ISIS in Iraq and Syria, new book


This video from Britain is called Bush and Blair: The fatal attraction that killed 1m Iraqis. It says about itself:

10 June 2014

Written by Heathcote Williams. Voice and editing by Alan Cox.

By Kenny Coyle in Britain:

Book review: The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising

Monday 15th September 2014

Patrick Cockburn’s excellent book on the jihadis reveals the duplicity of the West in placating and arming the states that give them succour, says KENNY COYLE

Patrick Cockburn’s latest book is timely to say the least.

As the Western powers oversee a succession of seemingly endless bloody fiascos in the Middle East, Cockburn illuminates the intelligence illusions and diplomatic deceptions of Washington, London, Paris and Brussels that have shaped the murderous onslaught in Iraq and Syria by Islamist extremists seeking to establish a Sunni caliphate in the region.

He charts the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant from a minuscule splinter group into a powerful military and political force.

Cockburn has made many visits to Syria during the recent conflict and he shows how the efforts to topple the Assad government in Damascus ran aground on the stubborn reality that the Syrian government, despite its political and economic failings, retained a bedrock of support across key communities and was never an exclusive “Alawite dictatorship” as many in the West believed.

As to Iraq, he derides the corruption and inefficiency of the Iraqi government and argues that its incompetence and greed fuelled Sunni animosity and alienation.

The West’s attempt to promote supposedly moderate forces such as the Free Syrian Army were derailed as these forces followed increasingly hardened sectarian positions and even so were still outgunned and outfunded by ever-more extreme Islamist groups.

The very term jihadi is controversial, since the Koran’s usage of the word jihad refers more often to peaceful and spiritual struggle than to violent conflict.

Yet key Western allies in the Gulf — Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — have been pushing fundamentalist Wahhabi theology at the expense of other strains of Islam for several decades. Its network of Gulf-funded mosques and madrassas has acted as an incubator for Wahhabi extremism globally.

But the US and Britain have continued to placate and arm these states in return for trade opportunities and access to military bases, while the latter’s hostility to Iran dovetails with Western foreign policy.

We can also ask why it is that these Islamist forces have spent such efforts and spilt so much blood in attacking independent and non-aligned Arab states such as Syria, while neighbouring Palestine continues to bleed.

One is left with no other conclusion than that the jihadist forces’ anti-zionism, often mixed with a poisonous anti-semitism, is largely rhetorical and kept within limits acceptable to their Gulf sponsors.

Cockburn brings an intellectual depth that is rare outside the preserve of academics and a refreshing detachment from the “embedded” journalists who inevitably become compromised by their integration into military formations.

Currently Middle East correspondent for the Independent, he is scathing about the willingness of many of his press corps colleagues to uncritically repeat atrocity propaganda but he is professionally discreet enough not to name names.

His late father, the legendary Claud Cockburn who wrote for the Daily Worker as Frank Pitcairn, famously suggested that the only way a diplomatic or foreign correspondent could do their job properly when faced with military misinformation and diplomatic misdirection was to continually ask the question: “Why are these bastards lying to me?”

It’s heartening to see that Patrick Cockburn has kept this sceptical legacy alive and his latest work is essential to make sense of the latest phases of the Middle East crises.

OR Books, £9

Britain: FOLLOWING the release of a video showing the killing of hostage David Haines by Islamic State militants, PM Cameron yesterday announced ‘five points’, for dealing with the situation: here.

Struggle against Assad and Iran more important to US-UK gangsters than defeating ISIS: here.

KERRY BUILDING UP ANTI-ISIS COALITION –Turkey has refused and the US rules out Syria and Iran: here.

The Obama administration is rapidly putting together a “coalition of the willing” to ramp up its new war of aggression in the Middle East. Using the pretext of “degrading and destroying” Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militias, Washington has revived its plans, put on hold last year, directed at ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and also aimed against Syria’s backers, Iran and Russia: here.

ISIS terrorism, Bush’s and Blair’s legacy


This video from England says about itself:

16 June 2014

[Conservative] London mayor Boris Johnson tells Saint Tony Blair of New Labour to shut up about the current Iraq fighting mess, as it was his illegal war that started the problems.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Iraq war led to Isis mess, [First Minister of Scotland] Salmond claims

Friday 5th September 2014

THE ongoing situation in Iraq is an “inescapable consequence” of US and British military intervention

Islamic State militants have killed two US journalists and are threatening the life of a British hostage.

