Daily Archives: June 15, 2014

Rogers: Iraq’s sectarian civil war is ‘as dangerous as it gets’ for US, allies

June 14, 2014: Image on a militant website that appears to show militants from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant near Tikrit, Iraq

GOP Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said Sunday the uprising in Iraq by an Islamic militant group is “as dangerous as it gets,” and that the Obama administration must reunite with Arab nation partners to stop the surge.

“You can’t just fire missiles and come home,” the Michigan lawmaker told “Fox News Sunday.”

Rogers and others say the situation goes far beyond Iraq’s borders and is a major problem because some of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant fighters, or ISIS, have passports, which allows them to be trained — or “radicalized” – in the region and return to Europe and the United States.

He argued that another major concern is that at least some of the fighters in the Al Qaeda-connected group are “seasoned combat veterans.”

“It’s a jihadist Disneyland,” he said. “We need to do something to stop the momentum.”

Rogers and others also offer as proof of the situation that a Florida man joined Islamic extremists and last month in Syria carried out a suicide bombing against government forces.

Roger specifically called for Obama to work with Arab League partners, who include Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, and for U.S. military support to help end the sectarian civil war.

Obama on Friday said he would not send troops in Iraq, but left open the possibility of military action.

The U.S. on Saturday moved the Navy aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush into the Arabian Gulf.

The Islamic militant group last week swept across northern Iraq and captured two major cities — Mosul and Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit.

Iraqi government officials said on Sunday ISIS fighters were trying to capture Tal Afar in northern Iraq and raining down rockets seized last week from military arms depots.

The government, meanwhile, bolstered its defenses around Baghdad a day after hundreds of Shiite men paraded through the streets with arms in response to a call by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani for Iraqis to defend their country. ISIS has vowed to attack Baghdad, but its advance to the south seems to have stalled in recent days.

Meanwhile, Iraqi troops, many of them armed and trained by the U.S., are fleeing in disarray, surrendering vehicles, weapons and ammunition to the powerful extremist group, which also fights in Syria.

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Opinion : Bush’s toxic legacy in Iraq

George W. Bush

George W. Bush

(CNN) — ISIS, the brutal insurgent/terrorist group formerly known as al Qaeda in Iraq, has seized much of western and northern Iraq and even threatens towns not far from Baghdad.

From where did ISIS spring? One of George W. Bush’s most toxic legacies is the introduction of al Qaeda into Iraq, which is the ISIS mother ship.

If this wasn’t so tragic it would be supremely ironic, because before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, top Bush officials were insisting that there was an al Qaeda-Iraq axis of evil. Their claims that Saddam Hussein’s men were training members of al Qaeda how to make weapons of mass destruction seemed to be one of the most compelling rationales for the impending war.

After the fall of Hussein’s regime, no documents were unearthed in Iraq proving the Hussein-al Qaeda axis despite the fact that, like other totalitarian regimes, Hussein’s government kept massive and meticulous records.

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency had by 2006 translated 34 million pages of documents from Hussein’s Iraq and found there was nothing to substantiate a “partnership” between Hussein and al Qaeda.

Two years later the Pentagon’s own internal think tank, the Institute for Defense Analyses, concluded after examining 600,000 Hussein-era documents and several thousand hours of his regime’s audio- and videotapes that there was no “smoking gun (i.e. direct connection between Hussein’s Iraq and al Qaeda.)”

How should the U.S. intervene in Iraq?

Is the U.S. Embassy safe in Iraq?

Expert: ISIS went for ‘easy pickings’

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded in 2008, as every other investigation had before, that there was no “cooperative relationship” between Hussein and al Qaeda. The committee also found that “most of the contacts cited between Iraq and al Qaeda before the war by the intelligence community and policy makers have been determined not to have occurred.”

Instead of interrupting a budding relationship between Hussein and al Qaeda, the Iraq War precipitated the arrival of al Qaeda into Iraq. Although the Bush administration tended to gloss over the fact, al Qaeda only formally established itself in Iraq a year and a half after the U.S. invasion.

On October 17, 2004, its brutal leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi issued an online statement pledging allegiance to Osama bin Laden. Zarqawi’s pledge was fulsome: “By God, O sheikh of the Mujahideen, if you bid us plunge into the ocean, we would follow you. If you ordered it so, we would obey.”

Zarqawi’s special demonic genius was to launch Iraq down the road to civil war. In early 2004, the U.S. military intercepted a letter from Zarqawi to bin Laden in which he proposed provoking a civil war between Sunnis and Shia.

