercise restraint and to cooperate with the respective armies to determine the details of Sunday’s incident, it added.

“This is a very serious incident… and is clearly directed at undermining stability in the area,” UNIFIL chief Paolo Serra said in a statement.

“UNIFIL’s first imperative is to ensure that there is no further escalation of the situation.”

Lebanese army and UNIFIL forces were carrying out patrols in the area after the exchange of fire, an AFP correspondent said.

The Army Command later announced that the army discovered four wooden rocket launchers used in the attack in the Wadi al-Khraybeh region in the Hasbaya district.

Tension has spiked on the border between the two countries since Lebanese troops gunned down an Israeli soldier driving near the frontier on December 16.

Israel’s border with Lebanon has been largely quiet since the 2006 war with Hizbullah.

The last time a soldier was killed there was in August 2010, when two Lebanese soldiers and a journalist also died.

In August, four Israeli soldiers were wounded by an explosion some 400 meters (yards) inside Lebanese territory, in a blast claimed by Hizbullah.

Last week, Hizbullah said one of its top leaders was killed near Beirut and blamed Israel for his murder — a charge denied by Israel, which warned against any retaliation.

UNIFIL troops were deployed along the border following the 34-day war in 2006 which killed some 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

Russian “Black Widow” Suicide Bomber Murders 18 In Volgograd Train Station

Female Suicide Bomber Kills at Least 18 at Volgograd Train Station

ria novosti

Explosion at Train Station in VolgogradExplosion at Train Station in Volgograd

Explosion at Train Station in Volgograd

© Russian Union of Volunteers

 

MOSCOW, December 29 (RIA Novosti) – The death toll from an explosion at a train station in Russia’s southern city Volgograd on Sunday continues to rise, with over a dozen people killed and scores more injured in what officials said was likely an attack by a female suicide bomber.

Police said that at least 18 people were killed and over 40 more injured by the blast that took place at 12:45 p.m. (8:45 a.m. GMT) in the Volgograd-1 train station.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said the number of casualties from the explosion, which it called a terrorist attack, was at least 13.

Victims of the blast are being evacuated by Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry by plane to Moscow, approximately a 90-minute flight away, for medical help.

The head of the region’s Interior Ministry Svetlana Smolyaninova told RIA Novosti that the explosion happened on the second floor of the train station, though other sources in local law enforcement said it went off on the ground floor of the building ahead of the metal detectors.

The National Anti-Terrorism Committee said that the explosion was caused by an unidentified device and that it was probably the work of a female suicide bomber, though it did not speculate on who might be responsible in the statement.

© RIA Novosti.

Potential Damage From a 1kg TNT Explosion

Police initially reported three people dead and six injured, but later revised the number of victims upward. Oleg Salagai, a spokesman for Russia’s Health Ministry, said on the Rossiya-24 television channel that at least 50 people had been injured by the explosion, and that dozens of emergency medical teams were working to assist the victims.

Long-distance trains at the main part of the station are still running on schedule despite the explosion, a Russian Railways representative told RIA Novosti.

Volgograd was also the location of a terrorist attack that killed 6 people and injured 37 more in October, when a female suicide bomber from Russia’s southern republic of Dagestan detonated a bus.

Updated with number of casualties, quotes, new headline and recast throughout

US Planned Syrian Civilian Catastrophe Since 2007–Timeline

US Planned Syrian Civilian Catastrophe Since 2007: Timeline

salem-news

“Syria has become the great tragedy of this century — a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history,” – António Guterres, the U.N.’s high commissioner responsible for refugees.

 

CIA sponsored al Qaeda
Syrian Free Press

 

(DAMASCUS Syrian Free Press) – NBC News’ report,‘The great tragedy of this century’: More than 2 million refugees forced out of Syria,” stated:

 

    More than 2 million Syrians have poured into neighboring countries as refugees, the United Nations revealed on Tuesday.

 

    Around 5,000 people per day are fleeing the three-year conflict, which the U.N. says has already claimed over 100,000 lives.

 

_____________________________

 

    “Syria has become the great tragedy of this century — a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history,” said António Guterres,  the U.N.’s high commissioner responsible for refugees.

 

But, while the UN and nations across the West feign shock over the growing humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in and around Syria, the goal of a violent sectarian conflict and its predictable, catastrophic results along with calls to literally “bleed” Syria have been the underlying strategy of special interests in the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and their regional partners since at least 2007.

 

A Timeline: How the Syrian Conflict Really Unfolded

 

 

Western media networks have ensured that a singular narrative of “pro-democracy” uprisings turning violent in the face of brutal oppression by the Syrian government after the so-called “Arab Spring” is disseminated across the public. In reality, “pro-democracy” protesters served as a tenuous smokescreen behind which armed foreign-backed extremists took to the streets and countrysides of Syria to execute a sectarian bloodbath years in the making. Here is a timeline that illuminates the true cause of Syria’s current conflict and the foreign interests, not the Syrian government, responsible for the tens of thousands dead and millions displaced during the conflict.

 

1991: Paul Wolfowitz, then Undersecretary of Defense, tells US Army General Wesley Clark that the US has 5-10 years to “clean up those old Soviet client regimes, Syria, Iran, Iraq, before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.” Fora.TV: Wesley Clark at the Commonwealth Club of California, October 3, 2007.

 

2001: A classified plot is revealed to US Army General Wesley Clark that the US plans to attack and destroy the governments of 7 nations: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. Fora.TV: Wesley Clark at the Commonwealth Club of California, October 3, 2007.

2002: US Under Secretary of State John Bolton declares Syria a member of the “Axis of Evil” and warned that “the US would take action.” BBC: “US Expands ‘Axis of Evil’” May 6, 2002.

2005: US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy organizes and implements the “Cedar Revolution” in Lebanon directly aimed at undermining Syrian-Iranian influence in Lebanon in favor of Western-backed proxies, most notably Saad Hariri’s political faction. Counterpunch: “Faking the Case Against Syria,” by Trish Schuh November 19-20, 2005.

 

CedarRevolution_A_NED_Production_2005_1

 

Image: Via Color Revolutions and Geopolitics: “As illustrated by the images above, Lebanon’s so-called [2005] Cedar Revolution was an expensive, highly-professional production.” (click image to enlarge) 

 

 

2005: Ziad Abdel Nour, an associate of Bush Administration advisers, policy makers, and media including Neo-Conservatives Paula Dobriansky, James Woolsey, Frank Gaffney, Daniel Pipes, Joseph Farah (World Net Daily), Clifford May, and Daniel Nassif of US State Department-funded Al Hurra and Radio Sawa, admits: “Both the Syrian and Lebanese regimes will be changed- whether they like it or not- whether it’s going to be a military coup or something else… and we are working on it. We know already exactly who’s going to be the replacements. We’re working on it with the Bush administration.” Counterpunch: “Faking the Case Against Syria,” by Trish Schuh November 19-20, 2005

 

2006: Israel attempts, and fails, to destroy Hezbollah in Lebanon after a prolonged aerial bombardment that resulted in thousands of civilian deaths. CNN: “UN: Hezbollah and Israel agree on Monday cease-fire,” August 13, 2006.

 

2007: Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker reveals that US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Hariri in Lebanon as well as the Syrian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood were assembling, arming, training, and heavily funding a sectarian extremists front, many of whom had direct ties to Al Qaeda, to unleash in both Lebanon and Syria. The goal was to create and exploit a sectarian divide between Sunni and Shi’ia Muslims. Hersh interviewed intelligence officers who expressed concerns over the “cataclysmic conflict” that would result, and the need to protect ethnic minorities from sectarian atrocities. The report indicated that extremists would be logistically staged in northern Lebanon where they would be able to cross back and forth into Syria. New Yorker: “The Redirection,” by Seymour Hersh, March 5, 2007.

 

2008: The US State Department begins training, funding, networking, and equipping “activists” through its “Alliance for Youth Movements” where the future protest leaders of the “Arab Spring,” including Egypt’s “April 6 Movement” were brought to New York, London, and Mexico, before being trained by US-funded CANVAS in Serbia, and then returning home to begin preparations for 2011. Land Destroyer: “2011 – Year of the Dupe,” December 24, 2011.

 

BrookingsWhichPathtoPersia2010Cover

 

Which Path to Persia? .pdf
2009: The Brookings Institution published a report titled, “Which Path to Persia?” (.pdf), which admits that the Bush Administration “evicted” Syria from Lebanon without building up a strong Lebanese government to replace it (p. 34), that Israel struck a “nascent” Syrian nuclear program, and states the importance of neutralizing Syrian influence before any attack on Iran can be carried out (p. 109).  The report then goes on to describe in detail the use of listed terrorist organizations against the government of Iran, in particular the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) (p. 126) and Baluch insurgents in Pakistan (p.132). Brookings Institution: “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran,” June 2009

 

2009-2010: In an April 2011 AFP report, Michael Posner, the assistant US Secretary of State for Human Rights and Labor, admitted that the “US government has budgeted $50 million in the last two years to develop new technologies to help activists protect themselves from arrest and prosecution by authoritarian governments.” The report went on to admit that the US (emphasis added) “organized training sessions for 5,000 activists in different parts of the world. A session held in the Middle East about six weeks ago gathered activists from Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon who returned to their countries with the aim of training their colleagues there.” Posner would add, “They went back and there’s a ripple effect.” AFP: “US Trains Activists to Evade Security Forces,” April 8, 2011.

 

2011: Posner’s US trained, funded, and equipped activists return to their respective countries across the Arab World to begin their “ripple effect.” Protests, vandalism , and arson sweep across Syria and “rooftop snipers” begin attacking both protesters and Syrian security forces, just as Western-backed movements were documented doing in Bangkok, Thailand one year earlier. With a similar gambit already unfolding in Libya, US senators begin threatening Syria with long planned and sought after military intervention. Land Destroyer: “Syria: Intervention Inevitable,” April 29, 2011.

 

sirte-after-nato-bombardments

 

Image: Real genocidal atrocities during the “Arab Spring” occurred at the hands of NATO and its proxy sectarian terrorists. Pictured is Sirte, Libya, after NATO-armed rebels surrounded it, cut off power, water, food, and emergency aid, and allowed NATO to bombard it with daily airstrikes before a final orgy of death and destruction left its streets and facades crumbling. This is the “civilian protection” the UN and its enforcement arm NATO plan on bringing to Syria.

 

2012: With NATO’s Libyan intervention resulting in a weak US-backed Tripoli client-regime, perpetual infighting, nationwide genocide, and the succession of Benghazi in the east, the NATO-backed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), listed by the US State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (listed #27) begins mobilizing weapons, cash, and fighters to begin destabilizing Syria. Headed by LIFG’s Abdul Hakim Belhaj, this would be the first confirmed presence of Al Qaeda in Syria, flush with NATO weapons and cash. The Washington Post would confirm, just as stated by Hersh in 2007, that the US and Saudi Arabia were arming the sectarian extremists, now labeled the “Free Syrian Army.” The Post also admits that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, as stated in Hersh’s 2007 report, was also involved in arming and backing extremist fighters. Land Destroyer: “US Officially Arming Extremists in Syria,” May 16, 2012.

 

BrookingsSyriaRegimeChange

 

Image: Brookings Institution’s Middle East Memo #21 “Assessing Options for Regime Change (.pdf),” makes no secret that the humanitarian “responsibility to protect” is but a pretext for long-planned regime change.

 

2012: The US policy think-tank Brookings Institution in its Middle East Memo #21Assessing Options for Regime Change (.pdf),” admits that it does not seek any negotiated ceasefire under the UN’s “Kofi Annan peace plan” that leaves Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power and would rather arm militants, even with the knowledge they will never succeed, to “bleed” the government, “keeping a regional adversary weak, while avoiding the costs of direct intervention.” This reveals that US policy does not view US interference in Syria as a moral imperative predicated on defending human rights, but rather using this false predication to couch aspirations of regional hegemony. Land Destroyer: “US Brookings Wants to “Bleed” Syria to Death,” May 28, 2012.

 

And, just this year, it was revealed that despite the West’s feigned military and political paralysis regarding the Syrian conflict, the US and Great Britain have been covertly funding and arming sectarian extremists to the tune of billions of dollars and arming them with literally thousands of tons of weaponry. Despite claims of “carefully vetting” “moderate” militant factions, the prominence of Al Qaeda-linked extremist groups indicates that the majority of Western support, laundered through Qatar and Saudi Arabia, is being purposefully put into the hands of the very sectarian extremists identified in Seymour Hersh’s 2007 article, “The Redirection.”

 

US Created and is Now Using Syrian Catastrophe to Justify Intervention

 

 

The non-debate taking place now to justify US military intervention in a conflict they themselves started and have intentionally perpetuated, is whether chemical weapons were used in Damascus on August 21, 2013 – not even “who” deployed them. The weakness of the US’ argument has seen an unprecedented backlash across both the world’s populations and the global diplomatic community. And despite only 9% of the American public supporting a military intervention in Syria, Congress appears poised to not only green-light “limited strikes,” but may approve of a wider military escalation.

 

In Seymour Hersh’s 2007 New Yorker article, “The Redirection,” Robert Baer, a former CIA agent in Lebanon, warned of the sectarian bloodbath the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia were planning to unleash. He stated:

 

    we’ve got Sunni Arabs preparing for cataclysmic conflict, and we will need somebody to protect the Christians in Lebanon. It used to be the French and the United States who would do it, and now it’s going to be Nasrallah and the Shiites.

 

Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, also featured in Hersh’s report, would in turn also warn of an imminent and spreading sectarian war purposefully stoked by the West:

 

    Nasrallah said he believed that President Bush’s goal was “the drawing of a new map for the region. They want the partition of Iraq. Iraq is not on the edge of a civil war—there

is

    a civil war. There is ethnic and sectarian cleansing. The daily killing and displacement which is taking place in Iraq aims at achieving three Iraqi parts, which will be sectarian and ethnically pure as a prelude to the partition of Iraq. Within one or two years at the most, there will be total Sunni areas, total Shiite areas, and total Kurdish areas. Even in Baghdad, there is a fear that it might be divided into two areas, one Sunni and one Shiite.”

 

    He went on, “I can say that President Bush is lying when he says he does not want Iraq to be partitioned. All the facts occurring now on the ground make you swear he is dragging Iraq to partition. And a day will come when he will say, ‘I cannot do anything, since the Iraqis want the partition of their country and I honor the wishes of the people of Iraq.’”

 

    Nasrallah said he believed that America also wanted to bring about the partition of Lebanon and of Syria. In Syria, he said, the result would be to push the country “into chaos and internal battles like in Iraq.” In Lebanon, “There will be a Sunni state, an Alawi state, a Christian state, and a Druze state.” But, he said, “I do not know if there will be a Shiite state.”

It would be difficult for anyone to look across the scarred landscape of today’s Syria and not see that this horrific conspiracy was realized in full. The Western media is now acquainting the public with the possibility of a partitioned Syria, echoing the warnings of Nasrallah years ago. The goals of a US military strike would be to “degrade” the capabilities of the Syrian government, while bolstering the terrorist legions still operating within and along Syria’s borders.

 

What we are witnessing in Syria today is the direct result of a documented conspiracy, not by a “brutal Syrian regime” “oppressing” its own people, but of a US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia radicalizing, arming, and unleashing a sectarian tidal wave they knew well ahead of time would cause atrocities, genocide, mass displacements and even the geopolitical partitioning of Syria and beyond. The intentional destabilization of the region is meant to weaken Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and Iraq – and even Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and others – to accomplish what the depleted, impotent US and Israeli forces could not achieve. Military intervention now seeks to tip the balance of an already teetering region.

 

The attacks on Syria are not humanitarian by any measure. They are simply the latest stage of a long-running plan to divide and destroy the region, leaving the West the sole regional hegemonic power.

 

Tony Cartalucci’s articles have appeared on many alternative media websites, including his own at Land Destroyer Report, Alternative Thai News Network and LocalOrg

 

SOURCE: http://www.activistpost.com/2013/09/us-planned-syrian-civilian-catastrophe.html

 

SyrianFreePress.net Network reloaded at – http://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/memorandum-usa-planned-syrian-civilian-catastrophe-since-2007-timeline-exposed/

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Who Speaks For the So-Called “Religion of Peace”?

[Normally, I try to respect the beliefs of others, never pointing a finger at any one religion as superior or inferior to the rest.  I especially have accorded a decent respect for Muslim beliefs, believing that modern political Islam as an ideology of violence is a creation of Western intelligence agencies, who have effectively weaponized streams of the religion, to use them against the Muslim people.  The majority of the victims of  Islamist violence are Muslims. 

“Political Islam,” “militant Islam,” “radical Islam,” or “fundamentalist Islam” are all labels given to the phenomenon which British and American intelligence agencies have created, to be used as an instrument of destabilization within the Muslim “Ummah,” for the purpose of harvesting the black gold from underneath them, primarily within the Arab tribal region.  This politicized stream of bloody violence in the name of the Muslim religion has worked remarkably well, pitting Muslim against Muslim, maneuvering the world to the precipice of a Muslim world war between a Sunni bloc and a Shia bloc, which apparently lies gaping before us.

Western intelligence agencies have midwifed the birth of Khomeini’s militant Shia faith, as well as the radicalized Deobandi and Wahhabi Sunni doctrines which drive the Sunni “jihadi” terrorists who are responsible for 70% of all world terrorism (with “Shia terror” failing to make it to the top ten terrorist list).  Both versions of radical Islam have their own versions of “infidels,” or “kfirs,” the “unbelievers” or “apostates” of the world, who are under some kind of divine death sentence.  According to radical Islam, believers have a duty to kill unbelievers.  So-called “moderate Muslims” refuse to believe in such nonsense, as adherents of “peaceful Islam” (the Islam we hear so much about, but never really hear from), they don’t want to kill anybody.  Apparently, they have a great aversion to being killed, as well, since they have not dared to respond since the 911 attacks with their own chorus of voices, urging fellow moderate Muslims to speak-out against Jihadi Islam.  If “True Islam” is, in fact, a “religion of peace,” then true believers should denounce the so-called “Salafists” for the sin against God, that they represent.

It is time to take a stand against the real “unbelievers,” those who commit murders and call it “holy war.”  That is the primary message in the following fine editorial message against false religions.  The focus may be upon fundamentalist Islam, but it pertains to all fundamentalist radicalism in all of its violent manifestations.]

So-called religion of peace rife with violent extremism

times-standard

Tim Martin/Here’s a Thought

The monotheistic religions of the world — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — have a long history of walking the halls in bold strides, and we clear a path before them. These religions have common roots in fear, oppression, persecution, genocide, and male supremacy. They also have a history of killing unbelievers, heretics, and infidels. This is done for the glory of Yahweh, the honor of God, and the love of Allah.A number of their followers are thinking in a gear so low it’s difficult to believe they’re awake.

Judaism and Christianity are illogical, but Islam is the gold standard for religious insanity. Its teachings are barbaric, its founder revolting, and its practice (in many Islamic countries) is violent. Islam is based on the Quran, an authoritative text that has remained unchanged for 1,400 years. The Quran contains numerous commands that Muslims kill nonbelievers, treat women as inferior beings, and stifle free speech to anyone critical of their religion.

Here are a few passages: (Quran 8:12) “I shall terrorize the infidels. So wound their bodies and incapacitate them because they oppose Allah and His Apostle.” (Quran 8:39) “Fight them until all opposition ends and all submit to Allah.” (Quran 8:7) “Allah wished to confirm the truth by His words, ‘Wipe the infidels out to the last.'”

There are “moderate Muslims” throughout the world who defy such inflammatory sections of the Quran, but others want sharia law. Under sharia, women are afforded only half the value of men in both testimony and actual value. Non-Muslims are afforded 1/12th the value of a Muslim. Sharia also allows the enslavement of non-Muslims, along with such punishments as amputations and public flogging.

Evidently, many Muslims do not pick up on the giant tectonic plate of irony that underlies their “peace-loving” religion.

The link between Muslims and hatred for America is obvious. According to a report by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), Sunni Muslim terrorists committed “about 70 percent” of the 12,533 terrorist murders in the world last year, many of them on other Muslims. Another interesting tidbit from the survey: In South Asia (defined as Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh), 76 percent of people are in favor of executing those who leave Islam.

Despite this, a Pew Research poll reports that only four in 10 Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Islam. An equally small number link the religion with acts of violence. Why do we defend a fanatical faith that is misogynistic and intolerant? Why do we cut Islam so much slack? We have been lied to. Americans are continuously fed a watered-down, peaceful version of the religion.

The truth is that fanatical Islamists — whether they belong to al-Qaida, the Taliban, Egypt’s Army, or any other Muslim group with aggressive political aspirations — demand a stricter version of Islam imposed worldwide; one in which drinking, homosexuality, and blasphemy are punishable crimes. A Dutch filmmaker was assassinated, and Danish cartoonists and the creators of South Park have been threatened with murder by Islamic extremists for their portrayals of the prophet Muhammad.

How soothed am I by Muslim apologists who hope to convince us that we have nothing to be concerned about? I’m very concerned. Sharia law and those who want it should be feared. A recent World Public Opinion poll states that 61 percent of Egyptians and 32 percent of Indonesians approve of attacks on Americans, and that 83 percent of Palestinians and 62 percent of Jordanians approve of some or most groups that attack Americans.

The Quran (like the Bible and the Talmud) is an unconvincing book in terms of proving that a kind and loving god exists. Muhammad declared women as deficient in mind and soul. He had people killed for trivial reasons and married a 10-year-old child (Aisha). His defenders insist that either you worship Muhammad or they will kill you.

Sorry, that’s not a god I choose to respect and honor.

Luckily, many Muslims have a sense of morality that is vastly superior to that of their prophet. For this we should be thankful. But Islam is a totalitarian system. It requires only a small committed core and an intimidated mainstream to grow. Why is it acceptable to protest against Christianity or Judaism, but not Islam? Why do we live in fear of Muslim reprisal if we speak out against Muhammad, the Quran, or Sharia?

We already have a backwards and repressive religion influencing law and politics in the United States. We certainly don’t need another.

Tim Martin resides in Fortuna and writes this column for the Times-Standard. He can be contacted at tmartin@northcoast.com.

US Refuses To Follow Saudi Plan for Egypt—MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD Not Classified Terrorists

US not considering designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization

ahram online

A US official said the Egyptian government was going “way too far” in the crackdown on the Brotherhood, but added that the Obama administration was not planning to take any action against Cairo in response.

The US official said that the administration of President Barack Obama was not considering, or even discussing, the possibility of the US government designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.

Historically, the US has placed the names of some individuals associated with the Muslim Brotherhood on US government sanctions list, but has not imposed sanctions on the movement itself.

In Washington, US Secretary of State John Kerry called Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy and “expressed concern” about the terrorist designation of the Muslim Brotherhood and recent detentions and arrests in Egypt, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Kerry condemned the recent bomb attacks in Egypt but “underscored the need for an inclusive political process across the political spectrum that respects the fundamental human rights of all Egyptians in order to achieve political stability and democratic change,” Psaki said.

Former Leb. Ambassador To US Killed In Bomb Blast

[SEE: Offshore gas belongs to the Lebanese, so let them see the money–By Mohamad Chatah, May 11, 2012]

Five die in Beirut bombing

SBS

null

A car bomb has ripped through the Beirut city centre killing an advisor to former PM Saad Hariri. (AAP)

A powerful bombing has rocked a central business district of central Beirut setting cars ablaze and killing five people, including a senior aide to former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, officials said.

The National News Agency said Mohammed Chatah and his driver were both killed in the explosion, which wounded more than 70 others.

Lebanon has seen a wave of bombings over the past months as tensions rise over Syria’s civil war. Hariri heads the main, Western-backed coalition in Lebanon which is engaged in bitter feuding with the militant Hezbollah group, which is allied to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The blast was heard across the city and sent thick black smoke billowing in the downtown posh commercial district behind the government house and above the seafront of the Lebanese capital.

The army cordoned off the area to prevent people from getting close to the scene, where the twisted wreckage of several cars was still smouldering. The explosion appeared to be the result of the car bomb, but security officials said they had no immediate confirmation.

Footage broadcast on Lebanese TV showed medical workers rushing the wounded to ambulances. At least two bodies could be seen lying on the pavement.

The conflict next door has raised tensions in Lebanon’s Sunni and Shi’ite communities as each side lines up in support of their brethren in the conflict next door.

That has fuelled predictions that Lebanon, still recovering from its 15-year civil war that ended in 1990, is on the brink of descending into full-blown sectarian violence.

Chatah, a prominent economist and former ambassador to the US, was one of the closest aides to former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was killed in a truck bombing in Beirut in 2005, not far from Friday’s explosion.

He later became finance minister when Hariri’s son, Saad, took over the premiership, and stayed on as his senior adviser after he lost the post in early 2011.

Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) Connected With TTP?

Absconding SIMI members were in touch with Pakistan Taliban: MP ATS chief

IBN LIVE

Madhya Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) on Wednesday claimed that SIMI activist Abu Faizal and two others who were arrested on Tuesday had links with fundamentalist terror group Tehreek-e-Taliban, which is active in the north-western Pakistan.

Faizal, who had escaped from Khandwa jail with five others a few months ago, was caught from Sendhwa Pathar in Barwani district on Tuesday along with Irfan Nagauri and Khalid Ahmad.

ATS chief and inspector general of police Sanjiv Sami said in Bhopal on Wednesday that interrogation revealed that Faizal and others were planning attack on some important person, and were also in touch with the Tehreek-e-Taliban.

Absconding SIMI members were in touch with Pakistan Taliban: MP ATS chief

Absconding SIMI members were in touch with Pakistan Taliban: MP ATS chief

“The MP ATS, with its Maharashtra counterparts, recovered three bombs from a Solapur house of Khalid Ahmad who was arrested on Tuesday, he said.”

“Besides, more than 100 detonators and over 70 gelatin sticks were recovered from this place. These men were also in touch with the accused in the case related to Patna bomb blasts (which targeted a rally of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi),” Sami said.

“Apart from Faizal, five others who had escaped from Khandwa jail are still at large,” he further said.

“MP ATS team searched places in Sambalpur and Jharsuguda in Odisha with the help of local police in its hunt for these absconding SIMI men, and found some money, but the accused had already fled,” he added.

A group of robbers looted Rs 1,25,000 from a Gramin Sahkari Bank in Jharsuguda district on December 23. Sami said that it could be the men who had escaped from Khandwa jail, as the robbery was similar to one at the Manappuram Bank .

Russian Gas Co. Wins Drilling Rights To Syrian Offshore Gas Bonanza Potentially Rivaling “Leviathan”

Syrian Offshore blocks

BLOCK 2 (center section)

Syria Signs Deal With Russian Company on Offshore Oil Production

CriEnglish
Xinhua       Web Editor: ZhangPeng

Syria’s Ministry of Petroleum has signed a contract with a Russian oil company on oil exploration, development and production in the Syrian territorial waters, the official SANA news agency reported Wednesday.

While SANA spelled no further details, other local media reports said that the Minister of Oil, Sulaiman Abbas, signed the contract with the Russian company named Ceo Naftagas, for oil exploration and production in the block 2 of Syria’s territorial water, which stretches from the shore of the coastal city of Tartous to the city of Banyas.