Mr Salmond said he was not apportioning individual responsibility in terms of the hostage situation, but was commenting on the “generality of the consequences” of the 2003 war and occupation.

Speaking to ITV Border, Mr Salmond said: “On the more general point, I believe the tragedy we are seeing unfold every night on our television screens is the inescapable consequence of the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“We have allowed that country to become a hotbed of sectarianism, of fanaticism, of violence, of murder and of terrorism.

“But even more culpability lies in the fact that they did not prepare for the aftermath of the invasion and they have allowed to happen to that country, and to the rest of us, this absolute appalling nightmare that is unfolding day after day on our television screens.”

His comments come after Prime Minister David Cameron said he will not rule out air strikes against the so-called Islamic State.

Attacking British civil liberties is not anti-terrorism


This 2009 video about Britain is called Terrorist Threat Exploited to Curb Civil Liberties.

By Paul Donovan in Britain:

More Orwellian powers are not the answer to terror

Tuesday 2nd September 2014

The latest threats to our liberty in the name of fighting Islamist extremism will fail. A new foreign policy is essential, says PAUL DONOVAN

Recent history teaches that taking away basic liberties will not prevent terrorism.

The government seems once again to be conjuring up the fear of terrorism in order to justify further cuts to the most basic liberties of the population.

On Friday, Home Secretary Theresa May announced in true Orwellian tones that the terror threat level was being raised from “substantial” to “severe” with a terror attack “highly likely” but not “imminent.”

Then the rush to bring in more anti-terror measures, like stopping people who had been involved in foreign conflicts coming home.

The Labour Party, which gave up on civil liberties long ago, appeared to move further to the right of the government calling for the re-imposition of control orders.

Control orders were first introduced by the Blair government when the courts ruled that they could not just lock people up on the basis of untried and untested intelligence information. They amounted though to a form of house arrest that enabled people to still be effectively detained outside of proper judicial oversight.

Control orders were replaced in 2011 by terrorism prevention and investigation measures, which are effectively watered-down control orders with a few more qualifications in place like time limits.

The first question really must be why the sudden panic, other than that the government wants to be seen doing something rather than simply drifting with international events.

The populist mantra appears to go that British citizens have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq, as part of the Islamic State. They have been radicalised, so will come back and seek to commit terror acts in Britain.

The logic here is difficult to fathom. These individuals went to fight President Assad in Syria. The same Assad whom Britain together with other Western governments have been actively opposing over recent years. Indeed, a year ago, it was being suggested that the rebels should be armed and Assad bombed by the West.

In Iraq the conflict has involved the Islamic State and Iraqi government and Kurdish forces. There may of course be some friction here given the recent past in Iraq.

But the basis for thinking that having fought in this Middle East cauldron, individuals will come back here to start trouble seems dubious.

If this assertion is believed then anti-terror laws that take away the liberties of citizens on the basis of security are not the answer. The history of recent anti-terror measures from the conflict in Northern Ireland to the most recent “war on terror” show that denying liberties has done nothing to prevent terrorism.

In the case of the Irish conflict, successive Prevention of Terrorism Acts simply resulted in more innocent people going to prison and the creation of a suspect community out of the whole Irish population of Britain. This in turn probably gave real cover to terrorists.

Lessons were not learned though, with even more draconian anti-terror measures being created in the gap between the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 and the September 11 attacks. Post September 11, more liberties were taken away and the Muslim population replaced the Irish as the suspect community. There were similar results.

Anti-terror legislation does not stop terrorism — it simply results in the reduction of the liberties of all and in many cases the incarceration of innocent people. It also increases the powers of the security state over citizens’ lives.

Police, security services and politicians of most political persuasions have increasingly rushed to call for these measures on the basis that they can keep people safe from terrorism.

It is not true. Indeed it is worth recalling here the words of the late chief constable of Devon and Cornwall John Alderson that the call to give up your liberties in return for security has been the call of dictators down the ages.

The only way to stop terrorism at home is to stop interfering abroad. Britain was involved in both US military ventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. Both have become fulcrums of instability.

Britain sits with the US arming the Israelis and standing by while they slaughter thousands of Palestinians in Gaza.

This is not a way to ensure that people across the world love us.

It is noticeable that over the past decade or so countries like Norway, Italy and Sweden that have not become embroiled in these conflicts have endured no Islamist terrorist threat at home. We suffer terrorist threats because of our international actions usually as a result of playing the role of lapdog to the US.

