Now Every Refugee Thinks That They Have A Free Pass To Europe

[Taliban hate mail is NOT a German visa.]

Desperate Afghans pin asylum hopes on Taliban threat letters

rakyat post

An Afghan woman and her family rests on the Serbian side of the border, seen from near the village of Asotthalom at the Hungarian-Serbian border on September 17, 2015 after Hungary closed its borders in an effort to stem the wave of refugees entering the country.  AFP PHOTO / ATTILA KISBENEDEK

An Afghan woman and her family rests on the Serbian side of the border, seen from near the village of Asotthalom at the Hungarian-Serbian border on Sept 17, 2015 after Hungary closed its borders in an effort to stem the wave of refugees entering the country. — AFP pic

KABUL, Sept 18, 2015:

Stamped with the Taliban’s crossed sabres emblem, the threat letter in Ahmadzia Abbasi’s hand reads like a death warrant — but like many Afghans he sees the document as a ticket to a new life and asylum in Europe.

The Taliban widely use so-called “night letters” containing lurid threats of violence and death, often delivered by shadowy agents under the cover of darkness, as an effective tool of intimidation.

Many war-weary Afghans embarking on perilous voyages to Europe carry the nocturnal missives — real and counterfeit — in an effort to build a compelling case for their refugee application.

“Anyone who reads this will know that my life is in grave danger,” said Abbasi, a 31-year-old social activist from eastern Logar province, holding up a night letter he found pinned to his front door in April.

The Pashto-language document, bearing the signature Taliban stamp, castigates him for supporting the “infidel government” and warns that his head will be cut off.

He said the threat was prompted by his push to promote girls’ education in his village, which apparently angered the infamously misogynistic militant network.

“The letter is my best hope — my only hope -– of gaining asylum,” he told AFP in Kabul.

He has appealed for asylum to the European Union mission in Afghanistan, but the process is unlikely to be smooth as a record number of Afghans flee the turmoil and war convulsing their country.

Afghan officials say the country is witnessing an “unprecedented” migration towards European nations.

Some 77,731 Afghans applied for asylum in Europe in the first six months of the year, more than three times the figure in the same period last year, and higher than all previous years since 2001, according to the UN refugee agency.

Afghans are the second largest group of migrants trying to make Europe their home, behind only Syrians.

‘People keep dying’

While many face genuine threats, fabricated night letters are common, highlighting the lengths some Afghans are willing to go in order to attain asylum.

Heshmat, 24, bought his for US$80 (RM340) from a group of counterfeiters recommended by a friend who recently made it to Germany with a similar letter.

He said he was unsure whether the network was linked directly to the Taliban but the forged night letter looks “very real”.

“The human smuggler who will take me to Sweden says: ‘Europe is now open to migrants — and a Taliban death threat can go a long way to demonstrate the need for asylum’,” Heshmat told AFP, requesting that his last name be withheld.

Smuggling networks are flourishing in Afghanistan, making money from tens of thousands of desperate migrants undertaking dangerous journeys on well-trodden Mediterranean trails via Iran, Turkey and Greece.

Statistics suggesting the scale of fraudulent cases are hard to come by but Heather Barr, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, cautions against generalising the trend.

“Even if some letters are fake, that does not mean that all are — and Human Rights Watch has documented what we are fully satisfied are genuine threat letters in some cases,” Barr told AFP.

“It’s also worth remembering that the body count in Afghanistan is high and growing. I would ask anyone who argues that the threats are not real to explain why so many people who say they are under threat keep dying.”

Growing desperation

Anecdotal evidence, however, suggests that Afghans -– increasingly weary of surging Taliban violence and rising joblessness — are going to lengths to bolster their case for asylum.

A Kabul printing press said it has fielded more and more enquiries about “Taliban rubber stamps”, possibly for fake night letters.

A hair salon in Kabul revealed recent requests from light-haired Afghans for darker, dyed hair to make them “appear Syrian” -– the belief being that Syrians are being given priority for asylum.

Joining the snaking queues outside Kabul’s passport office — another testament to the accelerating exodus — some Afghans are seen waving night letters in desperate pleas to officials to expedite the process.

“We can’t give passports to thousands of people in one day — nobody in the world can! Leave, just leave!” an official bluntly told the crowd one morning recently.

Abbasi says the prevalence of “fake night letters” was affecting his EU application.

“It raises questions whether my threat is real,” he said, adding that his cousin, a government official, was recently shot dead after receiving a similar threat.

As the sun went down over Kabul, he scrambled to return to his village in Logar before nightfall — when security forces retreat to their barracks and the Taliban prowl the streets.

No one can dispute that threat.

Taliban Militants Storm Mosque At Former CIA Listening Post in Peshawar


[The Taliban bombed the same site in March 2011 (SEE: Another Mosque Bombed Near Peshawar,  March 14, 2011).]

Taliban militants attack mosque at air force base in Pakistan, killing 16


Islamabad (CNN)Militants raided an air force base in northwest Pakistan, killing 16 people praying inside a mosque.

The attack on the 10-acre Badaber base outside Peshawar on Friday is the largest assault on military personnel this year. It’s the highest profile assault in the area since terrorists killed 145, mostly children, during a school massacre last year.

When the militants attacked the base, security forces responded, killing 13 attackers, Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa said in a series of tweets.

Bajwa had originally said about 10 militants launched the base attack. Soldiers are combing through the facility looking for any remaining attackers.

The military side suffered 10 injuries, including an Army major who was shot in the thigh, Bajwa said.

The Pakistani Taliban, known in the country as Tehrik-i-Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement.

