US military torture in Iraq, Afghanistan on photos


This video is called Iraq – Torture and prisoner abuse by American soldiers.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

US judge sets deadline in lawsuit over Iraq, Afghanistan torture photos

23 October 2014

The Obama administration is fighting a bitter rearguard action against the release of further damning evidence that the US military engaged in the torture of prisoners in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The most recent development came Tuesday in a brief hearing before US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Washington DC, part of a long-running Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and several journalists seeking the release of 2,100 photographs depicting the torture of people detained by the US military.

The pictures are said to be more disturbing than those released in 2004 showing the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad, which caused worldwide revulsion against the US occupation regime in Iraq.

The photographs were taken by individual soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, mainly between 2003 and 2006, for their own use and to exchange with fellow soldiers as trophies or memorabilia of their wartime activities. They were confiscated in the course of more than 200 internal investigations into charges of mistreatment and abuse of prisoners, all of which have been closed without charges being brought.

The US Army released descriptions of the photos to the ACLU plaintiffs, and even these brief captions make for chilling reading. They include soldiers pointing guns at the heads of detainees who are hooded and bound, soldiers beating detainees with their fists or objects, soldiers posing with groups of bound and restrained prisoners, soldiers posing with corpses, and, in at least one case, a female soldier pointing a broomstick at the rectum of a hooded detainee.

The Pentagon reportedly catalogued the 2,100 images in May 2009, dividing them into three categories according to the degree of political damage their release would cause. The categories were described as follows:

* Category A: Will require explanation; egregious, iconic, dramatic

* Category B: Likely to require explanation; injury or humiliation

* Category C: May require explanation; injury without context

The proceedings before Judge Hellerstein are the result of a protracted political and legal conflict going back to 2009, when President Obama released a few legal memorandums justifying torture that were written by the Bush Justice Department, and initially agreed to release the photographs as well.

After a month of intense lobbying by the military brass and former Bush administration officials, Obama reversed himself and withheld the photos, claiming, “The most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.”

The administration appealed to the Supreme Court against a lower court order to release the photographs and prevailed on Congress to pass legislation giving the secretary of defense the authority to suppress such photographs for a three-year period (renewable indefinitely) by certifying that they would endanger US national security. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued that certification in November 2009, and his successor, Leon Panetta, did the same in November 2012.

The plaintiffs challenged the 2012 certification on a new ground, because Panetta had simply issued a half-page statement declaring all the photographs off-limits. Under the terms of the law, they argued, the Pentagon had to give specific reasons for withholding each photograph.

Last August, Judge Hellerstein agreed and issued an order for the administration to release the material in redacted form—that is, showing the victims but with the faces of the torturers obscured—or give specific reasons why each photograph should be kept secret.

At Tuesday’s hearing, the judge set a deadline of December 12 for the Justice Department to release the photographs or provide the explanations. He also set the date for a subsequent hearing, January 23, 2015, where the plaintiffs will be able to challenge the withholding of any photographs.

The case before Judge Hellerstein is only one of at least four different legal and political venues in which the Obama administration is engaged in an all-out defense and cover-up for American government personnel, both CIA and military, who engaged in the torture of prisoners.

The White House, Justice Department and CIA have been stalling for months the release of a massive report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on torture at CIA black sites overseas between 2003 and 2006. The committee voted to declassify the report and release it to the public last April, but Obama assigned the task of vetting the report to the agency that carried out the torture, and the CIA has continuously pushed back the deadline, now set for October 29.

According to a report last week by McClatchy News Service, the report fails to hold any officials of the Bush administration responsible for the torture of prisoners at CIA black sites, limiting its criticism to lower-level CIA personnel.

In another federal district courtroom in Washington, before Judge Gladys Kessler, the Justice Department is fighting an order to release videos of the force-feeding of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, the result of a lawsuit by one of the prisoners, Abu Wa’el Dhiab.

At a hearing last week, Judge Kessler agreed to delay for 30 days her order to release the videos, giving the Obama administration time to file an appeal. (See: Judge delays order to release Guantanamo force-feeding videos).

