Archive | December 28th, 2015

Is a Saudi collapse on the horizon?

Daniel Lazare
Is the Saudi monarchy coming apart at the seams? Scholars and journalists have long predicted the kingdom’s demise, but this time the forecasts may finally prove correct.The reason is an unprecedented avalanche of problems pouring down on Saudi Arabia since 79-year-old Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud assumed the throne last January. A hardliner in contrast to his vaguely reformist predecessor Abdullah, Salman lost no time in letting the world know that a new sheriff was in town. He upped the number of public executions, which, at 151, are now running at nearly double last year’s rate.

© Pete Souza, Official White House Photo
King Salman greets the President and First Lady during a state visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 27, 2015.

After meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he promised to intensify efforts to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by increasing aid to Al Nusra, Al Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate. A few weeks later, he assembled a coalition of nine Sunni Arab states to launch nightly bombing raids on Yemen, quickly reducing one of the poorest countries in the Middle East to ruin.

People certainly took notice. But if Salman thought such actions would win him respect, he was wrong. Instead, the result has been a steady drum beat of negative publicity as the world awakes to the fact that, with its public beheadings and barbaric treatment of women, the Islamic state headed by the House of Saud is little different from the Islamic State headed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northern Syria and Iraq.

Topping the kingdom’s list of woes is the economy. With its stubbornly high unemployment rate and growing wealth gap between the rich and poor, Saudi Arabia has long been the sick man of the Persian Gulf. Even though planners have been talking about economic diversification since the 1970s, the kingdom was actually more dependent on oil as of 2013 than 40 years earlier.

“Saudization” of the workforce is another mantra, yet the labor market remains polarized between a private sector dominated by foreign guest workers, mainly from South Asia, and a public sector filled with Saudi sofa men who spend their days lounging about in government offices.

Riyadh wishes that young people would take jobs in hotels, oil refineries and the like, but most prefer to wait for a high-paid government sinecure to open up – which is one reason why the jobless rate among young people is as high as 29 percent.

Oil Price Crash

Given this combination of oil dependence and joblessness, a two-thirds drop in the price of crude since mid-2014 couldn’t be more painful. But what makes it even more frightening is the growing realization that, with softening demand due to the global slowdown and growing over-supply due to the fracking revolution, low prices will be a fact of life for years to come.

This prospect does not bode well for a country dependent on oil for 91 percent of its foreign revenue, one that is currently burning through its foreign reserves at the rate of $10 billion a month

The news on the political front is almost as dire. Every week seems to bring a fresh new scandal. First, liberal blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced to a thousand lashes for the crime of speaking his mind. Then Karl Andree, a 74-year-old British grandfather, was sentenced to 350 for the crime of having a bottle of wine in his car.

Three Saudi Shi’ite youths – Ali al-Nimr, Abdallah al-Zaher and Dawood al-Marhoon – have been sentenced to death for participating in Arab Spring protests while still in their teens. A kangaroo court has imposed a death sentence in the case of Ali’s uncle, a Shi’ite religious leader named Nimr al-Nimr, convicted of inciting sectarian strife (i.e. opposing flagrant Wahhabist discrimination and oppression).

Yet another religious court has sentenced a 35-year-old artist and poet named Ashraf Fayadh to death for the crime of atheism and apostasy

All of which is generating widening waves of anger and disgust. But perhaps the final straw was Salman’s offer to build and staff 200 Wahhabi mosques for Syrian refugees fleeing chaos that his policies have helped create. The offer brought an unusual counter-blast from German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel.

“We have to make clear to the Saudis that the time of looking away is over,” Gabriel told the newspaper Bild am Sonntag. “Wahhabi mosques all over the world are financed by Saudi Arabia. Many Islamists who are a threat to public safety come from these communities in Germany.”

The last thing Germany needs, in other words, is hundreds of Saudi-financed mullahs preaching sectarianism and jihad.

Then there is the military front – or fronts – in Yemen, Iraq and Syria, where the situation grows worse by the day. Like all wars of aggression, the Saudi-led air assault on Shi’ite Houthi rebels in Yemen was supposed to be short and sweet.

Indeed, four weeks after the campaign began last March, Riyadh issued a “Mission Accomplished” message declaring that it had “successfully eliminated the threat to the security of Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries” by destroying Shi’ite Houthi rebels’ heavy weaponry and ballistic missiles. But some of those missiles must still have remained in place since the coalition resumed bombing just a few days later.

Destroying Yemen

The result has been a growing humanitarian disaster that Western governments are doing their best to ignore. “Yemen after five months looks like Syria after five years,” Peter Maurer, head of the International Red Cross, said after visiting the country in August. Since then, deaths have reached 5,700, nearly half of them civilian, food and water systems have broken down, while 2.3 million people have been displaced and another 120,000 have been forced to flee abroad.

Yet with the war turning into a classic quagmire, no end is in sight. Poorly trained Saudi troops have proven to be no match for the battle-hardened Houthis.” While they’ve succeeded in clearing Houthi fighters out of the southern port city of Aden, the rebels still control the northern part of the country, including the capital of Sana’a, and are besieging Taiz, located roughly midway in between.

The Saudi-led coalition is meanwhile breaking apart. David Ottoway, the Washington Post‘s longtime Middle East correspondent, notes that the Saudis have quarreled with their United Arab Emirate allies over whether to support the local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. As a consequence, the UAE has halved its troop strength to 2,000 and has sent in hundreds of Colombian mercenaries in their place.

The Saudi-backed government of ousted President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi is also falling asunder as Vice President Khaled Bahah, seen as more amenable to compromise with the Houthis, moves to establish his own power base.

Much of this is the fault of Muhammad bin Salman, the king’s favorite son by his third wife, whom he named chief of court and minister of defense immediately after taking office. Officially 35, Muhammad may actually be as young as 29, which, if true, would make him the youngest defense minister in the world. A graduate of King Saud University in Riyadh, he is entirely a product of a closed and narrow educational system that emphasizes the Qur’an and Hadiths over science and analysis and imbues students with hostility toward Christians, Jews, Shi’ites and foreigners in general.

All of which is all too evident in Bin Salman’s handling of the war. Since Vietnam, one military conflict after another has demonstrated that air power rarely works without ground forces doing the hard work of rooting out the enemy. But not only is Saudi Arabia short of “grunts” willing to sacrifice their lives in behalf of a greedy and over-sized royal family, it was understandably reluctant to send troops into a rugged terrain that highly motivated Houthi fighters know like the back of their hand.

Hence Saudi Arabia resisted putting “boots on the ground” for months, thereby allowing the Houthis to dig in all the more securely. Although the’ ostensible goal was to prevent the Houthis from taking power, the Saudis’ real aim was to humiliate Iran, which they see as the mastermind behind the uprising, and show the U.S. that the kingdom was capable of stepping out on its own.

But instead the Saudies have done neither. Not only does Iran remain unscathed, but the longer the Houthis hold out, the clearer it becomes that the Saudis are unable to prevail in their own backyard. It’s as if the U.S. had gotten hopelessly bogged down after invading Mexico.

Backing Jihadists in Syria

The proxy war in northern Syria and Iraq is at the same time not going much better. The Saudis thought they had Assad on the run after channeling U.S.-made TOW missiles to the rebels last spring, but Russian intervention is altering the equation. Thanks to Russian bombardment of ISIS, Al Qaeda and other rebel groups, Assad was able to announce in late November that his troops were advancing on “nearly every front,” while, in mid-December, government forces racked up a significant victory by capturing an air base nine or ten miles east of Damascus that had been in anti-government hands since 2012.

Saudi options are limited in response. The kingdom could funnel still more aid to the anti-Assad forces. But if it does, it knows that much of the weaponry will wind up in the hands of ISIS (also known as ISIL, Islamic State and Daesh), with whom relations, for the moment, could not be more hostile.

With Saudi mullahs calling on Muslims to support “the holy warriors of Syria … because if they are defeated, God forbid, it will be the turn of one Sunni country after another,” it could encourage rebels, many of whom are Chechen, to launch a retaliatory assault on Russia, as Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan reportedly threatened to do in 2013.

But this would mean risking a Russian counter-attack that could prove devastating. Instead of demonstrating their military and strategic independence, the Saudis have wound up more reliant on an all-forgiving U.S. than ever.

Given such incompetence, it was startling to see Muhammad bin Salman behaving yet again like a bull in a china shop last week when he announced that the Saudis had assembled a 34-nation coalition to fight terrorism. After two supposed members – Pakistan and Malaysia – announced that this was the first they had heard of it, questions began raining down.

Since Shi’ite-majority Iran and Iraq were conspicuously absent from the list, was the real purpose to fight terrorism or to push a Sunni sectarian agenda? Considering the draconian “anti-terrorism” law that Salman pushed through last March banning everything from atheism to “sowing discord in society,” was the real goal to fight groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda or to ban dissent against the monarch in general?

It’s not hard to see why the Saudi defense chief is now known as “Muhammad the reckless” and why rumblings of a palace coup are beginning to be heard. All too aware of the role that the 1980s oil collapse played in tipping the Soviet Union over the edge, the Saudis, according to one foreign analyst, are determined to avoid anything smacking of perestroika and glasnost:

“The Saudis are obsessed with it, that if they liberalize a little, the whole thing will come apart,” the analyst said. Rather than loosening, they are determined to tighten up all the more even if it means pushing the contradictions to the breaking point.

The West is afraid to push too hard for the same reason. All too aware that the Saudi opposition to the monarchy is dominated by hard-line Islamists rather than nice house-broken liberals, the West’s greatest nightmare is of a failed oil giant sitting on top of 20 percent of the world’s proven reserves as Al Qaeda and ISIS run riot in the streets.

“Get rid of the House of Saud,” observed a senior UK diplomat, “and you will be screaming for them to come back within six months.” After years of feeding the Saudi monster, Western leaders are afraid to stop for fear of making things even worse.

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CIA Helicopters Ferrying ISIS Fighters into Afghanistan?

ISIS militants have been transported to the Afghan province of Nangarhar by helicopter, according to reports.
Stock photo, not to represent an actual event

Stock photo, not to represent an actual event
Afghan authorities are investigating reports that two unidentified helicopters have dropped off Daesh (ISIS/ISIL) terrorists in the Afghan province of Nangarhar, Afghan Senator Haji Lutfullah Baba told the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) on Wednesday.”A number of people in Tor Ghar, Nangarhar Province have contacted me to say that unidentified helicopters have airlifted Daesh militants there,Iran Front Page reported Baba as having said.
“They asked me to follow up the issue and urge security and military officials to look into the militant movements, which pose a threat to the security of the province and the entire nation.”
A spokesman for the local government in Nangarhar province confirmed reports that the helicopters had dropped off men wearing in black uniforms, and added that similar sightings had also been reported in the provinces of Kunduz, Baghlan and Badakhshan.On December 16 Afghanistan’s Khaama press news agency reported that fierce clashes between Daesh and the Taliban in eastern Nangarhar province had resulted in heavy losses for both sides.
“15 armed opponents have been killed and 36 others wounded in these clashes,” said Ataullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province, who added that four of the dead were Daesh terrorists, and 11 were Taliban.
“Out of the 36 wounded, 11 of them belong to Daesh and 25 others were members of Taliban,” he said, adding that two civilians had also been injured in the clashes.

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The Forgotten Christmas Truce of 1914


Unlearned Lessons which could have Prevented a Century of War (1914 – 2014)

Global Research
The world cannot afford more victims of war

It was exactly 101 years ago this month when the Christmas Truce of 1914 occurred, when Christian soldiers on both sides of the infamous No Man’s Land of the Western Front, recognized their common humanity, dropped their guns and fraternized with the so-called enemies that they had been ordered to kill without mercy the day before. As mentioned in last week’s column, the truth of that remarkable event has since been effectively covered up by state and military authorities (and the embedded journalists at the time) because they were angered (and embarrassed) by the breakdown of military discipline.

In the annals of war, such “mutinies” are now unheard of. The generals and (as well as the saber-rattling, chest-thumping politicians and war profiteers back home) rapidly developed strategies to prevent such behavior from happening again.

