Archive | December 19th, 2013

The children who join the Cubs… and learn to kill people: Al-Qa’ida-led factions in Syria are training boys as young as 10 to become rebel fighters


UN agencies and human rights groups have accused multiple factions in the country of recruiting children for military roles, including actual combat

At first glance, the training camp appears no different from the many others shown in propaganda videos posted by al-Qa’ida’s affiliate in Syria.

Hooded recruits in camouflage shoot at targets or march in formation under the black flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. But look closer and the “fighters” appear quite small. The tallest are barely chest-high to their instructors, and the shorter ones wear ill-fitting uniforms and appear to struggle under the weight of their weapons.

A photograph of the recruits without their hoods confirms that all of them are young boys. They are “Zarqawi’s Cubs,” the youth brigade of Syria’s most fearsome Islamist rebel group and the newest manifestations of al-Qa’ida’s deepening roots in rebel-controlled areas of the country.

Building on earlier efforts to expand their influence in Syrian schools, radical Islamists appear to be stepping up efforts to indoctrinate and train children, some as young as 10, according to independent experts.

The establishment of the Zarqawi’s Cubs camp –revealed in a video posted last month by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or Isis – is viewed as particularly worrisome because of the similarities to Iraq’s “Birds of Paradise.” That brigade was created a decade ago by the same terrorist group, in its earlier incarnation as al-Qa’ida in Iraq, to train children for military missions, including suicide bombings.

“This is the future threat,” said Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute in Washington, that has tracked the exploitation of children by Syrian fighting groups over the past two years. “These are the children of al-Qa’ida.”

UN agencies and human rights groups have accused multiple Syrian factions – including secularist rebels and pro-government militias – of recruiting children for military roles ranging from scouting to actual combat.

Researchers from Human Rights Watch interviewed boys as young as 14 who were used to transport weapons or serve as lookouts. Even younger children were put to work loading bullets into magazines for assault rifles, said Sarah Margon, acting director of the group’s Washington office. “It’s something that children often do because their fingers are smaller,” she said.

A Syrian boy holds an AK-47 assault rifle in the majority-Kurdish Sheikh Maqsud district of Aleppo (Getty)

A Syrian boy holds an AK-47 assault rifle in the majority-Kurdish Sheikh Maqsud district of Aleppo (Getty)
The Obama administration last year imposed restrictions on some of its non-military aid to Syria in part because of concerns about the use of child soldiers. Invoking a 2008 law forbidding assistance to countries that use child soldiers, the administration approved restrictions on certain types of non-military aid to Syria as well as the Central African Republic, Burma, Sudan and six other countries, according to State Department papers.

The appearance of training camps for young boys suggests a more systematic effort to incorporate the youngest Syrians into the conflict, as ideological supporters and as combatants in a religious war against a regime led by the country’s minority Alawites.

Radical groups often post images on social media that highlight the role played by children, and some attempt to tailor their messages to appeal to the very young, said Aaron Zelin, an expert on jihadist groups at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“They understand that they are the future and, therefore, need to be exposed and indoctrinated to the cause,” he said. It explains why some groups operate age-based training camps that start with “cubs” and progress to “lion scouts” for older teens and adults.

The Isis youth group was named in honour of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian who founded al-Qa’ida in Iraq, a group notorious for its suicide bombings targeting Shia mosques and bazaars in Iraq’s Shia neighbourhoods, as well as its videotaped beheadings of Western hostages. Zarqawi, killed in a US airstrike in 2006, remains an inspirational figure for Islamist extremists, as well as the ideological father of Isis and other al-Qa’ida-allied rebel groups in Syria, including Jabat al-Nusra.

The video depicting the Zarqawi’s Cubs camp describes the location of the facility as near Ghouta, the same eastern suburb of Damascus that was struck in a chemical weapons attack in August that killed more than 1,000 civilians. Much of the region has been held by rebels for months, despite intense fighting in some villages.

A young Syrian boy learning how to shoot (YouTube)

A young Syrian boy learning how to shoot (YouTube)
The boys are shown being led by masked instructors through small-arms exercises and sitting in groups under the Isis banner, some of them weighed down by machine-gun ammunition. Other images show the boys undergoing instruction or, in one instance, talking happily over a lunch of flatbread.

On the soundtrack, Arab voices sing a mournful song. “Oh mother, don’t be saddened by my leaving,” the lyrics say, explaining that the boys are going away to fight “for the sake of defeating the Jews”.

