Syriza jails Syrian swimmer Sara Mardini for helping refugees in Greece – By Kumaran Ira – WSWS

Greece Bailout
Supporters of the communist-affiliated union PAME hold a placard depicting Labour Minister George Katrougalos as the movie character Edward Scissorhands during a protest outside Zappeion Hall in Athens, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. The placard reads in Greek”Katrougalos Scissorhands”. The protest was against the new austerity measures that government plans as part of negotiations with their EU creditors.(AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
By Kumaran Ira
10 September 2018

Greece’s Syriza-led government has jailed 23-year-old Syrian competitive swimmer Sara Mardini and three other members of the ERCI (Emergency Response Centre International) association on blatantly trumped-up charges. They are accused of people smuggling, espionage and membership in a criminal organisation. The purpose of this chilling arrest is to stop assistance to refugees fleeing the NATO war in Syria by criminalising humanitarian aid.

This latest attack exposes yet again the reactionary character of the petty-bourgeois populist Syriza (the “Coalition of the Radical Left”) party, which rules Greece in a coalition with the xenophobic Independent Greeks (Anel). While overseeing draconian EU-led austerity, they set up EU-backed concentration camps to house refugees fleeing NATO wars in the Middle East and Africa in horrific conditions.

In August 2015, Sara and her Olympian younger sister Yusra became internationally famous when they risked their lives to save 18 fellow refugees as they crossed the Aegean from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos. When the boat’s engine failed, leaving the craft drifting and taking on water, Sara and Yusra swam the boat to safety. After a 25-day march to Germany on foot and by train and bus, Sara and Yusra were granted asylum there.E VE

A year later, Mardini agreed to join ERCI as a volunteer to help refugees and returned to Lesbos last December. Last month, while waiting at Mytilini airport to return to Germany, she was arrested. The Guardian reported that “soon after that, police also arrested ERCI’s field director, Nassos Karakitsos, a former Greek naval force officer, and Sean Binder, a German volunteer who lives in Ireland. All three have protested their innocence.”

Mardini is being held in Greece’s high-security Korydallos prison. Under Greek law, she can be held pending trial for 18 months. The four ERCI volunteers face charges of establishing and joining a criminal organisation, money laundering, espionage, violating state secrets, counterfeiting and offences against the immigration code and electronic communications legislation.

Police provided no evidence to back up such charges. Mardini’s lawyer, Harris Petsikos, told the WSWS she “has denied all the charges. … These very serious accusations are in no way substantiated by the evidence in the police file. The accused are totally innocent. Police cannot prove anything concrete, but it will take time for the courts to hear our arguments.”

He added, “My clients and the other defendants are accused of having committed crimes in Greece on specific dates when they were not even in Greece. We provided specific evidence from Germany and England, showing that on those dates, they were in Germany or England.”

Petsikos noted, “These accusations are almost incredible. … They had radios to speak to each other, and on this public radio frequency they could also hear what police were saying. Now they are accused of hearing police radio transmissions that are supposedly state secrets. But this is obviously not the case.”

Refuting accusations that assembling water and blankets for refugees in Lesbos is people smuggling, Petsikos added: “The police are going too far. They claim that practices common in all humanitarian aid groups, that are legal and normal, to help people who have already arrived in Lesbos, are crimes. The police combined facts in a very speculative manner. Then they assembled a file that they gave the courts to try to make it seem as if these were very serious crimes: espionage, participating in criminal organisations, illegal entry into Greece, etc.”

This is a blatant attempt by police, Syriza Interior Minister Alexis Haritsis, and the Syriza government to silence anyone offering humane assistance to refugees. Human rights lawyer Jonathan Cooper told the Guardian, “this is another example of civil society being closed down by the state. … What we are really seeing is Greek authorities using Sara to send a very worrying message that if you volunteer for refugee work, you do so at your peril.”

Syriza’s cruel and anti-working class character has been exposed since it was elected in 2015, after pledging to end austerity and overhaul right-wing, anti-refugee policies. It has since betrayed all its election promises and capitulated to the European Union (EU), slashing pensions, health care and other key social services, and trampling the overwhelming “no” vote in its own July 2015 referendum on EU austerity. It also reneged on its promises on refugees, accepting the 2016 EU-Turkey deal to keep refugees from reaching Europe.

That deal stipulates that all refugees reaching Greece from Turkey will be interned in Greece until their cases are processed and they are ultimately deported backed to Turkey. More than 60,000 refugees and migrants are reportedly stranded in Greece due to that deal and to border closures across the Balkans. So far, over 19,000 refugees arrived in Greece by sea this year, compared to around 14,000 in 2017. Over 100 people died during the journey in 2018.

Refugees on the Greek islands face horrific conditions, as thousands are packed into overcrowded, make-shift EU concentration camps. On Lesbos island, more than 8,000 people are crammed into the Moria camp, which was supposed to house 2,000. Some of its inmates have been stranded there for years.

BBC journalists who were given rare access to the camp reported that children are attempting suicide there amid appalling sanitary conditions, overcrowding, and deadly violence. “Some people live in mobile cabins, but rammed in-between them all are tents and tarpaulin sheets—homes for those who cannot obtain any official living space. The camp is also now sprawling into surrounding countryside. One tent houses 17 people—four families under one canvas.”

The camp smells of raw sewage. There are around 70 people per toilet, according to medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). “A mum describes faeces on the floor of the shelter that she lives in with her tiny 12-day-old baby,” the BBC noted.

Sara Khan, an Afghan refugee, said: “We are always ready to escape, 24 hours a day we have our children ready. The violence means our little ones don’t get to sleep.” She said her family spends all day queuing for food and all night ready to run, in fear of fights at the camp.

MSF members said, “The children they are treating have skin conditions caused by the poor hygiene inside, and respiratory diseases from tear gas fired into the camp by police to quell fights. Mental health problems are rife. … Despite the fact that we push to move these children to Athens, as soon as possible, it’s not happening. Those children are still here.”

Luca Fontana, who has worked in conflict zones, including during deadly Ebola outbreaks in Africa, told the BBC the EU’s Greek camps “the worst place” he had ever seen. “I’ve never seen the level of suffering we are witnessing here every day. … Even those affected by Ebola still have the hope to survive or they have the support of their family, their society, their village, their relatives. Here, hope is taken away by the system.”

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The Greek Disaster: State Inertia and the Market Economy – By Andreas ANDRIANOPOULOS (Strategic Culture Foundation)

The Greek Disaster: State Inertia and the Market Economy

The Greek Disaster: State Inertia and the Market Economy

What happened in Attica, close to Athens, is without precedent. An ordinary fire, like the ones that occur in this area almost every other summer, met up with a terrible, sudden wind that turned it into real galloping inferno. The tragic result was 87 dead Greek citizens and more than 20 still missing. Huge questions loom on the horizon and only very limited answers are forthcoming. Are some of the lessons from this tragedy related to the wider geopolitical and political-economic questions?

Public-sector clientelism is leading to disastrous inefficiency

Why do tragedies like these occur in social environments with firmly entrenched clientelist political systems and in political entities that operate on the periphery of major, bureaucratic, modern empires? Sweden saw huge uncontrolled fires this summer. However, there was no loss of life or major disasters that befell the urban centers. In Portugal last year — and very recently in Greece  —  scores of people died, mainly due to the inability of the state machinery to efficiently deal with the problem. The major difference between these examples is the quality of the civil service. In Greece and Portugal there is no real ethics in the public administration, which frequently fails to meet any vigorous efficiency test .

