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Archive for category “Jihadi” Outfits of Terrorism

Pakistan arrests suspected South Asian al Qaeda commander BY SYED RAZA HASSAN

Pakistan arrests suspected South Asian al Qaeda commander

BY

SYED RAZA HASSAN
ISLAMABAD

Fri Dec 12, 2014 6:14am EST

(Reuters) – Pakistani authorities have arrested a man they describe as an important commander in al Qaeda’s newly created South Asian wing, police told Reuters on Friday.

Police arrested Shahid Usman, in his mid-thirties, and four others in the southern city of Karachi late on Thursday. They also seized weapons and 10 kg (22 lb) of explosives.

Al Qaeda’s new South Asia wing, al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, tried to hijack a Pakistani navy ship in September this year, a few days after the group had announced its formation.

805826-targetkillerarrested-1418388396-940-640x480Police say Usman is the head of the al Qaeda wing in Karachi, a steamy port city of 18 million people, and was planning more attacks there.

“He is the Karachi chief of al Qaeda’s newly formed wing working under the set up of Asim Umar, the South Asia chief of al Qaeda,” a senior official at the police counter-terrorism unit said.

The official said Usman lived in Defense, a wealthy neighborhood, and owned a car-parts dealership in one of the city’s most expensive commercial areas.

“Unlike the usual militant profile, Usman comes from an affluent background,” the police officer said.

Officials said Usman was previously associated with the outlawed Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami militant group, whose operational commander, Ilyas Kashmiri, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011 near the Afghan border. Usman had received training in Afghanistan, the police officer said.

Al Qaeda announced the formation of its South Asian wing on Sept. 4 with al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri promising to spread a holy war across South Asia, home to more than 400 million Muslims.

Analysts say the move is part of al Qaeda’s plan to take advantage of the planned withdrawal of U.S.-led forces from Afghanistan and boost its influence in the region.

The new al Qaeda wing may also be an attempt to grab back the initiative from the Islamic State militant group that was expelled from al Qaeda for its brutal tactics and which now holds parts of Iraq and Syria.

Pakistani militants say envoys from the Islamic State are trying to make contacts in the region.

Usman’s arrest followed the reported killing of two senior al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan this month.

(Editing by Robert Birsel)

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The Destruction of Mecca by Ziauddin Sardar

 

 

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The Destruction of Mecca

 

is the editor of the quarterly Critical Muslim and the author
 of “Mecca: The Sacred City.”

 

 
 
WHEN Malcolm X visited Mecca in 1964, he was enchanted. He found the city “as ancient as time itself,” and wrote that the partly constructed extension to the Sacred Mosque “will surpass the architectural beauty of India’s Taj Mahal.”
Fifty years on, no one could possibly describe Mecca as ancient, or associate beauty with Islam’s holiest city. Pilgrims performing the hajj this week will search in vain for Mecca’s history.
The dominant architectural site in the city is not the Sacred Mosque, where the Kaaba, the symbolic focus of Muslims everywhere, is. It is the obnoxious Makkah Royal Clock Tower hotel, which, at 1,972 feet, is among the world’s tallest buildings. It is part of a mammoth development of skyscrapers that includes luxury shopping malls and hotels catering to the superrich. The skyline is no longer dominated by the rugged outline of encircling peaks. Ancient mountains have been flattened. The city is now surrounded by the brutalism of rectangular steel and concrete structures — an amalgam of Disneyland and Las Vegas.
The “guardians” of the Holy City, the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the clerics, have a deep hatred of history. They want everything to look brand-new. Meanwhile, the sites are expanding to accommodate the rising number of pilgrims, up to almost three million today from 200,000 in the 1960s.
The initial phase of Mecca’s destruction began in the mid-1970s, and I was there to witness it. Innumerable ancient buildings, including the Bilal mosque, dating from the time of the Prophet Muhammad, were bulldozed. The old Ottoman houses, with their elegant mashrabiyas — latticework windows — and elaborately carved doors, were replaced with hideous modern ones. Within a few years, Mecca was transformed into a “modern” city with large multilane roads, spaghetti junctions, gaudy hotels and shopping malls.
The few remaining buildings and sites of religious and cultural significance were erased more recently. The Makkah Royal Clock Tower, completed in 2012, was built on the graves of an estimated 400 sites of cultural and historical significance, including the city’s few remaining millennium-old buildings. Bulldozers arrived in the middle of the night, displacing families that had lived there for centuries. The complex stands on top of Ajyad Fortress, built around 1780, to protect Mecca from bandits and invaders. The house of Khadijah, the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad, has been turned into a block of toilets. The Makkah Hilton is built over the house of Abu Bakr, the closest companion of the prophet and the first caliph.
Apart from the Kaaba itself, only the inner core of the Sacred Mosque retains a fragment of history. It consists of intricately carved marble columns, adorned with calligraphy of the names of the prophet’s companions. Built by a succession of Ottoman sultans, the columns date from the early 16th century. And yet plans are afoot to demolish them, along with the whole of the interior of the Sacred Mosque, and to replace it with an ultramodern doughnut-shaped building.
The only other building of religious significance in the city is the house where the Prophet Muhammad lived. During most of the Saudi era it was used first as a cattle market, then turned into a library, which is not open to the people. But even this is too much for the radical Saudi clerics who have repeatedly called for its demolition. The clerics fear that, once inside, pilgrims would pray to the prophet, rather than to God — an unpardonable sin. It is only a matter of time before it is razed and turned, probably, into a parking lot.
The erasure of Meccan history has had a tremendous impact on the hajj itself. The word “hajj” means effort. It is through the effort of traveling to Mecca, walking from one ritual site to another, finding and engaging with people from different cultures and sects, and soaking in the history of Islam that the pilgrims acquired knowledge as well as spiritual fulfillment. Today, hajj is a packaged tour, where you move, tied to your group, from hotel to hotel, and seldom encounter people of different cultures and ethnicities. Drained of history and religious and cultural plurality, hajj is no longer a transforming, once-in-a-lifetime spiritual experience. It has been reduced to a mundane exercise in rituals and shopping.The cultural devastation of Mecca has radically transformed the city. Unlike Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, Mecca was never a great intellectual and cultural center of Islam. But it was always a pluralistic city where debate among different Muslim sects and schools of thought was not unusual. Now it has been reduced to a monolithic religious entity where only one, ahistoric, literal interpretation of Islam is permitted, and where all other sects, outside of the Salafist brand of Saudi Islam, are regarded as false. Indeed, zealots frequently threaten pilgrims of different sects. Last year, a group of Shiite pilgrims from Michigan were attacked with knives by extremists, and in August, a coalition of American Muslim groups wrote to the State Department asking for protection during this year’s hajj.
Mecca is a microcosm of the Muslim world. What happens to and in the city has a profound effect on Muslims everywhere. The spiritual heart of Islam is an ultramodern, monolithic enclave, where difference is not tolerated, history has no meaning, and consumerism is paramount. It is hardly surprising then that literalism, and the murderous interpretations of Islam associated with it, have become so dominant in Muslim lands.
 
Ziauddin Sardar is the editor of the quarterly Critical Muslim and the author
 of “Mecca: The Sacred City.”

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Wahhabi Salafism: Qatar and Saudi Arabia ‘have ignited time bomb by funding global spread of radical “Islam,”‘

Telegraph.co.uk

06 October 2014

 

‘Qatar and Saudi Arabia ‘have ignited time bomb by funding global spread of radical Islam’

 

General Jonathan Shaw, Britain’s former Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff, says Qatar and Saudi Arabia responsible for spread of radical Islam

 

 

 

 

 

Gen Jonathan Shaw is a former commander of British forces in Basra

General Shaw told The Telegraph that Qatar and Saudi Arabia were primarily responsible 
for the rise of Wahhabi Salafism, the extremist Islam that inspires Isil terrorists 
 
10:23PM BST 04 Oct 2014
Qatar and Saudi Arabia have ignited a “time bomb” by funding the global spread of radical Islam, according to a former commander of British forces in Iraq.
General Jonathan Shaw, who retired as Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff in 2012, told The Telegraph that Qatar and Saudi Arabia were primarily responsible for the rise of the extremist Islam that inspires Isil terrorists.
The two Gulf states have spent billions of dollars on promoting a militant and proselytising interpretation of their faith derived from Abdul Wahhab, an eighteenth century scholar, and based on the Salaf, or the original followers of the Prophet.
But the rulers of both countries are now more threatened by their creation than Britain or America, argued Gen Shaw. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) has vowed to topple the Qatari and Saudi regimes, viewing both as corrupt outposts of decadence and sin.
So Qatar and Saudi Arabia have every reason to lead an ideological struggle against Isil, said Gen Shaw. On its own, he added, the West’s military offensive against the terrorist movement was likely to prove “futile”.

