Tag Archives: war on terror

Months After Syrian Rebel Training Program Ends, Pentagon Suggests Sending More Trainers to Iraq

Months after ending its rebel training program in Syria, the Pentagon indicated this week that it is considering sending hundreds of additional troops to Iraq to work as “trainers and supporters” in order to take back the city of Mosul.

Army Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the Defense Department, said he sees sending trainers to Iraq as the next step in the fight against ISIS, and that he believes the Iraqis will need at least eight combat brigades for the invasion of Mosul.

“The reason we need new trainers or additional trainers is because that’s really the next step in generating the amount of combat power needed to liberate Mosul,” Warren said Wednesday.

[RELATED: Truth In Media: The Origin of ISIS]

Traveling to Paris to meet with defense ministers from 26 nations to discuss fighting ISIS, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said he expects the number of U.S. troops in Iraq to increase from its current number of about 3,600.

“I think we’re certainly open to that,” Carter said. “I mean, I think that’s in the category that the president has indicated wherever there’s additional opportunity to make a difference, according to the strategy, we’d be willing to do that.”

Carter said that although the U.S. is “making a big contribution already,” it expects its allies to “get in the game” against the Islamic State.

I expect the number of trainers to increase, and also the variety of the training they’re giving,” Carter said. “For example, as territory is retaken from ISIL, as moving up and ultimately including Mosul, there are going to need to be not just ground forces that can seize territory, but police forces that can keep security.”

[RELATED: Obama Administration Ends $500 Million Syrian Rebel Training Program]

The Obama administration ended its $500 million program training and equipping moderate Syrian rebels in October, recognizing that the program failed to produce successful ground forces to combat Islamic State militants.

At the time, Carter said that instead of continuing the current “Syria Train and Equip” program, the U.S. will seek to work more closely with capable Kurdish groups, which he called a “more strategic approach.”

Death Toll Reaches 140 as Ethiopia Halts City’s Master Plan Following Oromo Protests

The Ethiopian government has reportedly ceased its plan to expand its capital, Addis Ababa, after protesters from Oromia demonstrated against the expansion plans over concerns that they would lose their homes.

According to BBC, “Oromia is Ethiopia’s largest region, surrounding the capital, Addis Ababa.” The Oromos are an ethnic group that make up over 40% of the population of Ethiopia. Human Rights Watch reported that the Master Plan’s objective is to expand the city of Addis Ababa. Oromo students and farmers have been demonstrating for months against the government’s Addis Ababa Master Plan.

Human Rights Watch also reported that since November, at least 140 activists have been killed by police and military forces in Ethiopia’s Oromia region and hundreds more have been injured or arrested.

Feliz Horne of Human Rights Watch wrote that “The generally peaceful protests were sparked by fears the expansion will displace ethnic Oromo farmers from their land, the latest in a long list of Oromo grievances against the government.”

Al-Jazeera reported that, to date, 150,000 Oromo farmers have already been exiled by military forces from their homes, with no rearrangements or reparations, to make room for Addis Ababa, “one of the fastest-growing cities in the world.”

This isn’t the first time activists have accused the Ethiopian government of ethnic cleansing in pursuit of its development agenda. OPride.com reported in 2013 on forest fires occurring in a region of Oromia, with many believing they were deforestation schemes to make way for development projects:

“Several diaspora-based activists have accused the government for setting the forest ablaze to make a way for its development projects. The state-run media ignored the fire, and instead reported on a new fertilizer factory being built near the area. Citing several ‘journalists working for the government TV and radio stations,’ New York-based political analyst Jawar Mohammed said, Ethiopian authorities have once again imposed a media blackout warning local reporters, including those working for state-run media houses, not to cover the story.

EPRDF, Ethiopia’s ruling party, now in power for 22 years, has been accused of setting forest reserves on fire in the past. For example, in 1999 and early 2000, a similar forest fire in Bale and Borana, also in the Oromia region, led to Oromia-wide student protests and the government’s slow response caused a strong public outcry. At the time, instead of putting out the fire, the government resorted to cracking down on students.”

The government reportedly took no action in stopping the fire in 2013 and barred journalists from reporting on it.

The surge of individuals joining the protest throughout the region led to arrests and reports of people being tortured for speaking out. Radio France Internationale reported that the government has repeated a push for a media blackout by seizing satellite dishes. RFI also reported that pictures have been spread on social media showing activists dead in ditches, hung from trees and brutally beaten.

The White House posted a statement from United States National Security Council Spokesperson Ned Price regarding the arrest of journalists in Ethiopia, calling for “the Ethiopian Government to release journalists and all others imprisoned for exercising their right to free expression, to refrain from using its Anti-Terrorism Proclamation as a mechanism to silence dissent, and to protect the rights of journalists, bloggers, and dissidents to write and speak freely as voices of a diverse nation.”

This statement comes after government officials justified the arrests by calling the protesters terrorists. Al-Jazeera reported that “over the last decade, the government in Addis Ababa used the ‘war on terrorism’ and the rhetoric of development to silence independent voices and curtail democratic debate.”