Experts who viewed the video said it appeared authentic, though precisely when and where the images were recorded could not be established with certainty. Nor is it clear how many children are being trained. Others who have tracked the recruitment of children by Syrian militant factions see the latest initiatives as intended mainly to indoctrinate young Syrians raised in a country that has a long tradition of secularist rule.

Both Isis and Jabat al-Nusra, have posted videos on Twitter and YouTube showing visits to Syrian classrooms by armed militants. One Isis video shows a man in conservative Arab dress leading several dozen children in Syria’s Aleppo province in denouncing a list of “infidels,” including the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, and Barack Obama. “Imagine we had here with us an Alawite, from al-Assad’s family or religion. Would we like him?” asked the leader.

“No,” the children replied.

“What would we do with him?” the leader asks.

“Slaughter him,” came the answer, in unison.

The speaker congratulates his young listeners. “Slaughter him, right. Because he is an infidel,” he says.

© The Washington Post

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Amnesty Int’l: Al-Qaeda in Syria kidnaps, tortures, executes prisoners in secret jails


Abductions, torture, killing, sharia courts, secret prisons with “inhuman” conditions – that’s what an Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group in Syria is accused of in the latest report by Amnesty International. Victims included children as young as eight.

According to the Amnesty report, people were seized by masked men, held for weeks on end in solitary confinement at unknown locations and tried by self-styled Islamic sharia courts, which frequently pass death sentences or impose harsh corporal punishment.

Former detainees described being beaten with rubber generator belts or cables, tortured with electric shocks and being forced into a painful stress position known as the “scorpion” in which the detainee’s wrists are bound over one shoulder.

All the prisoners detained by the group ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham) were held in “cruel and inhuman conditions.”

For instance, two 14-year-olds were among those sentenced to floggings, and one of the fathers was forced to listen to his son’s screams of pain as the boy was tortured in a nearby room.

Another example provided by Amnesty concerns a child of about 14 receive a flogging of more than 90 lashes during interrogation at Sadd al-Ba’ath, an ISIS prison in al-Raqqa governorate. Another child of about 14 who ISIS accused of stealing a motorbike repeatedly received severe corporal punishment over several days.

Members of Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra (Reuters / Molhem Barakat)Members of Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra (Reuters / Molhem Barakat)

Some people were held by ISIS for common crimes like theft, while others were detained for smoking, sex outside of marriage, or because they challenged the group’s rule or belong to other armed organizations.

Dozens of people have allegedly been detained over the past few months.

“After years in which they were prey to the brutality of (President Bashar al-Assad’s) regime, the people of Raqa and Aleppo are now suffering under a new form of tyranny imposed on them by ISIS, in which arbitrary detention, torture and executions have become the order of the day,” Philip Luther, Amnesty’s director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in the report.

Amnesty has called on Turkey and Gulf states that support the mainstream rebels to curb the flow of arms and aid to ISIS and other organizations accused of human rights violations.

“The Turkish government, in particular, should prevent its territory being used by ISIS to bring in arms and recruits to Syria. As well, Gulf states that have voiced support for the armed groups fighting against the Syrian government should take action to prevent arms flows, equipment or other support reaching ISIS in view of its appalling human rights record,” Luther said.

ISIS is notoriously known for orchestrating and conducting scores of suicide bombings and other attacks in Syria and Iraq.

The organization is reported to include big numbers of foreign fighters.

It’s not the first time that the Syrian rebel factions become known for human rights violations and extreme violence. On Wednesday, Russia condemned massacre in the town of Adra, 20 kilometers north of Damascus, where jihadist rebel groups executed dozens of civilians, including children, beheading them or burning them alive. At least 80 people reportedly were killed.

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Canada calls for dismissal of Richard Falk for accusing I$raHell of ‘genocidal’ intentions



Canada called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to dismiss its special investigator Richard Falk after he accused Israel of “genocidal” intentions against the Palestinians in a brief English language interview on Russian television.

“Canada has previously called for Falk to be fired for his numerous outrageous and anti-Semitic statements and these comments underscore once more the complete and total absurdity of his service as a UN Special Rapporteur,” Canada’s Foreign Minister John Baird said in a statement he issued on Monday.

“I call on the United Nations Human Rights Council – once again – to remove Falk from this position immediately,” Baird said. He added that his country rejects Falk’s comments.