According to a report Sunday in the New York Times, the Obama administration is now debating how to proceed at an upcoming session of the Committee Against Torture, a United Nations panel set up under the UN Convention Against Torture, which the US government ratified in 1994.

The Bush administration took the position that the torture convention applied only to actions by US personnel committed within the United States, but not to the actions taken overseas, as in war zones or CIA secret prisons. The Obama administration had distanced itself from that interpretation, which was a flagrant assertion of the “right” to torture, but officials were now said to be having second thoughts.

“But the Obama administration has never officially declared its position on the treaty, and now, President Obama’s legal team is debating whether to back away from his earlier view,” the Times wrote. “It is considering reaffirming the Bush administration’s position that the treaty imposes no legal obligation on the United States to bar cruelty outside its borders, according to officials who discussed the deliberations on the condition of anonymity.”

The author also recommends:

US Supreme Court suppresses torture photos
[2 December 2009]

Dutch seventeenth century shipwreck discovery in Caribbean


Map of the Battle of Scarborough Harbour, 1677

From the University of Connecticut in the USA:

UConn Archaeologist Discovers 17th-century Shipwreck

October 21, 2014

By: Sheila Foran

The Dutch ship Huis de Kreuningen went to her watery grave on March 3, 1677. But until a team led by University of Connecticut professor and maritime archaeologist Kroum Batchvarov found her this past summer in the waters of the southern Caribbean, no one knew precisely where that grave was.

Batchvarov, assistant professor of maritime archaeology in UConn’s Department of Anthropology, is an internationally known researcher specializing in 17th-century ship building and maritime archaeology. He is leading a multi-phased investigation to find and study the remains of 16 vessels that were sunk in a fierce battle that took place in what is now known as Scarborough Harbour in the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago.

The battle was fought between the invading French and the Dutch, who controlled the island of Tobago at that time. Although often overlooked by students of maritime history, the confrontation was significant, both in terms of the number of lives lost and the damage done to both fleets.

Earlier this year, Batchvarov and his team were conducting a remote sensing survey in the Harbour when they picked up some promising signals. An exploratory dive struck pay dirt.

“To find what we believe to be the Huis de Kreuningen – almost by accident, as she was outside the boundaries where we expected to find her – undiscovered and untouched for over 300 years was an exciting moment,” Batchvarov says.

His research team went on to survey and map the wreck over the summer.

The find is a significant source of information for the maritime history of the period. “Although we have some written records of the battle itself, we possess no detailed plans of 17th-century warships,” Batchvarov says, “so our only sources of information about the ships of the day are the wrecks themselves. It isn’t overstatement to say that what has been discovered is a treasure trove for archaeological researchers.”

What is known about the battle is that all told, 2,000 people, including 250 Dutch women and children and 300 African slaves, were killed. In addition to the Huis de Kreuningen, which was the largest ship in the Dutch fleet, the flagship of French Vice Admiral Comte D’Estrée – the Glorieux – was also sunk and all but 80 of the 450 men aboard were lost. In the end, the Dutch lost more vessels, but they succeeded in repelling the French landing party and retained possession of the island.

Batchvarov says although his team didn’t find much of the hull structure intact, they have found a wealth of other material, including nine canons; Delft and Bellarmine pottery jars that date to the third quarter of the 17th century; lead shot that was never fired; dozens of Dutch smoking pipes; and bricks that perfectly match the specifications of bricks made in the Dutch city of Leiden in 1647.

The Huis de Kreuningen, though the largest in the Dutch fleet at 39.6 meters in length and 9.62 meters in breadth, was only about three quarters of the size of her French foe, the much newer and better armed Glorieux. With only 56 guns to her opponent’s 72, and with a crew of 129 instead of her full complement of 290 sailors aboard, existing records of the battle report that she put up a valiant fight until her captain either cut her anchor cables so she would run aground, or set her afire – accounts vary – in order to avoid capture.

Another benefit of the project is the opportunity it provides for students to participate in Batchvarov’s ongoing research. Students enrolled in maritime studies at UConn’s Avery Point campus, the only undergraduate program in the country with a maritime archaeology minor, have a singular opportunity.