Many activists believe that there are even deeper political issues that no one is addressing. Kulani Jalata, a vocal activist for Oromo and a third year law student at Harvard Law School, believes that mainstream coverage of the protests is missing two key points. She stated those points in an interview with Truth In Media:

“The first point regards the Ethiopian government’s illegitimacy. The Ethiopian government is entirely controlled by Tigrayan elites. The Tigrayan population is 4 million—Ethiopia’s population is 94 million. The Tigrayan-led government and its party won 100% of the parliamentary seats this year— if that doesn’t scream illegitimacy, I don’t know what does. Furthermore, the Tigrayan-led government is very much in the business of holding on to state power by terrorizing and killing the political opposition members and supporters, students, farmers, artists, etc. and enriching Tigrayan state elites and their domestic and international supporters by extracting resources and land from the Oromo and other groups. The Oromo, the largest ethno-national group, has been particularly targeted because of their rich economic resources, particularly their land, the size of their population and their determination to resist land grabbing policies–for example, the recent #OromoProtests movement. The Oromo Protests are against this government’s new “Master Plan.” The “Master Plan” is touted as a development plan, but as we know it essentially will evict millions of poor Oromo farmers and deprive them of their livelihoods. This plan is a simply a continuation of the Tigrayan-led Ethiopia government’s legacy of land grabbing, and thus, the grievances that the protesters are expressing have deep roots.

The second point regards the implications of the Tigrayan-led regime’s practices on national and regional stability and security. It is key to point out that the state apparatus is very much focused on terrorizing the largest ethnonational group in all of the Horn of Africa, the Oromo. This focus on oppressing such a large proportion of the population makes the state very unstable, illegitimate, and bound for self-destruction. Although Ethiopia is seen as an ally on the ‘War on Terror’, it is perpetuating a form of state-terrorism on the Oromo as well as other ethnic groups such as the Amhara, Gambella, Sidama, etc. The Tigrayan-led Ethiopian government’s mask of legitimacy has entirely worn out.”

So were these cases of corruption as the activists say, or an economic strategy? The U.S. State Department released a statement from United States State Deputy Spokesperson Mark C. Toner’s about the situation which said, “We urge the government of Ethiopia to permit peaceful protest and commit to a constructive dialogue to address legitimate grievances. We also urge those protesting to refrain from violence and to be open to dialogue. The government of Ethiopia has stated publicly that the disputed development plans will not be implemented without further public consultation. We support the government of Ethiopia’s stated commitment to those consultations and urge it to convene stakeholders to engage in dialogue as soon as possible.”

DONEGAN: Ore. Protest Reaction Shows War on Terror Is Tearing America Apart

As around a dozen armed protesters gathered at the unoccupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in rural Oregon, angry over the federal government’s resentencing of local ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond in an arson case related to locally-controversial Bureau of Land Management regulations on land use, the mainstream media cast aside its journalistic responsibility and instead took on the more profitable role of a fight promoter.

The sum of the deceptive click-bait headlines swirling through the news cycle painted the event as that of a 150-man armed militia storming a “federal building” at gunpoint and seizing it, a choice of words that seemed to de-emphasize the fact that the protest was taking place at a small, unoccupied welcome center to a wildlife refuge with no one at the time under any imminent danger and instead called to mind an invasion of a federal building like the one targeted in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

[RELATED: Armed Protesters Occupy Oregon Wildlife Refuge Headquarters]

Consequently, the Twitter hashtag #YallQaeda emerged, oddly implying that this distinctly western dispute has something to do with the deep south where the word “y’all” is a part of the common vernacular, with some social media users rallying behind it and implying or directly stating that the protesters are domestic terrorists.

To be fair, some of the commentators were equipped with good points: it is undeniably true that people of color face disproportionately higher rates of police abuse. It is undeniably the case that police reforms need to take place across the country to ensure that African Americans, for example, are not assumed to be a threat to law enforcement just on the basis of race.

It is also certainly the case that the War on Terror has driven America to a hysterical level of suspicion towards Muslims, and this has created a civil rights crisis. In setting aside the classification “terrorist” as distinct from all other alleged crimes in how the federal government’s due process rights apply, Muslims have been executed without a trial (in the case of then 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki), denied the right to fly without due process, and detained indefinitely without charges.

However, these are good arguments for ending mandatory minimums in the case of the disproportionate numbers of people of color being incarcerated under the War on Drugs, not an argument for applying mandatory minimums to the Hammond family in the interest of fairness. These are also good arguments for repealing the War on Drugs and the War on Terror and their assaults against the human rights traditions of American jurisprudence, not arguments for strengthening and extending these abuses to additional demographic categories to even the score.

The dream of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement was to extend American freedom and opportunity to everyone, not to expand race-based crackdowns to all Americans.

Conservatives should learn a lesson from what is happening in Oregon. Pastor Martin Niemöller’s poem about the rise of Naziism in Germany specifically — and the erosion of civil liberties more generally — warned, “Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew… Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

For every meme a conservative shares on social media characterizing Black Lives Matter protesters as thugs or local Muslims attempting to break ground on a new mosque as terrorists, it must be assumed that there will be an equal and opposite number of people subsequently calling for open carry protesters or pro-lifers to be shot on sight or incarcerated in Guantanamo Bay.

The government could very well referee this conflict by some day giving both sides what they want.

On the other hand, in supporting the application of mandatory minimums to the Hammond family against a judge’s objections and characterizing protesters gathering on federal property and refusing to leave as an insurrection, many left-leaning commentators are by precedent calling for an undoing of the hard work that has been done so far to affect criminal justice reform in this country and are putting future Black Lives Matter protesters who might want to make their point by gathering on federal property and refusing to leave at risk of being victimized by state violence.