Badaber Air Base was built by the United States in the 1950s and was used as a listening post to intercept radio information from the Soviet Union.

Leviathan Gas Still Trapped Between Jews Seeking Profit and Jews Seeking Discounts

[SEE: Zionist State Gas Dreams Come Crashing Down In Eastern Med]

seeking alpha

Noble Energy has moved one step closer towards pumping gas from Leviathan, but significant barriers still remain.

Meanwhile, Egypt, which was supposed to be the biggest buyer of Leviathan gas, might not need it at all.

Despite the vote from Israeli parliament, the future prospects of Leviathan are as uncertain as they were before, if not more so.

Thanks to the delays, Leviathan will become less and less relevant.

Noble Energy (NYSE:NBL) is getting closer to tapping into one of its biggest assets – the Leviathan field located in offshore Israel. The company has been trying to develop this massive gas field by teaming up with Israel’s Delek Group (OTCPK:DGRLY), but the two have faced significant regulatory hurdles.

Slow progress

Noble Energy has been the only major U.S. oil company that has agreed to explore Israel’s vast energy reserves. Its U.S. based peers, on the other hand, have largely steered clear from the country due to its poor regulatory framework that does not adequately protect the interests of foreign investors. The decades-old conflict between Israel and Arab countries, including the leading OPEC members, has also not helped. But Noble Energy took the risk and ended up making one of the biggest gas finds in the region. The Leviathan gas field holds 16.5 to 22 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves. The field alone could transform Noble as well as Israel into one of the biggest suppliers of gas in the region by targeting the energy starved nations of Jordan and Egypt as well as Southern Europe.

However, Noble Energy and its partners have faced stiff opposition from Israeli regulators and lawmakers due to anti-trust concerns. But last week, Israel’s parliament voted in favor of a plan that will allow Noble Energy and Delek Group to develop Leviathan as well as two smaller fields. The next key hurdle to overcome is that the lawmakers have to agree to transfer the power from the Economy Ministry, which has been overseeing the deal, to the cabinet. Once this obstacle is overcome, the government and Noble Energy can proceed with the framework which has been previously opposed by the regulators. In short, although Noble Energy has certainly moved one step closer towards pumping gas from Leviathan, significant barriers still remain.

Leviathan was supposed to begin operations by 2018, but with the current slow pace of development, production from the field might not begin in the current decade. The delays are dampening the future prospects of Leviathan. The field was supposed to bring substantial financial benefits to its operators as well as Israel on top of the geopolitical advantages coming from exports. Jordan and Egypt were supposed to be two of the prominent buyers. But the delays have forced Jordan to halt negotiations while Egypt, which has signed three letters of intent for imports and was supposed to be the biggest buyer of Leviathan gas, has been looking for other suppliers. Previously, I thought that both Jordan and Egypt would eventually come back to the negotiation table. But following Eni (NYSE:E)’s massive discovery in offshore Egypt, it appears that the option of selling gas to Egypt is now off the table.

The supergiant discovery

About two weeks ago, Italy’s Eni said that it discovered a “supergiant” field 120-miles off the coast of Egypt which could hold 30 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves, making this the largest gas find of the last decade and the biggest gas reserve in the Mediterranean, overshadowing Leviathan. The single largest potential buyer of Leviathan gas might not need it at all as Zohr alone would be enough to cover nearly all of the natural gas needs of the world’s most populous Arab nation for decades.

Eni, the largest foreign hydrocarbon producer in Egypt with decades of experience in the country, already has the required infrastructure in place which will allow it to bring Zohr online over the next few years. Both, the Egyptian government and Eni are eager to bring the field online as quickly as possible. Last week, the Italian company said that it could begin production from as early as 2017. That’s bad news for Israel as well as Noble Energy.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of buyers in the Mediterranean as well as Europe which has been trying to reduce its reliance on Russian gas. Noble Energy and its partners have also said that the demand for Leviathan gas remains strong. But unfortunately, export of Israeli gas to most of the other major buyers, besides Egypt, is going to be far more expensive.

For instance, Turkey appears to be a prospective candidate. Like Egypt, Turkey also has ever growing energy needs and a booming natural gas demand. However, in order to ship the gas directly to Turkey through an offshore pipeline, the fuel must first pass through Cyprus. And given the history of conflict between Turkey and Cyprus, that pipeline may never get an approval from Cypriot authorities.

Another option could be to construct a pipeline to Cyprus. From here, Israel and Cyprus could work together on figuring out a way to ship the gas from the Leviathan as well as the Aphrodite field, which is located off the southern coast of Cyprus, directly to Europe via pipelines or through construction of a liquefaction facility.

Either way, shipments to Turkey or Europe will require years of planning and development, not to mention the substantial regulatory and geopolitical hurdles, a large chunk of which will come from Israel itself.


The uncertainty regarding the future of Leviathan field has been weighing on Noble Energy stock. While on one hand, the company has received the nod from Israeli parliament, on the other hand, Egypt, which was touted as the major buyer of Leviathan gas, has discovered its own reserves. As a result, I believe the future prospects of Leviathan are as uncertain as they were before, if not more so.

Meanwhile, Israel has moved astonishingly slow as compared to others in North America, Australia, Russia and Qatar who are racing ahead to capture the natural gas export markets. The global energy landscape is also changing quickly, with the plunge in oil prices, M&A activity and Egypt’s discovery. In addition to this, Iran could also emerge as a major supplier of gas following the success of nuclear negotiations, given its South Pars gas field, home of the world’s second largest reserves, has recently become fully operational. In this quickly changing environment, thanks to the persistent delays, Leviathan will become less and less relevant.