“Not only do these comments undermine the fundamental values of the UN, they also belittle the terrible genocides that have tragically taken place throughout history and around the world,” Baird said.

He spoke in the aftermath of Falk’s brief appearance on December 15 on Russia’s English television news program RT. Falk was interviewed for only a few seconds as part of a larger program on Israel that included an argument that it was Israel, not Iran, which had a dangerous nuclear program.

Falk was asked about a past article he had written in which he said that Israel was “slouching toward nothing less than a Palestinian holocaust.”

Falk told RT, “When you target a group, an ethnic group and inflict this kind of punishment upon them, you are in effect nurturing a kind of criminal intention that is genocidal.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor also attacked Falk’s statements.

“This man has already branded himself as the radical version of extremism,” Palmor said.

“This man has been known for years for his strident racism, verbal violence and obsessional disparaging of Israel and others and for that he was the target of unprecedented criticism by many in the UN including the secretary-general. The fact that such a conspiracist, hate monger remains on the UN payroll is a moral stain on his employer,” said Palmor.

Falk, who is a professor Emeritus of international law at Princeton University, was appointed in 2008 to a six-year position as the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories.

But even before he was appointed he had warned against a pending Palestinian holocaust. He has also written about possible American complicity in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC.

In the aftermath of his comments, UN Watch, a non-governmental Geneva based group that monitors UN activity, has called for Falk’s removal in letters that it wrote both UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon and US ambassador to the UN in New York Samantha Powers. But Falk can only be removed by a vote of the UNHRC in Geneva.

UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer said that Falk’s comments were “outrageous” and a “warrant for terrorism” against Israel.

Accusing Israel of genocidal intentions legitimizes violence against Israel, Neuer said.

“If Israel has genocidal intentions than what isn’t permissible to do against Israel.”

The US, which is a member of the UNHRC , must take the lead in pushing for Falk’s removal, said Neuer.

“The US has forcibly promoted the narrative that the council has been made credible, effective and authoritative, it bears a special responsibility to initiate the removal of Falk,” Neuer said.

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EXCLUSIVE – West signals to Syrian opposition Assad may stay



(Reuters) – Western nations have indicated to the Syrian opposition that peace talks next month may not lead to the removal of President Bashar al-Assad and that his Alawite minority will remain key in any transitional administration, opposition sources said.

The message, delivered to senior members of the Syrian National Coalition at a meeting of the anti-Assad Friends of Syria alliance in London last week, was prompted by rise of al Qaeda and other militant groups, and their takeover of a border crossing and arms depots near Turkey belonging to the moderate Free Syrian Army, the sources told Reuters.

“Our Western friends made it clear in London that Assad cannot be allowed to go now because they think chaos and an Islamist militant takeover would ensue,” said one senior member of the Coalition who is close to officials from Saudi Arabia.

Noting the possibility of Assad holding a presidential election when his term formally ends next year, the Coalition member added: “Some do not even seem to mind if he runs again next year, forgetting he gassed his own people.”

The shift in Western priorities, particularly the United States and Britain, from removing Assad towards combating Islamist militants is causing divisions within international powers backing the nearly three-year-old revolt, according to diplomats and senior members of the coalition.

Like U.S. President Barack Obama’s rejection of air strikes against Syria in September after he accused Assad’s forces of using poison gas, such a diplomatic compromise on a transition could narrow Western differences with Russia, which has blocked United Nations action against Assad, but also widen a gap in approach with the rebels’ allies in the Middle East.

The civil war pits Assad and many Alawites, backed by Iran and its Shi’ite Muslim allies, against Sunni Muslim rebels supported by Turkey, Libya and Sunni Gulf Arab states.

Unlike in Libya in 2011, the West has ruled out military intervention, leaving militant Islamists including al Qaeda affiliates to emerge as the most formidable rebel force, raising alarm among Washington and its allies that Syria, which borders Israel and Iraq, has become a centre for global jihad.

Saudi Arabia and Turkey, however, believe that tackling militants is less of a priority, with Sunni power Riyadh in particular furious at what it considers U.S. appeasement of Assad and his Iranian Shi’ite backers. Riyadh sent only a junior diplomat to the Friends of Syria meeting in London.