Christmas Eve of 1914 was only 5 months into World War I, and the cold, weary, homesick soldiers found themselves not heroes, as expected, but rather miserable, frightened and disillusioned wretches living in rat- and louse-infested trenches. Most of them had dreamed heroic dreams when they had signed up to kill and die for King and Country a few months earlier, and hey had been fully expecting to be home for the holidays.

Lower echelon officers on both sides of No Man’s Land, who were suffering right along with the troops, allowed a lull in the war – just for Christmas Eve. Then they allowed the troops to sing Christmas hymns, and many of the not-yet hardened soldiers started to recognize the humanity of the demonized “other” that had been fingered as sub-humans deserving of death.

And so the merciful spirit of the season came upon them; and they disobeyed orders that forbade fraternizing with the enemy by laying down their weapons and mingling with them in the area between the trenches.

Unknown to the higher echelon commanding officers – who were enjoying good food and drink in their warm bunkers out of the range of the artillery barrages and machine gun bursts – the grunts on either side of the battle line suddenly sensed the stupidity of killing someone that was just like them and who had never done them any harm.

Many of the men that experienced the moment knew that something deeply profound had happened: a spiritual experience of mutual respect and love that epitomized their mutual Christian upbringing – and they refused to fight and kill when the war was ordered to re-start.

Some soldiers were punished for their disobedience and many of them had to be replaced with fresh troops that had been in the reserve trenches the day before (corporal Adolf Hitler was among the ones who did not experience the front line fraternization.)

The Christmas Truce of 1914 had come close to ending the futile and ultimately suicidal war that destroyed 4 empires and an entire generation of young men that had been bamboozled into joining up.

The truce had occurred at various places up and down the triple parallel lines of trenches that stretched through France for 600 miles from Belgium to Switzerland. The vast majority of the soldier that experienced the unauthorized truce did not survive the war. Many of them had just experienced a bloody battle that had killed tens of thousands of troops on either side, with essentially no territory being gained by either side, and they now knew that they were in for a long war of attrition. They would not be home for Christmas.

The Prelude to “The War to End All Wars”

World War I was referred to in the pre-WWII history books as “The Great War” or, naively and rather laughably, “The War to End all Wars”. In the centuries before, warfare as a means of settling disputes between nations was often regarded as a noble undertaking that only involved professional soldiers. Wars in those days were just larger examples of the common (and equally barbaric) practice of engaging in “honorable” duels (sometimes to the death) when a rival disrespected another with something as simple as an offhand insult.

European military officers came from the landed aristocracy. The careers of the officer class were so familial that they almost seemed hereditary. Part of the attraction of being a military officer in Europe was the unquestioning respect that military officers demanded, not to mention the impressive uniforms and the medals and ribbons that were worn on them.

Military veterans in Europe were universally honored as heroes, whether dead or alive, no matter if they had participated in war crimes or acts of torture, rape, murder or pillage. Military shrines, statues, cemeteries and holidays for “the fallen” are regarded as normal all over the continent. The military service of European veterans seems to have been regarded as worthy of praise – no questions asked – even if the veteran himself felt unworthy.

What most prospective enlistees or conscripts knew about war was what their fathers and the uber-patriotic war literature had selectively told them and what they had learned from the censored, palatable version of war that they read about in their school history books.

Most of the enlistees were looking forward to escaping the boredom of their day-to-day existence and experiencing up close the exhilaration of playing real war games. These unaware, wet behind the ears young men hadn’t been told about the dehumanizing verbal and physical abuse that was to be meted out by their drill sergeants in basic training or the beatings they would suffer later for disobedience or disrespect.

Unbeknownst to the naive grunts on the front line, the ruling elites had ulterior motives. (The kings, queens, emperors, princes, nobles, kibitzers, veterans, the bankers that financed the wars, the weapons makers and assorted other captains of industry all felt that they would somehow profit from the war.) These war profiteers, too old or influential to go to war themselves, knew how much money could be made in wars, and, in addition, they had the assurance that they would be far from the killing fields.

French and British schoolchildren had been indoctrinated for generations in the belief that the German emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm, was evil incarnate and therefore, if war were to come, the German soldier who took orders from him was deserving of death. German schoolchildren were taught the same about the French and the English rulers and killing soldiers. And each of the leaders, sensing that their honor was at stake, seemed to be spoiling for a fight.

The Powder Keg: Alsace-Lorraine

Most of the civilians living in Europe had very few direct memories of war. The horrors of war had been erased from their memories but, to the professional warrior class, war was a game that could advance their careers and pay grade. Times were relatively good for many Europeans, but the military class was more than willing to get into a good war.

Peace in Europe had actually existed since Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo a century earlier, with the exception of the relatively short Franco-Prussian War of 1870. The 1871 Treaty of Frankfurt that ended that war (with France surrendering to the Germans) transferred the disputed territory of French-occupied Alsace-Lorraine back to Germany. Alsace-Lorraine was a rich industrial region located between France and Germany that had alternately been claimed over the centuries by either Germany or France – depending on which nation had lost the last war.

Before WWI erupted, Alsace-Lorraine was a powder keg ready to be ignited. The two historical enemies “knew” that Alsace-Lorraine was rightfully theirs, and they were willing to kill for it or die trying – not to mention earning the right to spell its largest city either Strassburg or Strasbourg.

Authoritarian, Militarized Europe

Most European governments were not democracies. They were authoritarian, paternalistic and anti-democratic, and there were enormous and often widening gaps between the haves (the 1%) and the have-nots of the lower 99%. Attempts at instituting socialism or representative democracy had been brutally put down by the conservative ruling elite’s obedient police and security forces.

Cruelty in child-rearing (and basic training) was the norm in Europe, which contributed heavily to the generational obedience to authority figures, whether parents, school teachers, clergypersons, drill sergeants, generals, corporations or political leaders. Most Europeans therefore accepted the rule of the hereditary kings, emperors, princes, nobles and military generals. And, as is also true of non-democratic institutions, everybody was expected to be obedient to those above them in the chain of command and to demand obedience from those below. Unconditional obedience to authority makes it easy to develop efficient killing soldiers for war departments and dictators.

The Divine Right of Kings

For centuries, most European leaders felt that it was their divine right to colonize other nations and enslave the inhabitants – by any means necessary – especially if those inhabitants were of another color or religion.. Any territory that had valuable natural resources to steal or workers to exploit, no matter where in the world it was, was considered a legitimate target especially if it was militarily weaker than the invader and as long as the citizens of their home nation were uninformed, self-satisfied, arrogant, uber-patriotic, distracted and/or apathetic.

The method of choice for the subjugation of a people targeted for colonization – a la Christopher Columbus – was always the use of overwhelming military force followed by years of brutal occupation and the afore-mentioned systematic looting of natural resources or labor. Killing, torturing, intimidating, imprisoning, silencing, exiling or otherwise “disappearing” the ethical opposition is the norm for empires. The intellectuals, altruists, prophets, poets, artists, singers, songwriters, investigative journalists and other truth-tellers or resistance movement activists had to be silenced.

In the century prior to 1914, all European empires had standing armies and military bases both at home and abroad. Nations often negotiate treaties with potential allies that promise that, if one nation was attacked by another treaty-signatory, each would come to the other’s aid. This reality resulted in a very complex web of treaties that was instrumental in starting World War I.

Living by the Sword/Dying by the Sword

The totally avoidable military madness of WWI resulted in the destruction of four empires and the deaths of upwards of 20 million people, most of whom were young naive patriotic men who had, in retrospect, stupidly welcomed the chance to prove their manhood by engaging in what they thought would be exciting war games. All sides had somehow trusted the ridiculous assertion that everybody would be home by Christmas – welcomed home as conquering heroes! That myth was propagated by the press and foolishly  believed by those of military age.

When Archduke Ferdinand, the heir-apparent to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire, was assassinated in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, the century of relative European peace rapidly unraveled in a series of errors of judgment, bureaucratic snafus, failures of communication and refusals to risk dishonor by “turning the other cheek” or even negotiating in good faith. Within days of the assassination, the saber-rattling heads of European states began mobilizing for war.

Within a month the dominos fell, with each nation honorably living up to their treaty obligations by declaring war on one another. And on August 4, 1914, World War I began in earnest when Austria tipped over the first domino by shelling innocent civilian populations in little Serbia, an action that prompted the declarations of war by Russia, Germany, Britain and France.

The chest-pounding of the deluded, arrogant, out-of-touch leadership on all sides resulted in a war fever that had unstoppable momentum. Their indoctrinated testosterone-laden rookie soldiers soon found themselves, as always, to be the elite’s dutiful trigger-pullers; and an entire generation of young men was wasted in the trenches of the Western Front, either killed or wounded.

Most of those that survived bodily were rendered insane, criminally psychopathic or otherwise psychologically and/or spiritually disabled for the rest of their lives. No one, especially the glory- and power-seeking militarists at the top, had foreseen the coming holocaust or the intolerable stalemates in a new kind of warfare that relied on shovels, machine guns, artillery and poison gas. Heroic cavalry charges with swords drawn were suddenly obsolete. Everyone, especially the out-of-touch generals and the clergymen who were supposed to be in charge of the nation’s souls, had been blinded by the propaganda lie that war was something other than satanic.

As tantalizing as is the story of the Christmas Truce, it is also a reminder of what could have happened if there had been less obedience to authority and more organized opposition to senseless war in the families, schools and churches.

If the well-meaning Christian boys from England, France, Germany, Russia, Austria, et al (who wound up helplessly suffering in that demonic war) had been, in their childhoods, thoroughly exposed to the ethical teachings of their Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, they might have had the capacity to refuse the invitation to kill their co-religionists on the other side of the battle lines. In fact, if they had really absorbed the message of their all-merciful God, they wouldn’t have been able to slaughter anybody at all.

That futile and suicidal war could have ended before it really got up a head of steam if the righteous mutiny had been more widespread, better organized and well-supported by the chaplains at the front and the heavily propagandized, flag-waving civilians back home.

Tragically, the anti-Christic  propaganda machine prevailed, thanks in part to the censorship of the obedient press (that still persists today) by refusing to do good investigative journalism by sanitizing the horrors of war.

What turned out to be a mutual mass slaughter of a degree never before seen in the history of warfare could have ended 100 years ago this Christmas if every soldier had experienced the peace that was present in the trenches and courageously laid down their weapons forever.

One of the lessons of the Christmas Truce story is summarized in the concluding verse of John McCutcheon’s famous song about the event, “Christmas in the Trenches”:

“My name is Francis Tolliver, in Liverpool I dwell.

Each Christmas come since World War I – I’ve learned its lessons well:
That the ones who call the shots won’t be among the dead and lame
And on each end of the rifle we’re the same.”

Check out the video of McCutcheon singing his song at:

and, for a good pictorial history of the reality of WWI’s  trench warfare, check out:

The official trailer of “Joyeux Noel” is available at:


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War Crimes: Nazi Planes Spray Crop-killing Chemicals on Gaza Farms

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr
Bande de Gaza

Nazi occupation planes have sprayed crop-killing chemicals on farmlands across besieged Gaza Strip, killing off crops in the coastal enclave.

It is the third time the Nazi occupation planes have targeted Gaza farms, killing massive amounts of crops,

An estimated 371 acres of farming land in central Gaza and 50 acres of land in eastern Khan Younis have been affected.

Farmers in Johr al-Deek, south of Gaza city, Al-Qarara town, north of Khan Yunis, and Wadi Al-Salqa agricultural town, south of Deir al-Balah, complained of the effects of the Nazi unknown chemicals on their crops.

“Several farmers informed us that Nazi planes had sprayed their lands with pesticides,” Wael Thabet, head of the plant protection department at Gaza Agriculture Ministry, said.

Israeli occupation planes have sprayed crop-killing chemicals on farmlands across besieged Gaza Strip, killing off crops in the coastal enclave.

Thabet said an estimated 371 acres of farming land in central Gaza and 50 acres of land in eastern Khan Younis have been affected.