“This is a time bomb that, under the guise of education, Wahhabi Salafism is igniting under the world really. And it is funded by Saudi and Qatari money and that must stop,” said Gen Shaw. “And the question then is ‘does bombing people over there really tackle that?’ I don’t think so. I’d far rather see a much stronger handle on the ideological battle rather than the physical battle.”
Gen Shaw, 57, retired from the Army after a 31-year career that saw him lead a platoon of paratroopers in the Battle of Mount Longdon, the bloodiest clash of the Falklands War, and oversee Britain’s withdrawal from Basra in southern Iraq. As Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff, he specialised in counter-terrorism and security policy.
All this has made him acutely aware of the limitations of what force can achieve. He believes that Isil can only be defeated by political and ideological means. Western air strikes in Iraq and Syria will, in his view, achieve nothing except temporary tactical success.
When it comes to waging that ideological struggle, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are pivotal. “The root problem is that those two countries are the only two countries in the world where Wahhabi Salafism is the state religion – and Isil is a violent expression of Wahabist Salafism,” said Gen Shaw.
“The primary threat of Isil is not to us in the West: it’s to Saudi Arabia and also to the other Gulf states.”
Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia are playing small parts in the air campaign against Isil, contributing two and four jet fighters respectively. But Gen Shaw said they “should be in the forefront” and, above all, leading an ideological counter-revolution against Isil.
The British and American air campaign would not “stop the support of people in Qatar and Saudi Arabia for this kind of activity,” added Gen Shaw. “It’s missing the point. It might, if it works, solve the immediate tactical problem. It’s not addressing the fundamental problem of Wahhabi Salafism as a culture and a creed, which has got out of control and is still the ideological basis of Isil – and which will continue to exist even if we stop their advance in Iraq.”
Gen Shaw said the Government’s approach towards Isil was fundamentally mistaken. “People are still treating this as a military problem, which is in my view to misconceive the problem,” he added. “My systemic worry is that we’re repeating the mistakes that we made in Afghanistan and Iraq: putting the military far too up front and centre in our response to the threat without addressing the fundamental political question and the causes. The danger is that yet again we’re taking a symptomatic treatment not a causal one.”
Gen Shaw said that Isil’s main focus was on toppling the established regimes of the Middle East, not striking Western targets. He questioned whether Isil’s murder of two British and two American hostages was sufficient justification for the campaign.
“Isil made their big incursion into Iraq in June. The West did nothing, despite thousands of people being killed,” said Gen Shaw. “What’s changed in the last month? Beheadings on TV of Westerners. And that has led us to suddenly change our policy and suddenly launch air attacks.”
He believes that Isil might have murdered the hostages in order to provoke a military response from America and Britain which could then be portrayed as a Christian assault on Islam. “What possible advantage is there to Isil of bringing us into this campaign?” asked Gen Shaw. “Answer: to unite the Muslim world against the Christian world. We played into their hands. We’ve done what they wanted us to do.”
However, Gen Shaw’s analysis is open to question. Even if they had the will, the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Qatar may be incapable of leading an ideological struggle against Isil. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is 91 and only sporadically active. His chosen successor, Crown Prince Salman, is 78 and already believed to be declining into senility. The kingdom’s ossified leadership is likely to be paralysed for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile in Qatar, the new Emir, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, is only 34 in a region that respects age. Whether this Harrow and Sandhurst-educated ruler has the personal authority to lead an ideological counter-revolution within Islam is doubtful.
Given that Saudi Arabia and Qatar almost certainly cannot do what Gen Shaw believes to be necessary, the West may have no option except to take military action against Isil with the aim of reducing, if not eliminating, the terrorist threat.
“I just have a horrible feeling that we’re making things worse. We’re entering into this in a way we just don’t understand,” said Gen Shaw. “I’m against the principle of us attacking without a clear political plan.”

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How the West Created the Islamic State by NAFEEZ AHMED & MIKE WHITNEY

Follow the Money; Follow the Oil

How the West Created the Islamic State

by NAFEEZ AHMED

 

 

Part 1 – OUR TERRORISTS

“This is an organisation that has an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision which will eventually have to be defeated,” Gen Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Pentagon press conference in August.

Military action is necessary to halt the spread of the ISIS “cancer,” said President Obama. Yesterday he called for expanded airstrikes across Iraq and Syria, and new measures to arm and train Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces.

“The only way to defeat [IS] is to stand firm and to send a very straightforward message,” declared Prime Minister Cameron. “A country like ours will not be cowed by these barbaric killers.”

Missing from the chorus of outrage, however, has been any acknowledgement of the integral role of covert US and British regional military intelligence strategy in empowering and even directly sponsoring the very same virulent Islamist militants in Iraq, Syria and beyond, that went on to break away from al-Qaeda and form ‘ISIS’, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or now simply, the Islamic State (IS).

Since 2003, Anglo-American power has secretly and openly coordinated direct and indirect support for Islamist terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa. This ill-conceived patchwork geostrategy is a legacy of the persistent influence of neoconservative ideology, motivated by longstanding but often contradictory ambitions to dominate regional oil resources, defend an expansionist Israel, and in pursuit of these, re-draw the map of the Middle East.

Now despite Pentagon denials that there will be boots on the ground – and Obama’s insistence that this would not be another “Iraq war” – local Kurdish military and intelligence sources confirm that US and German special operations forces are already “on the ground here. They are helping to support us in the attack.” US airstrikes on ISIS positions and arms supplies to the Kurds have also been accompanied by British RAF reconnaissance flights over the region and UK weapons shipments to Kurdish peshmerga forces.

Divide and Rule in Iraq

“It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs,” said one US government defense consultant in 2007. “It’s who they throw them at – Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”

Early during the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, the US covertly supplied arms to al-Qaeda affiliated insurgents even while ostensibly supporting an emerging Shi’a-dominated administration.

Pakistani defense sources interviewed by Asia Times in February 2005 confirmed that insurgents described as “former Ba’ath party” loyalists – who were being recruited and trained by “al-Qaeda in Iraq” under the leadership of the late Abu Musab Zarqawi – were being supplied Pakistan-manufactured weapons by the US. The arms shipments included rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, ammunition, rockets and other light weaponry. These arms “could not be destined for the Iraqi security forces because US arms would be given to them”, a source told Syed Saleem Shahzad – the Times’ Pakistan bureau chief who, “known for his exposes of the Pakistani military” according to the New Yorker, was murdered in 2011. Rather, the US is playing a double-game to “head off” the threat of a “Shi’ite clergy-driven religious movement,” said the Pakistani defense source.

This was not the only way US strategy aided the rise of Zarqawi, a bin Laden mentee and brainchild of the extremist ideology that would later spawn ‘ISIS.’

According to a little-known November report for the US Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) and Strategic Studies Department, Dividing Our Enemies, post-invasion Iraq was “an interesting case study of fanning discontent among enemies, leading to ‘red-against-red’ [enemy-against-enemy] firefights.”

While counterinsurgency on the one hand requires US forces to “ameliorate harsh or deprived living conditions of the indigenous populations” to publicly win local hearts and minds, “the reverse side of this coin is one less discussed. It involves no effort to win over those caught in the crossfire of insurgent and counterinsurgent warfare, whether by bullet or broadcast. On the contrary, this underside of the counterinsurgency coin is calculated to exploit or create divisions among adversaries for the purpose of fomenting enemy-on-enemy deadly encounters.”