The minister said the contract will go into effect “immediately ” in spite of the sanctions imposed on Syria by the European Union and the United States, noting that the Russian companies in Syria have not stopped its work despite the sanctions.

Oil, the lifeline for the Syrian economy, is at risk as the main oil fields are located in rebel-held areas in northeastern Syria and is erroneously used by gunmen, according to local reports, which added that 40,000 oil barrels were stolen on a daily basis.

Egypt names Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group

Egypt names Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group

usa_today_long

AP

AP Mideast Egypt Morsi

(Photo: Maya Alleruzzo, AP)

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s military-backed interim government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, a dramatic escalation that gives authorities more power in cracking down on them.

Hossam Eissa, the Minister of Higher Education, read out the Cabinet statement after long meeting on Wednesday.

Eissa said: “The Cabinet has declared the Muslim Brotherhood group and its organization as a terrorist organization.”

Eissa added that the implications of the declaration punish those who belong to the group, financing it and those promoting the group’s activities.

The Brotherhood is the group that ousted President Mohammed Morsi belongs to and which has waged near-daily protests since a July 3 popularly backed military coup toppled his government.

Authorities blamed the Brotherhood for militant attacks now striking Egypt, a claim the Brotherhood repeatedly has denied.

Saudi Royals Embrace Their Inner Zionists, Create Israeli-Like Dept. of Lies/Hasbara

Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud Al-Faisal on Tuesday emphasized that the Kingdom’s ambassadors and diplomats working at foreign missions have a major responsibility to correct the negative image of Saudi Arabia being created abroad.

“To confront this, a working team, comprising senior officials of the ministry, will be constituted to carry out studies on various aspects of this issue. The panel would come out with specific proposals and suggest practical measures.

The outcome of the study will be circulated among the embassies abroad,” he said while urging the ambassadors to submit their views and proposals to the team especially in light of the experience and expertise that they have acquired in handling this issue abroad.

Prince Saud made the remarks while addressing the concluding session of the 3rd meeting of the Saudi ambassadors and heads of foreign missions abroad at the ministry’s headquarters, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The minister highlighted the significance of countering this negative propaganda in the wake of the fast expanding reach of the media, especially social media, which heavily influences public opinion.

“We have to step up our efforts to effectively counter the misinformation campaign against Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Cyprus Reconsidering Planned Purchase of Israeli Gunboats for Cyprus EEZ Patrols

Second thoughts about €100m navy boats

Cyprus mail

Second thoughts about €100m navy boats

RULING party DISY appears to be having second thoughts on spending millions on military hardware right now, when thousands of people are unemployed and others are having a tough time meeting their basic needs.

Sources said the party wants to delay procurement of two Israeli-made naval craft that will be used primarily for patrolling the waters in the Exclusive Economic Zone.

The cost of the boats is €100 million and Cyprus would have to give €25 million as down-payment for the deal to go ahead.

“It would be a bit too much to pay €25 million,” a party source told the Cyprus Mail, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It bothers us even if it is justified.”

The source said the party wanted to push the decision further down the road, to see how the economic situation goes.

Media reports suggested that all parties had initially agreed to release the funds, and DISY’s about turn angered the others.

AKEL is now saying it too does not agree with spending so much money.

MPs would have to decide on some €30 million needed for the maintenance of the army’s Russian-made attack helicopters.

It is understood that that will also be discussed in 2014.

The two Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) will be built from scratch for Cyprus by Israel Shipyards Ltd.

According to Israel Shipyards’ website, the weapon-carrying, ‘combat proven’ OPV performs a wide range of coastal defence, security and law-enforcement missions, including open sea patrol and surveillance, interception of terrorist, smuggling or illegal activities and protection of offshore facilities.

Erdogan Slams US Ambassador for Gulen Islamist Subversion

[SEE: For first time, Fethullah Gülen curses purge of police officials in emotional speech]

Turkey’s Erdogan says ‘dark alliances’ behind graft inquiry

Cyprus mail

Turkey’s Erdogan says ‘dark alliances’ behind graft inquiry

 

By Humeyra Pamuk and Ece Toksabay
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan denounced “international groups” and “dark alliances” on Saturday for entangling Turkey in a corruption scandal that has exposed deep rifts between him and a US-based Muslim cleric who helped him rise to power.

Sixteen people, including the sons of two ministers and the head of state-owned Halkbank, were formally arrested on Saturday, local media said, in a corruption inquiry that Erdogan has called a “dirty operation” to underminine his rule.

The Turkish leader raised the stakes by accusing unnamed foreign ambassadors of “provocative actions”.

Some pro-government newspapers had accused the US envoy of encouraging the move against Halkbank – a charge denied by the embassy.
“There are extremely dirty alliances in this set-up, dark alliances that can’t tolerate the new Turkey, the big Turkey,” Erdogan in a speech in the northern town of Fatsa. “Turkey has never been subjected to such an immoral attack.”

The furore, which has roiled markets, is seen as reflecting a power struggle between Erdogan and his former ally Fethullah Gulen, who wields influence in the police and judiciary.
Dozens of police chiefs have been removed from their posts since the detentions of bribery suspects began.

“Those who don’t see the thief but go after those trying to catch the thief, who don’t see the murder but try to defame others by accusing innocent people – let God bring fire to their houses, ruin their homes, break their unity,” Gulen said in a recording uploaded to one of his websites on Friday.

Erdogan has refrained from naming Gulen as the hand behind the investigation when he blamed an internationally-backed conspiracy. But Gulen’s Hizmet (or Service) movement has been increasingly at odds with the prime minister in recent months.

“This is an operation ordered by some international groups, and their subcontractors within Turkey are carrying it out, as a step taken against the government. We will not bow down to it,” Erdogan said on Saturday.
“When we took power 11 years ago, Turkey’s national income was $230 billion, now it’s more than $800 billion. Can you increase the income so much in a corrupt country?” he demanded, proudly listing highway and airport construction projects his government has implemented during more than a decade in power.

Erdogan’s position is under no immediate threat, but the row between his ruling AK Party and Gulen’s Hizmet movement could help decide local elections due in March.
“A major political struggle has started in Turkey,” said Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute. “Ironically, this battle is being fought within the ranks of the governing party.”

He said the definitive battle would come in March, involving the race for mayor of Turkey’s commercial capital Istanbul.
“If the Gulen movement can now use its influence among voters and financial base to tilt the race in favour of the opposition, it will prove itself an effective power against Erdogan, as well as helping deliver Istanbul to the left.

“If, on the other hand, Erdogan wins Istanbul, despite the Gulen movement, he will emerge as Turkey’s most dominant political figure in modern history as well as having potentially subjugated the Gulen movement,” Cagaptay said.

Erdogan, just as he did when he faced a wave of protests in the summer, has pointed to foreign hands in the crisis.
“These recent days, very strangely, ambassadors get involved in some provocative acts,” he said, telling them not to meddle and warning: “We do not have to keep you in our country.”
Several pro-government newspapers had the US Embassy of encouraging the move against Halkbank, saying the United States wanted the bank to stop its dealings with Iran.
“Get out of this country,” read Yeni Safak’s headline, with a photo of US Ambassador Francis Ricciardone. It said the Foreign Ministry was considering declaring him persona non grata. Sources at the Foreign Ministry denied such plans.

The US Embassy reacted sharply. “All allegations in news stories are downright lies and slander,” it said in a statement.
Halkbank’s general manager, Suleyman Aslan, was formally arrested alongside Baris Guler, the son of the interior minister, and Kaan Caglayan, the son of the economy minister, CNN Turk and other local media reported.

A total of 24 people have now been formally arrested and are awaiting trial on corruption allegations.
A court on Saturday ordered the release of 33 others, including the mayor of Istanbul’s Fatih district, Mustafa Demir, and the son of the environment minister, local media reported.

Virginia Man Arrested for Allegedly Trying to Ship Weapons to Lebanon

[http://wlstorage.net/file/fair…
This is a report sorted by presiding judge detailing approved court motions for concealed weapon permits in Fairfax County, Virginia.
Fairfax County Circuit Court
Case CL-2005-0006481

In Re: Sam Rafic Ghanem
Final Order – Granted
pickup 12/6/05]

Sam Rafic Ghanem, owner of an international shipping company with offices in the Washington suburbs, was arrested Saturday after an FBI sting. (American Druze Society, Washington, D.C., Chapter)

Federal authorities have arrested a Virginia businessman for allegedly trying to ship dozens of weapons and high-tech devices to Lebanon, where terrorist groups such as Hezbollah operate and a civil war in neighboring Syria has sparked further violence.

Sam Rafic Ghanem, owner of an international shipping company with offices in the Washington suburbs, was arrested Saturday after an FBI sting.

The intended recipient of the weapons is not clear, but at one point Ghanem claimed he was recently asked to obtain two guns for an unnamed member of the Lebanese government, according to court documents filed in the case.

Over the past few months, Ghanem and a former employee of his company, Washington Movers International, devised a scheme to send weapons to Lebanon by hiding them inside automobile parts shipped by the company, court documents allege.

The former employee, though, was working as an undercover source for the FBI.

Last Saturday, the source picked up Ghanem from his Springfield, Va., home and drove to Washington Movers International’s offices in Maryland, where Ghanem helped stuff 10 handguns, 10 semi-automatic rifles and 18 “optic devices” into doors and other parts of salvaged vehicles, an FBI agent alleged in charging documents.

The car parts were then loaded into a shipping container, but the weapons hidden inside were fake, according to the charging documents. Ghanem was subsequently arrested.

After he was handcuffed, Ghanem allegedly admitted to FBI agents that his intended shipment violated U.S. law, which prohibits the export of such weapons to Lebanon and other designated countries. International law also bans such shipments.

During a secretly recorded meeting at Ghanem’s home in October, Ghanem noted to his former employee that he recently “had been asked to obtain two ‘pieces’ [guns] for a Lebanese official,” but he didn’t follow through “because he would have had to put the weapons in his name, and that was too dangerous,” according to the charging documents.

An FBI spokesman declined to comment. Efforts to reach someone at the Lebanese Embassy in Washington on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Saturday’s arrest was apparently not the first time the FBI visited Ghanem. FBI agents questioned him two years ago after two guns were found hidden in a car shipped by his company, court documents have him telling the FBI source.

Washington Movers International has offices in District Heights, Md.; Doha, Qatar; and Beirut. Ghanem, 43, started the company “from scratch,” according to a profile of Ghanem posted online.

“We are now recognized as one of the leading logistics firms in the United States,” the company’s website says, promising, “From the simplest household move to the largest of international business relocations, you will appreciate our extraordinary professionalism, expertise, our friendly and helpful service.”

As of two years ago, Ghanem was a follower of Druze – a relatively small, ancient religion practiced mostly in Lebanon, Syria and Israel – and he was an active member in the faith’s community. He served on the board of the Washington-area chapter of the American Druze Community. He is married with three children, according to the online profile.

Ghanem has been charged with one count of “attempted export of defense articles” in violation of the Arms Export Control Act. If convicted, he faces five years in prison and a fine of $50,000.

He made his initial appearance Monday before a federal judge in Greenbelt, Md. Public records available Tuesday did not indicate whether Ghanem had entered a plea.

A detention hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

A representative at the federal public defender’s office, which is representing Ghanem, declined to comment on the case.

 

Massive Terror Bombing Near Egyptian Security Directorate—13 dead, 134 injured

Egypt’s political forces accuse Brotherhood of orchestrating Mansoura attack

ahram online

mansoura big

Emergency services worker investigate the site of a bomb attack near the Directorate of Security in Egypt’s Nile Delta town of Mansoura (Photo: Reuters)

 

Egypt’s political forces blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for the deadly attack on the Daqahliya security directorate in the city of Mansoura which left 13 dead and 134 injured in the early hours of Tuesday.

The liberal Free Egyptians Party condemned the Mansoura “terrorist crime,” accusing the Brotherhood of standing behind the attack.

“No truce and no complacency with the Brotherhood terrorist group, in the country and beyond,” the party said in a statement published on its official website.

Former presidential candidate and leading Nasserist figure Hamdeen Sabbahi said “the blood of the Mansoura martyrs invites us to unite on a comprehensive strategy to uproot terrorism.”

A spokesman of Sabbahi’s Popular Current group, Heba Yassin, also directly accused the Muslim Brotherhood of orchestrating the attack saying “your brutal terrorism targeting the nation and its institutions will not restore your power; and the Egyptian people, whose blood you’ve made legitimate to spill, will not submit to you.”

“In reality you are not facing the state only, but the entire Egyptian people,” Yassin added.

Brotherhood denies charges

The Muslim Brotherhood denied any connection to the attack.

“The Muslim Brotherhood considers this act as a direct attack on the unity of the Egyptian people and demands an enquiry forthwith so that the perpetrators of this crime may be brought to justice,” an emailed statement from the group’s London press office read.

The Mansoura attack will be used as a pretext for “a new bloodbath” [against Islamists] ahead of the referendum on the amended 2012 Islamist-drafted constitution, charged the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party on its official Facebook page.

The pro-Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy has also condemned what it labeled a “criminal incident” that aims to provoke strife, asserting its peacefulness and denouncing all forms of bloodshed, reported the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party on its website.

Condemnations and pleas for peaceful solutions

The Coptic Orthodox Church also condemned the attack saying it will pray daily “for God to protect Egypt.”

Meanwhile, the head of ultraconservative Salafist Al-Nour party, Younes Makhioun, condemned the attack, describing it as part of “a string of conspiracies targeting the country.”

Makhioun called on the people to unite to protect “Our beloved Egypt.”

In a statement published on the party’s website, Makhioun said “everyone should meet their responsibilities and work to establish a peaceful climate instead of the violent one prevailing in the country.”

Al-Nour Party, a one-time ally of the Muslim Brotherhood, is the only Islamist party which endorsed the transitional roadmap set by the interim authorities after Morsi’s ouster.

The Liberal Constitution Party, founded by former vice-president Mohamed ElBaradei, also accused the Brotherhood of being responsible for the attack.

“While no finger of blame has yet been pointed to any specific terror group, the party calls on the Muslim Brotherhood to face its responsibilities and acknowledge its errors which have led to increased tension and confrontation with security forces,” the party said in a statement.

Morsi supporters have been organising ongoing protests against the interim authorities since the ouster of Morsi on 3 July. These protests have frequently degenerated into street clashes with security forces after the government violently dispersed 2 pro-Morsi sit-in Camps in Cairo on 14 August.

Youth groups condemn and criticise government

While condemning the attack, some youth groups also accused the country’s interim authorities of failure to maintain security in the country.

“No reconciliation and no empathy with terrorism,” Tamarod (Rebel) group said in a statement on Tuesday.

“No tolerance for the impotent and failing government which acts with trembling hands,” added the group, which spearheaded the 30 June mass nationwide protests that led to Morsi’s ouster.

The April 6 Youth group also called for holding officials accountable for not preventing the attack.

“Those responsible for [not stopping] the attack must be held accountable for their negligence in protecting citizens and vital installations,” the group’s spokesman Khaled El-Masri said in a statement Tuesday.

El-Masry added that those who are incompetent at their responsibilities should step down without delay.

In recent weeks, Egypt’s cabinet witnessed a sharp decrease in popularity, as the government has been accused by its critics of inability to solve the country’s woes.

A November poll conducted by private polling organisation Baseera showed only 58 percent of respondents said they felt safe, down from 66 percent at the end of September.

“The arrest of students, university professors, engineers, lawyers and opposition [activists] will not preserve security and will not protect the country,” El-Masry said, referring to a recent state crackdown targeting secular activists who voiced their opposition to some of the government’s policies.

April 6 general coordinator Amr Ali also condemned the attack saying it underlined the “atrocity” in Egypt’s current situation.

“There is no alternative to a political solution,” Ali said, referring to the country’s violent standoff between the Islamists and the interim authorities.

“Violence is on the rise, security solutions are to no avail, and the one victim remains the Egyptian citizen,” Ali added.

Government vows tough action

Egypt’s Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi vowed on Tuesday to hunt down the perpetrators of the explosion. He said the attack seeks to obstruct the roadmap drawn up by the country’s interim rulers following Morsi’s July ouster

“This is an act of terrorism that aims at frightening the people and obstructing the roadmap. The black hands behind this act want to destroy the future of our country,” Beblawi told Egyptian satellite channel ONTV shortly after the attack.

“The state will do its utmost to pursue the criminals who executed, planned and supported this attack,” he asserted.

A bloody day entrenches deadlock

In the early hours of Tuesday, deadly blasts hit the Daqahliya Security Directorate in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura.

The explosion, which killed 13 and injured 134, appears to be the worst terrorist attack since Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in July.

Following the government’s violent dispersal of two pro-Morsi sit-in camps in mid-August which left hundreds dead, Islamist militants have stepped up their assaults against security forces, targeting police stations and security checkpoints in hit-and-run operations throughout the country.

Morsi supporters have also allegedly assaulted churches and police stations in retaliatory attacks following the violent dispersal by security forces of two Cairo Islamist protest camps in mid-August which had left hundreds dead.

Although the Muslim Brotherhood and their Islamist allies have consistently denied any links to such attacks, they have been repeatedly accused by the authorities of implicitly encouraging them.

Since Morsi’s ouster, several initiatives have attempted to bring the Muslim Brotherhood and their Islamist allies to negotiate with the country’s interim authorities but all have failed as both camps refuse to offer any concessions.

On The Trail Of The Saudi Cutouts Who Set-UpThe 9/11 Patsies

On The Trail Of The Saudi [Cutouts] Who [Set Up] The 9/11 [Patsies], Part 4: The Cutouts

 winter patriot
A cutout is a link …

[Previous: 1: 28 Pages | 2: No Vortex | 3: The Lawsuit ]

The term “cutout” is intelligence jargon for a special sort of role that must be played in covert operations. A cutout acts as a go-between, bringing support and instructions from the planners to the perpetrators.

By doing this, the cutout becomes a link in the chain of evidence that connects the planners to the perpetrators. And the cutout’s most important job is to be “cut out” of the chain if and when necessary.

The timely disappearance of a cutout can break the trail that would otherwise lead back from the crime to the people who wanted it to happen. By making cutouts disappear, covert operators can maintain a certain level of “plausible denial,” even if the perpetrators are caught in the act, or tracked down later.

In the case of 9/11, where the “hijackers” were apparently patsies who were intended to be caught, the role of the cutouts was especially important — and especially dangerous.

… in the chain of evidence that connects …

It is sad and strange and very pathetic that we still know so little about the nature of the 9/11 attacks. It’s bad enough that that we don’t know who did it. But we don’t even know what they did! That complicates everything except the government story, the litigation based on it, and the mainstream coverage.

We do know a little bit, and presumably Walter Jones, Stephen Lynch, Bob Graham know a lot more, about some well-connected Saudis who helped to put the patsies in a position from which they could take the blame — and who then disappeared!

From Paul Sperry in the New York Post [or here]:

Some information already has leaked from the [28 redacted pages], which is based on both CIA and FBI documents, and it points back to Saudi Arabia, a presumed ally….

LOS ANGELES: Saudi consulate official Fahad al-Thumairy allegedly arranged for an advance team to receive two of the Saudi hijackers — Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi — as they arrived at LAX in 2000. One of the advance men, Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi intelligence agent, left the LA consulate and met the hijackers at a local restaurant. (Bayoumi left the United States two months before the attacks, while Thumairy was deported back to Saudi Arabia after 9/11.)

… the planners of a covert operation …

Watch how this happens. The timing is very interesting. al-Bayoumi, who was directly connected with the patsies, disappeared two months before the attacks. Thumairy, who was connected to al-Bayoumi but not to the patsies directly, didn’t disappear until after the attacks.

SAN DIEGO: Bayoumi and another suspected Saudi agent, Osama Bassnan, set up essentially a forward operating base in San Diego for the hijackers after leaving LA. They were provided rooms, rent and phones, as well as private meetings with an American al Qaeda cleric who would later become notorious, Anwar al-Awlaki, at a Saudi-funded mosque he ran in a nearby suburb. They were also feted at a welcoming party. (Bassnan also fled the United States just before the attacks.)

Bassnan (sometimes also “Basnan”), who was also in direct contact with the patsies, also disappeared before the attacks.

WASHINGTON: Then-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar and his wife sent checks totaling some $130,000 to Bassnan while he was handling the hijackers. Though the Bandars claim the checks were “welfare” for Bassnan’s supposedly ill wife, the money nonetheless made its way into the hijackers’ hands.

Other al Qaeda funding was traced back to Bandar and his embassy — so much so that by 2004 Riggs Bank of Washington had dropped the Saudis as a client. The next year, as a number of embassy employees popped up in terror probes, Riyadh recalled Bandar.

“Our investigations contributed to the ambassador’s departure,” an investigator who worked with the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington told me, though Bandar says he left for “personal reasons.”

… to the perpetrators.

Prince Bandar, who as Ambassador was under diplomatic immunity, didn’t have to disappear until he could leave for “personal reasons” by being “recalled.”

FALLS CHURCH, VA.: In 2001, Awlaki and the San Diego hijackers turned up together again — this time at the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center, a Pentagon-area mosque built with funds from the Saudi Embassy. Awlaki was recruited 3,000 miles away to head the mosque. As its imam, Awlaki helped the hijackers, who showed up at his doorstep as if on cue. He tasked a handler to help them acquire apartments and IDs before they attacked the Pentagon.

Awlaki worked closely with the Saudi Embassy. He lectured at a Saudi Islamic think tank in Merrifield, Va., chaired by Bandar. Saudi travel itinerary documents I’ve obtained show he also served as the ­official imam on Saudi Embassy-sponsored trips to Mecca and tours of Saudi holy sites. Most suspiciously, though, Awlaki fled the United States on a Saudi jet about a year after 9/11.

A cutout’s most important job…

Awlaki needed a lot of help to disappear … and he got it! Where do you suppose it came from?

As I first reported in my book, “Infiltration,” quoting from classified US documents, the Saudi-sponsored cleric was briefly detained at JFK before being released into the custody of a “Saudi representative.” A federal warrant for Awlaki’s arrest had mysteriously been withdrawn the previous day.

This timing is also very interesting, is it not? Normally, federal arrest warrants are not mysteriously withdrawn — let alone just in time to facilitate a disappearance!

HERNDON, VA.: On the eve of the attacks, top Saudi government official Saleh Hussayen checked into the same Marriott Residence Inn near Dulles Airport as three of the Saudi hijackers who targeted the Pentagon. Hussayen had left a nearby hotel to move into the hijackers’ hotel. Did he meet with them? The FBI never found out. They let him go after he “feigned a seizure,” one agent recalled.

Hussayen “feigned a seizure” to disappear. Such a clever lad. He has even disappeared from the official story, as did they all, according to Sperry:

Hussayen’s name doesn’t appear in the separate 9/11 Commission Report, which clears the Saudis.

Poof! They’re all cleared! Isn’t that amazing?

Guess who else got “help” from a high-ranking Saudi, who then disappeared?

SARASOTA, FLA.: 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta and other hijackers visited a home owned by Esam Ghazzawi, a Saudi adviser to the nephew of King Fahd. FBI agents investigating the connection in 2002 found that visitor logs for the gated community and photos of license tags matched vehicles driven by the hijackers. Just two weeks before the 9/11 attacks, the Saudi luxury home was abandoned. Three cars, including a new Chrysler PT Cruiser, were left in the driveway. Inside, opulent furniture was untouched.

… is to disappear …

Esam Ghazzawi disappeared in a big hurry. That’s the way it goes sometimes, especially when you’re in contact with the “ringleader.”

Some folks have more pull than others, apparently. The cutouts got away, but the senator chasing them ran into a stone wall.

Democrat Bob Graham, the former Florida senator who chaired the Joint Inquiry, has asked the FBI for the Sarasota case files, but can’t get a single, even heavily redacted, page released. He says it’s a “coverup.”

Of course it’s a coverup. Sperry asks:

Is the federal government protecting the Saudis?

But that question is beneath consideration, is it not? The interesting question is “Why is the federal government protecting the Saudis?” But perhaps Sperry can’t ask such questions in the New York Post. He does say this, though:

Case agents tell me they were repeatedly called off pursuing 9/11 leads back to the Saudi Embassy, which had curious sway over White House and FBI responses to the attacks.

… and they all did! Isn’t that amazing?

Yes, curious indeed … unless you prefer a stronger word. In my view, there is no plausible explanation, unless people in very high places wanted it to happen this way.

Just days after Bush met with the Saudi ambassador in the White House, the FBI evacuated from the United States dozens of Saudi officials, as well as Osama bin Laden family members. Bandar made the request for escorts directly to FBI headquarters on Sept. 13, 2001 — just hours after he met with the president. The two old family friends shared cigars on the Truman Balcony while discussing the attacks.

And that’s how all the cutouts disappeared. Funny how that worked, isn’t it? — probably just the way it was supposed to.

Some of the cutouts didn’t disappear safely enough. As Sperry notes,

A US drone killed Awlaki in Yemen in 2011.

We also know about some other cutouts who didn’t disappear fast enough. We’ll talk about them soon.

[to be continued]

Assessing the Saudi-Controlled Terrorist Threat to the Sochi Olympics

Assessing the Terrorist Threat to the Sochi Olympics

geopoliticalmonitor_1

Geopoliticalmonitor.com 

cc Alexander v solomin

On July 3rd 2013, in a video published on YouTube that was almost immediately taken down, Doku Umarov, the self-proclaimed emir of a Caucasus Emirate in the southwest of the Russian Federation, lifted the moratorium on military operations targeting civilians that he unilaterally declared several months ago. He also called on his troops to do everything possible to oppose and to prevent the proper execution of the Sochi Winter Games in February 2014. The Caucasian leader could not forego this ideal occasion to remind the world of the enduring struggle led first by the Chechens in their fight for independence (1994-2005) and then taken up by a very loose network of Islamist armed groups that thrived in the neighboring republics of Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria. What does this Caucasus Emirate represent today? And what can its fighters do?

Russian federal security forces regularly launch operations to eliminate local or regional emirs throughout region. In Dagestan for instance, the “republic” leader hardly ever survives for more than one year at a time. In Kabardino-Balkaria as well, the insurgency has been successively decapitated in 2010, in 2011 and in 2012, losing not only its leader but all of its deputies as well. In Chechnya, in January 2013, the Gakaev brothers, famous and well-respected warlords among the Chechen guerillas, were killed after six days of fighting. It is said that, almost out of ammunition, they asked their comrades to shoot them. The two brothers were the last of the reputed second-generation combatants who inherited the historical independence struggle, and who in 2013 were still in control of the most important insurgent groups in Chechnya. As for the Ingush, after losing Commandant Magas, their hero, in 2010, who has been imprisoned in Moscow, his successor, Emir Adam was killed in May 2013. The North-Caucasian guerillas, usually loosely structured, are now outright destabilized. To cope with these recurrent strategic losses, the armed groups have retreated to reorganize and recoup their tactical capacity.