Also signalling differences with Washington, opposition activists in Syria have said that Turkey has let a weapons consignment cross into Syria to the Islamic Front, the rebel group that overran the Bab al-Hawa border crossing last week, seizing arms and Western equipment supplied to non-Islamists.


Peace talks are due to start in Switzerland on January 22.

The Coalition has agreed to go to the talks while insisting on Assad’s immediate removal, but a Middle East diplomat said opposition leaders should be “more creative” in their tactics – notably in agreeing to take part in transitional arrangements that would leave Assad’s fellow Alawites in key positions.

“For Geneva to produce an arrangement acceptable to the United States and Russia, the opposition would have to accept taking part in a transitional administration with a strong Alawite presence,” the diplomat said. “Assad may or may not stay as president but at least he will have diminished powers.

“If the opposition rejects such a deal, they will lose most of the West and only have Saudi Arabia, Libya and Turkey left on their side.”

A second member of the Syrian opposition, who is in touch with U.S. officials, said Washington and Russia appeared to be working in tandem on a transitional framework in which Alawites would retain their dominant role in the army and security apparatus to assure their community against retribution and to rally a unified fight against al Qaeda with moderate rebel brigades, who would be invited to join a restructured military.

He criticised U.S. and European officials for continuing to indulge in rhetoric that Assad has no future role to play in Syria, without spelling out how his rule will come to an end.

“Even if Assad is sidelined and a Sunni heads a transitional authority, he would have no power because neither Washington nor Moscow appears to want to end the Alawite control over the military and security apparatus,” he said.

A senior Western official said that Russia and the United States have discussed which government officials – and up to what level of seniority – could be retained in a transitional phase but that they had not agreed any fixed blueprint.


A declaration last week by the 11 leading Western and Middle East countries opposed to Assad blamed the Syrian leader’s military crackdown for the rise of Islamist militants but said the opposition must uphold democratic values.

Islamists “undermine the Geneva … process and threaten Syria’s territorial integrity as well as international and regional security,” the Friends of Syria said in a statement.

Aafak Ahmad, a former Syrian intelligence official who defected to the rebels two years ago and is in contact with U.S. and Russian officials, said Moscow wanted an Alawite to lead the military in any transition.

“Russia is not sticking to Assad but the red line for Moscow is the preservation of the Syrian army,” he said. “It realises that, with five decades’ experience in the army and security, the Alawites are best placed to fight Islamist militants.

“The political solution has to be gradual and involve a collegiate leadership. If Alawites are assured that there will be no retribution against their lives and property they would accept that Assad and the first line of his lieutenants leave.” (Edited by Dominic Evans and Alastair Macdonald)

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‘Slaughtered like sheep’: Eyewitnesses recount massacre in Adra, Syria


Members of jihadist group Al-Nusra Front take part in a parade calling for the establishment of an Islamic state in Syria, at the Bustan al-Qasr neighbourhood of Aleppo (AFP Photo).

New details of atrocities carried out by Islamist rebel fighters in the town of Adra, 20 kilometers north of Damascus, continue to pour in from survivors of the massacre there, in which reportedly at least 80 people lost their lives.

“The decapitators” is how the Adra residents, who managed to flee the violence there, now call the people who currently have the town under their control. Adra, a town with a population of 20,000, was captured by Islamist rebels from the Al-Nusra front and the Army of Islam last week, following fierce fighting with the government forces. The town’s seizure was accompanied by mass executions of civilians.

Following alarming reports of the massacre, RT contacted international rights groups including the Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). However, none of them were able to provide any information.

While the HRW told RT that it “cannot comment at this stage as our research is still ongoing and it has been very difficult to get accurate information about what is happening in Adra and who is responsible for the abuses,” the ICRC said they “don’t have access to this area and can neither confirm nor deny any information circulating.”

RT Arabic has managed to speak to some of the eyewitnesses of the atrocities. Most of them have fled the town, leaving their relatives and friends behind, so they asked not to be identified in the report for security reasons.

An Adra resident said he escaped from the town “under a storm of bullets.” He later contacted his colleagues, who described how the executions of civilians were carried out by the militants.

They had lists of government employees on them,” the man told RT. “This means they had planned for it beforehand and knew who works in the governmental agencies. They went to the addresses they had on their list, forced the people out and subjected them to the so-called “Sharia trials.” I think that’s what they call it. They sentenced them to death by beheading.

A woman, hiding her face from the camera, told RT of the beheadings she had seen.