Saleh al-Najjar, a farmer from Al-Qarara, said he lost some 7.4 acres of spinach and pea crops as a result of the spraying.

Another farmer, Wael al-Shami, said he lost crops of parsley and beans, which he had planted near the town.

It is worth mentioning that this is not the first time for the Israeli occupation to do this. On April this year, the Nazi occupation sprayed poisonous gases on the Palestinian farms in the east of the Gaza borders.

On May this year, too, the Nazi occupation opened fire at Palestinian farms in the east of the Gaza Strip, burning huge amount of wheat crops.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Gaza, Human RightsComments Off on War Crimes: Nazi Planes Spray Crop-killing Chemicals on Gaza Farms

Anti-ISIS journalist murdered in Turkey


Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently activist Naji Jerf
Image captionNaji Jerf reported on Islamic State abuses in Syria

An anti-Islamic State activist and filmmaker has been shot dead by assassins in broad daylight in Turkey.

Naji Jerf, 38, was shot with a silenced pistol in downtown Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, Turkish media reported.

Mr Jerf was the film director for Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS), a group of journalists who risk their lives daily to report on Saudi Zio-Wahhabi ‘ISIS’ abuses.

It is the second murder of a member of the group in as many weeks, after Ahmad Mohammed al-Mousa was killed in Syria.

Mr Jerf was a vocal critic of the so-called Islamic State ‘ISIS’. He directed two recent documentaries about the group – one about the killing of Syrian activists in Aleppo, the other about the work of RBSS.

He was also a father of two young daughters. A friend of Mr Jerf said the filmmaker’s family had been granted asylum in France and was due to travel to Paris this week.

No group has said it carried out the murder, but Islamic State supporters in Turkey are the most likely suspects.

This is not the first time Saudi Zio-Wahhabi ‘ISIS’ has murdered a member of RBSS on Turkish soil. In October, Ibrahim Abdul Qader was beheaded in the southern city of Urfa.

Another journalist, Fares Hamadi, was killed in the same attack. ‘ISIS’ subsequently published a video warning: “You will not be safe from the knife of the Islamic State. Our hand will reach you wherever you are.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the murder of Mr Jerf. “Syrian journalists who have fled to Turkey for their safety are not safe at all,” said Sherif Mansour, the CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa programme co-ordinator.

“We call on Turkish authorities to bring the killers of Naji Jerf to justice swiftly and transparently, and to step up measures to protect all Syrian journalists on Turkish soil.”

Turkish police say they have opened an investigation.

RBSS is one of the few independent sources of news left in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa. The city, which ‘ISIS’ has controlled since August 2013, serves as its de facto capital.

RBSS has citizen-journalists operating inside Raqqa, despite IS making membership of the group punishable by death. RBSS was honoured last month by the CPJ.

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Cherishing the British Empire and the Statue of Cecil Rhodes

Global Research
AFRICA: The Legacy of Cecil Rhodes' Anglo-American Empire

Cecil Rhodes

“The university and its students should prefer improving today’s orthodoxies to imposing them on our forebears.” – Tony Abbott, former PM of Australia The Independent, Dec 23, 2015

Attitudes to imperialism vary with their ages.  In their first, and purest form, they assume it to be necessary, a burden (white was the dominant colour over the last two centuries) that takes the form of the “gift” of civilization.  Then, things cool off. Anti-imperial leagues develop.  Critiques come to the fore.  Running an empire is not necessarily such a good idea, least of all for those very subjects whose name it is policed in.

Tony Abbott, the knifed and deposed former Australian prime minister, was a product of that empire.  The British imperium, for him, transmuted the world from barbaric base metal into the solid gold of civilization. 

It is all the same rhetorical baggage that drives post-colonial historians and writers to focused indignation: the rule of law, liberal institutions, protection of property.  To that end, empire builders are to be cherished, not reviled. They are not to be seen as plunderers so much as givers.

One of those figures is Cecil Rhodes, whose spirit must have awoken from a slumber with the news that his statue in Oxford University’s Oriel College, along with a plaque – would be removed.  “Remember that you are an Englishman,” he famously said, “and have consequently won the first prize in the lottery of life.”

The 2,300 signatures of the Must Go Oxford campaign were of different opinion.  The student campaigners claim that this Rhodes tribute “violates the university’s declared aim of fostering an inclusive culture which promotes equality.”[1]

Rhodes, whose name ended up being given to a state he did much to create, was so interested in the empire building project he became its caricature, brushing aside opposition, and misreading his enemies.  His miscalculation over Boer resistance in South Africa proved costly.

When the earth had reached a point when terrestrial empires could go no further, Rhodes would lament that limitation, bound, as he was, to the planet.  “To think of these stars that you see overhead at night, these vast worlds which we can never reach. I could annex the planets if I could; I often think of that.  It makes me sad to see them so clear and yet so far.”

When Rhodes died in March 1902, The Guardian editorialised that, “The judgment of history will, we fear, be that he did more than any Englishman of his time to lower the reputation and to impair the strength and compromise the future of the Empire.”[2]  This type of man was demagogic, manipulatively cunning, a capacity “which makes men do either good or evil on a great scale.”  According to the editors, he democratised modern political intrigue; he frightened or excited populaces, and misled them when necessary.

Any one with an iota of sense would know that Rhodes Scholarships, the very direct legacy left by the empire builder, are distinctly based on rigging lotteries, rather than letting them function.  Selection of candidates is based on imitation, not novelty: former Rhodes Scholars are less total book worms than the essence of the Commonwealth man.

As the Rhodes testament outlined, the scholarship would create “a Secret Society, the true aim and object whereof shall be for the extension of British rule throughout the world” with the “perfecting of a system of emigration from the United Kingdom, and for colonisation by British subjects of all lands where the means of livelihood are attainable by energy, labour and enterprise”.

This, at least, was their origin, and while deviations from the norm do and have happened, the establishment principle of this “secret society” remains important for selection committees.  It is one of functioning elites: once there, make sure that everything is controlled to the extent possible.  The colonising motif is never far away.

Abbott should know: he was a member of this society, and graduated from Oxford in 1983.  And he ticked all the boxes of Rhodes’ vision: he could muster a few lines when needed, take to the sporting fields when required and be a good institution man when asked.

His response to the proposed removal of the Rhodes statue cannot be anything else other than a defence of Britain’s greatest empire builder.  Removing the reminder, suggested Abbott would “substitute moral vanity for fair-minded enquiry.”

The various comments, which found their way into The Independent, provide an ample illustration about what Abbott means by such fair-minded enquiry.  “The university should remember that its mission is not to reflect fashion but to seek truth and that means striving to understand before rushing to judge.”

Legacy is everything in this.  Yes, Rhodes was not a good egg when it came to fighting racism. In truth, he was quite open to its tendencies, laying the ground work for racial regimes in the South Africa he loved stomping in. His death, observed the Guardian, “offers a tragic warning to the practitioners of narrowly materialistic statecraft.”

The obituary’s observation about Rhodes is a fine warning for Abbott himself, a creature of that very narrow variant of materialistic statecraft.  His own time as prime minister was demagogic, divisive and dismissive.  But Abbott prefers a neat little twist: the Rhodes Scholarships that came from the pocket of good generous Cecil did much to fund those who opposed racism.  Good eggs can come from imperfect ones.

Abbott might seem crass in his views, but the issue is far more a case of understanding what lies behind the statue.  The Rhodes legacy is an imperial one, and not having his reminder around could give the rather false impression about how empire was built.  We need those dirty reminders, and there are few better places to have them than Oriel College, though others suggest a museum.

To that end, the contemporary Guardian editorial takes a slightly different position on Rhodes from that in 1902, lauding the engagement of the Rhodes Trust with Nelson Mandela Foundation to fund joint Mandela Rhodes scholarships in 2003 and engage with the “Redress Rhodes” movement.  “It is better to have the issue out in the open than to pretend it is mere posturing about symbols.”[3] 

Posted in UKComments Off on Cherishing the British Empire and the Statue of Cecil Rhodes

Are EU Country Central Banks “Illegally” Buying Government Bonds?

Image result for EU Central Banks LOGO

The following text is an English transcript (translation) of an RT Berlin Interview in German regarding an apparent secret agreement between the European Central Bank (ECB) and individual Euro countries’ central banks issuing large amounts of government bonds. The discovery flared up just before the FED raised its base interest rate by a quarter percent on 16 December 2015, signalling the end of zero-interest in 9 years.

RT Question:

The ECB is currently accused of having made a secret agreement that would allow Euro country central banks to buy government bonds in large quantities. We would like to explain our viewers what impact this may have on our economy. With this move, more money enters circulation which could lead to inflation – and inflation is not necessarily good for the economy.

Response Peter Koenig:

What some Euro central banks are doing, i.e. buying government bonds, is nowadays in the times of fiat money nothing extraordinary (Fiat money is government issued legal tender for which there is no backing). The US Fed (Federal Reserve Bank) is doing this since years. It’s called QE – for Quantitative Easing, it’s a euphemism for electronically producing new money whenever needed, for example to finance new wars and massive mind-bending propaganda programs. Of course the real reasons are never revealed.

Today ECB does exactly the same, by allowing euro country central banks to buy government bonds within the limits given by the ECB. This, however, risks increasing the euro debt exponentially, if not controlled, as is the case in the US.

Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the FED, once answered the question of a journalist how the US thinks paying back its astronomical debt: “We will never suffer from the pressure of debt. We can always produce new money.”

Since 2012, this form of more or less ECB watched-over and organized money production has officially produced some 800 billion euros. But in addition and in parallel, but especially in the last year, another 500 billion euros were produced semi-clandestinely, apparently mostly by Italy and France; and this clearly to balance the state budget.

Every sovereign non-euro country produces money as it sees fit, without the intervention of an outside ‘watch-dog’ like the ECB.

Some background: The ECB was founded on 1 June 1998 in the context of the ‘Treaty of Maastricht’ as the successor of the European Monetary Institute (EMI). The ECB reports to a ‘Governing Council’ – which in turn is composed of representatives of the 19 euro-countries. The ECB became effective in 1999 with the introduction of the euro.

The ECB is not subjected to an independent audit, following exactly the same pattern of ‘privilege’ as does the FED – which is a 100% private banking institute.

The ‘secret agreement’ is the so-called ANFA (Agreement on Net Financial Assets), an agreement between the 19 Euro-countries. It allows countries to purchase government bonds within a certain framework. How the rules of the framework are set is not quite clear. But it appears that not all countries have the same rights. Central Banks of individual member countries may buy the debt of other countries, or their own debt, thereby helping balancing their over-extended budgets. The debt is sold to private banks, thereby increasing the monetary mass – and the banks’ exposure (risk).

Interestingly, on 10 December a journalist asks ECB President Draghi a direct question, ‘how come that central banks of individual EU members are buying government bonds (producing money), independently and outside the ECB rules’. Draghi reacts unruly, suggesting the journalist should ask the countries concerned directly. The same day, the ECB published on internet a vague explanation on what ANFA represents; a complex construct of who, how and under what circumstances has which rights.

As far as I know, all Euro countries have kept their sovereignty, when they signed the Maastricht Treaty. There are certain ECB rules, but none of them are above the sovereignty of a country. Therefore, every Euro nation has the right to buy its own government bonds, i.e. producing their own money which is the euro, to reduce their debt and increase liquidity. And so would Greece, no matter whether or not this pleases the ECB or other Euro-countries. As we are just experiencing, money printing by individual central banks is already done, ‘half-clandestinely’ – by those with more privileges than were given to Greece

Years ago, me and other economists have advised the Greek government to do what now France and Italy – and probably others are doing; i.e. to refinance her debt through Greece’s own central bank – and to on-lend these funds at low interest rates to newly nationalized Greek public banks with the purpose of revamping the Greek economy.

Would this have happened, Greece today would not stand at the edge of a bottomless abyss; to the contrary, she would be on the way to recovery.

But Syriza and Tsipras didn’t want to hear any of it. – Why – is a mystery to me. Possibly the Greek government was criminally blackmailed and coerced into accepting the troika rules. Given the many governments which have fallen when they didn’t accept the Master’s rule, such a scenario is entirely plausible.