Instead of seeking to deny liberties to British citizens on the basis of wholly counter-productive anti-terror measures, the government should look at its international role. It should stop interfering in countries in the Middle East, and most importantly stop pouring arms into conflict regions. …

It should stop posturing in a way that is about 200 years out of date — Britain no longer has an empire and needs to adjust to its role as a minor player in world affairs.

It will be these types of moves addressing the causes of conflict that will prevent terrorism on our streets, not taking away every citizen’s most basic liberties.

Read more articles by Paul Donovan at www.paulfdonovan.blogspot.com

MICHAEL MEACHER warns that once again our rights and freedoms are disappearing under the guise of tackling terrorism: here.

Turkish government helped ISIS terrorists


This video is about ISIS killing truck drivers for religious sectarian reasons.

From the Washington Post in the USA:

August 12 2014

REYHANLI, Turkey — Before their blitz into Iraq earned them the title of the Middle East’s most feared insurgency, the jihadists of the Islamic State treated this Turkish town near the Syrian border as their own personal shopping mall.

And eager to aid any and all enemies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Turkey rolled out the red carpet.

In dusty market stalls, among the baklava shops and kebab stands, locals talk of Islamist fighters openly stocking up on uniforms and the latest Samsung smartphones. Wounded jihadists from the Islamic State and the al-Nusra Front — an al-Qaeda offshoot also fighting the Syrian government — were treated at Turkish hospitals. Most important, the Turks winked as Reyhanli and other Turkish towns became way stations for moving foreign fighters and arms across the border.

“Turkey welcomed anyone against Assad, and now they are killing, spreading their disease, and we are all paying the price,” said Tamer Apis, a politician in Reyhanli, where two massive car bombs killed 52 people last year.

See also here.

Hundreds of thousands on US government’s ‘terrorist’ list


This 2008 video from the USA is called US Has Nelson Mandela On Terrorist List.

By Tom Eley in the USA:

US terror list ensnares hundreds of thousands

6 August 2014

Over 40 percent of the 680,000 people on the US government’s Terrorist Screening Database (TSDB) have “no recognized terrorist affiliation,” according to leaked classified documents obtained by journalist Glenn Greenwald’s the Intercept.

The government adds names or new pieces of information to existing records at a clip of 900 items per day, according to the leaked document. It is unclear how individuals wind up on the terrorist list. Watch-listing standards published previously by the Intercept reveal that agents only need an undefined “reasonable suspicion” and not “concrete facts,” let alone “irrefutable evidence.”

Names on the TSDB are shared with police agencies across the US, private contractors, and foreign governments. The list is used to enforce no-fly orders and can lead to detention when individuals are stopped for routine traffic violations or asked to submit identification to law enforcement in other circumstances.

At 280,000, “no known terrorist affiliation” is by far the largest category on the terrorist watch list. The slide which presents this figure does not attempt to explain how someone with “no known terrorist affiliation” ends up on a terrorism watch list.

The remaining nearly 400,000 individuals have some alleged connection to terrorist groups, at least as defined by the US government. This includes 73,000 with alleged ties to Al Qaeda in Iraq, and 63,000 allegedly connected to the Taliban in Afghanistan. There are a combined 43,000 with ties to Hamas and Hezbollah on the list, organizations whose primary “terrorist” activity is opposing Israel’s invasions of Gaza and Lebanon. There are 93,000 in another extremely dubious category, “Other recognized terrorist group affiliation,” without further explanation.

While the TSDB has long been held out by the Obama administration as a major weapon in defending the American people against terrorist attacks, it actually appears to be more of an adjunct to the US wars of aggression in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. Only 5,000 of the 680,000 named are Americans, so the vast majority of those listed, if they are indeed Islamic terrorists, are unlikely to board an airplane or attack a government building inside the United States. They are far more likely to become the targets of a US air strike or drone missile attack in the countries in which they live.

Given the large number of “no known terrorist affiliation” living outside the United States, the TSDB would seem intended as a database to facilitate political repression by pro-US monarchies and military dictatorships, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Jordan, all of which have staged mass arrests and imprisonment of Islamic fundamentalist radicals.

As for the 5,000 on the TSDB list who are American citizens, the Intercept reports that the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, home to the largest concentration of Arab Americans in the country, has the second highest number of individuals listed, after New York City. Houston, San Diego, and Chicago round out the top five US cities for “known or suspected terrorists.”