In public bureaucracies that sprout favoritism the way trees grow branches, it is very difficult to design long-term plans to handle critical and life-threatening situations. Likewise, the political system lacks the prerequisites to draw upon informed societies that are trained to be cooperative and disciplined when there is a need for coordination. When clientelism dictates and forms the essence of the political culture, this culminates in fractured societies that are infected with spreading islands of lawlessness and limited possibilities for administrative coherence.

In Greece in particular, the deep-rooted mentality of state favoritism produces whole sectors of uncoordinated urbanization, with no respect for the environment, chaotic borough formation, and a coastline that has been brutally violated by hasty real-estate developmental schemes,. In such a social context, thorough planning becomes almost impossible and the idea of applying administrative guidelines to deal with a crisis sounds like a joke. It is essentially the political system itself that invites disasters and not any sort of physical deluge that begets them.

The need for market solutions

Clientelism and heavy state intervention in the running of the economy and society are the basic causes of inefficiency and, henceforth, administrative chaos. It appears that the process of rational choice is the fatal enemy of the dominant mentality in such systems of government. This is represented by any model that relies on the market to deal with questions of economic policy and societal organization. A bloated public sector that is encouraged by the political authorities to constantly expand, irrespective of its ability to deliver on its promises, becomes the major problem. Instead of being the solution to emerging issues, the state actually becomes the cause of most troubles and difficulties.

Henceforth, without clear objectives or cost-benefit solutions, the state is unable to provide reliable outcomes or to cope with situations, especially emergencies. In the case of Greece in particular, the fire-fighting service had been financially starved, while its personnel had been recruiting new staff based on specific social criteria! In other words, firefighters entrusted with saving people from emergency situations were hired on the basis of their physical inability to deal with normal life situations, i.e., the physically handicapped, mentally unfit, generally unhealthy, or recruits who were simply from disadvantaged social backgrounds.

Relying on a market mentality means that choices are made based on measurable results, well structured plans to deal with crises, and thoroughly tested options. When none of these requirements are met, it is more than certain that achievements will be negligible and the consequences disastrous. Hence one must assume that societies that do not rely on rational-choice procedures and which pursue policies of heavy state intervention and patron-client favoritism are not likely to see successful results. This essentially means that societies built on capitalist principles pursue measurable results that further the welfare of their citizens.

Geopolitical repercussions

There is also a geopolitical angle to these observations. If a country cannot keep up with globally established administrative and financial trends, it will end up facing dead-end situations and find itself being marginalized. With the exception of its reliance on heavy state taxation, the EU always pursues policies of open social frontiers and market economics. Countries that deviate from this logic find themselves gradually lost in a political wilderness. They constantly creep along on the fringes of events and absent themselves from all contemporary processes. By acting as the exception instead of the rule, they will rapidly find themselves marginalized. They will become a stark anomaly and thus be excluded from every movement going forward. They will become the pariahs of the international system. Geopolitical events will pass them by, and they will be looked upon as the “black holes” of the international order.

Domestic events and major financial and/or economic choices cannot be limited any longer to national or regional occurrences. Notwithstanding the importance of events within a country, opting for heavy state intervention may lead a country into the international wilderness. What’s more, its international standing may also be impaired, contributing to the nation’s overall marginalization.

In Greece we witnessed this repulsive, internally-generated tragedy in all its horrifying glory. Unfortunately we may soon see more far-reaching consequences…

Extraordinarily misleading: How corporate media wove a false narrative of North Korean nuclear deception – By Gareth Porter 38 North (SOTT)

North Korea flag and nuclear flag

© Getty Images

Since the June 12 Singapore Summit between US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the US media has woven a misleading narrative that both past and post-summit North Korean actions indicate an intent to deceive the US about its willingness to denuclearize. The so-called intelligence that formed the basis of these stories was fed to reporters by individuals within the administration pushing their own agenda. TE

The Case of theSecret Uranium Enrichment Sites

In late June and early July, a series of press stories portrayed a North Korean policy of deceiving the United States by keeping what were said to be undeclared uranium enrichment sites secret from the United States. The stories were published just as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was preparing for the first meetings with North Korean officials to begin implementing the Singapore Summit Declaration.

The first such story appeared on NBC News on June 29, which reported:

U.S. intelligence agencies believe that North Korea has increased its production of fuel for nuclear weapons at multiple secret sites in recent months-and that Kim Jong Un may try to hide those facilities as he seeks more concessions in nuclear talks with the Trump administration.

NBC News reporters quoted one official as saying, “There is absolutely unequivocal evidence that they are trying to deceive the U.S.” They further reported that the intelligence assessment “concludes that there is more than one secret site” for enrichment.

The story was highly problematic because it reported the alleged conclusion of the intelligence report as a fact, even though it admitted that NBC reporters had not seen or been briefed in detail on any part of the intelligence assessment in question, but had relied entirely on general statements by unnamed officials. Furthermore, none of the officials on whom they relied were identified as members of the intelligence community.

Significantly, the story did not indicate whether the assessment was endorsed by the entire US intelligence community or-as turned out to be the case-only one element of it. Normal journalistic practice would have made clear that NBC was passing on an unconfirmed conclusion the accuracy of which they were unable to verify. Instead, the NBC reporters played up the alleged conclusion as unambiguous evidence that US intelligence believed the North Koreans intended to deceive the United States by maintaining secret enrichment facilities under a future agreement with the United States.

The Washington Post published a report by national security and intelligence reporters Ellen Nakashima and Joby Warrick the day after the NBC story that paralleled its main thrust and cited the same unnamed intelligence sources that were cited in the NBC story. But the Post also revealed that the intelligence assessment in question had come from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which is generally recognized as an outlier within the intelligence community on most assessments of adversary capabilities and intentions. A former senior intelligence official with extensive experience dealing with DIA assessments explained in an interview with this writer that the DIA “would tend to put a worse-case spin” on any analysis of North Korean intentions.

That makes it all the more important to know whether the rest of the intelligence community agrees with the reported assessment of North Korean intentions. Nakashima and Warrick seemed to suggest that there is no doubt in the intelligence community that the North Koreans “have operated a secret underground enrichment site known as Kangsong,” and they linked to an earlier Post report on that alleged secret enrichment site published May 25.

That earlier Post story quoted a former senior US official as saying that intelligence agencies had “long suspected the existence of such a facility” and believed there were “probably” others as well. But a PowerPoint on the Kangsong issue by David Albright, the founder and CEO of the Institute for Science and International Security, makes it clear that US intelligence lacks hard evidence to support such suspicions. Albright, a former UN weapons inspector, revealed that the original allegation of the secret enrichment plant had come from a North Korean defector who said he had “worked near the site,” clearly implying that he had inferred the purpose of the site without having been inside it.

More importantly, according to Albright, “we have not located this site,” meaning that the US intelligence community still did not have a specific location for the suspected plant eight years after the defector was obviously asked to provide it. Albright further disclosed that some US intelligence analysts and senior officials of at least one foreign government have challenged the belief that the building in question was an enrichment site, because, “some aspects of the building are not consistent with a centrifuge plant.” And he recalled that other alleged covert enrichment facilities had been suggested to his organization, but that he viewed them as “less credible than the information about Kangsong.”

The intelligence community appears to have even less basis for claiming a secret North Korean nuclear site-much less multiple secret sites-today than it did when the US government charged that North Korea had a secret nuclear facility in mid-1998. That was when the Clinton administration informed congressional leaders and the South Korean government privately that US intelligence analysts were convinced that a site with tunnels carved into a mountain at Kumchang-ri was intended to house a new reactor and plutonium reprocessing center, based on satellite photographs and other intelligence.

