Several media outlets reported this month on an alarming finding from a new U.S. government study: Iran’s intelligence ministry, as CNN put it, constitutes “a terror and assassination force 30,000 strong.”
The claim that the intelligence ministry has a whopping 30,000 employees, first reported by a conservative website, spread to other outlets including Wired and the public radio show the Takeaway and landed elsewhere online, even on the intelligence ministry’s Wikipedia page. All cited the new government study, put out by an arm of the Library of Congress called the Federal Research Division.
So how did the government researchers come up with the number? They searched the Internet — and ended up citing an obscure, anonymous website that was simply citing another source.
The trail on the 30,000 figure eventually ends with a Swedish terrorism researcher quoted in a 2008 Christian Science Monitor article. But the researcher, Magnus Ranstorp, said he isn’t sure where the number came from. “I think obviously that it would be an inflated number” of formal employees, said Ranstorp.
We inquired with six Iran experts, and none knew of any evidence for the figure. Some said it might be in the ballpark while others questioned its plausibility.
“Whether the figures emanate from Iran or from western reporting, they are generally exaggerated and either meant as self-aggrandizing propaganda, if self-reported by Iran, or just approximations based on usually scant data or evidence,” said Afshon Ostovar, a senior Middle East analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses who writes frequently on Iran. The number “could be more or less accurate, but there’s no way to know.”
Gary Sick, a longtime Iran specialist in and out of government, said the entire Federal Research Division study “has all the appearance of a very cheap piece of propaganda and should not be trusted.”
Sick pointed to the study’s use of questionable Internet sources as well as flat-out errors. In one section, for example, the study lays out in detail how “Iran’s constitution defines” the intelligence ministry’s official functions. The problem, as Sick notes: Iran’s constitution doesn’t mention an intelligence ministry, let alone define its functions.
Federal Research Division Chief David Osborne said in an email the report “was leaked to the media without authorization” and declined to comment further “because it is proprietary to the agency for which it was written.”
This is what we know about the 30,000 figure and its provenance:
On the morning of Jan. 3, the conservative Washington Free Beacon ran a story headlined, “Iran Spy Network 30,000 Strong.” The outlet said it had obtained a “64-page unclassified report” on the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and published it with the story.
The Federal Research Service of the Library of Congress, which produced the study, provides “fee for service” research to other government agencies using the resources of the library. The study’s title page names no author but says it was produced under an agreement with an arm of the Pentagon called the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office. (That office did not respond to requests for comment.)
The study flatly states that Iran’s intelligence ministry has “more than 30,000 officers and support personnel.”
But it also hedges. It notes Iranian intelligence is “a difficult subject to study because so little information about it is publicly available.” The study does not claim to feature any original intelligence or reporting. It says its main sources are news websites and Iranian blogs.
“The reliability of blog-based information may be questionable at times,” says the report. “But it seems prudent to evaluate and present it in the absence of alternatives.”
The evening after the report was first published, CNN ran a segment on what it called “troubling new details on a new report of Iran’s intelligence service.” The story compared the 30,000 figure to the roughly 100,000 employees in the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies and offices, and went through various attacks over the years attributed to Iranian intelligence.
A CNN spokeswoman said the network “checked the number with sources that led us to feel comfortable that the report was in line with the national security community’s understanding.”
That post, from 2010, turns out to merely excerpt another study from yet another source.
That study, titled “Shariah: The Threat to America,” was put out by the hawkish Center for Security Policy. As the title suggests, it doesn’t focus on Iran but rather the purported threat of Islamic law.
That piece refers to Iran’s intelligence ministry having “some 30,000 on the payroll by one count,” which came from Ranstorp, the Swedish terrorism researcher.
Ranstorp told us that while he did not recall citing the figure to the Monitor, it might have originated with Kenneth Katzman, a Mideast specialist with the Congressional Research Service who often writes on Iran.
Katzman told us that the figure did not come from him. He added that 30,000 did not seem “inordinately unreasonable” but that he does not know of evidence supporting it.