Thus, insurgent actions in the region have become rarer and rarer. Neither Doku Umarov nor any of his regional emirs have engaged in any coordinated and significant operations for at least two years. The guerilla groups have entered into a defensive survival strategy, more reactive and resource-light. In Kabardino-Balkaria, the leadership vacuum has advanced quite a bit, resulting in autonomous groups of just a few fighters, around five usually though sometimes one or two, who get together and act by themselves, without any orders from above. Elsewhere, in Dagestan for instance, the relevant level seems to be the city or the village, where locally-active insurgents operate. Only at this very small scale do engagement and decision-making exist. North-Caucasian armed mobilizations are working on a bottom-up model. This explains the absence of overall coherence between the different victims targeted by the Emirate and the much more diversified militant groups dispersed throughout the region.

The Caucasus Emirate, clearly losing strength against Russia, is benefitting from the growing role played by Syria insofar that some Caucasian nationals have successfully waged war against Assad’s loyalist forces. One of them is Abu-Umar ash-Shishani, a Chechen from Georgia (ethnic Kist living in the Pankissi Valley), who has attained a high position in the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham, one of the most powerful organizations within the Syrian opposition. His authority and prestige stem mainly from his operational capabilities, as well as his men’s fighting skills. The “advertisement” effect for the Caucasus Emirate works perfectly here. Beyond Sochi, the Caucasian Islamist struggle has been forgotten by the world. The Syrian struggle has afforded it a chance to recover some visibility. Gradually then, thanks to a few Caucasian relays in Syria, Doku Umarov’s Caucasus Emirate has been noticed by international Salafist-Jihadist movements, and it is now recognized as one of the global Jihad fronts alongside Yemen, Afghanistan or Somalia.

The North-Caucasian insurgency resembles a myriad of anarchic armed groups rather than a proactive and structured movement. It undeniably maintains a capacity to cause harm, but it does not seem to be able to translate that nuisance into an operational and strategic breakthrough. For example, an isolated suicide attack, as the one on October 21st in Volgograd, where a young woman entered a city bus and triggered a bomb, may still theoretically be possible. But considering the heavy security presence that the Russian forces have implemented around Sochi, a successful attack would require an effective and powerful organization behind it. That’s why it is rather unlikely that a suicide bomber, sent by the Emirate, will manage to attack the Games.

 

Dr. Laurent Vinatier is a research assistant at the Thomas Moore Institute and a contributor to the Geopoliticalmonitor.com

Hezbollah ambush kills 32 Al-Nusra Terrorists In E. Lebanon

Hezbollah ambush kills 32 Islamist fighters in e. Lebanon

daily star

Hezbollah members salute during the funeral procession of Hezbollah commander Hassan Lakkis in Baalbek, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

Hezbollah members salute during the funeral procession of Hezbollah commander Hassan Lakkis in Baalbek, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: At least 32 Nusra Front gunmen were killed in east Lebanon in a weekend ambush sprung by Hezbollah fighters, a senior security source said Monday, adding that a member of the Lebanese group was also killed in ensuing fighting.

The ambush took place early Saturday in Wadi al-Jamala, on the outskirts of Nahle, a rugged mountainous area along the porous border between Lebanon and Syria, the source said.

The gunmen were making their way into Lebanon through an illegal border crossing, the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

The bodies of the slain Nusra Front fighters are in Hezbollah’s possession, the source added.

A source close to the party identified Ali Dergham Fares as the slain Hezbollah fighter, adding that another party member was wounded in the clashes.

Saturday’s ambush is the second deadly encounter on Lebanese soil between Hezbollah, which backs the Damascus regime, and Syrian rebels seeking to topple President Bashar Assad.

In June, the Lebanese group ambushed a group of Syrian rebels in Ain al-Jawzeh, three kilometers east of Baalbek, killing 12 Syrian opposition fighters.

Separately, the senior security source said a Hezbollah fighter was killed in the ongoing fighting in the Qalamoun region between Assad loyalist forces and rebel groups.

Def. Sec. Hagel Supports Saudi King Building 100,000 Man Islamist Army for Son Miteb

Saudi National Guard ready for GCC unified military command

al-arabiya-logo

Saudi Minister of National Guard Prince Miteb bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, (center), said the unified command will consist of around 100,000 members. (Al Arabiya)

The Saudi National Guard is ready to serve in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GGC) unified military command, said Minister of the National Guard Prince Miteb bin Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Al Arabiya News Channel reported on Saturday.

“There will be a unified command of around 100,000 members, God willing. I hope it will happen soon, and the National Guard is ready for anything that is asked of it,” Prime Miteb said.

His comments came at the end of an annual routine military training and mock war game exercise that lasted for two weeks, in which a number of Saudi brigades and military field units had participated.

Earlier in December, leaders of the GCC states approved the founding of a unified military command structure that should combat threats to the Gulf region.

The United Arab Emirates was chosen by the leaders to host a think tank to study shared security threats in the region, according to the UAE-based The National newspaper.

The military initiative represented a “political signal,” said Matteo Legrenzi, an associate professor and chair in international relations and Gulf studies at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, in an interview with Al Arabiya News last month

Gulf security: A risky
new US-Saudi blueprint

jakarta post

James M. Dorsey, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore

In a bid to reassure Gulf states worried about a US-Iranian rapprochement and critical of American Middle East policy, the Obama administration has opted to back Saudi efforts for regional hegemony through greater integration of Gulf military capabilities in the framework of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The United States-backed Saudi blueprint would effectively establish the kingdom as the region’s military superpower and first line of defense while allowing the US to balance its commitment to the region with its goal of pivoting toward Asia. But it risks splitting the GCC, which was established to enhance Gulf security.

Speaking at a think-tank dialogue just a stone’s throw away from Bahrain’s restive Shiite neighborhoods, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made this move on his first visit to the Gulf since last month’s agreement between the United Nations Security Council permanent members — the US, China, Russia, Britain and France — plus Germany and Iran aimed at resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis.  Hagel handed Riyadh what it wanted: a first step toward a union of the GCC member states — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman — with the kingdom as the dominant power.

In doing so, Hagel went beyond seeking to reassure Saudi Arabia and its closest allies within the GCC that its rapprochement with Iran would not be at the expense of the energy-rich, fragile Gulf autocracies. The US also wanted to show that it would remain committed to its defense umbrella for the region despite focusing increasingly on Asia.

Confidence between the US and Saudi Arabia, home to a fiercely anti-Shiite puritan interpretation of Islam, has eroded as a result of Saudi opposition to the Iranian agreement because of the prospect of Shiite Iran reintegrating into the international community and emerging as a power house capable of rivaling the kingdom.

Saudi confidence has been further undermined by American support for the popular uprisings in the Arab world; failure to provide Syrian rebels with the arms needed to defeat the regime of embattled President Bashar al-Assad; inability to force a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and an increased US focus on Asia rather than the Middle East and North Africa. Saudi concerns have sparked a series of critical statements of US policy and persuaded the kingdom to demonstratively refuse to join the UN Security Council when it was elected to a seat.

By laying out a series of steps to put the GCC, in which Saudi Arabia is by far the most powerful member, rather than individual Gulf states at the center of US defense policy, Hagel effectively endorsed Saudi calls for a union of Gulf states. This is a move that so far has been thwarted by fears among some of its smaller members that they would be swallowed by their big brother. Indeed, the Saudis failed in their initiative in the last year to forge a union with Bahrain, where Saudi and UAE troops are based since the brutal squashing of a 2011 popular uprising to bolster the regime.

In a rare public statement against Gulf union, Omani minister of state for foreign affairs Yousef bin Alawi Al Ibrahim, a onetime representative of a separatist movement, confronted his Saudi counterpart, Nizar Bin Obaid Madani, in no uncertain terms. “We absolutely don’t support Gulf union. There is no agreement in the region on this [….] If this union materializes, we will deal with it but we will not be a member. Oman’s position is very clear. If there are new arrangements for the Gulf to confront existing or future conflicts, Oman will not be part of it,” he said.

Al Ibrahim suggested that the Gulf’s major problems were internal rather than external and should be the region’s focus. Last year, Ahmed al Saadoun, at the time speaker of the Kuwaiti parliament, rejected a Gulf union, saying that as a democracy Kuwait could not united with autocratic states.

Barely a hundred meters from where he spoke, police vehicles and machine-gun mounted armored vehicles patrol the perimeter of the Shiite neighborhood of Karbad. Graffiti on its walls reflects the area’s mood. Slogans include: “Down with King Hamad”, “Martyrdom is our habit”, “Our goal is toppling the regime” and “we bow only in front of God”. A local resident said: “This will never end. It’s gone too far. Reform is the only way out.”

Hagel couched the new US approach in terms of “strategic agility” and “wise deployment of our influence”. The US would help the GCC integrate its missile defense capabilities, he added, by emphasizing the GCC as a “multilateral framework that is the best way to develop an inter-operable and integrated regional missile defense”.

This would include missile defense in annual meetings of US and Gulf air force commanders and officials; making missile defense, marine security and counterterrorism-related sales to the GCC as a group rather than to individual member states; and instituting an annual US-GCC defense ministers conference. Hagel said the first such conference should be held in the next six months.

Saudi officials, endorsing Hagel’s proposals, said the defense secretary had understood the kingdom’s needs and in doing so had supported their effort to achieve a Saudi-led Gulf union. “This fits our agenda perfectly,” one official said.

Integrating regional defense as a step towards union is likely to prove easier said than done due to  more than just political resistance by smaller Gulf states. The GCC for one has no mechanism to make military purchases despite its members having signed a joint security agreement a year ago. Even if it did, Gulf states would likely squabble over every detail of the acquisition.

In addition, smaller Gulf states are hesitant to rely on Saudi Arabia for their defense not only for political reasons but also because of the kingdom’s checkered military record. Saudi Arabia was unable to defend Kuwait against Iraq’s 1990 invasion of the Gulf state. More recently, Saudi troops had a hard time confronting Houthi rebels on the other side of their border in the north of Yemen.

“The Omani foreign minister’s remarks were unprecedented. Other Gulf states may not say publicly no, but they certainly won’t buy into it,” said an analyst from one of the smaller Gulf states.

The writer is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and codirector of the Institute of Fan Culture of the University of Würzburg.

September 11, Opening Act of The Saudi War Upon the American People

[Bush’s low-down redaction of hard Saudi truths from the 911 Report was merely a temporary holding action.  The groundswell of American retribution awaiting the vile monarchs is a huge body of water, just waiting to be released.   When the dam of truth is finally broken down, vengeance will sweep the Saudi monarchy from the pages of time itself, reducing them to a mere footnote, designating a tribe of ruthless “camel jockeys” who made themselves into a real threat to Western civilization.]

Do the Saudis really control the terrorists they court?

new york post

 

 

 

In a 2003 Rose Garden press conference, a reporter asked President Bush why he was sealing a congressional report “incriminating the Saudi government when it comes to 9/11.”

 

Bush, without denying the description of the report’s contents, argued he had to seal it “so that those who are being investigated aren’t alerted.”

 

Only, the Saudi suspects named in the report weren’t really “being investigated.” Several months earlier, then-FBI Director Robert Mueller admitted as much during a closed hearing with the 9/11 Joint Inquiry staff on the Hill. Mueller sheepishly acknowledged the only people aggressively investigating the Saudi connections were sitting there across the table from him.

 

This was beyond odd. At both the FBI and CIA, there were files thick with memos and other documents detailing connections between the Saudi hijackers and Saudi officials and agents in at least seven US cities coast-to-coast. They revealed a vast Saudi support network spanning from Los Angeles and San Diego in the West to Washington, DC, Falls Church, Va., and Herndon, Va., in the East; and from Sarasota, Fla., in the South to Paterson, NJ, in the North.

 

Yet the only people connecting the dots were congressional staffers, as case agents and detectives assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Forces in San Diego and Washington complained of being frustrated by brass in their attempts to run down Saudi leads, particularly ones that led back to the Saudi Embassy.

 

There was so much Saudi-related evidence that it took 28 pages just for Hill investigators to summarize it all.

 

In fact, there arguably was more evidence for the Justice Department to indict Omar al-Bayoumi, the suspected Saudi intelligence agent who aided two of the hijackers in San Diego, than there was to indict Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker. The attorney general could just have easily thrown material support of terrorism charges at Bayoumi. But he did not. The only real difference is Bayoumi’s a Saudi.

 

If Bush’s objective really was to avoid tipping off subjects of ongoing investigations, he could have carefully redacted the names of Bayoumi and other Saudis cited in the 28-page section. Instead, he elected to censor the entire section, scrubbing out anything and everything Saudi.

 

The day before he did that, he met with the Saudis in the White House to discuss that secret Saudi section, which remains classified today. Walking away from that hour-long meeting, the Saudis no doubt felt reassured their secrets were safe. Confident Bush would never release the 28 pages, Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar made a show of demanding they be released, arguing the Saudis have nothing to hide.

 

It was an obvious, if effective, ploy.

 

The congressional report safely sealed up, the Saudis had only the 9/11 Commission Report to worry about — and, lo and behold, it cleared the Saudis (even though the commission director never let investigators see the 28 pages from the earlier congressional report). Upon its release, Bandar clucked that the panel exonerated the Kingdom, not to mention himself, conveniently.

 

The report curiously leaves out evidence tying Bandar and his wife to the hijackers through a Saudi bag man, Osama Bassnan, who received personal checks from the Bandars while handling the hijackers in San Diego. Bandar appears a few times in footnotes, and only in passing.

 

The Bandars claim the checks were “welfare” for Bassnan’s supposedly ill wife, and that they did not know what Bassnan was really up to.

 

Maybe so. The Saudis have a history of turning a blind eye to the extremists among them, funding radical mosques as a way of placating their population and keeping themselves in power.

 

But even if you take Bandar’s ignorance at face value, as he sows the wind, we reap the whirlwind.

 

Last year, Bandar was promoted to chief of Saudi intelligence. Saudi Arabia very much wants to see Bashar al-Assad removed from power in Syria. Bandar, frustrated with Obama’s inaction, has been letting Saudi jihadists cross the border to fight in the civil war — and has been funneling arms and support to the Islamic Front rebel group, according to the Daily Beast, weapons that can easily end up in the hands of al Qaeda.

 

Bandar also has pushed Russia to drop its backing of Assad. In August, according to the Telegraph, he gave President Vladimir Putin both a carrot — oil deals — and a stick:

 

“I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year,” Bandar allegedly said. “The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us.”

 

By Chechen groups, he means Islamic terrorists — just like the ones who bombed the Boston Marathon. It’s a startling, shocking admission.

 

Which is the more scary scenario? That members of the Saudi government provide funding to al Qaeda and other terrorist groups but can’t control them — or that they can?

 

Either way, we can’t find out the full story without an investigation. And the necessary first step is declassifying those 28 pages. Let’s finally connect those dots.

 

Paul Sperry is a Hoover Institution media fellow and author of “Infiltration” and “Muslim Mafia.”

Saudi Man Gets 30 Years For Practising Democracy


Saudi Shiite

Saudi Arabia Shiite demonstrating in the Eastern Province (Photo: Reuters)

 

A Shiite citizen of mainly Sunni Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to 30 years in jail for violence and protesting against Riyadh’s 2011 intervention in neighbouring Bahrain, media reported Monday.

The defendant, whose name was not given, was found guilty of taking part in protests in Qatif in Eastern Province and calling for the withdrawal of Saudi forces sent to Bahrain.

Saudis helped Bahraini security forces to crush a Shiite-led uprising demanding democratic reforms in Sunni-ruled but Shiite-majority Bahrain in March 2011.

The defendant was charged with throwing petrol bombs at security forces who intervened to disperse protests in Qatif, Al-Hayat newspaper reported.

It said both the accused and the prosecutor, who had demanded the death penalty, will appeal.

Protests first erupted in Eastern Province, where the majority of the kingdom’s two million Shiites are concentrated, in March 2011.

Ten people were killed in a series of clashes with security forces, and the fighting intensified after the arrest in July last year of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, considered to be a driving force behind the protests.

However, tensions eased when seven Shiite dignitaries from Qatif hailed a call by King Abdullah for the creation of a centre for Sunni-Shiite interfaith dialogue.

9/11 truth vs. Takfiri terror

9/11 truth vs. Takfiri terror

PressTV

A view of the Twin Towers in New York right after being hit by airliners on September 11, 2001.

A view of the Twin Towers in New York right after being hit by airliners on September 11, 2001.

 

A new anti-terror alliance is shaping up in the Middle East. Its most powerful weapon: the suppressed truth about 9/11.

In her article “Security arc forms against Mideast terror,” Sharmine Narwani writes of a rapid regional re-alignment “guided primarily by the ‘security threat’ posed by the proliferation of extremist, sectarian … fighters in numbers unseen even in Afghanistan or Iraq.”

Narwani is not just talking about the Takfiris who are running wild in Syria beheading Christians, traditional Sunni, Shi’a, and Alawi Muslims, and anyone else who disagrees with them. The same kind of terrorists are also committing countless atrocities in Iraq, while sectarian extremism is likewise growing in Libya, Lebanon, and elsewhere.

In response, governments in the region and around the world are re-orienting and re-aligning. Even the USA, the failed world hegemon, is on the brink of a 180-degree shift. Narwani explains: “The Americans are in an extremely difficult position: to tackle the spread of extremists, they will have to support military and security solutions from old foes in the region – Iran, Syria, Hezbollah. For starters, this means that 30-plus years of ‘policy’ will literally be flushed away and Washington risks alienating longtime regional allies. Moreover, a successful outcome, i.e. eliminating extremism, will almost certainly mean the ascendency of Iran and the downfall of the US’ ally Saudi Arabia – among the many other reverberations throughout the Mideast that this will entail.”

US policy pivoted away from the Saudis and their Israeli allies in the wake of the August false-flag chemical weapons attack near Damascus. Seymour Hersh recently revealed that top US officials knew in August that Saudi Intelligence chief Bandar Bin Sultan, rather than Syrian President Assad, was probably responsible. At first, the Obama Administration tried to deceive the world. Then it began to re-think the wisdom of helping Bandar and his band of Takfiri terrorists overthrow Assad.

The downfall of Saudi Arabia as a US ally is evidenced by the sudden re-opening of long-dormant 9/11 investigations and lawsuits focusing on – who else – Bandar Bin Sultan, sometimes known as “Bandar Bush” due to his position as an honorary member of the Bush (crime) family. In Washington, D.C., Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) are sending chills up Bandar’s spine by calling for the declassification of the 2002 “Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.”

Jones and Lynch say they are “absolutely shocked” by the report. They say it reveals that one or more foreign states were deeply involved in the 9/11 attacks. Though the report is classified, leaks have revealed that it targets Saudi Arabia, whose intelligence service apparently ran fifteen of the nineteen patsy “hijackers” who were – in reality – never even on the planes.

This story isn’t new. Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL), Chair of the Joint Committee on 9/11, has been saying the same thing since 2002. Graham charges the Bush Administration, which classified the Joint Inquiry report, with orchestrating a cover-up. Many suspect Graham was forced to retire from the Senate due to his speaking out on 9/11 – just as Sen. Mark Dayton (D-MN) was forced to evacuate his entire staff from Washington and announce his retirement due to death threats he received after denouncing the US military’s lying to the American people about why America’s air defenses stood down on 9/11.

Dayton and Graham were lucky; they were merely forced out of the US Senate. Two other Senators who wanted to investigate 9/11, Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) were mailed ultra-weapons-grade US military anthrax, which fortunately did not kill them but did succeed in shutting them up. The one Senator who would never shut up, Paul Wellstone (D-MN), was murdered, along with his wife and daughter, in a rigged plane crash. Wellstone’s colleague and friend, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) confirmed that Wellstone had obviously been murdered, calling the killing “a message to us all.”

9/11 is a sensitive and dangerous topic in some quarters.

And yet today, as the US pivots away from Saudi Arabia and Israel, the 9/11 case is being re-opened – not only in the US Congress, but also in the federal court. A recent ABC News story headlined “9/11 Families ‘Ecstatic’ They Can Finally Sue Saudi Arabia” reported the 2nd Circuit Court’s ruling re-instating a 9/11 family members’ lawsuit against the Saudis.

The million-dollar question: If the 9/11 case is re-opened, will the investigation stop with the Saudis? What about their American and Israeli accomplices?

A recent article by Paul Sperry of the Hoover Institute, published by the New York Post, ties President George W. Bush to 9/11 conspiracies involving then-Saudi Ambassador “Bandar Bush.” Sperry describes Bush and Bandar breaking out expensive cigars to celebrate the success of 9/11: “The two old family friends shared cigars on the Truman Balcony [of the White House] while discussing the attacks.” Bush and Bandar’s cigar celebration occurred on September 13th, 2001, just two days after 9/11.

Could the truth about these events change the world?

9/11 officially launched the “war on terror,” which is actually a disguised war on Islam. Ironically, the West’s invasion of Muslim countries, and its controlled demolition of the rule of law, have created far more terrorism than they have stamped out.

The myth of 9/11 – the claim that “al-Qaeda extremists were responsible” – has helped fuel the rise of Takfiri terrorism. The Takfiris imagine that heroic al-Qaeda hijackers struck an immense blow against the West on 9/11.

The revelation of the truth about 9/11 would humiliate the Takfiri terrorists.

The truth is that the Saudis and “al-Qaeda” are hapless, inept patsies. The Saudis can’t even fly and maintain the military planes they buy from the US with unearned oil money; while the four pilots blamed for the 9/11 attacks could not even fly Cessna training aircraft, much less jetliners.

The nineteen alleged hijackers (or the intelligence agents who impersonated at least some of them) were alcohol-abusing, drug-snorting playboys. The Mohamed Atta who supposedly trained in Florida for 9/11 was an aggressive loudmouth who was fluent in Hebrew and whose favorite food was pork chops. This “Atta” walked into a Small Business Administration office shortly before 9/11 demanding a loan to buy a crop-duster. He let it be known that he wanted an aircraft to drop chemical weapons on Washington, DC, and ranted about his love for Bin Laden. “Atta” grew violently angry and refused to leave unless the SBA official handed him hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to buy his crop-duster. The SBA person thought “Atta” was crazy and chased him out of the office.

The Atta who visited the SBA was obviously an intelligence agent creating a “legend,” not a cunning terrorist planning the biggest attack in history.

“Al-Qaeda” is a fake organization consisting of idiots, dupes, patsies, and infiltrators, along with a smattering of mercenaries, drug smugglers, and brainwashed extremists. “Al-Qaeda” operatives like Abdulmutallab the Underwear Bomber forget their passports, yet manage to board planes with the help of well-dressed security men. They are too stupid to know that plastic explosives will not explode without a detonator. They are barely capable of getting a match lit in their pathetic efforts to burn their own feet, or their own crotches, with the equivalent of sterno camping fuel.

Mohamed Heikal, the Arab world’s leading political commentator, literally broke out laughing when he was told that the attacks on the Trade Center and the Pentagon were being blamed on “al-Qaeda”: “I laugh because I know what is there. Bin Laden has been under surveillance for years: every telephone call was monitored and al-Qaida has been penetrated by American intelligence, Pakistani intelligence, Saudi intelligence, Egyptian intelligence. They could not have kept secret an operation that required such a degree of organization and sophistication.”

Yet, the Takfiri terrorists in Syria rally behind the black banner of “al-Qaeda.” The Takfiris include large numbers of prisoners fresh from Saudi jails. Fighting alongside the common criminals are mercenaries, fanatics, and passionate but unsophisticated young men drunk on the myth of the “magnificent 19” who supposedly brought down three World Trade Center skyscrapers with two jetliners.

By puncturing that myth with 9/11 truth, we can ruin the “al-Qaeda” brand forever, and strike a powerful blow against Takfiri terrorism.

KB/NN

Dr. Kevin Barrett, a Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist, is one of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror. Dr. Barrett has appeared many times on Fox, CNN, PBS and other broadcast outlets, and has inspired feature stories and op-eds in the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the Chicago Tribune, and other leading publications. Dr. Barrett has taught at colleges and universities in San Francisco, Paris, and Wisconsin, where he ran for Congress in 2008. He is the co-founder of the Muslim-Christian-Jewish Alliance, and author of the books Truth Jihad: My Epic Struggle Against the 9/11 Big Lie (2007) and Questioning the War on Terror: A Primer for Obama Voters (2009). His website is http://www.truthjihad.com. More articles by Dr. Barrett

Pakistani Taliban Bomb Funeral Processions, But Not Porno Theaters In Peshawar

[They practice a very selective form of “Shariah,” one which overlooks adultery and fornication, whenever it is convenient to do so, but refuses to allow the prayers of a penitent Shiite to go unpunished.  So much for Wahhabi/Deobandi hypocrisy.]

Porn movies run thrice a day in Pak’s Taliban heartland

hindustan

AFP
Peshawar
Thrice a day dozens of men pack the hall, the air heavy with hashish smoke, to watch graphic sex movies: welcome to Shama — a pornographic cinema in Pakistan’s Taliban heartland.For more than 30 years it has supplied erotic fantasies in Peshawar, the main city of northwestern

Pakistan which borders the tribal districts that are a haven for Taliban and al Qaeda-linked militants.Terrified of being recognised, the Shama’s customers hide their faces as they make their way to the cinema between a goat market and a bus station. There are three X-rated shows a day in the Shama’s discreet back room, while the main hall is reserved for mainstream movies — the only ones advertised outside.

“Class X” customers pay 200 rupees ($1.90) and after a brief search by a Kalashnikov-toting guard, they are whisked through a courtyard and down a concrete passageway.

Inside the auditorium a thick cloud of cannabis smoke hangs over the 20-odd rows of tattered fake-leather seats. During one showing, the hall was more than half full, populated by labourers, farmers, students and others who had come to escape the day-to-day claustrophobia of life in a deeply conservative Muslim region.

Most arrive alone and want to remain so. They are all soon gripped by the drama of the day’s offering, “Dostana” (“Friendship”), a semi-amateur production made for the Shama in the more liberal eastern city of Lahore.  The plot hinges on a romantic dilemma: the hero, Shah Sawar (“the Horseman” in the local language) cannot decide whether to marry his sweetheart Gulpana or his cousin Doa, chosen for him as a wife by his family.

Mansour Warns Israel Against Attempted Gas Theft

[SEE:  Israel’s High-Pressure Leviathan Gas 4 Miles Down and Too Costly To Develop]

Mansour warns Israel against unilateral border demarcation

daily star

An expert shows a visitor the locations of the gas blocks of the Lebanese coast at an oil and gas conference in Beirut, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

An expert shows a visitor the locations of the gas blocks of the Lebanese coast at an oil and gas conference in Beirut, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour warned Israel Friday against any unilateral step to demarcate its maritime borders with Lebanon following reports that the Jewish state was seeking to legislate such a measure.

“ Lebanon would be under no obligations and would consider as null any unilateral step taken by Israel to demarcate the maritime borders,” Mansour said in a statement carried by the National News Agency.

He said any unilateral step by Israel would “represent a blatant violation to international law, particularly the United Nations maritime agreement of 1982.”

“It would also represent a dangerous move that would undermine stability, security and peace in the region,” he warned.

In its Friday edition, As-Safir daily referred to a report in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth as saying the Jewish state was attempting to “impose maritime border realities” between the two countries through a draft law that will be proposed in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

The paper added that the unilateral step would also apply to disputed areas between the two countries, which are technically in a state of war.