Instead of looking for more reasons to define more people as terrorists, all Americans should be working together to restore due process rights. This division among the American people might have been exactly what bin Laden wanted in attacking the U.S. in the first place.

Report: Thousands of Yemeni Children Without an Education Due to Saudi Bombing Campaign

On Friday, Amnesty International released a new report which examined five airstrikes in Yemen conducted by a Saudi Arabia-led coalition between August and October 2015. The airstrikes targeted five schools and resulted in the deaths of five civilians and injured 14 others, including four children.

The Saudi government has been leading a coalition of Arab nations fighting in Yemen’s civil war since March 2015. Due to online rumors, the schools were reportedly suspected of being used for storing weapons. However, the report, ‘Our Kids are Bombed’: Schools Under Attack in Yemen‘, found no evidence that any of the schools had been used for military purposes.

Although students were not inside the schools during the attacks, the bombing has caused extensive damage to local infrastructure. The bombings severely disrupted the education of more than 6,500 children who attend schools in Hajjah, Hodeidah and Sana’a governorates.

On the eve of peace talks in Switzerland, Amnesty International is calling for an independent investigation into the attacks and for full reparation to the victims and their families.

“The lack of investigations by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition, and those who provide them with arms and other support, into a growing list of suspected unlawful attacks suggests a chilling apathy for the devastating consequences this war has wrought on civilians in Yemen,” said Lama Fakih, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International.

The report states that UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) has found at least 34% of children in Yemen – around 1.8 million Yemeni children – have not been to school since the air strikes first began in March 2015.

Amnesty International also points out that the United States State Department recently approved an arms transfer worth $1.29 billion to Saudi Arabia, weapons which AI claims are used in unlawful killings of innocent civilians such as the school attacks.

“It is simply appalling that the USA and other allies of the Saudi Arabia-led coalition have continued to authorise arms transfers to members of the coalition, despite the clear evidence that they are not complying with the laws of war – international humanitarian law. All such transfers must halt immediately,” said Lama Fakih.

While the United States government and taxpayer continue to fund the global War on Terror and the resulting proxy wars, there are people trying to survive and thrive under the constant threat of bombs raining death from above.

“Right now we are living in fear and terror. Today I saw a plane and I was very afraid and terrified,” said a 12-year-old girl quoted in the report who attended a school in the Red Sea port Hodeidah that was destroyed by bombing in August.

Congressman: At Least 72 Homeland Security Employees on Terrorist Watchlist

The United States terrorist watchlist includes the names of 72 employees at the Department of Homeland Security, according to one Democratic lawmaker.

Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), who was one of 47 Democrats in the House of Representatives to support a GOP bill that would increase the screening of refugees from Iraq and Syria, claimed that DHS has major problems within its own system.

During an interview with Boston Public Radio, Lynch said an investigation was conducted in August by the Office of the Inspector General, which revealed that 72 of the individuals on the U.S. terrorist watchlist were DHS employees.

[pull_quote_center]Back in August, we did an investigation—the Inspector General did—of the Department of Homeland Security, and they had 72 individuals that were on the terrorist watch list that were actually working at the Department of Homeland Security. The director had to resign because of that.[/pull_quote_center]

Lynch also said an investigation was conducted into the practices of the Transportation Security Administration in eight airports, and it resulted in a 95 percent failure rate.

“We had staffers go into eight different airports to test the department of homeland security screening process at major airports,” Lynch said. “They had a 95 percent failure rate. We had folks—this was a testing exercise—we had folks going in there with guns on their ankles, and other weapons on their persons, and there was a 95 percent failure rate.”

[RELATED: TSA Fails DHS Security Test, Allows Weapons, Bombs to Breach Security 67 of 70 Times]

Lynch used previous DHS failures as an example for why he supported the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act when it passed in the House 289 to 137 on Nov. 19. The bill, which President Obama has promised to veto, would require the DHS secretary, the FBI director and the director of national intelligence to clear each refugee before that individual is admitted to the United States.

“It’s a very simple bill, I know that it’s got subsumed within a larger discussion about immigration policy, but basically, the bill we voted on was a very short bill—four pages in length,” Lynch said. “It said that the director of national security shall review the vetting process as being conducted by both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.”

New Report: ‘Human, Technical Error’ Led to Afghanistan Hospital Bombing

On Wednesday, U.S. military officials announced that several American military soldiers and airmen responsible for killing and injuring civilians inside a hospital in Afghanistan violated the rules of engagement and will face disciplinary action.

[RELATED: Doctors Without Borders Leaving Afghan City After U.S.-Led Coalition Bombs Hospital]

In early October, a hospital in northern Afghanistan operated by the organization Doctors Without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF, suffered an attack from U.S.-led coalition forces. Thirty-one people were killed in the bombing, including 12 hospital staffers. Three of the deaths were children in the intensive care unit.

The bombing, which took place at a hospital in the city of Kunduz, was originally reported as a request from Afghan military officers who were under fire from Taliban forces. The investigations prove that story to be false. Shortly after the bombing, it was reported that Doctors Without Borders would be leaving the city of Kunduz as a result of the bombing.

Gen. John Campbell, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and Brig. Gen. Wilson Shoffner told reporters the bombing was the result of several human and technical failures. The officials declined to say how many soldiers were suspended.

[RELATED: Doctors Without Borders Hospital Raided By Afghan Forces Months Before US Airstrike]

“We made a terrible mistake that resulted in unnecessary deaths,” Brig. Shoffner said. The officials stated that the crew of an AC-130 gunship was sent to attack a Taliban command center in a different building, but problems with targeting sensors caused the crew to fire on the hospital despite a lack of hostile activity.