After months of negotiations, the North finally agreed to US on-site inspections in June 1999 and again in May 2000. The result of those two inspections was that the US government was compelled to acknowledge that the purpose of the tunnel complex at Kumchang-ri had been to vent fumes from an underground uranium milling plant.

At least the intelligence community had identified a specific site in 1998 that it regarded with suspicion, which is not the case today. Nevertheless, a group of officials is promoting the idea that North Korea is planning to keep such sites secret under a negotiated agreement. The timing of the leaked intelligence assessment that prompted these stories suggested that someone in the Trump administration was seeking to sway the White House to adopt the tougher US stance in Pompeo’s trip to Pyongyang in early July. Albright appeared to be referring to that effort when he told the Post that intelligence assessment came just when “there’s a worry that the Trump administration may go soft, and accept a deal that focuses on Yongbyon and forgets about these other sites.”

National security adviser John Bolton had been reported as pushing for a hard line in diplomatic talks with North Korea that would threaten their viability. These reports raise the obvious possibility that the officials who conveyed the alleged intelligence conclusion were part of a political effort coordinated with him.

Hyping Yongbyon Improvements to Discredit Diplomacy

During the same time period as the reporting on alleged secret sites, NBC News, CNN and the Wall Street Journal all reported on North Korea making rapid upgrades to its nuclear weapons complex at Yongbyon and expanding its missile production program-all at the very moment when Trump and Kim were agreeing on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula at their Singapore Summit.

In each case, the reports cited analyses of commercial satellite imagery from independent analysts, including contributors to 38 North. But they all employed a common device to create a false narrative about the negotiations with North Korea: by misrepresenting the diplomatic context in which the satellite images were collected, they drew political conclusions about North Korean strategy that were unwarranted.

The series of stories involved more than a mere misunderstanding of the raw information being reported. They all denigrated the idea of negotiating with North Korea on the grounds that it cannot be trusted. The NBC News and CNN stories on improvements at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center cited the analysis of satellite images published by 38 North on June 26. And they were all slanted to lead readers to conclude that the improvements in question signified a nefarious intention by North Korea to deceive the Trump administration.

The headline of the June 27 NBC News story asked, “If North Korea is denuclearizing, why is it expanding a nuclear research center?” And it warned that North Korea “continues to make improvements to a major nuclear facility, raising questions about President Donald Trump’s claim that Kim Jong Un has agreed to disarm, independent experts tell NBC News.”

CNN’s story about the same images declared that there were “troubling signs” that North Korea was making “improvements” or “upgrades” at a “rapid pace” to its nuclear facilities, some of which it said were carried out after the Trump-Kim summit. It cited one facility that had produced plutonium in the past that had been upgraded, despite Kim’s alleged promise to Trump to draw down his nuclear arsenal.

Both the NBC and CBS stories were misrepresenting the significance of the improvements described in the 38 North analysis. They either ignored or sought to discredit the carefully-worded caveat in that assessment, which cautioned that the continued work at the Yongbyon facility “should not be seen as having any relationship to North Korea’s pledge to denuclearize.”

The analysis was referring to the fact that the Singapore Summit’s joint statement did not commit North Korea to immediately halt its activities in their nuclear and missile programs and therefore the improvements at Yongbyon had no bearing on whether Pyongyang would agree to denuclearization. Indeed, during the negotiation of US-Soviet and US-Russian arms control agreements, both sides continued to build weapons until the agreement was completed. It should not have come as a surprise, therefore, that work at Yongbyon was continuing.

NBC News deliberately ignored these crucial contextual facts and instead selectively reported statements from other analysts dismissing the notion that North Korea would ever denuclearize and would continue to try to deceive the US about its true intentions.

On July 1, a few days after those stories appeared, the Wall Street Journal headlined, “New satellite imagery indicates Pyongyang is pushing ahead with weapons programs even as it pursues dialogue with Washington.” The lead paragraph called it a “major expansion of a key missile-manufacturing plant.”

The images of a North Korean solid-fuel missile manufacturing facility at Hamhung showed that new buildings had been added to the facility beginning in the early spring, after Kim Jong Un had called for more production of solid-fuel rocket engines and warhead tips last August. The exterior construction of some buildings was completed “around the time” of the Trump-Kim summit meeting, according to the analysts at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. The Center’s David Schmerler told the Journal, “The expansion of production infrastructure for North Korea’s solid missile infrastructure probably suggests that Kim Jong Un does not intend to abandon his nuclear and missile programs.”

The improvements in North Korea’s infrastructure for missile parts manufacturing documented by the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, which began well before the summit, are hardly evidence against North Korea’s willingness to negotiate a comprehensive agreement with the United States. Like any country dealing with a serious military threat from an adversary, North Korea is both hedging against the real possibility of talks failing and signaling that it is not unilaterally surrendering. The United States is doing the same thing, albeit in different ways.

Conclusion

Major media reporting on what is alleged to be intelligence and photographic evidence that North Korea intends to deceive the United States in negotiations on denuclearization has been extraordinarily misleading. It has blithely ignored serious issues surrounding the alleged intelligence conclusions and suggested that North Korea has demonstrated bad faith by failing to halt all nuclear and missile-related activities.

Recent stories do not reflect actual evidence of covert facilities, but rather deep suspicions of North Korean intentions within the intelligence community that have been fed to the media by individuals within the administration who are unhappy with the direction of the president’s North Korea policy following the Singapore Summit. And breathless reports on improvements in North Korean nuclear and missile facilities ignore the distinction between a summit statement and a final deal with North Korea. They have thus obscured the reality that the fate of the negotiations depends not only North Korean policy but on the willingness of the United States to make changes in its policy toward the DPRK and the Korean Peninsula that past administrations have all been reluctant to make.

These stories also underscore a broader problem with media coverage of the US-North Korean negotiations: a strong underlying bias toward the view that it is futile to negotiate with North Korea. The latest stories have constructed a dark narrative of North Korean deception that is not based on verified facts. If this narrative is not rebutted or corrected, it could shift public opinion-which has been overwhelmingly favorable to negotiations with North Korea-against such a policy.

Gareth Porter is an investigative reporter and regular contributor to TAC. He is also the author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. Follow him on Twitter @GarethPorter.

Comment: See also: Journalistic snake oil: Corporate media’s brazen dishonesty about North Korean nuclear violations

Arctic stronghold: Might of Russia’s Northern Fleet shown in anniversary video – By RT

 

Arctic stronghold: Might of Russia’s Northern Fleet shown in anniversary video
The Northern Fleet, which is arguably the most powerful Russian naval force, is celebrating 285 years of operations. Its anniversary video shows state-of-the-art vessels and unique installations in the Russian Arctic region.

Established back in 1733, the Northern Fleet comprises some of Russia’s most remarkable military hardware, with 41 submarines, 37 surface vessels and ground troops making it a “cross-branch strategic force”, as the Russian Defense Ministry puts it in a Twitter post. Its anniversary video shows various military exercises staged by the Northern Fleet forces, including submarines firing cruise and ballistic missiles, Tu-95 strategic bombers flying training sorties and military divers holding underwater firing drills.

The flagship of the fleet is a nuclear-powered battlecruiser the ‘Pyotr Velikiy,’ one of the biggest nuclear-propelled ships in the world. The ‘Admiral Kuznetsov,’ Russia’s only serving aircraft carrier, which took part in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists in Syria in 2016, is also part of the Northern Fleet.

The naval force also has some of Russia’s most advanced nuclear-powered multipurpose submarines equipped with cruise and ballistic missiles. Two state-of-the-art submarines – a Yasen-M class vessel the Severodvinsk, carrying as many as 32 Onyx and Kalibr supersonic cruise missiles, and a Borei-class submarine the Yury Dolgorukiy, equipped with 16 Bulava nuclear ballistic missiles – are already in service in the fleet, while another Yasen-M class submarine, the Kazan, is currently undergoing sea trials.