Bill Gertz, the Washington Free Beacon reporter who obtained and published the Federal Research Service study, told ProPublica he stands by his story.
“In my 30-plus years in reporting on national security issues, I have found that such unclassified reports often use press reporting of such numbers to avoid having to use classified information,” Gertz said. “I also know that most of the people who write such reports have access to classified information about the subjects they write about and I doubt they would publish a figure that would be contradicted by classified assessments of the number of personnel in the [intelligence ministry].”
Gertz also pointed to another report on Iran, this one produced in 2010 by private intelligence firm Stratfor. But that report says that, as of 2006, Iran’s intelligence ministry had just 15,000 employees. It does not cite a source for the figure.
- ‘Iran not involved in cyber strikes like US’ (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Bab-Alshams, Occupied Palestine – Following the violent eviction of Bab-Alshams (gateway of the sun) on Sunday around a hundred Protestors returned to the land which the Israeli Occupation Forces call E1. After the acceptance of Palestine as a non-member state to the UN, Israel announced the approval of a plan to expand by building some 4,000 residential units in this area. Such construction would effectively bisect the West Bank, effectively cutting it off from Jerusalem.
The protestors arrived before 15:00 to the surprise of Israeli Police stationed in the area; two groups approached Bab-Alshams from different directions. As protestors moved up the hill Israeli Occupation Forces began to attack the demonstration initially with stun grenades.
Activist’s remained steadfast and refused to leave the land which is privately owned by Palestinians. Israeli police began to outnumber protestors and then began detaining Palestinians violently. Slowly Israeli forces managed to push activists down the hill.
Activists regrouped at the bottom of the hill, sat down and began to sing. The violence of the Israeli authorities then again increased, one women was beaten and suffered a head wound which required medical attention. At least two others were injured one male was bleeding heavily from the wrist, while others were being treated for shock.
At-least 10 people were arrested most of which have now been released. Some remain in detention including an ISM founder Neta Golan.
- Palestinians Establish a new Village, Bab Alshams, in Area E1 (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Palestinian Village of Bab Alshams Remains Steadfast (palsolidarity.org)
- Israeli Soldiers Attack, Evict, Bab Al-Shams, Arrest Dozens (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Two Days Before MIT and Cambridge Cops Arrested Aaron Swartz, Secret Service Took Over the Investigation
The public story of Aaron Swartz’ now-tragic two year fight with the Federal government usually starts with his July 19, 2011 arrest.
But that’s not when he was first arrested for accessing a closet at MIT in which he had a netbook downloading huge quantities of scholarly journals. He was first arrested on January 6, 2011 by MIT and Cambrige, MA cops.
According to a suppression motion in his case, however two days before Aaron was arrested, the Secret Service took over the investigation.
On the morning of January 4, 2011, at approximately 8:00 am, MIT personnel located the netbook being used for the downloads and decided to leave it in place and institute a packet capture of the network traffic to and from the netbook.4 Timeline at 6. This was accomplished using the laptop of Dave Newman, MIT Senior Network Engineer, which was connected to the netbook and intercepted the communications coming to and from it. Id. Later that day, beginning at 11:00 am, the Secret Service assumed control of the investigation. [my emphasis]
In fact, in one of the most recent developments in discovery in Aaron’s case, the government belatedly turned over an email showing Secret Service agent Michael Pickett offering to take possession of the hardware seized from Aaron “anytime after it has been processed for prints or whenever you [Assistant US Attorney Stephen Heymann] feel it is appropriate.” Another newly disclosed document shows the Pickett accompanied the local cops as they moved the hardware they had seized from Aaron around.
According to the Secret Service, they get involved in investigations with:
- Significant economic or community impact
- Participation of organized criminal groups involving multiple districts or transnational organizations
- Use of schemes involving new technology
Downloading scholarly articles is none of those things.
A lot of people are justifiably furious with US Attorney Carmen Ortiz and AUSA Heymann’s conduct on this case.
But the involvement of the Secret Service just as it evolved from a local breaking and entry case into the excessive charges ultimately charged makes it clear that this was a nationally directed effort to take down Swartz.