Zarqawi’s strategy was to hit the Shia so they would in turn strike the Sunnis, so precipitating a vicious circle of violence in which al Qaeda would be cast as the protector of the Sunnis against the wrath of the Shia. It was a strategy that worked all too well, provoking first sectarian conflict in Iraq and later civil war.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, or AQI, regularly attacked Shia religious processions, shrines and clerics. The tipping point in the slide toward full-blown civil war was al Qaeda’s February 2006 attack on the Golden Mosque in Samarra, which is arguably the most important Shia shrine in the world.

Three years into the Iraq War, AQI seemed all but unstoppable. A classified Marine intelligence assessment dated August 17, 2006, found that AQI had become the de facto government of the western Iraqi province of Anbar, which is strategically important because it borders Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia and makes up about a third of the landmass of Iraq.

In addition, AQI controlled a good chunk of the exurban belts around Baghdad, the “Triangle of Death” to the south of the capital and many of the towns north of it, up the Tigris River to the Syrian border.

Thus AQI controlled territory larger than New England and maintained an iron grip on much of the Sunni population.

In other words, the Bush administration had presided over the rise of precisely what it had said was one of the key goals of the Iraq War to destroy: a safe haven for al Qaeda in the heart of the Arab world.

By 2007, al Qaeda’s untrammeled violence and imposition of Taliban ideology on the Sunni population provoked a countrywide Sunni backlash against AQI that took the form of Sunni “Awakening” militias. Many of those militias were put on Uncle Sam’s payroll in a program known as the “Sons of Iraq”.

The combination of the Sunni militias’ on-the-ground intelligence about their onetime AQI allies and American firepower proved devastating to al Qaeda’s Iraqi franchise. And so, between 2006 and 2008, AQI shrank from an insurgent organization that controlled territory larger than the size of New England to a rump terrorist group.

But AQI did not disappear. It simply bided its time. The Syrian civil war provided a staging point over the past three years for its resurrection and transformation into the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” or ISIS. And now ISIS has marched back into western and northern Iraq. Only this time there is no U.S. military to stop it.

via Opinion: Bush’s toxic legacy in Iraq – CNN.com.

Seizure, bloodshed could be aims behind Russian embassy attack – Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

There are indications that “physical seizure” and bloodshed were the aims of the attack on the Russian embassy in Kiev, Russia’s foreign minister told journalists.

“From our diplomats’ point of view, the aim of the attackers was to physically seize the embassy building. There are also grounds to believe that they wanted bloodshed,” Lavrov said.

The leading players in the attack on Russia’s embassy were “fighters from Azov Battalion, created and financed by oligarch Igor Kolomoisky,” who was appointed by Kiev authorities as governor of Dnepropetrovsk, Lavrov said.

Russian Ambassador to Ukraine Mikhail Zurabov believes the attack was thoroughly planned.

“In the conditions in which we (Russia) and Ukraine [have] lived for the last 20 years, of course there was no question that the embassy here should meet the same safety requirements as in Iraq,” Zurabov told NTV channel. “But it looks like now we will have to reconsider our approach.”

According to Russia’s envoy to Kiev, there were two groups of “well equipped” young people between 25 and 30 years old who took no active part in the violence but were “absolutely ready to storm.”

“They had baseball bats, metal rods, axes. Had they entered the territory of the embassy, I think we would not have avoided victims,” he said.

Sergey Lavrov called the aggression “disgusting,” adding that the violence faced by Russian diplomats is “good reason” for “our Western partners” to think about how Kiev’s ruling regime is using “inherited” following the protests at Independence Square (Maidan) this winter.

As for Ukrainian acting Foreign Minister Andrey Deshchitsa using the offensive language addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin, it was “beyond the bounds of decency,” Lavrov said, calling the protest outside the embassy “bacchanalia.”

“[This is] a good reason for our Western partners, who in every possible way support any steps by Ukraine’s ruling regime, to think about how this regime is using powers inherited after Maidan,” Lavrov said.

Speaking about the international community’s reaction to the embassy attack in Kiev, Lavrov said that Russia is “disappointed” by Western leaders’ position on the violence.

“Western partners assured me and our diplomats that they condemn the attack. However, when we drafted a certain resolution to the UNSC, it was Western partners who refused to support it,” he said.

“They tried to link it with offers to condemn the downing of a plane in the southeast, with some other things that have no connection with the main point; diplomatic representatives’ inviolability cannot have any conditions,” Lavrov said, adding that such an attitude “does not add to the reputation of the schools of diplomacy in European countries and the US.”

Vandals stand on top of the crashed cars during an attack on the Russian embassy in Kiev on June 14, 2014.

‘Inventing terrorists’: New study reveals FBI set up terrorism-related prosecutions

Nearly 95 per cent of terrorist arrests have been the result of FBI foiling its own entrapment plots as a part of the so-called post-9/11 War on Terror, a new study revealed.