In other words, US forces will pursue public legitimacy through conventional social welfare while simultaneously delegitimising local enemies by escalating intra-insurgent violence, knowing full-well that doing so will in turn escalate the number of innocent civilians “caught in the crossfire.” The idea is that violence covertly calibrated by US special operations will not only weaken enemies through in-fighting but turn the population against them.

In this case, the ‘enemy’ consisted of jihadists, Ba’athists, and peaceful Sufis, who were in a majority but, like the militants, also opposed the US military presence and therefore needed to be influenced. The JSOU report referred to events in late 2004 in Fallujah where “US psychological warfare (PSYOP) specialists” undertook to “set insurgents battling insurgents.” This involved actually promoting Zarqawi’s ideology, ironically, to defeat it: “The PSYOP warriors crafted programs to exploit Zarqawi’s murderous activities – and to disseminate them through meetings, radio and television broadcasts, handouts, newspaper stories, political cartoons, and posters – thereby diminishing his folk-hero image,” and encouraging the different factions to pick each other off. “By tapping into the Fallujans’ revulsion and antagonism to the Zarqawi jihadis the Joint PSYOP Task Force did its ‘best to foster a rift between Sunni groups.’”

Yet as noted by Dahr Jamail, one of the few unembedded investigative reporters in Iraq after the war, the proliferation of propaganda linking the acceleration of suicide bombings to the persona of Zarqawi was not matched by meaningful evidence. His own search to substantiate the myriad claims attributing the insurgency to Zarqawi beyond anonymous US intelligence sources encountered only an “eerie blankness”.

The US military operation in Fallujah, largely justified on the claim that Zarqawi’s militant forces had occupied the city, used white phosphorous, cluster bombs, and indiscriminate air strikes to pulverise 36,000 of Fallujah’s 50,000 homes, killing nearly a thousand civilians, terrorising 300,000 inhabitants to flee, and culminating in a disproportionate increase in birth defects, cancer and infant mortality due to the devastating environmental consequences of the war.

To this day, Fallujah has suffered from being largely cut-off from wider Iraq, its infrastructure largely unworkable with water and sewage systems still in disrepair, and its citizens subject to sectarian discrimination and persecution by Iraqi government backed Shi’a militia and police. “Thousands of bereaved and homeless Falluja families have a new reason to hate the US and its allies,” observed The Guardian in 2005. Thus, did the US occupation plant the seeds from which Zarqawi’s legacy would coalesce into the Frankenstein monster that calls itself “the Islamic State.”

Bankrolling al-Qaeda in Syria

According to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009: “I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business,” he told French television: “I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria.”

Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials, confirmed that as of 2011, US and UK special forces training of Syrian opposition forces was well underway. The goal was to elicit the “collapse” of Assad’s regime “from within.”

Since then, the role of the Gulf states – namely Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan (as well as NATO member Turkey) – in officially and unofficially financing and coordinating the most virulent elements amongst Syria’s rebels under the tutelage of US military intelligence is no secret. Yet the conventional wisdom is that the funneling of support to Islamist extremists in the rebel movement affiliated to al-Qaeda has been a colossal and regrettable error.

The reality is very different. The empowerment of the Islamist factions within the ‘Free Syrian Army’ (FSA) was a foregone conclusion of the strategy.

In its drive to depose Col. Qaddafi in Libya, NATO had previously allied itself with rebels affiliated to the al-Qaeda faction, the Islamic Fighting Group. The resulting Libyan regime backed by the US was in turn liaising with FSA leaders in Istanbul to provide money and heavy weapons for the anti-Assad insurgency. The State Department even hired an al-Qaeda affiliated Libyan militia group to provide security for the US embassy in Benghazi – although they had links with the very people that attacked the embassy.

Last year, CNN confirmed that CIA officials operating secretly out of the Benghazi embassy were being forced to take extra polygraph tests to keep under wraps what US Congressman suspect was a covert operation “to move surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels.”

With their command and control centre based in Istanbul, Turkey, military supplies from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular were transported by Turkish intelligence to the border for rebel acquisition. CIA operatives along with Israeli and Jordanian commandos were also training FSA rebels on the Jordanian-Syrian border with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. In addition, other reports show that British and French military were also involved in these secret training programmes. It appears that the same FSA rebels receiving this elite training went straight into ISIS – last month one ISIS commander, Abu Yusaf, said, “Many of the FSA people who the west has trained are actually joining us.”

The National thus confirmed the existence of another command and control centre in Amman, Jordan, “staffed by western and Arab military officials,” which “channels vehicles, sniper rifles, mortars, heavy machine guns, small arms and ammunition to Free Syrian Army units.” Rebel and opposition sources described the weapons bridge as “a well-run operation staffed by high-ranking military officials from 14 countries, including the US, European nations and Arabian Gulf states, the latter providing the bulk of materiel and financial support to rebel factions.”

The FSA sources interviewed by The National went to pains to deny that any al-Qaeda affiliated factions were involved in the control centre, or would receive any weapons support. But this is difficult to believe given that “Saudi and Qatari-supplied weapons” were being funneled through to the rebels via Amman, to their favoured factions.

Classified assessments of the military assistance supplied by US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar obtained by the New York Times showed that “most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups… are going to hardline Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster.”

Lest there be any doubt as to the extent to which all this covert military assistance coordinated by the US has gone to support al-Qaeda affiliated factions in the FSA, it is worth noting that earlier this year, the Israeli military intelligence website Debkafile – run by two veteran correspondents who covered the Middle East for 23 years for The Economist – reported that: “Turkey is giving Syrian rebel forces, including the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, passage through its territory to attack the northwestern Syrian coastal area around Latakia.”

In August, Debkafile reported that “The US, Jordan and Israel are quietly backing the mixed bag of some 30 Syrian rebel factions”, some of which had just “seized control of the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing, the only transit point between Israeli and Syrian Golan.” However, Debkafile noted, “al-Qaeda elements have permeated all those factions.” Israel has provided limited support to these rebels in the form of “medical care,” as well as “arms, intelligence and food…

“Israel acted as a member, along with the US and Jordan, of a support system for rebel groups fighting in southern Syria. Their efforts are coordinated through a war-room which the Pentagon established last year near Amman. The US, Jordanian and Israeli officers manning the facility determine in consultation which rebel factions are provided with reinforcements from the special training camps run for Syrian rebels in Jordan, and which will receive arms. All three governments understand perfectly that, notwithstanding all their precautions, some of their military assistance is bound to percolate to al-Qaeda’s Syrian arm, Jabhat Al-Nusra, which is fighting in rebel ranks. Neither Washington or Jerusalem or Amman would be comfortable in admitting they are arming al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front in southern Syria.”

This support also went to ISIS. Although the latter was originally founded in Iraq in October 2006, by 2013 the group had significantly expanded its operations in Syria working alongside al-Qaeda’s al-Nusra until February 2014, when ISIS was formally denounced by al-Qaeda. Even so, experts on the region’s Islamist groups point out that thealleged rift between al-Nusra and ISIS, while real, is not as fraught as one might hope, constituting a mere difference in tactics rather than fundamental ideology.

Officially, the US government’s financial support for the FSA goes through the Washington DC entity, the Syrian Support Group (SSG), Syrian Support Group (SSG) which was incorporated in April 2012. The SSG is licensed via the US Treasury Department to “export, re-export, sell, or supply to the Free Syrian Army (‘FSA’) financial, communications, logistical, and other services otherwise prohibited by Executive Order 13582 in order to support the FSA.”

In mid-2013, the Obama administration intensified its support to the rebels with a new classified executive order reversing its previous policy limiting US direct support to only nonlethal equipment. As before, the order would aim to supply weapons strictly to “moderate” forces in the FSA.

Except the government’s vetting procedures to block Islamist extremists from receiving US weapons have never worked.