The strategic force, which is particularly tasked with “defending Russia’s national interests in the Arctic,” also controls some unique military bases within the Polar circle. Of particular interest is Russia’s northernmost military base, called Arctic Shamrock.

The unique base is the world’s only permanent infrastructure facility built in the area located 80 degrees of latitude north of the Equator. The autonomous complex, which occupies an area of 14,000 square meters, allows up to 150 people to live and work there for as long as 18 months without any external support.

The Russian infrastructure in the Polar region is “unmatched” by any other country, the country’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said, in December 2017.

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Pentagon Falsifies Paperwork To Keep Syrian Rebels Armed With Quasi-Covert Program – by Whitney Webb

 

On July 19, the Trump administration announced that it would end the CIA’s covert program aimed at arming and training terrorist-linked “moderate rebels” in Syria, sparking hope among some Trump supporters that he was finally enacting the anti-interventionist rhetoric of his campaign.

However, a recently released report shows that the Pentagon has picked up the slack left by the end of the CIA’s program — pumping billions of dollars worth of weapons into the hands of Syrian “rebels,” while attempting to mask the paper trail and their suppliers’ ties to organized crime.

The report, published Tuesday by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), provides conclusive evidence that the Pentagon plans to provide up to $2.2 billion in weapons to Syrian “rebel” groups, particularly Kurdish militant groups like the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). While the Pentagon has been arming “rebels” since 2015, the Department of Defense began requesting increased funding for the program once the CIA covert arms program was ostensibly slated to shut down

While the Pentagon has been arming “rebels” since 2015, the Department of Defense began requesting increased funding for the program once the CIA covert arms program was ostensibly slated to shut down.

The Pentagon has requested an additional $322.5 million for the financial year ending October 2017 and $261.9 million for the following 12 months. For fiscal years 2017 and 2018, the budget for the program has been set at $584 million while another $900 million has been earmarked to continue the program through 2022.

 

Working the Balkan arms pipeline

Weapons were shipped from Eastern-Europe via Silk Way airlines, who offered security-free diplomatic flights to clients ranging from Saudi Arabia, Israel to US Central Command.

The program utilizes the Pentagon’s so-called “Balkan arms pipeline,” a network first exposed by Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva. The arms-supply chain involves the U.S. purchasing vast amounts of Soviet-Era weaponry from Eastern Europe, from which it is then shipped to air bases in Turkey and Kuwait, via the Azerbaijan commercial airline Silk Way, and later sent into Syria. The BIRN/OCCRP report adds, notably, that several of the Pentagon’s weapons suppliers in these countries share links to organized crime organizations and other unsavory actors.

In addition, the report details how this Pentagon program to arm “rebels” has essentially sidestepped long-established checks on international weapons trafficking that are intended to curb illicit deals. Many of these safety checks are included in the UN’s Arms Trade Treaty, which the U.S. has yet to ratify but ostensibly supports.


Related | Journalist Interrogated For Linking CIA Weapons Shipments To Syrian Jihadists


Patrick Wilcken, an arms researcher at Amnesty International, told BIRN that the Pentagon’s actions are undermining the treaty in its entirety.

 

Masking the recipients

Syrian militants are seen with a Serbian made MO2 Coyote machine gun, a weapon which was shipped to Syria via Saudi Arabia and Turkey on diplomatic flights a few months earlier.

The specific “sidesteps” the Pentagon has been taking involve the alleged removal of documentation regarding who or what groups ultimately receive the purchased weapons. By removing this documentation, the Pentagon enables weapon transfers to any armed group within Syria it chooses – including Syrian rebels – without providing documentation as to who received what.

“The Pentagon is removing any evidence in their procurement records that weapons are actually going to the Syrian opposition,” Ivan Angelovski, who co-wrote the report, told Foreign Policy. Indeed, when the report authors contacted authorities in Romania, Bulgaria, and other nations involved in the program, several of the governments responded that they had granted export licenses for the weapons where the U.S., not Syria, was listed as the final destination. They claimed to have been unaware that the weapons were destined for Syria.

Thus, the Pentagon’s alteration of documentation is, in fact, illegal, given the U.S.’ membership in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which requires that end-user certificates include the final destination country.

 

Exhausting the Balkan weapons’ supplies

A visitor looks at assault rifles made by the Serbian company Zastava Arms, during a defense fair, in Belgrade, Serbia. (AP/Darko Vojinovic)

Furthermore, the report notes that the arms transfers are so massive that they are fundamentally altering the economies of the Eastern European nations that are supplying the weapons. The report notes that factories in Serbia and Bulgaria have been drastically increasing arms and ammunition production in order to keep up with demand. In order to meet the increasing demand to be generated by the program over the next several years, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic promised in July to turn “meadows and forests” into arms factories and almost double Serbia’s arms exports to $750 million by 2020.

Increased production alone has proven insufficient, however, with the Pentagon being forced to lower its standards for weapons and ammunitions to meet demand, while also forcing the U.S. to procure even more arms from “non-traditional” countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Vietnam.

While the U.S. has ostensibly accepted that Syria’s government will remain in power and even reclaim most, if not all, of its territory, it seems the Pentagon – along with its regional ally, Israel – are unwilling to let the billions already spent on arming the Syrian “rebels” go for naught, spending billions more in hopes that the situation will finally favor their long-standing goal of regime change.

Top photo | Free Syrian Army militants clean their weapons and check ammunition at their base on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria. (Khalil Hamra/AP)

Russia deploys MiG-29SMT fighters to Syria – Deterring Israel? – By Alexander Mercouris

MiG-29SMT

Russia air force deployment of advanced MiG fighter to Syria may precede its transfer to Syria’s air force

The Russian Ministry of Defence has unexpectedly confirmed the deployment of MiG-29SMT fighters to Russia’s Khmeimim air base in north east Syria.

The MiG-29SMT should not be confused with the new MiG-35, which has yet to enter service with the Russian Aerospace Forces, and which is an essentially new aircraft with new electronics and engines and a new airplane structure, though one which uses the old MiG-29’s planform. By contrast the MiG-29SMT is essentially a heavily modernised MiG-29, an aircraft that entered service with the Russian air force in the 1980s.

It is nonetheless a potent aircraft which however is designed for air to air combat against enemy fighters rather than for strike roles or ground attack. In this it differs from the SU-35 and SU-30 fighters also deployed by the Russian Aerospace Forces to Syria, which though exceptionally effective air combat fighters are nonetheless true multirole fighters, which are also very effective when used for ground strikes.

What explains the deployment of the MiG-29SMT to Syria?

Ever since the start of the Russian intervention in Syria in 2015 the Russians have openly and frankly spoken of Syria as a testing ground for their military systems. It would be in keeping with this approach to use Syria to test the combat performance of the MiG-29SMT, making it incidentally the first MiG fighter deployed by the Russians to Syria on a sustained basis, though four much more advanced naval MiG-29K fighters were also briefly deployed to Syria last autumn on board Russia’s carrier Admiral Kuznetsov.

However a more likely reason for the deployment to Syria of the MiG-29SMT is that the Russians are preparing a delivery of MiG-29SMT aircraft to Syria and the deployment of some examples of this aircraft to Khmeimim air base is intended to familiarise the Syrians with it.

In 2009 the Russians confirmed that a contract had been agreed between Russia and Syria for the supply of 24 MiG-29SMT fighters to Syria. The sale was however postponed in 2012 because of the Syrian war. However with most of western Syria now pacified and under the Syrian government’s control, and with ISIS just weeks away from final defeat in eastern Syria, it is now possible to speak of the Syrian war finally winding down, making it possible for the supply of the 24 MiG-29SMTs to proceed.