Both Lebanon and Israel have claimed a disputed maritime area of 874 square kilometers, which holds large reserves of natural gas, as a part of their respective Exclusive Economic Zones.

Mansour said of Israel moved forward with any such plans, “this would be regarded as an aggressive act and represent an act of piracy to the Lebanon oil and gas wealth that would lead to dangerous repercussions to the security, stability and peace in a place where tensions are already elevated.”

“ Israel will bear full responsibility for any repercussions from such a move,” he added.

The minister urged all political parties to “fill the present void in the government” to respond to “this new aggression and confront and resist it will all legal means.”

Lebanon’s resigned government has not convened in months despite calls that it meet to approve pending oil decrees and issue licenses for Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone, including disputed areas.

“Tell Us the Truth,” Lockerbie Victim Father Asks Western Leaders

Dr Jim Swire: Lockerbie: seeking the truth

the scotsman

Campaigners will launch a further appeal to overturn the Megrahi guilty verdict. Picture: Getty

Campaigners will launch a further appeal to overturn the Megrahi guilty verdict. Picture: Getty

  • by DR JIM SWIRE

Dr Jim Swire explains why relatives will continue their fight to unearth all the facts over the bomb that brought down Pan Am Flight 103

Our elder daughter Flora, aged 23 and a seeker after truth herself, was on her way to meet her American boyfriend that night. She would have walked excitedly down those long airport corridors.

She never knew, and it took us until 2001 to discover, that Heathrow Airport’s “airside” had been broken into 16 hours before Pan Am Flight 103 exploded – and just where the bags converging for the Lockerbie flight were to be assembled on 21 December, 1988.

Try to imagine what it is like to know that your daughter went, unaware of her danger, through the corridors of an airport which knew that its “secure” airside had been broken into, and knew that there was a high terrorist threat to US aircraft at the time and yet still decided not to investigate who had broken in or what his motive might have been. Then try to imagine that you have tried in every way you can think of for 25 years to get an inquiry into why Lockerbie was not prevented and how things could be improved for the future, and been blocked at every stage.

It also took us until 2012 to get official confirmation – in a letter to me from the former Chief Constable (Dumfries and Galloway police) Patrick Shearer – that the investigating police had had complete files about that break-in in their computer from February 1989. That letter also explained that the file had been passed to the Crown Office before the trial of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi had even started. Yet still the prosecutors failed to share their knowledge with the defence.

It is probable that the suppression of this break-in evidence was caused by blind adherence to the hypothesis that the bomb must have come from Malta because of some associated clothing that had indeed originated there. Once a force has formed a strong hypothesis, it takes an earthquake to convince it that other evidence, particularly if hostile to the favoured hypothesis, ought to be shared with the defence. That is a problem we see again and again in miscarriage of justice cases.

The Megrahi defence team had tried to defend him in court by “incrimination” – where they would show that others, not their client, had used a bomb of a type known to have been available to terrorists then but which would always explode between 30 and 45 minutes after any plane containing one had taken off.

Therefore, their case depended upon being able to show that somehow the bomb must have been introduced at Heathrow Airport or else it would have exploded 30-45 minutes after leaving a previous airport of origin. The Lockerbie aircraft flew for 38 minutes.

The United Nations special observer to the trial (Professor Hans Koechler of Vienna) was in no doubt that it did not represent justice. How could it have done when the break-in information describing an obvious possible avenue for the introduction of the bomb at Heathrow was simply denied to the defence? There were other signs of something far more sinister: Early in 1990, we UK relatives were called to the US embassy in London. In an aside to one of us there, an American official said privately of Lockerbie: “Your government and ours know exactly what happened, but they’re never going to tell.”

Then, in 1993, the late Baroness Thatcher wrote of her support for the 1986 US air force (USAF) raid on Libyan leader Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi: “It turned out to be a more decisive blow against Libyan-sponsored terrorism than I could ever have imagined…the much vaunted Libyan counter-attack did not and could not take place.” Yet two years before, in 1991, two Libyans had been officially blamed for the Lockerbie bombing.

In our search for truth, we relatives of the Lockerbie bombing victims met Nelson Mandela. He warned us that in a trial “no one country should be complainant, prosecutor and judge”, yet Scotland became all three. He set up the truth and reconciliation commission in South Africa. But how can one have reconciliation without the truth?

Gaddafi, too, we met, leaving him with a badge that said: “Lockerbie, the truth must be known.” With his consent, we also left a framed message with a picture of Flora on the wall of a family bedroom badly damaged in the 1986 USAF bombing of Tripoli. It read in English and Arabic: “The consequence of the use of violence is the death of innocent people.”

It remained there for years – to be destroyed finally by a Nato bomb. A message for us in the West perhaps?

In the post-Snowden world, we all know how extensive is the reach, even among their own citizens, of US and UK intelligence gathering. What we do not know is what aspects of that intelligence are deliberately hidden from citizens who desperately need access to it in their grief, or indeed why any of it should be kept from them.

We relatives need the truth about who murdered our families and article 2 of human rights legislation guarantees our right to have it. While that truth is hidden, the true perpetrators are protected.

Next year, in the face of the blank refusal of governments to mount any meaningful inquiry, certain relatives will apply to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission for a further appeal against the Megrahi verdict. It is likely that some of us will also pursue other routes to force an honest inquiry out of obdurate governments; 25 years is too long, and we should not be opposed by our own elected governments.

If you look at terrible UK disasters – Northern Ireland and the IRA trials, the Hillsborough disaster and also Lockerbie, it is the denial of truth to the victims that is the common thread. So, indeed, there is a thread and that thread is truth.

Dead Al-Nusra Leader Interviewed By Pravda…Promises War On Saudi Arabia

[Here is another of those mysterious dead terrorists with the ability to rejoin the living.  Mohamed Abu al-Yulani was reportedly killed in Latakia, Syria (SEE:  Front leader Nusra linked to Al Qaeda, wounded by Syrian regime).]

Al-Nusra: Saudi Arabia next target of al-Qaeda?

pravda
Al-Nusra: Saudi Arabia next target of al-Qaeda?. 51804.jpeg

The leader of Al-Nusra Front, Mohamed Abu al-Yulani, does not rule out that Saudi Arabia would become the next target of al-Qaeda in the region. In an interview with Qatari Al- Jazeera Channel, Al-Yulani said that if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will stay in power, “then the next target will be the Arabian Peninsula, known as Saudi Arabia.”

The leader of al-Nusra, a subsidiary of Al-Qaeda in Syria, said it will target the eastern part of Saudi Arabia, where we find most of the oil in the country. During his first interview with the media, he appeared back to camera; Al-Yulani also warned about the possible improvement of relations between Iran and the United States by the recent nuclear agreement reached in Switzerland, since, in his opinion, it reinforces the position of the Persian country in the region.

Furthermore, he explained that his group rejects any results arising from the second edition of the peace conference on Syria known as Geneva II, which will take place on January 22, 2014 in the Swiss town of Montreux.

“Those attending the conference do not represent the people. Besides, who authorized them (the opposition) to represent the people,” he asked.

In future Al-Nusra could become the number one enemy of Saudi Arabia, despite the head of the intelligence services in the country, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, being the main sponsor of the terrorist cell, according to recent information released by French bulletin “Intelligence Online”, specializing in Strategic Affairs.

Irã News, Hispan TV

Translated from the Portuguese version

By Olga Santos

Judge Reverses Ruling–911 Families CAN SUE the Stinking Saudis

9/11 families get another shot at suing Saudi Arabia over terror attacks

New_York_Daily_News_logo

Relatives of people killed when hijacked airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field can now resume lawsuit against the Arabian kingdom.

By

911

LAWRENCE JACKSON/AP

Osama bin Laden, a native of Saudi Arabia, and diagram of his network in the forground. Families of 9/11 victims will be able to move forward with lawsuit against Arab kingdom.

Twelve years after Sept. 11, and eight years after a federal judge ruled Saudi Arabia has immunity from prosecution, families of 9/11 victims will get their day in court after all.

The relatives can revive their claims against the kingdom and a charity affiliated with the Saudi government, a federal appeals court in Manhattan ruled Thursday.

“I’m ecstatic, because we have a lot of information and evidence,” William Doyle, whose 25-year-old son, Joseph, was killed in the North Tower of the World Trade Center, told the Daily News.

The ruling overturned a 2005 Manhattan Federal Court judge’s decision that Saudi Arabia was immune from prosecution in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The lawsuit was brought by 9/11 families and insurers that covered losses suffered by building and business owners. The appellate panel pointed to a 2011 decision allowing similar claims against Afghanistan to move forward.

Fifteen of the 19 terrorists were Saudi nationals who flew hijacked planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and, when passengers revolted, a Pennsylvania field. Nearly 3,000 innocent people died in the attacks.

The families said Saudi Arabia and the government-affiliated charity knowingly provided Al Qaeda with funds and other support that helped the terrorist group carry out the attacks.

“These people are getting off scot-free. They didn’t even get a slap on the wrist, and to this day we still have terrorism running rampant. We have to hold accountable the people who finance terrorism,” the 66-year-old Doyle, a retired Staten Island stock trader now living in Sumter County, Fla., told The News.

In the appellate ruling, Judge Chester Straub wrote “the interests of justice” meant the claims should be allowed to move ahead.

The families who lost loved ones in the World Trade Center may sue Saudi Arabia for damages, an appeals court ruled Thursday.

STR/REUTERS

The families who lost loved ones in the World Trade Center may sue Saudi Arabia for damages, an appeals court ruled Thursday.

Manhattan Federal Court Judge George Daniels will handle the case.

Doyle compared the role of Saudi Arabia to that of a mob boss hiring a hit man.

“Not only does the person who pulls the trigger go to jail, so does the person who financed him,” Doyle said. “What’s different about this situation?”

Michael Kellogg, a lawyer for Saudi Arabia, said the kingdom will seek further review of “this erroneous decision.”

The 2005 decision said Saudi Arabia was immune under the federal Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act from the claims, which were first filed in 2002.

“I think we’re finally seeing that light at the end of the tunnel,” Doyle said Thursday. “It’s been 12 years that I’ve been fighting this battle. I will not give up this fight.”

Stephen Cozen, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said they are seeking damages that could reach tens of billions of dollars.

“This opinion is eminently correct and will give 9/11 victims their day in court,” Cozen said. “The parties will start over, and we are very, very satisfied that we will meet any defenses, both legal and factual, that are raised.”

With News Wire Services

dbeekman@nydailynews.com

Another war in the Middle East…was the “last thing” Saudi Arabia would have wanted.

Secret talks with Iran were good for Saudis, says the US

  • By David Blair The Daily Telegraph
  • Gulf News

London: The United States took a “fundamental decision” to exclude Saudi Arabia from its diplomacy towards Iran — and the outcome served the kingdom’s best “interests”, a senior US State Department official has said.

Secret talks between the US and Iran preceded last month’s agreement in Geneva, which imposed formal limits on Tehran’s nuclear programme. The covert meetings, mediated by Oman, began when Hassan Rouhani took office as Iran’s president in August.

The US deliberately kept Saudi Arabia and its other Gulf allies in the dark. Saudi Arabia, a rival of Iran, has vented its fury over being shut out and accused the US of endangering the “stability and security of the Middle East”.

Prince Mohammad Bin Nawaf, the Saudi ambassador, denounced the agreement with Iran as a “dangerous gamble, about which we cannot remain silent”.

The US official acknowledged that Saudi Arabia was “completely unhappy — to put it mildly — that they weren’t in the loop”.

But the fact that America and Iran were talking was “closely held” information even within the US administration. “There was a fundamental decision made that that was the best way to do it,” said the official. This was the surest way of achieving the “fundamental goal” of settling the confrontation over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Since the agreement, the US has told Saudi Arabia that the “outcome is in your interests”, the diplomat added. The deal reduced the risk of another war in the Middle East, which was the “last thing” Saudi Arabia would have wanted.

India’s rebuttal to Preet Bharara–‘Devyani Khobragade is the only victim

[This expatriate spokes-piece for the American Establishment seems intent upon ignoring normal diplomatic protocol in order to enable him to force India, his home country, into accepting that American law supersedes Indian law in this case.  One wonders why India is not accorded the same courtesy afforded to certain nameless, more affluent countries, even to cases associated with “human-trafficking”?  It seems to me that other Indian diplomats have been previously humiliated in other American cities, by airport employees and bureaucratic officials, but I haven’t the time to look-up the references to those incidents. (SEE: Devyani Khobragade case: Full statement issued by US attorney Preet Bharara]

‘Devyani Khobragade is the only victim’:

full text of India’s rebuttal to Preet Bharara

ndtv

'Devyani Khobragade is the only victim': full text of India's rebuttal to Preet Bharara

New Delhi Responding strongly to Preet Bharara, the US federal prosecutor whose decision to charge highly ranked diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York last week created a storm in India, the government today said that the 39-year-old diplomat is the only victim in this case.

Following is the full text of External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin’s statement:

We have seen the statement issued by the Manhattan US Attorney on December 18.

We need to keep in mind the simple fact that there is only one victim in this case. That victim is Devyani Khobragade – a serving Indian Diplomat on mission in the United States.

The action taken against her was not in keeping with the Vienna Convention. There were no courtesies in the treatment that was meted out to the diplomat, under the normal definition of that word in the English language.

The statement includes remarks about equality before the law of both the rich and the poor. Not only is this a rhetorical remark that is not conducive to resolving “inaccuracies”, it is also not a feature of the law that is exclusive to the office of the Manhattan US Attorney.

The statement in question acknowledges that legal processes were in place in India. Yet, incredibly, it invites speculation about why it was necessary to evacuate the family of Ms Richards and about the action purportedly being taken against them. The implication of this remarkable admission needs to be considered very carefully with regard to the implicit comment it makes about the Indian legal system, Indian law enforcement authorities, and the responsibility that legal officials of a foreign government seem to arrogate upon themselves with regard to the nationals of another country. It needs to be asked what right a foreign government has to “evacuate” Indian citizens from India while cases are pending against them in the Indian legal system.

The statement underlines the compulsion that is felt by the Manhattan US Attorney’s office “to make sure that victims, witnesses and their families are safe and secure while cases are pending.”

This is precisely why, when there is a prior legal process already underway in India, the Manhattan US Attorney should consider it obligatory to enable justice to take its course in India in the first instance. When the legal process in another friendly and democratic country is interfered with in this manner, it not only amounts to interference but also raises the serious concern of calling into question the very legal system of that country.

This statement is one more attempt at a post facto rationalization for an action that should never have taken place in the first instance.”

Oded Orbach, an Israeli who immigrated to the US

[SEE:  UNITED STATES OF AMERICA -V.- MAROUN SAADE]

[On the surface, the following might seem insignificant, but digging deeper reveals that this is another one of those cases where the entire claim to conspiracy rests upon dreamed-up scenarios, which are sold to suckers like Viktor Bout, who are then prosecuted for entire operation. 

This is a continuation of the scam used by the Govt to bait Bout into talking business with FARC rebels in Colombia.  Both Bout and Orbach cases take place in the same countries and both investigations conducted by the same prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

“U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, said ‘justice has been done and a very dangerous man will be behind bars.’ Viktor Bout, he said, had attempted to sell the FARC ‘a weapons arsenal that would be the envy of some small countries.’”

Bout allegedly wanted to sell two cargo planes to FARC for their smuggling operations, which led him into discussions with “…undercover DEA agents, working on a highly elaborate sting operation codenamed “Operation Relentless.”  American agents who claimed to be wanting to buy Stinger missiles to guard against Colombian and DEA helicopters. 

POURYAN and ORBACH , were baited into discussions with American agents posing as Taliban buyers, who were likewise seeking SAMs to guard their Opium/heroin operations from Western helicopters.

Oded Orbach is an Israeli who immigrated to the US.]

25-year sentence in Taliban case

politico
By ASSOCIATED PRESS | 12/18/13 7:53 PM EST

NEW YORK — An Illinois man convicted earlier this year of conspiring to provide material support to the Taliban has been sentenced in New York to 25 years in prison.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced the sentence for 55-year-old Oded Orbach on Wednesday.

The Highland Park, Ill., man was arrested along with another U.S. citizen in Romania last February. Prosecutors said the two agreed during meetings in Ghana, Ukraine and Romania to arrange the sale of weapons to a confidential source for the Taliban’s use against U.S. military forces in Afghanistan.

Prosecutors say a two-year investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration caught the men agreeing to provide heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles and other weapons worth more than $25 million.

A lawyer for Orbach didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

“On or about February 9, 2011, in Bucharest, Romania, POURYAN and ORBACH participated in a consensually recorded meeting with CS-3, in which CS-3 informed POURYAN and ORBACH that the Taliban needed SAMS to protect their heroin laboratories from attacks by U.S. helicopters. POURYAN and ORBACH told CS-3 that they could provide advice on which types of weapons to purchase.”

POURYAN and ORBACH were informed that the surface-to-air missiles, in particular, were needed to protect Taliban heroin laboratories against attacks by U.S. helicopters.”

“U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, said ‘justice has been done and a very dangerous man will be behind bars.’ Viktor Bout, he said, had attempted to sell the FARC ‘a weapons arsenal that would be the envy of some small countries.’”

Smulian and Bout did not realize that the men they were in contact with were not FARC members but undercover DEA agents, working on a highly elaborate sting operation codenamed “Operation Relentless.”…they required weapons for the explicit purpose of shooting down U.S. aircraft assisting the Colombian military in counter-narcotics operations.

Syria’s “Islamist Front” Reject Obama’s Overtures

Syrian Islamist rebels reject US talks

Sydney_Morning_Herald-logo-

Stephen Kalin

A member of Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra fires a weapon on the back of a truck in Aleppo.A member of Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra fires a weapon on the back of a truck in Aleppo. Photo: Reuters

Beirut: Islamist rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria have rejected overtures from the United States to sit down and talk, a senior US diplomat said.

The Syrian government said it was “reprehensible” that Washington was prepared to enter a dialogue with the Islamic Front, which comprises six major Islamist rebel groups and which Damascus considers a terrorist organisation.

The developments highlighted Washington’s difficulties in engaging with the faction-ridden rebels in Syria’s civil war.

A Free Syrian Army fighter aims a locally made weapon in eastern Ghouta, Damascus. A Free Syrian Army fighter aims a locally made weapon in eastern Ghouta, Damascus. Photo: Reuters

With five weeks to go before UN peace talks convene in Geneva, it is unclear who will represent the opposition, and the clock is ticking towards a December 27 deadline set by UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi for both sides to name their delegations.

“The Islamic Front has refused to sit with us, without giving any reason,” US Syria envoy Robert Ford told Al Arabiya television, speaking in Arabic, a day after Secretary of State John Kerry said such talks might take place.

“We are ready to sit with them because we talk to all parties and political groups in Syria,” Mr Ford said.

The Islamic Front has overshadowed the more moderate Free Syrian Army, which is formally led by the Supreme Military Council (SMC) and backed by Western and Arab powers.

The Front has rejected the authority of the SMC, the military arm of the main political opposition in exile, and last week seized control of SMC weapons depots in northern Syria.

In a video statement given to Reuters by the SMC on Wednesday, Mr Ford described the takeover as “an extremely negative development” and urged disparate rebel groups to work together.

“If there is not tight cooperation between the different armed groups that are fighting the regime, the regime is going to be successful in surviving,” he said.

“It is extremely important that the Supreme Military Council be able to play its role of coordinating. If it cannot do that, I do not see how the armed opposition can be truly effective.”

Mr Kerry said on Tuesday a US meeting with the Islamic Front was possible as part of efforts to broaden opposition representation at the Geneva peace talks, but the Front’s commanders are wary of openly coordinating with Washington.

Any such public engagement with the United States could put the newly formed Islamic Front on a collision course with the powerful al Qaeda-linked Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried on the state news agency that dialogue with the Islamic Front contradicted US and international commitments to combat terrorism, as well as “international pledges that terrorist organisations would not be given the chance to participate in the Geneva conference”.

The long-delayed talks in Switzerland are meant to discuss a political transition to lead Syria out of a 33-month-old conflict in which more than 100,000 people have been killed.

The Islamic Front “agrees in principle, strategy and goals with the Nusra Front”, the Syrian foreign ministry said, referring to another al Qaeda-linked rebel group that the State Department last year listed as a terrorist organisation.

Reuters

Russia: Lavrov — “All Syrian Patriots Must Unite to Fight Against Islamic Front, Jihadists, and Al Qaeda”

Russia: Lavrov — “All Syrian Patriots Must Unite to Fight Against Islamic Front, Jihadists, and Al Qaeda”

Published on December 18th, 2013 | by Joanna Paraszczuk

Russia: Lavrov — “All Syrian Patriots Must Unite to Fight Against Islamic Front, Jihadists, and Al Qaeda”

EA-LOGO-JP2AB2test3

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov gave an interview to Russia’s Rossiya-24 TV station earlier this week, following his visit to Tehran. The interview discusses Moscow’s positions on key developments in both Iran and Syria.

In the interview, Lavrov talks about whether Iran should be present at the Geneva II peace conference, and says that the newly-formed Islamic Front is an extremist group with ties to Al Qaeda, and poses a threat to the future of Syria. The Russian Foreign Minister says that “Syrian patriots” must unite with the Assad regime to help expel the Islamic Front, Jabhat al-Nusra, the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham and other “terror groups”, to return Syria to a multi-religious state.



R-24:

Let’s switch to another historic event. I’m referring to the Syrian problem. Right now, there are active preparations for the Geneva-II conference, which should take place next year. One of the key questions is whether Iran will participate. In the light of your talks with your Iranian colleagues, and the preparations for the conference, is there a good chance that the undertaking will once again be postponed? Will Iran take part? And who will take part from the Syrian opposition.

LAVROV:

This is a very correct and very complicated question. In the first place, Geneva II has been repeatedly postponed. As you recall, the initiative was launched on May 7 this year, when the US Secretary of State John Kerry was on a visit to Moscow. Since then, we have met many times and each time we have discussed this conference, among other issues. Of course, we have a common understanding that UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon should declare the terms in agreement with his special envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi. However, everyone knows that we have discussed and will discuss the issue of timing with the Americans, because they must not be artificial but such that all parties would be ready to go to Geneva and start a serious discussion.

Soon after May 7, we got the consent of the Syrian Government to send a delegation to the conference, and it very recently reconfirmed that commitment. There are very contradictory signals coming from the Syrian Opposition; sometimes their leader says they have decided to go, then his deputy says there’s no point in going, until they achieve military superiority “on the ground”. Or another example: at first the Opposition announced that there would be no preconditions, and again the leader of the so-called “National Opposition” said that the “Friends of Syria” had met several months ago in London and had formed a support for the National Coalition that it would support regime change at the conference. These are precisely the preconditions that should not exist. The conference should have a single agenda: namely the communique adopted last June in Geneva, which states that all issues relating to the future of Syria should be decided by the Syrian people themselves in negotiations between the Government and all sectors of the Opposition, on the basis of general agreement. And all external players should encourage Syrians toward that end.

Obviously, the situation is complicated . We certainly support the efforts that the Americans have taken to persuade the Opposition to attend the conference without unacceptable preconditions, and we are working not only with the Syrian Government but with all the Opposition, including the National Coalition.

Representatives of the opposition have been invited to Moscow, and many of the the leadership came. Now we have invited the National Coalition, and its leader Mr. Jarba stated that he would come. Dialog with them is still necessary. But alongside attempts by sponsors of the National Coalition to paint it as the main force representing all opponents of the regime in the negotiations, this is “main force” is actually starting to crumble. There have been statements (we want to check them) that the Muslim Brotherhood part of the Syrian National Coalition declared they will have their own special campaigns, that had either come from (the Coalition), or had become separate. There were reports that the militias of the so-called “Syrian Free Army” have for the most part ceased to submit to the National Coalition. Assuming, of course, that they ever did obey the Coalition.

According to very recent information (which, incidentally, has been confirmed) , some twenty-odd groups have united as the “Islamic Front”. This organization does not recognize the “Syrian Free Army” or the National Coalition or al-Qaeda. However, it is formed from groups who are very close ideologically: Jabhat an-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq, and as they say, the Levant” — the most extremist of the jihadist groups, which operates in the spirit of al-Qaeda. This “Islamic Front” announced that its goal is to create an Islamic Caliphate in Syria and, as they say, in the “greater Levant”. There are conflicting reports about who finances the structure. All of this we intend to clarify.

On December 20 in Geneva, there will be the next and, as we expect, the final preparatory contact between us, the Americans, and the UN, with the involvement of other permanent members of the UN Security Council, the Arab League and Turkey. However, all these issues need to be clarified, because we are told that the National Coalition will represent everyone… And at the same time, other political opponents of Assad, who are not emigres but those who have always lived and continue to live in Syria — the National Coordinating Committee and The Supreme Council of the Kurds of Syria — they also do not agree with the leadership of the National Coalition because they do not agree with what they feel are the (Coalition’s) very extremist position. All this needs to be dealt with.

For us there is only one reference – Security Council Resolution No. 2118, which endorsed the process of chemical disarmament in Syria. That is in full swing, and there will not be any serious disruptions. This resolution also endorsed the convening of Geneva II, stressing that the dialog should include representatives of the entire spectrum of Syrian society. Therefore, we need to make sure that the whole opposition is represented at a decent level, rather than a single structure, over whose capacity there are big questions, given the confusion and vacillation within it, as well as differences among its members when it comes to Geneva II.

R-24:

You listed the most capable groups, who are terrorists and who constitute a major force, the so-called armed opposition. Will Geneva discuss the fight against terrorism? After all, the groups you mentioned form part of international terrorism. The same Jabhat an-Nusra is an Al-Qaeda cell in Syria. Will Geneva decide how to deal with these groups?

LAVROV:

I think this will be the main problem. Not least because, when the Geneva communique was formed in June 2012, it was already clear that, along with the Syrian opposition, which was rooted in Syrian soil and which was dissatisfied with the Syrian regime for whatever reason, there were more and more foreign fighters in Syria, jihadists who begin to fight everyone, against the regime and its opponents, trying to take some territory and declare Sharia Law. It was a phenomenon very limited in scope, and not put forward as the main task, which is to stop the bloodshed and prevent the Syrian people falling into a catastrophic abyss with millions of human lives caught up in humanitarian crises and disasters, etc.

Now, a year and a half after the acceptance of the Geneva Communique, and a little less than a year since initiatives began to convene a conference, more of our interlocutors, including Western partners, tell us candidly in confidential talks that the main threat is not Bashar al-Assad, which was what they were saying publicly until recently, but rather the threat that jihadists will seize Syria and other vast areas in North Africa and the Middle East, and that international terrorists will establish their order and authority there….

It is not a coincidence that, four months ago, the G8 at the summit in Lough Erne made a declaration in the section on Syria (…) to the Government and the opposition to unite and expel terrorists from Syrian territory, and fight together against them. Moreover, this passage was included in the declaration at the initiative of the summit’s host, British Prime Minister David Cameron. Now, when we discuss current issues relating to the convening of the conference and its agenda with our Western partners, we have always placed this issue first and we say that everything must be done to create a battle-worthy alliance of the Government and the patriotic opposition against the terrorist interlopers who flock to Syria from around the world, as to a tasty morsel, to implement their malicious plans.

