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.

Youth unemployment within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries can no longer be overlooked. The recently released Rethinking Arab Employment report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) exposes some facts and challenges relating to this burning issue. At 8.1 per cent, 7.4 per cent and 5.6 per cent, unemployment rates are a concern in Oman, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia: here.

There is a pattern of economic interests, political allegiances and military parameters that come into play when it comes to Bahrain. We know that, but yet a people cannot be made to live in slavery because it is politically and economically convenient to foreign powers: here.

A complaint by activists that human rights regulations were breached when the Formula 1 Grand Prix was staged in Bahrain “merits further examination”, a UK government panel has said: here.

‘Ukrainian government used banned cluster bombs’


This Human Rights Watch video says about itself:

Ukraine: Widespread Use of Cluster Munitions

20 October 2014

Ukrainian government forces used cluster munitions in populated areas in Donetsk city in early October 2014. The use of cluster munitions in populated areas violates the laws of war due to the indiscriminate nature of the weapon and may amount to war crimes.

From the New York Times in the USA:

Ukraine Used Cluster Bombs, Evidence Indicates

By ANDREW ROTH

OCTOBER 20, 2014

DONETSK, Ukraine — The Ukrainian Army appears to have fired cluster munitions on several occasions into the heart of Donetsk, unleashing a weapon banned in much of the world into a rebel-held city with a peacetime population of more than one million, according to physical evidence and interviews with witnesses and victims.

Sites where rockets fell in the city on Oct. 2 and Oct. 5 showed clear signs that cluster munitions had been fired from the direction of army-held territory, where misfired artillery rockets still containing cluster bomblets were found by villagers in farm fields.

The two attacks wounded at least six people and killed a Swiss employee of the International Red Cross based in Donetsk.

If confirmed, the use of cluster bombs by the pro-Western government could complicate efforts to reunite the country, as residents of the east have grown increasingly bitter over the Ukrainian Army’s tactics to oust pro-Russian rebels.

Further, in a report released late Monday, Human Rights Watch says the rebels have most likely used cluster weapons in the conflict as well, a detail that The New York Times could not independently verify.

The army’s use of cluster munitions, which shower small bomblets around a large area, could also add credibility to Moscow’s version of the conflict, which is that the Ukrainian national government is engaged in a punitive war against its own citizens. The two October strikes occurred nearly a month after President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine signed a cease-fire agreement with rebel representatives.

“It’s pretty clear that cluster munitions are being used indiscriminately in populated areas, particularly in attacks in early October in Donetsk city,” said Mark Hiznay, senior arms researcher at Human Rights Watch, in emailed comments after the report was completed. “The military logic behind these attacks is not apparent, and these attacks should stop, because they put too many civilians at risk.”

Press officers for the Ukrainian military denied that their troops had used cluster weapons during the conflict and said that the rocket strikes against Donetsk in early October should be investigated once it was safe to do so. They also said that rebels in the area had access to powerful rocket systems from Russia that could fire cluster munitions.

However, munition fragments found in and around Donetsk and interviews with witnesses indicate that the cluster munitions that struck Oct. 2 and Oct. 5 were most likely fired by Ukrainian troops stationed southwest of the city, according to Human Rights Watch and a review by The Times. Witnesses there reported seeing rocket launches from those troops’ positions toward the city at times that coincide with the strikes.

Human Rights Watch says in its report that cluster weapons have been used against population centers in eastern Ukraine at least 12 times, including the strikes on Donetsk, during the conflict, and possibly many more. The report said that both sides were probably culpable, in attacks that “may amount to war crimes” in a grinding conflict that has claimed at least 3,700 lives, including those of many civilians.

The report, which included incidents uncovered by The Times, says there is “particularly strong evidence” that Ukrainian government troops carried out the two October attacks against Donetsk.

An August cluster-munitions attack on the village of Starobesheve, which was in Ukrainian Army hands, was probably carried out either by pro-Russian rebels or by Russian troops, the report says.

Beginning in October, a series of strikes against Donetsk using certain cluster weapons fired from Uragan rockets came from the southwest of the city. The timing of at least two rocket launches from the same location corresponded to cluster munition strikes that hit Donetsk from a southwesterly trajectory, according to Human Rights Watch and The Times.

Shelling of cities has been common in the conflict, and the cease-fire agreement has not ended the violence. A chemical plant on the outskirts of Donetsk was struck Monday, and the resulting shock wave shattered windows for miles around.