On this summer’s trip to Tobago, Mark Wegiel ’15 (CLAS), a former Navy diver, took part in the exploration of the Huis de Kreuningen. With plans for doing graduate work in anthropology with a concentration in maritime archaeology, Wegiel says the dive in Scarborough Harbor gave him a new perspective.

“I had plenty of experience as a diver during my years in the Navy,” he says, “but having the chance to take part in surveying and mapping the wreck and being introduced first hand to the techniques of archaeological exploration was something new and exciting. As an undergraduate, I couldn’t have gotten this experience anywhere else.”

Permission to excavate the shipwrecks in and around Scarborough Harbour has been granted by the Tobago House of Assembly to the Rockley Bay Research Project, which is supported by the University of Connecticut and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology of the United States.

Artifacts and other items found in the shipwrecks are the property of Tobago and will eventually be displayed on the island. Excavation is expected to take three to five years.

In addition to his work in Tobago, Batchvarov is one of the world’s leading experts on the Swedish warship, Vasa, which sank in Stockholm Harbor in 1628. He has worked on Ottoman, Greek, and Phoenician ships, and has recently been invited to participate in an international collaboration that will study ships of state from 1300 to 1800. Batchvarov will concentrate on 17th-century shipbuilding technology development. The only person to have successfully excavated a Black Sea shipwreck, he is also involved in an international collaborative study of the Black Sea littoral zone – or shoreline to the high-water mark – that will concentrate on human adaptation to sea changes from the Upper Paleolithic era to the 19th century. The University of Connecticut is the only non-European institution invited to participate in these important endeavors.

Belgian fascist suspect of Brabant massacres


This BBC video says about itself:

Operation Gladio: NATO’s 1985 Brabant Massacres in Belgian Supermarkets

10 July 2014

Friday September 27 [1985]: more or less 20:00 armed robbery and a killing in the Delhaize supermarket on rue de la Graignette in Braine-l’Alleud. Less than $6,000.00 was stolen. Three people were killed, two people wounded.

Friday September 27: more or less 20:30 (only 15 to 25 minutes after the first attack that night) armed robbery and a killing in the Delhaize supermarket on Brusselsesteenweg in Overijse. Less than $25,000.00 was stolen. Five people were killed, one person wounded.

Saturday November 9 more or less 19:30 armed robbery and a killing in the Delhaize supermarket on Parklaan in Aalst. Less than $25,000.00 was stolen. Eight people were killed, a few more people wounded.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

New arrest in Brabant killers case

Wednesday Oct 22, 2014, 21:54 (Update: 22-10-14, 22:12)

In Belgium, possibly a breakthrough has been achieved in the investigation into the Brabant killers gang. Michel Libert (70), the former second in command of the extreme right-wing group Westland New Post (WNP) has been arrested.

Libert and other WNP members worked at the NATO Transmission Centre in Evere near Brussels. The official aim of Westland New Post was to fight Soviet infiltration in NATO. In practice, they perpetrated murders and other crimes in Belgium.

In investigations of the Brabant killers gang, Libert had been interrogated several times as a witness, but had not previously been a suspect.

The Brabant killers committed in 1982, 1983 and 1985 a number of murders and very violent robberies, burglaries and thefts. They caused a total of 28 deaths.

The group WNP was potentially involved in these robberies. That was explained by ex-gangster Eric Lammens [sic; Lammers], who was himself a member of WNP, recently on a Belgian television program.

Libert was arrested Monday in Brussels after a tip from a man from France. …

November next year it will be 30 years after the last robbery, and then the case will be barred. The Justice Department has asked politicians to extend the deadline with ten more years.

Translated from the RTBF (French language TV in Belgium):

Of particular interest to the Brabant killers investigators are orders that Michel Libert would give to his subordinates for the supervision of department stores, driveways and parking lots exits, and exact places of cash registers funds and departments. All this was in the early 80s, so, shortly before the most serious crimes: the 1985 attacks at car parks and shops of the Delhaize group (17 people killed in three months). Michel Libert admitted this to our BBC colleagues in 1992.

Let us recall that the WNP organization consisted mainly of right-wing extremists, including soldiers and gendarmes. New people could only join it by sponsorship by members.