By the way, statistics more and more point to the fact that Jabhat an-Nusra, the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham, and other groups are already “scrapping” with each other. There are skirmishes, capturing settlements. For example, somewhere a Muslim Brotherhood village was invaded and other jihadists who do not share their radicalism, want to establish their own rules there. It goes without saying that there are regular clashes between jihadists and the government, between the jihadists and the “Free Syrian Army”.

Thus, conditions are such that all the Syrian patriots must understand what is more important: to fight on the side of those who want to turn Syria into a caliphate, or unit and return the homeland to that which she was famous for centuries, namely – a multireligious, multiethnic, secular state in which everyone lives together comfortably. That theme must be one of the main issues discussed at the Geneva conference.

Obama’s Dilemma, Uniting Islamic Front With FSA, Without Alienating Al-Qaeda

Syria: Islamic Front denies meeting US ambassador

ASHARQ AL-AWSAT
Spokesman says group will not fight Al-Qaeda-linked militants
Ambassador Robert Ford appears before a full committee hearing on his nomination to be ambassador to Syria at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington

Ambassador Robert Ford appears before a full committee hearing on his nomination to be ambassador to Syria at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington (AFP)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Syrian opposition sources have denied that talks have taken place between the US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, and leaders of the Islamic Front, one of the largest Islamist opposition factions in Syria.

A source within the Syrian opposition, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity, said: “The Islamic Front received an invitation from the US administration through mediators to discuss the possibility of returning to work under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), but it has not responded yet.”

A spokesman for the Ahrar Al-Sham group within the Islamic Front, Abu Majd Al-Shami, told Asharq Al-Awsat that no meeting had taken place with Ford and dismissed the possibility of a meeting taking place soon.

He did not, however, rule out meeting with American officials in the future, and said: “Everything depends on the interests of our people in the future, and decisions would be made according to developments.”

Meanwhile, an official of the Islamic Front’s political bureau, Abdallah Al-Hamawi, denied the reports and said they were “lies, and their objectives were clear, and we will not allow them to cause sedition”.

He added on his Twitter account that the Islamic Front “will not fight the Al-Qaeda organization because it [Islamic Front] was founded to form a link for jihadists”, and that it would not fight a proxy war or cause division between the jihadists.

Opposition sources said the Islamic Front was faced with two difficult options—if it accepted dialogue with the Americans it would put itself in confrontation with the extremist forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Al-Nusra Front, which would accuse it of being an agent of the West, while if it rejected dialogue, it would become distant from the international community.

The sources suggested “the timing of the US invitation extended to the Islamic Front after it took control of FSA positions aims at pressuring the Islamic Front to return to work with the FSA.” The US had expressed concerns about the control by the Islamic Front of former FSA positions at the Bab Al-Hawa border point with Turkey, and had suspended its aid to the FSA as a consequence.

Meanwhile, representative of the Syrian National Coalition in the United States, Najib Al-Ghadban, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the US invitation was part of a US and opposition policy aimed at bringing all “moderate” opposition forces under one umbrella to confront government forces and extremist forces such as ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front.

Ghadban said: “Islamic Front leaders [have] previously held meetings with American politicians … The second meeting, if it took place, would lead to decisions which would not include provision of arms.”

He called on the Islamic Front to adhere to the principles of the revolution and avoid extremism, and said he hoped “its factions would join the FSA in a united front against the Syrian regime”.

The Islamic Front was formed by six groups of Islamist opposition fighters in Syria frustrated with the FSA and the Syrian opposition’s political leaders outside Syria. It recently took control of the headquarters and supply depots of the FSA on the Syrian-Turkish border, raising fears in the West that the Syrian opposition was being taken over by religious extremists.

Afghan National Army Running Joint Patrols With Taliban In Part of Helmand Sangin

ANA, Taliban jointly patrol Sangin

Pajhwok

LASHKARGAH (PAN): Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers and Taliban jointly patrol areas in the Sangin district of southern Helmand province, residents and elders say — a claim rejected by authorities.

 

Sangin Community Council Secretary Syed Wali told Pajhwok Afghan News on Monday he himself had seen ANA personnel and militants jointly patrolling the district in tanks and armoured vehicles.

 

Carrying weapons and walkie-talkies, the Taliban openly travelled in vehicles through the district bazaar, he claimed, saying: “I don’t know what’s going on here.”

 

The joint patrols and insurgents roaming around the city had been photographed and the videos would be released soon to the press, the secretary promised.

 

According to Syed Wali, the Taliban have asked the army to give them a ride through the bazaar to give people a clear message that the militants are about to stage a comeback.

 

Haji Gul Mohammad, a member of the council, also claimed seeing a joint patrol ANA-Taliban patrol of the market at 11am.

 

The ANA had surrendered to the fighters three checkpoints in the Majeed Square area that were supposed to block Taliban’s entry into the city, he said.

 

On Sunday, Mohammad added, the Taliban hosted ANA personnel in the Chahar Deh village of Sangin. Tribal elders would meet soon the Helmand police chief to know what was going on, he continued.

 

Ali Shah Khan, a tribal elder, also said: “The other day, I myself saw an ANA car following a Taliban vehicle.” The district administration, including police officials, were aware full well of the situation but they did not know how to react, he added.

 

But Maj. Mohammad Rasul Zazai, a spokesman for the 215th Military Corps, rejected the reports as Taliban’s propaganda.

 

The governor’s spokesman, Omar Zwak, confirmed receiving such reports. He said a delegation sent to the area to investigate the claims had found no evidence.

 

mud

US Arrest of Indian Diplomat Causing Major Problems In Relations

[WOW!  India removed the bomb barriers from around the American Embassy and revoked all US diplomatic public ID cards.  India is pissed.]

Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade strip-searched, say sources

deccan chronicle

Shinde, Rahul Gandhi, Modi refuse to meet US delegation

Devyani Khobragade - File photo via Facebook

Devyani Khobragade – File photo via Facebook

New York: Few days after India’s Deputy Consul General in New York Devyani Khobragade was handcuffed in public, shocking details emerged on the treatment meted out to the diplomat, prompting India to take reciprocal actions.

Declaring India’s strong protest, the govt asked US to return all identity cards issued to their consular officers posted in the country. The displeasure was also evident among leaders and officials of Indian government.

In a major snub on Tuesday, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has refused to meet a US Congressional delegation in protest against the arrest and subsequent treatment meted to the Indian diplomat. The meeting, which was slated on Monday, did not take place because Gandhi wanted to register his disapproval of the American treatment of Indian diplomat, sources said.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde also cancelled his meeting with the delegation ostensibly as a mark of protest against the treatment meted out to Indian officer.

However, Home Ministry officials said Shinde is busy in Parliament and, hence, he will not be in a position to meet the American delegation. The Home Minister’s programme, which was prepared last evening, had clearly mentioned the scheduled meeting at 1700 hours. Officials said the meeting was cancelled this morning.

BJP’s PM candidate Modi, who was also supposed to meet the US team, too cancelled the meeting. 

“Refused to meet the visiting USA delegation in solidarity with our nation, protesting ill treatment meted to our lady diplomat in USA,” Modi tweeted.

Addressing reporters later, Foreign Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said, “We have conveyed our sense of disquiet to the US as a protest to treatment meted out to India’s Deputy Consul General in New York.”

Throwing diplomatic niceties towards a friendly country to the winds, the IFS officer was put in a prison cell with sex workers and drug addicts, the sources said. 

Sources said that she was held with common criminals and was strip-searched in custody by the New York Police. She was also subjected to DNA swabbing in the prison, a technique employed by forensic scientists to assist in the identification of individuals by their respective DNA profiles.

In an escalating diplomatic row on Tues, India has asked the US to return IDs issued to all its consular officers posted in the country, a move which may be a precursor to reviewing immunity and benefits enjoyed by them as a protest to the treatment meted out to Devyani Khobragade.

“Government has asked the US to return the ID cards given to their consular officers posted in India,” Government sources told PTI.

It is understood that the government intends to review the immunity and benefits enjoyed by US diplomats. 

39-year-old Khobragade, a 1999-batch IFS officer, was taken into custody last week on a street in New York as she was dropping her daughter to school and handcuffed in public on visa fraud charges before being released on a USD 250,000 bond after pleading not guilty in court.

Slamming the US authorities, National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon said that the treatment meted out to the diplomat was ‘barbaric and despicable’.

However, the US state department maintained that standard procedures followed during Indian diplomat’s arrest. Khobragade declined to comment on the issue.

Talking to reporters, Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur said, “I don’t think this is indicative of being taken for granted. But certainly it is not a good indication that a diplomat should be treated like this….we strongly object to the manner the whole incident has been (taken place).”

She was asked if the US takes India for granted and the arrest of the diplomat was manifestation of that. The minister also said there are ways and means to convey objection diplomatically which was being done. 

On Monday, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar had cancelled her meeting with the US delegation in Delhi as a mark of protest against the treatment meted out to India’s Deputy Consul General.

Kumar, herself a Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer who quit the service before joining politics, cancelled the meeting as she felt it was not ‘appropriate’ to meet the Parliamentarians of the US, which has badly treated one of India’s senior diplomats, according to sources.

Significantly, National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, who also had a scheduled meeting with the five-member US team, did not meet them, apparently for the same reason.

The delegations comprised of Congressmen George Holding (Republican- North Carolina), Pete Olson (Republican- Texas) David Schweikert (Republican- Arizona), Robert Woodall (Republican- Georgia), Madeleine Bordallo (Democrat- Guam).

Monday’s snub came after India reacted sharply to Devyani Khobragade’s arrest last week by summoning US Ambassador Nancy Powell and issuing a demarche in this regard.

In Washington also the matter was taken up with the US government “forcefully” through the Indian mission. 

“We are shocked and appalled at the manner in which she has been humiliated by the US authorities. We have taken it up forcefully with the US government through our embassy in Washington.

“We are also reiterating, in no uncertain terms, to US embassy here that this kind of treatment to one of our diplomats is absolutely unacceptable,” Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Syed Akabaruddin had said here while reacting to the treatment meted out to Khobragade.

Kerry In Philippines To Seal Deal for American Re-Colonization

[SEE:  PHILIPPINES TYPHOON CAUSED BY US MILITARY WEAPON – REPORT ]

Kerry in Philippines to propel troop deal as China row simmers

AFP

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives at Manila International Airport on December 17, 2013

Manila (AFP) – Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in the Philippines Tuesday for a two-day trip that could fast-track a deal on expanding the US military presence as a territorial dispute simmers with China.

Kerry flew to Manila as the two allies are in the final stages of hammering out a deal allowing more US troops, aircraft and ships to temporarily pass through the Philippines, where the last US bases closed in 1992.

He will also visit areas devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan last month, highlighting a massive US humanitarian response to the disaster which contrasted with a modest contribution from regional power China.

“Kerry’s visit can be expected to act as a catalyst for change,” John Blaxland, a security and defence analyst at Australia National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific, told AFP.

“He will be eager to leverage the visit to speed up and finalise arrangements and assure the Philippines and other regional powers that the US is not just a fair-weather friend,” Blaxland said.

Kerry will meet with Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and President Benigno Aquino later Tuesday to discuss ways for “broadening of economic and security cooperation”, the foreign department said.

“Humanitarian assistance and disaster response and cooperation on regional issues are also expected to be on the agenda,” it said in a statement. The United States, the former colonial power in the Philippines, has been the greatest contributor of aid following the typhoon which left nearly 8,000 dead or missing, and four million people homeless.

Washington deployed an aircraft carrier group and committed 1,000 Marines and $20 million in a mobilisation that served as a preview of the deal’s intensified defence engagement.

Beijing meanwhile drew scorn with an initial offer of just $100,000 to the Philippines, a Washington ally with which it is locked in a dispute over sovereignty of islands in the strategically vital South China Sea.

Del Rosario and Aquino have been rallying pro-US sentiment to blunt China’s muscle-flexing in the region.

Ian Storey, a senior fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, said Washington’s humanitarian response could help it secure the military pact with Manila.

“America’s immediate, massive and generous support in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Haiyan could well hasten negotiations on US military rotational deployments through the Philippines,” he said.

China’s growing assertiveness in the region as well as the increasing frequency of deadly natural disasters in the Philippines “underscore the growing importance of Manila’s alliance with Washington”, Storey said.

Kerry, who is touring the Philippines for the first time since taking office, will travel to the typhoon-ravaged town of Tacloban on Wednesday.

Tensions between the Philippines and China have risen in recent years as Beijing becomes more forthright in asserting its claim over most of the potentially resource-rich South China Sea.

Earlier this year, Manila took Beijing to a United Nations tribunal over the contested Scarborough Shoal, which lies about 220 kilometres (135 miles) from the Philippines’ main island of Luzon and has been occupied by Chinese vessels since last year.

In a bid to showcase its increasing military alliance with the United States, Manila held war games near the territory earlier this year, further stoking tensions with Beijing.

China’s recent declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone in the East China Sea — which has infuriated Japan and South Korea — has also raised concerns in the Philippines.

Storey said that while Beijing had not officially declared a similar air cover for the South China Sea “it might do so in the near future”.

“During Kerry’s visit to the Philippines, both sides will likely reiterate the importance of freedom of navigation at sea and in the air,” he said.

The United States already has a long-time ally in the Philippines — until 1992 it had a permanent military presence at two bases in the island nation.

The bases were closed amid nationalist opposition, but the current administration led by Aquino has repeatedly said it wants to build a stronger alliance with the US.

Creator of Typhoon Haiyan Microwave Steering Loses Google Account Days After Video

[SEE:  PHILIPPINES TYPHOON CAUSED BY US MILITARY WEAPON – REPORT ]

[As of 11/21/2013 , DutchSinse lost Gmail, YouTube collections, access to account.  He still has this research site at SinseDutch.  He outlines the dangers below lurking in Google+ which made him easy prey for the self-appointed censors of the Evil Empire.]

Major Security FLAW in Google+ can Shutdown your Youtube page instantly with no strikes, no appeal

video explanation here:

__________

My youtube channel , http://www.youtube.com/dutchsinse, was erroneously shut down yesterday, lost all videos, and all Google+ access.  I had no strikes, no violations, and was all green across the board.

How did my youtube get terminated?  Easily.

They simply flagged my GOOGLE+ account as an “impersonator”.  Yes, flagged my own dutchsinse MAIN GOOGLE+ page as an impersonator.  LOL.   They can do it anonymously, with no warning, and with no recourse by you to fix it, except, to SEND A PHOTO ID OF YOURSELF to G+ to prove you are who you say you are.

click to view full size:

google plus security flaw

What? Send a photo ID to G+ to save your YOUTUBE page from shutdown, after your G+ was falsely flagged as an “impersonator”?!!!

Madness.  Seriously, big problem here, how do you PROVE you’re a screen name?

They’re asking for a photo ID to prove who I am.  However, the google+ is named “dutchsinse”.  My real name is Michael Janitch.

I sent them a copy of my passport 48 hours ago, filled out the form with my real name, never even received a confirmation reply that they received it.  and as of today 220am CT november 21, no reply at all.

I’m dutchsinse.  How can someone ELSE, an anonymous person, report me for “impersonation”?  Which then causes G+ to INSTANTLY shut down my whole G+ page…. which then leads to the INSTANT TERMINATION OF MY YOUTUBE PAGE, and a blocking of all my associated G+ pages.

A domino effect caused by one single false flagging, one single easy abuse of a security feature on youtube that, SHOULD, have human review behind it, and should not be automated.

Yesterday, thanks to this fake / false google+ shutdown , I lost 75,000 subscribers, and 800+ videos. Lost access to ALL of it.  Due to a single false flag on a separate service away from youtube!!!

Again, no email from youtube OR google+ was sent to me, warning me, or giving me a dispute option.

Very strange too, Google+ and youtube BOTH have my cellphone number already on file for login and verification purposes, no message sent to my mobile device at all.

Don’t forget, MOST IMPORTANTLY, there was no recourse to solve this.  No link to click on, no email to send, and no option to dispute. For me to get it fixed, it literally took someone who works there to privately contact the “policy team” and do a few things to get my youtube restored.

Still locked out on Google+, still cannot make any comment even below my own video, and still cannot share anything via the share button.  No reply from google, except to ask for an ID with my SCREENNAME on it?!

lol, can you say NIGHTMARE scenario here.

Meanwhile, no laughing matter, 3 years of work , 800+ videos, and 75,000+ subscribers on the line… all capable of being wiped out from a SEPARATE service like google+ ?  Somethings not right about this.

Imagine if someone could shut down your PERSONAL facebook page with the click of a button, and then YOU have to prove who YOU are because they clicked a button.

Guilty until proven innocent , meanwhile they DELETE your youtube page, delete all your content, and you have to fight to get it back?

Shouldn’t the person making the impersonation CLAIM have to provide THEIR ID???????

Anyone can get shut down this way.  Maybe a few larger channels will get slammed, then google might take notice.  Right now, they’re not responding to any of my contact attempts.

Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin on Syrian chem weapons attack

STORY: UN / CHEMICAL WEAPONS REPORT

REAX
TRT: 2.40
SOURCE: UNTV
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 16 DECEMBER 2013, NEW YORK CITY

SHOTLIST:

FILE – RECENT, NEW YORK CITY

1. Wide shot, exterior United Nations headquarters

16 DECEMBER 2013, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK CITY

2. Wide shot, French Ambassador Gerard Araud walks up to the stakeout position

FILE – RECENT, NEW YORK CITY

3. Close up, cameras

16 DECEMBER 2013, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK CITY

4. SOUNDBITE (English) Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations:
“This report confirms that chemical weapons were used in Syria. The Secretary-General and the Council members strongly condemned the use of chemical weapons in any circumstances. The Secretary-General and the Council Members have also called upon the responsible to be held accountable for such war crimes before the courts.”

FILE – RECENT, NEW YORK CITY

5. Close up, reporter’s notepad

16 DECEMBER 2013, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK CITY

6. Wide shot, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin walks up to the stakeout position
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations:
“Why would the Syrian Government use chemicals on August 21? To cross the red line drawn by Washington and invite missile strikes upon itself? Why would the opposition use chemical weapons? Exactly because of the red line, to provoke foreign military intervention in the Syrian conflict. It is absolutely obvious that on August 21 a large scale provocation was staged. That is exactly the explanation for a number of incongruence that analysts point to. Why and how were the dead bodies of children so quickly brought together in one place? Where are the parents? Why were there no women among the medical personnel while women are usually numerous at Syrian hospitals? Why does the medical staff wear no protective masks? And so on and so forth. All these events resemble what we have already seen in history. World War II began with a provocation. A provocation triggered the American war in Vietnam and NATO’s bombardment in Serbia started with a provocation.”

FILE – RECENT, NEW YORK CITY

8. Close up, reporter’s notepad

16 DECEMBER 2013, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK CITY

9. SOUNDBITE (English) Vitaly Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations:
“We are all united in the unacceptability of impunity. We all believe that the use of chemical weapons is a very serious crime, and we made it clear on resolution 2118. How this problem of no impunity can be dealt with in this situation, I have no answer at this point. Thank you very much.”

FILE – RECENT, NEW YORK CITY

9. Close up, cameras

16 DECEMBER 2013, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK CITY

10. Wide shot, Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari walks up to the stakeout position
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Bashar Ja’afari, Permanent Representative of Syria to the United Nations:
“You cannot be an arsonist and a fireman at the same time. The US is a full partner with the Russian Federation in preparing the ground for Geneva II talks. Either you prepare the ground, you know, appropriately for going to the Geneva talks on solid ground, or you disassociate yourself from this issue and say, you know guys, I cannot be responsible for solving the Syrian crisis peacefully and I am going to help the terrorists.”

FILE – RECENT, NEW YORK CITY

12. Close up, reporter’s notepad

16 DECEMBER 2013, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK CITY

13. Wide shot, Ja’afari walks away

STORYLINE:

After a briefing by Secretary-General to the Security Council today (16 December) on the final findings of Åke Sellström’s final report on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, French Ambassador Gerard Araud said the Secretary General and Council members agreed that those responsible must be “held accountable for such crimes before the courts.”

The findings of Sellström team indicate that chemical weapons were used on several occasions at multiple sites against both civilians and military targets.

The team did not specify which party might have used the weapons in the nearly three-year old civil war between the Government and opposition fighters, since that was not part of its mandate.

Nevertheless, some Council Members expressed disagreements over who was responsible for the use of these weapons.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said it was “absolutely obvious that on August 21 a large scale provocation was staged” by rebels in order to bring on foreign military intervention in the Syrian conflict.

Churkin pointed to a “a number of incongruences” and said “these events resemble what we have already seen in history. World War II began with a provocation. A provocation triggered the American war in Vietnam and NATO’s bombardment in Serbia started with a provocation.”

However, Churkin said he considered the chemical weapons incident a close chapter and said all Council members are “united in the unacceptability of impunity”

He said “we all believe that the use of chemical weapons is a very serious crime, and we made it clear on resolution 2118. How this problem of no impunity can be dealt with in this situation, I have no answer at this point.”

Since the allegations arose, the Government acknowledged that it possessed chemical weapons, joined the Chemical Weapons Convention, and pledged their elimination. A Joint UN Mission with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was established and is overseeing the destruction of Syria’s stockpiles and production facilities.

Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari spoke about the role of the United States in facilitating the upcoming International Peace Conference to be held in Geneva on 22 January.

Ja’afari said “you cannot be an arsonist and a fireman at the same time” and added that “either you prepare the ground, you know, appropriately for going to the Geneva talks on solid ground, or you disassociate yourself from this issue and say, you know guys, I cannot be responsible for solving the Syrian crisis peacefully and I am going to help the terrorists.”

Fed. Judge Rules NSA Homeland Data-Mining Unconstitutional

[SEE: Klayman v. Obama ]

Federal Judge Writes Epic Smackdown Of ‘Likely Unconstitutional’ NSA Phone Record Collection

US District Court Judge, Richard D. Leon

This federal judge says the NSA collection of Americans’ phone records likely violates the Constitution.

Thanks to a leak of classified documents by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, we learned this summer that Verizon (and presumably other phone companies) were regularly handing over to the federal government metadata for all of their customers. Metadata being a fancy word for lists of all the phone calls made, which numbers were calling which numbers and how long those conversations lasted. While jaws were still on the floor regarding the scope of such collection, which would include hundreds of millions of people (including you, unless you don’t have a phone), two Verizon subscribers got to work drafting up a lawsuit. Larry Klayman, a conservative activist, and Charles Strange, father of a Navy SEAL who died in Afghanistan, sued the federal government as well as Verizon, saying that the phone company handing over their information to the feds was a violation of the U.S. Constitution and an “outrageous” breach of privacy. In a scathing opinion out of the District Court of D.C. Monday, federal judge Richard Leon agreed with them, saying the phone metadata collection program is “almost certainly” unconstitutional.

Calling the wholesale download of America’s phonecall activity “Orwellian,” Judge Leon writes that the NSA’s collection and querying efforts “likely violate the Fourth Amendment.” This is a huge deal. This is a classified program that has been in place for seven years that has been collecting information about most anyone with a phone, reviewed only by judges from a secret surveillance court. Brought into the open only because of documents leaked by Edward Snowden, a federal judge now says on an initial review that it is likely unconstitutional.

It’s hard now to argue that Snowden is not a whistleblower.

Leon, a George Bush appointee to the federal bench in 2001, ruled that Klayman and Strange should have their metadata excised from the database and that the NSA should stop collecting their phone information moving forward. But he also put a stay on his own opinion to give the government time to appeal.

“In the short run it means the surveillance continues while the government appeals to the D.C. Circuit,” says Hanni Fakhoury, a lawyer at EFF. “The appeal would go to the D.C. Circuit, a good place for this case.”

Fakhoury points out the D.C. Circuit established the ground-breaking privacy case U.S. v. Jones, which eventually went to the Supreme Court and established our right to be free of warrantless GPS trackers on our cars.

Throughout Leon’s opinion, it’s obvious that he was horrified by what he learned from the Snowden leaks. The ACLU previously tried to wage a legal battle against this kind of dragnet phone surveillance, but its case was thrown out because it couldn’t prove it had been surveilled. The documents leaked by Snowden, which led the federal government to release other opinions about its phone collection program, have changed that.

“It’s one thing to say that people expect phone companies to occasionally provide information to law enforcement; it is quite another to suggest that our citizens expect all phone companies to operate what is effectively a joint intelligence-gathering operation with the Government,” writes Leon. Klayman and Strange’s suit against the government and against Verizon asked for $3 billion in damages. Leon isn’t ruling on that yet. He stuck to the constitutional issues, and lacerated the government’s arguments in the case.

The government mainly relied on the precedent from a 1979 Supreme Court case that found that police could get a phone company to tell it what numbers a person had dialed on their phone without violating the Fourth Amendment because people did not have a “legitimate expectation of privacy” over information they handed over to a third party. This is called the “third party doctrine” in legal circles, and given how much information we now keep with third parties (from our phone information to our email) some big legal dogs are starting to chew on it.

“Put simply, people in 2013 have an entirely different relationship with phones than they did thiry-four years ago,” writes Leon. “I cannot possibly navigate these uncharted Fourth Amendment waters using as my North Star a case that predates the rise of cell phones.”

Just like General Keith Alexander did in a puff piece on 60 Minutes Sunday night, the government argued that it needs quick access to these records in order to hunt down terrorists quickly. Leon was skeptical saying that he had not been presented with evidence showing that the telephony metadata was “immediately useful or that they prevented an impending attack,” and that the government could always get the data through other constitutional ways.

“The question that I will ultimately have to answer when I reach the merits of this case someday is whether people have a reasonable expectation of privacy that is violated when the Government, without any basis whatsoever to suspect them of any wrongdoing, collects and stores for five years their telephony metadata for purposes of subjecting it to high-tech querying and analysis without any case-by-case judicial approval,” writes Leon, who hints at the answer to the question: “I have little doubt that the author of our Consitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgement of freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,’ would be aghast.”

Inside the Saudi 9/11 coverup

Inside the Saudi 9/11 coverup

 

 

 

 

After the 9/11 attacks, the public was told al Qaeda acted alone, with no state sponsors.

 

But the White House never let it see an entire section of Congress’ investigative report on 9/11 dealing with “specific sources of foreign support” for the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudi nationals.

 

It was kept secret and remains so today.

 

President Bush inexplicably censored 28 full pages of the 800-page report. Text isn’t just blacked-out here and there in this critical-yet-missing middle section. The pages are completely blank, except for dotted lines where an estimated 7,200 words once stood (this story by comparison is about 1,000 words).

 

A pair of lawmakers who recently read the redacted portion say they are “absolutely shocked” at the level of foreign state involvement in the attacks.

 

Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) can’t reveal the nation identified by it without violating federal law. So they’ve proposed Congress pass a resolution asking President Obama to declassify the entire 2002 report, “Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.”

 

Some information already has leaked from the classified section, which is based on both CIA and FBI documents, and it points back to Saudi Arabia, a presumed ally.