When the Syrian war is finally over the Syrian air force – which has experienced heavy equipment losses because of the war, and whose aircraft are anyway largely obsolete Soviet designs delivered to Syria by the USSR in the 1970s and 1980s – will need modern new aircraft to re-equip itself, especially in light of the increasing threats to Syria from Israel.

At that point the transfer of the 24 MiG-29SMT fighters to Syria may finally take place, with the deployment of some of these aircraft to Syria being intended to prepare the ground for this.

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The Limelight Defeat of America’s “Assad Must Go” Policy – by Salman Rafi Sheikh

 

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As the events of war in Syria have emphatically shown, the self-styled Islamic State and the US-supported “moderate” jihadi groups have been defeated, and with it has died down the cornerstone of America’s direct and indirect military intervention i.e., “Assad must go” in Syria. This is evident not only from the way the Syrian army, supported by its Iranian and Russian allies, has rolled back the destroyers of Syria, but also how Assad has started to re-assert his standing as a legitimate ruler of Syria, representing Syria’s interests in major international forums and setting rules of engagement with regard to discussing Syria’s future and the role other countries can play in it. This assertion came to full limelight in a recent speech that Assad made in the second half of the month of August and outlined his vision for Syria’s post-war reconstruction. Of particualr importance were his words with regard to the role some foreign powers have been playing in Syria since the beginning of the so-called “civil war” as he said that he expects those foreign powers, the US and its Arab allies, who have pushed a regime change agenda – an agenda that has caused a lot of destruction and yet failed spectacularly –to abandon their residual links with rebel groups. Until this is done, Assad said further, “there will be neither security cooperation, nor the opening of embassies.”

Clearly, Assad is setting his terms of engagement with the powers that have sought to oust him in the last five years or so. What is equally evident here is the way Assad himself has set his own position as the ruler at the helm of Syrian affairs, intending to extend his control on the whole of Syria and deciding both its domestic and foreign policies. As such, while Assad was explicit in chiding some foreign powers for their role in Syria, he was equally explicit in setting his country’s future foreign policy orientation towards “the East.” He said, the “strategic future of Syria must be towards the East.”

Assad’s speech coincided with the defeat of one of the most powerful “rebel groups” in Syria, Ahrar-al-Sham. Not only was this group one of the West’s “moderate elements” but also played an instrumental role in a number of “rebel” victories against government troops during the years 2013-2015. Many in the West pinned high hopes on it, seeing it as a potential player in the future of Syria, especially after its troops joined in the fight against the IS and also agreed to support a political endgame to the Syrian conflict. Its defeat has, as such, turned out to be the last nail in the coffin of America’s “Assad must go” policy. With Ahrar’s fighters now fleeing and joining other group and with Syrian and Russian elements controlling Syria’s geo-political terrain, the West is left with minimum options to enliven the war through some other groups. Therefore, it is not surprising to see some influential policy makers in the US coming to terms with a Syria under Assad’s control.

“Bashar Assad’s government has won the war militarily,” said Robert Ford, a former US ambassador to Damascus, who is said to have played an instrumental role in fomenting the crisis in Syria back in 2011-12, adding further that “I can’t see any prospect of the Syrian opposition being able to compel him to make dramatic concessions in a peace negotiation.”

And while raw material i.e., human element to sustain these groups exit, sources of support for them have dried. The Syrian “rebels” have been frustrated by the way Europe, for instance, has become more interested in stanching the flow of Syrian refugees and stabilizing the country enough to send many of those already in Europe back. Continuation of war, therefore, doesn’t suit Europe.

Persian Gulf is squabbling, and due to that internal rift, flow of support to previously supported groups has shrunk dramatically, adding to the opposition group’s sense of frustration. Therefore, the directions they’re now receiving are markedly different from that of past 2 years. “The nations who supported us the most … they’re all shifting their position,” told Osama Abu Zaid, an opposition spokesman, to an American newspaper. “We’re being pressured from all sides to draw up a more realistic vision, to accept Assad staying.”

While the US has established a number of military establishments in Kurdish dominated northern parts of Syria, indicating its intentions to prolong its stay in Syria, the speed of the Syrian forces’ recovery of the lost ground and the fact that regional powers, Turkey and Iran, have joined hands to prevent the establishment of Kurdistan show that the US plan is increasingly looking like a pipe dream. The US, realistically speaking, apparently has no source on the ground to sustain itself or influence the final outcome. With direct military intervention out of the question, it is much more than even an uphill task of cobbling together a fresh “rebel force” to be able to challenge the combined forces of Syria and Iran backed militias, including Hizbollah, in the southern and eastern regions of Syria.

What is adding more problems is the fact that the US-backed groups and the US-led coalition have miserably failed to give a positive message to the masses they are supposedly protecting against a “brutal” regime. The so-called “unfortunate” incidents of civilian deaths at the hands of these forces are furthering the distance between these groups and the people who might have supported them in the past. In a latest incident of this nature, the US led coalition fighting the IS militants said on last Friday that its strike had caused at least 61 civilian deaths. Much for the erosion of “popular support” these forces and powers claimed to have in the country!

All in all, it is clear that the ground has been cleared of any possibility of Assad’s exit from Syria. The only hope left for the US to realize its erstwhile agenda is through massive mobilization of Kurdish forces. However, were this to happen, the US would end up unwittingly cementing the Turkish-Iranian and Syrian alliance further and increase the likelihood that the Iranian militias and Assad’s forces, duly supported by Turkey, would start an offensive against the Kurds. In such a scenario, the Americans won’t use troops to defend the Syrian Kurds. There is no appetite for this among the American public, and the Syrian Kurds would be making a terrible mistake thinking the US will come and save them.

Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
https://journal-neo.org/2017/09/07/the-limelight-defeat-of-america-s-assad-must-go-policy/

 

Syria’s victory at Deir ez-Zor turns the tide on US regime-change plans – By Finian Cunningham (RT )

© Ammar Safarjalani / Global Look Press

The breaking of the siege of Deir ez-Zor by the Syrian army and its Russian ally marks the defeat of not just foreign-backed anti-government militants. It signals victory over the regime-change plot orchestrated by the US and its partners.

For three years, the eastern Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor had been besieged by militants affiliated with the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terror network. This week the Syrian army broke the stranglehold and liberated the city with crucial help from Russian air power.

Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly sent a letter of congratulations to Syria’s Bashar Assad, a measure of the strategic significance of the event.

Deir ez-Zor on the Euphrates River had been the main terror hub in the country, serving as a supply corridor for IS between neighboring Iraq and Syria, according to Russia’s Colonel General Sergei Rudskoi. Now with the vanquishing of that hub, the terrorist remnants in Syria “face a crushing defeat.”

Last week, a headline in Britain’s Guardian newspaper put it succinctly, if not mendaciously. “Victory for Assad looks increasingly likely as world loses interest in Syria.”

The report went on to say: “States that were until recently committed to toppling the Syrian leader are now resigned to him staying.”

What the Guardian meant by its anodyne phrase “the world losing interest in Syria” is that the US and its NATO and regional allies have given up the ghost of overthrowing the Syrian government.

For more than six years since conflict broke out in March 2011, Syria has been the victim of an international criminal conspiracy led by the United States to topple President Assad and the Syrian state. The regime-change operation has been instrumented by the US and its allies sponsoring terrorist mercenary armies, while the Western mainstream news media served to distort the criminal enterprise by depicting it as a civil war.