Perhaps Mr. Draghi became nervous over the journalist’s question, because the autonomous production of money by certain central banks could incite others to do the same, including Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal – countries which so far are beholden to the fangs o the troika.

RT:  According to Michael Fuchs, German CDU Deputy, “Euro countries’ central banks are forbidden to refinance their government debt” – in which case the ECB has committed an infraction – which may be the reason for Draghi’s lack for words when faced by the journalist. How is it possible that in the case of some countries, Draghi looks the other way, tacitly giving some countries the privilege to do what is against the rules. What legal consequences could this have?

PK: As explained before, there is no real ban on sovereign nations money production – the Maastricht Treaty is not binding – as it stands not above the sovereignty of member countries. The nine non-euro countries are EU members, but have decided not to join the Euro. – They decide their own monetary policy without any interference of the ECB.

What Mr. Fuchs fears is that countries which owe Germany and German banks a lot of money will produce their own money, thereby increase the euro monetary mass and devalue the debt. Inflation is always a risk. – Today, Euro inflation is widely hidden behind false statistics.

Another risk are European banks which are already indebted to their neck and which are getting deeper into debt with an increasing money mass. Some of them may go broke.

What this would mean for the European average citizen who keeps his money in a bank account is bad news: In July this year, the EU / EC have issued an edict, totally illegal and without consultation of the people of Europe, or even the parliaments of European countries, that in the future banks shall no longer be ‘rescued’ by ‘bail-outs’, tax payers’ money, but instead by ‘bail-ins’, meaning the banks would refinance themselves with money stolen from depositors and shareholders. Who doesn’t believe this, may recall Cyprus, where in March 2013 the ‘bail-in’ was tried out. Some 10 billion euros were taken from depositors to salvage the broken Cypriot banks.

By now we know: Banks never lose.

But this is not all. With excess liquidity, the ECB and some individual euro-country central banks will further enhance their negative interest rate policies. To prevent the natural reaction of the people – a run on the banks – governments lobbied and pressured by their banks will gradually introduce a no-cash consumer society. This is currently being tested by shops and department stores in Sweden, where purchases may only be paid electronically, by credit or debit cards.

Like in the case of ‘bail-ins’, is the no-cash consumption being tested. Depending on the reaction of the ever-so-docile and to the edges manipulated people, the new cash-free system could be introduced rather quickly. And we, the 99.99% are again sitting in a trap, a trap invented form the greed masters, our western fraud-driven banking system which is selling the new system by buying politicians and duping the populace with media propaganda and indoctrination.

I’m sorry to say this – we are so deeply mired in this corrupt western, especially European monetary system that I believe there is no way back, no possible way of reform. As I see it, there is only one solution – exit the euro and start afresh with our own currencies, the Deutsch Mark, French Franc, the Italian Lire, the Greek Drachma – and so on. After all, the euro has been in circulation only for 15 years. Why is it so difficult to imagine a world without the euro, especially recognizing how corrupt the system has become?

The signpost for the decay of the euro was set when the euro was first introduced for a so-called union of countries, a union which is actually a non-union with no solidarity and which was never conceived as a political union, like is the case with the federal states of the US, or the federal cantons of Switzerland. Without a political union, a common currency is not sustainable, cannot survive.

Nowhere in the Maastricht Treaty or the subsequent Lisbon Treaty is there a reference to a future political union. The masters behind the so-called EU, the Masters of Maastricht, knew exactly what they wanted – a Europe as a trading partner, but not an equal partner, not a strong Europe. Should Europe become too strong, it needed to be weakened – divide to conquer.

Thus, were added to the EU core group of 15 in 2004 and 2007 another 13 countries which have in fact little or nothing in common with the 15 core countries. To the contrary, most of them came from the realm of the former Soviet Union and are fiercely anti-socialist and pro-American. The only liking of the EU they have is the massive subsidies they met get to quickly adapt to the new EU standards.

In addition, the euro-economy strengthens and may threaten the dollar as a reserve currency in the reserve coffers of the world, as has happened in 2007, when the FED-Wall Street gang had to fabricate an economic crisis which punishes the European economy with austerity. By now the tools they are using, the ECB, the EC and the IMF (the troika) are well known. The current so-called crisis exists since 2007/2008, with ups and downs, but there is no end in sight.

This fits exactly the picture of the currently secretly ongoing negotiations, behind closed doors in Brussels, over the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) – which, in case it will succeed – would turn Europe into an American production and trade fiefdom, with a low-wage policy. Though I don’t want to mix-up the ‘crisis’ with the TTIP, it is undeniable that the two are intimately linked.

The elite groups behind this ball game to enslave Europe are primarily non-Europeans, but FED, Wall Street, IMF, BIS (Bank for International Settlement). The dollar hegemony must be maintained, come hell or high water.

It is not a coincidence that Mario Draghi, the ECB President is a former Goldman Sachs Executive. To be exact, Goldman Sachs dictates the European economic and financial policies.

How many European politicians are aware of this?

RT: Is the ECB subjected to any supervisory body? – And if so, what purpose wold these measures serve?

PK: The ECB is not subjected to a supervisory body per se, other than then “Governing Board’ – which is a gang of insiders, as mentioned before. The ECB is not subordinated to an independent audit. The ECB is not even a real central bank that lends money to favourable terms to member countries in need. The ECB lends money to large private and investment banks at low or zero interest; the banks ‘on-lend’ the funds to countries at risk, like Greece, with high risk-interests of 5% to 7%, the difference being cashed in by the banks as profit.

This is why Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland are highly indebted countries. In fact, new loans are directly used to cover the debt service. Not one euro flows into the economy, say, of Greece, to refinance the badly needed social program, health, education, welfare. – And that’s why – oddly and absurdly the Greek debt has more than doubled since the onset of the crisis, and since the “rescue package’s” first loan was contracted by Athens in 2011.

Which international law is ruling over the ECB? – Hard to say. Is there any legal authority in today’s world of ‘dog-eats-dog’ that is independent enough to dare resisting the pressures from the mighty?

The good news is that man, still free-thinking man, is relentlessly creative. Several countries are already working on alternatives to the current western and fraudulent monetary system, as they are keen to delink from the dollar, including Iceland, Ecuador, Russia, China. The BRICS / SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) countries, have already adopted international payments systems that function completely delinked from the dollar-based SWFT.

So – there is hope!

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik, PressTV, CounterPunch, TeleSur, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.

Posted in EuropeComments Off on Are EU Country Central Banks “Illegally” Buying Government Bonds?


Michael Durham

Exclusive: Cult members charged with laundering $12m in ‘transnational criminal fraud’
Prosecutors in Brazil have charged three European ‘charity workers’ with laundering $12 million in ‘humanitarian’ funds. The three are all members of the Teachers Group cult, which authorities say is a ‘transnational criminal organisation’.

THREE LEADING MEMBERS OF the Tvind Teachers Group – the supposed humanitarian organisation, which controls dozens of ‘development charities’ around the world – have been charged with $12 million money laundering in Brazil. Prosecutors described the Group as a ‘transnational criminal organisation’.

The Teachers Group is the body behind tens of thousands of charity-style used clothes boxes in Britain and the United States, run by enterprises including Humana People-to-People, Planet Aid, Gaia, USAgain and DAPP. In Britain, boxes badged Planet Aid UK are part of a complex offshore financial empire controlled from Mexico. The organisation is regarded as a cult, and its founder and leader, Amdi Petersen, is wanted by Interpol.

The action by the Federal Public prosecutor in Bahia (Ministério Público Federal na Bahia – MPF/BA), announced on Wednesday, is the sequel to a high-profile (and still ongoing) fraud prosecution in Scandinavia, which was interrupted nine years ago when five Teachers Group defendants secretly sneaked away from Denmark and went on the run. They are still being sought by police forces and Interpol around the world.

The Brazilian prosecutors say the charges in the new case relate to more than $12 million allegedly laundered by Tvind Teachers Group through companies in Brazil up to September 1998, in what they termed ‘a trans-national scheme of financial fraud’ involving schools, factories, businesses, foundations and NGOs. Further sums are alleged to have been passed to the Teachers Group’s Brazilian charity, the Humana People-to-People Association, Brazil, in 2010.

The Teachers Group has a presence in more than 55 countries, with more than 100 known offshore companies in at least 15 tax havens.

THE BRAZILIAN AUTHORITIES’ DECISION TO CHARGE three Europeans resident in Brazil with money laundering represents some smart thinking by prosecutors in Bahia. The three have been named as Lars Jensen, Per Ehlert Knudsen and Paullus Gerardus Van Dun (Paul Van Dun), all residents of the Posse district of Bahia Correntina.

All are members of the Teachers Group alleged cult, and all have been resident in Brazil for many years. They are the Teachers Group’s leading representatives in Brazil. Between them, they are responsible for managing the Teachers Group’s principal assets in the country: a huge agricultural plantation, Fazenda Jatoba, near Posse in Bahia Correntina; and the development charity, Humana Brazil.

Because the source and much of the evidence in this case derives from the 2002-6 trial in Denmark, we already have a general idea of what the allegations against the three are likely to be. The prosecution in that trial was against the Teachers Group high command in Europe and the USA, charged with laundering money from a humanitarian charity through shell companies and fake charities to buy the property in Brazil.

Since those five defendants are no longer available for prosecution, Brazilian authorities have now turned their attention to other (albeit more junior) Teachers Group cult members in Brazil, who they will claim have been complicit in receiving and misusing money, knowingly aware of the circumstances. The three are board directors and managers of several companies in Brazil through which the Teachers Group works.

THE MAIN ALLEGATION OF MONEY LAUNDERING in the Danish 2002-2006 trial related to the massive Fazenda Jatobà estate, roughly at kilometre 304 of the BR 020 road, around 8km from the border between Bahia and Goias states in central Brazil. Fazenda Jatoba is a long way from anywhere. It is an agricultural plantation about the size of Greater London, planted with eucalyptus, soya, citrus and various fruits and vegetables.

Until 1992, Fazenda Jatobà (also known as Floryl) belonged to Shell Oil. Around that time, according to Danish police, the inner circle of the Teachers Group organisation, led by Amdi Petersen, mounted a sophisticated operation to acquire the property with illicit cash through a maze of offshore accounts, shell companies, false accounting, fake charities and even a bogus research institute.

The Tvind Teachers Group, which began in around 1970, was ostensibly a left-wing co-operative and educational trust run on communal principles, with several hundred members. On the outside, it was a ‘humanitarian organisation’, dedicated to alleviating Third World poverty by redistribution and development. In reality, according to police, its members and their money were being exploited by a cynical inner circle.

From the mid-1980s, according to police evidence, gullible supporters were coerced into money-making schemes of ever more doubtful legality, as leaders allegedly sought to amass money for secret property development plans in developing countries.

A young woman became a ‘currency mule’, trafficking dollars from Angola to Europe. Rank-and-file Teachers Group members, who had joined up in the belief they were helping the poor, were appointed as nominee directors on hundreds of company boards. One hapless group of volunteers was despatched to the South Seas aboard a leaky boat, told that they were the employees of a ‘scientific research institute’.

In fact, as the police aimed to prove, it was all a charade intended to pull the wool over the financial authorities’ eyes, evade tax and move money undetected from ‘humanitarian’ causes to property deals. A multi-million dollar charity fund, The Humanitarian Fund, which supporters believed would be used for humanitarian and environmental work, gave generous grants to an ‘Institute for Scientific Research and Applied Sciences’ (IFAS) and two environmental charities in Paris, La Society Verte and L’Energie Eternelle, with an address on the Champs d’Elysee.

In fact, according to the Danish police Department for Serious Economic Crime, the scientific institute and charities were fake. Research projects and development they were supposed to be funding abroad were bogus too. The money – about $25m – ended up in offshore bank accounts controlled by the inner circle. In 1991, the inner circle bought Amdi Petersen an apartment off Miami beach for around $4 million. In 1994 the deal with Shell was finally clinched, and the Teachers Group bought Fazenda Jatoba for $12m.