On the morning of Oct. 5, Boris V. Melikhov, 37, was chopping wood outside his house in the Gladkovka neighborhood of Donetsk when he heard the loud clap of an explosion from the street.

His first sensation was “a strong push in the back,” and he sprawled onto the grass. More explosions followed, showering Mr. Melikhov with dust and dirt. Unable to stand, he crawled toward a spigot in the garden, bleeding profusely and desperate for water.

“I felt the blood running down my back, down my leg,” he recalled in an interview last week from his bed in a hospital, where his uncle took him after the attack. Doctors there found several identical metal fragments in his leg, chest, shoulder and hand.

Hundreds of such fragments, each about the size of a thumbtack, were sprayed out by at least 11 cluster bomblets that exploded on Mr. Melikhov’s street that morning. The 9N210 bomblets are carried in surface-to-surface Uragan (Hurricane) rockets that are fired from the backs of trucks and have a range of roughly 22 miles.

Part of one of the rockets smashed into a street a few blocks away, and the impact crater indicated it had come from the southwest.

The same morning, sunflower farmers near Novomikhailovka, a small village about 20 miles southwest of Mr. Melikhov’s house, saw rockets sailing almost directly overhead toward Donetsk. Local people said in interviews that the army had been launching Uragan rockets from there for more than a week.

“Trust me, when it is day after day after day, you get to know your Grad launches from your Uragan launches,” said one farmer, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution for discussing Ukrainian military positions. Grads are another kind of rocket used by both sides.

Villagers said they had also seen rockets with cluster bomblets up close. They said several of the rockets misfired on Oct. 3 and landed in the sunflower fields south of the village with their payloads intact.

A reporter photographed three malfunctioned rockets there, and two of them contained submunitions like those that injured Mr. Melikhov. The same type of weapon struck the Donetsk headquarters of the Red Cross on Oct. 2 in an attack that killed an administrator, Laurent DuPasquier, 38.

Uragan rockets can carry 30 of the submunitions, which look like metal cans with fins. Those bomblets in turn hold small pieces of chopped steel rod. The rocket releases the bomblets over a wide area, and the bomblets either explode on impact, flinging out lethal steel fragments, or land unexploded and effectively become land mines. Children often mistake them for toys.

At the Red Cross headquarters in Donetsk, Human Rights Watch researchers accompanied by a Times reporter documented 19 distinct impacts of cluster submunitions from the Oct. 2 attack. Judging by impact craters from rockets fired in the same salvo, the researchers said, the strike came from the southwest.

A witness to the Oct. 2 launch in Novomikhailovka told the reporter about the malfunctioning rockets in the fields. Other witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch on the evening of Oct. 2 confirmed that rockets had been fired from just south of the village toward Donetsk.

An advocacy group called the Cluster Munitions Coalition has been pressing Ukraine to join the international convention banning the stockpiling or use of the weapons. (Russia and the United States have not joined it, either.) The group’s director, Sarah Blakemore, wrote to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry in July after images were published appearing to show the use of cluster munitions against rebel positions in the cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk.

She said in a telephone interview that she had received no reply. “When I say they neither confirmed or denied, I mean they really just did not do anything,” Ms. Blakemore said.

More than a month after heavy fighting in the village of Ilovaysk, rebel soldiers continued going door to door last week, searching for unexploded shells and bomblets. At Tatyana Lashunova’s house, they found a Smerch (Tornado) rocket lodged in the shed where she keeps her preserves and gardening tools. It was not clear which side had fired the rocket, which can carry conventional warheads or cluster munitions.

Valery, one of the rebels, said his men would fan out and search a nearby field of tall, yellow grass where bomblets from the rocket probably landed.

“We haven’t got a mine detector or any other equipment,” he said. “They’ve promised something soon, but I don’t know whether to expect it.”

In Donetsk, doctors in a city hospital and morgue said they had found cluster-munitions fragments in several patients, including Mr. Melikhov, whose spine was nicked by one on Oct. 5. He was lucky not to have been paralyzed, but the injury made it very painful to sit, stand or lie flat, he said.

“I see it as the senseless destruction of the southeast,” he said of the attack. “There’s something wrong in their head.”

See also here.

Human Rights Watch documents Ukrainian military’s use of cluster rockets: here.