There was slaughter everywhere,” she said. “The eldest was only 20 years old; he was slaughtered. They were all children. I saw them with my own eyes. They killed fourteen people with a machete. I don’t know if these people were Alawites. I don’t know why they were slaughtered. They grabbed them by their heads and slaughtered them like sheep.”

One of the witnesses of the Adra massacre, who spoke to RT on condition of anonymity. Still from RT videoOne of the witnesses of the Adra massacre, who spoke to RT on condition of anonymity. Still from RT video.

It’s been reported that 80 civilians were killed in the massacre. The death toll could still grow, as currently the information coming from Adra is scarce. The town has been surrounded and isolated by the Syrian army, who have been trying to force the extremists out.

Civilians told us that the workers of an Adra bakery were all executed and burned during the first hours of the attack. Whole families were massacred. We do not have an exact estimation of the number because we are unable to get into the town, but the number is high,” Kinda Shimat, Syria’s Social Affairs Minister, told RT.

Details of the executions are trickling out of the town as eyewitnesses tell their stories.

They killed everyone at the Adra Ummalia police station,” another fugitive from the town told RT. “And they killed everyone at the Adra Ummalia hospital where my sister works. She stayed alive only because she didn’t show up for work that day. There are about 200 people at the police station. They are civilians. The militants are hiding among them, using them as a shield to prevent the Army from bombing the police.

The events in Adra are a further example of the shift that has taken place within the Syrian rebel forces which has lately been dominated by Islamist extremists, according to Michel Chossudovsky, director of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

The Syrian army on a mission to force rebels out of the town of Adra. Still from RT videoThe Syrian army on a mission to force rebels out of the town of Adra. Still from RT video

The so-called moderate opposition forces are virtually non-existent from the military standpoint,” Chossudovsky told RT. “The only force which has funding and weapons are the Islamists, particularly Al-Nusra. And their rebel brigades are the ones committing atrocities. The divisions are occurring precisely because segments of the opposition realize that these terrorist brigades do not belong to the so-called opposition movement.”

Both the Adra massacre and the latest Aleppo bombing have signaled the escalation of violence in the war-torn country ahead of the UN-mediated continuously postponed peace talks on Syria, now set to take place in Geneva on January 22.

On Monday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for a ceasefire ahead of the talks.

We must have a cessation of hostilities before we begin political dialogue on Syria in Geneva,” he said.

More than 100,000 people have died during the three-year-old civilian war in Syria, according to UN estimates.

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Al-Jaafari: Terrorists Supported by Saudi, Qatari Intelligence Committed Massacres in Adra


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A Victory for the Constitution


Judge Richard J. Leon, a Bush appointee to the federal district court of the District of Columbia, is an interesting figure in U.S. history to have changed the ongoing game of Obama v. Snowden.  His biography includes stints working for Congress on other historic game changing events: the flawed investigations into both of the (covertly) related “October Surprise” and “Iran-Contra” scandals.

Judge Leon has published a persuasive 68 page legal opinion averaging more than one explanatory fine-print footnote per page in Klayman v. Obama (12/16/2013) holding that the dragnet data sweep by Obama’s NSA “almost certainly does violate a reasonable expectation of privacy” by the American people.  This satisfies the definition for the kind of “search” that falls within the prohibition of the Fourth Amendment.  Judge Leon answers the second question determining whether such a search could be justified under the Fourth Amendment “reasonable” exception, by  finding the search “unreasonable” when compared to the embarrassing absence of evidence that these searches have played any significant role in serving its purported purpose of detecting terrorists.

Indeed, tacitly invoking the prevailing conservative “originalist” test of constitutional interpretation, Judge Leon cogently surmises that “the author of our Constitution, James Madison… would be aghast” at the scope of the constitutional violation by Obama.  Both these findings permanently legitimize Snowden’s similar responses on these questions of reasonableness, and Snowden’s willingness to risk his future life on his own reading of whether the data sweeps were Fourth Amendment “searches.”  No one can now argue that Snowden’s judgment on these questions was unreasonable as a matter of law.

Former VP Al Gore had earlier said that Snowden “revealed evidence of what appears to be crimes against the Constitution of the United States.”  Judge Leon has now put legal teeth and consequence behind that broadly held judgment.