THE NEW CHARGES LAID LAST week by the Bahia public prosecutor suggests the money-go-round in Brazil may have been going on for a few years more – until at least 1998, and possibly until at least 2010. The Teachers Group members allegedly at the receiving end of this financial carousel have been named as Lars Jensen and Per Ehlert Knudsen, both Danes, and Paullus Gerardus Van Dun (Paul Van Dun), a Dutchman. But have the Brazilian authorities got all the right people in their crosshairs?

The two Danish accused, Lars Jensen and Per Ehlert Knudsen, are directors of the leading commercial Teachers Group company in Brazil, Floresta Jatoba (Brasil) Ltda, as well as several other Brazil-registered companies named on the charge sheet: Floryl Florestadora Ypê SA, Floresta Rio Veredão Ltda, Jatobá Administradora de Imóveis Ltda, and Big River Melons Ltda.

Jensen, 66, is known to be a very senior Teachers Group member and has been associated with Amdi Petersen and the ‘inner circle’ for more than 30 years. His name appears often in transcripts of police evidence released after the original Danish trial of 2002-2006. According to these transcripts, he was singled out often by the cult leader Petersen for mention and special praise. In the 1990s, he was one of ‘The Six’ most valued cult members (along with Maria Lichtenberg, who is today the most senior fundraiser for Humana People-to-People and Planet Aid in the United States.)

In the 1990s, according to reports, he played an important part in the secret financial transactions behind the purchase of Fazenda Jatoba farm, using offshore accounts in the British Virgin Islands, Guernsey, Jersey and the Cayman Islands. He was a co-founder of La Societe Verte in Paris, the supposed charity which Danish police say was a money laundering front. When the purchase was complete, Jensen became a manager at the plantation and director of the Brazilian companies, and has lived in Bahia since.

Less is known about Per Ehlert Knudsen, 60, although he has lived and worked for the Teachers Group in Brazil long enough to have taken Brazilian nationality, and is also mentioned in Danish police transcripts. His was involved with L’Energie Eternelle, the other allegedly bogus French charity. For several years, until last year, Knudsen was a director of an important London-registered Teachers Group company connected with the profits from agricultural business, Mt Lezard estate Ltd.

The third ‘Teacher’, Paullus Gerardus Van Dun (Paul Van Dun), is the ‘country director’ of Humana People-to-People Brazil [Associação Humana Povo para Povo Brasil], also based in Bahia. Humana People-to-People Brazil is a part of the Teachers Group’s international ‘development charity’, which collects used clothes worldwide and arranges ‘volunteering’ for young people, and is based in an offshore foundation in Switzerland. Van Dun and Knudsen are both board directors of the association.

The MPF/BA said it had laid charges after receiving information from Danish police. According to a Brazilian newspaper report, “on verifying the gang’s activities in Brazil, the Danish authorities passed on the information to the Brazilian Council for the Control of Financial Activities [Conselho de Controle de Atividades Financeiras], which in turn communicated the information to the MPF.” In its public statements, the MPF/BA has referred to the Teachers Group as ‘a gang’ and said it it ‘involved in operations in more than 55 countries, obtaining funds through a series of fronts such as schools, factories, businesses, and nongovernmental organizations.’

As of September 1998, according to the MPF/BA, the five Brazilian companies had received some 12 million dollars from “entities controlled by Tvind”. Between April and September 2010, the Brazil Humana People to People Associatio, controlled by Knudsen and Van Dun, had illegally received R$ 447,050.94 [Brazilian reals], the prosecutor says.

BUT HAVE THE BRAZILIAN PROSECUTORS got all the right people in the frame? Official records for the five Brazilian companies at the heart of the case reveal a fourth name which is absent from the charge sheet. Birgitte Krohn, 59, is (or has in recent times been) a director of most of the companies investigated by the Brazilian authorities.

Krohn is certainly a much more senior figure in the Tvind Teachers Group than either Jensen or Knudsen – effectively their boss. Krohn’s history with the cult goes back further and much deeper: she was one of the handful of the core ‘inner circle’ who, in the 1980s, with Amdi Petersen, secretly founded the first anonymous offshore trusts in Jersey that control the whole financial structure, and the Jersey company, FCL, that still today ultimately owns the Fazenda Jatoba ranch (as well as many other landholdings, commercial companies, used clothes recycling enterprises, and charity-style operations worldwide). She was one of only 13 ‘Teachers’ assigned in 1992 as directors of 36 offshore companies where Amdi Petersen directed money was to be hidden.

Birgitte Krohn captured on camera in 2002 (Frede Farmand)

She is also no stranger to the Brazilian courts. In around 2005, a Brazilian company, Rima Ltd, took Krohn and a fellow Teachers Group member, Bolette Gunst, to the Brazilian High Court in a dispute over $6 million of wood ordered from the Fazenda Jatoba plantation which, Rima said, never arrived. (It appears likely the Teachers group needed the money to pay for its new, $10 million headquarters building in Mexico.)

Kohn is now likely to be living in the heavily fortified Mexico compound at San Juan de Las Pulgas, near Endanada, where Amdi Petersen is also believed to be hiding. Perhaps it is because Krohn is not living in Brazil that the Brazilian prosecutor has ignored her. Time, perhaps, for the Mexican authorities to take another look?

WHY SHOULD THE CHARITY-GIVING PUBLIC in London, Berlin or New York be concerned about money laundering accusations in far-off Brazil? The clue is in the complex structure of linked companies revealed in the prosecution papers, both Danish and Brazilian, and their international connections. Almost all of the Teachers Group’s enterprises worldwide – both business and charity – appear to function in a similar way, nested like Russian dolls and ultimately ending in tax havens.

In 1995 the Teachers Group founder, Amdi Petersen, wrote in a secret memo of his plan to hide the group’s money in such a way as ‘to protect it from theft, taxation, and prying eyes’. He would, he told his trusted inner circle, ‘lay down a twisted access path with only ourselves as compass bearers.’ That ‘twisted path’ was a financial maze of more than 100 offshore companies, which exists to this day.

Millions of dollars are being fed annually into the resulting ‘money machine’. Ordinary citizens dumping their clothes into roadside charity bins on a London street, companies sponsoring ambitious ‘development projects’ and even governments making million-dollar grants have no idea they are handing over cash to an organisation whose leader is a wanted man, hunted by Interpol – and the head of what the Brazilian prosecutors last week called ‘a transnational criminal organisation’.



Adam Patterson
How ISIS Falls: A Jihadi Autopsy
Though the timeline is uncertain, there are probable ways in which ISIS will collapse.

This article is published from my website Napalm in the Morning. Header photo of a Kurdish YPG guerrilla overlooking a post in northern Syria.

After the raw shock and horror had sunk in, there’s one thing that stuck in my mind after the attacks in Paris:

This was a stunning admission of weakness.

On the surface, it might look anything but. ISIS managed to inflict an episode of harrowing carnage in one of Europe’s proudest cities. From the human tragedy to the apocalyptic chorus of sirens and terrified news reporters that followed in its wake, the last angle many people would be tempted to view this attack from would be in terms of tactical weakness. But in very telling ways, what happened in Paris abided by some of ISIS’ most stubborn pathologies and revealed deep truths about the organization that bode ill for its endurance in the Middle East.

What occurred in Paris was not a surgical, utilitarian attack. It appeared designed to inflict human damage in the most public, indiscriminate way possible. This wasn’t an instance of industrial sabotage or targeted assassination against an irreplaceable figurehead. Nothing that could in any way cripple the capacities of a designated enemy. It was, plain and simple, shock and gore in a highly visible milieu that was calculated to attract unified media focus.

ISIS may be underqualified at warfare, but they are nothing if not attentive to image and the need to make themselves appear fearsome. ISIS lost the city of Sinjar in a humiliating defeat against Kurdish forces hours before they attacked Paris, which was merely a coincidence of timing. A coincidence, however, that was only able to occur because ISIS is such a brittle fighting force that a battlefield defeat preemptive to their planned attack was relatively likely. As I mentioned in a prior article, embarrassing defeat has been an ongoing pattern for them throughout the latter half of 2015. ISIS’ major asset has always been media savvy and the illusion of strength, and it’s something they persistently turn to whenever they’re suffering military setback. It’s often employed as a deliberate attempt to manipulate attention away from on-the-ground reality in the Middle East and force broadcasting outlets to fixate on ISIS’ latest act of dumb brutality.

The civilian massacre in Paris was an extension of this pathology. It was a close-to-home iteration of the sadistic PR videos they record in the Middle East – the ones with staged murders and histrionic threats of violence. It’s also no coincidence that it occurred after a summer during which ISIS suffered both territorial loss and grueling battlefield fatalities.

The sequential attacks in Paris and Beirut read like an admission of organizational anxiety. It’s the move of an insurgency that is crumbling and self-destructing as a geographic presence – a desperate attempt to seem frightening after the world has turned from fearing them to laughing at them. ISIS’ statements in the aftermath appear to simmer with a tantrum-like, almost childish rage that they were not being perceived as sufficiently menacing. The ISIS press release that accompanied the Paris massacre revealed as much, with the transcript declaiming, “The smell of death will never leave their noses… this attack is the first of the storm and a warning to those who wish to learn.”

The message is, in short, “we’re scary, damnit!” Trying to inflict dread is often the core purpose of terrorism. And ISIS followed this definition very closely, attempting to amplify the fear of future incidents by stating the attacks heralded an overbearing, perpetual threat. Viewed from a certain angle, this level of desperate agitation is so transparent it’s bordering on self-satire.

The Paris and Beirut attacks also seem to point to a shift in priorities – since ISIS cannot succeed as a military power, they’re doubling down on the old terror mainstay of targeting the innocent. As much as I hesitate to use this phrasing, attacks against unarmed civilians are very easy to carry out with some degree of “success”. Destroying a power grid or assassinating an important leader are much more refined and tactically precise kinds of operations.

They requires talent and intelligence, whereas a spasm of violence against the defenseless is the exact kind of thing even an untrained moron can execute with some degree of competence. And ISIS has been desperately attempting to milk the aftermath of the massacre ever since, ranting all over the place about how a similar attack could be inflicted on England or specific cities in the United States. ISIS even promised at the end of November to successfully carry out terror attacks against a laundry list of 60 countries – including South Korea and Mexico, of all places. It was a boast so adolescent and fantastical that it skips over the possibility of sounding intimidating and goes straight to being ridiculous.

I’m reminded of how an ISIS spokesman proclaimed “Let the nightmare for Japan begin!” after the beheading of war reporter Kenji Goto, something that didn’t exactly come to fruition. It’s possible what happened in Paris was the most lethal incident ISIS could reliably carry out, and the gloating aftermath seems to indicate they’ve unloaded the best of their ammunition.

If an organization wants to protect the success of its future operations, it painstakingly avoids suspicion. Hezbollah, who have a reputation as notoriously skilled terror operatives, carried out a string of attacks against American personnel in Beirut during the 1980’s that were effective because not only was there absolutely no forewarning they’d strike, but also because it wasn’t immediately obvious that Hezbollah had orchestrated the assaults in the first place. Lots of difficult sleuthing managed to tie the incidents to Hezbollah’s shadowy mastermind, but there was no open gloating or arm-waving pronouncements in the aftermath. The plots were executed in operational silence and unleashed with complete unpredictability.

This all helps clarify that what ISIS is attempting to instill as a foremost objective is a vague, generalized sense of fear. Hezbollah had a distinct tactical objective when they bombed the CIA station in Beirut and kidnapped the highest ranking local CIA official – dismantling their perceived enemy. Hezbollah even tortured the station chief for information after his capture, which he likely surrendered because all his previously unrevealed sources started abruptly disappearing across Lebanon. This is how you conduct effective, surgical operations. Per usual, ISIS is behaving in ways that are reckless, noisy, and scattershot, and designed to severely over-inflate perceptions of their menace and power. It’s trademark behavior on their part and perfectly aligned with the organization’s general operating pathologies. Little efficacy, high theatricality.