Campbell and Shoffner did not address previous claims by military officials that the Taliban had taken over the hospital, but the Associated Press reports that a summary of one of the investigations states there is no evidence to support the claim.

The reports detail a chaotic 25-minute period where planes fired 211 shells at the hospital before commanders realized a mistake had been made. The report also says 31 civilians were killed and 28 others were injured. These numbers are higher than previously reported and the investigators claim that additional civilians were likely killed or injured in the attacks.

One of the investigations is officially known as a combined civilian casualty assessment and was tasked with determining the facts of the bombing, but not assigning blame. U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Richard Kim led the investigation with a team representatives of NATO and the Afghan government. A second investigation conducted by the U.S. military looked into the issue of accountability.

Gen. Kim’s investigation found that U.S. Special Forces were planning a raid of a National Directorate of Security compound in Kunduz on the night of the bombing. “The (U.S. Special Forces commander) did not label the MSF compound (Doctors Without Borders’ French acronym) as containing a medical facility, and that the MSF medical facility was not marked so as to distinguish it as a protected medical establishment,” the report said.

As a result of this mistake, people running from the hospital were shot by gunfire, including one patient trying to escape in a wheelchair who was killed by shrapnel. The report says it is unclear if the commander on the ground who gave the authorization had the coordinates for the hospital when he ordered the attack.

A copy of the casualty assessment report was obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday but has not been released publicly.

President Obama Cancels Plan to Withdraw from Afghanistan

President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that he is canceling his plan to withdraw from Afghanistan during his presidency and instead will leave the current force of 9,800 troops in place throughout 2016.

Under the new plan, troop levels are set to drop to 5,500 at an unspecified point in late 2016 or early 2017. The U.S. will continue operations out of bases in Kandahar, Bagram, and Jalalabad, a departure from Obama’s previous plan in which America’s presence in Afghanistan would have been scaled back to 1,000 troops garrisoned at the U.S. embassy in Kabul.

Afghan forces are still not as strong as they need to be. Meanwhile, the Taliban has made gains particularly in rural areas and can still launch deadly attacks in cities, including Kabul,” said President Obama in a Thursday speech from the White House, according to the Washington Post.

“I will not allow Afghanistan to be used as safe haven for terrorists to attack our nation again,” he added.

[RELATED: Doctors Without Borders Leaving Afghan City After U.S.-Led Coalition Bombs Hospital]

The New York Times notes, “The Taliban are now spread through more parts of the country than at any point since 2001, according to the United Nations, and last month they scored their biggest victory of the war, seizing the northern city of Kunduz and holding it for more than two weeks before pulling back on Tuesday.

Beltway hawks have reportedly been pressuring the president to bolster U.S. presence in Afghanistan after ISIS rose to power in a vacuum created by years of war and destabilization in Iraq.

President Obama’s new plan, which is estimated to cost $14.6 billion, leaves flexibility for U.S. military leaders or the next president to decide when troops levels will be scaled back from 9,800 to 5,500.

[RELATED: Doctors Without Borders Hospital Raided By Afghan Forces Months Before US Airstrike]

U.S. troops have been fighting in Afghanistan for 14 years. To date, 2,345 U.S. military members have been killed in the conflict and 20,071 have been wounded in action, according to NBC News.

President Obama, who had pledged while campaigning to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan during his presidency, said that he is not disappointed by the change in plans.

US Kills Afghan Refugee Program Funding, Citing ‘Corruption’

By Kathryn Watson – U.S. State Department officials stopped funding training of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation due to chronic corruption and lack of capabilities, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction in a report made public Thursday.

The U.S. has spent nearly $1 billion on Afghan refugee aid since 2002, largely through organizations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee on the Red Cross.

The department’s International Organization for Migration funded a two-year program in 2012 to train the Afghan government in helping refugees and returning Afghans, but gave up in 2014 after the Afghan government’s corruption and inability to provide needed services made working together “extremely challenging,” the report said.

The 2014 decision to terminate U.S. funding for the MORR program is only now being made public. The U.S. will still fund aid for millions of Afghans fleeing to, and returning from, Iran and Pakistan through outside organizations.

“Because the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation (MORR), under the previous Afghan administration, faced problems with corruption and a lack of capacity, State currently has no plans to provide monetary assistance to the ministry,” Special Inspector General John Sopko recently told Secretary of State John Kerry and other top department officials. “The new Afghan administration has indicated its commitment to addressing these issues within the ministry and assisting Afghan refugees and returnees.”

Refugees “do not get much attention because they are not a priority issue and ministries do not think refugees are directly related to their work,” an unnamed department official said, according to the report. The U.S. official was quoting an unnamed Afghan official.

This isn’t the first time U.S. and Afghan officials have called MORR corrupt or incompetent.

A 2013 Afghan Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee assessment of MORR found the ministry’s process for distributing land to refugees “afflicted by institutional corruption,” SIGAR noted.

A U.N. Office of Inspector General investigation that same year found MORR spent about $117,000 in UNHCR funds for staff bonuses, reimbursements to officials supported by forged documents, and an office rental that violated both UNHCR rules and Afghan laws.

The Afghan government is particularly falling behind on placing returning families on land plots. Only 14 percent of the 266,000 returning families that applied for it received land, a 2011 State Department Office of Inspector General report found.