A year later, Mother Jones found that the US government has “little oversight over whether US supplies are falling prey to corruption – or into the hands of extremists,” and relies “on too much good faith.” The US government keeps track of rebels receiving assistance purely through “handwritten receipts provided by rebel commanders in the field,” and the judgement of its allies. Countries supporting the rebels – the very same which have empowered al-Qaeda affiliated Islamists – “are doing audits of the delivery of lethal and nonlethal supplies.”

Thus, with the Gulf states still calling the shots on the ground, it is no surprise that by September last year, eleven prominent rebel groups distanced themselves from the ‘moderate’ opposition leadership and allied themselves with al-Qaeda.

By the SSG’s own conservative estimate, as much as 15% of rebel fighters are Islamists affiliated to al-Qaeda, either through the Jabhut al-Nusra faction, or its breakaway group ISIS. But privately, Pentagon officials estimate that “more than 50%” of the FSA is comprised of Islamist extremists, and according to rebel sources neither FSA chief Gen Salim Idris nor his senior aides engage in much vetting, decisions about which are made typically by local commanders.

 

Part 2 – THE LONG WAR

Follow the Money

Media reports following ISIS’ conquest of much of northern and central Iraq this summer have painted the group as the world’s most super-efficient, self-financed, terrorist organisation that has been able to consolidate itself exclusively through extensive looting of Iraq’s banks and funds from black market oil sales. Much of this narrative, however, has derived from dubious sources, and overlooked disturbing details.

One senior anonymous intelligence source told Guardian correspondent Martin Chulov, for instance, that over 160 computer flash sticks obtained from an ISIS hideout revealed information on ISIS’ finances that was completely new to the intelligence community.

“Before Mosul, their total cash and assets were $875m [£515m],” said the official on the funds obtained largely via “massive cashflows from the oilfields of eastern Syria, which it had commandeered in late 2012.” Afterwards, “with the money they robbed from banks and the value of the military supplies they looted, they could add another $1.5bn to that.” The thrust of the narrative coming from intelligence sources was simple: “They had done this all themselves. There was no state actor at all behind them, which we had long known. They don’t need one.”

“ISIS’ half-a-billion-dollar bank heist makes it world’s richest terror group,” claimed the Telegraph, adding that the figure did not include additional stolen gold bullion, and millions more grabbed from banks “across the region.”

This story of ISIS’ stupendous bank looting spree across Iraq made global headlines but turned out to be disinformation. Senior Iraqi officials and bankers confirmed that banks in Iraq, including Mosul where ISIS supposedly stole $430 million, had faced no assault, remain open, and are guarded by their own private security forces.

How did the story come about? One of its prime sources was Iraqi parliamentarian Ahmed Chalabi – the same man who under the wing of his ‘Iraqi National Congress’ peddled false intelligence about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaeda.

In June, Chalabi met with the US ambassador to Iraq, Robert Beecroft, and Brett McGurk, the State Department’s deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq and Iran. According to sources cited by Buzzfeed in June, Beecroft “has been meeting Chalabi for months and has dined at his mansion in Baghdad.”

Follow the Oil

But while ISIS has clearly obtained funding from donors in the Gulf states, many of its fighters having broken away from the more traditional al-Qaeda affiliated groups like Jabhut al-Nusra, it has also successfully leveraged its control over Syrian and Iraqi oil fields.

In January, the New York Times reported that “Islamist rebels and extremist groups have seized control of most of Syria’s oil and gas resources”, bolstering “the fortunes of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, and the Nusra Front, both of which are offshoots of al-Qaeda.” Al-Qaeda affiliated rebels had “seized control of the oil and gas fields scattered across the country’s north and east,” while more moderate “Western-backed rebel groups do not appear to be involved in the oil trade, in large part because they have not taken over any oil fields.”

Yet the west had directly aided these Islamist groups in their efforts to operationalise Syria’s oil fields. In April 2013, for instance, the Times noted that al-Qaeda rebels had taken over key regions of Syria: “Nusra’s hand is felt most strongly in Aleppo”, where the al-Qaeda affiliate had established in coordination with other rebel groups including ISIS  “a Shariah Commission” running “a police force and an Islamic court that hands down sentences that have included lashings.” Al-Qaeda fighters also “control the power plant and distribute flour to keep the city’s bakeries running.” Additionally, they “have seized government oil fields” in provinces of Deir al-Zour and Hasaka, and now make a “profit from the crude they produce.”

Lost in the fog of media hype was the disconcerting fact that these al-Qaeda rebel bread and oil operations in Aleppo, Deir al-Zour and Hasaka were directly and indirectly supported by the US and the European Union (EU). One account by the Washington Post for instance refers to a stealth mission in Aleppo “to deliver food and other aid to needy Syrians – all of it paid for by the US government,” including the supply of flour. “The bakery is fully supplied with flour paid for by the United States,” the Post continues, noting that local consumers, however, “credited Jabhat al-Nusra – a rebel group the United States has designated a terrorist organisation because of its ties to al-Qaeda – with providing flour to the region, though he admitted he wasn’t sure where it comes from.”

And in the same month that al-Qaeda’s control of Syria’s main oil regions in Deir al-Zour and Hasaka was confirmed, the EU voted to ease an oil embargo on Syria to allow oil to be sold on international markets from these very al-Qaeda controlled oil fields. European companies would be permitted to buy crude oil and petroleum products from these areas, although transactions would be approved by the Syrian National Coalition. Due to damaged infrastructure, oil would be trucked by road to Turkey where the nearest refineries are located.

“The logical conclusion from this craziness is that Europe will be funding al-Qaeda,” said Joshua Landis , a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma.

Just two months later, a former senior staffer at the Syria Support Group in DC, David Falt, leaked internal SSG emails confirming that the group was “obsessed” with brokering “jackpot” oil deals on behalf of the FSA for Syria’s rebel-run oil regions. “The idea they could raise hundreds of millions from the sale of the oil came to dominate the work of the SSG to the point no real attention was paid to the nature of the conflict,” said Falt, referring in particular to SSG’s director Brian Neill Sayers, who before his SSG role worked with NATO’s Operations Division. Their aim was to raise money for the rebels by selling the rights to Syrian oil.

Tacit Complicity in IS Oil Smuggling

Even as al-Qaeda fighters increasingly decide to join up with IS, the ad hoc black market oil production and export infrastructure established by the Islamist groups in Syria has continued to function with, it seems, the tacit support of regional and western powers.

According to Ali Ediboglu, a Turkish MP for the border province of Hatay, IS is selling the bulk of its oil from regions in Syria and Mosul in Iraq through Turkey, with the tacit consent of Turkish authorities: “They have laid pipes from villages near the Turkish border at Hatay. Similar pipes exist also at [the Turkish border regions of] Kilis, Urfa and Gaziantep. They transfer the oil to Turkey and parlay it into cash. They take the oil from the refineries at zero cost. Using primitive means, they refine the oil in areas close to the Turkish border and then sell it via Turkey. This is worth $800 million.” He also noted that the extent of this and related operations indicates official Turkish complicity. “Fighters from Europe, Russia, Asian countries and Chechnya are going in large numbers both to Syria and Iraq, crossing from Turkish territory. There is information that at least 1,000 Turkish nationals are helping those foreign fighters sneak into Syria and Iraq to join ISIS. The National Intelligence Organization (MIT) is allegedly involved. None of this can be happening without MIT’s knowledge.”

Similarly, there is evidence that authorities in the Kurdish region of Iraq are also turning a blind eye to IS oil smuggling. In July, Iraqi officials said that IS had begun selling oil extracted from in the northern province of Salahuddin. One official pointed out that “the Kurdish peshmerga forces stopped the sale of oil at first, but later allowed tankers to transfer and sell oil.”