 

The Saudis deny any role in 9/11, but the CIA in one memo reportedly found “incontrovertible evidence” that Saudi government officials — not just wealthy Saudi hardliners, but high-level diplomats and intelligence officers employed by the kingdom — helped the hijackers both financially and logistically. The intelligence files cited in the report directly implicate the Saudi embassy in Washington and consulate in Los Angeles in the attacks, making 9/11 not just an act of terrorism, but an act of war.

 

Modal Trigger

(READ HERE)

 

The findings, if confirmed, would back up open-source reporting showing the hijackers had, at a minimum, ties to several Saudi officials and agents while they were preparing for their attacks inside the United States. In fact, they got help from Saudi VIPs from coast to coast:

 

LOS ANGELES: Saudi consulate official Fahad al-Thumairy allegedly arranged for an advance team to receive two of the Saudi hijackers — Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi — as they arrived at LAX in 2000. One of the advance men, Omar al-Bayoumi, a suspected Saudi intelligence agent, left the LA consulate and met the hijackers at a local restaurant. (Bayoumi left the United States two months before the attacks, while Thumairy was deported back to Saudi Arabia after 9/11.)

 

SAN DIEGO: Bayoumi and another suspected Saudi agent, Osama Bassnan, set up essentially a forward operating base in San Diego for the hijackers after leaving LA. They were provided rooms, rent and phones, as well as private meetings with an American al Qaeda cleric who would later become notorious, Anwar al-Awlaki, at a Saudi-funded mosque he ran in a nearby suburb. They were also feted at a welcoming party. (Bassnan also fled the United States just before the attacks.)

 

WASHINGTON: Then-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar and his wife sent checks totaling some $130,000 to Bassnan while he was handling the hijackers. Though the Bandars claim the checks were “welfare” for Bassnan’s supposedly ill wife, the money nonetheless made its way into the hijackers’ hands.

 

Other al Qaeda funding was traced back to Bandar and his embassy — so much so that by 2004 Riggs Bank of Washington had dropped the Saudis as a client.

 

The next year, as a number of embassy employees popped up in terror probes, Riyadh recalled Bandar.

 

“Our investigations contributed to the ambassador’s departure,” an investigator who worked with the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington told me, though Bandar says he left for “personal reasons.”

 

FALLS CHURCH, VA.: In 2001, Awlaki and the San Diego hijackers turned up together again — this time at the Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center, a Pentagon-area mosque built with funds from the Saudi Embassy. Awlaki was recruited 3,000 miles away to head the mosque. As its imam, Awlaki helped the hijackers, who showed up at his doorstep as if on cue. He tasked a handler to help them acquire apartments and IDs before they attacked the Pentagon.

 

Awlaki worked closely with the Saudi Embassy. He lectured at a Saudi Islamic think tank in Merrifield, Va., chaired by Bandar. Saudi travel itinerary documents I’ve obtained show he also served as the ­official imam on Saudi Embassy-sponsored trips to Mecca and tours of Saudi holy sites.

 

Most suspiciously, though, Awlaki fled the United States on a Saudi jet about a year after 9/11.

 

As I first reported in my book, “Infiltration,” quoting from classified US documents, the Saudi-sponsored cleric was briefly detained at JFK before being released into the custody of a “Saudi representative.” A federal warrant for Awlaki’s arrest had mysteriously been withdrawn the previous day. A US drone killed Awlaki in Yemen in 2011.

 

HERNDON, VA.: On the eve of the attacks, top Saudi government official Saleh Hussayen checked into the same Marriott Residence Inn near Dulles Airport as three of the Saudi hijackers who targeted the Pentagon. Hussayen had left a nearby hotel to move into the hijackers’ hotel. Did he meet with them? The FBI never found out. They let him go after he “feigned a seizure,” one agent recalled. (Hussayen’s name doesn’t appear in the separate 9/11 Commission Report, which clears the Saudis.)

 

SARASOTA, FLA.: 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta and other hijackers visited a home owned by Esam Ghazzawi, a Saudi adviser to the nephew of King Fahd. FBI agents investigating the connection in 2002 found that visitor logs for the gated community and photos of license tags matched vehicles driven by the hijackers. Just two weeks before the 9/11 attacks, the Saudi luxury home was abandoned. Three cars, including a new Chrysler PT Cruiser, were left in the driveway. Inside, opulent furniture was untouched.

 

Democrat Bob Graham, the former Florida senator who chaired the Joint Inquiry, has asked the FBI for the Sarasota case files, but can’t get a single, even heavily redacted, page released. He says it’s a “coverup.”

 

Is the federal government protecting the Saudis? Case agents tell me they were repeatedly called off pursuing 9/11 leads back to the Saudi Embassy, which had curious sway over White House and FBI responses to the attacks.

 

Just days after Bush met with the Saudi ambassador in the White House, the FBI evacuated from the United States dozens of Saudi officials, as well as Osama bin Laden family members. Bandar made the request for escorts directly to FBI headquarters on Sept. 13, 2001 — just hours after he met with the president. The two old family friends shared cigars on the Truman Balcony while discussing the attacks.

 

Bill Doyle, who lost his son in the World Trade Center attacks and heads the Coalition of 9/11 Families, calls the suppression of Saudi evidence a “coverup beyond belief.” Last week, he sent out an e-mail to relatives urging them to phone their representatives in Congress to support the resolution and read for themselves the censored 28 pages.

 

Astonishing as that sounds, few lawmakers in fact have bothered to read the classified section of arguably the most important investigation in US history.

 

Granted, it’s not easy to do. It took a monthlong letter-writing campaign by Jones and Lynch to convince the House intelligence panel to give them access to the material.

 

But it’s critical they take the time to read it and pressure the White House to let all Americans read it. This isn’t water under the bridge. The information is still relevant ­today. Pursuing leads further, getting to the bottom of the foreign support, could help head off another 9/11.

 

As the frustrated Joint Inquiry authors warned, in an overlooked addendum to their heavily redacted 2002 report, “State-sponsored terrorism substantially increases the likelihood of successful and more ­lethal attacks within the United States.”

 

Their findings must be released, even if they forever change US-Saudi relations. If an oil-rich foreign power was capable of orchestrating simultaneous bulls-eye hits on our centers of commerce and defense a dozen years ago, it may be able to pull off similarly devastating attacks today.

 

Members of Congress reluctant to read the full report ought to remember that the 9/11 assault missed its fourth target: them.

 

Paul Sperry is a Hoover Institution media fellow and author of “Infiltration” and “Muslim Mafia.”

Another Terror Attack In Xinjiang–16 Dead

16 killed in China’s Xinjiang clash
 16 killed in China's Xinjiang clash
BEIJING: Sixteen people were killed in a clash in China´s Xinjiang region, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority, reports said Monday, less than two months after a fiery attack in Tiananmen Square.
Police attempting to detain criminal suspects in Shufu county near the Silk Road city of Kashgar, deep in far western China, were attacked by several “thugs” armed with explosive devices and knives, reported the tianshannet news portal, which is run by the Xinjiang government.
Two police officers were killed and 14 of the “thugs” shot dead on Sunday, it said, adding that two criminal suspects were detained. The incident comes less than two months after an attack in Tiananmen Square, the symbolic heart of the Chinese state, when according to police, three Xinjiang Uighurs ploughed into crowds of tourists, killing two people and injuring 40, before crashing outside the Forbidden City and setting their vehicle ablaze.
The three attackers — named by authorities as Usmen Hasan, his wife and his mother — all died. Beijing described the assault, the first blamed on Uighurs outside Xinjiang, as “terrorism” and said separatists backed by the militant East Turkestan Islamic Movement were responsible.
But outside experts pointed to the unsophisticated nature of the attack and the lack of an established Islamist extremist foothold in China.
Xinjiang, a vast area bordering Pakistan and Central Asia beyond the furthest reaches of the Great Wall, has followed Islam for centuries. For years it has seen sporadic unrest by Uighurs which rights groups say is driven by cultural oppression, intrusive security measures and immigration by China´s Han majority, but Beijing attributes to religious extremists, terrorism and separatism.
In the worst outbreak of sectarian violence in recent years, around 200 people died and more than 1,600 were injured and hundreds arrested in riots in the regional capital Urumqi in 2009. A total of 11 people — nine attackers and two auxiliary police officers — were killed in an attack on a police station in Serikbuya township near Kashgar last month, according to the official Xinhua news agency. Another incident in June in the Turpan area left 35 people dead, and 139 people have been arrested in recent months for spreading jihadist ideology. Information in the area is tightly controlled and difficult to independently verify. Agencies.
BEIJING: Sixteen people were killed in a clash in China´s Xinjiang region, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority, reports said Monday, less than two months after a fiery attack in Tiananmen Square.
Police attempting to detain criminal suspects in Shufu county near the Silk Road city of Kashgar, deep in far western China, were attacked by several “thugs” armed with explosive devices and knives, reported the tianshannet news portal, which is run by the Xinjiang government.
Two police officers were killed and 14 of the “thugs” shot dead on Sunday, it said, adding that two criminal suspects were detained. The incident comes less than two months after an attack in Tiananmen Square, the symbolic heart of the Chinese state, when according to police, three Xinjiang Uighurs ploughed into crowds of tourists, killing two people and injuring 40, before crashing outside the Forbidden City and setting their vehicle ablaze.
The three attackers — named by authorities as Usmen Hasan, his wife and his mother — all died. Beijing described the assault, the first blamed on Uighurs outside Xinjiang, as “terrorism” and said separatists backed by the militant East Turkestan Islamic Movement were responsible.
But outside experts pointed to the unsophisticated nature of the attack and the lack of an established Islamist extremist foothold in China.
Xinjiang, a vast area bordering Pakistan and Central Asia beyond the furthest reaches of the Great Wall, has followed Islam for centuries. For years it has seen sporadic unrest by Uighurs which rights groups say is driven by cultural oppression, intrusive security measures and immigration by China´s Han majority, but Beijing attributes to religious extremists, terrorism and separatism.
In the worst outbreak of sectarian violence in recent years, around 200 people died and more than 1,600 were injured and hundreds arrested in riots in the regional capital Urumqi in 2009. A total of 11 people — nine attackers and two auxiliary police officers — were killed in an attack on a police station in Serikbuya township near Kashgar last month, according to the official Xinhua news agency. Another incident in June in the Turpan area left 35 people dead, and 139 people have been arrested in recent months for spreading jihadist ideology. Information in the area is tightly controlled and difficult to independently verify. Agencies – See more at: http://www.khybernews.tv/newsDetails.php?cat=1&key=NDg1MzM=#sthash.kDqTp17B.dpuf

Truth or Psyop?–Plan B In Syria, Islamic Front Plus Assad Against Al-Qaeda

US explores ties with Syrian Islamist rebels, possibly Assad too

-for a lineup to fight al Qaeda

debka

https://i2.wp.com/www.debka.com/dynmedia/photos/2013/12/15/src/al-Hamawi_Hassan_Aboud_Abu_Abdullah.jpg

Syrian Islamist Front leader Hassan Aboud Abu Abdullah al-Hamawi

DEBKAfile Special Report

 

The Obama administration is again doubling back on its Syrian war policy, this time engaging in a secret approach to the Islamic Front, the most powerful force now battling the Assad regime. Recently set up by six Muslim militias with 40-50,000 fighting men, the new front is led by Hassan Aboud Abu Abdullah al-Hamawi and his Ahrar al Sham militia.
debkafile’s counter-terrorism forces report that, although its Salafist members aspire to impose Sharia law on Syria, in common with Al Qaeda, they are against its methods of warfare.

On Dec. 11, fighters of the Islamic Front seized Free Syrian Army headquarters, the Syrian Military Council, and weapons warehouses, as well as the Bab al-Hawa crossing from northwestern Syria into Turkey. This was a devastating setback for FSA, once the leading rebel force against Bashar Assad, and virtually extinguished the group as an effective fighting force after its recent setbacks.

It was bad enough for its commander, Brig. Gen. Salim Idris, to flee to Qatar. Despite protestations to the contrary, he is unlikely to return to Syria in the hurry.

Announcing the cut-off of “non-lethal assistance to the opposition in northern Syria,” Washington more or less turned its back on the FSA and launched an approach to its vanquisher.

Robert Ford, former ambassador to Syria through whom the US has maintained contact with Syrian rebel militias, was dispatched to Turkey to start talks with the Islamist Front leader Al Hamawi.

Our Washington sources report that Ambassador Ford’s most urgent task is to hold together the pieces of the Obama administration’s disintegrating position in Syria after the FSA was wiped out.

The administration is examining three hard options:

1.  The Islamic Front is backed, funded, armed and supplied with intelligence by Saudi Arabia. By beating the FSA, the Front has awarded Riyadh high Syrian points against Washington. However, the Obama administration is deeply committed to joint steps in Syria with Moscow and Tehran, the sequel to the six-power nuclear accord forged in Geneva last month, to which Saudi Arabia is flatly opposed.
President Barack Obama would therefore prefer to ignore the Saudi success in Syria.
2.  For the second option, Ambassador Ford was empowered all the same to offer the Islamist Front a seat at Geneva II, the conference on a political solution of the Syrian civil conflict taking place in Montreux on Jan. 22. American military and financial assistance would also be on tap.

This would be a bitter pill for the Washington to swallow, since the Islamic Front is led by commanders who quit other militias in protest against US failure to deliver promised arms.
3.  The third option would be to heed voices rising now in Washington to start talking to the Syrian ruler Bashar Assad and admit that the US and the West fell down badly in underestimating his durability and military edge in the course of the three-year civil war.
Ryan Crocker, former US ambassador to Baghdad and an eminent influence on US Middle East policy in the past decade, was the first prominent voice to advocate this course: “We need to start talking to the Assad regime again…,” he wrote in an article. “ It will have to be done very, very quietly. But bad as Assad is, he is not as bad as the jihadis who would take over in his absence.”

He was echoed by former CIA and NSA director Adm. Michael Hayden, who said: “The sectarian bloodbath in Syria is such a threat to regional security that a victory for Bashar al-Assad’s regime could be the best outcome to hope for.”

Talking to the annual Jamestown Foundation conference of terror experts on Dec. 11, Hayden said that a rebel win was not one of the three possible outcomes he foresees for the conflict: “Option three is Assad wins. And I must tell you at the moment, as ugly as it sounds, I’m kind of trending toward option three as the best out of three very, very ugly possible outcomes.”

Those voices present Robert Ford with his second big challenge, which is not just to bring the Islamic Front to the conference in Montreux, but steer it towards an understanding with Assad for generating a military coalition for saving Syria from Al Qaeda. To this end, the Obama administration will also have to start talking to the Syrian ruler.

India Denies Karzai’s Request For Military Aid

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President Hamid Karzai on his trip to New Delhi this week met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to encourage him to provide military equipment to Afghanistan. However, so far he has not had much success. 

Reportedly, New Delhi wants to avoid getting swept up in Afghanistan’s challenges, as supplying military equipment could irritate neighboring countries, especially Pakistan.

Just as Salman Khurshid, the Indian Foreign Minister, said that New Delhi doesn’t want to provide weapons to Afghanistan at the moment, the Presidential Palace in Kabul has reported agreement between two sides on security and defensive cooperation along with training of the Afghan forces.

“Among the issues that were discussed between the sides, one was security and defensive cooperation,” Karzai’s Deputy Spokesperson Faiq Wahidi said. “Both sides agreed that training and meeting the needs of Afghanistan’s security forces in equipment and infrastructural parts must increase.”

President Karzai presented New Delhi with a list of military equipment in May. This list included heavy weaponry such as tanks, ground vehicles and helicopters. That request was originally declined by India.

Kabul has good relations with New Delhi, but reportedly Pakistan considers this closenes a threat. As the two countries develop good economic ties, Kabul has started pushing strategic programs for security relations with New Delhi.

UN Inspectors Find Proof That Both Sides Used Chemical Weapons In Syrian War

UN inspectors confirm Syria chemical attack

livemint

The inspectors’ limited mandate barred them from identifying whether the govt or opposition fighters were responsible for any of the attacks

UN inspectors confirm Syria chemical attack

Thursday’s UN report said evidence indicated chemical weapons were probably used in Khan al Assal outside Aleppo, Jobar in Damascus’ eastern suburbs, Saraqueb near Idlib in the northwest, and Ashrafiah Sahnaya in the Damascus countryside. In two cases, it found ‘signatures of sarin’. Photo: AFP–[red=Assad, blue=rebels, red & blue=both sides–ed.]
United Nations: Chemical weapons were probably used in four locations in Syria this year, in addition to the confirmed attack near Damascus in August that forced the government to abandon its secret chemical stockpile, UN inspectors have said.
In a report released on Thursday, the experts, led by Swedish professor Ake Sellstrom, examined seven alleged chemical weapons attacks and said it lacked information to corroborate the allegations at two locations.
The inspectors’ limited mandate barred them from identifying whether the government or opposition fighters were responsible for any of the attacks.
Thursday’s report said evidence indicated chemical weapons were probably used in Khan al Assal outside Aleppo, Jobar in Damascus’ eastern suburbs, Saraqueb near Idlib in the northwest, and Ashrafiah Sahnaya in the Damascus countryside. In two cases, it found “signatures of sarin.”
The government and opposition accused each other of using chemical weapons at Khan al Assal and the report said none of the parties in Syria denied their use in the village. The allegations of chemical weapons use at Jobar and Ashrafiah Sahnaya were made by the Syrian government, while Britain and France raised the allegations about Saraqueb.
In an initial report on 16 September, Sellstrom’s team concluded that evidence collected in the Ghouta area of Damascus following an 21 August attack provided “clear and convincing evidence that surface-to-surface rockets containing the nerve agent sarin were used.” Graphic video footage showed dozens of people gasping for air and bodies lined up and the US government said more than 1,400 people were killed.
The confirmed use of chemical weapons in Ghouta, and the threat of possible US military action, led to a US-Russian agreement to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons by mid-2014. The process of getting Syrian chemicals that can be used to make weapons out of the country is currently underway.
The experts said they collected “credible information that corroborates the allegations that chemical weapons were used in Khan al Assal on 19 March 2013 against soldiers and civilians.” The report said information from medical, military and health personnel corroborated the occurrence of rapid mass poisoning “by an organophosphorous compound.”
But the inspectors said the release of chemical weapons at the site couldn’t be independently verified because it lacked “primary information” on how the chemical agents were delivered and because environmental and medical samples weren’t scientifically collected, preserved and analyzed.
The UN mission said it collected evidence “consistent with the probable use of chemical weapons in Jobar on 24 August 2013 on a relatively small scale against soldiers.” But it said it lacked information on the delivery system and the chain of custody for samples, and said therefore it could not “establish the link between the victims, the alleged event and the alleged site.”
The report said Jobar was “compromised by previous demining activities and by visits of representatives of the Syrian Government who had reportedly moved the remnants of two explosive devices alleged to be the munitions used in the incident.” The UN team was able to examine those remnants at a storage location.
The inspectors said interviews with survivors and clinicians and medical records confirmed symptoms of “organophosphorous” poisoning. They said blood samples recovered by the Syrian government on 24 August and authenticated by the UN using DNA techniques “tested positive for signatures of sarin,” and one blood sample from the same patients on 28 September tested positive for sarin.
At Saraqueb, the inspectors said they collected evidence “that suggests that chemical weapons were used … on 29 April 2013 on a small scale, also against civilians.” Again, they said they lacked information on the delivery system and the chain of custody for environmental samples and therefore couldn’t link the event, the site “and the deceased woman.”
The inspectors said samples of several of her organs, taken during an autopsy performed in the presence of inspectors, “tested positive for signatures of sarin.”
The UN mission said it collected evidence “that suggests that chemical weapons were used in Ashrafia Sahnaya on 25 August 2013 on a small scale against soldiers.” But it said it lacked primary information on delivery systems and said samples collected by the UN experts one week and one month after the alleged incident tested negative.
The report says the UN investigative team was unable to make on-site visits to almost all of the sites where chemical weapons allegedly were used, mostly because of poor security conditions. Of the seven sites in the final report, the team did visit Ghouta and Jobar.
Sellstrom handed his final report to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.
The report was then sent to members of the UN Security Council. Ban said he would address the 193-member General Assembly on Friday and the council on Monday about the report’s findings. AP

FBI Admits That They Can Covertly Activate Webcams

FBI Admits Activating Webcams To Spy on People (Without Triggering the Indicator Light)

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The FBI has admitted the obvious: that for years they’ve been activating people’s webcams remotely to spy on them – all without having the webcam light turn on.  (See: FBI webcam spying turned on: no red light required)

Thank you for admitting the obvious FBI. But so many morons living under Kim Kardashian’s butt believe that the “Oh, I don’t have anything to hide. What’s the big deal?”

I guess you should have asked that to Miss Teen USA who was blackmailed after a hacker got into her webcam and snapped some photos of her she walked around her bedroom after getting out the shower and getting dressed(see: Calif. youth admits Miss Teen USA ‘sextortion’ plot), and successfully blackmailed other teenage girls whose webcams he was able to hack into.

Its called ratting – remote access tool or remote administration tool rather – (see: Meet the men who spy on women through their webcams) – that has become very commonplace in the Orwellian nightmare.  So, of course, since losers who can’t get dates do this to girls to try to entertain themselves, of course the FBI has done such a thing (see: The FBI Can Watch You Through Your Laptop’s Webcam).

I want to read to you passage from George Orwell’s 1984.  From his famous novel on page 2, published in 1949, where he wrote:

“There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live–did live, from habit that became instinct–in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”

Yes, the cell phone microphone could be activated remotely while the cell phone is powered down.  This has been known for about seven years now that they’ve been able to do that.(see: FBI taps cell phone mic as eavesdropping tool).

And they’re trying to do away with all privacy.  They’re trying to do away with the Bill of Rights, the fourth amendment which requires the government to have a warrant to tap into any of your devices.

But, in the Orwellian New World Order they’re gonna be pushing more products like: X-box, one more smart television that have webcams built in without a hard-wired on-off switch, without a sliding cover, because these are the tele-screens that many of the public are willingly participating in and installing in their own homes (see: Your TV spying on you?  It’s possible).

And then the next phase is gonna be that they’re always on always listening with voice recognition systems. I mean the smart televisions have voice recognition systems.  The x-box, the connect – these things have voice recognition systems.

And so the next generation of cell phones, webcams – there just going to always be listening to you.  So, you know, like right now, if you want to have an iPhone and you want to use Siri, you’ve got to actually press the button.  But the next few generations are just going to be on all the time – just listening to you.

And the slaves are going to think that’s great. They’re so lazy they can’t just push a button activate Suri. They just need to [say] “Oh, Suri. Please. Suri, what day is it today?  Hey Suri, what country am I in right now?”  They are mentally enslaved. Their brains have become mush.

So, anyway, thank you FBI for admitting the obvious.

And, again for the morons who say, “Oh, I don’t have anything to hide…” This technology is such a double-edged sword. I guess, say that the Miss Teen USA.  She didn’t have anything to hide.  She was a victim of this web hacking as countless girls are.

So, there you go: baby monitors being hacked into remotely (see: Baby monitor hacked, spies on Texas child).

This is the Orwellian nightmare. So please learn the Bill of Rights.  Please learn what your rights are before it’s too late.

President Putin’s state-of-the-nation annual Address to the Russian Federal Assembly

PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN:

Citizens of Russia, members of the Council of Federation and the State Duma,

The President’s state-of-the-nation annual Address to the Federal Assembly is a requirement set forth in the Russian Constitution, that which is exactly 20 years old today. I congratulate you on this important date for our state and our society. And of course, I also congratulate you on the 20th anniversary of the Federal Assembly, Russia’s parliament, which was created in accordance with the provisions of our country’s basic law.

Our Constitution brings together two fundamental priorities – the supreme value of rights and freedoms of citizens and a strong state, emphasising their mutual obligation to respect and protect each other. I am convinced that the constitutional framework must be stable, above all in what concerns its second chapter, which defines the rights and freedoms of individuals and citizens. These provisions of our fundamental law are inviolable.

But life does not stand still, and no constitutional process can ever be regarded as finally completed or dead. Targeted amendments to other constitutional chapters, deriving from law enforcement practices and from life itself, naturally are possible and sometimes necessary.

You know that we have proposed to amend the Constitution and to unite the Supreme Court and Higher Arbitration Court. Today these courts often differ, sometimes quite substantially, in their interpretation of various laws. Sometimes they take different decisions in similar cases, and sometimes they agree. This results in legal uncertainty, and at times in injustices that affect concrete people.

I believe that unifying these courts will allow us to bring judicial practice onto one track, and therefore strengthen the guarantees protecting a crucial constitutional principle, the equality of all before the law.

Colleagues,

The Constitution contains crucial unifying national ideas.

The meaning of its provisions on the welfare state consists in the mutual responsibility linking the state, society, the business community, and every Russian citizen. We must support the growing desire of citizens, representatives of public and professional associations, political parties, and the business class to participate in our country’s life.

Among other things we must support civic activism at the local level, in communities, so that people get a real opportunity to participate in managing their village or town, to deal with everyday issues that actually determine their quality of life.

Today quite a few problems have accumulated within our local self-government system. Unfortunately, and you know it well, the responsibilities incumbent on municipalities and their resources are not evenly balanced. This often leads to confusion regarding their authorities, which are not only blurred, but are constantly thrown from one level of government to another: from districts to regions, from towns to districts and back again. Local self-government authorities are being constantly shaken by corruption scandals.

The powers at the district level have been significantly watered down. Those that existed in education, healthcare, and social welfare have been transferred to the regional level of government.

In addition, local authority – because it is the closest power to the people – should be organised so that any citizen could reach out to it, figuratively speaking. In this connection I am addressing the All-Russian Council for Local Self-Government Development, All-Russian Congress of Municipalities, governors, and members of the Federal Assembly, of the Government of the Russian Federation – let’s comprehensively go over these issues again and finally bring the situation in line with common sense and attune it to the times.

Let me repeat: I think the most important task is to clarify the general principles of local self-government organisation, develop strong, independent, financially sustainable local authorities. And we need to start this work and give it sound legal foundations already next year, 2014, the year of the 150th anniversary of the famous Zemstvo Reform of 1864.

Incidentally, at the time it was precisely the development of zemstvos, of local self-government that enabled Russia to make a breakthrough and find competent people capable of implementing major progressive reforms, including Pyotr Stolypin’s agrarian reform and the restructuring of industry during the First World War.

I am sure that today as well strong local self-government can become a powerful resource for enhancing and renewing our country’s human resource potential. And of course, we are all interested in ensuring that elections bring to power qualified, motivated, professional people who are ready to perform their duties responsibly. For this reason we shall continue to work on developing the political competition, improving political institutions, and creating conditions for them to be more open and efficient.

Recent elections demonstrated that today there is less officialdom, bureaucracy, and predictable results in our political life. I consider it important that many new parties have made their presence felt. By winning seats in municipal and regional bodies, they have laid a good foundation for participating in upcoming federal election campaigns. I am sure that they will act as worthy competitors to longstanding political actors.

Today’s Russia requires broad public debate that would yield practical results, when public initiatives become part of public policy, while society monitors their execution.

I think that all draft bills, key government decisions, and strategic plans should pass a so-called initial public reading involving NGOs and other civil society institutions.