The State Department and UNHCR don’t have reliable refugee figures, since they largely rely on numbers from the Pakistani and Irani governments. The UNHCR, for example, estimates 23,000 Afghan refugees die in Pakistan each year, but the Pakistani government only reported six deaths from January 2008 through June 2014.

UNHCR estimates about 2.5 million Afghans are living in Pakistan, and at least 950,000 are living in Iran, as of December 2014.

Follow Kathryn on Twitter, or email her at katie@dailycallernewsfoundation.org. 




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Scott Walker Won’t Rule Out Another ‘Full-Blown’ Invasion Of Iraq

By Alex Griswold

Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker refused in an interview with ABC’s “This Week” Sunday to rule out a possible re-invasion of Iraq in order to defeat ISIS, telling correspondent Jonathan Karl that he would do whatever was necessary to protect the U.S. security interests.


KARL: You have been very critical of the president’s handling of ISIS. Some are out there, like Senator Graham, saying we should seasoned 10,000 U.S. ground troops right now into Iraq to help with this fight. Do you favor that?

WALKER: I think we shouldn’t rule anything out. I think that’s a big mistake this president has made here and elsewhere about saying how long we would go or how much we would invest.

KARL: I’m not talking about ruling it out. I’m saying, would you do that?

WALKER: No, I’m not arguing that’s the first approach. I’d tell you three specific things I think we should do in Iraq. First, we should re-engage the strength of the American forces that are there. Once you do that, you empower the ally forces that are there in Iraq to reclaim the territory that ISIS has taken. And third, you just need to make sure you do it in a way that doesn’t provide a safe haven, like in Syria as you push them out.

KARL: So, you would not send combat troops now to Iraq?

WALKER: No. I believe right now, we have a capacity to reclaim with Iraq with the Iraqi forces there, as long as we unleash the power that’s already there of the American armed forces.

KARL: You say you wouldn’t rule out– I mean would you rule out a full-blown U.S. re-invasion of Iraq and Syria?

WALKER: I don’t think we should ever send a message to our foes as to how far we’re willing to go.

KARL: So you wouldn’t rule out a full-blown re-invasion?

WALKER: I would not rule out boots on the ground.

KARL: No, but I’m asking, would you rule out a full-blown re-invasion of Iraq?

WALKER: If the national interest of this country are at stake here, at risk in this country or abroad, that to me is the standard that we do for military engagement.




Follow Alex Griswold on Twitter

US-Trained Foreign Special Forces Commander Joins ISIS

By Ivan Plis

A special forces commander from Tajikistan, who has been missing since late April, appeared Thursday in an online video where he pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

Gulmurod Khalimov is perhaps the highest-profile defector from the majority-Muslim ex-Soviet republic in central Asia. Since vanishing from duty in late April, he has sparked a search across Tajikistan, and endless speculation about his location and intentions.

Islamic State’s propaganda often targets narrow demographics for recruitment. Russian speakers in central Asia are one of those groups: one preteen boy from Kazakhstan has been the star of several IS videos. (RELATED: New ISIS Video Features Kid Executioner)

In Thursday’s video, Khalimov speaks in accented Russian while Tajik-language religious songs play. He identifies himself as a colonel in Tajikistan’s special forces.

He claims he received training from Russian and American special forces in Moscow and in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He also boasts about training by the U.S. private military contractor Blackwater.

Addressing the many ethnic Tajiks who work as migrant workers in Russia, he says that living under a secular democratic government amounts to being “servants of infidels,” when as Muslims they ought instead to be “servants of Allah.” By this argument, he urges them repeatedly to “immigrate” to the jihadi group’s purported state in Syria and Iraq: “if you were believers, you would have known to come here.” (RELATED: Muslim Polygamy Is Russia’s Hottest Political Debate)

Echoing the group’s interpretation of Islam, he calls immigration to Islamic State a “religious duty,” marveling at the diversity of nations represented in the jihadis’ territory. The video, incidentally, was released shortly after a United Nations report saying that Islamic terrorist groups enjoy members from over 100 countries worldwide.

He taunts the government of Tajikistan which he recently served, saying that Islamic State is soon coming to reestablish Shariah there.

He also addresses “American swine,” saying that in his three visits to the country he has “seen how you prepare soldiers to eliminate Muslims and Islam.” He vows that in retribution, “we will come to your homes and we will kill you.”

As though to prove his point, he places a tomato on a post, and shoots it with a sniper rifle from dozens of yards away.

Russia and its allies in central Asia have repeatedly raised the alarm over Islamist radicalization and unrest in the decades since the fall of the Soviet Union. Hundreds of central Asians have joined IS since it came to prominence in 2014.




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FBI Foils ISIS Terror Attacks After THEY Recruit and Plot the Attack?

The recent arrests of two New York women for allegedly planning an Islamic State-inspired attack in America has brought the spotlight onto controversial literature, specifically a 1970s book known as ‘The Anarchist Cookbook.’ While people like Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) have condemned the work and believes things like it should be banned, critics are more concerned with the methods and lack of accountability in America’s security community.

In addition, what corporate media will not discuss is that the the FBI informant who reportedly recruited the women, was also the one who introduced the book to the women.

Ben Swann interviews author and critic Heidi Boghosian about this trend of FBI informants who recruit terror suspects only to “foil” the plot.