MIT’s President Rafael Reif has expressed sadness about Aaron’s death and promised an investigation into the university’s treatment of Aaron. I want to know whether MIT–which is dependent on federal grants for much of its funding–brought in the Secret Service.
The film Zero Dark Thirty has sparked debate on its justification of torture, its misuse of facts, and its pro-CIA agenda. The main focus of the debate so far has been on whether torture was necessary to track Osama bin Laden and whether the film is pro or anti torture.
Criticism of the film has come from the highest levels of the political establishment. In a letter to the CIA, Diane Feinstein, Karl Levin and John McCain, members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, fault the film for showing that the CIA obtained through torture the key lead that helped track down Osama bin Laden. The letter further blasts former CIA leaders for spreading such falsehoods in public statements.
Film director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, who worked with the CIA in the making of this film, likely did not expect such push back since they seem to have got a green light from the White House.
In the face of these attacks, some have risen to the film makers’ defense such as Mark Bowden, the author of The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden. Writing in the Atlantic, he argues that the film is not pro-torture because the first scene shows that torture could not stop an attack in Saudi Arabia, instead it was cleverness and cunning that produced results.
Far more commentators, however, in a range of mainstream media from the New York Times, to CNN and the Daily Beast, have stated that the film lied about torture. Taking their lead from Feinstein et al. numerous voices have condemned the film and insisted that bin Laden’s whereabouts were obtained through means other than torture.
It’s hard to say who is correct. The CIA clearly has an interest in promoting its version in order to win public support for its clandestine activities. The Democrats have an interest in distancing themselves from torture so as to separate themselves from the worst of the Bush era policies.
While much of the air is being sucked up by this debate, scant attention has been paid to the larger, and in my view, more significant message of this film: that extra judicial killing is good. The film teaches us that brown men can and should be targeted and killed with impunity, in violation of international law, and that we should trust the CIA to act with all due diligence.
At a time when the key strategy in the “war on terror” has shifted from conventional warfare to extra judicial killing, here comes a film that normalizes and justifies this strategy. The controversy around this film will no doubt increase its box office success, but don’t expect mainstream debate on extra judicial killing. On this, there is bipartisan consent. Therefore the real scandal behind this Oscar nominated film—its shameless propaganda for extra judicial murder—will remain largely hidden.
Rebranding the Killing Machine
Zero Dark Thirty has very clear-cut “good guys” and “bad guys.” The CIA characters, in particular Maya and Dan, are the heroes and brown men, be they Arab or South Asian, are the villains.
The first brown man we encounter, Omar, is brutally tortured by Dan as Maya the protagonist (played by Jessica Chastain) watches with discomfort and anxiety. We soon learn, however, that Omar and his brethren wanted “to kill all Americans” thereby dispelling our doubts, justifying torture, and establishing his villainy.
In an interesting reversal (first established by the TV show 24) torture, a characteristic normally associated with villains, is now associated with heroes. This shift is acceptable because all the brown men tortured in the film are guilty and therefore worthy of such treatment. Maya soon learns to overcome her hesitation as she becomes a willing participant in the use of torture. In the process, audiences are invited to advance with her from discomfort to acceptance.
A clear “us” versus “them” mentality is established where “they” are portrayed as murderous villains while “we” do what we need to in order to keep the world safe. One scene in particular captures “their” irrational rage against all Americans. This is the scene when Maya is attacked by a barrage of machine gun fire as she exits a safe house in her car. We are then told that her identity as a CIA agent is not public and that, in fact, all Americans are the targets of such murderous rage and brutal attacks in Pakistan.
Pakistan, the country in which the majority of the film is set, is presented as a hell hole. In one of the early scenes, Maya, as a CIA freshman new to the area, is asked by a colleague what she thinks of Pakistan. She replies: “it’s kind of fucked up.”