Both the federal and regional executive authorities must establish public councils. Of course many such councils already exist within various levels of authority, but they are not everywhere. And most importantly, these councils should not be formal or decorative structures. On the contrary, they should act as expert groups, and sometimes as the government’s constructive opponents, and be active participants in anti-corruption efforts.

I would ask the Civic Chamber, the Human Rights Council and other non-governmental and human rights organisations to be actively involved in drafting the bill On Public Oversight that would establish the legal basis for such civic participation.

Supporting the human rights movement should be a priority of joint work between the state and society. We expect that such organisations will not act in a way that is politically biased, and that they will engage as closely as possible with the interests and concerns of every citizen, every individual.

In this context, the role of the Civic Chamber is increasing. It must become a platform where various professional and social groups, associations, and unions can express their interests. More professionals should be involved in this work. I believe that members of these unions must compose at least half of the Civic Chamber’s members proposed by the President. Such an approach would balance the interests of different social and professional groups, and enable the Chamber to be more responsive to their concerns.

The most important topic requiring frank discussion in our society today is interethnic relations. This one topic concentrates many of our problems: challenges relating to socio-economic and regional development, corruption, shortcomings in the work of public institutions, and of course failures in educational and cultural policies, which often produce a distorted understanding of the true causes of interethnic tensions.

Such tensions are not provoked by representatives of particular nationalities, but by people devoid of culture and respect for traditions, both their own and those of others. They represent a kind of Amoral International, which comprises rowdy, insolent people from certain southern Russian regions, corrupt law enforcement officials who cover for ethnic mafias, so-called Russian nationalists, various kinds of separatists who are ready to turn any common tragedy into an excuse for vandalism and bloody rampage.

Together we must rise to the challenge; we must safeguard interethnic peace and thus the unity of our society, the unity and integrity of the Russian state.

Colleagues,

The May 2012 executive orders contain specific measures designed to ensure the country’s dynamic development in all fields. In fact, the orders amounted to a unified action programme, reflecting the will of millions of people, the desire of all Russian people for a better life. Sometimes we hear that there are insufficient funds to realise all stated plans and goals, that we need to lower our standards and simplify our tasks.

Colleagues, let me turn to a very important subject with profound implications. I think that it is impossible to elaborate policies following a formal approach. Yes, of course we all know that economic trends may and do change. But that is no reason to talk about revising our goals. We need to do real work, seek solutions, and clearly lay out budgetary and other priorities. I would ask you to update all state programmes accordingly.

Already within the next two years, all budgets should be changed to conform to our budget plan. This does not mean rewriting everything mechanically. It means increasing the personal responsibility of each manager for the achievement of results. What we need to do is to focus resources on achieving substantial changes in specific sectors.

For this reason we are raising salaries in education and healthcare so that the work of teachers, professors, and doctors becomes prestigious once again, and attracts strong university graduates. But as we agreed, decent wages must not only reflect budgetary transfers, but rather reforms designed to improve spending efficiency and, most importantly, the quality of social services. We need people to see how our schools, universities, clinics and hospitals are changing for the better.

Therefore, in addition to increasing salaries, which certainly needs to be done, and we will do it, we must also implement a whole set of other measures to ensure that all our objectives are met. What are those measures? They include transitioning to the use of an effective contract and the certification of specialists, as well as implementing per capita financing, when establishments (both state and private ones, which is very important) providing services of the highest quality receive special benefits. This means developing real competition, opening the public sector to NGOs and socially-oriented businesses. It certainly means optimising the budget institution network by reducing ineffective expenditures and components, and removing barriers that prevent public institutions from working independently.

What is happening with all these measures? A year and a half has passed since the executive orders were issued. You know what I’m seeing? Either things are being done in a way that elicits a negative reaction among the public, or nothing is done at all. Clearly, we will fail to achieve our stated goals with this kind of work.

It is taking us a long time to make these changes – an unacceptably long time. As a result, consumers of these services do not perceive any fundamental changes. We are allocating enormous resources, but if we do not hold reforms, instead of an improved quality, we will only see an increase in inefficient expenditures that inflate the administrative apparatus, which is what often happens in practice. I want to draw the federal and regional authorities’ attention to this.

One very important challenge is to create a system for independently appraising the quality of social institutions. This mechanism will allow their funding to be linked to their performance, which means effectively optimising the budget institution network.

I believe that we need direct application laws that will establish common approaches, standards and criteria, as well as responsibilities at all levels of government, to create a system for independently appraising the performance of organisations in the social sector. I am asking you to adopt a corresponding law in the upcoming spring session. Colleagues, this is an urgent request.

In recent years, we have been able to achieve a great deal in the healthcare sector. Life expectancy has gone up. Mortality from cardiovascular and many other types of diseases has gone down. However, we are still far from our target indicators.

The big question that remains is a realistic approach to the insurance principle in healthcare. Today, the function of mandatory health insurance is essentially to “pump money” to the recipient through the extra-budgetary fund rather than the budget. The objective is entirely different. The objective is for the insurance principle to work as an incentive for people to take responsibility for their health, to have financial incentives to live a healthy lifestyle, and for insurance companies to be interested in medical institutions providing high-quality services, so that a patient finally has the opportunity to select the medical institution that, in his or her opinion, works best.

The mandatory health insurance system should fully financially cover state guarantees for providing free medical assistance. This applies equally to the total spending volume and directing funding to a specific hospital or clinic. At the same time, the patient should clearly understand which healthcare services he or she is entitled to receive free of charge, and the doctor should understand the principles upon which his or her work is paid.

Particular emphasis should be placed on developing a preventive treatment system. Beginning in 2015, all children and teenagers must have a yearly mandatory free medical check-up, while adults should undergo such an examination every three years.

Clearly, there will be an increase in disease detection during routine medical examinations, and the need for high-tech medical care will grow. In recent years, we have created a whole network of federal centres, supporting ones that are located in major cities, but also creating a new federal network of centres capable of providing medical assistance at the most advanced level. We need to maintain and develop their potential. At the same time, services at these centres must be accessible not just to the residents of the cities where they are located, but also residents of other regions. We must provide the necessary financial resources for that.

On the whole, over the next three years, we must create the conditions to perform 50% more high-tech operations than today. This is an entirely achievable goal. At the same time, we cannot fall behind the global trends. Leading nations already stand at the threshold of implementing medical technologies built on bio- and genetic engineering, based on the human genome sequence. This will truly revolutionise medicine. I believe that the Healthcare Ministry and the Russian Academy of Sciences should make fundamental and applied medical research a priority.

We must greatly increase the professional community’s role in managing the healthcare system. I am aware that there are some ideas in this area that deserve support. I am asking the Health Ministry to work with leading healthcare worker associations to submit concrete proposals.

We must also revive our traditions of charity. I propose that we organise a nationwide movement for volunteers who want to work within the healthcare system, providing what assistance they can. I believe that volunteers who have spent several years working in healthcare institutions should have priority admission to medical schools.

Colleagues,

The year 2014 has been declared the Year of Culture in Russia. It is intended to be a year of enlightenment, emphasis on our cultural roots, patriotism, values and ethics.

We are aware of the all-encompassing, unifying role of Russian culture, history and language for our multi-ethnic population, and we must build our state policy with this in mind, including in education.

We need schools that do more than just teach; teaching is very important –most important, in fact – but we also need schools to help our nation’s citizens form their identity, absorbing the nation’s values, history and traditions. We need open-minded individuals with a strong internalised knowledge of culture, capable of thinking creatively and independently.

Instructions have already been given that starting from the next academic year, a mandatory essay-based final exam will be introduced for graduating high school students. The results of this exam will be taken into consideration alongside the National Final School Exam when applying to universities and other educational institutions.

Teachers’ professional development will be crucial to the future of Russian schools. Teachers must be ready to use modern technology and know how to work with children that have health-related disabilities. I ask you to prepare an integrated programme for upgrading school staff. I know that the Education Ministry is already working on this, and is developing a system of life-long training and professional development for teachers. We must complete the work on this programme.

There is another problem that requires urgent resolution. Even today, many schools operate with two shifts. This is true for nearly one quarter of Russian schools, and nearly half of schools in cities use this system. Thanks to positive demographic growth, the number of students in Russian schools will grow by a million in the next five to six years.

I ask the Cabinet, the Federal Assembly and regional authorities: we must assess the scale of this problem and provide effective solutions, which should include building preschools in such a way that in the future, they can be used as elementary schools as well.

This should not lead to an increase in the cost of preschool construction projects. We can consider the option of building schools and preschools under one roof, as a single campus.

Of course, let me stipulate that this is not the federal government’s responsibility. This responsibility falls on the regional and even local authorities. Nevertheless, we need to understand the scale of the problem. We cannot brush it aside. If it has enormous significance for our nation and takes on these forms, I do not think we will be able to address it without federal support.

Naturally, we must continue developing a wide array of sports infrastructure for children and teenagers. We must do everything to increase the popularity of active lifestyles. Indeed, that was the main idea behind the Universiade that was successfully held in Kazan and the Olympic Games in Sochi, which will open very soon.

I am confident that we will do an excellent job of organising the Olympics in Sochi, the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the Winter Universiade in Krasnoyarsk.

Colleagues,

The statistics from January through October of this year show that Russia has experienced natural population growth. This is the first time we are seeing such results since 1991, and it is a very positive indicator.

The birth rate exceeded mortality in almost half of Russia’s regions, and it surpassed the national average in all regions in the Urals and Siberia, and most Volga and Far Eastern regions.

But we need to understand something else as well. Right now, the generation born in the 1990s is beginning to start families of their own – this is the generation from the time when the decline in birth rates was the greatest, when it was catastrophic. We must make a special effort to ensure that the positive population growth remains irreversible.

I remind you that the birth rate in our country reached one of its highest figures in the late 1980s. Housing construction also peaked at this time. Today, housing construction must once again play a decisive part in encouraging population growth in Russia.

The Government has already drafted the policy measures needed to implement the programme for building affordable housing. This programme will see the construction of at least 25 million square metres of new housing, complete with the corresponding social infrastructure, by 2017, so that middle-income families can improve their housing situation. I propose that we call this programme Housing for Russia’s Families, so as to focus attention on this side of the issue.

Overall, by 2016, we will need to pass the 75-million square-metre mark, which is higher than the record set in 1987, when 72.8 million square metres of housing were built. Modern technology allows us to build a lot of relatively cheap and quality housing, but there are several problems we need to resolve on the way.

Above all, we need to finally make all the legal amendments that will clear the way for making land plots available for housing construction. This must be done within the coming months. This is a subject we are always discussing, and we have come back to this issue many times over these last weeks.

The local government authorities will have the task of organising bids for land plots under clear and transparent procedures. Developers will also have greater responsibility: if they receive the land but do not begin construction according to schedule, they will have to return the land.

Another barrier that is holding back construction is the lack of funds for providing land plots with the necessary engineering infrastructure. We will need to develop specially-designed instruments to resolve this and work out the financing sources and organisational form.

I know that at the tax authorities’ initiative the Government is drafting proposals on bringing order to online trade. This could also become a source of funding for developing engineering infrastructure. I ask you to make proposals on this matter.

Finally, we need to put the situation with permit procedures in order. These procedures are still not standardised. I ask you to draft a single and exhaustive list of all permits required for construction and reduce the time it takes to go through the necessary procedures as much as possible. I would like you to do this by the end of March 2014.

We all know why this work is not making progress and why problems have not been settled to this day. It is because there is a lot of corruption in this sector. This is where the root of the problem lies.

Colleagues,

We all know that renewed, sustained economic growth is the essential condition for achieving our social development goals. This brings me to the heart of our work.

Of course we are feeling the effects of the global economic crisis, but let’s be frank: the main reasons for the slowdown in our economy are internal rather than external in nature.

In terms of the size of its GDP, Russia is doing well and counts among the world’s five biggest economies. But in key indicators such as labour productivity, there is a two- to three-fold gap between us and the developed economies. We must work hard to close this gap.

To do this, we must make full use of all new development factors. What are these factors? We all know them well. They include high quality professional education and a flexible labour market, a good investment climate and modern technology.

I ask the Government, together with the Russian Academy of Sciences, to make adjustments to the programme of priority areas for science and technology development. The recently created Russian Scientific Fund will also need to organise its work in line with these priorities. The Fund’s purpose is to finance fundamental research and programmes with a long-term implementation timeframe. I consider this work to be of national importance.

The leaders of the parliamentary parties voiced their proposals on taking part in Russia’s innovative development at recent meetings held in preparation for today’s Address. You all voted for the law that established the Russian Scientific Fund. I propose that all of the parliamentary parties send their representatives to the Russian Scientific Fund’s Board of Trustees.

As for applied research, it should be based around technology platforms. I propose that targeted programmes such as Research and Development in Priority Science and Technology Fields refocus their funding on supporting this kind of applied research. It is also important at the same time to ensure co-financing of projects from state and private sector sources.

At the moment, only one out of every 265 scientific results obtained becomes protected by the law. Added-value contribution to Russia’s GDP from intellectual property turnover comes to less than 1 percent. This is not just a low figure – it is a very paltry figure indeed. In the United States, this figure is 12 percent, in Germany 7-8 percent, and in Finland, our neighbour, it is 20 percent. Technology platforms must therefore focus on concrete results, getting patents and licenses, and getting their developments into actual practical use.

We must develop internal demand for advanced technology. It is absolutely crucial to have demand for advanced technology from within the country. We must use the public procurement system and state company investment programmes to help encourage this demand. These sources represent a lot of money, trillions of roubles.

We must also carry out a thorough stock-taking of our development institutions. Their activities have become fragmented of late between numerous disparate projects that are not always directly related to innovation. That was not our objective when we established these development institutions. This is not to say that these projects are without merit, but the institutions were set up specifically to support the economy’s innovation development. We must reset their strategic focus back on technology breakthroughs.

In order to rid our economy of outdated, inefficient and harmful technology, we must finally put together a modern technical and environmental regulation system. This is a very complicated and sensitive matter for the economy. I hope that the Government will work energetically together with the business community and with our colleagues in the Customs Union to carry out this work.

I also propose that we establish a statistical evaluation system for the technology situation in the different economic sectors so as to gain an objective picture of our competitiveness. A system of this kind worked during the Soviet period. That old system was scrapped, but nothing was developed in its place. We now need to develop a new system.

The next task is support for the non-raw materials export sectors. This support system has still not begun working in full. Many administrative barriers remain in place. It takes more than 20 days to get an export permit. In comparison, it takes 6 days in the United States, and in Canada or South Korea it takes 8 days. These are all issues that need to be addressed in a new roadmap for supporting exports. I ask the Government, together with the Strategic Initiatives Agency, to draft this roadmap by March 1, 2014.

Colleagues, new professional standards play a crucial part in quality economic development. These standards must set the qualification demands that professionals in the different sectors should meet. But they will work only if they meet the demands of business itself, and they must therefore be developed with the professional communities’ involvement. I propose establishing a National Professional Qualifications Council. Rather than being attached to a government body, it would be a truly independent organisation. The main business organisations and professional associations should be involved in its work. Over a two-year period, this council will have the task of approving the entire package of new professional standards.

I ask our colleagues from the business community and from the associations I just mentioned not to shirk their part in this work. After all, it is in your own interests to get involved.

The entire professional education system should be reorganised so as to fit with the new standards and their demands. There is much in our own experience that we can draw on here, updating it for today’s needs. I am thinking here of things such as professional and workplace-related training right from school and technical higher education centres set up by big industrial companies. The main principle is to have on-the-job training so that theory is reinforced by practical skills and experience.

A few words separately on the subject of higher education, most young people want to get higher education, and the quality of our universities must measure up to this demand. Only in this way can we really turn our young people’s education drive into a powerful force for our country’s development. But today, both in the capitals and in the regions, there are still many universities that do not meet modern demands.

I think that in order to reinvigorate the entire higher education system, we must make use of our best universities’ potential by delegating to them the power to evaluate education quality and help to ensure that graduates’ knowledge and skills will be needed in the labour market and will bring our economy and society real returns.

In no circumstances must we create barriers for educational mobility. This also concerns the cost of student residences. The prices here should not be excessive in any way, but must be directly linked to the living conditions and services provided. I ask the Ministry of Education and Science and the student organisations to strictly monitor the situation here. It is unacceptable to set exorbitant prices for student accommodation.

A word of warning to university rectors in this respect: the situation will soon reach a point where the Finance Ministry will look at your revenues and will lower the norms accordingly. This is what you will end up with, and education, students and the universities will all suffer as a result.

We must also make a much greater effort to export quality education services and create conditions for having foreign students and our compatriots abroad, especially from the CIS countries, to study in Russian universities. This is something that can play a very big part in strengthening Russia’s cultural and intellectual influence in the world.

Over this coming period we must settle the matter of mutual recognition of school diplomas within the CIS and also examine the matter (as a proposal) of setting up centres for sitting the Russian National Final School Exam in accordance with Russia’s standards in the CIS countries, at Russian language centres, for example. These exams would be held at the same time as the National Final School Exam takes place in Russia’s schools. This would give talented young people from the CIS greater opportunities for coming to study at Russia’s universities.

Finally, we need to speed up the adoption of laws that would enable Russian universities to actively develop distance learning, which would also be aimed above all at our compatriots abroad and at the CIS countries.

As we improve professional education, we must remember that the labour market is becoming more flexible and people need to have possibilities for re-training and getting a new professional start in life. We must provide the right conditions for people who are willing to change jobs or move to a different town or region. Of course, this needs to be coordinated with our regional and local development plans, and working together with business.

We must give people information support, including by setting up a national job database, so that people everywhere can see in which region they might find a good job. This requires a whole series of decisions. I ask you to draft these measures, including those on rental housing and so forth. You know what sorts of issues I am talking about. The list is long. This work can and must be carried out as soon as possible.

The second task is to make the countryside a more attractive place for life and work. We have already invested considerable money in developing the agriculture sector. The sector is showing a positive dynamic now. In many areas we can now fully cover domestic demand with Russian-produced goods. I want to thank our rural population for their work and the results they have achieved.

The big task now is to encourage people to stay in the countryside and build a modern and comfortable infrastructure in rural areas. I ask you to pay particular attention to this issue when making changes to the state agriculture development programme.

I would like to say a few words about the situation in single-industry towns. They are part of the complicated legacy we inherited from the Soviet economy. These towns are home to more than 15 million people. Many of them are in a difficult situation, but these towns do have an excellent base: social infrastructure, housing and a skilled labour force. We need to identify what is stopping business from coming here, what incentives and conditions we can offer so that investors will come to these towns not under pressure, but because they see real opportunities for themselves there. Believe me, it is better to resolve things this way than to end up pumping tens of billions from the budget later into job creation there, which is what we will end up having to do if we do not properly address the situation now.

I therefore ask you to draft proposals on comprehensive development in the single-industry towns, investment projects that can be carried out there, and proposed financing sources, as well as proposals on reducing labour market tension and targeted support for small and medium business.

In this respect, I want to say to all of the regional heads that we are aware of the constraints that regional budgets face, but we do need to look beyond our immediate problems too.

The proposal has already been made – and I support it – that all regions could offer two-year tax holidays to new small businesses working in the manufacturing, social or scientific sectors (applause). Probably not all of the governors are applauding, but I want to say that carrying out this kind of idea today would bring dividends tomorrow in the form of additional revenue for the regions and municipalities. These would be new businesses. They do not even exist at present, and so we are not talking about any loss in budget revenue here. On the contrary, if we create the conditions for these new businesses, we will create revenue too.

We also need to make it possible for small businesses and individual entrepreneurs to pay their taxes and insurance payments using the ‘one window’ system. These are different payments, but we need to make it possible for them to be paid at a single place and time.

Another complicated problem related to the labour market is foreign labour migration. The lack of proper order in this sector creates labour market distortions, causes imbalances in the social sector, provokes ethnic conflicts, and leads to higher crime rates.

We need to put order in the procedures for employing foreign nationals who have visa-free entry to Russia, and increase employers’ responsibility for employing foreign workers. Of course, if these people are living and working in Russia and using our country’s education and healthcare services, they must also take on their share of obligations and pay their taxes and other payments.

The task is not an easy one. We must preserve our special ties with the former Soviet republics, but at the same time we also need to put the situation in order. I think that in this context we should change the current license system. Foreign workers currently need to acquire a license if they are employed by a private individual. I propose that legal entities and individual entrepreneurs should also have the possibility of hiring foreign workers on a license basis. The license’s cost would be set by the particular region depending on the situation on the region’s labour market and the average income there. The license system should be differentiated and encourage above all professionals, educated specialists, who speak Russian and have an affinity for our culture to come to work in Russia. I stress too that licenses would be valid only in the region where they were issued.

I hope that if we organise this work competently, it will be an economic instrument that can help us regulate the migration flow. I call it an economic instrument because of the differing cost the licenses would have from one region to another in Russia.

Finally, we need to establish tighter scrutiny of the purpose foreign nationals declare when entering Russia. All civilised countries do this. Russia must be able to know why people are coming, and how long they plan to stay. We also need to settle the issue of foreigners who enter Russia under visa-free travel arrangements and without any specific purpose. At least they supposedly have no specific purpose, though in actual fact they probably do have a purpose, but the authorities know nothing about it. Their time in the country should be limited, and entry into Russia should be prohibited for people who have broken the immigration rules. Depending on the seriousness of the violation, entry should be prohibited to enter the country for 3-10 years.

These measures would set an additional barrier for foreign citizens who are working in the shadow economy or are even engaged in criminal activity, or who are working illegally, often in inhuman conditions, and who, sadly, themselves become the victims of criminals.

Colleagues,

Two years ago, together with the business community, we began systematic work to improve Russia’s investment climate. I can say that we have already achieved some good results. Perhaps not many people believed that we would actually achieve these results, but they are there. Now we must go further. By 2015, we must have completed the main work to put in place the laws and regulatory base that will make it attractive and easy to do business in Russia.

For this reason, starting next year, we will publish a national rating of the investment climate situation in the different regions. This will essentially be an instrument for evaluating the national business initiative’s implementation in each of the country’s regions.

At the same time, we need to create incentives for regions that are developing their economic base and that have made it their mission to support business initiative and create new production facilities and jobs.

Let me announce a piece of good news for the regional governors. Regions that invest in developing industrial and technology parks and business incubators will have the federal taxes paid by their resident companies returned for three years to the regional budgets in the form of inter-budgetary transfers. Let me stress that this will be within the limits of the region’s expenses for building the infrastructure for these sites.

There is nothing to laugh about here! This is a good proposal. It was the result of long and exhausting discussions with the Finance Ministry. I ask the Finance Minister not to water down these agreements, but to give them your full attention and carry them out.

One issue that is still a sensitive matter for businesspeople is excess attention from various inspectors. Inspections and checks are necessary, but the work to change the principles on which the oversight and inspection agencies carry out their work must continue.

This work is still ongoing and it must continue. To make this area more transparent, I propose that we set up a unified federal portal, where every check and inspection will be given an individual number and it will be clear immediately who initiated each investigation, who was inspected, on what grounds the inspectors carried out their investigations, and, most important, what results the investigations produced.

Let me note another problem too, namely, that our mechanisms for settling economic disputes are still a long way behind the best global practices. In this context, we also need to make a serious effort to raise the arbitration courts’ authority.

I ask the Government, together with the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to draw up a draft law on fundamental improvements to the arbitration system and submit it to the State Duma as soon as possible.

In last year’s Address, I spoke about the challenges in relieving the economy of offshore activity. This is another topic to which I want to draw your attention and which we must return to today.

Why is that? I will tell you frankly that so far, the results are barely perceptible. Let me remind you about a major transaction that took place this year, worth over $50 billion. The sale of TNK-BP shares occurred outside of Russia’s jurisdiction, although we all know that the sellers were Russian nationals, and the buyer was one of Russia’s largest companies.

Last year, according to expert assessments, $11 billion worth of Russian goods passed through offshores and partial offshoresthat’s 20% of our exports. Half of the $50 billion of Russian investments abroad also went to offshores. These figures represent the withdrawal of capital that should be working in Russia and direct losses to the nation’s budget.

Since nothing significant has been achieved in this area this year, I want to make the following suggestions.

The incomes of companies that are registered in offshore jurisdictions and belong to Russian owners or whose ultimate beneficiaries are Russian nationals must follow Russian tax laws, and tax payments must be made to the Russian budget. We must think through a system for how to collect that money.

Such methods exist and there is nothing unusual here. Some countries have already implemented such a system: if you want to use offshores, go ahead, but the money has to come here. It is being implemented in countries with developed market economies, and this approach is working.

Moreover, companies that are registered in a foreign jurisdiction will not be allowed to make use of government support measures, including Vnesheconombank credits and state guarantees. These companies should also lose the right to fulfil government contracts and contracts for agencies with government participation.

In other words, if you want to take advantage of the benefits and support provided by the state and make a profit working in Russia, you must register in the Russian Federation’s jurisdiction.

We must increase the transparency of our economy. It is imperative to introduce criminal liability for executives who knowingly provide false or incomplete information about the true state of banks, insurance companies, pension funds and other financial institutions.

We need to maintain our fundamental, firm position on ridding our credit and financial system of various types of money laundering operations. Meanwhile, the interests of honest clients and depositors in problematic banks should be securely protected.

Today, the fight against the erosion of the tax base and the use of various offshore schemes is a global trend. These issues are widely discussed at the G8 and G20 summits, and Russia will conduct this policy at both an international and national level.

The need for liability fully applies not only to private businesses, but executives at state-controlled companies and development institutions as well. I propose that the Government should radically change the principles of its work; there should not be any executive comfort zones here. They are paid very good money. We will not achieve much economic progress if we undermine them; we will not be able to employ the professionals we need. But we must establish supervision over their work, and we must do it the right way.

All such organisations must develop their own long-term strategies, which should state clear goals and personal responsibility indicators for their leadership. Executives’ employment agreements must stipulate liability for failure to fulfil the set objectives, including financial liability.

Company programmes for corporations included in the strategic enterprise list must be approved by the Government of the Russian Federation, and their implementation should undergo an external audit. I looked at the list yesterday: there are several dozen such companies. We have several lists, but the list of strategic enterprises includes only several dozen. Of course, this means an additional workload, but I am confident that the Government will rise up to this challenge.

I will stress again that government and private sector resources should go toward development and achieving strategic objectives. For example, let’s look at such objectives as developing Siberia and the Far East. This is our national priority for the entire 21st century. The challenges we will need to tackle are unprecedented in their scale, which means we must take unconventional approaches.

We have already made a decision on a reduced income tax rate and a number of other taxes for new investment projects in the Far East. I feel it would be expedient to expand this regime to all of Eastern Siberia, including Krasnoyarsk Territory and the Republic of Khakassia.

Moreover, I suggest creating a network of special advanced economic development zones in the Far East and Eastern Siberia with special conditions for organising non-extractive production, including that intended for export. New companies located in such zones, in such territories, should be provided with five-year exemptions for income tax, mineral extraction tax (with the exception of oil and gas, which is a profitable sector), land and property taxes, as well as preferential insurance rates, which are very important for high-tech manufacturing.