US Court Sentences Blackwater Guards Over 2007 Baghdad Massacre

By Jason Ditz

Following up on the October convictions of four Blackwater employees for their roles in the 2007 Nisour Square Massacre in Baghdad, a US court today sentenced all four to substantial prison terms.

Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard each faced multiple counts of voluntary manslaughter, and were each sentenced to 30 years in prison. The heaviest charges fell on Nicholas Slatten, however.

Slatten, who bragged to friends of his intention to “kill as many Iraqis as he could as payback for 9/11,” was charged with first-degree murder in the killings, and was sentenced to life in prison. He was also the one who fired first.

The Nisour Square Massacre left 17 Iraqi civilians dead and 20 injured and led to the revocation by the Iraqi government of Blackwater’s license to operate in the nation, though they remained for quite some time under State Department auspices anyhow.

The guard were charged in a relatively rare case of using the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act of 2000. The defense argued unsuccessfully that this did not apply because they were working as military contractors for the US State Department, not the military itself.

Federal Judge Challenges Obama’s Use of Executive Order to Hide Gitmo Videos

The Obama Administration is invoking an executive order on classified information in order to prevent the release of videos that show forced-feeding of a former detainee of the Guantanamo Bay military prison.

In October 2014, Federal Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that the Obama Administration must unseal 32 video tapes related to the force-feeding of Abu Wa’el Dhiab, who was then being held without charge at the prison. Dhiab was kidnapped by the Pakistani government in 2002 before being handed over to the United States on suspicion of terrorism. He was held for twelve years without a trial.

The videos show Dhiab subjected to violent “forced cell extraction” and forced-feeding. The forced-feeding sessions began after he refused to eat.  Dhiab had been protesting his treatment and conditions at the prison by participating in a hunger strike which at one point had spread to 100 detainees in the facility.

The government was given time to redact portions of the video for “national security” reasons and Dhiab’s lawyers made a proposal outlining the release of the videos. However, the Obama Administration appealed on October 15th and has since attempted to argue that Executive Order 13,526, which governs the Executive Branch’s classification of national security information, “is binding on the Judicial Branch and precludes their unsealing.” This EO was issued on  December 29, 2009, shortly after Obama came into his first term.

Judge Kessler rejected this claim, stating that it “would displace the court’s power to seal its own record, putting that authority in the government’s hands alone.” She also stated, “the judiciary has the discretion to seal or unseal a judicial record.”  Dhiab’s attorneys argued [PDF] that the judicial branch maintains power over classified court filings, and the executive branch ” cannot intrude by operation of executive orders.”

“Neither the district court nor this court is beholden to the executive branch to keep these videotapes wholly secret from the American public.”

This is not the first time Judge Kessler has challenged the Obama administration’s arguments. 

The government had previously argued that the release of any footage of the type “provides the enemy with opportunity to search for weaknesses and vulnerabilities”. When President Obama attempted to seal the videos several news organizations came together in opposition of such a move, including ABC News, Associated Press, First Look Media, Guardian, McClatchy, NPR, New York Times and Reuters.

Judge Kessler sided with the organizations and Dhiab. Kessler called the governments arguments“unacceptably vague, speculative,”and “plain implausible.” She stated that:

“It is our responsibility, as judges, as part of our obligation under the Constitution, to ensure that any efforts to limit our First Amendment protections are scrutinized with the greatest of care. That responsibility can not be ignored or abdicated.”

The government has also attempted to keep the hearings away from the public eye, but, once again,Judge Kessler intervened. Judge Kessler ruled that the U.S. government could not close the hearing and called the efforts by the Department of Justice “deeply troubling.” Even more telling is the fact that during those hearings the government was not able to get a single witness to testify in favor of the forced-feeding practices.

Dhiab was subject to forced-feedings even after his health was decreasing. Kevin Gosztola of Fire Dog Lake writes:

“As lawyers highlight in their filing, an “evidentiary hearing” established that the government had ordered Dhiab to be force-fed, even though his life was not “at imminent risk from malnutrition.”

Medical personnel would lubricate the feeding tubes with olive oil. Not only was this a departure from “standard medical practice,” it put him at risk of a “rare and untreatable form of pneumonia.”

When Dhiab was force-fed, he was strapped in a “five-point restraint chair which caused him substantial pain, in disregard of a medical staff recommendation for the less-painful use of a one-point restraint.” He was force-fed twice a day instead of leaving the tube in place for “up to four weeks, which caused him needless pain.”

At the end of 2014, after twelve years behind bars with no trial, Abu Wa’el Dhiab was finally released to Uruguay. The violence and forced-feeding procedures have caused permanent damage to his health and he is now confined to a wheelchair.


Military Equipment, Lost by Pentagon, Turns up for Sale on Craigslist

According to a March 12 US Naval Criminal Investigative Service report published by The Intercept, Department of Defense officials misplaced equipment from a $750 million shipment of tools aimed at helping US soldiers track and disable improvised explosive devices. Some of the 32,000 sensitive, restricted pieces of equipment distributed through the program were only found after they were posted for sale on websites like eBay and Craigslist.

“Since 2009, some of this advanced hardware has been reported as missing and is actively being sold or discussed on the global market on a variety of websites,” said the report. The items, which include capabilities like night vision and thermal optic imaging, appeared for sale on 13 websites, including texasguntalk.com and sportfishermen.com, listed as equipment for outdoor activities like hunting and camping.