It was Russia’s military intervention at the end of 2015 in support of the Syrian state that turned the tide. Military support from Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah also played a crucial role in turning the war in favor of the Syrian Arab Army.

The liberation of the northern city of Aleppo at the end of 2016 by Syrian and Russian forces was the beginning of the end for the US-backed covert war. Now the liberation of Deir ez-Zor spells the definitive defeat.

What The Guardian coyly calls “world losing interest in Syria” is attested to by several recent developments.

The general dropping by Western corporate news media of coverage on the war in Syria is a telltale signal that the geopolitical agenda of Western governments had shifted. Before the liberation of Aleppo in December, there were shrill, hysterical Western media reports of Syrian-Russian war crimes. The hysteria proved to be a complete fabrication as the liberated citizens of Aleppo and returning refugees began to rebuild their lives.

Over the past nine months, Western media coverage on Syria has steadily declined. To the point where this week’s momentous military victory by Syrian and Russian forces in Deir ez-Zor was bizarrely under-reported. Tellingly, instead of reporting on the liberation of the former ISIS stronghold, Western media tried to focus on a dubious report from the UN claiming that Assad’s forces had used sarin chemical weapons in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in April. Those hackneyed claims have been largely debunked by Russia and other independent sources, which said the CW attack was most likely a propaganda stunt by the Al Nusra terror group occupying the town, along with their White Helmets confederates.

Increasingly, the Western narrative on Syria has been shown to be a fraud. The reality of the US and its British and French allies, as well as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel attempting to topple a sovereign state, has become too transparent to continue concealing. Same too for the reality of Syria, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah liberating a country from Western-backed terrorist mercenaries. Therefore, Western media have, by necessity, had to drop their mendacious coverage.

The decision two months ago by US President Donald Trump to end CIA militant training programs in Syria was a de facto acknowledgment by Washington that the game was up. That has been followed by British Special Forces withdrawing from training camps for militants in Syria, as well as reports that the Saudi regime has terminated its bankrolling of the terror proxies.

The Kremlin’s confirmation this week that Saudi King Salman is to visit Moscow at the end of October is another indicator that the Saudis are trying to stem their losses in Syria.

Trump has backed off earlier US demands President Assad had to step down. French President Emmanuel Macron and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have also reportedly resigned to accepting that the Syrian government is secure from being forcibly removed.

Reports of Jordan and Turkey lately trying to reestablish bilateral relations with Syria are further admissions that the regime-change plot against Assad has failed. Those two neighboring countries were vital conduits for US and NATO training camps, and Saudi-financed arms supplies to the militant proxies in Syria.

When Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu made his surprise trip to Moscow at the end of last month, his reported appeal to President Putin over Iran’s forces in Syria was another data point for the strategic sea-change.

It’s not totally clear-cut, however. The US-backed Kurdish forces assailing the other last remaining IS-held city of Raqqa in Syria’s northeast has seen relentless American air power deployed with horrendous civilian slaughter. US forces in Syria are of course illegal without any mandate from the Syrian government or the UN. While the US-led regime-change covert war in Syria appears to be all but lost, US military intervention still poses a threat to Syrian territorial integrity.

Nevertheless, Syria and its Russian, Iranian and Lebanese allies are emerging as the victors. The historical significance cannot be overstated. For the past two decades, the US and its allies have been on a roll of criminal regime-change wars across the Middle East – with impunity.

That roll has now hit a strategic dead-end in Syria, largely because of Russia’s principled military intervention under President Putin.

Syria has been saved from a fate of failed state unlike so many other victims of America’s Orwellian “nation-building.” Or, to put it more accurately, Russia has saved Syria from US state-sponsored terrorism.

It is a seminal historical victory. But American imperialism will not give up there. We should expect the global battlefield to shift. The West’s contempt for Russia and Putin will doubtless intensify because of the strategic setback in Syria.

It is perhaps no surprise, then, that Washington has turned to stoking war with North Korea as a way to create problems for Russia. The Pentagon’s proposed stepping up of lethal weapons to the anti-Russian Kiev regime in Ukraine, as well as provocations from the seizure of Russian diplomatic properties in the US, are also acts of revenge for Putin’s successes in Syria.

Comment: Over three years under siege, Deir-ez-Zor joins Aleppo and Homs as some of the longest besieged cities in all history.

And now it’s (almost) liberated, thanks to Russian and Syrian allied forces. With it, the last remaining substantial pocket of ISIS forces is removed from Syria.

Hurrah!

Agents of Terror on Government Payroll – Part II: Ali Mohamed – By Sibel Edmonds (Newsbud)

Editor’s note: Read this article and extrapolate to many other alleged ‘Muslim terror masterminds’. Most likely, all of them were, in one way or another, assets of US intelligence agencies, tasked with creating the ‘reality’ of a terror threat to the USA in order that the US government could respond by invading and occupying nations around the world as part of the long war against Russia and China and securing the Middle East in particular for the ‘new American century’.

A Notorious Terrorist, a Major in Egypt’s Army Intelligence, a CIA Operative, a Member of the Elite Green Berets & an FBI Informant

Let’s say a script writer approaches a Hollywood production company with a proposal for a realisticspy-action thriller that features a dark action hero who is a Major in the Egyptian Army’s Military Intelligence Unit, who is selected by an Elite Special Forces Unit in the United States Army, simultaneously gets recruited by the CIA as an operative, teaches courses at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, and is on the FBI Payroll. Then he triple crosses the Elite U.S. military Forces, the CIA and the FBI, uses his U.S. military information to train al-Qaeda and other radical Muslim militants, becomes Bin Laden’s bodyguard (all this while he is still on the payroll of the U.S. military, the CIA and the FBI), blows up U.S. embassies around the world (while still on the triple payroll) – is the most dangerous man in the world according to the U.S. Justice Department. Then he gets caught, is tried and indicted in a secret U.S. court behind closed doors, yet manages to evade sentencing, skips jail, and continues his terror operations around the globe.

What do you think the production company’s response would be? An unrealistic, far-fetched delirium, probably imagined and written while under some sort of psychedelic drug?

What if I were to tell you that everything in the script above, and some more, is a well-documented, government-confirmed, real life case?

Meet Ali Abdul Saoud Mohamed. One of the highest-ranking Al Qaeda terrorists. A man known to and marketed by the U.S. government and Mainstream media as a notorious Triple Agent Terrorist. A man described by U.S. Justice Department Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, as the most dangerous man in the world I’ve ever met.

Are you dizzy yet? Let’s breakdown Ali Mohamed’s background in a more orderly fashion:

Mohamed was a Major in the Egyptian Army’s Military Intelligence Unit.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army and was selected by U.S. Army Special Forces, who sent him to Special Warfare School and encouraged him to pursue a doctorate in Islamic Studies and teach courses on the Middle East.

He was highly educated and spoke fluent English, French, and Hebrew in addition to his native Arabic.

In 1984 the CIA recruited him to be a junior intelligence officer.

The FBI publicly used him as an informant for years.

While in the United States, working for at least three government agencies, including the U.S. Army, he helped train a number of Jihadis, including El Sayyid Nosair and Mahmud Abouhalima, who assisted Ramzi Yousef in his 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.

During the 1980s, while in these three U.S. government entities, he was involved in the training of Anti-Soviet forces, which included members of the mujahideen, Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and terrorist members responsible for the bombings of two U.S. embassies.

In 1992 he made at least 58 trips to Afghanistan to participate in the training of terrorist cells, while under the surveillance of the CIA, and the FBI.

In 1998 he was charged with the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. In 2000, he pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy to kill nationals of the United States and to destroy U.S. property.

Although indicted, secretly, behind closed court doors, Ali Mohamed was never sentenced.