State of Law coalition MP Alia Nasseef also accused the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of secretly trading oil with IS: “What is happening shows the extent of the massive conspiracy against Iraq by Kurdish politicians… The [illegal] sale of Iraqi oil to ISIS or anyone else is something that would not surprise us.” Although Kurdish officials have roundly rejected these accusations, informed sources told the Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat that Iraqi crude captured by ISIS was “being sold to Kurdish traders in the border regions straddling Iraq, Iran and Syria, and was being shipped to Pakistan where it was being sold ‘for less than half its original price.’”

An official statement in August from Iraq’s Oil Ministry warned that any oil not sanctioned by Baghdad could include crude smuggled illegally from IS: “International purchasers [of crude oil] and other market participants should be aware that any oil exports made without the authorisation of the Ministry of Oil may contain crude oil originating from fields under the control of [ISIS].”

“Countries like Turkey have turned a blind eye to the practice” of IS oil smuggling, said Luay al-Khateeb, a fellow at the Brookings Doha Center, “and international pressure should be mounted to close down black markets in its southern region.” So far there has been no such pressure. Meanwhile, IS oil smuggling continues, with observers inside and outside Turkey noting that the Turkish government is tacitly allowing IS to flourish as it prefers the rebels to the Assad regime.

According to former Iraqi oil minister Isam al-Jalabi, “Turkey is the biggest winner from the Islamic State’s oil smuggling trade.” Both traders and oil firms are involved, he said, with the low prices allowing for “massive” profits for the countries facilitating the smuggling.

Buying ISIS Oil?

Early last month, a tanker carrying over a million barrels in crude oil from northern Iraq’s Kurdish region arrived at the Texas Gulf of Mexico. The oil had been refined in the Iraqi Kurdish region before being pumped through a new pipeline from the KRG area ending up at Ceyhan, Turkey, where it was then loaded onto the tanker for shipping to the US. Baghdad’s efforts to stop the oil sale on the basis of its having national jurisdiction were rebuffed by American courts.

In early September, the European Union’s ambassador to Iraq, Jana Hybášková, told the EU Foreign Affairs Committee that “several EU member states have bought oil from the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist organisation that has been brutally conquering large portions of Iraq and Syria,” according to Israel National News. She however “refused to divulge the names of the countries despite being asked numerous times.”

A third end-point for the KRG’s crude this summer, once again shipped via Turkey’s port of Ceyhan, was Israel’s southwestern port of Ashkelon. This is hardly news though. In May, Reuters revealed that Israeli and US oil refineries had been regularly purchasing and importing KRG’s disputed oil.

Meanwhile, as this triangle of covert oil shipments in which ISIS crude appears to be hopelessly entangled becomes more established, Turkey has increasingly demanded that the US pursue formal measures to lift obstacles to Kurdish oil sales to global markets. The KRG plans to export as much as 1 million barrels of oil a day by next year through its pipeline to Turkey.

Among the many oil and gas firms active in the KRG capital, Erbil, are ExxonMobil and Chevron. They are drilling in the region for oil under KRG contracts, though operations have been halted due to the crisis. No wonder Steve Coll writes in the New Yorker that Obama’s air strikes and arms supplies to the Kurds – notably not to Baghdad – effectively amount to “the defense of an undeclared Kurdish oil state whose sources of geopolitical appeal – as a long-term, non-Russian supplier of oil and gas to Europe, for example – are best not spoken of in polite or naïve company.” The Kurds are now busy working to “quadruple” their export capacity, while US policy has increasingly shifted toward permitting Kurdish exports – a development that would have major ramifications for Iraq’s national territorial integrity.

To be sure, as the offensive against IS ramps up, the Kurds are now selectively cracking down on IS smuggling efforts – but the measures are too little, too late.

A New Map

The Third Iraq War has begun. With it, longstanding neocon dreams to partition Iraq into three along ethnic and religious lines have been resurrected.

White House officials now estimate that the fight against the region’s ‘Islamic State’ will last years, and may outlive the Obama administration. But this ‘long war’ vision goes back to nebulous ideas formally presented by late RAND Corp analyst Laurent Muraweic before the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board at the invitation of then chairman Richard Perle. That presentation described Iraq as a “tactical pivot” by which to transform the wider Middle East.

Brian Whitaker, former Guardian Middle East editor, rightly noted that the Perle-RAND strategy drew inspiration from a 1996 paper published by the Israeli Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, co-authored by Perle and other neocons who held top positions in the post-9/11 Bush administration.

The policy paper advocated a strategy that bears startling resemblance to the chaos unfolding in the wake of the expansion of the ‘Islamic State’ – Israel would “shape its strategic environment” by first securing the removal of Saddam Hussein. “Jordan and Turkey would form an axis along with Israel to weaken and ‘roll back’ Syria.” This axis would attempt to weaken the influence of Lebanon, Syria and Iran by “weaning” off their Shi’ite populations. To succeed, Israel would need to engender US support, which would be obtained by Benjamin Netanyahu formulating the strategy “in language familiar to the Americans by tapping into themes of American administrations during the cold war.”

The 2002 Perle-RAND plan was active in the Bush administration’s strategic thinking on Iraq shortly before the 2003 war. According to US private intelligence firm Stratfor, in late 2002, then vice-president Dick Cheney and deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz had co-authored a scheme under which central Sunni-majority Iraq would join with Jordan; the northern Kurdish regions would become an autonomous state; all becoming separate from the southern Shi’ite region.

The strategic advantages of an Iraq partition, Stratfor argued, focused on US control of oil:

“After eliminating Iraq as a sovereign state, there would be no fear that one day an anti-American government would come to power in Baghdad, as the capital would be in Amman [Jordan]. Current and potential US geopolitical foes Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria would be isolated from each other, with big chunks of land between them under control of the pro-US forces.

“Equally important, Washington would be able to justify its long-term and heavy military presence in the region as necessary for the defense of a young new state asking for US protection – and to secure the stability of oil markets and supplies. That in turn would help the United States gain direct control of Iraqi oil and replace Saudi oil in case of conflict with Riyadh.”

The expansion of the ‘Islamic State’ has provided a pretext for the fundamental contours of this scenario to unfold, with the US and British looking to re-establish a long-term military presence in Iraq.

In 2006, Cheney’s successor, Joe Biden, also indicated his support for the ‘soft partition’ of Iraq along ethno-religious lines – a position which the co-author of the Biden-Iraq plan, Leslie Gelb of the Council on Foreign Relations, now argues is “the only solution” to the current crisis.

In 2008, the strategy re-surfaced – once again via RAND Corp – through a report funded by the US Army Training and Doctrine Command on how to prosecute the ‘long war.’ Among its strategies, one scenario advocated by the report was ‘Divide and Rule’ which would involve “exploiting fault lines between the various Salafi-jihadist groups to turn them against each other and dissipate their energy on internal conflicts.”

Simultaneously, the report suggested that the US could foster conflict between Salafi-jihadists and Shi’ite militants by “shoring up the traditional Sunni regimes… as a way of containing Iranian power and influence in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.”

One way or another, the plan is in motion. Last week, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Leiberman told US secretary of state John Kerry: “Iraq is breaking up before our eyes and it would appear that the creation of an independent Kurdish state is a foregone conclusion.”

The rise of the ‘Islamic State’ is not just a direct consequence of this neocon vision, tied as it is to a dangerous covert operations strategy that has seen al-Qaeda linked terrorists as a tool to influence local populations – it has in turn offered a pretext for the launch of a new era of endless war, the spectre of a prolonged US-led military presence in the energy-rich Persian Gulf region, and a return to the dangerous imperial temptation to re-configure the wider regional order.

Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is a bestselling author, investigative journalist and international security scholar.  He has contributed to two major terrorism investigations in the US and UK, the 9/11 Commission and the 7/7 Coroner’s Inquest, and has advised the Royal Military Academy Sandhust, British Foreign Office and US State Department. He is a regular contributor to The Guardian where he writes about the geopolitics of interconnected environmental, energy and economic crises. He has also written for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, CounterPunch, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, among many others. His just released new novel, ZERO POINT, predicted a new war in Iraq to put down an al-Qaeda insurgency. Follow him on Twitter @nafeezahmed and Facebook.