Other than being the target of bombing attacks in her car and at a hotel, a part of what seems to make Pakistan “fucked up” is Islam. In one scene she is disturbed late at night by the Muslim call to prayer sounding loud enough that it wakes her from her sleep. Disgusted by this, she grunts “oh God” and rolls back to sleep. Maya also uses the term “mullah crackadollah” to express her contempt for Muslim religious leaders (I have never heard this term before and hope that I transcribed it correctly. I certainly do not wish to waste another $14 to watch the film again, and will wait till the film is out on DVD to confirm this term).
What does not need reviewing to confirm is the routine and constant use of the term “Paks” to refer to Pakistani people, a term that is similar to other racist epithets like “gooks” and “japs.” The film rests on the wholesale demonization of the Pakistani people. If we doubt that the “Paks” are a devious lot that can’t be trusted, the film has a scene where Maya’s colleague and friend is ambushed and blown to bits by a suicide bomber whom she expected to interrogate.
Even ordinary men standing by the road or at markets are suspicious characters who whip out cell phones to inform on, and plot against, the CIA. It is no wonder, then. that when Pakistanis organize a protest outside the US embassy we see them with contempt and through the eyes of Maya, who is standing inside the embassy, and whose point of view we are asked to identify with.
For a film maker of Bigelow’s talent it is shocking to see such unambiguous “good guys” and “bad guys.” The only way to be brown and not to be a villain in her narrative is to be unflinchingly loyal to the Americans, as the translator working for the CIA is. The “good Muslim” does not question, he simply acts to pave the way for American interests.
Against the backdrop of this racist dehumanization of brown men, Maya and her colleagues routinely use the word “kill” without it seeming odd or out of place. After Maya has come to terms with the anguish of losing her friend in the suicide attack she states: “I’m going to smoke everybody involved in this operation and then I’m going to kill Osama bin Laden.” When talking about a doctor who might be useful in getting to bin Laden, she says if he “doesn’t give up the big man” then “we kill him.”
At the start of the film Maya refuses a disguise when she re-enters the cell in which Omar is being held. She asks Dan if the man will ever get out and thereby reveal her identity to which he replies “never,” suggesting that Omar will either be held indefinitely or killed.
A top CIA official blasting a group of agents for not making more progress in the hunt for bin Laden sums up the role of the CIA as a killing machine in the following manner, he says “do your fucking jobs and bring me people to kill.” By this point in the film, the demonization of brown men is so complete that this statement is neither surprising nor extraordinary.
It is a clever and strategic choice that the resolution of film’s narrative arc is the execution of Osama bin Laden. After all, who could possibly object to the murder of this heinous person other than the “do good” lawyers who are chastised in the film for providing legal representation for terrorists.
Here then is the key message of the film: the law, due process, and the idea of presenting evidence before a jury, should be dispensed with in favor of extra judicial killings. Further, such killings can take place without public oversight. The film not only uses the moral unambiguity of assassinating bin Laden to sell us on the rightness and righteousness of extra judicial killing, it also takes pains to show that this can be done in secret because of the checks and balances involved before a targeted assassination is carried out.
Maya is seen battling a male dominated bureaucracy that constantly pushes her to provide evidence before it can order the strike. We feel her frustration at this process and we identify with her when she says that she is 100% sure that bin Laden is where she says he is. Yet, a system of checks and balances that involves scrupulous CIA heads, and a president who is “smart” and wants the facts, means that due diligence will not be compromised even when we know we are right.
This, in my view, is the key propaganda accomplishment of the film: the selling of secret extra judicial killing at a time when this has been designated the key strategy in the “war on terror” for the upcoming decade.
The Disposition Matrix
As I have argued in my book Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire, the Obama administration has drawn the conclusion, after the failed interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, that conventional warfare should be ditched in favor of drone strikes, black operations, and other such methods of extra judicial killing.
The New York Times expose on Obama’s “kill list,” revealed that this strategy is one presided over by the president himself. John Brennen, his top counter-terrorism adviser, is one of its key authors and architects. Brennen’s nomination to head the CIA is a clear indication that this strategy will not only continue but that the spy agency will more openly become a paramilitary force that carries out assassinations through drone attacks and other means, with little or no public oversight.