The reason ISIS threatened to attack Washington, DC in the aftermath of the Paris attacks is foremost because they wanted the American public to believe an attack was inevitable. Al-Qaeda, who took a chapter from Hezbollah’s book on the school of quiet operations, made no open noise about wanting to bomb the World Trade Center on 9/11 – and even then the CIA had awareness of their plans for up to four months prior. In light of this, ISIS shrieking about an attack on DC has practically guaranteed they’re not going to be able to effectively conduct a terror plot. The important part is that ISIS made the American (and British, and German) public feel at least somewhat uneasy – a sort of force multiplier that has a psychic impact on an infinitely greater number of people than their actual operations could ever inflict in terms of physical harm.

And even by ISIS’ knuckle-dragging standards, the attacks in Paris were partially bungled. ISIS’ various spokesmen were yelling all over social media, in the words of one particularly melodramatic fellow, that the massacre in France was so successful it represented a miracle”. Except it wasn’t, not even close. The bomber who was supposed to find his way into the Stade de France and detonate himself surrounded by hundreds of people (including President Francois Hollande) was turned away by everyday stadium security and forced to take the consolation prize of blowing himself up outside the venue, probably disappointed with his very subpar martyrdom. In the midst of the shock and horror, it’s easy to miss this moment of blatant incompetence. That style of dark, slapstick comedy is not uncommon in terrorist circles – these are sort of antics that inspired the excellent British jihadi farce Four Lions. The young men who act as disposable pawns in these kinds of plots aren’t exactly the Muslim world’s best and brightest. The smarter ones among their cadre are generally less intent on pre-packaged martyrdom and more inclined toward climbing the jihadi corporate ladder – becoming recruiters, strategists, and commanders. The jihadi rank-and-file who embark on suicide missions or spree attacks are often dumb as rocks and can act like morons during crucial moments.

The recruits who sign up for attacks in Europe also tend to fall under the umbrella category of “homegrown radicals” – young men swayed to the cause of radical jihadism despite little or no travel outside the West. In the case of the Paris attacks, the perpetrators were an idiot’s gallery of Belgian and French nationals. Kids who match this profile are generally losers and screwups who gravitate to terror groups for middling reasons, and try to jump at the earliest opportunity to get on board with any local plot. Many of these attacks are preemptively foiled, others are bungled in the execution, and a rare few actually do some damage. But in terms of genuine destructive scope, they’re never that impactful. A national army can unleash high-powered ballistics or use air power to level entire cities. Terror cells can murder local civilians, but their ability to do serious structural damage compared to an army is negligible. So they instead focus, inevitably, on the targets an organization with such limited capacities can reliably hit – the innocent and defenseless. And in a dark, perverse sense, this works for their aims. The murder of civilians shocks and enrages. Terrorism, in its tactical application, is often the act of a far less powerful entity using shock and fear in an attempt to level the playing field against a designated target of much greater strength. The attacks in Paris seemed to represent the most damage ISIS could do in one fell swoop. If France wished to, they could flatten Raqqa in a day.

And this cuts to the truth of it all – though unspeakably tragic, the murder of civilians in no way represents an existential threat to the nation of France. The consequences of fear are often far more powerful and resounding than the human damage inflicted. If leveraged correctly, panic can be exploited to make your target behave in self-destructive ways. Fear is what caused many of the ill-prepared Shia recruits in the Iraqi National Army to flee their posts at Mosul before ISIS even fired a shot. On the other hand, it didn’t work on the Kurds in northern Syria when ISIS attempted to siege Kobane. Refusing to flinch or stand down, the Kurds outsmarted and outfought ISIS until the jihadis were forced to cut their already sizable losses and crawl away bruised and humiliated after four months of failing to take the city.

Functionally speaking, terror militias behave far more like scavengers than predators. It’s been reported that many of ISIS’ commanders abide by a tract called the Management of Savagery, a guide penned by an Al-Qaeda strategist that outlines how to foment the ideal conditions for the expansion of a jihadi militia. The pamphlet recommends, among other things, that militants focus on exploiting local instability for tactical leverage. The implicit admission behind this is that unstable situations are the only circumstances under which a terror militia like ISIS can effectively function. It reveals a lesser focus on developing strong martial doctrine and skilled infantry, and more on exacerbating the fragile situations in which you send your forces to operate. As I’d noted previously, many of ISIS’ foot soldiers are military amateurs and untrained war tourists – which makes them exceptionally weak in prolonged combat.

The fragility and extreme power vacuum that emerged in Sunni-dominant central Syria and western Iraq during the civil wars represented a perfect scavenging opportunity, as did the various towns on the fringes of Kurdish territory. ISIS fanned out into terrain that was unprepared or poorly defended, allowing them to accumulate easy gains throughout 2014. Except the situation has turned radically since then, with the Kurds and other local players fixated on ISIS’ presence and galvanized against them.

To take a recent example, when well-prepared Kurdish forces moved to reclaim Sinjar last month (a city ISIS had captured in August 2014), the jihadis barely put up a fight. ISIS’ resistance to the Kurdish assault lasted all of two days, with Kurdish forces basically walking into Sinjar in the wake of a mass retreat. Similar to a hyena, ISIS sprinted as fast as they could in the other direction when a more powerful entity closed in. It was an act of very simple calculus on ISIS’ part – they knew good and well they’d be decimated further if they attempted to stage a prolonged fight against the organized Kurdish advance. So they cut their losses and fled, leaving little more than explosive traps and a few snipers behind. The recapture of Sinjar was, in its own way, a delayed and bitter visitation of justice. ISIS found themselves cut down and humiliated not only by Kurdish soldiers, but also by Yazidi battalions made up of the very people they attempted to exterminate in 2014.

ISIS’ retreat in Sinjar was an active demonstration of their standing capacities, and an unflattering one at that. What happened in Sinjar was a sort of martial retraction, which has become ISIS boilerplate in recent months. The jihadis spread out as far as they could across the open terrain in Syria and Iraq when the ground situation was at its most brittle in 2014. Now that their enemies are bearing down on them, ISIS is shrinking into itself. They also put up pretty flimsy resistance when the Kurds moved in on Tal Abyad back in June 2015 – which was a crucial transport route along the Turkish border. The Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq have made a consistent policy of hamstringing ISIS’ supply lines, a shrewd tactical measure that has withered ISIS around the edges and forced them to abandon their outer holdings. The jihadis have failed to recapture these key points, focusing instead on improvising new supply lines within their increasingly restricted territory. It was reported they attempted to do so almost immediately after the liberation of Sinjar by cobbling together a new transport route along the Syria-Iraq border, a response so quick it suggests ISIS may have at least partially anticipated their inability to hold the city.

The newly formed multi-ethnic (Kurdish, Arab, Armenia, Turkmen) Syrian Democratic Forces had also liberated the Syrian town of al-Hawl just days before the recapture of Sinjar – yet another humiliating defeat that, coupled with the taking of Sinjar, cut the roads between Raqqa and Mosul. ISIS effectively lost the ability to transport goods and soldiers between their two largest cities, which was a crippling loss in terms of both territory management and garrison reinforcement.

There’s one thing that crossed my mind in early 2015 when I began examining the particularities of ISIS as a group and the various aspects of their governance and military campaigns – this entire experiment isn’t tenable. None of it is. By the time early 2015 rolled around ISIS was effectively doing a tap dance atop a field of landmines, unaware that everything they stood upon was going to blow up in their face. ISIS blindly sowed the seeds of its own destruction throughout 2014, and the unintelligent nature of their operating procedures seemed to foment a collection of factors that will incrementally damage the organization.

ISIS’ brief moment of eminence in 2014 represented the most brutal consequences of the Iraqi/Syrian civil wars reaching a critical mass. We’re now in the midst of a complex deceleration period, where the parabola of violence and anarchy will begin to slope downward. The Kurds have retaken territory and thrashed them on enough fronts that ISIS has retracted deeper into the Sunni heartland. ISIS being as spread apart as they were last year was only feasible during a time of instability and non-preparedness on the part of their opponents. What we saw throughout 2014 was a mass paroxysm of violence, and now the martial clockwork is resetting itself in an almost procedural way – with various other players capturing and fortifying terrain rationally allowed by their military and political reach. The decline seems already in motion, and the ensuing steps will be defined increasingly by geopolitical tension over anarchic carnage. The spasmodic brutality that preceded this point was not a sustainable holding pattern as much as it was the most ugly, extreme consequence of regional destabilization at an inflamed apex.

Hints of the possible next phase for ISIS can be portended through examining their emergence. What we’re witnessing right now is ISIS’ slow decline occurring in reverse to its rise, with the various elements that allowed ISIS to achieve some level of prominence unwinding themselves. ISIS managed to accumulate manpower bulk not from centralized recruitment as is typical of cohesive nationalist forces like the Kurdish YPG/J and Peshmerga, but from a sort of improvised cobbling together of previously disaffiliated factions. Both Syria and Iraq were long overrun with Sunni sectarian militias – some of them sizable cadres and others little more than neighborhood gangs. All that ISIS did was spread amoeba-like throughout the Levant absorbing other Sunni extremist groups they didn’t choose to kill outright. As ISIS increased its geographic and military reach, more factions began gathering under their amorphous banner. ISIS even brought much of Saddam Hussein’s former army into the fold – a simple case of situational allegiance taking a more concrete form. ISIS occasionally partnered with Baath Party veterans in skirmishes against Shia forces, with the jihadis eventually subsuming the Saddam loyalists altogether as the insurgency wore on.

These mergers weren’t always successful, either. ISIS demanded that the Al-Nusra front, another jihadi faction they’d fought beside in Syria, submit themselves to ISIS’ leadership back in 2013. Sensitive egos and power squabbles prevailed in the end, with al-Nusra effectively telling ISIS to shove off. The two groups have been openly antagonistic ever since.

Which is kind of funny, when you look at it. Both al-Nusra and ISIS are former branches of al-Qaeda, with ISIS having fully severed itself from the parent organization in early 2014 and al-Nusra potentially looking to do the same. Jihadi groups are extremely fractious by nature, and are prone to rapid, almost chaotic shifts in command structure and allegiance. This makes them rather flexible, even evasive at times, but it also makes them brittle and weak against more cohesive forces. The same factors that render terror organizations difficult to eradicate as skulking opportunists are the same things that make them godawful at long-term military strategy.

Even the capture of Raqqa, ISIS’ de facto capital and largest city, was a result of opportunism and slow creep. As an excellent report from The New Yorker notes, ISIS managed to claim Raqqa not by storming the gates, but by setting up camp nearby and slowly accumulating numbers – biding their time until the situation became fragile enough to exploit. As local rebels from the Free Syrian Army (or FSA) got caught in outside skirmishes and peeled away from the city, ISIS moved in fighters and heavy armaments from Iraq and converged upon Raqqa in the midst of its newfound weakness, taking the city piece by piece until the local FSA had scattered or defected to ISIS by early 2014. And many of these defections weren’t voluntary either, as the remaining FSA soldiers were given the choice to join ISIS or face execution. Once ISIS had wrangled full control of Raqqa, they immediately launched a massive, pre-planned propaganda campaign in the hopes of drawing a new wave of foreign recruits. This sort of jihadi propaganda theater has been a huge priority for ISIS overall, with certain reports indicating that ISIS goes to painstaking lengths when staging their videos, agonizing over pre-written scripts even in the midst of battle while doing multiple takes and reading from cue cards. The unintended effect of these revelations is that it makes ISIS look less a mysterious, unstoppable band of jihadis and more like a bunch of squabbling drama queens hypersensitive public image.

Yet ISIS seems to be aware that even their hold on Raqqa might not be long for this world, and reports have rolled in that the group is preemptively fortifying their satellite city of Sirte, Libya in case the surrounding factions close in on Raqqa. This serves as a pretty direct signal that the group fears its foothold in Syria is waning, a signal that’s as blatant as the desperate fear-stoking they’ve attempted in the wake of the Paris attacks. As if to cut their losses yet again, the group is apparently encouraging foreign recruits to travel to Libya in lieu of Syria– a borderline morbid admission of probable death and failure in the upper Levant. And ISIS’ typical pathologies are being replicated in Sirte, with the group attempting to impose a media blackout on the city and set up corrupt, ISIS-run courts. As various reports have noted, Libya would prove an ideal climate for ISIS largely because the country lacks a functioning central government and is in a state of deep civil disarray.