Bahraini government-ISIS connection


This video is called Freed Bahrain activist Maryam al-Khawaja on arrest, prison and Nabeel Rajab.

From the Bahrain Mirror:

Inside Nabeel Rajab’s mind… “Bahrain Mirror” presents a defense and evidences concerning the involvement of the Bahraini security bodies in embracing “ISIS”

22/10/2014

(Exclusive): The re-arresting of Nabeel Rajab, Director of Bahrain Center for Human Rights, for his tweet, in which he described the Bahrain security institutions as an “ideological incubator” of ISIS, brought to light the dominant combat doctrine in this institution that forms “a passage” for several Bahraini fighters found within “ISIS” in the conflict areas in Syria and Iraq.

The Bahraini Ministry of Interior had already confessed on 5th September that one of its officers, Mohamed Isa Al-Binali, known as Abu Issa Al Salami, had joined ISIS.

The Ministry of Interior declared “it had already dismissed him for failing to attend work”. Meanwhile, this was considered the first official confession about the affiliation of foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria to the security institutions.

Question marks raised about Bahrain’s participation in the international coalition against terrorism, led by the United States to fight ISIS, led to the acknowledgment of the Bahrain‘s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, on 29th September, that there is at least 100 Bahraini fighters fighting alongside ISIS.

However, the government spokeswoman, Samira Rajab, stated on 30th September “this is all the information we have until now. There is no more precise information.”

In this context, the video, of the lieutenant “Al Binali” with 3 of his friends, posted last week came to disclose a new era of the Bahraini Jihadi phenomena. Al Binali called his fellows in the Bahraini Ministry of Interior to follow him, join ISIS and leave their jobs in the Ministry. The officers in the Ministry know that “they are wrong” and they are still in their jobs for financial motives, added the defected lieutenant.

It is worth mentioning that the “Al Binali” tribe, which Issa Al Binali belongs to, is of the few Arab tribes which is allied to the Bahraini ruling family and whose members are allowed to take leading position in the Bahraini security bodies. The Al Binali tribe occupies the first place among the tribes and the Bahraini families in terms of providing the Jihadi organizations with a number of Bahraini fighters.

There are at least 6 fighters from this tribe who are actually involved in the battles in Syria and Iraqi alongside “ISIS“. The tweets of these 6 fighters reveal that they are publically involved in the battles. However, until 2013, Turki Al Binali, who studied the Islamic law, had been visiting Bahrain as one of the prominent leaders in ISIS. Turki is responsible for mobilizing a number of Sunni youth from Busaiteen region and encouraging them to fight in Iraq and Syria.

At least two Bahrainis from the Bahrain Defence Force, Abdul Aziz Al Othman and his brother Abdul Rahman Al Othman, were killed in 2013 while fighting for Al Nusra front in Syria. Social media published their photos in (May 2013) in different regions in Syria wearing the Bahraini army uniform.

The Extremist “indoctrination” in the army institution

These evidences opened the door to a debate about the doctrine of the army institutions and the indoctrination of those working in it. In an attempt to answer this question, a group of books issued from the Religious Guidance directorate in the Bahraini Defence Force was unveiled in June this year. In the context of sectarianism practiced by the Bahraini army, these books degrade Shiites, who represent the majority of the Bahrainis, ideology and present it as Takfiri.

“The light of Sunnah and darkness of heresy in the book and Sunnah” book by the author Saeed Al Qahtani presented Shiites as Takfiris with reference to their religious beliefs in visiting the tombs and shrines of the Prophet Mohammad and the Imams in Medina in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran. In his book, Al Qahtani discusses that “going around the tombs to devour those buried inside” is among the acts of infidelity.

In his book, Al Qahtani describes the “Raafidis”; a degradation name used by the extremists to refer to the “Shiites”, as heresiarchs and classifies them among the “misguided groups” with respect to their beliefs; including “Druzes, Ismaili, Alawites and others.”