Greg Miller’s piece in the Washington Post reveals that the Obama administration has been working on a “blueprint for pursuing terrorists” based on the creation of database known as the “disposition matrix.” The matrix developed by the National Counterterrorism Center brings together the separate but overlapping kill lists from the CIA and the Joint Operations Special Command into a master grid and allocates resources for “disposition.” The resources that will be used to “dispose” those on the list include capture operations, extradition, and drone strikes.
Miller notes that Brennen has played a key role in this process of “codify[ing] the administration’s approach to generating capture/kill lists.” Based on extensive interviews with top Obama administration officials, Miller states that such extra judicial killing is “likely to be extended at least another decade.” Brennan’s nomination to the CIA directorship no doubt will ensure such a result.
In short, at the exact point that a strategic shift has been made in the war on terror from conventional warfare to targeted killing, there comes a film that justifies this practice and asks us to trust the CIA with such incredible power.
No doubt the film had to remake the CIA brand dispelling other competing Hollywood images of the institution as a clandestine and shady outfit. The reality, however, is that unlike the film’s morally upright characters Brennan is a liar and an unabashed torture advocate (except for waterboarding).
As Glenn Greenwald notes, Brennen has “spouted complete though highly influential falsehoods to the world in the immediate aftermath of the Osama bin Laden killing, including claiming that bin Laden “engaged in a firefight” with Navy SEALS and had “used his wife as a human shield”.”
Zero Dark Thirty, nominated for the “best picture of year” Oscar award, is a harbinger of things to come. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed into law by Obama earlier this month includes an amendment, passed in the House last May, that legalizes the dissemination of propaganda to US citizens. Journalist Naomi Klein argues that the propaganda “amendment legalizes something that has been illegal for decades: the direct funding of pro-government or pro-military messaging in media, without disclosure, aimed at American citizens.”
We can therefore expect not only more such films, but also more misinformation on our TV screens, in our newspapers, on our radio stations and in social media websites. What used to be an informal arrangement whereby the State Department and the Pentagon manipulated the media has now been codified into law. Be ready to be propagandized to all the time, everywhere.
We live in an Orwellian world: the government has sought and won the power to indefinitely detain and to kill US citizens, all wrapped in a cloud of secrecy, and to lie to us without any legal constraints.
The NDAA allows for indefinite detention, and a judge ruled that the Obama administration need not provide legal justification for extra judicial killings based on US law thereby granting carte blanche authority to the president to kill whoever he pleases with no legal or public oversight.
Such a system requires an equally powerful system of propaganda to convince the citizenry that they need not be alarmed, they need not speak out, they need not think critically; in fact, they need not even participate in the deliberative process except to pull a lever every couple of years in an elaborate charade of democracy. We are being asked, quite literally, to amuse ourselves to death.
Deepa Kumar is an associate professor of Media Studies and Middle East Studies at Rutgers University. She is the author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire: Empire Abroad and at Home and Outside the Box: Corporate Media, Globalization, and the Ups Strike. She can be reached at: email@example.com.
It Was Not a Mistake
On January 15, 1973 Richard Nixon announced a halt to offensive operations by US forces in Vietnam. Twelve days later a peace agreement was signed in Paris between the United States, northern Vietnam, the US client regime in Saigon, and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of southern Vietnam. This agreement called for an immediate ceasefire and called for the Vietnamese to negotiate a political settlement regarding the fate of southern Vietnam.
The January 27th agreement was the same as one that Saigon had refused to sign three months earlier. The interlude between the two dates saw some of the heaviest bombing of the entire conflict by the United States Air Force (USAF). I vividly recall listening to the news broadcasts on Armed Forces Radio and watching the German telecasts reporting the bombing. Cynically called Operation Linebacker II by the Nixon administration, it is estimated that this particular round of carpet bombing killed more than 1600 northern Vietnamese civilians, including over 200 at Hanoi’s Bach Mai hospital alone. I personally attended two protests in Frankfurt am Main against the so-called Christmas bombings. Similar protests occurred around the world.