ISIS’ routing their recruits to Libya is the principle of terrorist dispersion in action. It represents an attempt to control potential fragmentation by redirecting manpower and resources to a region that’s now more vulnerable than Syria. It also abides by the pattern of weakness detection and scavenging that allowed ISIS to first grab territory in the Levant. ISIS’ original incursion into Libya came through their capture of the city of Derna back in October 2014, a holdout that was slowly overtaken by ISIS recruits who’d been skulking on the margins until the local defenses had become weak enough to overpower.

Another phenomenon that has emerged with increasing clarity is ISIS’ extreme incompetence at basic governance and territory management. Not only are civilian populations apparently enraged at the disrespect for local customs, procedures, and clan hierarchies, but starvation and deprivation of basic resources appears to be endemic throughout ISIS-held territory as well. It’s also been reported that local Arab women have been forced into “marrying” ISIS fighters, proving that the group’s sexual brutality extends even to the Sunni populations they’d ostensibly want to court. Beyond this, reports from Libya indicate the group is already making a farce of basic urban upkeep.

As I’d outlined in a prior article, there’s mounting evidence that ISIS is fragmenting under the weight of internal dysfunction, but reports since then indicate this pattern is even more severe than first thought. Intelligence gathered on ISIS’ activities in Mosul paint a bleak picture of scarcity, internal mismanagement, and pointless brutality. The organization reportedly executed 133 civilians last month on an assortment of dubious charges. Even the acquisition of food and resources is in a state of lethal disarray. 25 children starved to death in Mosul last month, while 212 civilians allegedly sold their kidneys in a desperate bid to raise money. These reports corroborate similar incidents from other areas under ISIS holding – sudden poverty and lack of resources is apparently a problem even in ISIS’ ostensible stronghold at Raqqa. This level of managerial incompetence seems to be impacting ISIS’ fighters as well. Militants who have fled ISIS territory in Iraq and surrendered to nearby Kurdish Peshmerga have cited fear of starvation as one of their main reasons for defecting.

Beyond this, the surrender and desertion rates among ISIS recruits are heavy and only becoming more pronounced with time. It’s become such a problem that the jihadis have set up a standalone police force whose sole purpose is to capture and detain potential deserters . The group’s capacity for troop cohesion is similarly dismal, with ISIS recruits prone to breaking formation and retreating in the midst of firefights.

There’s also strong evidence that resistance against ISIS has become increasingly fierce throughout their occupied territories. Not only are protests growing more open and fearless, but locals seem to have an especially deep contempt for ISIS’ brutal and self-serving rule. It’s reached the point where this is being expressed through overt violence – there have been two recorded incidents of locals tracking down and shooting ISIS-appointed judges since the start of November. Beyond their military failures against Kurdish forces, ISIS seems to be hopelessly inept at the basics of statehood and governance.

From a broader perspective, indiscriminately antagonizing everyone around you is an awful idea in both tactical and diplomatic terms. It’s why even morally bankrupt despots like Bashar al-Assad make sure to keep powerful states like Russia on their side. If you examine everything in retrospect, almost all of ISIS’ tactical moves – ranging from their failed siege on Kobane to their provoking hostility from countries that are otherwise mutually antagonistic – have represented astoundingly bad planning. Intelligent militias generally have the foresight to exploit preexisting diplomatic fractures to their advantage, if only to diminish their number of possible opponents. But it takes a magnificently stupid organization to somehow provoke both NATO and the Iran-Russia axis at the same time, especially if you’re a mid-sized guerrilla faction with no national claim.

ISIS’ behavior as a military presence has consistently been reckless, indiscriminate, and fundamentally dumb. It shows none of the cold, patient calculus displayed by more resilient insurgent groups. If you want to survive, it’s terrible policy to persecute a typically pacifist minority group like the Yazidis. There’s not a single sane faction who’d want to openly ally with that style of degenerate cruelty. But that’s been ISIS’ trademark since day one – be self-destructively brutal in the most attention-seeking way possible. As the Syrian conflict grinds on, ISIS has won the simultaneous honor of being one of the world’s most evil and most incompetent insurgent groups.

All of this – from the territorial retraction in Syria to the mounting aggression from outside forces – seems to foreshadow a gradual period of dispersal and disintegration for ISIS in the Levant. Following the scavenger principle inherent in their operating procedures, ISIS will probably continue to hedge against the loss of manpower and resources in Syria by fleeing outright or redirecting some of their attention to the less challenging theater in Libya. ISIS could well exist in some form throughout the foreseeable future, but only as a fractious collection of terror cells and isolated holdouts.

As the Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces have cut closer to ISIS’ core holdings along the Euphrates, local tribal leaders have blatantly asked ISIS to cut and run so as to avoid potential civilian casualties. It’s always these misleadingly subtle incidents that are the most resounding indicators of failure. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if ISIS were to eventually retreat into the more remote parts of Syria and Iraq’s Sunni hinterlands, and possibly attempt sporadic “reprisal” attacks against local and foreign targets they deem enemies. Considering the severe fragility of their military infrastructure, this would likely represent their most reliable means of discharging aggression – no matter how unimpactful they’d be outside of temporary acts of intimidation.

There remains one particular wild card in this situation – Turkey’s Recep Erdogan. Erdogan’s status as an enabler and even de facto ally of ISIS is rather uncontroversial at this point. Certain elements from Erdogan’s inner circle have expressed moments of weird sympathy for ISIS, with his acting PM Ahmet Davutoglu once claiming that ISIS was not a definitive terrorist organization as much as an aggrieved group who have suffered “discontent, anger, and discrimination”. Which is a rather novel way of describing militants who behave like sadistic, rapist swine. The director of Turkish intelligence even came out and stated in late November that ISIS represented a legitimate revolutionary movement and that they’re welcome to open a friendly consulate in Turkey – remarks which represent such a naked admission of support it’s hard to believe they’re being uttered openly.

Much of Turkey’s ISIS enabling has emerged in the areas of logistical and economic support – effectively leveraging them as a proxy army against the Kurds. Turkish opposition leader Ali Ediboglu claimed in November that ISIS had raised over $800 million thus far in 2015 by funneling oil into his country’s black market. However, there have also been whispers that Turkish intelligence has directly aided the flow of ISIS recruits across the border into Syria. One of the ongoing sources of tension between Putin and Turkey is how effective Russian airstrikes have been at crippling ISIS’ oil productivity. A recent analysis suggested ISIS was once earning $3 million a day from smuggling oil, a number that has apparently halved since Moscow’s bombing campaign began.

However long ISIS manages to persist in a concrete way in Syria depends largely on whether or not Turkey’s enabling can be cut off at the root. Diplomatic cohesion against ISIS will be a particularly thorny issue going forward, once again proving that disarray in any form remains the jihadi group’s most powerful asset.

ISIS’ end will likely come less from an abrupt, climactic downfall and more from a slow and humiliating stumble toward oblivion. The group could fracture down the middle, with the prolonged tensions between jihadi hardliners and former Saddam loyalists potentially ending in organizational rupture. ISIS’ dismal morale and ongoing martial failure could only exacerbate problems with defections and surrenders, a phenomenon that’s accelerated in the latter half of 2015. If these frustrations increasingly turn inward, it wouldn’t be surprising if segments of ISIS’ command structure were to pull away from the organization as a whole. Actively hedging against death and loss can happen on a fractional basis as easily as they can on an cohesive one.

And this process will not be easy. The diplomatic sideshow will undoubtedly be messy and contentious. The maneuvering on behalf of Bashar al-Assad will be as cynical and morally deranged as it always is, and NATO’s squabbles with Russia will remain costly and noisome. The Syrian and Iraqi civil war’s toll on the civilian population has already been harrowing, and the burden of repairing infrastructure will be matched by the herculean task of diminishing sectarian hostility. Throughout all this, local forces will have to contend with ISIS even as it slowly disintegrates. Considering ISIS is a rapacious insurgency without a recognized state claim, there won’t be any signing of peace treaties or diplomatic negotiations. But even if the timeline is prolonged and hazy, ISIS will crumble, leaving the human toll to be attended in its wake.

So mourn the fallen, especially the brave young Kurdish soldiers who died before their time and the reporters who were killed trying to capture the reality of life in Syria. Provide solace and comfort to the living, especially the Arabs terrorized under ISIS’ rule and the generation of horrifically abused Yazidi women left behind. And, of course, grieve those murdered during the attacks in Paris and Beirut.

But as ISIS continues to fall and their forces decimated, look at them with the mockery and hostile ridicule they’ve deserved since the beginning. Maybe this is dark of me, but laugh at them if you’d like. Appreciate the morbid comedy of some drooling ISIS recruit who figured his tenure would be marked by conquest and sex slaves randomly taking a sniper round through the gut from a young Kurdish woman. There is a bitter style of humor in watching humanity’s worst arrogance get pierced through (in this case, quite literally) by the uncaring vagaries of fate. The universe and all its composite parts don’t care how much of a badass you fantasized yourself to be when you left Brussels.

And let the ignominious fall of ISIS serve as a cold forewarning to any upstart jihadis tempted to manifest their degenerate conquest dreams into some kind of martial reality. The world can be a senseless, unjust place, but the fate of extreme evil often arcs toward oblivion. Ask any of the Nazi officers who died thrashing on a rope after Nuremberg. The human collective has little tolerance for something as virulent as ISIS’ brand of conquering jihadism, and a rampaging virus of that scope will inevitably invite its own destruction. So go ahead and remember ISIS, but remember them in the opposite rendering in which they imagined themselves – a group beaten down by the very people they tried to overtake, a failed militia cast mercilessly into the furnace of history. The world will keep spinning, and ISIS will be rendered a despised anecdote of humanity’s worst. The land will heal itself, slowly and painstakingly, enduring as humanity always has even in the face of overbearing darkness.

Posted in Middle East, Iraq, SyriaComments Off on HOW ISIS FALLS: A JIHADI AUTOPSY

Russia Counts 12,000 Turkey-Bound ISIS Oil Trucks from Iraq and Syria…


Requests U.S. Assistance to Bomb Them; U.S. Again Says No. How the Public Get Suckered by ‘News’ Media Ignoring Reality


According to Russian Television on December 25th, Russian intelligence has counted “up to 12,000” tanker trucks filled with oil “on the Turkish-Iraqi border,” and “the final destination remains to be Turkey.” In addition, some of those trucks are still heading into Turkey from Syria, but their number is “decreased” because Russia’s Syrian bombing campaign, which started on September 30th, has, ever since they began bombing the oil trucks on November 18th, destroyed “up to 2,000” of those trucks, that were in Syria heading into Turkey.

According to the news report, Russia is requesting help from the U.S. coalition to bomb the “up to 12,000” trucks that are in Iraq carrying ISIS oil into Turkey. ISIS drives them there so that ISIS can become self-sustaining by the oil-sales. ISIS, which had long been supported by America’s allies the Arab oil potentates — all of whom are fundamentalist Sunnis — aims to be self-sustaining now on the sales of this stolen oil through Turkey, which is operating the black market in ISIS’s stolen oil. That’s why Russia wants to stamp out this market. “However, so far, Washington says that it is not ready for such a move,” the report says.

Whereas Russia had begun on November 18th to bomb those trucks en-route into Turkey, and eliminated around 500 of them at that time, the U.S. coalition hadn’t bombed any such trucks until later that day, November 18th, in order to pretend to be competitive with what Russia had been doing since it started on 30 September 2015, to bomb in Syria. Before the U.S. bombed the 116 trucks it destroyed, it warned the drivers 45 minutes in advance.