October 06, 2014

The University of Al-Qaeda?

America’s “Terrorist Academy” in Iraq Produced ISIS Leaders

by MIKE WHITNEY

“Since 2003, Anglo-American power has secretly and openly coordinated direct and indirect support for Islamist terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa. This ill-conceived patchwork geostrategy is a legacy of the persistent influence of neoconservative ideology, motivated by longstanding but often contradictory ambitions to dominate regional oil resources, defend an expansionist Israel, and in pursuit of these, re-draw the map of the Middle East.”

–Nafeez Ahmed, “How the West Created the Islamic State“, CounterPunch

“The US created these terrorist organizations. America does not have the moral authority to lead a coalition against terrorism.”

– Hassan Nasralla, Secretary General of Hezbollah

The Obama administration’s determination to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is pushing the Middle East towards a regional war that could lead to a confrontation between the two nuclear-armed rivals, Russia and the United States.

Last week, Turkey joined the US-led coalition following a vote in parliament approving a measure to give the government the authority to launch military action against Isis in Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it clear that Turkish involvement would come at a price, and that price would be the removal of al Assad. According to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News:

“Turkey will not allow coalition members to use its military bases or its territory in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) if the objective does not also include ousting the Bashar al-Assad regime, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hinted on Oct. 1…

“We are open and ready for any cooperation in the fight against terrorism. However, it should be understood by everybody that Turkey is not a country in pursuit of temporary solutions, nor will Turkey allow others to take advantage of it,” Erdoğan said in his lengthy address to Parliament.”..

“Turkey cannot be content with the current situation and cannot be a by-stander and spectator in the face of such developments.” (“Turkey will fight terror but not for temporary solutions: Erdoğan“, Hurriyet)

Officials in the Obama administration applauded Turkey’s decision to join the makeshift coalition. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel hailed the vote as a “very positive development” while State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “We welcome the Turkish Parliament’s vote to authorize Turkish military action…We’ve had numerous high-level discussions with Turkish officials to discuss how to advance our cooperation in countering the threat posed by ISIL in Iraq and Syria.”

In the last week, “Turkish tanks and other military units have taken position on the Syrian border.” Did the Obama administration strike a deal with Turkey to spearhead an attack on Syria pushing south towards Damascus while a small army of so called “moderate” jihadis– who are presently on the Israeli border– move north towards the Capital? If that is the case, then the US would probably deploy some or all of its 15,000 troops currently stationed in Kuwait “including an entire armored brigade” to assist in the invasion or to provide backup if Turkish forces get bogged down. The timeline for such an invasion is uncertain, but it does appear that the decision to go to war has already been made.

Turkish involvement greatly increases the chances of a broader regional war. It’s unlikely that Syria’s allies, Russia and Iran, will remain on the sidelines while Turkish tanks stream across the country on their way to Damascus. And while the response from Tehran and Moscow may be measured at first, it is bound to escalate as the fighting intensifies and tempers flare. The struggle for Syria will be a long, hard slog that will probably produce no clear winner. If Damascus falls, the conflict will morph into a protracted guerilla war that could spill over borders engulfing both Lebanon and Jordan. Apparently, the Obama administration feels the potential rewards from such a reckless and homicidal gambit are worth the risks.

No-Fly Zone Fakery

The Obama administration has made little effort to conceal its real objectives in Syria. The fight against Isis is merely a pretext for regime change. The fact that Major General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Chuck Hagel are angling for a no-fly zone over Syria exposes the “war against Isis” as a fraud. Why does the US need a no-fly zone against a group of Sunni militants who have no air force? The idea is ridiculous. The obvious purpose of the no-fly zone is to put Assad on notice that the US is planning to take control of Syrian airspace on its way to toppling the regime. Clearly, Congress could have figured this out before rubber stamping Obama’s request for $500 million dollars to arm and train “moderate” militants. Instead, they decided to add more fuel to the fire. If Congress seriously believes that Assad is a threat to US national security and “must go”, then they should have the courage to vote for sending US troops to Syria to do the heavy lifting. The idea of funding shadowy terrorist groups that pretend to be moderate rebels is lunacy in the extreme. It merely compounds the problem and increases the prospects of another Iraq-type bloodbath. Is it any wonder why Congress’s public approval rating is stuck in single digits?

TURKEY: A Major Player

According to many sources, Turkey has played a pivotal role in the present crisis, perhaps more than Saudi Arabia or Qatar. Consider the comments made by Vice President Joe Biden in an exchange with students at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University last week. Biden was asked: “In retrospect do you believe the United States should have acted earlier in Syria, and if not why is now the right moment?” Here’s part of what he said:

“…my constant cry was that our biggest problem is our allies – our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. The Turks were great friends – and I have the greatest relationship with Erdogan, which I just spent a lot of time with – the Saudis, the Emiratis, etc. What were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world…

So now what’s happening? All of a sudden everybody’s awakened because this outfit called ISIL which was Al Qaeda in Iraq, which when they were essentially thrown out of Iraq, found open space in territory in eastern Syria, work with Al Nusra who we declared a terrorist group early on and we could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them. So what happened? Now all of a sudden – I don’t want to be too facetious – but they had seen the Lord. Now we have – the President’s been able to put together a coalition of our Sunni neighbors, because America can’t once again go into a Muslim nation and be seen as the aggressor – it has to be led by Sunnis to go and attack a Sunni organization.”

Biden apologized for his remarks on Sunday, but he basically let the cat out of the bag. Actually, what he said wasn’t new at all, but it did lend credibility to what many of the critics have been saying since the very beginning, that Washington’s allies in the region have been arming and funding this terrorist Frankenstein from the onset without seriously weighing the risks involved. Here’s more background on Turkey’s role in the current troubles from author Nafeez Ahmed:

“With their command and control centre based in Istanbul, Turkey, military supplies from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular were transported by Turkish intelligence to the border for rebel acquisition. CIA operatives along with Israeli and Jordanian commandos were also training FSA rebels on the Jordanian-Syrian border with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. In addition, other reports show that British and French military were also involved in these secret training programmes. It appears that the same FSA rebels receiving this elite training went straight into ISIS – last month one ISIS commander, Abu Yusaf, said, “Many of the FSA people who the west has trained are actually joining us.” (“How the West Created the Islamic State“, Nafeez Ahmed, CounterPunch

Notice how the author points out the involvement of “CIA operatives”. While Biden’s comments were an obvious attempt to absolve the administration from blame, it’s clear US Intel agencies knew what was going on and were at least tangentially involved. Here’s more from the same article:

“Classified assessments of the military assistance supplied by US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar obtained by the New York Times showed that “most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups… are going to hardline Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster.”

Once again, classified documents prove that the US officialdom knew what was going on and simply looked the other way. All the while, the hardcore takfiri troublemakers were loading up on weapons and munitions preparing for their own crusade. Here’s a clip that Congress should have read before approving $500 million more for this fiasco:

” … Mother Jones found that the US government has “little oversight over whether US supplies are falling prey to corruption – or into the hands of extremists,” and relies “on too much good faith.” The US government keeps track of rebels receiving assistance purely through “handwritten receipts provided by rebel commanders in the field,” and the judgment of its allies. Countries supporting the rebels – the very same which have empowered al-Qaeda affiliated Islamists – “are doing audits of the delivery of lethal and nonlethal supplies.”…

the government’s vetting procedures to block Islamist extremists from receiving US weapons have never worked.” (“How the West Created the Islamic State”, Nafeez Ahmed, CounterPunch)

These few excerpts should help to connect the dots in what is really a very hard-to-grasp situation presently unfolding in Syria. Yes, the US is ultimately responsible for Isis because it knew what was going on and played a significant part in arming and training jihadi recruits. And, no, Isis does not take its orders directly from Washington (or Langley) although its actions have conveniently coincided with US strategic goals in the region. (Many readers will undoubtedly disagree with my views on this.) Here’s one last clip on Turkey from an article in the Telegraph. The story ran a full year ago in October 2013:

“Hundreds of al-Qaeda recruits are being kept in safe houses in southern Turkey, before being smuggled over the border to wage “jihad” in Syria, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

The network of hideouts is enabling a steady flow of foreign fighters – including Britons – to join the country’s civil war, according to some of the volunteers involved.