According to the report entitled ‘Inventing Terrorists: The Lawfare of Preemptive Prosecution’, the majority of arrests involved the unjust prosecution of targeted Muslim Americans.

The 175-page study by Muslim advocacy group SALAM analyzes 399 individuals in cases included on the list of the US Department of Justice from 2001 to 2010.

“According to this study’s classification, the number of preemptive prosecution cases is 289 out of 399, or 72.4 percent. The number of elements of preemptive prosecution cases is 87 out of 399, or 21.8 percent. Combining preemptive prosecution cases and elements of preemptive prosecution cases, the total number of such cases on the DOJ list is 376, or 94.2 percent,” the report concluded.

The authors define ‘preemptive prosecution’ as “a law enforcement strategy adopted after 9/11, to target and prosecute individuals or organizations whose beliefs, ideology, or religious affiliations raise security concerns for the government.”

Nearly 25 percent of cases (99 of 399) contained material support charges. Another almost 30 per cent of cases consisted of conspiracy charges. More than 17 per cent of the analyzed cases (71 of 399 cases) involved sting operations. Over 16 percent of cases (65 of 399 cases) included false statement or perjury charges, and around six percent of cases involved immigration-related charges.

According to the report, since 9/11 only 11 cases posed “potentially significant” threat to the United States.

“Only three were successful (the [Tamerlan and Dzhokhar] Tsarnaev brothers and Major Nidal Hasan), accounting for 17 deaths and several hundred injuries,” the paper says.

One of the FBI’s strategies involved “using agents provocateur to actively entrap targets in criminal plots manufactured and controlled by the government.”

“The government uses agents provocateur to target individuals who express dissident ideologies and then provides those provocateurs 25 with fake (harmless) missiles, bombs, guns, money, encouragement, friendship, and the technical and strategic planning necessary to see if the targeted individual can be manipulated into planning violent or criminal action,” the report concluded.

The government could also choose to use “minor ‘technical’ crimes,” such as errors on immigration forms, an alleged false statement to a government official, gun possession, tax or financial issues, etc., to go after someone for their “ideology.”

“What they were trying to do is to convince the American public that there is this large army of potential terrorists that they should all be very-very scared about. They are very much engaged in world-wide surveillance and this surveillance is very valuable to them. They can learn a lot about all sorts of things and in a sense control issues to their advantage,” Steven Downs, an attorney for Project SALAM, which issued the report, told RT. “And the entire legal justification for that depends on there being a war on terror. Without a war on terror they have no right to do this. So they have to keep this war on terror going, they have to keep finding people and arresting them and locking them up and scarring everybody.”

In the conclusion, authors of the report offered the US government several recommendations that the DOJ “should employ” to change the present unfair terrorism laws. A total seven recommendations call on the US government to accurately identify people who offer material support for terrorism, strengthening the “entrapment” defense in the courts; abolish “terror-enhanced sentencing” that triples or quadruples jail time in cases linked to terrorist acts; disallow secret court proceedings, and immediately notifying defendants if any evidence in their case is derived from secret surveillance.

​Russia now enemy, so we’ll help Ukraine build up military – NATO chief

Ukrainian troops outside the town of Andreyevskoye near Slavyansk, Donetsk Region

NATO is preparing a package deal to ramp up the Ukrainian military because it ‘must adapt’ to Russia viewing it as an enemy, the outgoing chief of the military bloc said.

The deal would be submitted to foreign ministers of members states later this month, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told El Pais in an interview. He declined to go into detail, but said it provides for defense industry reform and modernization of the Ukrainian military.

The alliance may also facilitate cooperation with Ukraine over military training, although whatever exercises of NATO member troops would be held in Ukraine is up to individual countries, Rasmussen said.

“We must adapt to the fact that Russia now considers us its adversary,” he explained.

NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen

The help that NATO plans to give Ukrainian military comes as the said military are used in a bloody crackdown on the defiant eastern provinces, where local militias defend cities from daily artillery shelling and airstrikes.

Kiev regards the militias as Russia-backed terrorists and refuses any kind of negotiation with them. NATO shares the view, accusing Russia of funneling heavy weapons into Ukraine across the border, although so far no solid evidence of such actions was presented.

The alliance itself is experiencing a sort of revival playing the ‘Russian threat’ card to justify the build-up of troops in Central and Eastern Europe. Moscow sees such deployments as provocative and confirming NATO’s aggressive stance towards Russia.

NATO claims that it has been cooperating with Russia in every way until the Ukrainian crisis sparked the cold war hostilities again. It’s not quite true, considering the alliance’s expansion eastwards in Europe and its plans to deploy a system of anti-ballistic missile defense closer to Russian borders. Both have been done against Russia’s objections that such moves compromise Russian national security.