Jana Winter and Sharon Weinberger at The Intercept wrote that they “found an eBay listing from Dec. 2014 for one of the pieces of equipment listed in the the NCIS document — the OASYS-BAE Systems Universal Thermal Monocular; it was listed for sale in Dec. 2014 for $6,000, with free standard shipping. Another item, currently listed for sale, is a CNVD-T Clip-On Night Vision Device Thermal System; it is advertised for $16,599.00 in ‘new condition!'”

The NCIS report concluded, “NCIS asks for your help in identifying and recovering these items to keep foreign entities from exploiting the technologies in these devices and using them against the U.S. military, NATO allies, or civilian law enforcement personnel during the course of their duties.”

The US Navy’s Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, which acquires and issues the equipment, has been criticized in a 2012 Government Accountability Office report for its failure to oversee $18 billion in expenses. Military.com is reporting that the DOD is working on a downsizing plan for JIEDDO, complete with budget and personnel cuts, a claim which JIEDDO spokesperson David Small denied in comments to The Intercept.

France Enacts Strict Crackdown on Cash Payments Because Charlie Hebdo Attackers Used Cash

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin announced last Wednesday that France will be enacting strict limits on the use of cash in the wake of January’s Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack, citing the fact that those responsible used cash to purchase equipment. According to Reuters, starting in September, France’s new cash policies will ban payments of over 1,000 euros in cash for French citizens and expenditures of over 10,000 euros for foreign visitors.

The cash crackdown also includes new monitoring provisions, requiring banks to report cash deposits, transfers, or withdrawals exceeding 10,000 euros to the government, requiring the presentation of identification for currency transfers exceeding 1,000 euros, and requiring banks to add small bank accounts to a national database. The new policies also include restrictions on the use of pre-paid cards.

Sapin said that the controls are necessary to “fight against the use of cash and anonymity in the French economy,” which he says are leading to a form of “low-cost terrorism.” He explained his views further in a press conference on the new rules and said, “It’s a terrorism that is low cost to carry out but has major impact… This low-cost terrorism feeds on fraud, money laundering and petty trafficking.”

Joseph T. Salerno at the Mises Institute wrote a sarcastic critique of the new controls and said, “It was just a matter of time before Western governments used the trumped up ‘War on Terror’ as an excuse to drastically ratchet up the very real war on the use of cash and personal privacy that they are waging against their own citizens… It seems the terrorists involved partially financed these attacks by cash, as well as by consumer loans and the sale of counterfeit goods. What a shockeroo! The terrorists used cash to purchase some of the stuff they needed — no doubt these murderers were also shod and clothed and used cell phones, cars, and public sidewalks during the planning and execution of their mayhem. Why not restrict their use?”

After Fall of Yemen, US Officials Fear Terrorists Have Seized $500 Million in US-Donated Weapons

For years, the US has engaged in a counter-terrorism strategy in Yemen involving aggressive drone strikes and the donation of over $500 million in weapons and equipment to Yemen’s US-backed government. However, these moves aimed at defeating al-Qaeda in Yemen have produced an array of unintended consequences, which appear to be spiraling out of control.

First, local anxiety over US drone strikes led to a January 2015 uprising by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, who toppled Yemen’s government suddenly, taking US officials by surprise. The fall of Yemen has been compared to ISIS’ taking of Mosul in that, in both cases, US-trained-and-funded soldiers refused to fight as rebels launched their attacks. Additionally, al-Qaeda has reportedly seized some of the collapsed Yemeni government’s bases. In February, the US closed its embassy in Yemen, and rebels stole vehicles that were left behind during the evacuation.

Meanwhile, according to The Washington Post, Pentagon officials recently admitted that they have lost track of the over $500 million in military assistance that the US has given to Yemen’s failed government. The lost equipment includes M-16 and M-4 rifles, over a million rounds of ammo, Glock pistols, night vision goggles, drones, helicopters, surveillance aircraft, and patrol boats. US officials planned to send $125 million in additional aid, including ScanEagle drones, but instead redirected the shipments to other Middle Eastern and African nations following Yemen’s collapse.

An anonymous legislative aid told The Washington Post, “We have to assume [the weapons are] completely compromised and gone.” Though Pentagon officials say that there is no specific evidence demonstrating that al-Qaeda or Houthi rebels have obtained the US-donated weapons and equipment, the Department of Defense has admitted that it has lost track of the items. Given the fact that both al-Qaeda and the Houthi rebels have seized many Yemeni bases, the prevailing logic in Washington DC is that the shipments have likely been claimed by the anti-US groups.

In 2014, President Barack Obama pointed to his counter-terrorism strategy in Yemen as an example of a War on Terror foreign policy success story. “The administration really wanted to stick with this narrative that Yemen was different from Iraq, that we were going to do it with fewer people, that we were going to do it on the cheap,” said Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-TX).

BREAKING: President Obama Asks Congress to Authorize Military Force Against Islamic State

The Associated Press is reporting that President Barack Obama has asked Congress to formally authorize the use of military force against the Islamic State.

President Obama offered a draft resolution, stating the IS “poses a grave threat.” Obama’s three-page resolution calling for military force was obtained by the AP early Wednesday morning. The resolution would limit the war to three years with no limitations on where the U.S. military could chase the apparent terror threat. The language of the bill does not make it clear if ground troops are a possibility, however it bans “enduring offensive combat operations.”

The resolution would also put an end to the 2002 authorization for War in Iraq but would leave in place the authorization for war against al-Qaida in Afghanistan.

The news of escalated military conflicts come on the heels of a commander of the Islamic State in Pakistan, or Daish,  claiming that his operations have been funded through channels in the United States.