The book, which is being distributed to the officers in the Bahrain Defence Force, describes the Raafidi and other religious groups’ celebrations of the Birth of the Prophet as “considering it a festival in imitation of Jews and Christians”, noting that Muslims should be forbidden from imitating them.” The writer also referred to the celebration of Isra and Mi’raj and that of 15th Shaaban.

The Religious Guidance directorate in the Ministry of Defence also printed another book on its own account for the same author, Al Qahtani, under the title of “The light of monotheism and the darkness of polytheism in the light of the book and the Sunnah”. This book includes the same Takfiri implications and is one of the books being distributed to the officers in the Bahrain Defence Force.

Applied Models of the “Takfiri” indoctrination

The opinions of the Bahraini military spokesman, Khalid Al Buainain, on his twitter account @Al_Bu3inain provide “a clear sample for the military doctrine that is full of extremism acquired from this kind of indoctrination.” These opinions also reveal the usage of the Salafist “Takfiri” lexicon in its stance towards the West, USA, Shiites, Christians, Jews and Alawites.

Al Buainain (who has been recently banned from tweeting and asked to delete all his tweets pursuant to an internal investigation) objected to the granting of a government license (in August 2012) to establish a Catholic Church. He said, “How will God grant us victory when we build temples for Shirk and pagans. How will God grant us victory when polytheism is being supported by the government fearing from saying that we are against the human rights?”

However, the comments of the Minister of the royal court, Nasser bin Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, who is an officer in the Bahraini Army and the chairman of East Riffa club, give another sample that shows the Salafi incursion inside the ruling family. His twitter account @nasser_khalid is full of clear indications that reveal a fundamentalist configuration of the same national ideology adopted by “the Salafia Jihadia”.

Nasser bin Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa says in one of the comments, “Bahrain is not for all, it is an Arab Muslim country pursuant to the Constitution” adding that, “We don’t force the Magi (the Shiites) to monotheism, yet refusing their shirk is a duty and helping them to shirk in Allah is a great injustice”. He continues in this context, “Not calling Sunnis and Shiites, but only Bahrainis is a Jahiliyyah naming set by those calling for shirk.”

His twitter account has regularly been an announcing port in 2011, 2012 and 2013 to the “Equipping Ghazi (militant)” campaign that aims at preparing fighters to fight in Syria. Nasser also stated that “the door of equipping the fighters in Syria is still opened. Don’t withhold yourselves.” He also considered that “There is no good in Muslims’ wealth and fortunes unless they assist their brothers in religion in the eastern and western wings of earth.”

Until the middle of 2012, “Equipping Ghazi (militant)” campaigns, designed to finance and prepare the fighters, were done in public in the Bahraini mosques such as “Shikhan Al-Farsi Mosque” in Riffa, “Abu Hanifa Mosque” in Busaiteen, “Nadi Al-Sahel Mosque” in Al Hidd, “Sheikh Isa bin Ali Mosque” in Muharraq, “Al Esmah mosque” in Hamad town, “Galali Al Garbi Mosque”, in Galali, in addition to other mosques in Isa town and Manama. These campaigns were launched under the supervision of Salafist leaders known for their deep relations with the leader of the Bahrain Defence Force, the field Marshal Khalifa bin Hamad, who announced in a talk on 16th June 2013 that “The Syrian revolution is the only one that can be referred to as people’s revolution.” Adding, “What happened in other Arab countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain is not but a western conspiracy.”

According to this information, the human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab’s tweets came to shed light on what he called “the ideological incubator” for the Bahraini fighters. He, nonetheless, stated that “many of the Bahrainis who joined the ISIS militia came from the country’s security institutions; these institutions were the first ideological incubator.”

Perhaps this information opened the door for an official investigation that might have ended up with a big scandal regarding the involvement of the military institutions in broadcasting the extremist ideology and forming a starting ground to the extremist jihadists. However, because all of these happened in Bahrain, the government will only arrest Nabeel Rajab!

This video is about passports of ISIS fighters in Kobani, which turned out to be from Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Now that the United States is forming another military coalition to combat evil in the Middle East, maybe we should pause to take a closer look at the members of this coalition.  Sure, the Islamic State is terrible and does awful things like behead people, but they’ve got nothing on Saudi Arabia, which beheads people as a matter of policy: here.