Just as in the case of Awlaki, all court sessions and documents, all reports and all investigations pertaining to Ali Mohamed are highly classified and not available to even those with TS clearance. Unlike Awlaki, who was fried and turned into ashes by a U.S. drone, Mohamed was allegedly jailed in a high-security prison, and has not been interviewed or seen by any outsiders. Because he is nowhere near any U.S. jail! He has been continuing his work and travel for CIA-NATO Operation Gladio B.

Okay, now let’s begin laying out the facts with links, documents and witnesses…

Early Years …

Ali Mohamed was born in Kafr El Sheikh, Lower Egypt, in 1952. His father was a career soldier in the Egyptian Army. Following in his father’s footsteps, Mohamed attended the Cairo Military Academy after his graduation from high school in 1970, and then went on to attend university near his hometown, obtaining two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Alexandria. In addition to his native Arabic, in the course of his post-secondary education he learned and became fluent in English, Hebrew and French. He joined the Egyptian Army around 1971, eventually rising to the rank of major:

He worked as an intelligence officer in the Egyptian Special Forces, with duties including the recruitment and training of intelligence assets. He was also frequently assigned to protect Egyptian diplomats abroad, and he volunteered for a number of clandestine special operations, including a raid on a Libyan prison. In 1981, while Islamist members of his Egyptian Army unit carried out the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in Cairo, Mohamed took part in a foreign officer training exercise at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; at the end of the four-month course he was given a diploma bearing a green beret.

Pretty speedy rise so far, but wait, it will get better.

The Egyptian Army deemed Mohamed too religious and potentially radical and eventually discharged him in March of 1984.For the next 18 months, on the orders of Zawahiri, Mohamed worked for the Egyptian national airline as a counterterrorism security advisor, a position that enabled him to acquire sensitive information about air piracy countermeasures.

Mohamed’s next assignment from Zawahiri was to infiltrate a security agency of the U.S. government. In early 1984, following the kidnapping of its Beirut station chief, the CIA began to significantly increase its efforts to recruit Middle Eastern

assets. Thus, when Mohamed – who had already been contacted by the CIA while at Fort Bragg in 1981 – approached the Cairo office of the CIA offering his services, the Cairo station chief sent out an Agency-wide cable to see if there were any operations into which Mohamed could be inserted. The Bonn station responded, and Mohamed was sent to Hamburg, Germany.

Mohamed was subsequently placed on a State Department watch list intended to bar him from entering the United States. When it learned that Mohamed was seeking a visa in 1985, the CIA says that it warned other federal agencies at that time as well not to allow him entry. Mohamed was allowed entry, however, and moved to the U.S. in September of 1985. According to a 1995 Boston Globe report, his entry into the country was made possible by “clandestine CIA sponsorship.”

That’s right. Despite being on the so-called Watch List, Mohamed sailed into, more like flew into, the United States, thanks to the cover and protection provided him by the United States Central Intelligence Agency-CIA.

Joining the Elite U.S. Army Forces and Beyond …

In 1995, after Mohamed’s name publicly surfaced at the trial of Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, the Boston Globe reported that:

Mohamed had been admitted to the U.S. under a special visa program controlled by the CIA’s clandestine service. This will contradict the CIA’s later claims of disassociating themselves from Mohamed and attempting to stop him from entering the U.S..”

As soon as he arrived he married an American Woman, became a U.S. Citizen, and lo and behold, in 1986, he joined the U.S. Army as an enlisted man:

He was posted to Fort Bragg, N.C., home of the elite Special Forces. There he worked as a supply sergeant for a Green Beret unit, then as an instructor on Middle Eastern affairs in the John F. Kennedy special warfare school.

Here is what Mohamed’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Anderson, had to say about his supposed infiltration of elite U.S. military forces:

I think you or I would have a better chance of winning Powerball, than an Egyptian major in the unit that assassinated Sadat would have getting a visa, getting to California … getting into the Army and getting assigned to a Special Forces unit …That just doesn’t happen!

Anderson repeatedly wrote detailed reports urging Army intelligence to investigate Mohamed — and have him court-martialed and deported — but the reports were ignored. Or were they, really?

It was equally unthinkable that an ordinary American GI would go unpunished after fighting in a foreign war!

Anderson astutely concluded that all this convinced him that Mohamed was “sponsored” by a U.S. intelligence service. “I assumed the CIA,” he said.

According to court records and Intelligence sources, for almost as long as Ali Mohamed was a notorious terrorist, he was also in contact with (and employed by) U.S. intelligence.

In 1990, FBI agents raided the home of El Sayyid Nosair, the Egyptian born Islamic militant, right after his arrest in the shooting of Rabbi Meir Kahane:

Among the many items found in Nosair’s possession were sensitive military documents from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The documents, some of which were classified Secret, contained the locations of U.S. military Special Operations Forces exercises and units in the Middle East, military training schedules, U.S. intelligence estimates of Soviet forces in Afghanistan, a topographical map of Fort Bragg, U.S. Central Command data and intelligence estimates of Soviet force projection in Afghanistan. Appended throughout the documents were Arabic markings and notations believed to be that of Ali Mohammed. Some documents were marked “Top Secret for Training otherwise unclassified”. Other documents were marked “sensitive.”

An FBI prepared inventory contains the entire listing of materials seized from Nosair’s residence. Beyond the U.S. military documents, the raid on Nosair’s residence produced a veritable treasure trove of terrorist documents, publications and materials. Included were actual plans for destroying skyscrapers in New York.

According to Steven Emerson, a terrorism expert and author who has written about the case, Mohamed by the early 1990s had also established himself as an FBI informant:

He agreed to serve (the FBI) and provide information, but in fact he was working for the bad guys and insulating himself from scrutiny from other law enforcement agencies.

Simultaneously A CIA-FBI-Pentagon-Al Qaeda Man …

In 1991, Mohammed was the person in charge of Osama Bin Laden’s move from Afghanistan to the Sudan:

From his base in Santa Clara, Mohammed soon emerged as a top aide to Osama Bin Laden. Federal officials say that Mohammed traveled regularly to and from Pakistan and Afghanistan, having helped oversee Bin Laden’s terrorist bases in Khost and other terrorist camps in Afghanistan.

Mohammed helped Bin Laden set up his new home and terrorist base in Khartoum, Sudan where 2000 “Arab Afghans” the name given to the Arab veterans of the Afghanistan jihad – were headquartered in Bin Laden terrorist camps. Mohammed continued to travel between the terrorist camps in Afghanistan, Bin Laden’s base in the Sudan and the United States.

Even the discredited 9/11 Commission’s final report concluded that the WTC bombing had been crafted in Afghanistan during the summer of 1992, when Ramzi Yousef and Ali Mohamed were both in the region:

Yousef’s support network when he arrived in the United States consisted almost entirely of figures with links to Ali Mohamed. But when the Brooklyn cell was finally indicted in 1993, Ali A. Mohamed was not one of the defendants. He wasn’t a witness. Through a tangle of intrigues, negotiations and apparent investigative oversights, Mohamed escaped prosecution until after the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa.

“Mohamed escaped prosecution until after the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa” — But Mohamed did escape sentencing. He’s never been sentenced, and he’s not in prison.

Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald knew Mohamed intimately. In 1994 he had named him as an unindicted co-conspirator in the New York landmark case, yet allowed him to remain free:

This was because, as Fitzgerald knew, Ali Mohamed was an FBI informant, from at least 1993 and maybe 1989.Thus, from 1994 “until his arrest in 1998 [by which time the 9/11 plot was well under way], Mohamed shuttled between California, Afghanistan, Kenya, Somalia and at least a dozen other countries.”