Whatever an appellate court might eventually do with Judge Leon’s decision it will stand permanently through American history for the proposition that one conservative, undeniably reasonable person could conclude that as a matter of well-considered fact that the people of the United States would neither find dragnet searches of their “meta-data” to be consistent with their “reasonable expectations” nor to be a reasonable way to fight the risk of terrorism.

This decision changes the game because no matter what the ruling of any subsequent judge, Judge Leon’s decision should, depending on the public’s response, make it difficult to remove these two factual questions from a jury when the time comes to present either Snowden’s Fourth Amendment defense to prosecution before a jury in a criminal trial for “espionage” or placing the case against Obama and his snoops for damages to a jury in a civil trial.

The constitutional challenge now facing the country is to insist upon the public’s original constitutional right to have this question decided ultimately by juries and not by judges appointed by and generally loyal to the very same corrupted government that has so blatantly violated the Fourth Amendment.  The framers wrote the Fourth Amendment to assign to the people not the government the resolution of factual question as to what is expected and reasonable in connection with searches.   See ”Obama’s Constitution, Snowden’s Constitution and Criminal Law.”

The potential for such a struggle to defend original fundamental constitutional rights changes the game from solely the criminal prosecution against Snowden on “three felonies,” according to Obama, what could be labeled Obama v Snowden.  The new game is the civil case for damages that puts Obama’s own skin in the game.  It can be filed by virtually anyone and may generically be labeled Snowden v. Obama.   Although Larry Klayman, a conservative legal activist is the named plaintiff in the particular suit Judge Leon decided, the man who actually initiated the strategic political resistance which transcends any particular tactical legal action is the hero of the story, Edward Snowden.

Judge Leon’s decision now shifts Snowden and citizens who support him to the offense rather than strictly defense.  And the target is Obama, the lead defendant in the Klayman suit.  He is lead defendant not just because he sits at the institutional desk where the buck stops for excesses within his administration that went out of control due his incompetent management.  Well beyond just poor management, Obama has been an active participant as propagandist and liar in chief in his public defense of the Fourth Amendment violations.   See “Obama Vs. Snowden: Parsing the Presser.”

Snowden’s success in gaining worldwide popularity for his David and Goliath struggle on behalf of hisand apparently the ACLU’s, and now Judge Leon’s and many American’s version of the Constitution forced Obama, as front man for the national security state, to publicly enter the fray.  Obama understood the high-stakes in the popularity contest between himself and Snowden.  But by embracing the violations with a disingenuous propaganda offensive Obama now personally owns the outrageous Fourth Amendment violations that Judge Leon has described.

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The CIA and the Washington Post


News media should illuminate conflicts of interest, not embody them. But the owner of the Washington Post is now doing big business with the Central Intelligence Agency, while readers of the newspaper’s CIA coverage are left in the dark.

The Post’s new owner, Jeff Bezos, is the founder and CEO of Amazon — which recently landed a $600 million contract with the CIA. But the Post’s articles about the CIA are not disclosing that the newspaper’s sole owner is the main owner of CIA business partner Amazon.

Even for a multi-billionaire like Bezos, a $600 million contract is a big deal. That’s more than twice as much as Bezos paid to buy the Post four months ago.

And there’s likely to be plenty more where that CIA largesse came from. Amazon’s offer wasn’t the low bid, but it won the CIA contract anyway by offering advanced high-tech “cloud” infrastructure.

Bezos personally and publicly touts Amazon Web Services, and it’s evident that Amazon will be seeking more CIA contracts. Last month, Amazon issued a statement saying, “We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA.”

As Amazon’s majority owner and the Post’s only owner, Bezos stands to gain a lot more if his newspaper does less ruffling and more soothing of CIA feathers.

Amazon has a bad history of currying favor with the U.S. government’s “national security” establishment. The media watch group FAIR pointed out what happened after WikiLeaks published State Department cables: “WikiLeaks was booted from Amazon’s webhosting service AWS. So at the height of public interest in what WikiLeaks was publishing, readers were unable to access the WikiLeaks website.”

How’s that for a commitment to the public’s right to know?

Days ago, my colleagues at launched a petition that says: “The Washington Post’s coverage of the CIA should include full disclosure that the sole owner of the Post is also the main owner of Amazon — and Amazon is now gaining huge profits directly from the CIA.” More than 15,000 people have signed the petition so far this week, with many posting comments that underscore widespread belief in journalistic principles.