The prominence of Dearborn strongly suggests that Muslim Americans are being placed on the watch list simply because of their religion. This is reinforced by the report by Glenn Greenwald last month on the US targeting five prominent Muslim-Americans—including a Republican Party candidate and several former US government officials—for surveillance as terror suspects (see: “Snowden documents show US government spied on prominent Muslim-Americans”).

The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) produced the document, which bears stamps reading “SECRET” and “NOFORN,” meaning the statistics on the TSDB were not to be shared with foreign governments, including US allies. Sharing the actual names of “suspects” must certainly have been done, given the preponderance of foreign nationals, more than 99 percent of the total.

A share of the data on the list has been gathered by illegally breaking into databases maintained by foreign governments in what the Intercept describes as a “previously unknown program, code-named Hydra,” operated by the CIA. Pakistan was targeted by Hydra in 2013. “Future initiatives will include additional targeted countries,” the document states.

The Terrorist Screening Database is part of a larger and more secretive terrorist watch list called Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE). The document boasts that, as of June 29, 2013 the TIDE list had surpassed the one million name mark, “a testament to DTI’s hard work and dedication.” An unnamed official confirmed the figure to CNN. There are nearly 16,000 Americans on the TIDE list.

TIDE is managed by a virtually unknown government agency called the Directorate of Terrorist Identities, which operates within the NCTC, which in turn operates under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The NCTC was created to break down the constitutional wall separating the military and foreign intelligence from domestic policing functions. It draws from the FBI, the CIA, and the military’s Defense Intelligence Agency. Demonstrating the practical implications of this, the leaked document reveals that the Directorate of Terrorist Identities was “deeply involved with all aspects of the response” to the Boston Marathon bombing.

Since its formation in December, 2010, the Directorate of Terrorist Identities has added 430,000 names to TIDE, and deleted only 50,000. According to the Intercept, names on TIDE are shared “across the US intelligence community, as well as with commando units from the Special Operations Command and with domestic agencies such as the New York City Police Department.”

The list now includes 730,000 “biometric files,” the leaked document reveals, including facial images, fingerprints, and iris scans. The Directorate’s Biometric Analysis Branch (BAB) is obtaining facial images from driver’s license bureaus in 15 states and the District of Columbia. The report also discusses the expansion of what it calls “Non-Traditional Biometric Data.” Included in this surveillance category are “scars/marks/tattoos,” signatures and handwriting, and “DNA strands.” The TIDE list adds more than 200 “encounter reports” per day, of which an unquantified share are visa applications. A program called “Kingfisher Expansion” has screened over 4.6 million visa applications in since it “went live” in June 2013.

The White House declined to publicly comment on the leaked document, though unnamed Obama administration officials told CNN they have “concluded there’s a new leaker exposing national security documents in the aftermath of surveillance secrets disclosed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.”

This seems virtually certain, given that the document obtained by the Intercept is dated August 2013, at which point Edward Snowden was in exile in Russia, without access to any US government secret files. This suggests that at least one individual in the US intelligence apparatus, and possibly many more, has been inspired by Snowden’s courageous example to share information on what the US government is doing behind the backs of the American people.

The overriding concern of the White House and the intelligence agencies will be to find and punish the official who turned the documents over to Greenwald. The Obama administration has prosecuted more government whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined. Intelligence officials and politicians have called for the killing of Snowden and Greenwald.

The administration has previously claimed that the growth of TIDE—and the so-called “no fly list” which has been increased by a factor of ten since the Bush administration—is in response to Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab, the so-called “underwear bomber.” Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab was allowed to board a plane in Amsterdam for Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, despite being on the TIDE list and identified as a fanatical Islamist by his own father, who went to the US embassy in Nigeria to report him.

This follows the pattern set by the Bush administration in the wake of 9/11, when repeated warnings by FBI agents and foreign intelligence agencies were ignored, setting the stage for the deadliest terrorist attacks in US history. While no one was ever punished, or even reprimanded, for opening the door to the 9/11 attacks, the tragic loss of life at the World Trade Center and Pentagon became the pretext for the massive attack on democratic rights which followed, in the name of the “war on terror.”

The Intercept revelation is the latest confirmation that the “war on terror” has nothing to do with terrorism. Its purpose is to create a massive surveillance apparatus that will be deployed against the working masses the world over.

The Australian government yesterday announced far-reaching new “anti-terrorism” measures, and, appealed for “national unity” to fight an alleged threat of terrorist atrocities: here.