Last month we reported that Yousaf al Salafi stated that he was being paid through banks in the United States to wage his war with the Islamic State. The Express-Tribune reported that a source close to an investigation into al Salafi confirmed that he “revealed that he was getting funding – routed through America – to run the organisation in Pakistan and recruit young people to fight in Syria.” The Commander claimed he was receiving $600 per individual who agreed to go to Syria. The report says these revelations were shared with Secretary of State John Kerry.

Whether President Obama will address the source of IS funding in his resolution remains to be seen.

Islamic State Commander Claims Funding Coming From the United States

An alleged commander of the Islamic State in Pakistan, or Daish,  claims that his operations have been funded through channels in the United States.

Yousaf al Salafi was reportedly arrested with two other men on January 22 in Lahore, Pakistan. The Express-Tribune reports that al Salafi had actually been arrested in December but had only recently been discussed publicly. He is alleged to have gone to Pakistan from Turkey and established an Islamic State group.

The Express-Tribune reported that a source close to the investigation into al Salafi confirmed that he “revealed that he was getting funding – routed through America – to run the organisation in Pakistan and recruit young people to fight in Syria.” The Commander claimed he was receiving $600 per individual who agreed to go to Syria. The report says these revelations were shared with Secretary of State John Kerry.

“The US had to dispel the impression that it is financing the group for its own interests and that is why it launched offensive against the organisation in Iraq but not in Syria”

– Source to the Express-Tribune

Julie Lenarz, executive director of the Human Security Centre thinktank, told the IB Times that much of Islamic State’s funding is being processed through the international banking system. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait, all allies to the US, have been tied to funding for the Islamic State.


Sen. Graham: “Delusional” ISIS Strategy Will Eradicate US

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) appeared on Fox News Sunday to discuss the Islamic State and criticize President Obama’s strategy in dealing with the terrorist group. Graham claimed that the Islamic State is now encouraged by the Obama Administration’s strategy. Graham described the administration’s plans as “delusional”.

Graham said that “this is a turning point in the war on terror” and that the Islamic State is an army, not just an organization. “It’s gonna take an army to beat an army,” Graham said, “and this idea we’ll never have any boots on the ground to defeat them in Syria is fantasy.”

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) said that Obama’s plan is comprehensive and acknowledges that solving the unrest “has to be ultimately the efforts of the local regional powers”.

“He [Obama] is willing to use American airpower and American training efforts to empower these countries, but it’s their fight. As Denis [McDonough] pointed out this is a battle within Sunni community. About where they’re going, Radical Islamist, or-”

Host John Roberts interjected,”we know the plan, but will it work?” Reed responded that there’s potential for the plan to work with cooperation between the United States, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq. “I think the plan is the best possible one, because it recognizes it’s not just a full military struggle, it’s also a political struggle,” said Reed.

Graham continued to push for more military force, stating that “it is our fight. It is not just their fight. This is a radical Islamic army that’s pushing the theory of a master religion, not a master race like the Nazis. This is not about bringing a few people to justice who behead the innocent in a brutal fashion. It’s about protecting millions of people throughout the world from a radical Islamic army, they’re intending to come here.”

“There is no way in hell you can form an army on the ground to go into Syria, to destroy ISIL without a substantial American component. And to destroy ISIL, you have to kill or capture their leaders, take the territory they hold back, cut off their financing, and destroy their capability to regenerate. This is a war we’re fighting, it is not a counterterrorism operation. This is not Somalia. This is not Yemen. This is a turning point in the war on terror. Our strategy will fail yet again. This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home,” said Graham.

“Will there have to be U.S. combat forces, special operators- something- maybe not large divisions, maneuvering divisions, but some component of American fighting forces to get this done?” Roberts asked Reed. Reed repeated that the United States should “empower them, but they have to carry the fight to the enemy. This is a fight within the Sunni community, it’s a fight that they have to win for their own self-interests, and we have to make it clear that that’s the case.”

“Apparently nobody has been listening to what Senator McCain and I have been saying for the last three years,” Graham argued. “We said train the Free Syrian Army so they can take this fight on. Instead of training the Free Syrian Army, the president overruled his entire national security team and abandoned the Free Syrian Army,” said Graham. ” I am tired of hearing from this administration how easy this is going to be, when it’s going to be hard and the consequences of losing my friend, is if they survive our best shot, this is the last best chance, to knock him out, then they will open the gates of hell to spill out on the world. This is not a Sunni versus Sunni problem, this is ISIL versus mankind.”


Rep. Justin Amash has tough questions for Obama after ISIS speech

GRAND RAPIDS, September 11, 2014 – Wednesday night, Congressman Justin Amash (R-Michigan) had several questions following President Barack Obama’s address to the nation regarding America’s response to ISIS. Obama announced plans to expand the U.S. air campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) through “a comprehensive and sustained greater terrorism strategy” and maintained that he had the authority to act without congressional approval.

Amash took to his Facebook page to express his concerns stating, “When our government orders our young men and women into harm’s way, our leaders have a duty to define the mission, set a plausible strategy, and explain why the risk of our children’s lives and our citizens’ resources is justified. President Obama has failed to fulfill those obligations.”

In Amash’s opinion, Obama’s speech lacked many basic, yet vital details the American people need before further military action is taken. Some of these details include the cost, duration, risk and contributions of allies for this undertaking. You can read Amash’s full comments here:

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