The peace agreement did not stop the war. It did provide Nixon and Kissinger with a way to complete their policy of Vietnamization. US troops began to be withdrawn at a greater pace and southern Vietnamese troops (ARVN) began to replace the withdrawing forces. US forces on the ground were officially only serving as advisors. Anecdotal evidence suggests that USAF planes continued to bomb, although the missions were now officially led by southern Vietnamese flyers. As many a GI, sailor, or Marine who was stationed in (or off the coast of) Vietnam after the peace agreement was signed can tell you, the war did not end. However, the will to fight among southern Vietnamese forces was rapidly fading. Since 1971, friends of mine returning from battle had been telling stories of outright refusal of orders by entire units of ARVN and US forces. Others told me that their bosses told them to “just stay out of sight and stay alive.” The official word was that no US combat soldiers remained in Vietnam after March 1973. Reflecting the mood among US voters, Congress cut off all official military aid to the Saigon government in 1974.
I returned to the United States in August 1973 and began college in the Bronx. Although there were some meetings and even a small protest or two regarding the continued funding of the war against the Vietnamese (and the unofficial presence of thousands of troops), most of the political activity was focused on the CIA/ITT assisted coup in Chile and the growing calls for Nixon’s impeachment. One memorable protest against the US funding of the failing Saigon endeavor to survive the will of the Vietnamese people was a takeover of the Statue of Liberty by a small band of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) and members of the Attica Brigades. Both of these groups were left anti-imperialist in nature and allies of the post-SDS formation known as the Revolutionary Unions. John Kerry and the VVAW had parted ways many months before; Kerry had always represented the less-radical (some would say rightwing) elements of the VVAW and the antiwar movement in general. His departure from the VVAW was not a surprise, especially considering the growing radicalization of the organization’s membership. Kerry considered the US policy in Vietnam a mistake. Much of the antiwar movement saw it as standard operating procedure. Obviously, each understanding depended on one’s interpretation of history.
True to form, John Kerry’s understanding of history has served him well in the halls of empire. Indeed, he may very well become the next Secretary of State; successor to another of the anti-Vietnam war movement’s imperial apologists, Hilary Clinton. Neither Kerry nor Clinton ever considered the argument that the US war in Vietnam was part and parcel of a policy with economic and political domination of the world as its goal. Instead, they preferred to believe that the slaughter of millions of Vietnamese, the creation of hundreds of thousands of refugees, and the destruction of a land, was just a mistake. The overall policy was a good one, merely desiring to bring democracy and freedom to those same people being murdered and maimed.
Since that day in 1973, the United States has been involved in some kind of military conflict almost without a let up. Democrat and Republican, right wing and liberal, the battle for world hegemony continues unabated. Low-intensity conflicts that included the massacre of Salvadoran farmers by US-funded death squads and militaries; the murderous subversion of a popular government by CIA- contra forces in Nicaragua; the arming of religious extremists in Afghanistan to fight a secular and progressive government in Kabul; the imposition of sanctions against the Iraqi people causing the deaths of over a half-million people (leading Democratic Secretary of State Albright to state the deaths were “worth the price”); and the never-ending support for Israel’s brutal and Orwellian occupation of Palestine. All of these elements and hundreds more are what describe US foreign policy. They are not mistakes any more than the US war on the Vietnamese people was a mistake. Indeed, they are the price the world must pay.
In the weeks to come, there will be a parade of powerful men and women from the nation’s elites appearing before committees of the Senate. These individuals will be auditioning for their roles in the new White House administration. Some, like John Kerry, will face some loud opposition from the ultra-right members of that legislative body. Don’t be fooled by the bombast. The proof that the individual being questioned and the individuals doing the questioning agree is in the history briefly noted above. As long as those in both seats believe in the ideology of empire, Washington’s march will never fall and only rarely stumble.
Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground and Short Order Frame Up.
Occupied Palestine – Last night more than forty Israeli soldiers invaded the city of Nablus and raided two homes looking for two young men. One of them was arrested Emad’s Motherduring the raid and the other one avoided arrest as he was working at the time of the raid.