These foreign jihadists have now largely eclipsed the “moderate” wing of the rebel Free Syrian Army, which is supported by the West. Al-Qaeda’s ability to use Turkish territory will raise questions about the role the Nato member is playing in Syria’s civil war.

Turkey has backed the rebels from the beginning – and its government has been assumed to share the West’s concerns about al-Qaeda. But experts say there are growing fears over whether the Turkish authorities may have lost control of the movement of new al-Qaeda recruits – or may even be turning a blind eye.” (“Al-Qaeda recruits entering Syria from Turkey safehouses“, Telegraph)

Get the picture? This is a major region-shaping operation that the Turks, the Saudis, the Qataris, the Americans etc are in on. Sure, maybe some of the jihadis went off the reservation and started doing their own thing, but even that’s not certain. After all, Isis has already achieved many of Washington’s implicit objectives: Dump Nuri al Maliki and replace him with a US stooge who will amend the Status of Forces Agreement. (SOFA), allow Sunni militants and Kurds to create their own de facto mini-states within Iraq (thus, eliminating the threat of a strong, unified Iraq that will challenge Israeli hegemony), and create a tangible threat to regional security (Isis) thereby justifying US meddling and occupation for the foreseeable future. So far, arming terrorists has been a winning strategy for Obama and Co. Unfortunately for the president, we are still in the early rounds of the emerging crisis. Things could backfire quite badly, and probably will.

(NOTE: According to Iran’s Press TV: “The ISIL terrorists have purportedly opened a consulate in Ankara, Turkey and use it to issue visas for those who want to join the fight against the Syrian and Iraqi governments….The militants are said to be operating freely inside the country without much problem.” I have my doubts about this report which is why I have put parentheses around it, but it is interesting all the same.)

CAMP BUCCA: University of Al-Qaeda

So where do the Sunni extremists in Isis come from?

There are varying theories on this, the least likely of which is that they responded to promotional videos and propaganda on social media. The whole “Isis advertising campaign” nonsense strikes me as a clever disinformation ploy to conceal what’s really going on, which is, that the various western Intel agencies have been recruiting these jokers from other (former) hotspots like Afghanistan, Libya, Chechnya, Kosovo, Somalia and prisons in Iraq. Isis not a spontaneous amalgam of Caliphate-aspiring revolutionaries who spend their off-hours trolling the Internet, but a collection of ex Baathists and religious zealots who have been painstakingly gathered to perform the task at hand, which is to lob off heads, spread mayhem, and create the pretext for US-proxy war. Check out this illuminating article on Alakhbar English titled “The mysterious link between the US military prison Camp Bucca and ISIS leaders”. It helps explain what’s really been going on behind the scenes:

“We have to ask why the majority of the leaders of the Islamic State (IS), formerly the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), had all been incarcerated in the same prison at Camp Bucca, which was run by the US occupation forces near Omm Qasr in southeastern Iraq….. First of all, most IS leaders had passed through the former U.S. detention facility at Camp Bucca in Iraq. So who were the most prominent of these detainees?

The leader of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, tops the list. He was detained from 2004 until mid-2006. After he was released, he formed the Army of Sunnis, which later merged with the so-called Mujahideen Shura Council…

Another prominent IS leader today is Abu Ayman al-Iraqi, who was a former officer in the Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein. This man also “graduated” from Camp Bucca, and currently serves as a member on IS’ military council.

Another member of the military council who was in Bucca is Adnan Ismail Najm. … He was detained on January 2005 in Bucca, and was also a former officer in Saddam’s army. He was the head of a shura council in IS, before he was killed by the Iraqi army near Mosul on June 4, 2014.

Camp Bucca was also home to Haji Samir, aka Haji Bakr, whose real name is Samir Abed Hamad al-Obeidi al-Dulaimi. He was a colonel in the army of the former Iraqi regime. He was detained in Bucca, and after his release, he joined al-Qaeda. He was the top man in ISIS in Syria…

According to the testimonies of US officers who worked in the prison, the administration of Camp Bucca had taken measures including the segregation of prisoners on the basis of their ideology. This, according to experts, made it possible to recruit people directly and indirectly.

Former detainees had said in documented television interviews that Bucca…was akin to an “al-Qaeda school,” where senior extremist gave lessons on explosives and suicide attacks to younger prisoners. A former prisoner named Adel Jassem Mohammed said that one of the extremists remained in the prison for two weeks only, but even so was able to recruit 25 out of 34 inmates who were there. Mohammed also said that U.S. military officials did nothing to stop the extremists from mentoring the other detainees…

No doubt, we will one day discover that many more leaders in the group had been detained in Bucca as well, which seems to have been more of a “terrorist academy” than a prison.” (“The mysterious link between the US military prison Camp Bucca and ISIS leaders“, Alakhbar English)

US foreign policy is tailored to meet US strategic objectives, which in this case are regime change, installing a US puppet in Damascus, erasing the existing borders, establishing forward-operating bases across the country, opening up vital pipeline corridors between Qatar and the Mediterranean so the western energy giants can rake in bigger profits off gas sales to the EU market, and reducing Syria to a condition of “permanent colonial dependency.” (Chomsky)

Would the United States oversee what-amounts-to a “terrorist academy” if they thought their jihadi graduates would act in a way that served US interests?

Indeed, they would. In fact, they’d probably pat themselves on the back for coming up with such a clever idea.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

 

 
 
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Flashpoints of Terrorism in Pakistan

Flashpoints of Terrorism in Pakistan

By

Sabena Siddiqui

 

Strategic Thinker & Defence Analyst on Pakistan & Global Affairs,

Distinguished Opinion Leader,

Pakistan Think Tank

 

 

 

Terrorism in Pakistan has multi -ethnic , multicultural and
multi-lingual patterns .

 

 


Punjabis are the largest ethnic group 44.15%, Pashtuns 15.42%, Sindhis
14.1%, Seraikis 10.53 %, Muhajirs 7.57% ,Baluchis 3.57 % and Others
4.66%
8 million Muhajirs arrived from India in 1947 and 1.7 million Afghan
refugees came later making this one of the largest refugee populations
in the world .

English is the official language, Urdu national and Punjabi , Sindhi
Pashto and Baluchi are regional languages .

Pakistan has 95% Muslim population ,75% Sunni and 25% Shia , the
second largest Shia population in the world after Iran .
1.85% are Hindus and 1.6% are Christians , Pakistani society is
largely hierarchial.
Such diversity results in conflicts created by four types of terrorist
groups : language based , sectarian ,race based and religious .

Muhajirs from India settled in Karachi did not want the shifting of
capital from Karachi to Islamabad which resulted in a loss of
bureaucratic power ,jobs , housing and transport .
Consequently they have been blamed for demanding a separate state ,
province or complete control of city government in Karachi and
Hyderabad .

Grievances between Shias and Sunnis date back to the early period of
Islam , Deobandis allege that Shias use abusive la nguage against some
of the Prophet pbuh s companions and wish that the Shias be declared
non Muslim .

They are considered Muslims everywhere including Saudi Arabia ,even
the Darululoom Deoband, the Deoband founding madrassa considers Shias
as Muslim.

Their Fatwa says that if a person prefers Hazrat Ali but does not
believe the other Shia beliefs then he is not Kafir .

Balochistan is less economically developed and has less civil and
military representation , they allege lack of provincial autonomy and
lesser resources from the federal government.
They have minimum population and maximum area and resources are
distributed according to population .
Some groups propose secession from Pakistan, Baluchis are 3.57% of the
total Pakistani population .

Religious militancy in Pakistan is varied , they demand enforcement of
Sharia like that by the Afghan Taliban .
There is nothing in the laws of Pakistan which contradicts Islamic law
and most Pakistanis prefer a modern life than be fundamentalist .
There are numerous absolute interpretations of Islam .