What’s also important is to create conditions here that will be competitive with key business centres of the Asia-Pacific region. Such conditions should apply to authorisation procedures for construction, connecting to electricity networks, and passing through customs. We will make active use of the Far East Development Fund in order to resolve infrastructure issues in these territories.

We will need to decide on the exact location of these territories by July 1, 2014, and adopt all the legal regulatory acts necessary for them to operate. Given the importance and scale of this endeavour, I am asking the Prime Minister to personally supervise this work. In the future, we will make decisions about their future development based on the experience and practice of working in such zones and the resulting effect.

We will also continue the projects already being implemented at this time. As you know, a new university has been established on Russky Island. It will conduct a sound scientific evaluation with regard to Far East development programmes, and provide for the region’s employment needs, first and foremost in areas such as space, biotechnology, robotic technologies, design, engineering, oceanography and the use of marine resources.

I am confident that Russia’s reorientation toward the Pacific Ocean and the dynamic development in all our eastern territories will not only open up new economic opportunities and new horizons, but also provide additional instruments for an active foreign policy.

Colleagues, global development is becoming increasingly contradictory and dynamic. Russia’s historical responsibility is growing in these conditions, not only because it is one of the key guarantors of global and regional stability, but also a nation that consistently asserts its value-based approaches, including in international relations.

The intensity of military, political, economic, and informational competition throughout the world is not decreasing, but only getting stronger. Other power centres are closely monitoring Russia’s progress as it grows stronger.

We have always been proud of our nation. But we do not claim to be any sort of superpower with a claim to global or regional hegemony; we do not encroach on anyone’s interests, impose our patronage onto anyone, or try to teach others how to live their lives. But we will strive to be leaders, defending international law, striving for respect and national sovereignty and peoples’ independence and identity. This is absolutely objective and understandable for a state like Russia, with its great history and culture, with many centuries of experience, not of not so-called tolerance, neutered and barren, but the actual modern, natural life of different peoples within the framework of a single state.

Today, many nations are revising their moral values and ethical norms, eroding ethnic traditions and differences between peoples and cultures. Society is now required not only to recognise everyone’s right to the freedom of consciousness, political views and privacy, but also to accept without question the equality of good and evil, strange as it seems, concepts that are opposite in meaning. This destruction of traditional values from above not only leads to negative consequences for society, but is also essentially anti-democratic, since it is carried out on the basis of abstract, speculative ideas, contrary to the will of the majority, which does not accept the changes occurring or the proposed revision of values.

We know that there are more and more people in the world who support our position on defending traditional values that have made up the spiritual and moral foundation of civilisation in every nation for thousands of years: the values of traditional families, real human life, including religious life, not just material existence but also spirituality, the values of humanism and global diversity.

Of course, this is a conservative position. But speaking in the words of Nikolai Berdyaev, the point of conservatism is not that it prevents movement forward and upward, but that it prevents movement backward and downward, into chaotic darkness and a return to a primitive state.

In recent years, we have seen how attempts to push supposedly more progressive development models onto other nations actually resulted in regression, barbarity and extensive bloodshed. This happened in many Middle Eastern and North African countries. This dramatic situation unfolded in Syria.

As far as Syria is concerned, the international community had to jointly make a momentous choice: to either descend into further erosion of the world order’s foundations, or collectively make responsible decisions.

I feel it was our common success when the choice was made on the basis of the fundamental principles of international law, common sense and the logic of peace. So far, at least, we have been able to avoid external military intervention in Syria’s affairs and the spread of the conflict far beyond the region.

Russia made significant contributions to this process. We acted firmly, thoughtfully and carefully. We never jeopardised our own interests and security, nor global stability. In my view, that is how a mature and responsible nation must act.

As a result, together with our partners, we managed to steer the course of events away from war and toward establishing a nationwide political process and civil consensus in Syria. Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal is now under international control. Its liquidation is an important step in strengthening non-proliferation regimes for weapons of mass destruction. The Syrian precedent confirmed the UN’s central role in global politics.

The Syrian crisis, and now the situation in Iran as well, clearly demonstrate that any international problem can and should be resolved exclusively through political means, without resorting to forceful actions with little potential that are rejected by most nations in the world.

This year, we saw a breakthrough with the Iranian nuclear programme, but it was only the first step. It is imperative to continue patiently searching for a broader solution that will guarantee Iran’s inalienable right to develop peaceful nuclear energy and – I want to stress this – security for all countries in the region, including Israel.

Incidentally, it was Iran’s nuclear programme that once served as the main argument in favour of deploying a missile defence system. So what is happening now? The Iranian nuclear issue is being resolved, but the missile defence system remains. And it doesn’t just remain, it is being developed further. But I will talk about that a little later.

I want to stress again: Russia is prepared for joint efforts with all partners in the interest of ensuring common, equal, indivisible security.

Russia’s G8 presidency in 2014 will focus on acute global problems: strengthening non-proliferation regimes, combating international terrorism and drug trafficking. We will also act in accordance with these principles when preparing to host the BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summits in 2015.

We are now entering a crucial stage in preparing the Eurasian Economic Union Treaty. We expect to have agreed on the Treaty’s text by May 1, 2014 and to have submitted it to the Russian, Belarusian and Kazakhstani parliaments by that time. Colleagues, I would ask you to prioritise this document and give it your consideration and support.

Let me add that working groups are currently preparing roadmaps governing the accession of Kyrgyzstan and Armenia to the Customs Union. I am sure that the real achievements of Eurasian integration will only enhance our other neighbours’ interest in it, including that of our Ukrainian partners.

Even before all these protests that we are now witnessing in Kiev – and I very much hope that the country’s political forces will be able to negotiate and resolve Ukraine’s accumulated problems in the interests of its citizens – before all these problems began, starting in May Ukraine has expressed its desire to be present at all meetings between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan as an observer. Ukraine participates in discussions and has repeatedly declared its interest in joining some of the Customs Union’s agreements.

We are not imposing anything on anybody. But if our friends want to work together, then we are ready to continue this work at the expert level.

Our integration project is based on equal rights and on real economic interests. We will consistently promote the Eurasian process, without setting it against other integration projects including the more mature European one. We proceed from our complementarity and naturally we will continue to work with our European friends on a new basic agreement.

Colleagues,

A few words about our actions to further strengthen our Armed Forces.

I just mentioned the issue of missile defence, and here’s what I would like to say in this regard. We are all perfectly aware that the missile defence system is defensive in name only. In fact, it is a crucial component of strategic offensive capabilities. The development of new weapons systems, such as low-yield nuclear weapons, strategic non-nuclear missiles and hypersonic high-precision non-nuclear systems for prompt, long-range strikes are also causes for concern.

We are closely following the development of the so-called Prompt Global Strike system, which is being actively developed by some countries. Implementing all of these plans could have extremely negative consequences for regional and global stability.

The ramping up of high-precision strategic non-nuclear systems by other countries, in combination with the build-up of missile defence capabilities, could negate all previous agreements on the limitation and reduction of strategic nuclear weapons, and disrupt the strategic balance of power.

We understand this very well, and in this context we know exactly what we need to do. No one should entertain any illusions about achieving military superiority over Russia; we will never allow it. Russia will respond to all these challenges, both political and technological. We have all we need in order to do so.

Our military doctrine and advanced weapons, weapons that are being and will be deployed, will unconditionally allow us to ensure the security of the Russian state.

We still have a lot to do to develop modern high-precision weapons systems. At the same time, judged by qualitative parameters for modern strategic nuclear deterrent forces, today we are successfully reaching new milestones on schedule, and some of our partners will have to catch up.

We are developing new strategic missile systems for land, sea and air to further strengthen our nuclear forces. We will continue to strengthen our strategic missile forces and continue building a fleet of nuclear submarines. We are also starting work on a promising long-range aviation system.

The establishment of a global intelligence network is the next step on our agenda. The formation of an integrated, real-time global network for reconnaissance and targeting, which will operate in a single informational space in the interests of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, is extremely important. This is connected with additions to our satellite group.

We will continue to develop our general purpose forces: aviation, the navy and the land forces. This year in keeping with our plans, the number of privates and sergeants under contract increased to 220,000. At the same time we have to think how to create highly trained reserve forces.

There is another suggestion in this regard: keeping deferrals for students and changing the very system of military training offered by institutions of higher education. This will enable all students to study, receive military training for their next military assignment and a particular area of military specialisation.

This mechanism will allow us to train the right amount of reservists for the most needed, primarily technical military specialisations, while not drafting them into the Armed Forces. I would ask the Government and the Security Council to submit concrete proposals for how such a system could be organised.

Next. As you know, the funds we are allocating for rearming the Army and the Navy, for modernising the defence industry are unprecedented. They total 23 trillion rubles [more than $700 billion].

In the next decade, our defence companies will be fully loaded with orders. They will be able to upgrade their manufacturing base and create high-quality jobs. Let me recall that in Russia about two million people work in the defence industry. Together with their families, the number comes to almost seven million people. And specialists in this sector will have stable, well-paid jobs, and their families will be provided for.

Now we have to think about what the defence industry’s companies will do after having fulfilled the state defence procurement order, after 2020. We cannot allow them to become obsolete.

We need to strengthen our position in global markets. I would ask the Military-Industrial Commission to submit proposals in this regard, to ensure that our businesses can promptly switch to releasing in-demand civilian products onto both our domestic market and foreign ones.

There’s another point I would like to emphasise. We said that all Defence Ministry servicemen who began their service before January 1, 2012 would receive permanent housing by the end of this year. This task should be fully completed in the near future, and it will be. I would draw the Defence Ministry’s attention to this and ask you to deal with the issue on a case-by-case basis, helping people choose the best option for them.

Colleagues,

For the first time in our country’s history, we are turning the page on the issue of permanent housing for servicemen in Russia’s Army and Navy. Now we can concentrate on completing the construction of modern service housing and comfortable military bases.

Colleagues,

A sense of responsibility for the country is the main theme, lifeblood, and core value of the Russian Constitution, and it is also a call to each of us.

The nation’s strategic development agenda is well-known; this Address has outlined main areas of work and ways to achieve specific goals.

Everything that has been stated here must be executed without any reservations, new suggestions or bureaucratic interpretations. This is what the authorities’ most important and most notable task consists in.

It is our duty to increase people’s trust. Only in this way will we be able to increase the activity of our citizens, and people will want to contribute to our country’s development.

Let me repeat that if a decision has been made, then it must be implemented. I consider this approach to be a concise expression of shared responsibility, and would suggest making this the motto of the coming year, a motto for everyone: for the government, for society, for citizens.

I am absolutely convinced that by drawing on the best traditions of our people, by using the latest ideas and most effective development paths, we will meet all the challenges we face and guarantee our success.

Thank you for your attention.

Vladimir Putin’s Moral Stand Against West’s State Terrorism

[In a stunning historical reversal, the anti-Communists become the state terrorists and the Communists become the source of moral authority that the rest of the world turns to for help in resisting the aggression of the real Evil Empire, the American State Terrorists.]

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Vladimir Putin: Russia is Morally Superior to the West

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Putin says Russia not teaching ‘anyone how to live’ in swipe at US over gay rights and superpower illusions

By

Putin Claims Russia Moral Compass

The Russian President believes that Russia is morally superior to the West (Reuters)

President Vladimir Putin has declared that Russia has a morally superior worldview to that of the West.

Putin, a former KGB agent, defended Moscow’s conservative ideals and said that Russia was trying to resist a wave of “non-traditional values”.

With Russia’s anti-gay stance under the spotlight in the run-up to the Sochi Winter Olympics, Putin scolded the West for treating “good and evil” equally.

Putin’s 70-minute speech was big on Russian family values, which he lauded as a safeguard against “so-called tolerance – genderless and infertile”.

In a thinly veiled swipe at the US in his state of the nation address, he declared that Russia was not attempting to be a superpower nor “teach anyone how to live”.

He spoke about Russia’s relationship with Ukraine after protests against the president, Victor Yanukovich, escalated in Kiev. The protests grew in response to Yanukovich’s decision to plump for closer ties with Moscow and reject a trade agreement with the European Union.

“I hope that all political sides can successfully reach an agreement in the interests of the Ukrainian people,” Putin said.

And he warned: “Nobody should have any illusion about the possibility of gaining military superiority over Russia.

“We will never allow this to happen. Russia will respond to all these challenges, political and military.”

To report problems or to leave feedback about this article, e-mail: j.moore@ibtimes.co.uk
To contact the editor, e-mail: editor@ibtimes.co.uk

The Talibanization of Syria–(goog. trans.)

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The Taliban Syria

News from Syria in Spanish

Regardless of the degree, for different segments of the Syrian population, disillusionment has led even some who have participated in the forefront of the struggle against the regime to abandon the revolution Alke Yussef, leader of the Brigades in Deir Farouq Ezzor, not only resigned but the Brigades said that revolution is a corrupt farce. In a recent statement he exhibited 5 reasons for his departure :
1 – The path of the revolution in Deir Ezzor has deviated from the right path and has become a campaign of acquiring wealth
2 – That some leaders of the Farouq Brigade, in collaboration with other crews, tools and equipment sold in stores mills without our knowledge or agreement
3 – The fact that the Revolutionary Military Council or any similar organization did not support the Brigade, with a single bullet, knowing that everything that comes in the form of support from other groups will certain people with blind loyalty foreign leaders
4 – The emergence of the historical phenomenon of chunking, partisanship and loyalties to foreign parties, where people are forced to follow or face elimination as they are obvious-
5 – Lack of seriousness of any party responsible, both the Free Syrian Army and their supporters in the fight against the regime in Deir Ezzor as the main concern was, and remains, the financial arrangements with the regime .
The European Union today lifted the oil embargo on Syria , in order to provide more financial support for the rebel forces fighting to overthrow the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. The EU decision to allow exports of crude oil from rebel-held territory, also technology for the production of oil and gas investments in the Syrian oil industry will be imported.
But the opening of oil exports to help the rebels, seems somewhat illogical since most oil producing territory is under the control of the Islamist group Al-Nusra Jabhat; these areas are already experiencing conflicts because several groups compete for control of oil. Local tribes first began to control the oil fields of Deir Ezzor about a year ago, but when these poor tribes discovered oil wells, Deir Ezzor in the revolution was over and went from the revolution to the oil industry .
In late 2012, the rebels took oil fields in Deir Ezzor and this year moved in Hasakah and Raqqa-air-providing rich resources of much of the country’s oil and a substantial part of the national agriculture Gen. Salim Idriss, pro-Western leader of the Supreme Military Council, said he wanted to have some 30,000 troops to secure the oil fields , grain silos and cotton stocks and crossing points in the Turkish and Iraqi borders.
Speaking at a meeting of Foreign Ministers of Western and Arab in Istanbul, Gen. Idriss said he needed u $ s 35 million to pay the salaries of u $ s 100 dollars a month to combatants enrolled in their groups, funds not have . Both Idriss as local activists point to this competition for control of resources, as one of the reasons for the recent clashes between Al-Farouq Nusra and Brigades, a group much like the other, know that the fighters who will be money and a matter of months until one has full control over resources and combatants.
Members of Syrian Opposition Coalition said in a statement expressed its rejection, the U.S. decision to label Jabhat Al-Nusra as a “terrorist organization”, as the Al-Assad regime is who has led the peaceful revolution in Syria to turn to armed struggle, and Jabhat Al-Nusra has become a part of such armed forces fighting against oppression. But the Syrian Coalition strongly rejects any position that does not reflect the spirit of the Syrian revolution for freedom and dignity, the Coalition is deeply concerned about recent statements on affiliations and ideologies of certain factions of the rebel forces and therefore urged to Jabhat Al-Nusra it remains within the ranks of the Syrian nationalists.
Moaz Al-Khatib, director of the Coalition, said he rejects the ideas of Al-Qaeda and stressed that Syria is a country where moderate Islam prevails and asked Jabhat Al-Nusra ignore the influence that comes from the outside the country, especially after the group confirmed their loyalty to the Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda and announced that the new alliance “The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” be called.
The sayings of Al-Khatib arrived after the declaration of an Islamic State by Jabhat Al-Nusra, in response to the draft to enter Al-Khatib “a moderate form of Islamic law in all areas controlled by the rebels the country. “ This clearly seems to be a reactionary attempt to maintain control of the formation of a system based on “Islamic law” is proving to be the most successful form of government in areas under rebel control legal system, while Jabhat Al- Nusra and other extremist groups are currently defining Islamic law for these areas , the political opposition probably feels compelled to act now to start promoting a “sharia alternative” less extreme but with a certain attractiveness to Islamist groups that operating in Syria.
In the village of Al-Musareb, a village near Deir Ezzor, tribesmen Al-Saf, and men Jabhat Al-Nusra clashed allegedly after a truck oil was stolen -for the first time by thieves who then vendiweon what a man from the village of Al-Musareb (which may or may not have known it was stolen). Apparently, the original owner when he heard Al-Nusra appealed for help to recover the stolen truck, but when fighters of Al-Nusra arrived, they were outnumbered by members of the tribe Al-Saf.
After this, the “Hay Al-Sharia to the field of Deir Ezzor,” issued a statement warning the locals against “tying their fate to that of the murderers whose hands have become polluted by the shedding of blood of the martyrs “ . The statement also urged the men, women, children and elderly to leave Al-Musareb immediately because the Mujahideen were coming that are declaring war on the tribe Al-Saf.
Deir Ezzor This situation reflects the dilemma faced by the Syrian people: on one hand the Al-Assad regime or a future state failed Salafi, this dilemma took shape after the revolution turned against the Syrian society itself due the interests of the rebel groups to appropriate resources and promote their agenda of special interests. This incompatibility between the start of the revolution and its current course starts alienate Syrian rebel armed struggle and many begin to reconsider its support for the regime of Al-Assad again.
It is true that the armed forces bombarded the towns and villages, massacres occurring constantly, but it is also true that many towns and villages that fell under rebel control were looted and destroyed, in this context it must be added that many Syrian rebels receive their orders Arab leaders of other nationalities who order them to attack their fellow Syrians. It is surreal that events take an unexpected turn, caused by feelings crossed a Syrian Salafist, and amidst turmoil Syrian society support a counter-revolution to avoid the emergence of the “Syrian Taliban.”

Syria–Ankara mediates between FSA and Islamic Front

Syria: Ankara mediates between FSA and Islamic Front

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Free Syrian Army to form new group called Jabhat Al-Ahrar, according to source
A rebel fighter from the Free Syrian Army feeds a sheep in the Salah Al-Din neighborhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, on December 1, 2013. (Mohammed Al-Khatieb/AFP/Getty Images)

A rebel fighter from the Free Syrian Army feeds a sheep in the Salah Al-Din neighborhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, on December 1, 2013. (Mohammed Al-Khatieb/AFP/Getty Images)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Ankara mediated a meeting on Thursday between rival factions of the Syrian opposition in an attempt to broker an agreement between the Islamic Front and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) following recent clashes between the two. Turkey’s mediation attempts come after the Islamic Front, an Islamist coalition of Syrian rebel groups, raided an FSA base, seizing weapons and logistical supplies.

However, the two sides were ultimately unable to reach a solution after a disagreement over the exact amount of weapons in the FSA warehouses stymied Turkish efforts, Syrian rebel sources told Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity.

In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Syrian interim Defense Minister Asaad Mustafa described the recent rebel infighting as very dangerous and “a betrayal of the revolution and the Syrian people, who expect us to bring down the regime, not each other.”

Mustafa confirmed he was in contact with FSA chief Gen. Salim Idris, adding that he had called on him to exercise restraint over the recent clashes.

Mustafa insisted that “things are under control,” and that serious efforts are underway to form a national military body to unify all of the rebel groups in a bid to end the state of factionalism that has plagued Syria’s armed opposition.

The recent surge of rebel infighting over territory has threatened to drag the country into further violence and instability, with the prospect of a three-front civil war erupting in the country.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, FSA sources affirmed that a new military coalition, set to be named Jabhat Al-Ahrar (the Free Front), will soon be established to unify all of the Syrian rebels that support the FSA.

The newly formed Islamic Front is an Islamist coalition made up of Liwa Al-Tawhid, Ahrar Al-Sham, Soqour Al-Sham, the Al-Haq Brigades, Ansar Al-Sham, the Army of Islam, and the Kurdish Islamic Front. It does not include the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Many analysts believe that the Islamic Front now represents the strongest rebel militia on the ground in Syria, posing a threat to the authority of the FSA, which is backed by Western governments.

The Syrian National Coalition, also backed by the West, denied that any clashes had taken place between the Islamic Front and the FSA, claiming that it had asked the Islamist coalition to protect the warehouses from radical Islamist attackers.

This has led outside observers to view the statement as a face-saving attempt on the part of the Coalition, the main umbrella group for the Syrian opposition that controls the FSA, regarding divisions between Syria’s rebel factions.

On Wednesday, some media outlets claimed Idris had fled Syria to Doha following an attack by the Islamic Front.

The Syrian interim Defense Minister denied the media reports, stressing that Idris remains in Syria, accusing unidentified sides of trying to provoke a conflict between the FSA and the Islamic Front.

In a press conference on Thursday, Syrian National Coalition spokesman Khaled Saleh also denied reports that Idris had fled, affirming that the FSA commander is in the process of meeting with Islamic Front leaders “to find a solution to what happened.”

Written by Thair Abbas. This article was originally published in Asharq Al-Awsat.

The Battle for a Syrian Caliphate

The Battle for a Syrian Caliphate

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The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria capitalizes on the chaos

The jihadist fighters of ISIS are fast making their mark on northeast Syria. Despite internal disputes between Al-Qaeda’s various affiliates, ISIS is winning over swathes of the country as it provides the basic supplies other rebel factions could not secure. But is it enough?
Residents of Syria's eastern town of Deir Ezzor walk past the debris of a building reportedly hit by a missile on September 26, 2013. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that units of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) were battling rebel units in nearby Albu Kamal. (Ahmad Aboud/AFP/Getty Images)

Residents of Syria’s eastern town of Deir Ezzor walk past the debris of a building reportedly hit by a missile on September 26, 2013. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that units of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) were battling rebel units in nearby Albu Kamal. (Ahmad Aboud/AFP/Getty Images)

The Islamic State of Iraq has found its feet again in war-torn northern and eastern Syria. Founded by Jordanian Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi in Iraq, it was renamed the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) last April. Locally known as Daesh, from the Arabic acronym, its leadership was originally drawn from Sunni insurgents in Iraq, but since moving to the theater of war in Syria, it has attracted both local fighters and foreign jihadists bent on establishing a caliphate in Syria and across the Levant.

The exact number of fighters among its ranks is unknown, but is thought to be in the low thousands, drawing hundreds of Muslim men from the UK, Kosovo, Chechnya and elsewhere.

One attraction of ISIS lies, perhaps, in the fact that its members—unlike Syrian rebels—are willing to blow themselves up, and as a result, are a superior force on the battlefield.

Hearts and minds

In an obvious departure from the warlordism and petty crime that had wracked rebel-held areas of northern Syria since the region fell out of government hands in July 2012, ISIS has carved out a niche in which to sell itself to local communities.

The group succeeded in ousting criminal gangs and rebel commanders sitting on ill-gotten gains in rebel-held Aleppo and surrounding towns. It took control of militia-run checkpoints where, it is believed, residents of the city had often been kidnapped and robbed by rebel fighters.

In many cases, once rebel commanders were defeated by ISIS, stores of grain and cooking gas were released to civilians. That resulted in dozens of bakeries reopening, winning it immediate support from locals. It even organized a public tug-of-war competition during Ramadan last July in a publicity outreach stunt to communities in Aleppo.

But it was not until the group took control of the strategic town of Azaz north of Aleppo in September that its full power became apparent. Azaz sits on the highway between Aleppo and the Turkish border to the north—a crucial station for rebels ferrying weapons, cash and the injured to and from Turkey. With Azaz in ISIS hands, other groups were choked from the supply line they had enjoyed—government air strikes aside—for much of the past 18 months.

Aron Lund, editor of the Carnegie Endowment’s Syria in Crisis site, said implementing Shari’a law is achievable in the areas ISIS controls. “It might not be sustainable long term, if they end up alienating the community and causing a backlash, but they see doing it as a religious duty and a good thing in and of itself,” he said.

Islamist infighting

ISIS is increasingly facing problems. One of its commanders recently admitted it was infighting between Islamist groups that led to Syrian government forces retaking Safirah, a town of crucial importance southeast of Aleppo, in early November.

In October, Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri announced the breakup of ISIS, following a fall out between ISIS commander Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and Mohammad Al-Golani of the Al-Nusra Front last spring. Furthermore, Arab media reported in November on defections from ISIS to the Al-Nusra Front in Raqqa, and the handing over of a military headquarters from ISIS to the latter.

But it was the case of an ill-advised beheading that saw the competence of ISIS most famously called into question. Mohammad Marroush of the Islamist rebel group Ahrar Al-Sham was captured by ISIS in Aleppo last month—and while under anesthesia and possibly believing he had been detained by government forces, he uttered Shi’a phrases. The ISIS men detaining him beheaded him for praying to Hussein and Ali, revered figures in Shi’a Islam.

ISIS admitted the faux pas and called for “calm and forgiveness” following the mistaken beheading. However, it is just such behavior that is likely to ensure it will not rule broad swathes of Syria in the medium to long term.

And finally, ISIS has been defeated by perhaps the most robust fighting force in northern Syria—the Kurds—in several key battles over the past months. Kurdish fighters retreating from Turkey are also likely to become involved in keeping ISIS away from Kurdish areas, say experts.

An Islamic state in Syria?

The almost complete failure of the “original” revolutionaries to put in place effective governance and security tools when regime forces withdrew from the north and east last year has arguably been one of the revolt’s greatest flaws.

Millions of civilians were left in the lurch when the decades-old Syrian government melted away—and along with it access to electricity, water, hospitals, courts and other sundry services. Rebel commanders with no experience of governance were left to administer, and did so catastrophically. In the vacuum that followed, extremist tendencies, religious and otherwise, stepped in to fill the breach.

Syrians were confronted with religious interpretations of governance—for decades suppressed by the Assad regime. Perhaps more critically, for the first time people were forced to take responsibility for running their own lives. All the while, government warplanes launched airstrikes at will from the skies and contested districts, particularly high-density districts in Aleppo and Raqqa, were subjected to constant shelling and sniper fire from government troops in west Aleppo.

For Syrians in newly freed northern Syria, the suffering and trauma caused by both the growing violence and the elimination of the Assad government structures saw them seek out new authorities. With secular rebels fighting among themselves over loot, groups such as the Al-Nusra Front, and later ISIS, stepped in.

ISIS has been a formal, active force in Syria for less than a year, but the combination of international and rebel intransigence mean that although its long-term goals of establishing a caliphate in the Levant remain far-fetched, its interaction with locals—particularly with young Syrians—mean it is undoubtedly leaving a mark. “It’s troubling to see the focus on children in these videos,” said Lund. ISIS may have won over some communities with its social services, but many Syrians are very unhappy with its extremist rule. Even though some residents have welcomed the group, Lund believes that, “at the moment their strength clearly isn’t coming from popular support, but from their military power.”

Stephen Starr

Stephen Starr

Stephen Starr is the author of Revolt in Syria: Eye-Witness to the Uprising. Now based in Turkey, he lived in Syria for five years until 2012.