At 2.30 am, dozens of Israeli soldiers with several dogs broke into Mead Nijad’s house breaking the door with a hammer and violently interrupting the family’s sleep. As the soldiers entered the house, they ordered everyone to have their hands up; they asked for Emad, blindfolded, handcuffed and arrested him. Immediately after, they took the ID’s of all family members and locked them outside the house on a cold winters night. In the meantime, the soldiers ransacked the whole house causing widespread destruction. They also took with them the young boy’s working tools. As Emad’s mother explains, “if they come with dogs, why do they have to destroy everything? If there is something in the house, the dogs would find it”. Furthermore, no reasons for why they arrested Emad were given; the commander just said “your son has caused problems to the Israelis, if you want to know where your son is, come to Huwwara”. The family still does not know the fate of their son.
In the case of Moaz Darduk (19), dozens of only Hebrew speaking soldiers arrived in his house at 3 am while he was at work and woke his parents up. As they asked for him and his father told the soldiers he was not at home but working, they locked his mother in a room and took his father to his other son’s house just in the next building. The commander, who was the only one speaking Arabic, kept saying to his father “do you know who I am? I am Haroun and I came here to kill your son”. When the commander went back to Moaz’s house he told to his parents “I want you to remember who I am, I am Haroun and I am here to kill your son. If you do not bring your son to Huwwara tomorrow morning at 9.30, we will kill him and return him to you in a coffin”.
Night raids and home searching are common tools used by the Israeli Occupation Forces to arrest Palestinian youth for no reason and as a collective punishment to scare Palestinian families.
- Israeli forces arrest cancer patient in Nablus, locals say (altahrir.wordpress.com)
- Soldiers Kidnap Nine Palestinians In The West Bank (imemc.org)
A Palestinian teenager was shot and killed after Israeli soldiers stormed a high school in the West Bank, according to activists.
The victim, 17-year-old Samir Awad was from Budrus, a village close to the Israeli apartheid wall, Ma’an news agency reported.
According to the village council head Mohammad Morar, a clash erupted between Israeli forces and teenagers attending the Budrus high school.
Witnesses told Ma’an that Israeli troops stormed into the school, causing students to throw rocks at them. Israeli soldiers then fired five bullets at the students.
Awad was shot four times in the head, chest and legs. He was taken to Ramallah for medical treatment, but succumbed to his wounds there.
The spokesman’s office of the Israeli Armed Forces claimed that Awad had tried to breach the Budrus security fence, ignoring warning shots fired in the air, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Late on Monday, 21-year-old Palestinian Mustafa Abu Jarad died in Gaza after being shot in the head by Israeli forces. A military spokesman later denied that the incident was related to the Israeli army.
Two campesinos were shot dead on Jan. 11 in the Lower Aguán Valley in the northern Honduran department of Colón as they were walking out of an estate which they and other campesinos had been occupying for two months. A long-standing conflict between campesino groups and large landowners in the area has resulted in the deaths of some 80 campesinos since the groups began occupying estates in December 2009 to dramatize their demands for land [see Update #1154]. According to Wilfredo Paz Zúniga, spokesperson for the Permanent Human Rights Monitoring Center for the Aguán, the victims were José Luis Reyes and Antonio Manuel Pérez. He said unidentified people shot them at close range from a moving automobile.
The Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán (MUCA), one of the main campesino groups in the region, identified the campesinos as Luis Antonio Ramos Reyes, originally from the Tepusteca de Olanchito Yoro community, and Manuel Antonio Pérez, originally from Remolino on the Aguán river’s left bank. MUCA said the two men were members of another group, the Campesino Movement for the Recovery of the Aguán (MOCRA), whose 600 families began occupying estates on July 20, 2012. According to Paz, the campesinos had been occupying land claimed by the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH); MUCA said the land was owned by UNAH’s Atlantic Coast Regional University Center (CURLA), which had abandoned it. (AFP 1/12/13 via Terra.com; Anncol (Colombia) 1/13/13 via Rebelión (Spain))
- Honduras: Another Campesino Murdered in Aguán (alethonews.wordpress.com)