In 1993 Ali Mohamed had been detained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Canada, when he inquired at an airport after an incoming al Qaeda terrorist who turned out to be carrying two forged Saudi passports. Mohamed immediately told the RCMP to make a phone call to the United States, and the call secured his release. We’ve since been told that it was Mohamed’s West coast FBI handler, John Zent, “who vouched for Ali and got him released.” This release enabled Ali to go on to Kenya, take pictures of the U.S. Embassy, and deliver them to bin Laden for the Embassy bombing plot.

Fitzgerald and his FBI counterpart on the Bin Laden task force, John Cloonan, learned shortly after 9/11 that Mohamed “knew every twist and turn of” the 9/11 plot. Within days of 9/11 Cloonan rushed backed from Yemen and interviewed Ali, whom the Feds had allowed to slip into witness protection, and demanded to know the details of the plot. At that point Ali wrote it all out – including details of how he’d counseled would-be hijackers on how to smuggle box cutters on board aircraft and where to sit, to affect the airline seizures.

Interestingly this same Patrick Fitzgerald has described Ali Mohamed as “the most dangerous man I’ve ever met”!

Despite all this, for over four years Mohamed moved freely in and out of the United States as an unindicted conspirator. Further, he was allowed to plea-bargain, and was never sentenced for any of his well-established and documented criminal and terrorist activities:

Peter Lance has charged that Fitzgerald had evidence before 1998 to implicate Mohamed in the Kenya Embassy bombing, yet did nothing and let the bombing happen. In fact, the FBI was aware back in 1990 that Mohamed had engaged in terrorist training on Long Island; yet it acted to protect Mohamed from arrest, even after one of his trainees had moved beyond training to an actual assassination.

Since 2002 no one knows what happened to Mohamed and/or where he is, the general belief is that he is in the U.S and has not been sentenced in payment for providing information about Al-Qaeda and their senior hierarchy.

Mohamed’s relationship with the CIA and FBI is wrapped in secrecy. His plea agreement is sealed, as are many of the court documents and much of the testimony:

Mohamed was expected to testify — but did not — at the trial where the four others were convicted. Mohamed and his lawyer have declined all interview requests.”

Since his arrest in 1998, Mohamed has been hidden away in a federal “witness protection” program, with most of his court records sealed. As Benjamin Weiser of the New York Times put it:

Ali Mohamed has been buried “under a cloak of secrecy rarely seen in the public courts.”

In an interview with the National Geographic Channel, Ali Mohamed’s defense attorney makes a very chilling prophecy. “I think the most likely thing that will happen,” says attorney David Ruhnke, “is he’ll be released and he’ll be given a new name, a new identity, and he’ll pick up a life some place.”

“Mohamed has made some kind of deal with the government, that will surely have him out of prison on some date certain that he knows about,” says attorney David Ruhnke.

To recap, the terms of Mohamed’s deal with the government, including not being sentenced, have never been made public. All classified. All secret.

For almost two decades Ali Abdelsaoud Mohamed served Osama bin Laden and his number one lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahiri as their highest al-Qaeda operative in the United States. During this period Mohamed traveled to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, and many other ‘hot-spot’ countries and provided al-Qaeda with top-level intelligence, planned terrorist events, assisted in fundraising, and trained al-Qaeda terrorists – including bin Laden himself.

The most amazing thing about Ali Mohamed is not his linguistic, educational or IQ pedigree, but his story, and his high-level backers within the FBI, CIA and the U.S. Military. He carried out his deadly role as globe-trotting spy master and terrorist while working with, and inside, the very U.S. government organizations that are supposedly at war with terrorists like him: the CIA, the U.S. Army Special Forces, and the FBI. And the fact that he was able, and allowed to, carry out all his terror operations for nearly two decades, in spite of numerous. tip-offs from foreign governments and warnings from personnel within these agencies. The most troubling and important question being:

How is it that this notorious terror operative and facilitator happened to be on the payroll of three U.S. government agencies before, during and after the September 11 attacks? Whether with the Pentagon’s Special Forces, the CIA, or the FBI, wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, he be considered The U.S. Government’s Man? And if that’s the case, whose attack did we suffer on September 11, 2001?

Comment: Previously: Agents of Terror on Government Payroll – Part I: Anwar Al-Awlaki

Syrian army, allies break 3-year ISIS siege in Deir ez-Zor city, Russia fires more Kalibr cruise missiles, soldiers celebrate – By RT

© Mikhail Voskresenskiy / Sputnik

The Islamic State blockade of Deir er-Zor has been breached by Syrian government forces, Syrian state television and activist groups reported on Tuesday. The jihadist group has blockaded the provincial capital for almost 3 years.

The government troops defending the city and those advancing from the west have met, Syrian media reported.

The garrison of Deir ez-Zor has been holding out against Islamic State forces in rural parts of the governorate, sustained by airdrops of crucial supplies.

An estimated 93,000 civilians remain under the protection of Damascus’ forces within the city limits.

In the past few days, the advancing government forces have repeatedly moved swiftly to break through jihadist lines.

Russian frigate fires Kalibr cruise missiles at ISIS targets in Deir ez-Zor – Defense Ministry

A Russian warship in the Mediterranean Sea has fired a salvo of Kalibr cruise missiles at a group of jihadists stationed near the city of Deir ez-Zor in western Syria, the Russian military reported. The targeted militants were mainly from Russia and countries of the CIS.

The frigate Admiral Essen of the Russian Black Sea fleet fired the missiles on Tuesday morning, a statement by the Russian Defense Ministry said. The barrage destroyed a communications center, weapons depots and a repair workshop used by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants, it said.

“The missile strikes supported the advance of Syrian government forces, and have foiled the plans of the ISIL militants to regroup and strengthen terrorist positions near the city of Deir ez-Zor,” the ministry said.

Damascus forces supported by Russian warplanes are currently trying to lift a years-long blockade of the provincial capital Deir ez-Zor. Moscow says that the success of the operation would amount to a strategic defeat of the terrorist group in Syria.

Earlier on Tuesday the importance of the campaign in Deir ez-Zor governorate was stressed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is currently in China at the BRICS summit.

“The situation [in Syria] is changing dramatically, and that is an obvious fact. I hope that our partners will follow through with their effort in Raqqa. And Deir ez-Zor is a strategic military stronghold for the entire radical opposition – radical in the worst sense of the word, the ISIS-affiliated opposition.”

“As soon as the operation in Deir ez-Zor is finished, the terrorists will suffer a very serious defeat and the government forces will get an obvious advantage. Then the next step would be to foster the ceasefire and the de-escalation zones and to fully establish the political process,” he added.

The Admiral Essen is one of Russia’s most modern warships, the second of the Admiral Grigorovich class to set sail. It carries 8 vertically-launched Kalibr cruise missiles and previously fired them at IS forces in May and June.

The Deir ez-Zor governorate is located in the western part of Syria on the border with Iraq and is one of the few remaining pockets of territory remaining under the control of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). Moscow, which supports Damascus’ offensive against the jihadist groups, believes the full lifting of the siege of the provincial capital will amount to the strategic defeat of IS in Syria.

Comment: Update: Syrian soldiers embrace after breaking 3-year ISIS siege of Deir ez-Zor

Syrian Arab Army soldiers joyously embraced their brothers in arms in the Deir ez-Zor area on Tuesday after the three-year Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) siege of the city was breached by government forces on the ground with Russia’s air support.

Exclusive footage obtained by Ruptly shows units of the Syrian Arab Army reunite with their comrades from Brigade 137, whose base in west Deir ez-Zor had been surrounded by IS since 2014.

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