Here was the shocking admission that was made by the U.S. Defense Department’s press-spokesman at his 18 November 2015 presentation, in which he voluntarily acknowledged that, throughout all of the 14 months during which the U.S. had been bombing in Syria and in Iraq, the U.S. hadn’t previously destroyedany  of the tens of thousands of oil tank-trucks that had been transporting ISIS’s stolen oil out from Iraq and from Syria — the stolen-oil sales that bring $2B per year into ISIS coffers — and that the U.S. had warned 45-minutes in advance:

This is our first strike against tanker trucks, and to minimize risks to civilians, we conducted a leaflet drop prior to the strike. We did a show of force, by — we had aircraft essentially buzz the trucks at low altitude.

So, I do have copy of the leaflet, and I have got some videos, so why don’t you pull the leaflet up. Let me take a look at it so I can talk about it.

As you can see, it’s a fairly simple leaflet, it says, “Get out of your trucks now, and run away from them.” A very simple message.

And then, also, “Warning: airstrikes are coming. Oil trucks will be destroyed. Get away from your oil trucks immediately. Do not risk your life.”

And so, these are the leaflets that we dropped — about 45 minutes before the airstrikes actually began. Again, we combine these leaflet drops with very low altitude passes of some of our attack aviation, which sends a very powerful message.

So: not only had the U.S. previously avoided destroying ISIS’s main current source of income (besides the multimillion-dollar donations made by members of the royal families of Saudi ArabiaQatar, UAE, and Kuwait — all of whom are protected by the U.S.) (and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had urged all of them on 30 December 2009 please to stop funding their terrorists), but, when the U.S. now started to bomb those tank-trucks filled with stolen oil, the U.S. warned in advance the drivers, who were also assets to the jihadist cause the U.S. pretended to oppose, and thus were enemies of the public (and were participants in the evils of ISIS). The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) wanted to protect them — not  to kill them. That was done “to minimize risks to civilians.” Wow!!

After the U.S. history of slaughtering millions of civilians in wars, and torturing many, including complete innocents in Iraq and elsewhere, we’re now protecting ISIS’s drivers? Can any hypocrisy exceed this? If the United States were a democracy, its press would have been focusing on this issue for a week. The U.S. protecting ISIS’s financial base, and assets, has mind-boggling implications. On what side are ‘we’ — and who are “we,” and who are “them”? We are not the aristocracy. The aristocracy are them. It includes the top stockholders in firms such as Lockheed Martin. Warren Buffett said in 2006 “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” That’s shocking honesty.

Did any of the major U.S. news media, all of which have reporters attending those press conferences, report the U.S. Government’s open admission  there, that the U.S. Government had protected ISIS all along, not bombed any  of ISIS’s oil tank-trucks (until Russia did)? Those trucks providing $2B per year to ISIS terrorists? None  of them reported it. None of them conveyed to their audience this astounding information — essentially, that the U.S. was protecting the money-flow to the jihadists in Syria, and was even protecting their truckers, and its ‘press’ were protecting them.

Another major revelation at this same press conference was that “we right now have no plans to conduct coordinated operations with the Russians” in Syria. And this was reconfirmed on December 25th from the Russian side, as being still the U.S. policy. In other words: the U.S. President is so hostile toward Russia, that, even months after Russia’s request to Washington on September 30th to cooperate in killing all jihadists in Syria, Obama still refuses to work together with Russia, or even just to “coordinate operations with the Russians,” to kill the jihadists. (And, in the Democratic debate on 19 December 2015, Hillary Clinton insisted that eliminating the jihadists in Syria mustn’t have higher priority than, nor occur before, Bashar al-Assad is permanently removed from Syria’s leadership. Her position is at least as anti-Russian as Obama’s.)

The jihadists had flocked into Syria to oust the non-sectarian leader of that country, Assad, and to replace him with an Islamist leader, a Sharia-law Sunni, whom the U.S. Government, and the royal families of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, and Kuwait, approve of as being better than the non-sectarian Assad (who is personally a Shiite, but runs a decidedly unsectarian, secular, government). The jihadists work for the American alliance.

Russia’s position on the matter is that no foreign power possesses the right to determine whom the President of Syria will or won’t be; only the Syrian people do, in an election. Russia insists that it be determined in internationally monitored and overseen elections. However, polls taken by Western polling firms indicate that Assad would overwhelmingly win any such election; so, U.S. President Barack Obama has rejected democracy for Syria. And yet, the U.S. accuses Putin of being dictatorial, and claims itself to be ‘democratic.’ And the U.S. President demands that Syria’s legal President be removed from power and excluded from any possibility of ever again becoming that nation’s President. This is America’s version of ‘democracy’ in Syria.

The DOD spokesperson, Steve Warren, spoke contemptuously of Russia. He said that in Russia’s war against jihadists in Syria, “the Russians are using dumb bombs. Their history has been both reckless and irresponsible.” This statement was being made by a military spokesman for the same Government that in the most “reckless and irresponsible” manner had invaded and destroyed Iraq in 2003. However, his statement here was also, itself, simply false. Russia’s bombings have been with both precision-guided weapons and unguided munitions that are under no control after being fired.

Warren there was reaffirming a reporter’s question which had asserted: “Getting back to Raqqa, as we all know, the Russians are not using precision munitions. Any sense of any increased civilian casualties in Raqqa as a result of that?” So, Warren was here reaffirming a reporter’s (or actually, a press-appointed government stenographer’s) falsehood — reaffirming an assertion that was either unprofessionally ignorant, or else a knowing lie. On September 30th, when Russia had started its air strikes, the U.S. had said that they were “doomed to failure.” That, too, seems increasingly likely to have been false (that it was “doomed to failure”). (And any such pretended foresight is also a lie when it comes from an official source such as a government. It was mere propaganda.)

Instead of the mainstream U.S. press reporting that the U.S. Government lied there (and this Government does it routinely, because the ‘press’ never report that a lie by the President is  a lie), only a small number of only non-mainstream sites, all online-only, picked up anything from this stunning press conference, regarding any of the important and much-discussed issues that it addressed; and the first such site to do so was a fundamentalist Christian one, which is obsessively pro-Israel, and generally hard-rightwing Republican. Bridget Johnson at PJ Media headlined, on the same day as the press conference (the only site to report at all upon it that day, November 18th), “ISIS Oil Tankers Hit for First Time – With 45-Minute Warning.” This was an admirable reporting coup (though it wasn’t really “for First Time,” since Russian bombers  had already done it), because it covered all of the main points, including the shocking admissions by Mr. Warren. Her news coup had over 1,400 reader-comments.

Paul Joseph Watson, at the generally conservative Republican site InfoWars, bannered on November 23rd, “WHITE HOUSE GAVE ISIS 45 MINUTE WARNING BEFORE BOMBING OIL TANKERS,” and he placed these matters honestly into their geostrategic context, of the Obama Administration’s placing a higher priority upon defeating Russia than defeating jihadism. As is so often the case with the terrific journalist Watson, he penetrated deeply into these matters, and was not at all shy to acknowledge, for example, the following stark contrast, which U.S. ‘news’ media hide:

Compare the Obama White House’s approach to fighting ISIS to that of Russia.

While it took the U.S. fifteen months to even begin targeting ISIS’ oil refineries and tankers, air strikes by Moscow destroyed more than 1,000 tankers in a period of just five days.

In comparison, Col. Steve Warren said that the U.S. had taken out only 116 tanker trucks, the “first strike” to target ISIS’ lucrative black market oil business, which funds over 50 per cent of the terror group’s activities.

So: this, too, like Bridget Johnson’s report, was honest and first-rate news-reporting, from another non-mainstream Republican site. (Note, however, that the mainstream  Republican news-sites, such as Fox News, Wall Street Journal, and Rush Limbaugh, were no more forthcoming on this matter than all of the Democratic Party sites were.)

The aristocracy’s control over all the mainstream ‘news’ is ironclad — and this includes the political magazines, such as National Review, and The Nation;  as well as ‘intellectual’ magazines, such asHarpers  and The Atlantic.  American ‘news’ media stifle democracy in America; they’re not part of  democracy, in America. They’re like poison that’s presented as being ‘medicine’ instead. Suckers don’t just swallow it; they come back for more of that propaganda.

The next day, November 23rd, “Tyler Durden,” the pseudonymous genius behind his own Zero Hedge blog, headlined “‘Get Out Of Your Trucks And Run Away’: US Gives ISIS 45 Minute Warning On Oil Tanker Strikes,” and he reported using some of the same sources as the others, but supplementing it with additional good sources. He had around 400 reader-comments.

In addition, there were some trashy news-reports at far-right Republican sites, such as one, on November 19th, crediting Bridget Johnson’s news report the day before as its source, “The Obamization of the military, pt. 243.” This was by J.R. Dunn, at the fundamentalist Republican, American Thinker, blog. He pretended that Obama was being bad here because Obama was too concerned to avoid bloodshed: “You see, the important thing isn’t hurting ISIS. No – the important thing is not hurting civilians.” Picking up from the standard Republican meme that torture should be used against ‘bad people’ in order for ‘good people’ to be kept safe, and that civilians in ‘enemy’ nations are okay to be victims of American military attacks, Dunn took Bridget Johnson’s news-report merely as confirmation of his own bigotries and hatreds. He had about 150 reader-comments. Typical was this one: “The Left in America has known that in order to succeed with their agenda the US military had to be infiltrated, compromised, and weakened.” For such suckers, the ‘source’ of America’s problems wasn’t America’s aristocracy; it was America’s Democrats.

On November 24th, Michael Morell, Obama’s CIA Director during 2011-2013, said on the trashy PBS Charlie Rose show (hosted by Mr. Rose, who is such an incompetent interviewer that he’s beloved by aristocrats for his reliably softball interviews), “We didn’t go after oil wells, actually hitting oil wells that ISIS controls, because we didn’t want to do environmental damage, and we didn’t want to destroy that infrastructure.” Of course, Mr. Rose avoided drilling down there to find out why the U.S. Government treats jihadists as being such a minor matter — especially after all of the environmental damage the U.S. routinely does in its invasions, such as the depleted uranium that contaminates today’s Iraq, from the U.S. attacks. And, of course, almost all of the news-media that picked up on that stunning admission from Obama’s former CIA Director, were Republican sites, such as Daily Caller, Washington Times, Breitbart, Real Clear Politics, and American Thinker. In addition, there were a few high quality journalistic sites reporting it, such as Zero Hedge, The Hill, The Economic Collapse, and Moon of Alabama. In other words: only very few Americans came to know about this jaw-dropping stunning admission from an Obama official — and most who did were people who hate Obama for his being such things as ‘against torture’ (in other words: Republican stooges of the aristocracy).

Basically, in America, only marginal, and mainly right-wing, audiences were being informed even badly, regarding the sensational things that were revealed — and in some instances proudly  revealed — at the November 18th DOD press conference, and also in the November 24th TV interview of Morell. What is traditionally viewed as being America’s “news media” were entirely absent from their job of reporting even one of these two important statements by U.S. Government officials. And none of the news-reports on that astounding DOD press conference, and of that Morell interview, reached Democratic Party voters at all. Republicans hate Obama because he’s a communist Islamic Kenyan, while Democrats love Obama because the wacko Republican Party lies about him constantly and because Obama is to the left of those blithering wackos.

A press like this makes it impossible for there to be intelligent, informed, rather than misinformed and/or stupid, voting in national political elections in the United States.

Perhaps the biggest scandal in America is its rigid aristocratically controlled ‘press,’ which is really nothing more than a whored propaganda-operation that’s run by and for the nation’s aristocracy. The owners of America’s ‘news’ media know that the way for the press to make money in this type of dictatorship is to sell to the aristocrats’ corporations access to the public, and to ‘report’ only ‘news’ that the corporate sponsors don’t mind the public’s knowing about.

So: this is how the public get suckered, in America.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the American Government didn’t hypocritically claim to be a ‘democracy.’ That’s just piling it on, with a shovel.

Posted in USA, Iraq, Russia, SyriaComments Off on Russia Counts 12,000 Turkey-Bound ISIS Oil Trucks from Iraq and Syria…

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