Terrorism here today is the result of five factors both internal and external .

1. General Zia conducted a coup d etat and ended Bhuttos government in 1977 .

Al Zulfiqar came into being after Bhutto s execution and committed
terrorist crimes like hijacking .
Zia also formed the MQM , a language based party of refugees from
India to break the strength of Bhutto s PPP .
MQM s inception and evolution brought about violence , this single
factor alone was responsible for 90% of the terrorism in urban Sindh
and 40% in the country .

2. General Zia enforced some new Islamic laws to legitimize his dictatorship .
One of these was the Zakat and Usher Ordinance 1980 .
Meanwhile , the Iranian revolution took place and influenced the
Pakistani Shia community to demand exemption from this new tax based
on Sunni law .
As Shias became more forceful , Zia helped form the Sipah e Sahaba ,
an anti Shia Deobandi organisation . It got funded by both Iraq and
Saudi Arabia and formed splinter groups like the Lashkar e Jhangvi .
30% of terrorism is caused by these sectarian groups so about 70% of
terrorism in Pakistan is sectarian or language based .

3. The Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and the US and the Saudis
invested 6 billion dollars to train the fighters to overthrow the
Soviets .Madrassas proliferated to produce the requisite fighters and
Kalashnikovs were handed to them .Zia was in a strong position against
the Peoples Party and Shias .

4. The Soviets were defeated in 1989 and the US neglected the fighters
it helped train and the fighters felt over confident after defeating
tge Soviet Union and ultimately challenged the US .

5. The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 with Pakistani assistance and
this created Arab Mujahideen and Taliban enemies for Pakistan .
Drone attacks on Pakistani territory further created a backlash
against Pakistan .

India established four consulates and an embassy in tiny Afghanistan
and started creating problems in Balochistan province of Pakistan .
Weapons used by TTP against Pakistan army in Swat were all US made
which US says were stolen in Afghanistan .
The US also got worried about the building of Gwadar port by China in
Pakistans Baluchistan province , it felt this might decrease US
importance in the region .


US-Drone-attacks-on-Pakistan

These were the main triggers of terrorism, the provincial capitals
were particularly volatile as those were the government power base
.Terrorists felt they wreaked more destruction there , got more media
coverage , more targets and more hiding places .
Other main areas of conflict were places like Dera Bugti ,Kohlu and
Sibi with gas fields and grudges against the federal government .
Southern Punjab. , Jhang and Faisalabad also were the focus of
terrorist activity due to sectarian conflict .
Swat ,D.I Khan and South and North Waziristan had some local conflict .

Karachi became a case study for terrorism with perceptible levels in
1990 attaining a
peak in 1995 with 616 incidents .

Karachi has a higher terrorism percentage than what is due to it in
population 10% and area 3530 square km 0.44%.
Terrorism in Karachi is more frequent because of its demographic
composition and being metropolitan and a provincial capital .
Terrorism here has more symbolic and theatrical value .
Karachi is also unique in being the only source of conflict in Sindh
because of its socioeconomic conditions and demographic changes .
It had a population of 400000 in 1947 which was 18,00,00,000 in 2009.
Population increased because it was the first national capital , only
seaport ,first international airport ,industrial base ,financial hub
and home to millions of migrants from India ,Afghanistan and Pathans
from KP and Punjabis from Punjab .

Karachi has very unusual demographics , capital of Sindh yet only 7.22
%Sindhis .Ninety three percent population comprises of immigrants
48.52% Muhajir , 13.94% Punjabi,Pashto 11.42%, Balochi 4.34%, Saraiki
2.11 % and others 12.44%.
Karachi is the largest Pashtun city in the country ,more Baluchis in
Karachi than in Baluchistan and it is the sixth largest Punjabi town .
The politics of Sindh province has many conflicts : Sindhi v Muhajir ,
Muhajir v Punjabi, Muhajir v Muhajir and Muhajir v Pathan .
Also most of the MQM are Shias and most Pathans Deobandi .

It is also a very young population .In 1987 , 36% of the population
was between age 14 and 30. 71% of them were literate while overall
Karachi literacy is 55% and overall Pakistan figure is 26.17%.
22% were graduates and the amenities were not sufficient for the
rising population .
Housing conflicts turn into ethnic rivalry and transport problem
accentuates it .

The first ethnic vi olence was Muhajir v Pathan in 1987 when a Muhajir
college girl was killed in an accident by a Pathan van driver .
Weapons were cheap and widely available , a pistol could be bought for
3000 rupees $40 dollars and a Kalashnikov for 16 thousand rupees $188
dollars .
The MQM split into two factions amid intense violence in 1993 and 1994 .

Main target types were private citizens, private property and
businesses as they are soft targets with no defense or deterrence .
They are in large numbers , and once attacked , more likely to compel
government to give in to terrorist demands .

Data also shows that police are the the target in 10% incidents in
Pakistan and rest of the world , they come in as the first line of
response and so they are targeted .
Military , civil administration and educational institutions , music
and barber shops closely follow as targets , these are attempts to
destabilise the state .

Another dimension of analysis is the efficacy of weapons employed as
per casualties , suicide attacks killed and wounded 42 people per
attack , explosives 9.4 , firearms 4.3 and projectiles 7.3 .
From 1987 to 1990 explosives were mostly used , from 1991 till 1997
firearms were more frequent and from 1998 till 2007 explosives were
more common .

Explosives are difficult to obtain and require more organisation so it
is deduced that usually a foreign hand is behind it . Explosives are
also mostly used to destabilise the government .
Suicide attacks are most damaging and they started in 1995
infrequently till 2001 , after this they spiralled and there were 56
attacks in 2007. Throughout the world there were 188 suicide attacks
from 1980 till 2001 but Pakistan had 56 in a single year .
Usually the strategic goal is to reclaim homeland but in Pakistan ,
there is no foreign occupation .

Suicide attacks took place also as a reaction to the government
operation on the Red Mosque in Islamabad in July 2007. 8 attacks
before the operation and 48 afterwards , most probably the foreign
jihadis brought the technique .Arab clerics preached in favour of
suicide attacks while the underworld provided funding and bombers were
found locally .

Terrorism in Pakistan is an extreme reaction to political and economic
grievances and ethnic / religious issues , vested interests provide
backup .

The US led invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq brought changes in
terrorism patterns in Pakistan .There was an increase in suicide
attacks against government institutions .
Attacks now are more frequent in KP and Baluchistan ,sectarian and
language based incident decreased but ethnic incidents increased as
militants multiplied .
This definite geographic shift in terrorism is post US invasion of
Afghanistan , the area of conflict is now the west of Pakistan .
The possibility remains that sponsorship of this terrorism post 9/11
may be from India ,the US or Iran , the implications may be policy
related .

These ethnic ,political and religious conflicts are endemic to
Pakistan and despite them life went on as normal unless internal or
external parties used them to further their own interests .
The conflicts resulted from socioeconomic grievances ,issues of
provincial autonomy and demographic changes ,these conflicts turned
unto sectarian, ethno-linguistic, ethni-secessionist and religious
motives for terrorism .

Places such as Baluchistan , South Punjab ,Waziristan and Karachi were
badly affected .

Communism and Capitalism have also played their part since Pakistan
came into being, geo-strategic politics of this region has brought
about many battles between the two.

India feels encircled and intimidated by Chinese presence near its
waters,Gwadar is also an alternative to Dubai and Iran’s new port
Chabahar.
Therefore , US, India and Iran find Gwadar a threat and terrorism in
Baluchistan is closely linked to this factor .

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Kalashnikov culture developed in Pakistan as a direct consequence of
the Afghan war , US bought Chinese weapons to supply the Mujahideen
and half of these got sold in the local market .

Terrorism is cyclical in essence , todays events are a harbinger for
what transpires tomorrow.

The cycles are reflective of the immediate past as terrorists prepare, plan and the government is caught unawares .
The basis for terrorism remains and terrorists return with a new agenda .

 

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