While the Post functions as a powerhouse media outlet in the Nation’s Capital, it’s also a national and global entity — read every day by millions of people who never hold its newsprint edition in their hands. Hundreds of daily papers reprint the Post’s news articles and opinion pieces, while online readership spans the world.

Propaganda largely depends on patterns of omission and repetition. If, in its coverage of the CIA, the Washington Post were willing to fully disclose the financial ties that bind its owner to the CIA, such candor would shed some light on how top-down power actually works in our society.

“The Post is unquestionably the political paper of record in the United States, and how it covers governance sets the agenda for the balance of the news media,” journalism scholar Robert W. McChesney points out. “Citizens need to know about this conflict of interest in the columns of the Post itself.”

In a statement just released by the Institute for Public Accuracy, McChesney added: “If some official enemy of the United States had a comparable situation — say the owner of the dominant newspaper in Caracas was getting $600 million in secretive contracts from the Maduro government — the Post itself would lead the howling chorus impaling that newspaper and that government for making a mockery of a free press. It is time for the Post to take a dose of its own medicine.”

From the Institute, we also contacted other media and intelligence analysts to ask for assessments; their comments are unlikely to ever appear in the Washington Post.

“What emerges now is what, in intelligence parlance, is called an ‘agent of influence’ owning the Post – with a huge financial interest in playing nice with the CIA,” said former CIA official Ray McGovern. “In other words, two main players nourishing the national security state in undisguised collaboration.”

A former reporter for the Washington Post and many other news organizations, John Hanrahan, said: “It’s all so basic. Readers of the Washington Post, which reports frequently on the CIA, are entitled to know — and to be reminded on a regular basis in stories and editorials in the newspaper and online — that the Post‘s new owner Jeff Bezos stands to benefit substantially from Amazon’s $600 million contract with the CIA. Even with such disclosure, the public should not feel assured they are getting tough-minded reporting on the CIA. One thing is certain: Post reporters and editors are aware that Bezos, as majority owner of Amazon, has a financial stake in maintaining good relations with the CIA — and this sends a clear message to even the hardest-nosed journalist that making the CIA look bad might not be a good career move.”

The rich and powerful blow hard against the flame of truly independent journalism. If we want the lantern carried high, we’re going to have to do it ourselves.

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Zio-Nazi army Chased Palestinian Fishermen and Confiscated their Fishing Equipment in the Gaza Waters


Israeli Naval Forces stationed off Beit Lahi shore in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats in 4 separate incidents while sailing between 600 meters and 3 nautical miles.  Israeli naval forces also confiscated 24 fishing nets.  The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) expresses concern over the continued targeting of fishermen and their livelihoods. Economic and social rights of fishermen have been violated by the illegal naval blockade imposed by Israeli authorities on the Gaza waters since June 2007.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, at approximately 10:40 on Wednesday, 18 December 2013, Israeli gunboats opened fire at a Palestinian fishing boat that was sailing about 600 meters off al-Wahah shore in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip. Two gunboats surrounded the fishing boat that was boarded by 3 fishermen: Mahmoud ‘Ali ‘Arouq (16); his brother Mohammed (22); and Jom’aah Amin ‘Arouq (24). Israeli naval forces ordered them to stop fishing and give themselves up, but they refused and fled away. The naval forces confiscated 14 fishing nets whose total lengths are 840 meters. Mahmoud ‘Ali ‘Arouq (28) said that they left the waters to the shore and watched the gunboats hoping that they would regain the fishing nets.  However, the gunboats confiscated the fishing nets and left the place.

In another incident, at approximately 12:30 yesterday, 18 December 2013, Israeli gunboats opened fire at a fishing boat belonging to Khalid ‘Awad al-Kafranah, from Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, while sailing at approximately 1.5 nautical miles off al-Wahah shore in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip.  Israeli naval forces then confiscated 10 fishing nets.

In a third incident, at approximately 06:00 on Tuesday, 17 December 2013, Israeli gunboats stationed off al-Wahah shore in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire in the vicinity of Palestinian fishing boats that were sailing approximately 3 nautical miles offshore.  The shooting continued for about 10 minutes, so fishermen were forced to flee for fear of being attacked.

In a fourth incident, at approximately 14:10 on Monday, 16 December 2013, Israeli gunboats stationed off  al-Wahah shore in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire in the vicinity of the Palestinian fishing boats that were sailing at approximately 3 nautical miles offshore.  The shooting continued for about 15 minutes, so fishermen were forced to flee for fear of being attacked.

PCHR condemns the continued Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip, and:

1.       Calls for immediately stopping the policy of chasing and arresting Palestinian fishermen, and allowing them to sail and fish freely;

2.       Demands compensation for the fishermen for the physical and material damage caused to them and their property as a result of these violations;

3.       Calls upon the international community, including the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, to immediately intervene to stop the Israeli violations against the Palestinian fishermen and to allow them to sail and fish freely in the Gaza Sea.

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Zio-Nazi forces continue systematic attacks against Palestinian civilians and property in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)

  • Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 6 others in Jenin refugee camp in the north of the West Bank.
  • A Palestinian civilian died of previous wounds in Bethlehem.
  • Israeli forces have continued to open fire at the border areas in the Gaza Strip.

–       3 Palestinian civilians, including a child, were wounded in the northern and southern Gaza Strip.

  • Israeli forces have continued to use excessive force against peaceful protesters in the West Bank.

–       Many civilians suffered tear gas inhalation.

  • Israeli forces conducted 21 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.

–       At least 12 Palestinians were arrested.

  • Israel has continued to impose a total closure on the oPt and has isolated the Gaza Strip from the outside world.

–       Israeli forces established dozens of checkpoints in the West Bank.

–       At least 3 Palestinian civilians were arrested at checkpoints in the West Bank.

  • Israeli navy forces have continued targeting Palestinian fishermen in the sea.

–       Israeli naval forces opened fire twice at Palestinian fishing boats, but no casualties were reported.

  • Israeli forces have continued to support settlement activities in the West Bank and Israeli settlers have continued to attack Palestinian civilians and property.

–       Israeli forces confiscated 10 dunums[1] of land in Qasra village near Nablus and denied farmers access to other 500-dunum lands.


Israeli violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the oPt continued during the reporting period (12 – 18 December 2013).


During the reporting period, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 6 others in Jenin refugee camp, west of Jenin in the northern West Bank. Moreover, medical sources pronounced a Palestinian civilian from al-Dheisha refugee camp, southwest of Bethlehem, dead due to wounds he had sustained during the al-Aqsa Intifada. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces wounded 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child, while Israeli naval forces continued opening fire at the Palestinian fishing boats.

In the West Bank, on Wednesday evening, 18 December 2013, in an excessive use of lethal force, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 6 others in Jenin refugee camp in Jenin.

In the same context, Medical sources at al-Maqased Charitable Hospital in East Jerusalem pronounced Mo’een Mohammed al-Atrash (28), from al-Dheisha refugee camp southwest of Bethlehem, dead of wounds he had sustained in 2004.

Moreover, Israeli forces continued the systematic use of excessive force against peaceful protests organised by Palestinian, Israeli and international activists against the construction of the annexation wall and settlement activities in the West. As a result, many protestors suffered tear gas inhalation and others sustained bruises as they were beaten up by Israeli soldiers.

In the Gaza Strip, 3 Palestinian civilians, including a child and 2 farmers, were wounded. On 14 December 2013, a Palestinian civilian was wounded when Israeli forces stationed along the border fence opened fire at him while he was about 200 meters to the east of al-Najjar neighbourhood in Khuza’a village, east of Khan Yunis.

On the same day, Israeli forces stationed on the northern borders between the Gaza Strip and Israel fired a number of artillery shells at open area, north of Um al-Nasser Bedouin village, and northwest of al-Nada housing project, but no casualties were reported.

On 15 December 2013, a farmer from Ezbet Beit Hanoun was wounded when Israeli forces stationed along the border fence, northeast of Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at a group of framers who were 500 meters away from the said fence.

On 16 December 2013, another farmer, from Jabalia, was wounded when Israeli forces stationed along the border fence, east of Jabalia, in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at a group of farmers who were about 600 meters away from the said fence.

On 17 and 18 December 2013, Israeli forces stationed in watchtowers, east of Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, opened fire at a number of farmers, shepherds and bird hunters in the east of Beit Hanoun. As a result, they all fled away fearing of being wounded.

In the context of targeting fishermen in the sea, on 16 and 17 December 2013, Israeli forces stationed off al-Waha resort, northwest of Beit Lahia, opened sporadic fire at Palestinian fishing boats that were sailing about 3 nautical miles off the shore. However, neither casualties nor material damage were reported.


The full report is available online at:



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